The Arabian Doll (Conclusion)
"I didn't know!"
Trowa continued to clean up the mess in the kitchen. Breakfast that morning had been more awkward than necessary with their guest keeping to himself for the most part of the morning. It had been about ten minutes since he'd left, the snow having almost miraculously cleared up that sunny morning. It had also been ten minutes since Duo started apologizing for what he knew was a grave sin. Trowa let him. Sure, it was on the list of most annoying things he had to endure, but it was necessary. It wasn't everyday that he got to see Quatre Winner in the flesh and thanks to the particularly loud, now apologizing friend, his plans had been foiled.
"I mean, I thought the session ended earlier what with the news of a snow storm," Duo continued. True, all his reasons were acceptable. They were sensible even. Still, they lacked one important element and the element it lacked was a naked model next to a finished project.
"All I was missing were the ankles and one overall look," Trowa said as he let the hot water run across the soapy surface of a plate. "I was almost there," he reiterated.
Freeing up one project meant that he could start another and since he'd missed an overall look the night before, he had no idea how to go about the next step. Detail was necessary and it had become apparent the last few months that Quatre did not like detail, especially when it involved himself. Last night was a fluke and a very lucky one at that. He doubted that he'd get a second chance. Now that he thought about it, he should have started with the lower body first.
"Geez man, listen to you," Duo said with an irritated wave of his hand. "That's why you were pissed? You didn't get to see his ankles? What did you think he was thinking?"
"It doesn't matter if it doesn't involve a finished piece," Trowa responded as he worked on the next dirty dish.
"Wrong answer," Duo voiced with a frown. "Try again."
"What do you want me to say? I never know what he's thinking. He talks in riddles most of the time and the few times he's direct, I get the feeling that he's hiding something else."
"And you didn't manage to find out what it is he's hiding?"
Trowa sighed in vexation. He didn't know where the conversation was going and didn't know just how it would lead to his ultimate goal. He had no deadline, but he was still a professional. There was no reason to let a project stall for as long as it already had.
"I told you. I don't know."
"He wanted to sleep with you last night Trowa."
Trowa blinked. Sure, it was not something new. The models he worked with tended to grow some sort of attachment or false attraction toward him, but this was unexpected. Quatre was stubborn and unyielding. There was no way he could so easily be enticed like some common man.
"If I didn't jump in the fray last night, he would have ended up unfulfilled and miserable. The guy's too nice Trowa. I didn't want you to hurt him."
"Physically?" Trowa questioned. No doubt about it, physical injury was part of the job. He admitted that he got a little too intense when feeling up his models at times.
"No you stone wall," Duo answered with a roll of his eyes. "Emotionally."
Pondering what Duo said, Trowa could not figure out where the 'emotional' connection was made.
"Explain," he said before drying the last dish and wiping his hands on a towel. He sat directly in front of Duo with every intention of finding out what it was Quatre was really hiding.
"He wanted to sleep with you and when you touch him the way you do, it makes it seem like you feel the same way. What he doesn't know is that you lovingly touch unwitting strangers you call models not because you like them, but because you like what you'll make out of them. Do you get it?"
"Quatre thinks I like him," Trowa said in conclusion.
"Don't you?" Duo asked next.
The answer never came.
Neither did Quatre.
After waiting for the rest of the day, Trowa decided that Quatre was just not up to seeing Duo, but after waiting the next week, he decided that he was never coming back. Something that happened the very last session was the culprit.
For the next week, he spent his time staring at his almost finished project and halfway through midnight on the fifteenth day, Trowa destroyed the marble sculpture. Rock after rock came tumbling down the once magnificent statue. With the same hammer he used to pick delicately at the once jagged rock, Trowa swung. With every scream came a frustration released through hostility and with every hit came a flaw that could never be repaired. Arms went flying to the ends of the room and bits of torso landed just below his feet. Dust covered his entire workplace, but this dust was not the dust of creation that always littered the room. This dust was a consequence of the destruction of his most brilliant work to date.
His hands, most of all, were furious. Desperate to touch Quatre, they shook with fury. His fingers were not satisfied with weaving through hard rock and could not forget the sweet pleasure of warm, almost too hot skin. The memory of the warmth of the human body - Quatre's human body was too strong that it made his hands go rigid as if there was a cramp in every muscle. Despite the rigidity, his hands held on tight to the hammer as if the hammer would confer punishment upon the unworthy and unfinished piece that gave credence to his failure. Quatre was no more.
The late morning of the same day, Trowa could do nothing but stare at his handiwork. Bits of rocks in varying sizes littered the room. His shirt, once a deep blue, was now peppered with pulverized marble. His delicate hands were scratched and scraped in many places. Even after the deed was done, they continued to shake. They were hot with overuse and continuing want. They were obsessed with the feel of Quatre and no one else. He knew that not even a thousand models would be worthy. This piece was delegated as Quatre's replica. No other body would suffice.
Slowly, he stood, working his way around the mess he made. It only became apparent to him that he did not do an effective enough job of destroying his latest piece when his feet came across a still intact head. Colorless eyes stared back at him from the floor with an expression of defiance. It was a cold defiance he knew well.
Trowa bent down, intent on shattering the lucky survivor but stopped when his hands came in contact with his most favored part. Lifting the severed head to his eye level, Trowa could almost feel the veins in the inanimate neck as it pulsed against his jittery hands. He could not forget. That same appendage chastised him for demolishing its body, for being unable to dig deep enough to figure out what he was missing. It was not the ankles. It was never the ankles.
"It's the guise," Trowa admitted. The contemplative way the answer came out of his mouth surprised him. He never was able to figure out Quatre Winner and now that he was gone, no clues were left for him to follow.
He examined the head once again. The replicate Quatre looked back at him with the same expression. He tilted his head and looked at the severed head in an angle and then another angle until his eyes had revolved around every inch of the figure and they were engorged with the minutest of information.
"How would you like me to finish you?" Trowa asked the object which he knew would never answer.
Trowa sneezed once and then twice, the dust seeming to invade his lungs. He ran a hand through the bottom of his nose and then adjusted his grip on the head.
"I can finish you," he proclaimed. And then he admitted "I could have finished you a long time ago."
He cleared out a work table and placed the head carefully on top. When the nearly circular object tilted and rolled, he picked it up and propped it up against a piece of rock and a bag of plaster. He plucked a broom and a dust pan out of a closet and began cleaning his mess. It was half-way through his task when he noticed the presence of Duo just outside his door.
"You don't have to find him for me," he said steadily to the friend he knew was concerned. "I've figured it out."
"Whatever you say Trowa," was all Duo said before his footsteps disappeared with the almost too silent clicking of the front door's lock.
Having swept the bits of rock and dust to the corner of the room, Trowa retrieved a covered object. He pulled on the cloth and nearly smiled when a virgin piece came into view. It was untouched, sharp and jagged in most places yet with a natural smoothness in the most remote of places. Nothing felt better than starting anew. This piece had no flaws, no manipulations, only Mother Nature's touch and a plan directed at it to recreate an Arabian man. This was going to be the piece he would finish.
Picking up a hammer and a broad chisel, Trowa started to pick at the formation. Soon enough, he would recreate the project he'd been working on for too long.
Not a week later, he was at his client's residence presenting the finished commission.
"It's a striking piece."
Trowa nodded to the direction of his client. He was quite pleased with the finished product himself. It had taken him some hammering and shaping as well as constructive recollection of the body that was Quatre's.
"The veil-thin illusion... you did an amazing job."
Nodding again, Trowa watched another satisfied customer circle his masterpiece. It was not beyond the wealthy man to be mesmerized with the way with which he'd fulfilled his request. The Arabian man, hard and immobile in front of them, looked almost too real. His skin looked soft enough to squeeze and his expression real enough to deem animate. The sculpture was alive even more so than anything else he'd ever worked on.
He looked with reverence at the Arabian man again. One arm was placed idly at his side while the other was shielding his eyes from the supposed harsh rays that only existed as an imaginary backdrop. His eyes were neither squinted nor strained. They were open, the same way Quatre's eyes always looked guarded but sincere. He was not looking for something. He was merely looking contemplatively forward.
"I would have said he looked bored, but now that I've taken a closer look, it looks like he's troubled."
Trowa nodded a third time. This client was to his liking. He dissected the sculpture with more avid deliberation than most people would care to give. Indeed, the Arabian man was disturbed although his distress did not appear in the form of lines disfiguring his cherubic face. This man was looking forward and what he is seeing at the end of that 'forward' would be a story left untold.
"What made you decide on--?"
"The attire?" Trowa interrupted. He had inkling that it would be a point of question, but curious minds were the type he lived off. They gave his work a purpose.
"Yes. It is rather unorthodox."
Trowa directed his attention to his client and assessed him before explaining his rationale.
"This Arabian man is complex," Trowa explained as he motioned at the figure. "It is almost too easy to see his naked form and yet a thin cloth covers him in a sham we shall call 'clothing'."
"Ah," the wealthy new owner of the sculpture said. "It almost seems like he's got nothing to hide, but the truth is that everything is hidden."
Delivering his third nod, Trowa looked again at the sculpture. It was a thing of beauty. The Arabian man was clothed in robes reminiscent of those who crossed the desserts. His head was covered in a headdress - a long piece of cloth secured at the top with a double head cord he'd come to learn as something called aghal. His body was covered in robes that almost reached to the tips of his toes. His magnificent body would have been completely unseen if not for the fact that the robes were made of the thinnest of cloths. Through the thin material one could see the bare body, every single musculature bleeding through the barrier. One could almost say that the robe was see-through, but since this was a sculpture, such a word would not apply. Naked and yet clothed - he rather liked the idea.
"Magnificent!" his client said with a laugh. "So tell me," he continued. "How has he been?"
"Excuse me?" Trowa asked.
"My son, how is he doing?"
Trowa paused, not knowing what to say. He did not know who the man's son was or perhaps he simply did not understand what abstract question his wealthy client was alluding to.
"Quatre has really grown," the man said next.
Trowa stepped back from the sculpture. This was quite unexpected.
"Excuse me?" he asked again.
"My son is the only registered Arabian male around these parts," the man specified. "That was the reason why I specified that the sculpture be of an Arabian man."
Duo had been right about Quatre. He was, indeed, Arabian after all. Trowa stopped to think about it. A picture of his son would have been a more inexpensive option, but he could not deny the romantic aspect of this approach.
"May I ask," Trowa said with caution. "Why did you decide to commission an artwork of your son rather than visit him? Wouldn't it have been the more practical option?"
"Quatre ran away from home a few years ago," his client specified. "I've caught wind that he ended up around these parts. I came for a visit, but I didn't want to intrude. What better way to check on him without actually having to contact him?"
He was right. Trowa felt his inner self applauding his perfect intuition. There had always been something about Quatre and the way he carried himself that alluded to refinement and wealth. He had been pampered as a child. It was obvious from the way his supple skin glowed with abundant health.
Trowa raised his eyes to view the face of the sculpture before staring at the rest of the body. The Arabian man was a little more naked now. Little by little he was able to undress Quatre. With time, he would achieve complete mastery of the enigma that graced him with his presence not long ago. With a bit more patience and perseverance Quatre would stand fully bare before him. It was the most alluring of propositions.
"Did you find him at a construction site?"
"Perhaps," Trowa replied for it was not him who found Quatre. All had been Duo's achievement. Now that he thought about it, Quatre was a gift from his dear friend.
"This boy," his client said while gesturing to the sculpture. "He left home, but he still can't leave home completely. How strange is it that he chose to work for me?"
The man chuckled like the father who knew of his wayward son's weakness.
"But I applaud his courage," the proud father continued. "Not just to get his hands dirty, but to be handled by you as well. There are rumors about you as you are probably aware of, but you are the best there is. My boy is proud. He would not have let anyone else handle him the way he let himself be handled by you."
Trowa refused to look at him. The things he did to this man's son - it was not the type of thing to be discussed so carelessly. It would certainly not embarrass him, but he respected the model from which he'd completed his latest piece. Quatre would surely protest if he were present.
"It was not easy," Trowa chose to say instead because the most memorable of the moments with him had been the stubborn attitude and the unyielding arrogance that made him such an invigorating pursuit. One of these days, he really had to find him. It was only fair when his eager hands had been deprived of his feel and texture.
Time did seem to be merciful towards him because at the end of that season, his luck had changed and when spring had finally come, his goal had come closer to him than he thought possible. Although the snow of the winter had melted for the most part, the air was still chilled from the remnants of the harsh winter.
"Black coffee please."
His hands truly hated when he went outside on cold days.
"Thank you," he said as he held on to the cup with both hands. The coffee would give him at least a few minutes of good use before it went cold on him.
Deciding that his bare hands on the too hot cup would be sweet relief, Trowa placed the cup down on a nearby table and took his gloves off. In the time it took him to stuff the gloves into his pockets and pick up the paper cup, he noticed a familiar head. Even from across the street the memorized head was easily visible. His lips moved the tiniest bit upward. That haughty neck was so easy to spot. He left the cup on the table and put his gloves back on.
Jogging across the street, Trowa found it odd that Quatre was working in exactly the type of place his father said. Stranger yet was the fact that Quatre was not lying when he said that he worked with his hands. He looked concentrated as he hammered an already bent metal rod while he sat precariously on a long 2x4 being held in place with nothing more than wires wrapped around metal holdings.
Trowa approached slowly. There were a few women giggling from Quatre's hanging feet. He was not aware of it as he continued to work diligently.
"Excuse me," Trowa said as he too positioned himself below the dangling feet.
Embarrassed that they were caught staring at an unaware man, the women backed away while continuing to giggle. That was when Quatre looked down. His construction hat looked like it was going to fall off his head as he craned his neck sideways. He blinked a couple of times with a look of confusion.
"Trowa?" he asked before taking his gloved hands of f the metal he was striking and securing the hammer to his tool belt for safety.
"I wanted to inquire about some prime advertising space," Trowa responded while managing to keep a straight face.
"Advertising space?" Quatre questioned as his brows furrowed.
"I just assumed," Trowa said as he stuffed his gloved hands into his pockets. "That since you appear to have many viewers fixated on your buttocks, that I might be able to use the space with success."
Quatre crossed his arms in the same defiance Trowa knew so well.
"Do tell what kind of slogan you would slap on my rear."
Trowa reached for the inside of his coat pocket and retrieved his inventive form of a 'flyer'. It was bulky in most places, but he thought that the unique quality of it was attractive enough. It was unorthodox, but then again most of what he did was unorthodox.
"A stuffed Trowa?" Quatre asked with near excitement. His eyes shined with happiness as he stared at the advertisement. The sunlight was truly magnificent on him. "It's--"
"A doll," Trowa finished. He threw the miniature version of himself up at Quatre and stuffed his hands back into his pockets.
"Trowa Barton - Doll Maker," Quatre read out loud from the sign hanging from the stuffed doll's neck. "Contact Duo at 555-4263 for details."
Trowa stared up at his former model. He was truly beautiful from any angle and with the way his face contorted into one of delight; Trowa was tempted into making more of those dolls just to see him that way. Those cheek muscles were just too captivating as they firmed and lifted with the smile.
"This is the most adorable thing I've ever seen," Quatre said as he poked the doll. "I didn't know you sewed."
"I did mention I was a doll-maker," Trowa said while shrugging. He didn't exactly condone false advertising.
"But," Quatre protested. He couldn't seem to find the right words. "This isn't something I would have expected from you," he said.
"I didn't expect you to build buildings either," Trowa admitted. When Quatre had said he needed the extra money, he'd just assumed that he was lying. Now he understood that construction work must have been halted during the coldest days of winter due to hazardous conditions.
"I like this doll," Quatre said. He squeezed it with both hands and held it in front of him. "Can I have it?"
"Sure, but I need the advertising space in exchange," Trowa said. He was still a businessman after all. He'd starve to death if he didn't get clients on a regular basis even if they were clients that preferred dolls over statues.
"Why not," Quatre responded before securing the doll on his tool belt. It hung from his back directly covering part of his posterior. "How's this?" he said with a laugh.
"I want you at my workstation tonight," Trowa responded instead. "I need to do a more thorough study of your body. I am not done paying for your services."
A few passers-by tripped on their own feet. Trowa's stare on Quatre did not waver. Quatre seemed to hesitate but still kept his gaze on him as well.
"Tell me," Quatre said with a tilt of his head. "What did you do when I left?"
"I recreated you," Trowa responded against the sound of machinery in the background. "I made a version of you for my client and the other version, I worshipped."
The Quatre that he worshipped was covered in a net of ropes chiseled from the same marble from which the body was made. He imprisoned that piece and studied it. His skin could still feel the tingle from the contact as he worked to get his fingers through the marble ropes to barely touch the naked form within. It was sweet torture. Duo had decided that it was sheer madness.
"That's not much different from our positions right now," Quatre responded with a slight smile. "You're presently worshipping me," he pointed out. Indeed Trowa was looking up at him from below.
"Let me worship your body more thoroughly," he said as he continued to look up. "I can assure you that my worshipping will have nothing to do with the creation of dolls or statues."
Quatre only stared at him, but that night, the same, speechless man was standing naked before him. Trowa had only one thing to say.
"I like you," he finally admitted before his hands, his nose, and his mouth moved upon the request of his Arabian doll. Call it a hunch, but he thought Quatre was quite pleased.