Disclaimer: the Gundam Wing universe belongs to Bandai-Sunrise, and the song 'Bad Things' is sung, and presumably owned, by Mr. Jace Everett.
Note I: Ahem. This is further evidence of my inability to write one-shots, and is a direct result of my watching Season 3 of 'Trueblood' over two days and getting the theme song stuck in my head.
Note II: This is for Maskelle, as proof that pleading always pays off, even if it takes a very long time. Many thanks to KS and Wolfje for all your help on this one, especially the hilarious comments. I'm sorry Quatre didn't get to have the James Bond car!
When You Came in, the Air went Out:
I'd been to the club a fair few times before; often enough that I knew the wine list, and the barmen knew what I liked. I caught a dirty look from Heero as I took my first sip of a nice New Zealand Pinot Grigio.
Too bad; I was only here as a favour to him.
Drinking wine and flirting with Carlos and Scott behind the bar were convenient ways to blend in. Unlike my friend who was drinking Ballygowan and maintaining a perimeter of personal space the size of Tuscany. He didn't stick out so much like a sore thumb as one that had been blown away by an automatic weapon.
There was a reason why I generally did the infiltration work. What Heero Yuy knew about blending in could have fit on a postage stamp. A small one.
Maxwell wasn't first through the door. Of course not. He hadn't survived this long by being stupid.
We'd guessed it would be the blond with him. The other guards, those middle-aged Middle Eastern men, and the girl with spiky hair, would stick out a mile in a club that catered to young, gay men.
It had to be Winner.
We had a dossier on him. He was twenty four, Maxwell's age. The only son of the Winner family; the son of his father's old age. The heir. Except when this golden child, born to every privilege under the sun, had reached sixteen, his father had died, and the little prince had gone off the rails rather spectacularly.
He'd been disowned by the rest of his family, although they hadn't been able to divest him of his obscenely large trust fund.
I knew about his phenomenal IQ; the mole on his left thigh; the knife scar on his back that he'd got in a fight. I knew what Maxwell had done to the guy who'd done that.
He liked health food and herbal teas, played several musical instruments and had a box at the Milan Opera House.
There were photographs in the file.
I'd fucking known what he looked like.
My lungs still felt like all the air had been sucked out of them, like someone had taken a hold of my windpipe and squeezed. Hard. Or maybe just sucked all the air out of space so no one in the universe could breathe.
No one else in the club, though, seemed to be having that problem. It was just me.
And that gaze, the essence of pure, shining blue had ghosted over me for one second as he looked around the bar.
Just one second, and the heat of it was burned on my soul.
By the time I worked my way to the other side of the bar he and Maxwell were already halfway through their first drinks. They'd been in the club maybe ten minutes; I'd already watched them both turn down offers to dance. Offers to do other things as well, probably.
They were both utterly fucking gorgeous, but the blond was mine. That was the plan.
He turned down my first invitation to dance, with a little flick of those eyes to Maxwell. Seeking permission or approval?
'Quat, go ahead.' Maxwell was grinning. 'Not every day that one of us gets chatted up by someone like him.'
Cat. Oh, that fit. He was every bit as graceful and finicky as a highly-bred Siamese, carefully picking his way through the writhing bodies on the dance floor, deftly avoiding spilt puddles of drink on the floor or hands that reached out to touch him.
'Cat?' I lifted a brow at him. Such a pretty thing in his nicely fitting cream pants and a silky tunic-style shirt in swirling blues and greens.
'Quatre, really. And you?'
He spun in my arms, silk billowing. So beautiful. I could see the tattoo when the shirt slipped off his left shoulder. Arabic letters in black, stark against pale skin.
'Nice tat. What it's mean?'
He shrugged, sliding the shirt back into place. 'Nothing special. I just liked the design.'
That was a lie. The characters meant Revenge. I knew there was another one on his right forearm. A red rosebud and the name Iria. His eldest sister; she'd been with his father the day they'd both died.
It wasn't as if I hadn't known what he looked like.
The Springsteen number finished, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Heero leading Maxwell up the fire escape to the roof. Part one of the plan had worked then. I caught Quatre looking after them too, not seeming unduly perturbed. Interesting. Then the band switched to something different, vaguely familiar from somewhere.
'When you came in, the air went out, and every shadow filled up with doubt.'
'Oh, I like this song,' Quatre said enthusiastically.
'I like the lyrics,' I agreed, suddenly realising that the words, in this situation, were damn scary. I was there as back-up, in case something went wrong. That was all. A distraction for Winner, to give Heero a few minutes with Maxwell.
Nothing had been said about shadows or doubts or blonds with air-stealing powers.
'I don't know who you think you are, but I know this much is true, I wanna do bad things with you..'
'Really? These words?' There was an impish little grin flirting along his lips.
I wanted to take Quatre Raberba Winner somewhere very, very private, and find out all manner of things that weren't in any dossier.
He twirled again, looking like the softest butter in the world wouldn't melt in his mouth. 'What a shame there's such a limited number of things one can do in public.'
'There are a couple of rooms on the next floor. For privileged customers.'
'I don't know what you've done to me but I know this much is true, I wanna do bad things to you.'
Couldn't have said it better myself.
'And are you a privileged customer, Trowa?' The little brat slid both arms around my waist, pressing close for just long enough to feel how privileged we could both be.
'I think that's up to you to decide.'
I was a professional, for God's sake. I wasn't the sort to abandon a job, and a friend, just because some pretty blond batted his insanely long lashes at me.
And sucked the air out of my body with one glance.
But…Heero had looked like he had things well in command, leading his lovely Duo up the fire escape that led to the roof. He wouldn't exactly thank me for interrupting. I'd be keeping Quatre out of the way, and that made sense. Besides, I wasn't exactly sure exactly what the blond did or didn't know.
Of course, it was very flattering to think that maybe he'd just taken a fancy to my green eyes, and decided to play hooky on the spur of the moment. Flattering but probably false. He couldn't know me; no one did. I'd studiously ignored Heero at the bar, but he'd been shooting me killer glares for daring to drink on the job, for bantering with the servers and a couple of guys waiting for their drinks. Only an imbecile would have missed it.
I didn't think, somehow, that Quatre was stupid.
Carlos, behind the bar, flicked me a set of keys and a thumbs up sign.
The room was nice enough in a minimalist-brothel style. Bronze silk bed-linen, dark furniture, an array of lube and condoms on the dresser.
I shut the door behind us, looking at Quatre, guessing he was the sort who'd want to have the illusion of control. 'What now, gorgeous?'
'On the bed,' he commanded, and then spoilt the Dom act by adding, 'please.' Nice manners too. He really did have everything going for him.
He could kiss like an angel who'd been sneaking off to trysts with demons instead of practising his harp. Sweet.
Someone had taught him well too; he had my hands cuffed to the headboard while his tongue was still midway down my throat. Pretty smooth. Of course, I'd seen it coming but it just wouldn't have been polite to say so.
You've got to love a cute blond who carries bondage gear in his back pocket.
'Mmm. You like the kinky stuff, hey?' I grinned up at him. 'That's not a problem. You could have just asked.'
Quatre laughed. 'Don't you like surprises? I think they make life much more fun.' He gave me another kiss, just a sweet touch of his mouth against mine. 'I'm sorry. I have to do something. I'll be back as soon as I can.'
I flexed my arms, checking how much room he'd left me to manoeuvre, not particularly worried. Amateurs never do this sort of thing properly. 'What? You can't run out on me like this.'
'I'm sorry.' He sounded like he actually meant it. 'I won't be long.'
'Don't I even get a good bye kiss?'
I did, with bells on. Very nice. More than worth the couple of minutes it took to get free.
I pushed open the fire escape door to the roof and walked into an impromptu job interview. Maxwell was glowing at Heero; a smile that could have lit up the whole of British Columbia and maybe Seattle as well. Things were obviously going well.
'I'd advise you to accept his offer,' I said calmly, 'I'd check his dental plan first, though.' I meant it. Heero grinds his teeth in his sleep; the retainers he's supposed to wear at night have to be custom-made and cost a fortune.
Heero made some crack about me losing my edge, letting a cute blond get one over on me. If only. It wasn't like he could talk anyway. Whatever he'd been doing with Maxwell had left them both flushed, and Maxwell's clothes pulled together haphazardly.
I grinned over at Quatre, also a rather fetching shade of scarlet, although hopefully for a different reason. Heero Yuy may be the closest thing I have to a brother, but that didn't mean I was going to share.
'How did you escape?' he blurted. Ah. The red wasn't embarrassment at all. He was furious.
'I'll tell you later.' I dropped him a very deliberate wink. 'Now, come on. We have some unfinished business to take care of, remember?' I cut off any potential objections with a very comprehensive kiss, waiting until he was starting to go limp to let him up for air. In the process, I'd totally forgotten that we had an audience. Oh, well. This was as good a time as any.
'Mr. Maxwell, before I accept your job offer, I'll need to see a comprehensive offer of terms of employment. You may send it to Quatre's apartment in the morning. Not too early, please. I look forward very much to working with you.'
OK, that probably surprised them as much as it did me. I'd gone there as a favour to a friend. Nothing more. I certainly hadn't planned on changing my whole life just because of a blond guy with the ability to steal my soul along with all the breath in my body.
I held the door politely for Quatre, who totally ignored me, flouncing down the staircase. He was in the perfect flouncing-outfit too; flowing silk to swirl around his poker-straight spine and tight pants sheathing his long legs.
He spun around when we walked outside.
'Stop following me!'
'You want to know who I am, don't you? I'm this totally unknown factor in your equation. You know, you might be better off to take me home where you can keep an eye on me and make sure I don't get into any more mischief.'
He snorted, halting at a very nice vintage Austin MG and reaching into his pocket.
'Oops.' I met his glare with a look of bland innocence, twirling the car keys in one hand. 'Look what fell out of your pocket.' While he was still gaping at me, I opened the door and slid into the driver's seat. He didn't look happy.
'Get out of my car!'
'But I like being in your car.'
'I have a gun.'
'I bet you do. But you wouldn't want to shoot Duo's newest employee, would you?'
He elevated his dainty nose an inch or so. 'You seem to be presuming rather a lot. I don't recall Duo accepting your offer.'
'I'm sure Heero will talk him 'round.' I leaned over and opened the passenger door for him. 'You really should get in, Quatre. You look like you're kerb-crawling me and while I don't object, I imagine you wouldn't want to get picked up by the police.'
More flouncing as he got in. Lovely. He slammed the passenger door shut far harder than his poor car deserved.
'What's your name?'
'I've told you.'
'Your surname.' He gave me a glare that would have made Heero look like Pickwick in comparison.
'Barton.' I said meekly.
'Barton.' He produced a knacky little electronic gizmo and started tapping away. God, it was a wonder the guy could walk, let alone dance, given all the hardware he had stashed in his pockets. 'How do you spell your first name?'
'T.R.O.W.A.' I leaned back against the seat. Real leather, naturally. Nothing but the best for this one. I wondered if the seats reclined. He'd probably shoot me if I asked.
'Then you don't exist.' He lifted his head for another glare. Meant, presumably, to be all intimidating but only achieving sexy.
Well, I wouldn't complain about that. 'I think I do. You can pinch me if you like, just to check. Or do other stuff.'
'Your name doesn't exist in any database.'
'Fancy that. It's just a name, Quatre. I'm real.'
His hands dived into a back pocket. A mobile phone this time. He hit a couple of numbers impatiently,
'Wufei? It's Quat. Yes, I'm fine. No, it's all right. I've got it under control. You keep an eye on Duo. I don't trust him alone with Yuy yet. Yes, I'll call you. Good night.'
OK, that was good; keep Chang out of the picture. Not that I was worried about him, as such, but if I had to hurt one hair on his head, I'd spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder for Zechs Merquise.
'Your boss doesn't seem to think I'm a threat,' I tried to look as harmless as possible; the cute blond still looked like he wanted to murder me.
'He's not my boss. And we don't know anything about you.'
'Not yet,' I agreed. 'I was hoping we could work on changing that tonight, Quat.'
'Only my friends call me that,' he grated. 'And you're hardly a friend.'
I just grinned at his tone. 'I don't want to be your friend, gorgeous. Tell me, what do your lovers call you?'
'I hardly think you need to know that,' he informed me, very sniffily indeed. 'But for the record, I prefer to call them by their real names. I'm odd like that.'
'Names don't mean anything. They're just letters. Trowa's as real as any. What's important is that I'm on your side and I'm going to keep you safe.'
'Oh, please!' He rolled those gorgeous eyes, a kaleidoscope of swirling aquamarine. Ooof. That was the air siphoned out of my lungs again. I was going to have to invest in an oxygen mask at this rate. 'I'm more than capable of taking care of myself.'
'No, you're not. The only reason you and Duo are alive right now is because you've been damned extraordinarily lucky. That and the fact that Khushrenada's been concentrating on L5 for the last year. That's the truth.' I said it flatly and he finally dropped his gaze. OK, I could breathe again.
'What do you know?'
'Your father and sister were taken out because they were opposing what Romfeller was doing on L4. You've always known that, but you could never build up any sort of a case because people are too scared to help you. Yes?'
He gave me a curt little nod.
'You met Duo Maxwell three years ago. Another person with an axe to grind, and who wasn't afraid to take risks. I hear he's got proof that Romfeller was involved in the plague on L2. Testing out some new biochemical weapon, right?'
'How can you know any of that?'
'You're not the only ones who want to take Romfeller down. And you need help from people who actually know what they're doing.'
'Duo and I …' he started, blustering.
'Duo and you are damn lucky you're both still alive. You're treating this like some gung-ho adventure story. This little stunt you pulled tonight was insane. Heero could have gunned you both down outside the club if he'd wanted, and lived in luxury for the rest of his life on what Khushrenada would have paid him.'
'We did it because you're right about us needing someone who's …a professional,' he said heatedly. 'We needed to find a way to meet him.'
'That's bullshit.' Those blue eyes widened and I choked back a laugh. He carried guns and cuffs and a computer that looked like NASA had designed it, and he could be caught off guard by a curse. 'Zechs could have arranged a meeting if you'd asked. Instead, you set up this crazy scenario in a place you didn't know, where you hadn't done any reconnaissance, and you didn't even have any contingency plans.'
'At least we're trying!' Quatre was suddenly seventy shades of scarlet. 'Not like the rest of the universe who's pretending a problem will go away if you ignore it for long enough. And if we're so incompetent, why do you even want to help us?'
I flicked one finger against his burning cheek, wondering idly how far the blush extended. 'Like I said, you're not the only one who wants to take Romfeller down. And like you said, you're trying. It makes sense for us to join forces. Besides, I hear the money's good.'
'You're just a common mercenary!'
'Mercenary, yes,' I agreed peaceably. 'A rather uncommon one, though. I know you've got money, but it doesn't even compare to what Treize Khushrenada has in his petty cash account.' I grinned at him, floundering to find an answer to that. I got the impression Quatre Winner wasn't lost for words very often, and wasn't enjoying the sensation very much. 'C'mon, Quat. You're stuck with me, like it or not. I've already told Maxwell I'm on board.'
He sniffed. 'Since you know so much about us, I'm sure you know that I'm the one with the funds. Not Duo.'
'I do know that, yes. Which means I have to work at convincing you. Which should be fun.'
He didn't exactly pout at that, but his very kissable, edible bottom lip stuck out slightly. How the hell was I supposed to keep my hands off him when he did that? Or any other bodily parts? 'You seem to be taking rather a lot for granted, Mr. Barton.'
God, he really was perfect. Smart and passionate and stubborn and the sexiest guy I'd seen in forever.
'Quatre.' I said it gently enough that he swivelled to look at me. 'You can trust me. We shouldn't be fighting. Here; take this. I surrender, OK?' I slid my Glock out of the shoulder holster and handed it to him. 'We can help you, Heero and I. Two of us; that's better than one, surely?'
'Perhaps. For some things.'
He didn't bother to resist when I slid my arms around him, just melted into the embrace. Into the kiss. It's definitely one of those things that two do better than one; kissing. Lost in the temptation of his soft, sweet mouth, it took a moment to realise that the hard length digging into my thigh wasn't proof of desire on his part.
'You are into the kinky stuff, aren't you?' I murmured, forcing myself to keep my eyes on his, and not where he had my own gun pressed against a very cherished part of my anatomy. 'What's next, whips and chains?'
'If you're lucky, Triton.' He gave me a beatific smile, lovely as any Botticelli angel. So lovely it took me a moment to realise what he'd said.
'What did you just call me?' I'd misheard. I had to have misheard. Having all that breath suctioned out of my body in the last hour had obviously affected my brain cells.
'You heard me.' The barrel of the gun nudged against me slightly. His smile was suddenly sweet as poisoned wine. 'It's your real name, isn't it? Triton Bloom? From L3? Why are you looking like that? Names are only letters. That's what you just told me.'
Sure, he was smart and had a gun but I was stronger and bigger and had spent my life doing this. Pinning him down was still more of a challenge than I'd expected, mainly because I was hampered by not really wanting to hurt him. And a raging hard-on.
'How the hell do you know that? And if you knew, why bother with all the questions?'
'I may be a mere amateur, Mr. Barton, but I happen to be an exceptionally gifted one,' he snapped. The aggression was all in his voice though; he was lying quiescent beneath me, pupils nicely dilated and breath coming out in little pants. Not quite the big bad Dom he'd been pretending to be earlier.
God, if he got any more perfect, I'd need to get a license for him.
'We've known about you for a while; you work with Heero. It was logical he'd have you with him tonight. As for the questions, I wanted to see what you'd say. I've learned not to trust people. Duo and I both have.'
'How the fuck did you find any of that out?' This was wrong. This was all bloody wrong. He wasn't supposed to know any of that. The person with that name didn't exist any more, not since I was fifteen years old. I didn't damn exist.
'Your friend Heero isn't the only one who has a gift for computers. It's virtually impossible to erase everything.' His teeth sank into the full softness of his bottom lip. Oh, I wanted to do that.
'So what's all this about exactly?' I demanded, past every warning siren screaming in my brain to get out. I should walk away. I should kill him, for the things he knew. 'Did I pass your little lie detector test?'
'You didn't lie,' he said simply and just looked at me.
He didn't need guns or handcuffs or any of the other gizmos that he probably had hidden up his ass. He just needed to look at me.
'You didn't actually tell me very much, but you didn't lie to me,' he said again. 'That means….rather a lot, Trowa.'
Not the other name. Well, no. He knew everything, didn't he? Somehow.
'I'm sorry,' he murmured, and I flinched at the ache in his eyes. Hell, he knew all right. 'Truly.' He reached up one hand and placed the palm over my heart. 'I'm truly sorry for what happened to you, and I'm sorry for not being honest with you tonight. I needed to be alone with you for a few moments to see if I could really trust you. I imagine you know why?'
'It's real then, the empathy?' I'd half-dismissed it as rumour.
'Oh, yes. Sometimes, at least. It doesn't work with everyone.'
His hand was still on my chest. 'What's it telling you?'
'To trust you.'
'I already told you that you could.'
'I know.' It was just a breath.
I slid one hand behind his head, cradling it gently, and then raising him up to meet my lips.
'Told you.' I didn't let him go, just moved back an inch or so. 'Two's better than one for some stuff.'
'It's hard to kiss oneself,' he agreed, quite politely, considering a second earlier his tongue had been trying to get deep enough inside my throat that it could poke out through my navel.
'What happens now?'
He arched his hips slightly, just enough to push against me, and all the blood and air in my body suddenly whooshed to the one place. 'Come home with me. Please. You've already told Duo to send someone around late tomorrow morning. That might give us enough time.'
'Enough time for what exactly?' Hell, I'd already jumped on the rollercoaster, and still hadn't figured out whether we were going up or down. I might as well enjoy the ride for now. 'You've turned my whole life inside out in the last hour, you do know that?'
He wrapped both arms around me. 'Yes, I do know that. It's the same for me, in case you hadn't realised.' He gave me a quick kiss, and then handed me my gun. 'Here. I'm sorry. I surrender.'
Sweet. Of course, there was a definite glint in his eye that suggested any surrender would be a temporary thing, but that was OK. He might like a little domination now and again, but he wasn't really the submissive type.
I gently eased him into the passenger seat, with just enough groping on the way to make sure his eyes glazed over.
I'd agreed to do a friend a favour. A couple of hours out of my life on a night when I'd had nothing else planned. I hadn't bargained for a blond with super powers.
I've always been good at improvising though.
And two are better than one.