I met him on a usual Saturday morning, in a way, you don’t usually meet people like him. I had been shopping at the supermarket – like half the world seems to do on Saturday morning. Well, I had my errands for the next few days and was on my way home, when I saw – no, I heard his car. It was choking and coughing, and I naturally looked around to find the troublemaker.
The troublemaker was a small jeep, green and dirty, but not old. Being a mechanic, I thought I might as well be friendly and see what I could do about it. So I went over, set my bags next to the car and knocked on the window. The driver, a blond boy about my age, slightly fuming with anger about his jeep, slender and with watercolored eyes, hopped down from the driver’s seat and outside.
“Um.. hello?” he asked.
“You have problems with your jeep? Can I help you?”
He shrugged. “Either that, or I’ll walk to the next garage.” He was wearing a simple sweater, not the newest in store, but still very neat, jeans and sneakers. I saw it as he came around the car to my side. He held out a hand.
“I’m Quatre,” he said friendly. “And you, wanderer?”
“Trowa. Trowa Barton.”
“Well, Trowa, can you help me?” he grinned, urging me to do something in a sweet way. I opend the lid of the front and looked inside. He looked over the rim with me, obviously not understanding a thing I was doing there. It was an easy problem – a contact had gone loose and I fixed it with my hands, quickly. That would be enough to bring him home, but to securely fix it, one needed the tools and I told him to see a garage soon. He nodded, but in a way that made me doubt, he would even consider going to a garage at all. When I had closed the lid, he thanked me and offered me a ride home.
“Oh, you have your car here?”
“No. I don’t have a car.”
“And you can fix them yourself. That’s a pity, really.”
“I live only a few minutes from here.”
“Behind South Field.”
“Jump in, Trowa!”
Well, obviously any protest was in vain. I had not quite spoken all of the truth when I had said ‘behind South Field’. I lived quite a few minutes behind that place, and that was far enough. In case you don’t know – children used to call the area of fields and small outside-gardens between this village and the next South Field. While children from the other village, where I came from, naturally called it North Field. I had grown up in the city with the supermarket, so I stuck to the old terms. I could have said it either way, there only was one such area, and he knew what I was referring to. However, I was a little surprised, when he didn’t take the main road, but went right into the field with his jeep. It was the shortest way, a way I would certainly have taken, had I been walking, but usually, cars didn’t drive there.
While he was driving, I took a good look at him. He looked damned familiar. I am no talker and the jeep rumpled and roared, so our conversational level was somewhere below zero. I wished I knew where I had seen those blond strands, that childish face and these old jeans before, but I couldn’t get my mind on it. When I realized I was staring, I quickly looked back up front. We had left the road and were in the middle of nowhere.
“Do you listen at all?”
I snapped back into reality.
“I said, do you mind if I get something before we go on?”
“Oh. No, of course not.”
He stopped the jeep in front of a rumpled hut. There was a wooden plate hanging on the side of it. It said ‘Elvenpath 1’ and a little fairy was carved into the wood. The blond boy, Quatre, opened the door with a key he had taken from his pocket and disappeared inside. While I was waiting, my eyes fell onto the pond behind that hut. The hut was integrated into the fence, and I assumed that a back door lead to that pond-area. It was a large area with thick trees, high grass and in a distance, geese and chickens were pecking at the lawn. Ducks swam around the pond, lazily.
Quatre came back out again, carrying a basket with what seemed to be vases, plates, cups, jars and jugs. He loaded it all in the back of the jeep and jumped back inside.
“Is that your garden?” I asked politley. It was probably better than saying nothing.
He grinned. “That’s my home,” he said proudly. I was a little irritated by that. I mean, sure, the pond was beautiful and all, but the hut wasn’t bigger than a small trailer and it looked, as if it could break into pieces any second. He was definitely enjoying my dazed expression.
“Shocked?” he asked.
“It’s my home of choice, so don’t you get any ideas of me being poor. I do have an apartment in the city and go there once a week, but it’s not where I like to live. Elvenpath is my real home.”
I nodded dumbly. He started the car and once we had set on the poor street, the rumbling and clattering of the dishes he had brought, cut off any further conversation. The only thing he asked, was where exactly I lived, and I embarrassedly named him the adress, knowing it was quite a way and maybe not how far he had expected to drive that day. He just smiled, as if something had just occurred in his mind, didn’t ask directions, but took the shortest way to our house.
He parked his car in front of the house and jumped out himself. “Well, Trowa, it was nice meeting you. Thanks for your help.”
“You really live there?” I couldn’t keep it back – I couldn’t imagine.
“Yepp, in the middle of nature. Now don’t break your head thinking, Trowa-san, I love my life.”
He opened the trunk of his jeep and got his basket. I intended to help him, not knowing what he was up to.
“Oh, get away!” he yelped, “I have carried that basket more than once, I am not weak!” It sounded as if I had injured his pride, but he was smiling all the while. I retreated and went to my own house. Quatre went to our neighbour’s and suddenly, my mind sprung back.
Of course I had seen him before! My window pointed exactly to my neighbour’s house, and when I was writing letters to my friends, I usually sat there. More than once had I seen him come up with his basket to the door, possibly selling the jugs and jars he brought, for my neighbour had a little shop that sold such and other things. But always, when I looked up a second time, he was gone, and I never really bothered thinking about it. So that was him. That was Quatre. I was standing at the doorway, looking at him, when I remembered all that. Quatre turned around and winked, knowing only too well, I was staring at him. I quickly turned the key in the lock and went inside. I wasn’t so careless usually, but now, he had caught me staring at him twice. Somehow, all this was overwhelming for me – a boy living in a hut, selling earthenware – that sounded as if it was a fairy tale. Which it couldn’t be, because I was pretty much alive. Well considering… I wasn’t quite what one would call ‘lively’, but the world around me was definitely real.
“Ah, Quatre! Brought your handmade treasures again?” I heard the neighbour.
“I’m always deligent, my friend,” he answered with a tone in his voice that unmistakebly revealed he was smiling. It was the last thing I heard before I forced myself to really enter the house.
On Sunday night, I awoke at four a.m, because a terrible storm outside was making a hell lot of noise and rain was lashing against the window pane. The last one and a half day I had spent thinking about Quatre, tried to imagine a life in that little hut on the pond; tried to understand how that innocent, little blond figure was making his living by selling his crafted dishes, when he was doing these, what he ate, how he slept… I was so bound to my warm bed in my home, that I just couldn’t imagine. And much less why he would do that. Elvenpath 1 – the wooden plate came into my imaginative vision more than once.
When I woke up, my first thought was thunderstorm again. My second was on Quatre. The wind must be pulling on that little hut that night, shaking it, the storm must be roaring about it with anger and every flash must enlighten that little room with ghostly shadows. Poor boy… he was all alone in there – at least that’s what I thought. There wasn’t even enough room for one person in there. I fought twenty minutes with myself, but finally got up, grabbed my jacket and Catherine’s car keys and went out into the rain, over to Elvenpath. I think I was driving like a madman, and Catherine would kill me, when she saw her dirty car in the morning, but I so didn’t care. All I could imagine was Quatre, sitting on a futon on the floor or something, in a corner, and frightenedly watching the storm outside. I left my car in the middle of the path and jumped out, knocking on the door with my fist. Some sort of fear had taken hold of me, as if a flash could have killed him.
The door opened, and he was obviously surprised to see me.
“I… I thought-”
He didn’t let me finish, grabbed my arm and yanked me inside. Rain was practically flowing down my jacket and hood, and I left a remarkably large wet spot on the floor. Quatre pulled the jacket off me, grabbed a blanket from his bed and wrapped me in it.
“What the hell are you doing here?” he accused me. Seeing him like that in this hut, the storm securely locked out and a candle calmly burning on the small table, I felt really dumb. Really dumb, for having though he might have been frightened by the storm. From the outside, Elvenpath 1 really looked as if it was going to burst any minute, but the inside was secure and warm and comfortable.
“I—I woke up because of the storm… and I though it might be worse out here…” I stuttered my excuse.
Quatre laughed and went over to the table, set a pot onto a small burner and boiled some water.
“You think I am afraid of the storm?” he giggled. “Really Trowa, I’ve had worse out here. My home is secure. The trees around here are much higher than my little hut and more likely to be hidden by a flash than this here. Besides, I love thunder and rain.”
I felt so stupid. Well, of course… I didn’t know how long he had been living here, but certainly long enough to have run through enough thunderstorms. Suddenly, I wasn’t the little friend and hero, I had maybe wanted to be, but the stupid guy from the city, who had just made a complete fool out of himself.
“I appreciate your care, though. My sisters used to be just the same way. It isn’t easy to imagine, little Quatre is sitting in his little hut, the storm pulling on the window lids, and for some odd reason he’s not afraid,” he joked. “I admit, I really am weird.”
He served me some warm tea. “Not that I would mind drenched strangers as a welcome change to my house, but you really should be sleeping in your bed by now.”
“Did I wake you?”
“No. I was watching the storm,” he answered almost dreamily. “It’s weird, that clouds, made out of nothing but water, which assembled in the air, are capable of creating electrical power that is beyond of what any human being could produce. Powers, that could set a city on fire, powers that could serve as a supply for the electricity of a village for months, and yet, we are never capable of catching and holding it. I have a great respect for nature, and for all the animals, which survive out there without a little hut.”
He went over to the wall and picked up a spider on his hand. I don’t have anything against spiders, but I usually don’t pick them up. He held it close to his face and watched it’s thin little legs. He sat down next to me. He was simply watching it for a while.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he smiled after a while. “Eight long legs, so skilled of making a net, elastic and stronger than anything humans could ever form. If we had a net like that in our dimensions, it wouldn’t break if a bus dropped into it. And all this spider uses to create such a thing… is itself.”
He let it drop from his hand and watched as it caught itself on a thread and worked itself up to his hand again with skillfully waving legs. He opened his door and set it under his hut, so it wouldn’t get wet.
“Nature is so much more advanced than we are.”
I just savoured his words, having never looked at things in such a way. We finished our tea and the thunderstorm outside started to calm down. He put his mug aside and took the blanket off my shoulders. My shirt was soaking wet, so were my pants. Funny, considering that I had just run to the car and then down the path to his hut and waited a moment in front of it – with my jacket. And I anyway was wet to my bones.
“You are so nuts,” Quatre stated, as he saw my wet shirt. He simply started unbuttoning it, which left me a little surprised. Really, if one of us was nuts here,… He caught the little of an expression I displayed and released something like a semi-sigh.
“Trowa,” he said calmly, “you are simply wet. I am not trying to seduce you here, but prevent you from having a cold.”
My cheeks turned slightly hot at that, but I let him go on. He went over to a trunk in his hut, opened it and pulled out two more blankets. “Your pants, too,” he said, while he was doing that, and draped my shirt over the back of the only chair he had here. I stood up from the bench and opened my pants, feeling quite awkward, but seeing his point nevertheless. My pants were wet, and keeping myself cold down there was not a good idea. I should have taken a longer jacket or a cloak, maybe.
I put the pants over the shirt, but he batted my hands away. “Your shirt will still be wet tomorrow if you do that.” He spread the pants out on the bench. I don’t know what was going on – I could very well return home, but somehow, Quatre assumed I would be staying. Well, maybe not too stupid, considering it was sometime in the middle of the night. He shoveled me onto his bed, which consisted of some bundles of hey with a long cloth over it, that was probably filled with feathers or something. He took the two blankets and crawled onto the bed next to me, covering us with them. He was still dressed in cotton pants and a light shirt, while I was almost completely naked.
“I hope you are not allergic against hey,” he said, but I wasn’t. So I was laying there with him, his soft body cuddled against me (and I realized that body did have some muscles after all), trying to sleep. Of course I couldn’t. The candle was out, the scent of hey in my nose and his body cuddled against mine, ready to sleep. This guy was so weird!
“Trowa, stop shifting, I am trying to sleep,” he said, not meaning it seriously, but chuckling.
He turned around to face me. “Are you okay?”
“I guess… it’s just… it’s weird.”
“I am weird?”
He giggled with tingled laughter again. “I am not so weird. I have a normal day like everyone else.”
And then he told me about his day. Apparently he was the son of a rich family, but had moved out when he and his father didn’t get along anymore. He had given the promise that he would take over their business, as soon as he turned 21, but as long as he wasn’t, he was free to do what he wanted.
“My parents were sceptical about that, but I started turning up in fine clothes every two months, displaying my manners and all, and showing off some education. That satisfied them.”
Really late, he had told them, that he had bought a pond in South Field and was living there. Since he already possessed a part of his father’s business, he made money that way, but he only used that to pay for his apartment and to pay for the place he had bought.
“Anything else – food, fuel, repairs for my jeep and the hut, clothing and all, I pay from the money I am making through crafts.”
What he did were vases and dishes out of clay. He had a clay-oven in his apartment, where he went once a week to burn the things he had crafted and take them back to his hut to paint them. When he was there once a week, he’d take a decent shower and do necessary paper work, like paying bills, writing birthday cards and helping his grandma with her bills. Then, a few days later, he would sell his work to either people like my neighbour who brought them to their shops and sold them, or in the city on the market.
He also made wooden things, like small figures and things like the plate that said ‘Elvenpath 1’. Part of the money he got from all that he used for new material. He had just enough money to fill his jeep once every two months and to buy some bread and cheese, maybe some salad if he was lucky or when school classes came over to get a tour around the wildlife on the pond, and Quatre explained how nature worked by itself. Sometimes he used that for clothing, if he needed some, and he bought candles every few weeks.
It seemed to be such a simply life, but he enjoyed it with every inch of his body and soul. His eyes were blazing in the darkness, when he told me, how much nature had taught him already.
“See, I am not that weird, I have a life like anyone else,” he finished. “Can you sleep now, that you know I’m not going to turn into a wolf tonight and eat you?”
“Yes. And I should sleep, anyway.”
“I said so.”
With that, he cuddled against me and closed his eyes. Hesitantly, I slid an arm onto his waist. He grabbed my hand and securely put it around himself, pulling himself closer against me. He fell asleep like that, and I followed a moment later.
When I awoke the next morning, making sure this was no dream, Quatre had disappeared. The bed was empty and the sun shone brightly through the window. Of course I had missed going to work and Catherine would tear me into pieces, when she came home, demanding where the hell I had put her car, and that she had been late for university because of that. What the heck, I’d find a way to excuse myself. I dressed in my dried clothes and went outside. My – I mean Catherine’s – car was parked next to the jeep, the car keys were on the table inside. Quatre must have taken the key from my jacket and done that. But where was he?
There were splashing sounds from the other side of the hut and I went around to the fence. Quatre was swimming in his pond, chasing ducks, as it seemed. He seemed to enjoy the rain-cleared air and cool water and the morning sun. I watched a while, until he noticed me. He waved.
“Hey, you finally got up! Care to come swimming?”
“Don’t have any bathing outfit.”
“Me neither. Wait a second, I’ll be out in a moment!” he yelled back and dived inside, swimming quickly to the other side of the pond and climbing out into the grass.
He really didn’t have any bathing outfit. I couldn’t see much from that distance, only that he really was naked, but I couldn’t draw my eyes from him, the short moment I saw him, before he disappeared behind the bushes. I couldn’t help it, the guy was still weird to me, but in a sweet way. He came out a moment later, dressed in another pair of jeans and another shirt than he had had the day before. He came to the fence.
“Hey, I already fed the animals, you lazy kid,” he scolded.
“I didn’t know one gets up so early out here.”
“Yepp, there’s a lot to do. Look what I got in return!” he held up two eggs. “Hungry?”
I nodded because I really was. We went back inside, he from the back door, me from the front door. For breakfast, we had bread and eggs and cheese, and I felt almost guilty for eating the few things he had. He casually forbade me to bring him anything to eat, but invited me to come over any time again. Honestly, I had to go, because of Cathy’s car and because well… I hadn’t appeared for work today, and should maybe call my employer. He waved goodbye when I drove off. And I could hardly wait to come back again, and see more of his life.
And I came back. Almost every day. I tried to offer him something to eat, but he insistently refused it. Once, when I came after having had dinner at home, he looked really disgusted, when I told him, I’d just eaten roasted chicken.
“You don’t eat any meat?” I asked.
“It’s just… I can’t imagine eating a dead animal, roasted or not.”
That just fit him, and I accepted it the way it was. He was no stuck-up vegetarian, he assured me, he just wouldn’t be able to swallow any of that. “I’d feel like eating a dead cat,” he winked and that made it kind of clear to me, how it must feel to him. I didn’t bug him about it.
It was weird – Quatre had hardly time to do anything with me. I’d just be sitting there, talking to him or he to me. Most of the time he’d color or make a pot or vase or jug and be telling me the things he know. He was reading when he had time, he said, because as the future leader of his company he had to be of good education. It didn’t seem to frighten him in the least, that he was going to run a company in a few years.
Simply said, he was amazing. He was always stuck in his work, with his jugs and jars, and I’d come and find him just sitting there, forming a cup or whatever and mumble latin conjugations or chronologically babble down the events of the cold war. It was odd to see that because his intelligence, his fascination for nature and the simple life he was having just didn’t fit together.
Once, I met a postman on my way – in the middle of the field. I gladly took Quatre’s letter from him – all adressed to Quatre Winner, Elvenpath 1 – the postman cursed him for living there, because he had to walk there every few days to get the letters to him. I told him I was sorry, but that’s just the way it is, and he went away, murmuring more curses on Quatre.
When I arrived the day I had met the postman, it was a Saturday, I could hear voices from his hut.
“You sure you don’t want any?”
“No!!! Ah, Ileah, I have enough bread, I am not starving! Why is everyone trying to offer me food?”
“It’s okay, I just thought… at least some sausage…”
“That are animals! I couldn’t eat it, if you stuck it in my throat!”
I gently knocked on the doorframe and entered. He looked up from the pot he was coloring and smiled, really glad to see me. I smiled back, slightly. I don’t smile much usually.
A girl with curly blond-brown hair was looking up at me. She looked a lot like Cathy, only, she was older and a little more sincere.
“Trowa, that’s my sister Ileah, Ileah, that’s my friend Trowa.”
“Nice to meet you,” we said at the same time.
Quatre giggled. “Don’t be so formal, guys.”
“I brought your mail,” I said, putting it on the table. He thanked and kept coloring the pot. Ileah and Quatre talked a while about the Winner business, of which I didn’t comprehend much, but Quatre seemed quite familiar with the terms they used and chatted away as if they were talking about the wheather. Finally, Ileah said she had to go and said goodbye. Quatre finished his pot and grabbed for the next one.
“Did you take your car to the garage at all, Quatre?”
He smirked at me guiltily. “No.”
“Thought so.” I unpacked a tool from my pocket. “Forget about it. I’ll be done in a minute.”
He smiled at me, as if he hadn’t expected anything else and grabbed for his brush. I really was done in a minute, fixed the loose contact securely and made sure everything else was okay with the car. Quatre isn’t the one who bothers much about his car, as long as it works. He just isn’t concerned about such things, which I can’t blame him for, since he seems to be busy all day.
When I came back in, Quatre was already reading his letters – his nose was practically touching the sheet and his eyes were squeezed lightly. I looked over his shoulder, and found that the girly handwriting wasn’t hard to read.
“Whose is it?” I asked.
“Another sister,” he replied, and kept on reading. I watched. If I hadn’t known better, I’d think he was reading something in miniture-handwriting.
“Quatre… is it possible that you need glasses?” I wondered. He looked up at me as if I had just told him, I was about to go on a trip to the moon. He hadn’t possibly thought about this before. He blankly stared at the letter.
“I … I…” For once he was lost without words. Never in the last few weeks had I seen him without being able to answer anything – he always had a comment, an answer, a smart remark. But now, his eyes were as blank as his brain.
“Look, it seems to me, you have trouble reading a letter from… uh… a normal distance.”
“Yes… If you go any closer, your nose will be stuck to the paper, Quatre.”
A slight smile quivered around his lips. “Guess nature deceided I shouldn’t see very well,” he shrugged and closed the letter, to open another one. He was reading it just as close.
“If you don’t get glasses, it’ll get worse, and you’ll get a headache, while reading.” I felt stupid saying that, but it was the truth, anyway.
He tilted his head, as if contemplating what I had just said.
“No,” he said finally.
“Quatre – it’s about your health.”
“I never get sick.”
“Yeah, but that could be inherited. That isn’t your fault… but glasses would be helpful. All you need to do is see a doctor and he’ll tell you what kind of glasses to get and we’d get them for you. It’s not that you don’t have enough money… you could take it from your Winner-stock.”
“No,” he said simply, turning back to his letter. Why was he so set, all of a sudden – so stupid.
“Then I’ll pay them for you.”
“No, I mean, I am not getting glasses. That’s all.”
“Quatre! That is stupid.”
He didn’t answer but kept reading. How stubborn he was all of a sudden! That was unusual – he usually was open and understanding, but now he seemed like a little kid. Reasonably, he had to know that glasses would help him.
“Let’s see a doctor, Quatre. Maybe you don’t need any glasses, anyway.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
He looked over. “I am just not going to see a physician, that’s all.”
Oh… now it made sense – Quatre was afraid! Quatre, who enjoyed watching thunderstorms in his little hut, Quatre, who lived in the middle of some wilderness all on his own, was afraid to see a doctor. It made me smile, some. That really was a jest of nature.
“You are afraid.”
“I am not!”
“Yes, you are!”
“FINE! We’ll see your stupid physician, if it makes you happy. Maybe you need glasses.” He dumped the letter aside, took the key out of his pocket and grabbed his jacket. “Let’s go.”
That certainly was an experience at the doctor. Nothing is more harmless, than getting your eyes checked, but Quatre was practically shrinking on his chair. Though, he tried not to. He had insurance and all, he had money, so it wasn’t any trouble, but he was frightened out of his wits. He said next to him, unable to pity him, because I knew, nothing would happen. I almost enjoyed his desperate attempts to veil his fright.
“Nobody is going to hurt you.”
“Then don’t be so afraid.”
“I am not afraid.”
“Yes you are.”
“You are practically trying to hide in your chair.”
He snorted. I grabbed his arm and he eased up a little.
“Okay… I am afraid,” he admitted. I smiled nicely.
“Will you come inside with me?” he asked hopefully. I nodded, and I did.
It turned out, that nobody hurt Quatre, as I had predicted. He was afraid of that machine they stuck his head in, to look inside his eyes. It turned out to be harmless, just a little uncomfortable. And it also turned out, that Quatre was in need for glasses. So we ordered some, picking a round model. He looked really cute with these glasses, and I almost – almost – pitied the fact that he would only need them for reading and for coloring his pottery.
The glasses would be ready in a week, and Quatre, not quite happy with getting glasses, mumbled something sarcastic about ‘nice birthday present’. As soon as I was home, I called the Winners and asked Ileah about Quatre’s birthday. She told me it was coming up in a week, and I was glad I had found out before.
I spent the next day thinking of something – anything I could give to him, for I knew he would take nothing. He didn’t take anything for his house, because he wanted to live modestly, he didn’t take books, because he barely had time to read the few books he had to read for education. He didn’t take candles or food, because he wanted to make his own living… unless…!
The morning Quatre had his birthday, I first went to get his glasses for him, knowing that it was no positive surprise for him. Then I went to the supermarket and bought fruits – not apples and bananas, but ananas, mango, papaya and such. If I was correct, he wouldn’t be able to resist. Then I went over to South Field and looked for him. He was with his geese, grabbing one by the beak and kissing her. “Good morning, slept well?” It was too cute.
“Morning, Quatre!” I cried.
He looked over and blushed, being caught kissing a goose. He abandoned feeding them and came to the fence.
“Come in, Trowa,” he invited and I gladly took the invitation.
Once he had opened the door for me, I hugged him. “Happy birthday, Quatre-chan.”
He blinked. “How do you … ?”
“Ileah.” I smiled and disengaged from him. He smiled, slightly flushed.
“I wondered, whether you would accept a present from me, Quatre.”
He smirked. “Depends. What do you have?”
“Several things. Formally, I got your glasses from the shop.”
“Ugh, I guess I have to accept these!” he grinned. I handed them to him and he put them onto the little shelf with his books. I knew he wouldn’t put them on, unless he needed to. I unpacked a wrapped package. He beamed.
He opened it happily. I dearly hoped I hadn’t been too corny, and he wouldn’t reject it. I hadn’t intended to buy that for him, but in the supermarked the brown/red plush-cat practically fell into my arms, and smiled at me, that I had to get it. And I thought, Quatre wouldn’t reject a little item to make his hut more homely. And he didn’t!
“That is soooo cute, Trowa!” he smiled and cuddled it. He looked so sweet. “And it has brown fur like your haie and green eyes…” he remarked, looking at it. It hadn’t been my intention to give something to him that looked like me, but apparently, I had. It didn’t matter as long as he liked it. He gave the animal a spot on his bed.
“Still, I am not-” I started, when someone knocked on the door: the postman, with a bunch of birthday cards.
He restrained from cursing Quatre, instead, wished him a happy birthday. I mean, so much about secrecy of the mails, that postman must have really been bored on his way here.
Quatre went to read the letters, but I put my hand on top of them. He looked up at me, and I blushed slightly.
He sighed, but took them off the shelf. “They’re just birthday cards.”
“Yes, and these are your eyes! You need them!”
He nodded and sat down to read them. I studied him – again, for the hundredth time – when he read the letters out to me. I didn’t get a thing of the words, he was saying. He just looked nice, slightly bent over the table, glasses securely on his nose, studying the letters. His eyes not squeezed, and in appropriate distance to the paper.
When he was done, I unpacked the fruit. “Don’t tell me you refuse this.” I put them on the table.
His eyes practically bulged out, and he looked at me with big eyes through his glasses. I carefully grabbed them and slid them off his nose.
“You don’t need these.”
“Thank you, Trowa.”
Then we started chopping the fruit and ate until we couldn’t anymore. He loved them. The juice was flowing from his hands onto the table, and I caught myself at the inane wish to carefully wipe them clean for him with a towel. I quickly discarded that thought and packed the rest of the fruit into the bag to leave it for him.
“I have one wish for my birthday,” he said after a while.
“And that is?”
“Stay today. Like you did when you first came here.”
I was surprised by this, but I didn’t disobey. I liked spending time with Quatre, and I had nothing to do, anyway. Besides Wufei, Duo and Heero, he was the only friend I had, and those three lived too far away, to visit them very often. I had written to them about Quatre and they had expressed their desires to meet him, and told me to go out and have fun with him. Which didn’t quite hit the point – there was no ‘going out’ with Quatre – he didn’t go dancing or playing or went to cafes or out to eat. But that was just fine with me. Before I had even realized it, I had stopped going out myself, but spent my free time with Quatre. I had never stayed, though, except that one night during the thunderstorm. Maybe, because I didn’t want to eat his food in the morning or evening, when he barely had any himself. So I usually left before dinner. It never occurred to me, that he could want me to stay, I always thought he’d enjoy his privacy, and that he never felt lonely. Which is dumb. Even though I am not very social, even I would feel very lonely without Cathy or the other mechanics – and without my distant connection to Wufei, Duo and Heero. And Quatre, for all I knew, was a social character. He loved chatting away with anybody who came over. It was just his love for nature that drove him to live out here – a love that apparently nobody wanted to share with him.
So that day, I spent with Quatre, abandoning work once again for him, knowing I could afford another day off, because I was always there on time, doing my work, although there was hardly much to do. We sold some of his pottery and wood-figures, fed the animals and sat down on the pond, reading out ‘The Hobbit’ to each other. I said, he couldn’t always stuck his nose into school books, he had to read something fun some time, and he enjoyed it. I ended up reading most of the time, while he was laying on the grass, watching the clouds. It was the ideal world in that moment, the ideal world he searched in nature. It seemed, as if nothing was missing.
When it got dark that night, and colder, we went back to the hut. He brewed some tea and we ate bread, and he told me what he used to tell the kids he was giving tours around the pond. I was amazed by how much he knew, and how simply he could explain things. Many things, I didn’t know, and I was not a school kid. I watched him tell me… And once again I was glued. His blew eyes were full of fascination. Hell, I didn’t know what was wrong with me.
After a while, he sat down next to me on the bench. “And, Trowa… how do you like nature after all?”
“It’s … beautiful,” I gasped, not so sure, what I exactly was referring to. Besides… his voice was different – as if he knew…
“What is, exactly?”
Could he read my mind? “I… it brings up such beautiful things. Powerful, unique and amazing. I have never seen all this before. It seems everything is a piece of art, no matter how weird you think it is at first sight,” I tried to save myself. His shifted a little and slid an arm around my neck, embracing me somewhat, his nose was close to my cheek, and I felt so weird.
“Something humans couldn’t create. And yet, nature has created humans as a piece of art in themselves. Each different… but each human,” he whispered.
He climbed onto my lap. He felt so good on me, and I felt so wrong enjoying that. I could feel it in every inch of my body, and I dearly wished I didn’t think in such a way of my recently gained friend. Or did I?
“Trowa… some things are difficult to hide, ne?” he smirked.
“You keep looking at me, as if you couldn’t wait for me to yell your name.”
I blushed in a way I have never blushed before, yet, I tried my best to play oblivious to what he was saying.
“Yell my name? Why?”
He gently slid a little closer to me. He closed his eyes, and the light of the candle played on his skin. He gently rocked in my lap, and softly panted. “Trowa… oh… Trowa…”
I knew he was playing it! I knew he was not really aroused, but he was good at acting it out! I didn’t know what to do, with him on my lap, playing with me like that, teasing and torturing me. “Trowa…” he moaned. My body was electrified, and he just made it worse, when his hand slid in between us and stroke my very private parts.
“Quatre-” I protested, and was shocked, that my own voice sounded so helpless and breathy.
He kept moaning my name, a slight, superior smirk on his lips. I leaned back against the wall, defeated, and let him stroke me… It felt so good… I hadn’t had that in years, as it seemed, and he was so skilled. A hoarse moan escaped my throat. That was when he stopped. I opened my eyes to look into his blue orbs.
“Oh… don’t… Quatre…!”
“What? Go on, or stop?” he teased.
“But you are … a guy!” I protested bluntly.
“And?” he smiled and kissed me softly on my parted lips, with which I was trying to catch breath. Had he planned on doing that all evening?
“Trowa… it’s natural. It’s everywhere in nature. Dogs, tomcats, female ducks… it’s nothing unatural. And it isn’t wrong for us. There is no species as varied and manifold as humans. We look totally different from each other, we can be ugly and we can be beautiful… we can be blond and brunette. And we can love male or female.” He kissed me on my lips. “And we were made to love either of them.” He kissed me again. “I love you, Trowa.”
He kissed me once again, yet his parted lips remained on mine, expecting my answer. I carefully darted my tongue out, until it met his sweet taste. He played with it, his arms around my neck and he smiled a most genuine smile. I think a great weight fell off his shoulders, when I assured him, I loved him just as much as he loved me. When he lifted his legs to kneel a little in the bench and kiss me, his soft body stroke mine again and I moaned without being able to prevent it.
He grinned and slid back. “Not yet, love.”
He took my hand and led me into his garden. I followed him on his hand, wherever he would lead me. We went around the pond, to the bushes where he had disappeared the morning I had found him swimming. The grass here was soft and the bushes built an open cave. That’s where he took me and pushed me down. There was only the voice of the animals around us, the grass below, the stars above and his feathery touches on me…
That was just the spot, where I awoke the next morning, sleeping on top of my own clothes, cradling him and keeping him warm with my arms. His shirt was on top of us, keeping us warm. And he was sleeping. He was sleeping like an angel, letting the morning sun shine through the bushes without bothering him. His blond hair hung into his face. My left arm had grown numb over night, and I shifted it a little. It caused him to stir, stretch and yawn, without opening his eyes.
When he finally was done and looked up at me, he said two simple words.
And I was home. In Elvenpath, with the most precious gift, nature could grant me with.
From that day on, Quatre wasn’t alone in his hut anymore. And never would be again. Although I went to work with his jeep every morning and we could afford a little more luxus through my salary, we still stayed to be part of nature. We went swimming every morning, sold his work to traders and on the market and enjoyed the presence of each other. I learned to respect and understand the forces he held so dear and intergrated myself in the variety of nature.
We went to bed tired in the evening, but seldomly too tired to enjoy what we had found… In summer, Wufei, Heero and Duo came to visit. They opened up to Quatre, and everyone got along well – it was amazing, how he could enclose everyone in his heart.
I just had found something perfect – in the only perfect place in the world… nature.