GIFT : BLUE EYES
I watch him while he’s not aware of it. I look over from the other side of this damp, deserted, ruined building, and watch him as he keeps lookout for the transport.
He doesn’t realise how he’s perceived by others; how they see him. Always so compassionate, so committed, so determined about what matters to him. He has no pretension about it, but that’s just how he is.
That’s how I see him, anyway.
I know he doesn’t see me back. Hey, that’s not me being pathetic, I’m just stating the facts. Honesty demands blunt impartiality from me, the same as it does from others, maybe more so. I don’t invite scrutiny and so I don’t get it. That suits me. I have barely enough of myself to handle the necessities of survival, let alone have surplus to give back.
Though when his eyes catch mine, there’s a glint there, as if he knows something. As if he knows me. There aren’t many people I turn away from, and it’s not because he intimidates me, or because he requires something of me.
It’s because I have something to hide from those eyes.
They’re bright blue. Of course they are; it’s a common enough characteristic of blonds. But they’re such a vibrant colour that sometimes their intensity catches me unawares, making my breath stutter in my throat. In the daylight they capture the sun’s slanted rays, reflecting a transient shimmer like a mirage. At night they gleam like a distant light on the horizon, absorbing the slightest movement and magnifying it in their depths, tempting your own eyes to follow them wherever they lead.
I’m not a fanciful man. But more than once, I’ve wanted to follow that gaze, even though I know the tempting isn’t deliberate. He’s not devious in that way; in any way. It’s just that they promise something that’s deep and encompassing and very rich. Too rich. I’ve done nothing to deserve – or expect - such a reward.
I shift carefully, propped upright against the crumbling wall, trying to get comfortable while I’m waiting. Hell, it’s not so much getting comfortable as getting less tortured. The bandaging around my chest was done hurriedly, and is probably too tight, but the bones had to be knit back into place, and swiftly. Now the terrorists have all been taken into custody and this has just been a cleaning up exercise for us. Even so, I know I’m still on duty until signed out officially – so when the movement jars my injuries, I make sure I don’t cry out.
He turns and walks towards me. Maybe he sees me after all. That’s a shock.
He leans against the wall as well, his movements deceptively casual, his gaze flickering to the bandages. “Is it still bad?”
My breath falters. Even after the dark, dirty stench of battle, his smell is clean. “I’m good.”
“That’s not what I asked.” He barely raises his voice but it brooks no argument.
I bite back my sigh. “It’ll mend in time. When we get back to base I’ll get the medics to look at it properly.”
He nods. “It hurts like hell, of course.” It’s not a question, so I don’t need to lie and deny the burning agony along my muscles. He glances at me, so I know that he understands that. “I’ll help you to the truck.”
I stare at him, and as a result I get the full force of his eyes. The blue is fierce, yet there’s some glimmer behind it. I can’t believe it’s nervousness. “You won’t. I can make it on my own.”
“Yes, I know.” He bites his lip. “Don’t… look, just accept the help. Don’t push me away all the damned time.”
What? “You were injured too. Look at yourself. The others are already on their way back to base, you should have gone with them in the first vehicle.”
He frowns down at his torn uniform, at the dried, dark red stain at his hip. “Like you say, it’ll mend. Are you saying you’re in better shape to make the decisions at the moment?”
“No.” I’m startled. “Of course not. I wouldn’t presume…”
“So shut the hell up and let me do my job.” The blue eyes are dark with anger now. “I’m in charge of this mission and I stay here until I get you all out.” His eyes dart to the bandage again, then back to my face. “I shouldn’t have left you without cover.”
I raise my eyebrows. “I think that’s one of the decisions that was mine to make. Only a single man could have made it through, and I was a willing volunteer. It was worth it, to isolate the cell.” It’s not often that I say more than is absolutely necessary but something in those eyes draws me out. “It was a good decision… from us both.”
He smiles, suddenly, his face creasing with an incongruous amusement. “Yeah, it was, wasn’t it? Only you could have done it, though.” He nods, as if to himself. “And only you would have volunteered for the job so readily.”
“You needed it.”
He’s looking at me oddly. “I did. We did. And you came through for me, as you so often do.”
I can’t exactly recognise the tone in his voice. He sounds pleased, yet cautious. “But I wouldn’t have ordered you in if you hadn’t volunteered.”
I frown. No point going over the past. “But I did.”
His voice is softer, somehow, a warm thread through the dank, dusty air. “And that’s what you like, isn’t it, Trowa?”
He doesn’t often say my name. When those eyes are staring at me, there’s never any mistaking who he’s talking to. I have no answer for him.
“You like to be the single man,” he murmurs. “You like to be the only one; to keep your distance from us all. From me.”
“No.” I didn’t think that through – the word just escaped from me.
His eyes widen. “But that’s how it appears to me. How I see you.” His eyes are suddenly very shrewd. Perceptive. “When I watch you.”
I know I’m flushing and I’m ashamed of myself. “I’m just one of the team. I’m just one of the men, like the others.”
“Dear God,” he breathes. “I’ve never known anyone less like the others. Do you really believe that?” And then he starts to laugh. It’s a ridiculously happy sound, and makes me want to join in. “Trowa, you are so astonishing, so brave, so bold, always there for me. So true. But you know what? That very singularity that you wear like a proud badge, the silent strength that’s been beside me on missions, and been my friend and support whenever I’ve needed it – it’s also held me back more times than I can say.”
I frown. “I don’t understand.”
He sighs. “Today… I wasn’t sure, you see. There was one time – I wasn’t sure you’d make it out.”
My chest hurts. I don’t know if it’s just the broken ribs or something much deeper. I don’t think I make any noise but his head tilts slightly, as if he’s listening to me.
“I realised then what that would mean to me, losing you. What you mean to me.” He’s talking very softly, almost to himself. “There are many, many times I’ve wanted there to be more between us, but – hey. I’ve never dared ask.”
“Quatre…” I say his name to myself sometimes, softly, in the dark. When I can touch myself and no-one else. His name is most of the pleasure and some of the pain. To say it aloud now shatters the stillness around me.
He stares at me. “That look on your face… I’ve shocked you. I thought that may be your reaction.”
“No,” I shake my head, my words stumbling to explain through their clumsiness. “You misunderstand. I’m not shocked at you. I’ll never be.”
He's stopped laughing, but his eyes are bright and he still smiles. “The truck will be here in ten minutes. We need to make our way out to the gate.” He holds his hand out to me. “Lean on my shoulder, we’ll help each other out.”
I want to shake my head, to draw back. I reach out, instead, and take his arm, pulling myself away from the wall. My weight drags, and I lean into him. I hear his breath catch and he chuckles.
“You know, you’ve never touched me like this before. Like you trust me to hold you. When we get out…” Maybe he can feel me tense up, but he starts to walk us both out of the room, and continues, “When we get out, we can talk about this again. Spend some more time together.”
“I don’t have it,” I gasp, for the pain is much worse with movement. “I don’t have anything to give you.”
“Yes you do,” he says and he gazes straight into my face. He dips his head and for a second, his breath brushes my cheek. It feels as if his mouth actually touches me; kisses me. “You have no idea how much you have – and how much you’ve already given me. It’s just a little more that I need…” He pulls back and there’s mischief in his eyes now, and excitement and desire. Astonishing desire. The world is slipping under my feet, and not just from exhaustion and injury. “Believe me.”
I stare back. My skin is still shivering from the touch of his lips. “I do.” He doesn’t lie. He is that honesty that demands things of me. His attention is on me, and that desire of his is directed at me.
It’s still difficult to put me together in my mind with him.
“Trowa,” he murmurs. The eyes are bright, still, but now they warm me through. The blue is deep, warm sea; it’s cool, crisp cornflower blue cotton; it’s the depth of the sky where it blends into the horizon at sunset. “Are you coming with me now?”
I smile and lean against him even more.