3x4, yaoi, romance, lime.
A follow-on for the characters in ‘True Colours’.
Inspired by ‘New Shoes’ by Paolo Nutini, for The Vault’s Spring Songfic Challenge, and also inspired by Artemis, because I’m sure I had a conversation with her about TrueColours!Quatre and new shoes! ^_^
Trowa shifted a little gingerly on the narrow bench seat. The expensive leather upholstery wasn't the most comfortable thing he'd ever sat on, and the sharp, steel-studded edge was cutting into his thigh and giving him cramp. Judging by the rest of the decor in the exclusive store, he assumed the bench design could be described as cutting edge. His thigh would certainly agree with that.
“I still don’t really understand what I’m doing here,” he murmured.
The blond man sitting on the bench opposite him was fiddling with one of his shoes, but at Trowa’s words, he immediately looked up. He smiled at Trowa – an intense, charming and utterly genuine smile of pleasure. There was a collective sigh from the sales assistants gathered around him - there were four of them, both male and female, with two others hovering hopefully in the background, and he'd had the exclusive attention of all of them for over an hour. One of the young men glanced between the two customers and blushed. Two other girls giggled, fascinated by every move that the handsome blond made, seemingly spellbound by their client.
A couple of the other customers in the shop glanced over. Maybe they thought it was their turn to get some attention. A pity, Trowa thought dryly, that none of the assistants seemed to agree.
But he felt himself start to smile at his companion, in return. What the hell was that about? he wondered. He hadn’t wanted to smile in the slightest: he was bored, and puzzled, and had never been overly fond of cramp in his leg. In fact, he’d wanted to complain, and maybe go home. Now he just wanted to smile, for God’s sake. He wondered – not for the first time – when he’d started to lose his edge.
“Why, Trowa, you’re here to give me the benefit of your fine advice,” the other man replied. “How’s a poor, rarefied being such as myself gonna cope with all this decision-making?” His voice was low and soft, his words an amused drawl. He was extraordinarily handsome, tall and well-built, and dressed in casual, but obviously expensive shirt and pants. It wasn't only his features, though, that drew everyone's eye - he had an air of self-assurance that he wore as easily and comfortably as the thin gold chain around his neck and the classic signet ring on his little finger. He pushed a lock of soft blond hair off his forehead and sat back up straight, still smiling. “Of course, these delightful associates will do their best, but I am in need of…” He sighed, gently: his eyes widened theatrically. “I guess I need the opinion of a man of the world on such things.” He glanced across and winked at the assistants - the girls simpered, and the blushing boy’s face moved from a shade of pale pink to cerise.
Trowa rolled his eyes. He had spent a surprisingly large amount of leisure time with Quatre Winner recently, and this was becoming a familiar scene to him. Didn't mean he'd worked out how he was meant to feel about it. “Quatre, that's nonsense. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind would describe you in any of those terms.” He glanced across at the substantial pile of shopping bags that were already scattered at Quatre’s feet, evidence of how well the Rarefied Being had made decisions so far today. “I doubt I'm of any use to you, here. In fact, if I’d known you were going to drag me around the shopping mall, I’d have arranged to meet you later on. I’m no shopper. It’s not my thing. It’s not…” His voice tailed off and he shrugged. It wasn’t the kind of place he’d have found himself in, even if he had been a shopper. The place reeked of luxury and wealth – the décor; the stock; the fellow customers. He sighed. Even the complimentary coffee had been of a rare quality.
Quatre was still smiling, but a shadow clouded his eyes. He’d been joking – of course he had! He’d been playing to his fans; he’d been amusing himself. Dammit, he hadn’t really registered where he’d been or what he’d been doing for all the time they’d been in town. Hell, no – instead, he’d been enjoying the astonishingly stimulating sight and sound and feel of Trowa Barton at his side!
Now it appeared he’d misjudged the mood. Misjudged a whole damned lot of things, probably. He gazed more carefully at Trowa, seeing for the first time the tension in the other man's lean body and the slight frown on his striking face. Being with this guy – as much as he, Quatre, pursued it with a desperation that surprised even himself – could be likened to dancing flamenco over a minefield. Trowa was so very private, so very self-contained that Quatre struggled to find a way into his life. Hell, it was worth every second, because Trowa was good-looking and witty and determined and - Quatre’s eyes flickered quickly, greedily over him – so damned hot! But even though Heero – albeit with a smirk on his face - seemed to think that Quatre and Trowa were virtually dating, Quatre found himself shockingly uncertain about the whole damned situation. He’d never felt this way about anyone; never suffered such nervousness with a partner.
It piqued him, to be sure. He wasn’t used to feeling so uneasy. He wasn’t used to anything he felt with Trowa around!
And now… would Trowa leave the store, bored and harassed by a tedium that Quatre himself could only bear because he mocked and mimicked it for other people’s entertainment? He leaned forward swiftly, reached across between the benches and grasped Trowa's hand in his.
Trowa felt a shiver throughout his body – it was as if both ice and fire ran interwtwined down his spine. It was a very unfamiliar feeling, or at least it had been for such a long time that he'd almost forgotten what it might mean. He knew that the assistants were gazing at him, their eyes wide. But so was Quatre, his blue eyes bright now with concern, the flirtation gone.
“I’m sorry,” Quatre said, softly, his words not for overhearing. “For the play-acting. For the exaggeration.” He glanced down at their hands, clasped together. “But not for everything, by any means.” When he looked back up at Trowa, his gaze was full of a familiar mischief. “And definitely not for the pleasure of having you with me like this. Touching you. Unless… does it bother you, Trowa?”
Trowa felt the eyes of the staff on them, both open and covert, from all over the shop. Exclusive though the store was, maybe it drew the line at such displays of affection. Then he looked more deeply into Quatre’s earnest eyes and wondered who the hell would dare to scold the rich, arrogant – and utterly charming - Quatre Winner about it. The assistants adored him already: the manager had presumably come to work that day without a specific death wish. Trowa had had plenty of opportunity to watch Quatre at work and play, and knew that he almost always did as he pleased. He cut a swathe through opposition and potential offence like a knife through soft butter - and all that he left in his wake were bemused but happily stunned victims of his charisma.
Trowa had never been bemused by Quatre, but he had developed a grudging admiration for the man’s strategy. He knew that any attempt to scold Quatre was ludicrous and, eventually, futile. Quatre cared for none of it. But Trowa also knew that Quatre was no idle fool: he deserved a respect that he dismissed on his own behalf with humour and mocked with sexual gratification – but it was deserved, nonetheless. Trowa had sometimes seen the man beneath the mask of idle playboy, and he liked him. Quatre... amused him. He entertained him. He knew when to be outrageous and when to be quiet – he knew when Trowa wanted his company, and on the other hand, when Trowa needed space.
Yes, he liked Quatre a lot. Trowa knew he wanted to smile again, and it seemed he was enjoying that feeling more and more.
But in the meantime…? He kept his hand in Quatre’s grip, raised an eyebrow and met Quatre’s gaze with a solemn one of his own. “Bother me? I’m sure I don’t know. Does it help you to make your decisions?”
Quatre’s smile widened. There was a sparkle in Trowa’s eye that he loved to see. Maybe the man was really getting used to him at last – managing to see through the infamous flippancy; through the careless caresses and high-fashion hedonism that the paparazzi loved so well. Damned if that didn’t make Quatre’s day more rewarding than any new pair of shoes!
Ah... yes, the shoes. He glanced down at his feet, remembering - ostensibly - what he was here for. “Yeah, it sure does help a poor boy like me,” he murmured mischievously, slipping back into the exaggerated drawl. “Bein’ with such a stylish, knowledgeable gent. So… y’all prefer the black boots to the brown brogues, sweet cheeks?”
And Trowa – as Quatre had hoped – started to laugh. His hand grew warm against Quatre’s palm, and his whole body relaxed. The girls looked around at each other, a little puzzled. Quatre felt something tingle in the pit of his stomach. He hadn’t felt so good about things for a very long time.
“Quatre, you amaze me,” Trowa said, his expression rueful, but his eyes lingering on Quatre's face, his laughter low and happy. “You play the part so well. Buy whatever you like - you look good in them all."
Quatre felt very slightly dizzy at the compliment. "A few more minutes," he said, shrugging, fully aware - sadly - that they were in a public place. He didn't want this moment lost. He didn't want Trowa to look away, to lose that look of delight. Ever. "I'll buy one or other. Maybe the bunch of 'em. Then I'll make good on that promise of an early supper with you, and a light Italian wine to die for."
Trowa shook his head as if that really didn't matter to him, but he paused: maybe it mattered to Quatre. Duo had told him time and again just to stop and consider things from another person’s view; to consider that Quatre just might think more of Trowa than he thought of himself. Trowa looked again at the man whose finger stroked lightly at the palm of his hand, and saw someone who was both fascinating and fey. Someone who was so far from his own character that he couldn’t believe they found so much to talk about when they were together… so much to laugh about. Maybe that was something strange – or maybe it was something that he understood all too well.
He looked down at his own boots, a pair that he’d had for several seasons. He didn’t have a closet full of other pairs to change into – these did him well enough. They were excellent quality, though – he remembered that Solo had bought them for him in the city, when he sold one of his larger paintings. Trowa loved them for many reasons, and not just because of the memory of his deceased lover.
“What is it?” Quatre’s voice was gentle. Trowa kept his gaze on the floor, suddenly afraid that he would show his memories in his face. It disturbed him, to think that they might upset Quatre, though he wasn’t quite sure why that should be.
"I’m just wondering what motivates you to buy so many pairs, that’s all.”
Quatre grinned. His other hand came to rest on Trowa’s knee. It was as if he were slowly claiming territory – moving gradually closer, but still afraid of the other man pulling away. “It’s a buzz like no other. Don’t tell me you never put on a pair of brand new, shinin’ shoes, and knew…” He shrugged, as if the words momentarily eluded him.
Trowa lifted his head, watching the gleam in Quatre’s eyes, watching the natural grace, the effortless sexiness of the man. “Knew what?” he provoked.
Quatre leaned even closer. He was half out of his own seat already, looking as if he might suddenly fall to his knees in front of his companion. “It makes me feel good,” he murmured. One of his fingers stroked gently and apparently aimlessly along Trowa’s thigh. “Is that so bad? I can’t help being damned attractive – damned rich. Can’t help the world fallin' at my feet, askin’ me to tread all over it on the way to whatever takes my fancy…”
“Can’t help the insufferable modesty,” Trowa muttered back.
Quatre grinned. “That’s how I am, hon. Accident of birth. But it doesn’t mean I don’t deserve feelin’ good, the same as anyone else. Everyone does, whatever way they seek it out. I like shoes: I like the feel of fine leather; the warmth of new, well-balanced soles. I like colour and style and lookin' fine. Just ask these sweethearts all around me..." He lifted his hand off Trowa’s knee and waved in the direction of the assistants. There was a sudden, vicious scuffle as they trampled each other's feet in the race to be first to serve him.
"I put ‘em on," he murmured. "And... everything’s all right. Y'see?” He stretched out a foot and looked down at the most recent pair of boots that he’d been trying on. His smile was gentle and relaxed.
“So I deserve it, too? The good feeling?” Trowa knew Quatre was playing to him alone, now, and it pleased him. He wasn’t sure of the wisdom of it – but then, it had been that way since the day he met the man, hadn’t it? And – amazingly enough – he knew he was playing in return.
Quatre was still smiling: Quatre was pleased, too. “You deserve it more than most, Trowa Barton. But for me, it ain’t just the shoes. The good feelin’ comes from a lot more than that. Y’all have your own style, y’know that?”
Trowa grimaced. Despite the teasing tone, Quatre’s gaze was very intense. Trowa shivered. He realised – quite suddenly, quite sincerely - that the effect the man had on him was something far more than entertainment. Dear God, when had he stopped being brutally honest with himself? Maybe it was when he started to feel scared of it all…
“Trowa?” Quatre had risen from the bench, graciously accepting the fawning of the assistants, and passing over his card for his purchases to be charged. He was looking at Trowa expectantly.
Trowa rose too, rather more awkwardly, having been trapped in his uncomfortable seat for too long. He swayed slightly and leant in against Quatre. For a moment, their heads were no more than a couple of inches apart.
“I want to give you that good feelin’,” murmured Quatre. There was a husky tone to his voice. No-one could hear his words, whispered close to Trowa’s ear. “I want you to feel it – and feel it from me. I want nothing more than that, and I want it more than anything else I can think of.”
Trowa felt that shiver again – the one that he suspected was his brutal honesty returning home to roost. He turned slightly until he faced Quatre. He was so close that Quatre’s features were slightly out of focus. He could smell the man’s cologne, alongside the seductive tang of new leather. And Quatre’s skin – God, he could smell that, too. His own skin ached with a strange, hungry melancholy.
It seemed to happen very slowly, and yet so swiftly that it took him by surprise. He didn’t know which was the truth. He felt Quatre’s hair brush against his cheek and the soft ridges of Quatre’s fingertips on his jaw, and then Quatre kissed him.
There was a strangled gasp from the back of the store: someone dropped a couple of shoeboxes on the floor.
Trowa let the warmth and the taste claim him, and for that brief moment the only place that existed for him was where his lips joined Quatre’s. He wondered fleetingly why it wasn’t more of a shock – why it felt as natural as eating; speaking; smiling. Then his thoughts dissipated like smoke blown away by mere sensation. The pleasure trickled down through him, filling his heart, waking a coil of desire in the pit of his groin. He lifted up his hands and gripped Quatre’s shoulders.
Quatre closed his eyes: he couldn’t remember when he’d last done that, since he was always curious to see the effect of his attentions on a new lover. Seemed that all he could think about this time was the effect on him. Seemed that all he could feel was the firm softness of Trowa’s mouth; the taut skin over his jaw; the vibration from his throat as he swallowed. Quatre wondered why his anticipation of this moment had been so pathetically unimaginative – why, despite the hideously unromantic setting, he’d never felt such deep content and vibrant need merging inside of him, from just a kiss. Just a kiss. What the hell did that phrase mean? The hiss of astonishment escaped him, even as he slipped a hand around Trowa’s waist and tried to pull him in more closely than any two fully-clothed, muscular bodies could ever strive to be.
There was the sudden rustle of shopping bags behind them: someone cleared his throat. Trowa suspected it was the manager with the death wish. But he peeled himself away from Quatre, a little shocked by his own reluctance, and watched his companion turn to face the distraction.
Quatre took possession of his account with a quiet, cold civility, and made the appropriate arrangements for his shopping to be despatched to his apartment in town. The scene felt familiar yet surreal to him: his mouth shaped the necessary words to complete his business, but the flesh felt bruised with desire and frustration. Maybe it made him just a little too damned brusque with the manager: despite the man’s frequent apologies for interrupting Mr Winner, he looked ready to cry by the time Quatre turned away.
Trowa was fighting an overwhelming desire to laugh again, but that might have been shock, rather than amusement. It had been a long time since his heartbeat had been that fierce.
Quatre took his arm and led him out of the shop. They stood there, still in the same position as if neither of them wanted to break the contact but were cautious of walking through the mall arm in arm.
“Dear God.” Trowa sighed, very slowly, exhaling his tension along with his breath. “Was that any way to behave in a public store?”
Quatre was unusually flushed. “Couldn’t help m’self,” he breathed. “Guess that’s the Winner way.” His eyelids looked heavy, his expression slightly confused. His lips were still damp.
Trowa nodded. “Daresay you’ve patented it,” he murmured. He sounded a little breathless; wary.
“Not this version,” Quatre countered. His eyes were on Trowa’s mouth, following its movement as the other man spoke. “This is a new prototype. Not been fully tested yet. It’s not…” For a second, his bantering tone wavered. “It’s not robust yet.”
Trowa’s eyes narrowed. “You seem nervous about it, Mr Winner.”
Quatre grimaced, his eyes still on Trowa’s lips. He leaned forward, as if to seek them out again. “Guess I am, Mr Barton. Nervous as the cat on that hot tin roof. Temperature risin’; hairs on the back of my neck leapin’ as lively as fresh spring corn.”
Trowa started to laugh again, just as he’d wanted to in the store, and probably just as inappropriately now, standing in the middle of milling shoppers. “What the hell do you sound like? Drop the nonsense, Quatre. It’s not…”
Quatre looked quizzical. “Not turnin’ your handsome head?”
“It’s not you,” said Trowa, firmly. He looked around quickly – there were people staring at them again, maybe because of the way they stood so closely together, Quatre’s hand still on his arm, or maybe because of his own, indiscreet laughter. He was starting to realise that this would always be the way, if he was with Quatre – they would always attract attention, both welcome and unwanted. “You’re used to this, aren’t you? You don’t hold back from what you want. You don’t get nervous.”
“’Bout you, I do,” Quatre said, so quickly that Trowa was startled. “So damned scared of messing things up, I daren’t do anything but hold back.”
Trowa stopped laughing: he looked back into Quatre’s eyes. For a second they just stared at each other. Quatre’s pupils were dilated, and Trowa wondered if his own were, too. Then he lifted a hand to Quatre’s face and touched it very gently. “Don’t hold back,” he said, barely more than a whisper. “Not on my account.”
Quatre sucked in a breath. He lifted his own hand and caught Trowa’s fingers inside of it. “Is this a date at last, Trowa Barton? Have I dragged you around enough shopping malls and theatres and quaint ol’ whiskey bars for you to call me your date?”
“Is that what you want?” Trowa’s voice was a little breathless. He couldn’t seem to think straight. Quatre’s hand was curled around his, and his face was way too close again. “I don’t know if I…”
Quatre lifted his other hand and pressed a finger against Trowa’s lips, stopping the words. “No promises. No demands. Not for now. Just being here is good. OK?”
Trowa nodded, slowly. His breath felt tight in his chest. “OK.”
Quatre looked as if he’d been caught in headlights. Trowa couldn’t remember ever seeing him look so… stunned. “Y’all want to do supper now? Or…”
It was Trowa’s turn to cut him off. “I’m not that hungry. Though a drink would be good. That fine Italian wine you promised me…”
Quatre nodded: he looked around, as if he’d forgotten where he was. “Will you… walk with me for a while? The restaurant is the other side of town…”
Trowa shook his head. “No restaurant.”
Quatre was briefly startled, then he recognised the warmth in Trowa’s expression. Sweet heaven, was that mischief there, too? A cautious slice of it, but a definite challenge. And if there was one thing Quatre liked, it was challenge! He started to smile again. “I have the wine ready at home, of course. Chilled. It’s my favourite.”
Trowa nodded. “I rather thought you would.” He slipped his arm out from Quatre’s but stayed close. “You know you still have the new shoes on? Maybe you should have changed back in the shop.”
Quatre looked down at his feet, at the black boots. A familiar style, but… well, there was something about them today that was more than new. Something special. He smiled broadly. Damn, but he looked good in ‘em!
He looked back up at Trowa. “No problem,” he replied, slowly. “I’m wearing them home. This is the perfect time to try out something new, don’t y’think?” He didn’t wait for Trowa to reply, and he didn’t need to.
The pair of them were in complete accord.
‘New Shoes’ / Paolo Nutini
Hey, I put some new shoes on,
And suddenly everything is right,
I said, hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody's smiling,
It so inviting,
Oh, short on money,
But long on time,
Slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine,
And I'm running late,
And I dont need an excuse,
'cause I'm wearing my brand new shoes.