Author's note: This is set during the timeline of my other GW fanfic Kimi no Koto wa Itsudemo Mamoru. To read this please go BACK to the Gundam Wing Index.
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and all the characters belong to Sunrise, Bandai... etc etc. Sophy Winner belongs to me!
Quatre Raberba Winner winced as his office door shut. Iria hadn't slammed it, but her dignified, yet disappointed attitude spoke volumes. Quatre sighed and turned away to face the window. He hated doing this to Iria, especially as she was only trying to help, but he couldn't lie about his feelings! It wasn't pleasant for him and it wasn't fair to the girls his elder sister kept trying to set him up with.
Quatre leaned forward, resting his forehead on the cool glass. He stared unseeingly at the street far below. How many did this last girl make? Nine? Ten? He was starting to lose count. Why couldn't Iria see that he would find someone in his own time. After all, he was still young, only just 21. He didn't have to get married yet, leader of the Winner family or not.
But no matter how much he told his sisters, they still kept throwing eligible young women at him from all directions.
The problem was that all the girls were very nice, and he couldn't refuse to take them out at least once – hoping that the instincts of his sisters were correct. And then he was stuck at the restaurant or wherever, with some pretty girl who either bored him to tears or he had nothing in common with.
*Well, hopefully Iria got the message this time,* Quatre thought, *I said that was the last one and I mean it!* He sighed, *She's not going to be happy with me for a while though and Sophy will be even worse…*
His wandering eyes spotted a slender figure walking up to the Winner building. *Speak of the devil…* Quatre half-groaned as he recognized the figure as his sister Sophy.
Sophy Winner was the youngest of Quatre's twenty-nine sisters and was the only other of his sibling, apart Iria, who worked closely with Quatre. His other sisters looked after the Winner interests in other areas and Quatre hardly saw them. However, this close relationship with Quatre gave Sophy and Iria the idea that they had to look after their little brother's personal interests, as well as helping him with the business.
Quatre stepped back. Sophy was probably coming up to rant at him for yet another romantic failure. Iria might retire and keep her annoyance to herself, but Sophy considered it her duty to let Quatre know exactly what was on her mind! And he really didn't feel he wanted to hear that right now. Quatre decided that the best option right now was escape.
*I wonder how Rasid and the other Maganacs are doing on the new construction site…*
The Maganacs were working on the latest set of buildings that the Winner corporation had invested in. The site was intended to contain new housing and shops and the construction was about 75 percent completed. The Maganacs had taken on the job, as they had all the others previously, so that they could be useful and stay close to Quatre at the same time. Quatre would often protest that he no longer required their protection, but the Maganacs would grin and say that _they_ wanted to stay and there was nothing he could do to stop them! Quatre was actually very glad they had decided to stay, they had shared so much, he couldn't imagine not having them nearby.
"Quatre-sama!" Abdul hailed the young blond man as he entered the site. "This isn't your day to inspect the site."
Quatre smiled. "I know Abdul, but I needed some fresh air," he then looked worried. "But if you would rather I left, I can go, I don't want to be in the way."
Abdul shook his head. "Quatre-sama, you are ALWAYS welcome!" his eyes narrowed slightly. "This need for air wouldn't have anything to do with that young lady that Iria-san set you up with?"
Quatre blushed slightly. "Well… yes," he sighed. "I disappointed Iria again and I didn't want to wait for Sophy to catch me!" he looked around the site. "Is Rasid here?"
Abdul pointed to the tall leader of the Maganacs who was directing a crew. "He's been here all day, cracking the whip over our heads as usual!"
Quatre laughed, waved to Abdul and walked over to Rasid. Since his father's death and the end of the war, Quatre considered Rasid in the light of a second father and would often talk to him about things that troubled him. He hoped that Rasid wasn't too busy at the moment as he really needed his advice.
Rasid was only too pleased to take a break and help Quatre. They retired to the foreman's tent and sat down.
Quatre told Rasid what had happened and ended his spiel with a sigh. "I really don't know what else to do, Rasid," he said. "My sisters mean well and I don't want to hurt them, but this constant hurling of young women my way has to stop!"
Rasid leaned back. "I understand that you feel uncomfortable, Quatre-sama," he said. "But… they have a point, you are the only male Winner, and you will need an heir."
Quatre looked plaintively at Rasid. "Not you too! Rasid, I have time, plenty of time, I'm young still!"
Rasid regarded him gravely. "Your friend Maxwell was young."
Quatre swallowed. Duo… killed in an accident over a year ago and still fresh in his mind. The loss of his friend had been a terrible blow to Quatre and he felt as if the link, which bound himself and the other ex-Gundam pilots together, had been irrevocably torn. He shook his head. "Rasid, I understand that, but…"
"And we all want to see you happy," Rasid interrupted. "Happy and settled with someone who makes you smile."
Quatre blushed. "I have you, my sisters…"
"Family is not the same," said Rasid sternly. "Nor are we." he added. Then Rasid leaned forward and smiled. "But we want to see you with the right person Quatre-sama."
"Well, none of the girls my sisters push at me are the right ones!" commented Quatre.
Quatre and Rasid jumped slightly as Quatre's name was shouted across the site. Quatre sighed resignedly.
"Sophy's found me…"
Sophy Winner burst into the tent and looked down on the two seated men. She was a pretty woman of twenty-four with wavy brown hair and bright gray eyes. "I thought I'd find you here, if you weren't in the office," she said. "You need a better hiding place little brother!"
Quatre laughed at that and stood up. "I'm sorry, Sophy, but I just couldn't face a lecture today."
Sophy blinked. "Eh? What do you mean?"
"About the girl I went out with…"
"Oh, that!" Sophy waved her hands, dismissing the topic. "I knew she was wrong for you, but Iria wouldn't listen! ANYway, what I came to tell you is that the circus is coming to town!"
Quatre's eyes widened. "_The_ circus?"
She nodded. "Yes, I got a call from Trowa, he couldn't get through to your office," she shot him an accusing look.
Quatre winced. "Sorry, I turned off the phone while I was with Iria, and I must have forgotten to turn it on again," he smiled. "But this is good news, I haven't seen Trowa and Catherine in months! When are they arriving?"
Sophy grabbed his hand. "They'll be arriving in about… fifteen minutes, so if you wan to meet them…"
"Right," Quatre turned to Rasid. "I'll think about what you said," he smiled. "Thank you."
Rasid nodded. "I'm glad to help Quatre-sama," a broad smile crossed his face as the siblings ran off. "But I think with the arrival of these friends you will be free for a while!"
The circus troop had arrived by the time Quatre and Sophy arrived at the dock. Animals and equipment were being loaded onto transports and dozens of circus employees were milling around. Quatre and Sophy dodged between the people, Quatre acknowledging the greetings he received from various people. He smiled to himself over this familiarity as he continued to look through the crowd for the familiar form of his friend Trowa Barton.
Trowa. Another Gundam pilot. The one out of the five that Quatre felt closest to. They had kept in contact over the years and Quatre _always_ made time to see Trowa whenever the circus came to L4.
"Quatre! There they are!" Sophy yanked on his arm, pulling him to the right.
Quatre looked and saw Trowa standing by one of the animal cages, checking on the lion inside. Beside Trowa stood the pretty figure of Catherine Bloom, Trowa's performance partner and 'big sister'.
"Trowa!" Quatre yelled out. He jogged up to them waving. "Catherine!"
Trowa turned and saw the blond Arabian man coming towards him. A slight smile crossed his normally pensive face and his eyes, partially hidden by the shock of brown bangs that half-hid his face, widened a fraction. "Quatre."
Catherine also turned and she smiled broadly. "Quatre, I wondered if you would come to greet us!" She saw Sophy running up behind Quatre. "Sophy, you too?"
"Of course!" panted Sophy. "I wasn't going to miss the arrival of my friend!"
Sophy and Catherine had met two years ago and became friends quickly. Quatre was glad that his sister had made such a fast friend of his best friend's sister. His own friendship with Catherine was good, but they were not terribly close. Their initial meeting had not been good, since Trowa had had amnesia at the time and Catherine regarded Quatre as a threat to her 'little brother's' safety. It had taken a while before she could forgive Quatre for being responsible for Trowa going back into battle.
However, all that was in the past now and the smile that Catherine turned on Quatre was genuinely warm.
The four chatted for a while, well, actually it was Catherine, Sophy and Quatre who chatted. Trowa was still not much of a talker, but he listened and smiled as Quatre told him what had been happening on L4.
"Anyway," Quatre finished. "You and Catherine will come over to dinner tonight?"
Catherine bit her lip. "Quatre, we'll be setting up tonight, could we take a rain check?"
"Quatre can come and eat with us," said Trowa quietly. "It's no problem."
Catherine blinked. "It's not very... stylish..."
Quatre laughed. "That's alright! I don't need to eat off a golden plate, not every night anyway!" he glanced at Catherine and Trowa. "I'd love to come if I may."
Catherine shrugged. "If you're sure you don't mind squishing into a tent with a lot of people and eating goulash..."
"I love goulash," said Quatre seriously.
Trowa made a sound suspiciously like a laugh and Catherine blinked again. She shook her head. "I'm sorry, Quatre, I didn't mean to make it sound as if you were a snob," she laughed. "I just..."
"Stop now while you're ahead," advised Sophy. "Don't put your other foot in your mouth!"
"Hahaha..." Catherine rolled her eyes.
"Master Quatre!" A elegantly clad secretary ran up to them. "Master Quatre, there is an urgent matter that's just come up!"
Quatre sighed. "I see, thank you," he looked apologetically at Trowa and Catherine. "I'm sorry, but I have to go."
Trowa nodded. "Duty calls."
Quatre smiled. "Yes indeed and this duty is more relentless than mobile dolls!" he stepped back. "I'll see you tonight?"
"Yes," said Trowa.
"I'll come with you," said Sophy to Quatre. "I think I know what this is about. See you later Catherine!"
"Come tonight if you like, Sophy!" Catherine called as the pair left.
Trowa turned back to the cages. "Let's continue."
Catherine nodded. "Mmm," she glanced back after Quatre and Sophy. "Trowa? Do you think that Quatre looks a bit strained?"
"Is he working to hard?"
Catherine smiled. "Well, I guess we'll have to get him to relax, right?"
Trowa smiled back at her. "Yes, sister."
Later that evening:
Quatre entered the last bit of data and saved it before switching off the computer with a weary sigh.
Sophy, who was working at the other end of the office, glanced up. "Tired little brother?"
Quatre stretched. "Yes, that request from the Fuuma corporation for the urgent materials made today's workload jump up by 25 percent!" he yawned. "Still, I'll be able to relax with Trowa and Catherine tonight."
"Just don't stay up too late," said Sophy as she shut down her own computer. "Remember the function tomorrow night, that will probably go into the small hours of the morning."
Quatre groaned. "Oh yes, _that_. I have to admit Sophy, I really don't enjoy these functions. All that sweet talk and underhand dealing... why can't people be more honest with each other?"
"Human nature," said Sophy philosophically. "Anyway, you'd enjoy it more if you had someone to talk to," a cunning expression appeared on her face. "Which brings me to this idea I had..."
Quatre looked at her in growing alarm. "Sophy... no! Not another one!"
"Oh Quatre!" Sophy shot him a pleading glance. "She's really _very_ nice and very pretty! Just give her a chance!"
Quatre sighed. "Sophy..."
"Lisel is sooo sweet!" Sophy continued relentlessly. "I'm sure that she is the ONE!" she rummaged in her pockets. "I have a photo somewhere... hmmm... maybe I left it in my outer coat pocket..." she went to the door. "Wait here and I'll get it. I promise, once you see Lisel's picture you won't say no!" and with that Sophy left.
Quatre drummed his fingers on the desk. No, not again! He'd had enough! Then he sighed. *But I won't be able to refuse and I'll be stuck tomorrow... unless... I escape (again) before Sophy gets back...*
With this thought in mind, Quatre bolted for the fire-escape. Keying in the code to disable the alarm he opened the door. *Hmmm.... forty flights in darkness... oh well...* He closed the door behind him.
Sophy came back in waving a photo excitedly. "Here it is! Now... huh? Where...?" she scowled. "_Quatre_ you sneak!!"
Trowa raised an eyebrow and stared at Quatre as he entered the tent
that Trowa lived in. "How did you get that cut?"
he asked pointing to the minute cut on Quatre's forehead.
Quatre put his hand to his head and laughed. "I fell down a flight of stairs," he confessed.
Catherine entering the tent overheard him and looked at him in concern. "Are you alright otherwise?" she asked.
"Yes," Quatre smiled at her. "Just a few bruises, nothing serious."
"How did you fall down in the first place?" Catherine asked. She pulled out a First Aid kit and took out some antiseptic and a plaster.
"I was running down the fire escape in pitch backness!"
Trowa raised both eyebrows.
Catherine leaned over Quatre and dabbed at his cut. "Oookay... _why_ were you...?"
"Thank you Catherine... Well, I was escaping Sophy, my matchmaking sister has another potential girlfriend in mind for me!"
Trowa shook his head. "I understand how you feel," he looked at Catherine who blushed faintly.
"I thought you _liked_ June!" she protested as she put the plaster on Quatre.
"And Lucy? And Misa?" Trowa sighed. "Catherine..."
Quatre chuckled. "It must be a sister thing!"
Catherine looked a bit huffy. "Well, I'm not as bad as _your_ sisters Quatre!" she put the kit away. "Why was Sophy all gung-ho about this one?"
Quatre sighed. "Oh, Sophy thinks that this new girl would be the perfect date for this evening function that I have to go to tomorrow, so that I would have some company."
"It's not a bad idea," said Catherine.
"No, it's not," agreed Quatre. "But I don't want to spend the evening with a girl I hardly know, who I probably won't like. It would be better to be alone!"
Trowa regarded his friend thoughtfully. There was an idea that had been in the back of his mind for a while, more of a daydream really. But... now he wondered if it just might work.
"Take Catherine," he said.
"What?" Catherine and Quatre both stared at Trowa.
"Take Catherine to the function," Trowa expanded.
Quatre blinked, glanced at Catherine and then at Trowa. "Well, I... well..."
"You get along well with her."
"And she gets along well with you."
"Yes, I suppose it's not a bad idea when you put it like that," Quatre looked back at Catherine. "Catherine? Would you want to go?"
Catherine frowned slightly. "I don't know if this is very appropriate," she said. "I mean, I wouldn't know how to behave in those circles... I would just embarrass you..."
Quatre smiled. "Catherine, none of my friends enables me," he stood up and bowed to her. "Miss Bloom, I would be delighted if you would be my date tomorrow night!"
Catherine hesitated. She did like Quatre. He was a nice guy and he was such a good friend to Trowa, but she had never associated with him outside of Trowa's company. *When it comes down to it, I hardly know him,* she thought, *And the circles he moves in... they're _way_ beyond my reach! But... it would make Trowa happy if I helped him out and... and I am a _little_ curious to see how the other half lives it up!*
Catherine curtsied to Quatre. "Mister Raberba Winner I would be honoured!"
Quatre smiled. "Thank you Catherine! I really do appreciate this, and Sophy can't complain!" he paused. "At least I hope not!"
Catherine smiled. "I'll talk to her," she promised. "Perhaps I can get her to lay off for a while!"
Quatre blushed. "I will be in your debt."
Trowa watched his best friend and his sister and smiled. Well, it looked like this idea was a good one and who knew? _Something_ could happen between them...
To be continued.
Go on to Part Two
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