by Murasaki

Trowa shook the proffered hand. He found he was rather happy to see his old comrade-in-arms. "It's been a long time," he murmured.

Heero gave a short nod, his eyes startlingly warm. "Yes, it has."

"Are you our host?"

A smile quirked at one corner of his mouth. "No. I only work for him. He'd like to see you and I've come to bring you to the house."

He was perplexed. "Why? I mean, does he have a thing for ex-gundam pilots?"

Heero smirked as he moved back towards the jeep. "You might say that. Come on, Trowa. I don't like to keep him waiting."

The two men drove back in relative silence, neither of them inclined to making small talk. It wasn't until the mansion came into view that Trowa spoke. "What exactly do you do?"

"My title is chief of security, which means I'm a glorified bodyguard," he said as he eased the vehicle into the circular drive. "Suits my abilities. I've been here since the end of the war."

Trowa climbed out of the jeep and followed Heero to the door. "Oh? You like your boss that much?"

"He gave me a job when no one else would. I've been very fortunate," he said quietly, the gratitude in his voice clear.

The two men continued their journey through the house to the office wing in silence, Trowa taking note of his luxurious surroundings as they went. Finally, they reached an office which was clearly Heero's. The desk was made of wood--something unheard of in those times. The only things on it were a computer and a framed photograph. The walls were bare save for one painting, which hung between the windows behind his desk.

Heero pressed a button on the desk before him, and Trowa caught a glimpse of the thin gold band on his left hand. "You got married?"

Heero nodded. "We live in a cottage at the edge of the estate."

Trowa cocked an eyebrow at him. "Relena lives in a cottage?"

Heero shook his head. "I didn't marry her. If I had, everything we fought for would have been for nothing, because I would've definitely made good on my threat."

"Then who?"

He picked up a silver picture frame from the middle of his desk and turned it towards Trowa. A cheekily grinning, tuxedo-clad young man with a long, brown braid and a champagne flute firmly clutched in one hand stared back at him from behind the glass.

Trowa was stunned. "Duo?"

Blue eyes that once struck fear in the hearts of his enemies shone with uncharacteristic tenderness. "Once I told you to follow your emotions. Two years ago, I decided to take my own advice. That picture was taken at our wedding reception."

Trowa was pleased by the changes he had seen in him, and he smiled softly. "I'm sorry I missed it."

Heero nodded again, his calm gaze meeting his. "We were too, Trowa," he replied quietly.

Before Trowa could say anything more, the phone rang and Heero answered it. The call was brief, and Heero gestured to the door as he replaced the receiver. "He's ready to see you now."

Trowa stood and made his way to the large double doors to the left of Heero's desk. Behind them, he found a larger office, done in creams and browns, and dominated by the desk in the middle. But all those details were forgotten when he saw his host.

Gentle, aquamarine eyes smiled at him as a wistful voice chimed out his name. "Trowa."

All he could do was stare at the golden haired young man across the room. Quatre had barely changed. He had grown a few inches in height, but otherwise he still looked very much like the boy he once was.

The bright smile which Trowa had always cherished grew wider. "You can sit down, if you like. I hardly think I'm that intimidating."

Slightly embarrassed, Trowa came to his senses and sank into one of the overstuffed chairs in front of the desk just as Quatre sat in the one opposite. "I never thought we would meet again like this," Trowa said.

"Neither did I," he answered. "When Heero told me he had seen you, I couldn't quite believe it. I didn't know if you would be with Catherine or not."

"How did you get involved with a children's hospital anyway?"

"It's my latest pet project. The hospital is woefully in need of repairs and new equipment. I'm hoping we get enough money so that they can build a new wing as well. They could use more room. If we don't, I am considering putting up the cash anonymously," he added.

"That's generous of you, Quatre."

"It's nothing. I've done things like that many times before. I only wish I could do more for them," he said softly. Trowa noticed the sad, distant look in the other's eyes, and it looked so wrong in such a young face. Then Trowa realized that where he had learned about rejection, Quatre had apparently learned about guilt. His philanthropy was his way of atoning for his past.

The somber mood lifted quickly, and Quatre was his usual cheerful self again. Trowa couldn't help but wonder if Duo wasn't the only one good at masking his pain behind a grin.

"I'm afraid I won't be able to see you much the rest of this week," he explained, wearily waving a slim hand in the direction of his folder-littered desk. "I have too much work to catch up on."

Disappointment fluttered vaguely over Trowa's features. "Oh."

"I'm on a bit of a deadline," Quatre continued. "You see, around this time every year, I send all the household staff on holiday for two weeks, and then I take one myself. No phones, no visitors, just me and the house and the grounds."

"Sounds nice," Trowa murmured.

"It is," Quatre sighed dreamily. Then his face lit up suddenly. "I've got an idea. After the fundraiser is over, why...why don't you join me? I mean, if you'd like to spend that much time here."

Trowa smiled. No, Quatre hadn't changed; he was as exuberant and open as ever. "I'm due for a break I suppose," he answered. "Yes. I would like to join you."


On to part three. Back to part one.