AN: Written for the Trowa Threesome contest at GW Menage A Trois. My thanks to Spinfrog and Nayla for betaing this fic.
Distance is a killer for relationships. This applies to both physical as well as mental distance. Of course, they often co-exist. Out of sight, out of mind, out of heart.
To some extent, this is what happened to Trowa and Quatre. Immediately after the war they were very close, but soon both of them were increasingly drawn to the separate responsibilities they had taken upon themselves; Quatre as the new head of Winner Enterprises, Trowa as the rising star of A Circus. There was not a wisecrack on then name of either workplace they hadn't heard.
Their lives grew apart as time passed; both were wrapped up with their jobs, their separate sets of friends and contacts - their individual lives. Frequent visits became rarer, slowly turning into long conversations over vidphones that grew steadily shorter - and ever more meaningless. Calls were substituted by emails and sporadic letters; visits went far less passionate and gradually more platonic. Lovers became friends, became virtually strangers; mere hours apart grew into days, days into weeks - and in the end, they barely even noticed that the other had drifted away.
At least, that's what they told themselves, whenever they felt lonely; felt the regret of letting a good thing slip away. They had chosen separate paths, if but only in part by themselves.
The office intercom came to life with a faint background hiss. "Sir?"
Quatre put down the memo he was reading, and pushed the reply button. "Yes, Valerie?"
There was a slight pause; from experience Quatre assumed his head secretary was arguing with someone nearby. She was very good at protecting his precious time - no client or call was to disturb her boss unless it was very important indeed, and urgent to boot. It took enough effort to get past any of the secretaries in the office pool a floor down. To get past Valerie was a far greater achievement.
"Sir, there is a man here-" Quatre made a mental note of how she practically spat the word out; whoever it was had not done much to ingratiate himself with her. Yet, he had still gotten her to interrupt- "-and he insists he doesn't need an appointment to see you. Now, I've told him-"
Quatre smiled. "That's okay, Valerie. Does he have a name, an errand...?"
There was a pause again. "Sir, he says he's here to visit 'blondie', and that no 'mere paper-pusher' is to stop that from happening when he's just a door away. Now, I'm telling- Get back here, young man! Sir - sir, I think he intends to barge in. Should I call security?"
Soft chuckle. "No, no need. If it is only one man, I think I can handle it, Valerie. Besides, I believe it's someone I know - I'll open the door for him." Quatre let go of the intercom button, and tapped another at the side panel of his mahogany desk. A distant click signalled the massive oak doors to his office were now unlocked - and no later did they slide open. A man in a long-sleeved white coat entered, his straight black hair tied back in a ponytail, eyes just as dark honing in at Quatre. The man closed the doors behind him without looking back. "Hello, Winner."
Quatre stood up. "Wufei - good to see you."
Curt nod. "And you."
Quatre replied in kind. "Oh - please, have a seat." He gestured to the two leather armchairs before his desk.
Quatre sat down again, put his elbows on the desk, folded his hands and rested his chin close above it, but not quite on it. "So, what brings you to me? Judging from the last message I got from you, I thought you were swamped by Preventer work, and-"
Soft smile. "What, can't I simply come to visit a friend?" He paused, waiting for an answer. He knew Quatre's smile was all he would get. "But you're correct - I am busy with Preventer affairs, and that is what brings me to L4. However, only I brings me to you. It's been a long time since I saw you last, and I wanted to take advantage of this chance." Slight snort. "Your nanny out there refused to let me pass, though. I thought-"
"Valerie is very good at her job - part of which is keeping troublemakers away from me."
This amused Wufei somewhat. "Troublemakers?"
"Well, you have to admit, barging into someone's office unannounced isn't something to be considered proper behavior - not in my world, at least. Not that you would have gotten through the door anyway, if I hadn't suspected who you were from what you told her - but for a moment, I thought-"
"You thought it was Duo."
Quatre hesitated for a moment, but nodded. "But the frustration over paperwork is more like you. Duo has gotten used to government forms through his job - but if I recall correctly, you've always hated the intricacies of bureaucracy."
Snort. "Red tape always delays important work. Everything has to be done in triplicate, and in very roundabout ways. I prefer more direct approaches than that." Sigh. "Sadly, some of my favorite ways of getting difficult jobs done would probably leave me without a Preventer badge as well."
Chuckle. "Probably. Wufei, I-"
The intercom crackled to life again. "Sir, I'm sorry to interrupt, but you asked me to remind you of your twelve thirty appointment?"
Quatre clenched one fist, along with his teeth. "Damn, forgot about that." He pushed the button. "That's fine, Valerie. Thank you." He looked up to Wufei again. "I'm terribly sorry, Wufei - I made arrangements for a late lunch with a business associate today. If I had known you were coming, I'd have-"
Wufei held up both palms, before slapping them against his knees and getting to his feet. "No, that's okay, Quatre. I know you're a busy man. I have to find a hotel to stay at anyway, and-"
Quatre, also standing up, nearly frowned. "Nonsense. While you're here at L4, you're staying with me. My home is certainly big enough for a friend to stay for a while. I'll make a call and have the staff prepare one of the guest bedrooms and-"
Soft laughter. "Don't bother, Winner. I can take care of myself."
"I know - but it's been so long since I've seen any of you guys, I was hoping-"
Wufei looked a little surprised. "Any of us? Quatre, what do you mean? Isn't-"
Diversion. "Wufei, you're going to stay at my place. I insist." He thought for a moment, then gave a faintly conspiratorial smile. "If you protest, I might have to sick Victoria on your case, and-"
Wufei put his right hand over his forehead, closed his eyes, made a lopsided smile and sighed. "Fine."
Quatre nodded, already shuffling papers into a small brown leather briefcase. "Uhm, I'll probably be busy in meetings the rest of the day, and-"
"Don't worry, Quatre. I have some research to do for my investigation. It would probably take a while."
"Okay... How about dinner tonight, then? A good meal, some time to let us catch up...?"
Nod. "Sounds great."
Great smile. "It's a deal, then." Quatre reached for a business card, hurriedly scribbled down a phone number and handed the note to Wufei. "My number is printed on the card, and the one I wrote is for my butler. I'll give him a call when I get to the cab and let him know about this. In an hour or so, you call him and settle the rest. He'll give you directions, in case you've forgotten where-"
Chuckle. "Oh, I remember the way." Wufei pocketed the card. "Fine, I'll give him a call and drop off my bags. Spaceport security is probably done sifting through them now..."
Already on the way to the door, Quatre paused, one brow raised. "They held back your luggage?"
Shrug. "Apparently, they're not too keen on Preventers. As soon as they saw my badge, they demanded a full search. They let me get through right away, though - wouldn't want to 'obstruct justice', I think one of the security guards said."
Hesitation. "What you're investigating... is it dangerous?"
Sigh, slight smile. "No, probably not. From the looks of it, it'll be a boring routine job, just a little recon - hardly worth sending a field agent to deal with, and-" He waved the thought away. "Forget it, Quatre. I didn't mean to hold you up from your lunch date. Don't worry about me."
Not entirely convinced, Quatre still started walking again. "Okay... Uhm, see you tonight at dinner? Is around eight okay?"
Sunshine returning. "You'll love Claire's cooking. She's the best chef I've ever had - see you later, Wufei."
And with that, he was gone.
Wufei lingered for a moment, and then traced Quatre's path out of the building, and on the way he acknowledged Valerie's scowl from behind her desk with a curt nod.
Quatre's guest bedroom - one of them - was as lavish as Wufei remembered it - and then some. While he hadn't planned to manipulate Quatre into shacking him up, he knew his stay would be far more comfortable here than at any of the hotels than Preventer travelling expenses would cover, and thus decided to enjoy the little break offered. Besides, it was nice to meet up with a friend again. He hadn't seen Quatre in a long time, and it had been months since he had had business near Sank, Mars or L2. It wasn't that he didn't consider Lady Une and Sally Po friends - it was simply that most times, the labels of co-workers - or as the case varied, bosses - overruled the feel of friendship.
Quatre was right; the food was delicious. Half of Wufei's attention went to savouring it, and with the rest, he listened to Quatre's tales of the corporate world. Fortunately, they were of a light variety; mostly smaller mishaps and great opportunities, none of them tedious with detail. Still, one particular overall 'detail' seemed to be missing from Quatre's stories. Wufei bid his time in asking about it, and instead tried to reciprocate with telling of events in his own illustrious and just as brief career. He wasn't sure which of them had the better tales to tell.
Taking in another mouthful, Quatre reached for his glass. He didn't normally stuff himself like this, but the food tasted even better than usual, and he had good company. Perhaps the two were related. As a mixed blessing, the accompanying beverage loosened his tongue as well. Some things were hard to talk about unaided.
Wufei looked up from his plate. "Hm?"
"What about your personal life?"
Wufei put his fork down. "What do you mean?"
Quatre drew a relaxed breath and smiled softly. "Your personal life. You've told me all about your work with the Preventers, but very little about life outside work."
Wufei reached for his glass, took a sip. "Same to you."
Chuckle. "I don't have a life outside my job, Wufei." Sigh. "So, come on - how are things between you and Sally?"
Raised brow. "Sally?" He shrugged, tried not to show he was a little bothered by the question. They were partners at the Preventers, and fairly good friends - but that wasn't what Quatre was angling for, Wufei was certain of that. "We're good, I suppose."
Quatre rubbed a fingertip along the brim of his glass, resting his chin in his free palm. "How good?"
Wufei didn't answer, merely stared at the table.
"Oh, come on, Wufei. Are you saying you haven't even thought of making a move against her? That you're not attracted by her?"
Wufei knew the answer, but didn't offer it. The answer was yes - and that was the trouble, right there. He suspected Sally saw him like more of a trusted co-worker, if not as kind of a little brother in need of looking-out for, than a prospective boyfriend. Certainly, he had made lax attempts at changing that; all fairly subtle - as subtle as he could manage and still live with himself, that is. Yet, every time he started, he hesitated, afraid that whatever he was about to say or do would hurt their professional relationship. He felt more comfortable working with Sally than anybody else at the agency - despite the fact he had somewhat of a crush on her.
He really didn't want to answer Quatre's inquiries. Instead, he opted to turn the tables; counter-attack. It was time to ask about the missing element - or rather, the missing man; Trowa. Why wasn't Barton here? Winner and Barton were practically glued together in the time immediately following the wars, and in the interim between. Why wasn't he here now? Not wanting to waste time, he went directly for it. "Quatre, where's Trowa?"
Quatre's smile faded away. He straightened up, reached for his glass and downed the remainder. "He left." Quatre reached for the bottle, wanting a refill.
"Left? Just like that?"
Drawn-out sigh. "No... Not 'just like that'... I... I don't know what happened. One moment we were happy - I was happy, at least - and the next, he just wasn't there when - if I came home anymore." Glass refilled, he took a sip. The liquid burned at his throat, but he knew he was imagining it. Even so, it quelled the fires further down. "It started about a year ago. Business for Winner Enterprises took a major upswing, and I was swallowed up in work. A few of my sisters pulled out of management, and that didn't help any. I had to cover for them. I had less and less time for Trowa, and he couldn't very well live his life after my timetable, either. I knew he had things he wanted to do, places to be..." Quatre slowly shook his glass, studied the spinning liquid. "He returned to the circus - it was only for a little while, at first. Small visits, guest performances, that sort of thing. We still loved each other - I know I loved him. Still do, only... He's not here anymore. We... outgrew each other, I suppose."
Wufei waited for his friend to continue, but silence prevailed for nearly a minute. Wufei took the initiative again. "Quatre, that sounds very odd to me. You two were awfully close, and-"
"Quatre, listen to me. If Trowa wanted more of your time, why didn't you-"
Quatre looked up, his eyes hardened. "Why didn't I do something about it? Oh, I did. I learned how to delegate my duties, how to free up my time for myself, for us - but I did it too late. By then, he had already returned to the circus, and all we had left was a long-distance relationship - a relationship that kept dwindling. I- I haven't even talked to him for a few months now. It's been all emails." Sigh. "And two weeks since the last. We're down to friends again, I think. Neither of us has said anything official, but somehow..."
"Have you even tried to save your relationship, Quatre? You have time for him now, don't you?"
Quatre bit his lip, stared at the glass, and downed another gulp. "I... I was afraid. I still am. I don't know what he'd say if I told him to come back to me now. What if it was my inattention that pushed him away? What if he doesn't feel anything for me anymore?" He shook his head. "No, I don't dare do that."
Wufei was about to push onward, but was interrupted by the butler bringing the dessert car in. Quatre welcomed the break, a little too obviously. He was a bit reluctant at dismissing the butler for the evening. While the cold dish was appealing, Wufei was troubled by Quatre's revelation. He'd considered his and Barton's relationship as somewhat of a constant in the universe. What was next; Maxwell and Yuy breaking up? Lady Une renouncing custody of Mariemeia? Relena Peacecraft promoting warfare? He shook his head. No, he definitely didn't like this turn of events.
They started talking again, albeit on far easier topics. Politics, in particular - how the new government was coping. Or, as the case varied, wasn't. Their lackluster love lives were suddenly a non-topic; both afraid that opening that Pandora's Box again would only come back to hurt them.
Wufei was done with his dish by the time he noticed how Quatre had trouble finishing his. There was something about the way the blond handled his spoon. It slipped in his lax grip, and more than once it missed the bowl on the way down. Wufei looked at Quatre's face, then gave a thin smile. "Quatre, you're drunk."
Quatre managed to land the spoon in the bowl, but let it slip through his fingers. "M'not..." he answered, hiccupped and grinned rather sheepishly.
Snicker. "Oc-cay, maybe a little..." He steadied himself against the table, waited a moment, before he tried to stand up. He failed on his first try, and almost missed his chair. Wufei got to his feet and went to his side, offering a helping hand. "Come on, I'll help you upstairs."
Grudgingly, Quatre accepted.
Wufei put Quatre's arm over his shoulders, and the two shuffled towards the main staircase. Wufei realized Quatre had gone through a growth spurt since last they'd seen each other - Wufei's slight advantage in height was now rather marginalized, if not overcome. Quatre's slouch made it tricky to verify with any accuracy. Still, right now, that was to their benefit; it made the walk up the stairs easier. Wufei silently cursed the servants of the Winner household for being so discrete, not being available to help at a time like this - but this was perhaps better than to embarrass both them and Quatre.
...if this was the first time Quatre was drunk, that is. Wufei looked at his friend from the corner of his eye. No, he didn't think this was a habit of Quatre's. He hadn't had that much to drink, and if he got drunk often, he should have gained a little more tolerance for alcohol. Of course, that only made him feel guilty, for in that case, he had probably been the one to trigger Quatre's excessive drinking - by his words, if not simply by his visit.
It seemed like an eternity before they reached the second floor. Wufei paused. "Which way is your room, Winner?"
Quatre yawned, slouching ever more over Wufei's shoulders. "They're all mine..."
Low growl. "Focus, Quatre. Which way?"
The blond slowly raised his free arm, and made a lax point down the hall before letting the arm slump back down along his side.
"Okay," Wufei answered, and started down that way.
"Thangs f'r helping me," Quatre slurred, flashing him a crooked smile before another hiccup. "Ish really schweet of you..."
Grunt. They reached a great double door in dark, solid oak.
"Tha's it..." Quatre mumbled.
Wufei nodded, and tried to steady Quatre up against the wall before he attempted to open the doors. That done, he returned to support Quatre, only to have the blond practically stumble into his arms, burying his face against Wufei's neck. Wufei felt the warm breath against his skin, heard the slight chuckle - and he definitely felt the hand pawing at his buttocks. He struggled to push the blond away. "Quatre..." he growled.
Eyes practically closed, the young man only gave him a sheepish grin, then draped himself over Wufei's shoulder again.
It took a little more effort to haul Quatre over to his bed. Once there, Wufei tried to deposit him gently - albeit he was tempted to simply drop him onto the mattress and leave, as an answer to the frisky fingers. Quatre stretched out on the bed immediately, then started curling up. Wufei helped him out of his shoes. He hesitated for a moment, looking at the buttons of Quatre's shirt and pants. Muttering a slight curse, he unbuttoned the top three of Quatre's shirt. He didn't want the blond to die of asphyxiation, after all. Then there was the matter of the other set of buttons...
At first, he was perfectly willing to ignore them. Even so he started reaching for them, but stopped himself a good handbreadth away. He wanted to make Quatre comfortable, but it was better to leave well enough alone; leave Quatre to sleep it off like this. He was about to pull back his hand, when Quatre decided otherwise.
The blond grabbed Wufei's hand and pushed the palm down over his crotch, ignoring the slight spasms that went through Wufei's fingers. "Mmm... yeah..." Quatre mumbled, already half asleep. Luckily for Wufei, that also meant his grip was fairly weak. He wrestled free, hurriedly undid two buttons, and was about to stand up when Quatre grabbed his wrist. "Schtay... Please?"
Wufei sighed, scooted up a little along the bedside, brushed a stray patch of blond curls away from Quatre's forehead. "Quatre, you're drunk - and if you're suggesting what I think you are, that's a moot point. You'd know that, if you were sober. I'm straight, remember?"
Wufei wasn't prepared for the sudden strength Quatre exerted, pulling at his wrist, making him lose his balance. Another hand went for his neck, steering the momentum of his fall, and though Wufei managed to slow it somewhat, he couldn't do it in time to prevent Quatre from pulling him close enough for a kiss.
It was sloppy, weak, laced with alcohol - but a kiss, nevertheless.
Wufei struggled free, glared down at the blond, heard the soft chuckle. "Tha's 'cause you hav't met the right guy yet..." Quatre slurred, then rolled over.
For a short while, Wufei sat there, wondering what the hell that meant. He touched his violated lips. Damn, they had to clear this thing up, fast. Even if he was drunk, Quatre shouldn't have acted like that, shouldn't have-
Wufei reached for Quatre's shoulder, intent on making the blond face him, and giving him a piece of his mind. Right before he could touch him, though, there was a loud snore. He sighed. Waking a sleeping drunk wasn't a task he felt particularly up to. Instead, he'd leave it be, at least for tonight. He was certain Quatre wouldn't have made any of those advances on him if he were sober. He lingered for a moment, got to his feet, draped the cover sheet over Quatre, and slowly walked out the door, heading for his own room.
Sleep came remarkably easy.
After he had carefully locked his door from the inside, that is.
Even though he got up late, the breakfast table was not set when he reached the dining room. All traces of yesterday's meal were tidied up though, and the butler gave him a slight nod as Wufei entered. "Good morning, sir."
"Good morning - has Quatre left already?"
The butler hesitated. "No, sir. Young master Quatre has not yet risen. Would you like us to prepare you a light breakfast? An appetizer perhaps, awaiting the master's arrival?"
Nod. "That would be fine, thanks."
With a curt bow, the butler went away. Wufei sat down at the table. By the time Quatre staggered into the room, still wearing yesterday's rumpled clothes, the top three shirt buttons still undone, Wufei had gotten as far as being served a cup of coffee.
"Good morning, Quatre."
Low incomprehensible mutter. Quatre wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and slumped down on a chair, rubbing his temples. "Please, not so loud..."
Smirk, soft inquiry. "Hangover?"
Slow nod. The butler entered with another cup of coffee. Quatre was very grateful for it - albeit the small, ornamented box the butler handed him next earned an even greater smile. "Your vitamins, sir. Your personal physician insists you take them."
Wufei raised a brow, willing to bet good money the pill box contained something for severe headaches rather than dietary supplements. Yes, Quatre's staff was discrete indeed. Then again, even on the odd chance they hadn't heard the ruckus of him carrying Quatre upstairs last night, they could probably guess the result by noticing how little was left of the bottle of wine. Wufei waited for Quatre to down both the pills and half the cup, before asking. "Remember anything from yesterday?"
Quatre's eyes hazed over for a moment, reflecting. "We were eating, talking... I got drunk, you helped me-" Short intake of breath, quick gain of cheek color. Yes, evidently he did remember. "Oh, Wufei - I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to - I didn't intend to-"
Snort, smile. "That's okay, Quatre. I'm not offended. I know you weren't in full control of yourself last night, and-"
Guilt was much too obvious on Quatre's face. "But I still did it. Wufei, I'm terribly sorry. Please, accept my deepest apologies. It will never happen again, I swear, I-"
Wufei waved him off. "I told you, it's alright. You were drunk, I know you wouldn't have done that if you were sober. Let's just enjoy our breakfast now, okay?"
After a bit of hesitation, Quatre nodded his assent - and they did so.
The local Preventer branch had compiled a rather sizable stack of papers for Wufei to sift through as a start of his investigation into some possible cases of illegal arms manufacture operating at L4. He sighed, and got to it. He hated paperwork like this. Why couldn't they simply have a filing clerk skim through all of this, and just give him the names of the perpetrators he was to go after?
As the dull nature of his work turned ever more monotonous, his mind started wandering, in particular to the night before. He'd told Quatre to forget it. If only he could be as quick to take his own advise. Were Quatre's drunken advances a reflection of his true feelings? Did Quatre have such feelings for him, or was he merely a convenient warm body to replace Trowa? And most of all, he contemplated three small words. "The right guy..." he muttered to himself, and reached for another inconclusive report to read.
He shook the thought away, and tried to focus on his case.
-End Part #1-