Hi everybody.  Well, I don't know.  In regards to fanfiction, Gundam Wing has always been my first love, but lately every time I write something GW, I feel like, geez, it's been forever since I've written anything for this series.  So, a new and interesting pairing hit me, and I have endeavored, in the absence of my computer, to begin a small gundam project.  This fic will be the first of a trilogy of Wufei/Catharine fics.  Unusual?  Yes.  Is that what I like it?  You bet your pretty little pink panties it is!  Haha.  I doubt anyone has written these two before, but if they have, let me know, I'd love to read them (when I get aforementioned computer back.)

In the meantime, please enjoy this first installment of my "Butterfly" arc.  (Takes place after Endless Waltz, if anyone cares about the timeline…)

Standard Disclaimers Apply.

Butterfly:  To Protect

by: Banshee Puppet

Chapter One:  Reunion

When we first met, it was at my weakest moment.  When we met again, the situation was much the same.

If war had left me angry, then I should say that peace left me hollow.  The unfathomable despair after killing Treize—it was difficult to come to terms with, even as years passed and seasons shifted from one to the next; there was no one worth left fighting, and that, for me, a soldier always, to understand that as my peace…it tormented me.

Sally had invited me to join her in a newly-formed organization—the Preventers, and I had accepted, but in the end it brought me no satisfaction.  They were fighting to protect, and that was a concept I simply could not understand.

During the war, I had only ever fought for justice.  That the fighting would eventually end…

It was a concept that had never crossed my mind.  I simply couldn't fathom it.

My name is Chang Wufei, and I have been, for many years now, a warrior only, a soldier born in battle.  Perhaps there was a time when something else was possible, perhaps, but I have long since passed that point.  And this, then, is where my story begins…

#

Colony L-2, February 19th, Sunday afternoon, 3:20 p.m., A.C. 199

#

The temperature was an imitation of Earth, and there was a slightly bitter chill to the open air market.  Catharine kept her white earmuffs tightly fitted against her head and pulled her scarf up over her nose.

The winter was her least favorite time of year and February, for her, was the worst of it.  She was anxious for March, and with it, the spring thaw.  And, knowing this, Manager had still sent her our of the warmth of her trailer to brave the cold marketplace for food shopping.  The fluffy mittens on her hands had to be removed every time she meant to pay for something.

She was glad when she reached the produce stand, as it meant she was nearly finished.

'Beef stew tonight,' she thought, reaching for a bundle of carrots and thinking warm thoughts.  But at the same moment a black leather glove reached for the same bundle and they touched.  The hand pulled back and reached for another bundle.

"Oh!  I'm sorry!" Catharine apologized, looking up and finding herself startled at who she found.

Ignoring the small encounter, Wufei paid for his carrots, celery, and radish, until the apologetic voice struck a familiar cord and he turned blank ebony eyes upon the figure standing beside him.

'Catharine.'  It took him a moment to recognize her.  She was bundled up like an Eskimo in her white earmuffs, scarf and mittens, her powder blue plush coat—the kind that puffs out all the way around you like a miscolored jumbo marshmallow.

"I thought you boys might be hungry, so I made you some soup."  --She had said that back then, or something like it.

"This may not be the best java," Trowa had told him, and he'd been right, but Wufei didn't mind.

He'd gotten taller.  Oh, not much taller, only an inch or two.  Enough that she noticed she was no longer looking down at him, not particularly, and no more than that.  Otherwise, he hadn't changed much; he still had those same, sad eyes, wore his hair in the same dramatic ponytail.  Today, he wore a long wool coat of the traditional charcoal black and a light gray scarf around his neck, carefully tucked into place.  His face was slightly flushed from the cold.

Catharine pulled her scarf down to her chin so that he could hear her more clearly when she spoke.

"Wufei!  Fancy meeting you here.  Looking as down as ever, I see," she said in that 'cheerful banter' tone she had.

Wufei's eyes narrowed at the entertainer.  "What exactly are you implying?" he asked seriously.

Catharine just chuckled.  "Yup.  Down.  But at least I got you to speak this time!  That's something, right?"

He frowned at her.  What Barton saw in the woman was beyond him.

"Cheer up!" she continued.  "It's a reunion, come on!"  The woman paid for her produce and latched onto his arm, dragging him after her.

She was rude.

"Have you been on L-2 long?" Catharine asked.

"Not particularly," Wufei answered in a disinterested monotone.

Nosy.

"How long will you be staying?"

"What do you care?"

Obnoxiously cheerful.

Catharine stopped and turned to frown at him, hands on hips.  "Your personality could use some improvement," she said dryly.

"So could your fashion sense, but you don't see me complaining," he retorted.

And she had the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen.  Wait, what?!  That last one didn't follow.

Whoever said there was such a ting as love at first sight was a liar.  Second encounters, however, were another matter entirely.  If Wufei had realized that then, he may have left her at that moment, stranded her as the first snowflakes began to fall.  As it was, he let her drag him home with her.  He wouldn't mind seeing Trowa again, anyway.

#

"Well, look at what the Cat dragged in.  Another stray, little sister?"

The voice came from the rafters and Wufei looked up to see a blond-haired man on a tightrope grinning down at him.  He offered the Chinese man a peace sign.  "Yo."

'Peace?' Wufei thought.  'That has nothing to do with me,' and looked back ahead of him to find Catharine sticking her tongue out at the gymnast.  "Dinner is at six," she told him.

Something caught her eye and before he knew it, the woman was dragging Wufei off again.  'It's just like that time Quatre decided we should all go to the Zoo to relax a bit,' he thought.  Trowa had spent the entire day with the lions; Quatre had stayed with Trowa; Heero didn't deign to show up at all; and Duo spent the day dragging Wufei to every corner of the god-forsaken place—literally.

"Manager," the woman called, snapping the former gundam pilot out of his thoughts.  "Do you remember Wufei?"

The manager looked the man up and down, showing no signs of recognition, of which Wufei was grateful, since he had no recollection of the older man either.

"He's a friend of Trowa's," the girl clarified.

"Ah!" Manager's eyes lit up.  "How is Trowa?"

Wufei looked suddenly confused.  "You mean he isn't here?" he asked.

Catharine frowned.  "He's run off again."

"Then why am I here?" Wufei asked blatantly.

"Idiot," Catharine scolded, slapping his forearm.  "For a reunion, just like I said!  Now come watch me make dinner."

'You've always had such sad eyes, even now, Wufei,' Catharine thought.  'What's made you so sad, I wonder?'  Catharine Bloom knew she was forcing this odd reunion of strangers upon him, but she was sure he must be alone now, Trowa had said once that he was that type of person, and he appeared to be the same now as he had always been.  'But Wufei, aren't you lonely?  You must be; even Trowa was lonely at first.  You have friends here, if you want them, that's all.'

She turned to look at him over her shoulder.  He was removing his coat and scarf in that elegantly disinterested way he had.  He wore a thin cobalt sweater and gray slacks beneath it.

"Oh, here, let me take those," she remembered.  "I'll hang them in the coat closet."  Wufei handed them over silently and watched her disappear from the room.

'Why?' he wondered.  Why was she going to so much trouble to reunite with someone she'd only met once and who hadn't even spoken to her then.  He sat down on the worn couch, pushing his sleeves up to his elbows.

Why.  It was obvious.  He was a friend of Trowa's, supposedly, and she missed the slender European.

'So what do I care?  She's just another bossy woman.  It was too troublesome to say no to her and listen to her argue the matter to death.  He'd stay for dinner and then leave, go back to the room he was renting at the moment, curl up with a book and be left in peace.  Hah, peace, how he hated that word.

Wufei was tired.  He didn't know what he was doing.  He'd simply reached a point where nothing mattered.  He leaned his head back and let his eyes fall closed.

It was at this point when Catharine reentered the small living room/kitchenette.  'My god,' she realized when she saw him sitting there, 'he's grown.'

It seemed almost impossible to go from boy to man in only a few short years, but he had done it.  Somehow, he'd become suddenly handsome and it startled her.  Had Trowa also grown so much?  Would he return so very similar and different from when he left?  'War really is a totally heartless affair,' she thought.

Wufei opened his eyes and slowly lifted his head.  "What?"  And his question was more of a demand.

"Oh, nothing.  It's just that you've gotten tall since I last saw you."

"It's been a long time."

"Yeah, three years, right?  You were just a dumb kid back then…you haven't changed much."

Wufei glared at her, and she chuckled.  No, it was true, Wufei decided, he hadn't changed at all.  'I've killed Treize, fought Heero, and finally, thought I understood peace.  But…I still haven't learned anything.  She's exactly right.'

'Ah, shit, that expression,' Catharine thought.  "Hey, no frowning!" she scolded.  "Didn't anyone ever tell you that reunions are supposed to be happy?"

Wufei stared at her.  'Why?' his eyes demanded of her.  'Why?'

She sighed and shook her head.  What a hopeless guy.  "You don't have anything to prove here, you know," she said before turning her back to him in order to slice the carrots for the stew.

The silence between them extended awkwardly until finally Wufei said, "you're doing it wrong."

"Huh?"

"The carrots.  You're cutting them wrong."

"They're just carrots!" Catharine huffed.

"You aren't cutting them evenly," Wufei walked over.  "So they won't cook evenly.  Use some common sense."

"Hah!  Common sense!  That's rich coming from a Gundam Pilot."

"Former," he corrected taking the carrot from her and slicing it with precise ease.

"Don't be stupid.  You think just because the Gundams are gone that changes who you are?  It didn't change Trowa any and it hasn't changed you."

"Start simmering the meat."

"Huh?"

"The stew, woman."

"Oh, you!  If you don't want to talk about it then just say so."

"There's nothing left to say.  Nataku is dead.  Things have changed."

'And I have not,' he thought.  But he had.  The Wufei of Trowa's stories was not this Wufei beside her now.

"Are you still fighting for justice, Wufei?" she asked.

His eyes shot up to stare at her.  'How did she…?'

"Oh!  Wufei, be careful!" she scolded as she shoved his hand under the faucet.

"What?" he asked, blinking.

"You dummy.  Didn't you even notice that you cut yourself?"

"How did you know about…?"

"Trowa talks about you sometimes.  All of your friends do.  They miss you, Wufei."

The Chinese pilot didn't dignify that with a response as Catharine fussed over and bandaged the tiny knick on his finger.  He forced himself not to laugh when he saw the end result.  One finger with one tiny cut…and enough gauze for the entire hand.  He had a feeling that if he sprained an ankle in her general vicinity he'd wind up with a full-body cast.

"There!  All better!" she announced.

"The meat," Wufei stated.

"Huh?"

"The meat, woman.  You're going to burn it if you don't pay better attention.

"Oh! The meat!" Catharine squeaked, hurrying to care for dinner.  He smirked slightly when her back was turned.  She was amusing, in that comically inept sort of way.

He returned to slicing the carrots after only the briefest of pauses.

"Wufei?"

"What is it?"

"What are you doing now?  You know, since we aren't at war anymore."

"That is undetermined at this point in time," he replied.

"Undetermined?"

"I am between jobs at the moment," he explained.

"Oh!  Well then why not work here for a while?" Catharine decided.  "I could use a cute boy to throw knives at since Trowa is away," she laughed.

"I am not…" he began.

"Oh, I know, I know, you're not cute at all!"

"Woman," he warned.  'Actually I was going to say I'm not a boy,' he thought, annoyed with her deprecating sense of humor.

"Oh lighten up a little Wufei!  It's called a sense of humor, get one.  Besides, you'd probably be pretty good-looking if you just smiled more."

Once again, Wufei had been reduced to glaring.

Catharine sighed.  "Will you think about it at least?  It's something to keep you busy for a while.  All you'll have to do is stand very still.  I'm sure you can manage that."

"Stand still while you throw sharp, pointy objects at me.  That's all there is to it?"

"Yup!"

"I don't think so. Your broth is boiling."

"Ooo!  Duo was right!  You're grumpy, anti-social, and extremely mean!" Catharine huffed, turning down the heat under the broth.

"Need I remind you that this little reunion was entirely your idea," he stated calmly, wondering why making her angry was so amusing.

"Give me the carrots!" Catharine demanded as she held out her arm for the cutting board, which he handed over obligingly.

'I totally…I totally hate this guy!' she thought irritably.

Noting Catharine's suddenly frosty demeanor, Wufei wondered, 'Is it something I said?'

#

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Well, I was worried about Catharine being ooc, since I've never tried to write her before, but I think she's okay.  She may try to murder Wufei before this story is over, but meh, he'll probably deserve it!  R&R!