Author's Notes: Welcome to the Quatre/Dorothy portion of my sequel to "Manifestations." If you haven't read that, please do, especially the 'arc chapters' so that you have a clue what's going on. :) BTW, the manga Episode Zero will come into play during this story from time to time, Quatre's part of course. :) None of the rest of the mangas will though. If you haven't read it, don't worry, it shouldn't hinder you any. Please enjoy!Revelations
By Isis cw
Quatre attempted to read through the same paragraph of the same requisition form for the third time, his lips soundlessly pronouncing the words as they came off the page. "The aforementioned plaintiff will hold harmless the dependent entity prior to termination of contractual representation, therein allowing the plaintiff due time and measures to achieve contractual compliance under the defendant's argument…" and it just kept going.
Flipping back to the last page of the document, Quatre looked down the order sheet. "Printer paper," he muttered. He flipped back to the first page's third paragraph that he couldn't quite get past. "Why do I need a hold harmless agreement for paper?"
Incredulously, he dropped his pen and let it roll back to the top of his desk, where it ran into his daily collection of paper cups. Rather disgusted with the whole thing, he flipped back to the order sheet and picked up his pen to sign his name at the bottom. If the unfortunate trees ever got a lawyer and wanted to sue him, he didn't care today.
Tossing the form aside, he picked up the next folder in the stack and opened it. He didn't read far enough to know what he was looking at before the phone on his desk rang. Without bothering to ask the secretaries who it was, he picked up his extension. "Quatre Winner."
"Well, you don't seem all that chipper today, Master Winner."
"Dorothy…" he breathed. He smiled, blinking back the sight of the papers in front of him and leaned back in his chair. "Lady Catalonia, to what do I owe the pleasure of this call?"
"That sounds better," she mumbled, and he could picture her smirk.
Quatre closed his eyes and dropped his head back on the chair, chuckling into the phone. It had been most of a month since he'd even heard her voice. She still worked extensively with the Mars project, and her priorities were being shifted more and more towards that side of things. She managed to keep him updated, usually through email, on the four Maguanac volunteers that they had left on the Mars colony.
But with his colony fabrication project, that she had originally invested in, all but finished, the two of them no longer had any business dealings to use as excuses anymore. Besides, with the colony project done Quatre had thrown himself further into the "inner" workings of the corporate office. He took up his old family residence and his new position.
She listened to him chuckle before she continued, "Actually, Mr. Winner, I'm wondering if you are available for dinner this evening?"
Quatre blinked his eyes open. "This evening?" he questioned, glancing at his computer clock, which read 4:44pm.
There was a light snicker. "Yes, as in fifteen minutes from now?"
He started. "Where are you?"
There was a full giggle this time from her. "Well, you see, I found this darling little coffee shop that specializes in caramel lattés, and while I was here I thought that it might be nice to catch up with you."
Quatre's expression slipped away completely. Turning slowly, he stood up from his chair and walked over to the wall of glass that he called a window behind his desk. Looking down from one of the top floors in the towering building, he could make out the striped awnings of the coffee shop that sat on the corner across the street. "Coffee shop, you say?"
"Yes, beautiful little place, outdoor patio and everything. And it has a lovely view of the neighborhood."
Quatre blinked, and then shook his head, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. "You're across the street aren't you?"
There was a merry laugh from the other end. "Good caramel is hard to find." He dropped his head with a sigh. "Now then, about you being free this evening…?"
He chuckled and looked back out, finding the outline of the coffee shop again but it was too far away to distinguish any individual person. "Of course, Lady Catalonia," he smiled. "I'll meet you shortly."
"Don't hurry on my account. I'm perfectly comfy where I am. Finish up whatever you need to. I'll be here when you're ready."
Dorothy, first and foremost, always remembered his obligations when she… well, when she did things like this. At least he had that much. "Very well, Miss Dorothy. I'll see you soon."
He waited for the phone to click to tell him that she had hung up before he turned and put down the receiver. He shook his head again and took a deep breath, looking back at his pile of work. Probably nothing that couldn't wait for Monday….
He flipped through the stack to be sure about that before another thought popped into his head. Rounding his desk, he paced out of his office and into the reception area. Leaning around the corner of the hallway into his assistant's office, he waited for her to look up at him from her typing. "Mrs. Shanelle, do I have anything on my schedule for tonight?"
Removing the pile of items in front of her, she revealed the "master list" of his calendar and shook her head. "Not that I'm aware of."
"Thank you," he said with a small sigh, figuring he should have remembered to check that first. "I'm going to head out, is there anything you need specifically from me?"
"No, Sir, I'm headed out too," she smiled.
He nodded, "Have a good weekend."
Walking back to his office, he picked up the pile of items that he had finished, repositioned the stacks of things to do later, and threw away the set of cups that he always seemed to collect. He grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair and left the office again, closing the door. He added the pile of things to Mrs. Shanelle's desk with a slightly apologetic smile that she waved him off for, and headed straight out the door.
He put his jacket on over his gray vest and suit pants as the elevator descended, but then thought better of it and removed it again. Dorothy would tease him for being too formal if he showed up neatly assembled in a full suit.
Slinging it over his shoulder instead, he made his way out of the building, walking down the front steps to the busy sidewalk and blending in with the five o'clock foot traffic. Crossing the street, he picked out Dorothy seated in the outdoor area of the coffee shop, towards the back of the patio. The guardrail of the quaint place was laced with enough ivy vines that he only got a few glimpses of her through it as he paced down the street towards the shop's entrance.
However, it was enough to notice that she sat alone at one of the back tables, while most of the front tables were filled with collections of various college-aged boys…. Most of who were not exactly interested in their drink choices.
Quatre restrained himself from rolling his eyes, but let the smirk slip into place. No matter what, she drew a crowd. But she was only waiting for him. For some reason, Quatre had to bite down the cocky overconfidence that the thought brought up. He figured he'd allowed a bit too much of her to rub off on him.
With that thought, he smiled at the gentleman that held the door for him as he entered the coffee house. Not being all that much of a fan himself, he sidestepped the line that was forming in front of the counter, and walked out the side door and up the faux rock steps to the patio area.
Dorothy sat with a book in her lap, idly twisting a spoon around in her cup. The mesh table and chair set hid next to nothing of her black suit. Which also meant that the almost-knee-length skirt left her neatly crossed legs available for view for most of the patrons of the patio. The double breasted jacket closed tightly around her, but left exactly enough neckline showing that a blouse wasn't necessary but recommended… which meant she didn't wear one.
Quatre would have chuckled if he hadn't been this close to her. Overly daring, yes, but never immodest or too unprofessional…. He was slowly getting used to it.
"Would you mind if I take a seat, Miss?" he asked, coming up to her table.
Looking up, she popped the book shut with a smile. "Not at all."
He laid his jacket over the chair in front of him and took an untraditional seat in the side chair closer to her. He hated having his back to the entrance, and if the patio filled up they would still be able to hear each other.
"Office work seems to agree with you," she teased, running an appraising eye over his appearance.
He inwardly sighed, "You know better than that." She had to; he'd emailed her enough complaints over it during their random conversations.
"Still getting to you?" she asked instead, taking a sip from her drink.
He smiled tightly with a humorless chuckle. "Do requisition forms typically come with hold harmless agreements?"
She shook her head absently while she set her cup back down. "Depends mostly on the pricing fluctuations in the market for the product. Which basically means who's sued who."
Quatre stared at her as she turned her attention back to him. "Being facetious, Dorothy," he clarified.
She blinked, slightly abashed. "Oh."
He didn't hold down the laugh and shook his head. "You're positive that you don't want a fulltime job?" It had become his typical response when she floored him with one of her "insights."
Rolling her eyes she puffed out a sigh. "I think I have one," she mumbled. "I spent all week on the Mars Satellite and I still don't know what I accomplished."
"Resource lines still?"
She waved a hand vaguely at the comment. "Resources, personnel disputes, you name it, they've lost it. Oh," she turned back to him, "and Manul says hi."
He smiled, "I hope they're being helpful."
She chuckled. "'Helpful' doesn't begin to cover it. If it weren't for them I'd be halfway back there by now."
Quatre nodded. "Anything I can do?" he asked, figuring that there had to be a reason she made a trip from the Satellite to the L4 cluster.
But surprisingly she shook her head. Slipping sideways in her chair, she propped her chin up with an elbow on the table beside him. "Right now, I'd really rather discuss anything but business."
He smiled a bit nervously at her typical smirk. "Didn't you ask the wrong person out for dinner then?"
Her eyes narrowed noticeably, their color appearing bluer in the outdoor lighting. "Dear Quatre, aren't I allowed to have a non-business-related relationship with you?"
She enjoyed getting a rise out of him and he knew it. "Of course," he tried to chuckle, images of Mars coming forcefully back to mind. He'd avoided conversation on the whole topic since then. Not that she had ever brought it up either, but… well, he didn't intend to be the one to force the issue.
"Good!" She rose quickly to her feet and picked up her attaché case, adding her book to it while he rose and collected his jacket. "Now then, where can I treat you, Master Winner?"
"Anything but seafood," he mumbled. One solitary trip to Earth under her care and he had officially sworn off real seafood forever. Granted, he should have known better than to blindly trust her recommendation, but still.
She laughed merrily as he allowed her to sidestep in front of him as he ushered her off the patio and through the shop to the front door. "…Actually, I think I know a little place," he mumbled.
Yes, he'd allowed far too much of her to rub off on him.
"More water, Miss?"
"Please," she tried. It actually came out as a loud whisper as Dorothy fought back the tears that threatened to leak from the corners of her eyes. Quatre sat across the table from her, his water glass only half empty. Hers had been refilled three times now.
The waiter disappeared again and Quatre specifically kept his eyes on his food, but she knew he was chewing only to keep from laughing at her. Reaching for the newly filled glass, she downed a third of it again, attempting anything to get the burn out of her mouth.
Quatre had taken her nearly halfway around the colony to a small, but very nicely decorated restaurant, and she hadn't thought a thing of it. It wasn't until she was handed her menu that she realized what he'd done to her.
Leaning as far as she could over the table she waited until he sheepishly met her eyes. "I hate you."
He didn't even try to respond to the comment as he picked up his napkin from his lap and covered his mouth as he laughed at her expense.
Indian. She had opened her menu and found that she recognized all of two items on the whole thing, and none of it looked appetizing. She knew he was just trying to get her back for ordering him crayfish at the Beneficiaries' Dinner he'd taken her to in Venice. The poor man, she had felt slightly bad about making him order the one dish that was served "still looking at him."
She no longer felt bad about that.
Dorothy had insisted to herself that she was not going to repeat his mistake and ask him to recommend something to her. Instead, she did what she always did in this situation; choose a moderate to high priced item and hope for the best.
Except that she still didn't know what the stuff was called or what it was, but it was anything but moderate in temperature. She wasn't a spicy food fan; garlic was the height of her experimentations with the spice rack.
On the upside, she didn't think she had too many taste buds left to burn off before it started getting better.
Quatre finally composed himself and repositioned the napkin on his lap before he scooted a plate of round flat bread things towards her. "Water may not be the best thing for you," he commented, nodding to the plate.
She glared at him with all she had, until her eyes started to tear up again. Finally sighing, she looked at the offered plate suspiciously.
"It's just bread, it will help take the edge off," he said. Meeting his eyes again she realized that he was genuinely offering her some help for her current… predicament. And she silently swore that the next chance she got, she was going to order herself crayfish, and turn them to look at him, and nibble at them until he got up and ran from the room!
The vengeful picture at least got her happy enough to take one of the pieces of bread off the plate and rip a piece off. He watched her as she hesitantly stuck it in her mouth. The stuff was chewy, but not bad, and it really did help a lot better than her water was.
Apparently satisfied that she was going to be all right, he returned to his dish and she re-pictured her crayfish torture.
"Is everything alright for you, Miss?" the waiter asked, slipping up to the table again.
"Yes," she replied much more confidently than she wanted to. "It's just a bit spicier than I thought."
He nodded understandingly, "Beef Vindaloo is one of our hottest dishes."
Dorothy forced a smile and nodded, pointedly ignoring Quatre's attempt to stifle his laughter.
"Then, more water, Miss?"
Dorothy staggered mildly, one hand on the building next to her and the other across her stomach. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Dorothy please, are you all right?" Standing beside her, Quatre held a hand on her elbow and the other on her opposite side. Watching her nose and lips turn red while she drank five glasses of water had been rather amusing, but the thought that he'd honestly made her feel sick was horrifying.
"I'll be fine," she mumbled, leaning farther into the building. "I'm just… water logged."
"Oh, Dorothy," he sighed, coming around to stand in front of her, trying to see for himself if she was OK. "I feel terrible, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to make you sick."
"I know, I know," she waved him off and stood back to full height again.
He cautiously tipped her chin up until she finally met his eyes. With her in a pair of flats, his entire half-inch height advantage actually seemed noticeable as she finally raised her head. Her lips were still red, but the rest of her complexion was back to its typical buttermilk color. He'd officially decided it was time for the check once she'd started pulling her hair off the back of her neck. The blond was not one to fiddle absently with her hair.
She met his eyes, but sighed. "Quatre, I'll be fine. You won't kill me off with curry."
"Vindaloo," he technically corrected.
"Whatever." She waved him off again. "I'll be fine. I just need some air."
"Are you sure?" He felt really bad by now and just wanted to make her feel better. The look he got in return told him to shut up while it was still an offer. Holding up both hands he backed up a step. "Sorry."
The apology raised one of her infamous eyebrows and he gave her a nervous chuckle instead. Dropping it she took a step away from the wall and laced her arm through his. "How about a nice leisurely walk instead," she mumbled.
"Will that help?"
She looked over at him with a weary expression. "It couldn't be worse than getting in a car right now," she muttered. Raising her other hand, she gathered her hair together again and bunched it up away from the nape of her neck, lightly moving it back and forth to fan herself with it.
"Oh," his heart caved in and he stopped them both again, turning to face her. "I know you don't want to hear this, but I really am sorry, Dorothy."
She sighed, actually softening out her expression. "Dear, please, quit already. It's not your fault. I'm fine." Blinking, she rethought that, "…Queasy, but fine." She promptly rolled her eyes at his deflated expression. Taking his arm again she forced him along. "Not another word about it."
Figuring it would be best to try to distract her from her plight, he slowly walked her along the sidewalk. The crowds were thinned down to normal levels and the colony's lighting was clicking down to the twilight settings. He stuffed his free hand in his pocket for lack of anything else to do.
"It's a nice night," she mumbled.
He smiled at the comment. "Yes, good weather we're having," he teased. A "child of the Earth" she'd once said. That she was, and she was forgetting that on colony, weather wasn't exactly a viable topic for conversation.
She chuckled lightly as well as she realized what she'd done. "Well, what do you Colonists talk about to kill awkward situations?"
Awkward? He hoped she didn't feel that out of place with him. Examining her question he shook it off. "With Colony life, you focus on the inside."
"I've heard that somewhere before," she muttered.
He nodded although she probably didn't see it. Restarting their conversation he nudged her arm to draw her attention down the side street they were passing. "They've been working on reforming that section for most of the month now."
She looked at the, now empty, building equipment, and then back to him with an expression that read "why would I care?" He simply waited for her and it finally clicked. "Oh, that was supposed to be an example."
He smiled and shook his head. "You're going to have to get a little more practice at this," he sighed.
"Sorry," she muttered, just to rib him, he was sure. "OK, so I should make conversation about the surroundings. What if I don't know anything about the place?"
"Talk about what you do know, what you like. You made perfectly nice comments on the coffee shop today. Compliments about a colony are compliments to the inhabitants."
He watched her take a look around, and saw her nod. "Because nothing is exactly an act of God here, is it?"
He blinked at the odd thought, but didn't press her on it. "…Not exactly."
They walked on in a mostly comfortable silence, and he slowly led her down a couple blocks to this section's park, figuring if nothing else that she could sit down if she wanted to. She smiled as he gently led her through the decorative gates, and she surprised him by tugging him off the pathway and onto the grass.
She chuckled. "Does it never strike you as odd?"
He was about to ask what, when she released his arm and bent over to slip off her shoes. Carrying them with her, she began a slow walk around the area, and he couldn't keep the smile down as he watched her.
"This grass was genetically created to grow in artificial lighting, needing next to no soil. It absorbs the majority of the water it needs from the humidity in the air. And it has to be planted in specific areas and in certain ratios with the amount of people to sustain balance." Quatre let his smile fade as she turned back to him, her hands and her shoes behind her back. Looking at him pointedly she shook her head, "Why bother making it look like grass?"
He swallowed as she turned away again, not knowing how to answer that. Dorothy slowly sunk to her knees and then down to a sitting position, mindful that she was still in a skirt. Quatre followed her and stood just behind her seated form.
She didn't seem to notice, as she looked straight up. "How much work is involved with creating the patterns and color effects on the light systems to make it somehow seem like a sunset?"
Quatre looked up too, watching as the colorings turned golden before it slowly bled out to the night's lights. Small clouds spiraled quickly through the interior space of the colony, caught in the wind belt that kept the humidity from reaching too high or too low, and circulated the air through the purification systems. Above them were the operations buildings and the equipment that kept the place going, along with storage and other necessary buildings.
"Do you never feel that it's just artificial?"
It was a soft question, but it turned his stomach. He had a number of old thoughts that came hauntingly back to him. None of which were centered on the Colonies being artificial so much as… himself being so.
She didn't know that. He reminded himself forcefully that his old attitude was just that, old. And also obsolete. And he had no need to bring those thoughts up now of all times.
He slowly sank down to sit beside her, her attention still focused upwards. "Life is never artificial, Dorothy," he stated quietly, reminding both of them. "No matter where we choose to live, that never changes."
Dorothy must have heard something in his voice because she turned to regard him. He didn't meet her eyes, focusing instead past the park entrance at the shops and houses and people walking here and there among them. "Quatre?"
He finally turned back to her, finding her eyes searching his.
"I'm sorry," she said softly, finding his hand in the grass between them, and placing her own over it. "I didn't mean to be rude." She blinked her eyes closed, the apology turning her face away from him.
Quatre could count the number of times he had honestly seen her with her defenses down, and that gentle kindness of hers fully displayed. She would hint at it now and again, but slowly he felt like he was being allowed into her confidence more each time they met.
Turning his hand over, he took hold of hers. It was half to reassure her, and half to hold her from spiriting away like she normally did. "It's alright. You're allowed an honest opinion," he smiled.
She looked back at him and quietly returned a smile too.
Turning away, he watched the same scene on the streets around them. "It might all be a simulation of Earth, but…." He fought for words, fought to use the emotions that passed through him. "…It's home." He shook his head, feeling that the words came up very short. "I can't explain it I guess."
"You shouldn't be able to," came the reply.
Finding her eyes in the dwindling light, he blinked at her.
"Home is where the heart is, Master Winner. Your heart has always been here." Her smile was genuine as she slowly turned away from him, gazing out at their surroundings as well. "Creating a home is a measure of love," she whispered.
He watched her, wondering if she really understood the pride of the Colonies. If she could ever honestly know what it was like for those that grew up here. "Do you still hate the place?" he asked softly.
She didn't turn away from her study of the area. "I'm not all that sure if it's the place or myself that bothers me anymore."
Quatre waited, not finding enough in that statement to understand her by. He was typically so good at knowing people, sometimes he could honestly, physically sense them. But Dorothy… she usually was never that open. It had taken the dire situation on Libra to give him any insight he had into her. He felt more than a little at a loss with her, and always had. Like she was just a little too far away for him to reach… or so close that he couldn't see clearly.
"I miss the background noise here," she stated softly. "On Earth, the birds would be finishing up their songs by this time. The crickets would be starting in. And as much as I probably never stop to notice them, I miss them when they're gone." She chuckled lightly, leaning in closer to him. She met his eyes with a whisper, "It's like I'm trying to hide somewhere I know I'm not supposed to be."
Even in the dimming light, he caught the sparkle in her eyes. With a smile he leaned in closer too, squeezing her hand in his. "I won't tell if you won't," he whispered back.
She genuinely giggled at him before moving back to her position. "I just can't help but feel there is something missing." Pausing, she met his eyes again. "But I'm not sure it's the place that makes me feel that."
He searched her eyes, waiting for her to continue. She needed to say it, whatever it was.
Slowly closing her eyes, she stayed quiet another moment and he let her put it into words. "I think I notice it here more because I don't have the distractions…." She shook her head. "But I'm starting to think it's just me."
Missing something, he added to himself. All of this was a thinly veiled analogy for her own life, her lack of family and home. Missing something, anything, to completely put her heart into.
"I think I could get used to the place, Quatre," she interrupted his thoughts. He noticed a smile creep into her expression. "I think I'd like to feel at home."
"You know you could have stayed with me. I have the room," he teased as he helped her out of the car in front of her hotel.
"I know. But I wasn't sure you were here, and I have an early flight out tomorrow anyway."
He nodded, feeling a bit disappointed that she was leaving again so soon. "This would have been a long trip for a latté if I wasn't here."
"I wouldn't have been able to catch a flight back to Earth from the Satellite any sooner if I'd stayed there, so why not? Besides, I told you," she smirked, "good caramel is hard to find."
"I see where I rate," he muttered.
She giggled at him, and then surprised him with a hug. "Thank you, Quatre," she whispered.
He melted at the tone and gave her a soft hug back, feeling her fingers caress down the back of his neck as she pulled away. "You're always welcome," he mumbled, just for something to say.
She nodded, her typical smirk back. "I'll see you again for the ribbon cutting?"
He nodded as she slipped out of his grasp. "If you'll allow me to host you, Ma'am, I could return the favor."
She rolled her eyes and sighed. "You've returned the favor far more than I have. But fine, I'll count on it. Are you keeping the house after this?"
The house he had designed on their project colony was a nice little place, and he'd enjoyed the time there. But with the operations being completely turned over to the new government departments in a couple weeks, he really didn't have a reason to keep it. He shook his head, "No, it will go up on the market sometime next month I think."
She nodded, "I can understand that." Turning back she gave him a final smile. "I'll get back to you on our timing."
He nodded, letting her slip off towards the front doors. "Good to see you, Dorothy."
"You too, dear." She flashed him a smile and a wink. The doorman opened the door for her and closed it behind her retreating form, specifically avoiding looking like he'd just witnessed their conversation.
Idly, Quatre walked back around to the driver's side of the car, smiling absently.
"The road to a friend's house is never long." - Danish proverb
Edited by: Spiked Jin.