Authors Note: I've always been fascinated by stories in which the boys all live together after the war. Why on earth would they do that? They never seem all that close during the war itself. And yet, I'm a fond of the convention as well. So this is my attempt to explore the convention and see if I can't attempt to justify it in my own way. The story ignores Endless Waltz, but does use the Preventers as a plot device.

Pairings: 2x5. Eventual 1x3 and 4xR.

Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own anything but my words.


They went their separate ways after the war. In truth, they'd spent little enough time together but there were those days on the Peacemillion. Little enough time, but it had meant something, hadn't it? Still, it had been only a moment in time. If there had been understanding between them, there had not been peace. Now, in peace, there was little enough understanding.

Quatre felt the ache of separation almost immediately. He, more than any of the others, was aware of the connections they shared. The webs of destiny that had once held them close did not release them merely because someone used the word 'Peace' now. Still, they did their best to pretend it was so.

For the first year, he buried himself in work. He rebuilt, invested, directed his sisters. He thought of his father, and if the anger was gone, the fear was not. He would not leave them vulnerable again. The Winner family had been powerful before the war. Quatre took that power and recast it in Gundanium. He made them unstoppable.

For the second year, he attempted to find the others. Heero and Wufei weren't difficult. Preventers had paper trails and he could beg and bully them into a quick lunch. It was at those lunches that he noticed it, saw it somewhere besides the mirror. The hunted, half wild look in their eyes, hidden beneath a thin veil of civility. It was a hidden secret thing, but over good food and hot tea, for just a breath, the veil faltered. They were comrades, who could trust to find recognition in each others gazes. A brief flicker of understanding, and it was gone.

Perfect soldiers. All of them.

He found Catherine without much difficulty. But she was fire and fury, unwilling to trust his intentions. A cat with kittens and she'd never understand that Trowa didn't need her kind of protection. Quatre didn't resent her for it. But he didn't see Trowa either. It didn't matter. The truth was there in Catherine's eyes. The pilot of Heavyarms was failing to thrive.

Duo was gone. Whispers. Hints. Places he might have been. Letters Hilde received. But no real leads. Shinigami had always excelled at going unseen.

It began to hurt. The curse of empathy. He might have tolerated it, if it was only that. But Quatre found himself no more able to settle than the others. He was haunted by the lurking promise of threat. He caught himself snapping at his sisters, found his words came short when he spoke with Rashid. He heard what was said of them, of the war, and could not explain to those around him why it drove him to the edge of fury.

They had been god-soldiers. They had followed the call of their emotions when all around them had been mad. They'd trusted themselves and each other to see clearly, in a world of the blind.

He had led them. Briefly, they had been as extensions of his will, and their safety and success had rested on his shoulders. Now Wufei and Heero hid truth behind a soldier's blank expression while Trowa and Duo repeated dodged his net of watchers.

It occurred to him that this could not last forever. Of all of them, he had thought he would have the easiest time adjusting to the new peace. And he could feel himself breaking. No, it would not last.

The third year, Quatre built. He was eighteen-years-old and one of the twenty richest men in the universe. He had homes on most the colonies and more sprinkled across Earth's surface. He was known among the people for his charity, among the business elite for his unpredictable moves in the market and for his shrewd intellect. He was known for winning, always.

Eighteen-years-old and he returned to the earth. He picked a small city, but one that had felt the touch of the war. Treize had been right. Those who had lost the most clung most strongly to peace. Sixty miles out from the city he bought 300 acres of wooded land that sat nestled at the foot of a mountain range.

He hired three different architects and five different security experts. He had them build him a fortress. It was a place of beauty, but of hard, defensible beauty. The trees were woven with cameras. The sky was watched by gun turrets. The fastest carrier shuttles ever built awaited escape into space. Dogs and lasers and doors that opened only to his voice and fingerprint and eye and code. He had each security team install their own measures and did not tell them about each other. Then he walked the forest with Rashid at night and installed further defenses. And then he did so again. Alone.

The property had five redundant security rooms from which one could watch the entire property. The Maganacs were the only logical choice to act as his forces and of those none of them was allowed to know everything. Each camera was watched each moment of each day.

From without, one saw only stretches of evergreen forest and a distant pavilion of Arabic elegance. From within, one could be a spider, aware of any vibration of the web. Room enough for five spiders, territorial though the creatures were.

Lady Une called.

He was on the porch when one of his assistants entered and indicated the vid-screen. Une had her hair down, since Treize's death, she usually did. But she was more flexible now, able to be ruthless while keeping her gentle smile.

He too, could smile so.

"Lady Une. What a pleasant surprise. We do not talk enough." He raised his cup to her and smiled. "How are you?"

"Quatre." She was radiant. Her smile, angelic. "You seem well. I hear you've settled on Earth."

"A summer home. The Earth is so beautiful. You should visit me here."

"I've heard it might be dangerous to visit." No change in her voice, no hint of hardness.

He'd been waiting for those words. Une was not in the habit of calling him socially. They spoke on occasion, when business required, but they kept no friendship. He had forgiven the heroes and villains of the war, but he had not forgotten the roles they had each played.

"There is no safer place," he murmured, sipping idly at his tea.

"Have you been threatened? We can protect you Quatre. This is unnecessary."

"You are kind to worry about me, Lady Une. But I can see to myself."

"There are some that might be concerned about a Gundam pilot with such force."

"Some would be concerned about a Gundam pilot with no force." He kept his expression mild. "I am not the only wealthy man to wish safety."

"Of course." She too, kept her smile. "Perhaps I will visit."

"You are always welcome, Lady."

And then he turned off the screen.

"Will there be problems, sir?" His assistant asked.

"No. Not yet. The Lady is only trying to protect our peace."