"I'm done," he declared, slapping the sheaf of paper in his hands back down to the desk. Some of the nearby sheets from other piles fluttered in its wake, and the impact sent a few pencils rolling off the edge to the carpet below.
His secretary, Hannah, blinked in surprise, mouth still hanging open with her unfinished sentence all tangled up on her tongue. After gathering her wits, she tried to make sense of what he'd said, blurting, "Done? But sir, you couldn't possibly be done. The Tesser lawsuit's file is 113 pages. You only started it half an hour ago, and -"
"Well, I am," Quatre said, cutting her off for the second time. "So, I think I very possibly could."
He looked extraordinarily pleased by his own logic, and began picking up the mess he'd made, bending to reach for the pencils and gathering up two of them before freezing in place.
She watched, helplessly, as he laughed and let them go, dropping them back down.
He's cracked, she thought. He was too young for all of this, and now he's lost his mind, that's what he's done.
Quatre eyed her for a moment, a finger pressed to his lips while he thought. She started and nearly dropped her paperwork when he clapped his hands together. In the awkward silence filling the office, it sounded like a gunshot.
"I've got it," he said, smiling.
Hannah just stared at him, boggled by his behavior. She didn't know what he'd gotten, let alone when and where, and quite frankly, she wasn't all that sure she wanted to get it herself. Such a thing might turn out to be contagious, and then where would they be?
"I'm going to go to the circus," he said, walking around the desk and sitting on the front edge, crossing one leg over the other, ankle by knee. Pausing, he gestured to the stack in her arms and added, "If you'll take some notes, please."
"W-what? Oh. Oh, yes, of course. Just a moment, sir."
She scrambled to locate a pen and flipped over the top sheet in her pile, automatically scribbling the words Mr. Winner is going to the circus on the back before realizing that she'd done so on one of the company's newest contract write-ups and would have to print that page a second time. Sighing, she then wrote Reprint first page of newest contract and added a star by its side for emphasis.
"I am not to be disturbed. That means no phone calls, no pages, no video conferences -"
"Any questions about this will be fielded by my chosen representative, to be answered as vaguely as possible," he said, carrying on. "True, the circus might appreciate the extra ticket sales, but I'd rather not be found."
"I understand, sir. And how long will you be on vacation?"
Quatre paused and frowned at her, shaking his head. "I thought you were taking notes? Never mind. I'm not going on a vacation."
Hannah blinked. "But you said -"
"I'm going to go to the circus," he repeated, holding up a hand to fend off further interruptions. "And I have no intention of coming back to read about the Tesser lawsuit. Or the new contract, or any incoming bids, or the company newsletter."
Her pen scratched across the paper at top speed while she listened.
"What will you be reading, sir?"
He appeared to take the question into serious consideration, going quiet for nearly a minute and staring off into the distance. She was just about to wave a hand in his face and ask again when he finally decided.
"Dostoyevsky, I think. My father always liked the pre-AC classics."
Hannah's pen hand slowed until it came to a complete stop; she let it fall back to her side and narrowed her eyes at him. There was a hint of amusement in his expression, and the sight instantly rang all the warning bells in her head that it could find.
"You're not coming back?"
Quatre graced her with a smile. She'd finally caught on. "Right."
Having already accepted that he'd gone round the bend, she found herself less shocked by his agreement than she ought to have been, and tilted her head, biting her lower lip. She could already see the impending ruckus.
"The board isn't going to like this. You're the only son of Zayeed Winner, and that makes you his only heir. Who could replace you?"
"A few of my sisters ran the company when I was in the war. They did well, too."
"The board didn't like that, either," she pointed out.
"The board doesn't like anything. They didn't think I could handle the job at 16, either, and I've had record profits the last three years. Besides," he added, looking down at the framed picture of his father on his desk, "it's about time we update our family traditions."
Hannah was almost certain that there was an oddly dark thread winding around his last few words; she couldn't help but wonder just what he was thinking about when he said it. Instead of asking, she chose to wait and let him sort it out in his head on his own time.
"Now," Quatre finally announced, the previous moodiness leaving him. He got to his feet and dusted his trousers off with his hands, before rounding the desk again and plopping himself down into the chair. She almost expected him to spin in it, and found herself unable to decide whether or not she was disappointed that he didn't. "Turn that into a memo somehow and I'll make a few quick phone calls."
She turned to exit the office. "Yes, sir."
"You're an excellent secretary. Thank you. I'll be sure to recommend you to my successors."
Hannah smiled, nodded, and went back to her desk in the next room, newly confident in her continued employment.
There was a short silence while he dialed a memorized number before something else occurred to him. He clapped a hand over the receiver and called after her.
"Oh! Don't forget to reprint the first page of that new contract! You wrote on the back of it."
Quatre dodged the surprisingly aerodynamic pen that immediately came winging through the doorway and put the phone back to his ear, waiting for the scrapyard manager to finish his standard business greeting before making his own announcement.
"Hi! I'm done."