high High Wire
A Gundam Wing Fanfic by Orla

****
Author's note: This is set during the timeline of my other GW fanfic Kimi no
Koto wa Itsudemo Mamoru.

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and all the characters belong to Sunrise, Bandai...
etc etc. Sophy Winner belongs to me!

****
Quatre Raberba Winner winced as his office door shut. Iria hadn't slammed it,
but her dignified, yet disappointed attitude spoke volumes. Quatre sighed and
turned away to face the window. He hated doing this to Iria, especially as she
was only trying to help, but he couldn't lie about his feelings! It wasn't pleasant
for him and it wasn't fair to the girls his elder sister kept trying to set him up
with.

Quatre leaned forward, resting his forehead on the cool glass. He stared
unseeingly at the street far below. How many did this last girl make? Nine?
Ten? He was starting to lose count. Why couldn't Iria see that he would find
someone in his own time. After all, he was still young, only just 21. He didn't
have to get married yet, leader of the Winner family or not.

But no matter how much he told his sisters, they still kept throwing eligible
young women at him from all directions.

The problem was that all the girls were very nice, and he couldn't refuse to take
them out at least once – hoping that the instincts of his sisters were correct.
And then he was stuck at the restaurant or wherever, with some pretty girl who
either bored him to tears or he had nothing in common with.

*Well, hopefully Iria got the message this time,* Quatre thought, *I said that
was the last one and I mean it!* He sighed, *She's not going to be happy with
me for a while though and Sophy will be even worse…*

His wandering eyes spotted a slender figure walking up to the Winner building.
*Speak of the devil…* Quatre half-groaned as he recognised the figure as his
sister Sophy.

Sophy Winner was the youngest of Quatre's twenty-nine sisters and was the
only other of his siblings, apart Iria, who worked closely with Quatre. His other
sisters looked after the Winner interests in other areas and Quatre hardly saw
them. However, this close relationship with Quatre gave Sophy and Iria the idea
that they had to look after their little brother's personal interests, as well as
helping him with the business.

Quatre stepped back. Sophy was probably coming up to rant at him for yet
another romantic failure. Iria might retire and keep her annoyance to herself, but
Sophy considered it her duty to let Quatre know exactly what was on her mind!
And he really didn't feel he wanted to hear that right now. Quatre decided that
the best option right now was escape.

*I wonder how Rasid and the other Maganacs are doing on the new construction
site…*

***

The Maganacs were working on the latest set of buildings that the Winner
corporation had invested in. The site was intended to contain new housing and
shops and the construction was about 75 percent completed. The Maganacs
had taken on the job, as they had all the others previously, so that they could
be useful and stay close to Quatre at the same time. Quatre would often protest
that he no longer required their protection, but the Maganacs would grin and say
that _they_ wanted to stay and there was nothing he could do to stop them!
Quatre was actually very glad they had decided to stay, they had shared so
much, he couldn't imagine not having them nearby.

"Quatre-sama!" Abdul hailed the young blond man as he entered the site. "This
isn't your day to inspect the site."

Quatre smiled. "I know Abdul, but I needed some fresh air," he then looked
worried. "But if you would rather I left, I can go, I don't want to be in the way."

Abdul shook his head. "Quatre-sama, you are ALWAYS welcome!" his eyes
narrowed slightly. "This need for air wouldn't have anything to do with that young
lady that Iria-san set you up with?"

Quatre blushed slightly. "Well… yes," he sighed. "I disappointed Iria again and I
didn't want to wait for Sophy to catch me!" he looked around the site. "Is Rasid
here?"

Abdul pointed to the tall leader of the Maganacs who was directing a crew.
"He's been here all day, cracking the whip over our heads as usual!"

Quatre laughed, waved to Abdul and walked over to Rasid. Since his father's
death and the end of the war, Quatre considered Rasid in the light of a second
father and would often talk to him about things that troubled him. He hoped that
Rasid wasn't too busy at the moment as he really needed his advice.

Rasid was only too pleased to take a break and help Quatre. They retired to the
foreman's tent and sat down.

Quatre told Rasid what had happened and ended his spiel with a sigh. "I really
don't know what else to do, Rasid," he said. "My sisters mean well and I don't
want to hurt them, but this constant hurling of young women my way has to
stop!"

Rasid leaned back. "I understand that you feel uncomfortable, Quatre-sama," he
said. "But… they have a point, you are the only male Winner, and you will need
an heir."

Quatre looked plaintively at Rasid. "Not you too! Rasid, I have time, plenty of
time, I'm young still!"

Rasid regarded him gravely. "Your friend Maxwell was young."

Quatre swallowed. Duo… killed in an accident over a year ago and still fresh in
his mind. The loss of his friend had been a terrible blow to Quatre and he felt as
if the link, which bound himself and the other ex-Gundam pilots together, had
been irrevocably torn. He shook his head. "Rasid, I understand that, but…"

"And we all want to see you happy," Rasid interrupted. "Happy and settled with
someone who makes you smile."

Quatre blushed. "I have you, my sisters…"

"Family is not the same," said Rasid sternly. "Nor are we." he added. Then
Rasid leaned forward and smiled. "But we want to see you with the right person
Quatre-sama."

"Well, none of the girls my sisters push at me are the right ones!" commented
Quatre.

"QUATRE!!!!"

Quatre and Rasid jumped slightly as Quatre's name was shouted across the
site. Quatre sighed resignedly.

"Sophy's found me…"

Sophy Winner burst into the tent and looked down on the two seated men. She
was a pretty woman of twenty-four with wavy brown hair and bright grey eyes. "I
thought I'd find you here, if you weren't in the office," she said. "You need a
better hiding place little brother!"

Quatre laughed at that and stood up. "I'm sorry, Sophy, but I just couldn't face a
lecture today."

Sophy blinked. "Eh? What do you mean?"

"About the girl I went out with…"

"Oh, that!" Sophy waved her hands, dismissing the topic. "I knew she was
wrong for you, but Iria wouldn't listen! ANYway, what I came to tell you is that
the circus is coming to town!"

Quatre's eyes widened. "_The_ circus?"

She nodded. "Yes, I got a call from Trowa, he couldn't get through to your
office," she shot him an accusing look.

Quatre winced. "Sorry, I turned off the phone while I was with Iria, and I must
have forgotten to turn it on again," he smiled. "But this is good news, I haven't
seen Trowa and Catherine in months! When are they arriving?"

"Today."

"What?"

Sophy grabbed his hand. "They'll be arriving in about… fifteen minutes, so if you
wan to meet them…"

"Right," Quatre turned to Rasid. "I'll think about what you said," he smiled.
"Thank you."

Rasid nodded. "I'm glad to help Quatre-sama," a broad smile crossed his face
as the siblings ran off. "But I think with the arrival of these friends you will be
free for a while!"

***

The circus troop had arrived by the time Quatre and Sophy arrived at the dock.
Animals and equipment were being loaded onto transports and dozens of circus
employees were milling around. Quatre and Sophy dodged between the people,
Quatre acknowledging the greetings he received from various people. He smiled
to himself over this familiarity as he continued to look through the crowd for the
familiar form of his friend Trowa Barton.

Trowa. Another Gundam pilot. The one out of the five that Quatre felt closest to.
They had kept in contact over the years and Quatre _always_ made time to see
Trowa whenever the circus came to L4.

"Quatre! There they are!" Sophy yanked on his arm, pulling him to the right.

Quatre looked and saw Trowa standing by one of the animal cages, checking
on the lion inside. Beside Trowa stood the pretty figure of Catherine Bloom,
Trowa's performance partner and 'big sister'.

"Trowa!" Quatre yelled out. He jogged up to them waving. "Catherine!"

Trowa turned and saw the blond Arabian man coming towards him. A slight
smile crossed his normally pensive face and his eyes, partially hidden by the
shock of brown bangs that half-hid his face, widened a fraction. "Quatre."

Catherine also turned and she smiled broadly. "Quatre, I wondered if you would
come to greet us!" She saw Sophy running up behind Quatre. "Sophy, you
too?"

"Of course!" panted Sophy. "I wasn't going to miss the arrival of my friend!"

Sophy and Catherine had met two years ago and became friends quickly.
Quatre was glad that his sister had made such a fast friend of his best friend's
sister. His own friendship with Catherine was good, but they were not terribly
close. Their initial meeting had not been good, since Trowa had had amnesia at
the time and Catherine regarded Quatre as a threat to her 'little brother's' safety.
It had taken a while before she could forgive Quatre for being responsible for
Trowa going back into battle.

However, all that was in the past now and the smile that Catherine turned on
Quatre was genuinely warm.

The four chatted for a while, well, actually it was Catherine, Sophy and Quatre
who chatted. Trowa was still not much of a talker, but he listened and smiled as
Quatre told him what had been happening on L4.

"Anyway," Quatre finished. "You and Catherine will come over to dinner
tonight?"

Catherine bit her lip. "Quatre, we'll be setting up tonight, could we take a
raincheck?"

"Quatre can come and eat with us," said Trowa quietly. "It's no problem."

Catherine blinked. "It's not very... stylish..."

Quatre laughed. "That's alright! I don't need to eat off a golden plate, not every
night anyway!" he glanced at Catherine and Trowa. "I'd love to come if I may."

Catherine shrugged. "If you're sure you don't mind squishing into a tent with a
lot of people and eating goulash..."

"I love goulash," said Quatre seriously.

Trowa made a sound suspiciously like a laugh and Catherine blinked again. She
shook her head. "I'm sorry, Quatre, I didn't mean to make it sound as if you
were a snob," she laughed. "I just..."

"Stop now while you're ahead," advised Sophy. "Don't put your other foot in your
mouth!"

"Hahaha..." Catherine rolled her eyes.

"Master Quatre!" A elegantly clad secretary ran up to them. "Master Quatre,
there is an urgent matter that's just come up!"

Quatre sighed. "I see, thank you," he looked apologetically at Trowa and
Catherine. "I'm sorry, but I have to go."

Trowa nodded. "Duty calls."

Quatre smiled. "Yes indeed and this duty is more relentless than mobile dolls!"
he stepped back. "I'll see you tonight?"

"Yes," said Trowa.

"I'll come with you," said Sophy to Quatre. "I think I know what this is about.
See you later Catherine!"

"Come tonight if you like, Sophy!" Catherine called as the pair left.

Trowa turned back to the cages. "Let's continue."

Catherine nodded. "Mmm," she glanced back after Quatre and Sophy. "Trowa?
Do you think that Quatre looks a bit strained?"

"Yes."

"Is he working to hard?"

"Undoubtedly."

Catherine smiled. "Well, I guess we'll have to get him to relax, right?"

Trowa smiled back at her. "Yes, sister."

***

Later that evening:

Quatre entered the last bit of data and saved it before switching off the computer
with a weary sigh.

Sophy, who was working at the other end of the office, glanced up. "Tired little
brother?"

Quatre stretched. "Yes, that request from the Fuuma corporation for the urgent
materials made today's workload jump up by 25 percent!" he yawned. "Still, I'll
be able to relax with Trowa and Catherine tonight."

"Just don't stay up too late," said Sophy as she shut down her own computer.
"Remember the function tomorrow night, that will probably go into the small
hours of the morning."

Quatre groaned. "Oh yes, _that_. I have to admit Sophy, I really don't enjoy
these functions. All that sweet talk and underhand dealing... why can't people
be more honest with each other?"

"Human nature," said Sophy philosophically. "Anyway, you'd enjoy it more if
you had someone to talk to," a cunning statement appeared on her face.
"Which brings me to this idea I had..."

Quatre looked at her in growing alarm. "Sophy... no! Not another one!"

"Oh Quatre!" Sophy shot him a pleading glance. "She's really _very_ nice and
very pretty! Just give her a chance!"

Quatre sighed. "Sophy..."

"Lisel is sooo sweet!" Sophy continued relentlessly. "I'm sure that she is the
ONE!" she rummaged in her pockets. "I have a photo somewhere... hmmm...
maybe I left it in my outer coat pocket..." she went to the door. "Wait here and
I'll get it. I promise, once you see Lisel's picture you won't say no!" and with that
Sophy left.

Quatre drummed his fingers on the desk. No, not again! He'd had enough! Then
he sighed. *But I won't be able to refuse and I'll be stuck tomorrow... unless... I
escape (again) before Sophy gets back...*

With this thought in mind, Quatre bolted for the fire-escape. Keying in the code
to disable the alarm he opened the door. *Hmmm.... forty flights in darkness...
oh well...* He closed the door behind him.

Sophy came back in waving a photo excitedly. "Here it is! Now... huh?
Where...?" she scowled. "_Quatre_ you sneak!!"

***

Trowa raised an eyebrow and stared at Quatre as he entered the tent that Trowa
lived in. "How did you get that cut?" he asked pointing to the minute cut on
Quatre's forehead.

Quatre put his hand to his head and laughed. "I fell down a flight of stairs," he
confessed.

Catherine entering the tent overheard him and looked at him in concern. "Are
you alright otherwise?" she asked.

"Yes," Quatre smiled at her. "Just a few bruises, nothing serious."

"How did you fall down in the first place?" Catherine asked. She pulled out a
First Aid kit and took out some antiseptic and a plaster.

"I was running down the fire escape in pitch blackness!"

Trowa raised both eyebrows.

Catherine leaned over Quatre and dabbed at his cut. "Oookay... _why_ were
you...?"

"Thank you Catherine... Well, I was escaping Sophy, my matchmaking sister
has another potential girlfriend in mind for me!"

Trowa shook his head. "I understand how you feel," he looked at Catherine who
blushed faintly.

"I thought you _liked_ June!" she protested as she put the plaster on Quatre.

"And Lucy? And Misa?" Trowa sighed. "Catherine..."

Quatre chuckled. "It must be a sister thing!"

Catherine looked a bit huffy. "Well, I'm not as bad as _your_ sisters Quatre!"
she put the kit away. "Why was Sophy all gung-ho about this one?"

Quatre sighed. "Oh, Sophy thinks that this new girl would be the perfect date for
this evening function that I have to go to tomorrow, so that I would have some
company."

"It's not a bad idea," said Catherine.

"No, it's not," agreed Quatre. "But I don't want to spend the evening with a girl I
hardly know, who I probably won't like. It would be better to be alone!"

Trowa regarded his friend thoughtfully. There was an idea that had been in the
back of his mind for a while, more of a daydream really. But... now he wondered
if it just might work.

"Take Catherine," he said.

"What?" Catherine and Quatre both stared at Trowa.

"Take Catherine to the function," Trowa expanded.

Quatre blinked, glanced at Catherine and then at Trowa. "Well, I... well..."

"You get along well with her."

"Yes, but..."

"And she gets along well with you."

"Yes, I suppose it's not a bad idea when you put it like that," Quatre looked
back at Catherine. "Catherine? Would you want to go?"

Catherine frowned slightly. "I don't know if this is very appropriate," she said. "I
mean, I wouldn't know how to behave in those circles... I would just embarrass
you..."

Quatre smiled. "Catherine, none of my friends embarrass me," he stood up and
bowed to her. "Miss Bloom, I would be delighted if you would be my date
tomorrow night!"

Catherine hesitated. She did like Quatre. He was a nice guy and he was such a
good friend to Trowa, but she had never associated with him outside of Trowa's
company. *When it comes down to it, I hardly know him,* she thought, *And
the circles he moves in... they're _way_ beyond my reach! But... it would make
Trowa happy if I helped him out and... and I am a _little_ curious to see how the
other half lives it up!*

Catherine curtsied to Quatre. "Mister Raberba Winner I would be honoured!"

Quatre smiled. "Thank you Catherine! I really do appreciate this, and Sophy
can't complain!" he paused. "At least I hope not!"

Catherine smiled. "I'll talk to her," she promised. "Perhaps I can get her to lay
off for a while!"

Quatre blushed. "I will be in your debt."

Trowa watched his best friend and his sister and smiled. Well, it looked like this
idea was a good one and who knew? _Something_ could happen between
them...

***

Catherine clasped her hands together tightly and tried to calm the fluttery
feeling in the pit of her stomach as the limo arrived at their destination.

"Catherine?" Quatre turned to her. "It's alright you know, they won't bite."

Catherine flushed slightly. Obviously she had betrayed her nervousness...
damn.

"I know, Quatre," she said. "But still... I can't help feeling a bit anxious that I'm
going to stand out in this crowd."

He nodded. "I understand," he said. He smiled. "But you look lovely Catherine,
if you do stand out it will be for the _right_ reasons!" he got out of the car.

Catherine blinked. What a sweet thing for Quatre to say! She shook her head,
of course, he was just being polite. He'd say the same to any girl.

Quatre opened the door on her side and held out his hand. "Shall we go
inside?"

"S-sure," Catherine took his hand and stepped out, moving carefully so as not
to overbalance in her high heels or step on the hem of her full skirt. One of the
other women in the circus troop had loaned her this off-the-shoulder dark green
ballgown and she didn't want to ruin it. Besides which, falling flat on her face
outside of this magnificent mansion would be _incredibly_ humiliating.

Catherine took Quatre's arm and they made their way up the stairs to the front
door. The doorman opened it, bowing them inside.

Catherine tried very hard _not_ to gape as they walked down the long hallway,
but she could resist the occasional peep. It was the most garishly decorated
place she had ever seen! All gilded in gold with elaborate carvings.

"Hideous, isn't it?" murmured Quatre. "I can never come in here without
wincing!"

"How can anyone live like this? Does money make people tasteless?"
Catherine whispered back.

Quatre blinked. "You think I'm tasteless?" he asked in a slightly hurt voice.

Catherine mentally kicked herself. "No, no!" she hastened to assure him. "You
must be the exception to the rule, Quatre, because I never get blinded in _your_
home!"

Quatre laughed quietly. "That's good."

They reached the main room and were ushered inside.

"Mr Quatre Raberba Winner and Miss... er... Catherine Bloom!" the usher
announced.

"Mr Winner!" a tall dark haired man came up to them. "I'm so pleased to meet
you once again."

Quatre bowed. "Likewise Mr Fuuma, thank you for inviting me."

Yuto Fuuma smiled, but Catherine noticed that his smile didn't reach his eyes
and she wondered if Quatre had seen it too. Fuuma bowed politely to Catherine,
raking his eyes over her and then dismissing her as unimportant, he turned
back to Quatre.

"There are several people here who have a great interest in doing business with
you, Mr Winner," said Fuuma. "Please let me introduce you."

"Certainly," said Quatre pleasantly. He turned to Catherine. "Why don't you get
a drink and something to eat?" he suggested pointing to a buffet table. "This
won't take long."

Catherine readily agreed. She had no desire to be introduced to alot of rich
businessmen who were concerned in shallow things. She felt sorry that Quatre
had to associate with them, but she knew that he had no choice if the Winner
Corporation was to continue to prosper.

Quatre was led away by Fuuma and Catherine walked over to the buffet table.
As she walked she looked at all the other guests. They all looked supremely
confident with themselves and were dressed very elegantly. Catherine brushed
her hands nervously against the skirt of her dress, aware that it was plain and
only enlivened by a gold chain around her neck and some star-shaped gold
clips in her hair.

"Are you the girl who came in with Mr Winner?" an arch voice behind her made
Catherine whirl around.

Two women, one blond, the other a redhead, were regarding her. They were
young, not over twenty-five and were exquisitely dressed. Catherine could feel
them weighing her up and finding her lacking in consequence.

She took a deep breath and answered the redhead who had asked her the
question. "Yes, yes I did."

The two looked at each other and then back at her. The blond leaned forward
slightly. "So... how long have you known him?"

Catherine shrugged. "Oh, about four years now I think, my brother is his best
friend."

"Oh... so you're just a _friend_," murmured the redhead. She turned to her
companion. "I told you."

The blond smiled. "Well, that's good, I'd hate to see him wasted, and I know we
haven't seen _her_ in the right places so she must be associated with that
dreadful circus Mr Winner likes so much."

"Isn't it terrible?"

A hot rage surged through Catherine. "I'm still _here_ you know!" she gritted as
she held back her anger.

The blond tittered. "Yes... we know!" she linked arms with her friend. "Poor little
nobody!"

The redhead laughed. "Where _did_ he find her?"

Catherine was conscious of a great desire to pick up the punch bowl and throw
the contents at them. She swallowed, fighting the impulse. She couldn't cause
a riot here! It would only hurt Quatre. Stiffly she turned and swept past the
women, her head held high, but her ears burning as they continued to laugh at
her. Clenching her fists she walked towards the French doors at one end and
found herself on a balcony.

As soon as she was safely out of earshot and eyesight Catherine swore and
punched the rail. "Ow!" she muttered and rubbed her knuckles. "Grrr... I knew I
shouldn't have come! Damn Trowa and damn Quatre too!"

She leaned on the rail and stared moodily into the darkness. "I wish I could've
said something to those creeps!" she choked as tears of frustration welled in
her eyes. "Over-dressed bimbos!"

"Why didn't you say anything then?"

Catherine's eyes widened as Quatre appeared at her side. "How long...?"

"I followed you," he said softly. "I overheard what happened, but you left before I
could reach you."

Catherine sighed. "I had to leave, or I would have decked them," she rested her
chin on her hands. "Or at the very least insulted them terribly!"

Quatre laughed suddenly surprising her. "You should have!"

Catherine blinked and straightened. "But... wouldn't that have wrecked your
business dealing? Your date causing a scene?"

Quatre turned to her and his eyes rested on her face, a great warmth in them. "I
would prefer _not_ to deal with people who insult my friends," he said calmly.
"People who are rude to the ones I care about are not the type of people who I
want around me," he smiled and reached up to gently wipe away a tear that had
escaped from her eyes.

Catherine's chest constricted slightly and she felt a bit breathless. "But, what
about the Winner Corporation? Surely you can't afford..."

Quatre took her hands in his. "Catherine, the Winner Corporation can handle
the loss of a few business partners, _I_ cannot handle the loss of _any_ of the
ones I love!"

Catherine felt tears welling up again and blinked them away. She felt strangely
nervous and oddly happy at the same time. Trowa had always told her that
Quatre had a great heart and she had agreed, but this was the first time she
had felt the full force of Quatre's gentle kindness. She swallowed and attempted
to keep her voice light as she answered him.

"That's a nice sentiment, Quatre, but hardly practical."

"Maybe not," Quatre admitted. "But I prefer to live by it."

Catherine chuckled, amusement driving away her nervous feelings. "Does this
mean that it's alright if I deck the next person who insults me?"

Quatre looked faintly alarmed and then he laughed. "Well... only if insulting
them back doesn't work!"

"Can I quote you there?" Catherine asked in a teasing voice.

Quatre's eyes widened. "Ah! Don't you _dare_!" he smiled. "This time I'll stick
close to you and glare at anyone who tries to insult you, perhaps that will
prevent bloodshed."

Catherine smiled warmly at him and took his arm. "My dear Quatre, glaring was
never one of your strong points, unless you've been taking lessons from Heero
Yuy! But I promise to behave... if the other guest will!"

"I suppose that's all I can hope for," sighed Quatre.

Laughing, they returned to the main room to continue the evening.

***

The limo pulled up outside the main circus tent and Quatre gently tapped the
arm of the girl snoozing on his shoulder.

"Catherine, wake up, we're here."

"Hmmm?" Catherine blinked and rubbed her eyes with one hand. "Oh... right..."
she became aware of her position and felt her cheeks heat up.

She had dozed off two minutes after they had left the party, not surprising as it
was 3am. Quatre had been too polite to move her as she slept on his shoulder
and besides, he had to admit, having a pretty woman snuggled in your arms
was not an unpleasant sensation.

Catherine straightened and smoothed her rumpled hair, trying to conceal the
embarrassment she felt. *God knows what he thinks of me!* She thought in
concern, *I bet none of his other dates snored on his shoulder after a little
party!*

Catherine was still chiding herself as she stepped out of the car, but she
composed herself enough to turn and say goodnight to Quatre.

"Goodnight Catherine," said Quatre. "I do hope that you managed to have a nice
evening."

Catherine nodded. "Thank you for inviting me Quatre, even if it _was_ Trowa's
idea!"

Quatre laughed. "Next time I take you out it won't be on Trowa's suggestion!" he
said as he closed the door.

Catherine blinked as she watched the limo moved away. Did Quatre _mean_
that?

She was still dwelling on his parting words when she entered her trailer. Trowa
was sitting on the small couch reading, he looked up as she came in.

"Have a nice time?" he asked.

Catherine stared at him. "Trowa! Were you waiting up for me?" she asked. "It's
3am!"

"I know," said Trowa calmly. "But did you have a good time?"

Catherine took of her earrings and laid them on her dresser. "Yes," she said
after a moments thought. "I did. The start was a bit rough, but Quatre was a
great conversationalist and he made sure that I wasn't neglected at anytime,"
she took the clips out of her hair. "He dances very well you know."

"Good." Trowa shut his book and got to his feet. "I thought this would be a
success."

Catherine's eyes narrowed and she looked at him suspiciously. "Trowa... if you
weren't _you_ I'd suspect that you were trying to set me and Quatre up!"

Trowa regarded her without statement for a moment. "Goodnight sister," he said
finally and left.

Catherine drummed her fingers on the dresser. Trowa... wouldn't! Would he?

Outside the trailer Trowa smiled to himself. *Well, it looks as if phase one
worked,* he thought, *Now... onto phase two...*

***

The Next Day:

Sophy leaned over Quatre's shoulder and peered at the note he was writing.
"Hmmm... an order for two dozen yellow roses... why _Quatre_!"

Quatre jumped. "Sophy! This is private!"

She took a step back and smirked at his flustered face. "So... who's the lucky
girl? Anyone I know?"

Quatre blushed. "They're for Catherine," he confessed. "A thank you for coming
with me to the function last night."

Sophy tapped her lower lip with her forefinger. "Catherine, huh? Well, I guess
that's a good choice..."

"_Sophy_!!!" Quatre went even redder. "It's just a _thank you_, it's not as if I'm
going to date Catherine or anything!"

Sophy pouted. "Awww, don't raise my expectations like that!"

Quatre gave up. He dialled up the flower shop. "Hello? This is Mr Quatre
Raberba Winner, I'd like to order some flowers please for a Miss Catherine
Bloom who is residing at the circus... ye..."

Sophy grabbed the phone. "Red roses!!" she yelled down it. "With a note
saying..."

Quatre wrestled the phone back. "I'm sorry, the order is for _yellow_ roses, 2
dozen, and a note that says..."

Sophy nabbed the phone again. "That says - To my dearest Catherine, I would
like to go out with you again..."

"NO!!" Quatre pulled the phone back. "No, the note shall just have my name on
it and a thank you..."

"With all my love!" Sophy cried.

Quatre pushed her away. "Please ignore her, she's deranged."

"HEY!!"

Quatre ignored her. "Oh... thank you very much, goodbye," he put the phone
down and shot an exasperated look at Sophy. "Did you _have_ to do that?"

Sophy shrugged. "I had to try."

***

Catherine frowned as she looked at her pink circus costume. "When did this rip
get in the skirt?" she wondered aloud. "I don't remember it happening!"

Trowa, who was examining his own costume, looked at her. "It's probably just
worn through," he said.

Catherine sighed. "I suppose so, oh well, I guess it's the green outfit tonight... I
just hope that one is okay!"

"Catherine!" one of the circus hands came in. "You've got a present!"

"Eh?" Catherine turned around. "Oh my..." she dropped the costume. "Are
those roses for me?"

The circus hand grinned at her as he handed her the large bouquet. "You're the
only Catherine Bloom here!" he said. "Must be an admirer."

Catherine opened the note pinned to the yellow roses. "It's from Quatre!" she
said in surprise.

"Really?" Trowa lifted an eyebrow.

"He says thank you for last night, he had a very nice time in my company and
hopes that I did as well," Catherine admired the bouquet. "How sweet of him!"
She murmured. Quatre's face appeared in her mind. The blue eyes under the
fringe of blond hair. His sweet smile and gentle voice. The way he smelt of
sandalwood... Catherine blinked. *How odd... I didn't think I remember _that_
much about him!*

"How interesting," said Trowa, he half-turned away from her.

Catherine looked at him sharply. "You're _smirking_!" she accused him.

Trowa turned a bland look on her. "Me?"

Catherine stamped her foot. "You... you... argh!" she stomped out, her cheeks
red.

Trowa smirked.

***

A day later:

Quatre tapped his fingers on his desk. "It's a beautiful day..." he said to himself.
"Just right for eating outside... hmmm... I wonder if Trowa and Catherine would
like to go on a lunchtime picnic?" Quatre picked up the phone. "I hope
Catherine can make it..." he murmured. Then he blinked and wondered where
that thought had come from.

***

"Quatre's invited us on a picnic," Trowa informed Catherine as she checked the
net under the high wire.

"Both of us?" Catherine asked.

"Yes, he was insistent that you come."

"Oh, really?" The net was suddenly the most fascinating thing that Catherine
had ever seen. "Well, I guess I have to go then."

"I guess so."

***

"Catherine!" Quatre leapt up to greet her. "I'm so glad you could make it! I hope
I'm not keeping you from anything important?"

Catherine shook her head. "Oh no, just the everyday chores," she held up a
small basket. "I made a cake," she said a little shyly.

"Great!" Quatre beamed at her. Then he glanced behind her. "Uh... where is
Trowa?"

"Oh, he had a couple of things to do," said Catherine. "He said he'd be joining
us in about fifteen minutes and we were to start without him."

"Alright, come and sit down," Quatre led her to a blanket set up underneath a
cherry tree in bloom. There were a variety of delicacies laid out on the blanket.

"This looks lovely," said Catherine as she sat down. "Puts my poor little cake to
shame!"

"I think your cake will be the best of them all," said Quatre smiling warmly at
her. "After all, these are just from a caterers, yours was made by you and that
makes it better than anything!"

Catherine smiled wryly. "I wouldn't praise it until you taste it!" she said.

***

An hour later:

"...and then Rasid said that he didn't _care_ if Advol thought it was funny, _he_
didn't approve!" Quatre laughed as he came to the conclusion of .

Catherine half-choked on her food and had to gulp down some juice. "Oh my...
those Maganacs... sounds like you've had so fun times with them!" she
chuckled.

Quatre nodded. "I don't know if I could have made it without them," he said
seriously.

Catherine looked at him. "They're like family to you, aren't they?"

"Yes, like older brothers and uncles!"

Catherine sat up and brushed crumbs from her lap. "Speaking of brothers..."
she said. "Where is _mine_? He's very late!"

"Maybe he got held up?"

"Maybe."

***

Another hour later:

Catherine looked at her watch. "Quatre, I really don't want to cut this short, but I
have to get back for tonight's setting up!"

"I should get back to work," said Quatre with a sigh. He stood up and looked at
the picnic basket which had been packed up half an hour ago. "It's a pity Trowa
missed this."

"Yes..." Catherine frowned. "He'd better have a good explanation!" she smiled at
Quatre. "But I had a good time, thanks Quatre!"

He bowed. "It was my pleasure."

Their eyes met and held for some minutes. Quatre realised how beautiful
Catherine's silver eyes were and Catherine thought that Quatre's blue eyes held
a wonderful combination of strength and kindness. Then they blinked and
looked away.

"I'll... er... see you at the performance tonight," said Quatre, his cheeks were
pink.

"Ummm... yeah, tonight..." Catherine felt a little shy. She turned and began to
run towards the park exit. "See you soon!"

Quatre waved after her and shook his head. How odd, he hadn't missed Trowa
one bit...

***

Catherine got back to the circus and found Trowa by the lion's cage.

"Why didn't you show up?" she demanded. "Quatre and I were waiting for you!"

"Did you eat lunch?" Trowa asked not looking at her.

"_Yes_ and you _missed_ it!"

"Oh... too bad," Trowa got to his feet. "Things just took longer than I thought,"
he said and walked away.

Catherine stared after him. "You really _are_ setting us up!" she murmured.
"Why Trowa Barton! You little _sneak_!" her eyes narrowed. "Well... you're NOT
getting away with this!"

***

Quatre sat in his office and stared at the figures in front of him. But he wasn't
seeing numbers, all he saw and heard in his mind was Catherine.

*What's going on?* He wondered. *Is it possible? It can't be! But if I don't... then
why am thinking about her so much? And why now? I've known her for _years_!
Why am I seeing her so differently?*

Sophy watched her little brother from the door and turned to smile at her older
sister.

"See Iria? I told you, he's in love."

Iria Winner shook her head. "Finally... and it was all through his own doing!"

Sophy nodded. "Uh-huh. Now, let's hope he acts on this soon!" she looked
determined. "Or I might have to step in!"

Iria rolled her eyes. "Poor Quatre..."

***

"Trowa! TROWA BARTON!!!"

Trowa calmly turned around as Catherine's voice rose to a shriek of frustration.
"Is something the matter?" he inquired in a serene tone.

Catherine planted her hands on her hips and glared at him. "Don't take that
innocent tone with me!" she growled. "You know perfectly well what's wrong!
You did it _again_!"

Trowa raised one eyebrow. "Hmmm?"

Catherine seethed. "Quatre and I waited for you for ages! We had to go to the
late afternoon session of the movie because we missed the one we _planned_
for!"

"Was the movie good?"

"Eh?" Catherine blinked. "Why yes, but... Argh! Trowa, that's _not_ the point!
For the past three days you have managed to either miss meeting us or
'something' has come up that you _have_ to attend to! It's getting silly. I thought
Quatre was your _friend_!"

"He is," said Trowa. "Catherine, haven't you had a good time? With Quatre?"

Catherine spluttered. "I-I... well... yes... but..."

"Good," Trowa turned and left her.

Catherine blinked and realised that her sneaky brother had escaped her again.
"This is getting to be a habit!" she muttered and stomped off to her trailer.

Once inside she sat at her dresser and leaned on it, her chin resting on her
hands. She stared crossly at her reflection.

"I can't believe Trowa!" she said to herself. "I think he's taking revenge a bit far
now, surely all this has more than paid me back for all the girls I threw at him?"
she sighed. "And it's not fair to Quatre, to be manipulated like this, he gets
enough from his sisters... although, I have to admit, I do like him..."

Catherine slumped slightly and made a face. "I mean, he's a nice guy - sweet
and intelligent. I get on well with him and I do enjoy his company, but... a
relationship between us is a bit unrealistic, right? After all, he's the owner of the
Winner Corporation and I'm just a performer in a circus! Talk about your different
worlds! It would never work..." her voice trailed away and she let out an even
bigger sigh.

"And now I'm talking to myself!" Catherine said in disgust as she pushed herself
upright. She glared at her reflection. "Ooooh! I want to get Trowa _so_ badly!
But how? I don't know of any eligible girls I could set him up with, and he's
definitely not interested in any of the girls who work here! The only single person
I can think of is..." an evil smile crept across Catherine's face. "Actually, that's
not a bad idea," she mused. "I'll bet she's been hassling Quatre just as much
as Trowa has been annoying me! Revenge for _both_ of us... although I won't
tell Quatre, his conscience might get in the way!"

With renewed vigour and a plan of revenge, Catherine sprang up to set things in
motion.

***

Next afternoon:

"And that's the last of it!" said Sophy triumphantly as she dumped a pile of
papers on Quatre's desk. "Now all you have to do is stamp them."

Quatre looked at the large pile and sighed. "I'm going to be here all afternoon,
aren't I?"

"And I'm _free_!" cheered Sophy punching the air in delight. She stopped
bouncing and tapped her lower lip thoughtfully. "Now... what mischief can I get
up too?"

"None that involves _me_ if you please!" said Quatre recalling the last time
Sophy had stirred up trouble. He still had nightmares about the lime jelly and
the police sometimes.

"As if I'd hurt my cute little brother!" Sophy reached over a ruffled Quatre's hair.

He gave her a pained look. "Do you _have_ to do that?" he asked.

"My my, but we _are_ gloomy today!" said Sophy. A sly twinkle appeared in her
eyes. "Feeling down because the circus and the lovely Catherine leaves
tomorrow?"

Quatre flushed and pretended to be _very_ interested in his work. Sophy wasn't
fooled for a second and was about to tease him further when her phone rang.
She answered it and laughed.

"Why Catherine! We were just talking about you!"

Quatre looked up in alarm. Sophy wouldn't say anything to embarrass him
would she?

"Quatre's really miserable because you're leaving..."

Who was he trying to kid? Of _course_ she'd embarrass him! It was her sole
mission in life... oh and to get him married to the right girl!

"What was that? Meet you?" Sophy grinned. "Sure, I'm free this afternoon...
where? Oh yes, I know it... okay, one o'clock it is... on the dot... see ya!" she
hung up.

Quatre tried to ignore Sophy's theatrical sigh. "Oh Quatre... I should have let
you talk to her! I'm such a bad sister!"

Quatre feigned nonchalance. "We spoke quite extensively yesterday," he said
calmly. "I'm sure there really isn't anything new to discuss."

"Not even that you're going to miss her like mad?" Sophy waggled a finger at
him. "You'll lose her if you carry on like this!" she said seriously.

Quatre let out an exasperated sigh and got to his feet. "I'll finish this later," he
said. "Right now I'm going to check on the construction site and talk to people
who are _not_ trying to run my life!"

Sophy picked up her bag and coat. "I'm just being a good sister!" she sang out
as she left.

Quatre groaned. "With sisters like that I don't need enemies!"

***

"A cafe?" Trowa frowned very (very) slightly. "Why?"

"Because Sophy told me it was really good and I want to try it before we leave
tomorrow!" said Catherine. She looked pleadingly at Trowa. "And I want you to
join me."

Trowa shrugged. "Very well, if you insist."

"Oh I _do_!"

Catherine took Trowa to a cute, cosy cafe in the heart of town. They took a seat
at a window booth and examined the menu.

"Mmmm... the triple chocolate fudge ice-cream with nuts and chocolate sauce
looks _good_!" said Catherine. "Waitress! get me one of those."

"Aren't you going to eat any real food?" Trowa asked as he ordered a salad.

"Trowa, if I wanted to eat healthy food I would've eaten back at the circus!"
retorted Catherine. She surreptitiously checked her watch. Five minutes to go.

"Trowa?" Catherine got to her feet. "I have to go to the Ladies, I'll be back
soon." she paused. "I think I'll order a milkshake while I'm up."

Trowa raised both eyebrows, but nodded and Catherine left, stopping on her
way to snag a waitress.

Five minutes later Sophy Winner hurried inside the cafe. She spotted Trowa and
waved.

"Hi!" she said depositing herself opposite him. "So what's the big thing that I
have to be _exactly_ on time for?"

Trowa stared blankly at her. He was positive that Catherine hadn't mentioned
that Sophy was going to be joining them. Still, it could have slipped her mind...
although that was highly unlikely.

"So do you know?" Sophy pressed him.

"No."

"Can you guess?"

"No."

Sophy looked around. "And where is Catherine anyway?"

***

Catherine wriggled... and twisted... and wriggled again.

"Okay," she muttered in a determined voice. "I can _do_ this! I work in a circus,
I can do flips, balance on a high wire and throw knives with 100 percent
accuracy... oof! I am _going_ to get out of this @$#*&! window!"

With this positive reinforcement, Catherine pushed at the edge of the window
again. Her lower body squeezed further out of the small window in the Ladies
room and she prepared for the final shove that would take her to the ground
outside.

"At least no one came in... that would have made things hard to explain! Okay,
here goes... one, two... EEEP!!!"

Catherine yelped as someone grabbed her legs and yanked her out of the
window.

"OWW!!!" Catherine cried as she was pulled out and into the arms of...

"_Quatre_???"

Quatre stared at her. "I thought I recognised those boots and that voice," he
said. "But _why_ are you coming out of a window?"

Catherine smiled nervously. "Er... heheheh... can I explain as we walk away?
What are you doing in this alleyway anyway?"

"It's a shortcut from the construction site," said Quatre as they walked towards
the street. "So, what's your story?"

***

Trowa looked at his watch. "Ten minutes."

Sophy blinked. "What could she be doing in there for ten minutes?" she
wondered. "I'll go and check," she said and left the table.

She was back soon, a puzzled statement on her face. "She's not there. You
didn't see her leave did you, Trowa?"

"No."

"How weird! Are you sure?"

Trowa didn't respond, he was too busy looking at the group of people coming
towards their table. There were two waitresses carrying a large cake in the
shape of a heart while another one carried a large bottle of champagne and two
glasses, and two men carrying a violin and a concertina respectively. Trowa
began to have a _bad_ feeling.

Sophy turned and saw the group. "I wonder who that's for! How embarrassing...
wait a minute... I think they're for..."

"Us," finished Trowa in a leaden voice.

The waitresses put the cake, champagne and glasses down in front of them.

"Congratulations!" said one.

"Have a romantic anniversary!" said another.

Sophy's eyes went very, very wide and Trowa twitched.

"What...??" Sophy stuttered.

The two musicians stepped up and began to play and sing.

"Oh this is the night... it's a beautiful night and they call it Bella Notte..."

Sophy went brick-red. "I-I think there's been a mistake..." she tried to say.

Trowa simply closed his eyes and tried to will the voices away. There were two
thoughts utmost in his mind. The first was that he was going to get Catherine
for this. The second was _why_ were they singing a song about a beautiful night
when it was still daytime?!

Trowa groaned faintly.

***

"You did WHAT to my sister and Trowa??" Quatre halted abruptly and turned to
gape at Catherine.

"I told the management at the cafe that they were a young married couple
celebrating their first anniversary," Catherine explained again. "I specified that
they wanted a heart-shaped cake, champagne and to be serenaded."

Quatre shuddered. "Serenaded? That's cruel..." he shot her a puzzled look.
"Why?"

Catherine was confused. "You know why," she said. "Because of what they've
done to us!"

Quatre still looked puzzled. He leaned back on the park railing and frowned. "I
know that Sophy's been a pain in the neck recently, but that's only to _me_.
What has Trowa done to you?"

"He's the one behind all of this!" Catherine gestured wildly. "The whole reason
why we're seeing so much of each other!"

Quatre shook his head. "I don't believe that," he said slowly.

Catherine looked down at the ground. "Quatre, Trowa has been manipulating us
so that we'd... ah... go out. It's his revenge on me for throwing girls at him in the
hope he'd start dating."

Catherine smiled sadly. "And the fact that he mixed you up in this makes it
worse." she sighed. "I'm sorry."

Quatre turned a hurt face to her. "Apart from the very first suggestion, that I
should take you to the function, Trowa has _never_ manipulated my wish to see
you! I was always the one inviting _you_ out remember?" he said. "I thought... I
believed that you and I were... connecting..."

Catherine's heart constricted at the statement on his face. "But you always
invited Trowa too..." she murmured. "And he kept staying away and... I never
thought..."

Quatre sighed. "If I invited him it was because he _is_ my friend and I didn't...
feel that I could just... ask you... by yourself...I was hoping that you were happy
to spend the time with me, but if you were feeling obligated, then... " his eyes
shimmered with a mixture hurt, loss and anger.

Catherine felt a hot wave of sheer embarrassment wash over her. "Oh God...
what an idiot... I'm such a moron... I'm sorry... I guess this just proves that we
aren't compatible... Quatre... I'm sorry, I'll leave now... before I make even more
of a fool of myself!" Catherine turned on her heels and walked swiftly away,
breaking into a run when she reached the edge of the park.

"Catherine!" Quatre flung out a hand and then let it drop. "Maybe... maybe she's
right... maybe." he covered his eyes with his hands. "Damnit... damnit..."

***

The serenade had finally ended and the musicians were gone. Sophy was no
longer red with embarrassment and was now merely amused. She eyed Trowa
who was eating a piece of cake.

"You and me, huh?" Sophy chuckled. "That's quite a good joke on Catherine's
part!"

Trowa swallowed his mouthful. "Yes."

"Do you _ever_ speak a word of more than one syllable?"

A glimmer of a smile crossed Trowa's face. "No."

Sophy stabbed a piece of cake with her fork. "How annoying you are!" she said.
"I don't think we're compatible at all, and I'll tell Catherine so next time I see
her!"

At that moment Catherine ran past the window. Sophy and Trowa both blinked
in surprise (well, Trowa's eyes flickered slightly).

"Wasn't that Catherine?" Sophy asked.

"Yes."

"She looked very upset."

"Yes."

"Are you going to find out what's wrong?"

Trowa got to his feet. "Yes," he fished some money out of his pockets and laid
it on the table. "For the food," he said as he walked away.

"See you later... darling!" Sophy carolled after him.

Trowa winced.

***

Catherine slammed the door of her trailer shut and threw herself on her bed.

"Dummy! Dummy! Dummy!" she yelled into the pillow. "Why'd I have to go and
open my big mouth like that?"

With a half-groan, half-sob, Catherine rolled onto her back and stared miserably
at the ceiling. Quatre's hurt eyes were imprinted on her mind. She sighed and
shut her eyes.

"There's no way he'd want to be involved with me now..." she said sadly.

"That's a defeatist attitude, sister."

With a startled gasp, Catherine sat up. "Trowa!"

He walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. "What happened?"

Catherine hesitated at first, but the pressing desire to unburden herself
overwhelm her initial reluctance and she told Trowa what had just happened
between her and Quatre.

"And now, I bet he hates me! Or at the very least thinks that I'm a complete
idiot!" Catherine slugged her pillow in frustration.

Trowa caught her arm. "You misjudge him," he said quietly. "Quatre probably
feels hurt and confused right now, but he won't hate you."

Catherine sniffed. "Yeah, you're right... Quatre's too nice a person to do that."

"Catherine, do you..." Trowa paused. "Do you like him that much?"

Catherine stared at her hands. "Yes... no... I don't know... I think so..."

Trowa sighed. "Then you should tell him how you feel," he said. "Otherwise he
will think that you don't care and that it is best to let you go, no matter how
much he cares for you."

Catherine stared at him. "Why, little brother, that was quite a speech!" she
shook her head. "Thank you... you've given me a lot to think about and I need
time to think this through."

Trowa stood up. "Don't take too long," he warned. "Remember that we leave
tomorrow. Don't leave things unresolved."

Catherine smiled up at him. "Don't worry, I won't."

***

Sophy opened the door to Quatre's office and paused at the threshold.

Quatre was seated at his desk, his head in his hands, a look of despair on his
face.

"Quatre..." said Sophy softly. She stepped towards him. "What is it? Why do
you look so sad?"

Quatre looked up at her. "Oh... Sophy... did you have a nice lunch?"

Sophy put her hands on her hips. "I think I can guess what's going on!" she
said. "First Catherine runs past looking all upset and then I find you here,
looking as if your world has collapsed! Did you two have a fight?"

Quatre rubbed his eyes. "Not... exactly. I just... she... she doesn't care for me,
not the way I..."

"The way you do?" Sophy pressed him as his voice trailed away. Quatre
nodded mutely and Sophy let out an exasperated growl. "And _what_ makes
you think _that_?" she asked.

Quatre told her what had passed between him and Catherine.

"So you see," he said. "We really aren't compatible."

"CRAP!" yelled Sophy slamming her hands on the desk and making Quatre
jump. "Absolute _crap_! She _does_ care about you and you care about her!
You've just been getting confused because of the meddling of your siblings!
Namely me and Trowa!" Sophy's statement softened and she walked round to
Quatre and hugged him. "Quatre... I'm sorry, I've been pushing at you so hard,
but I can tell that you love Catherine and losing her would make you unhappy."

Quatre looked at her. "Is it possible to fall in love in such a short time?" he
asked.

Sophy smiled. "Hey, maybe you were in love with her for a long time but you
didn't realise it until now. Just don't give up so easily, okay?"

Quatre rubbed the back of his neck. "Oh dear..." he muttered.

Sophy straightened. "What do you mean by that?"

"I guess I was a bit hasty in sending the flowers and the goodbye note..."

"The... WHAT??!!"

***

Catherine opened the door to her trailer and stepped out. She had had a good
think about what had happened and decided that she had to take up Trowa's
advice and talk to Quatre and tell him that she _did_ like him. She smoothed
the front of her red sweater and tried to quell the butterflies in her stomach.
Ergh... she felt even more nervous about this than performing in front of a crowd
of six-year olds!

"Catherine!" The Ringmaster came up to her. He was holding a bunch of yellow
roses. "This was just delivered for you."

Catherine's heart leapt at the sight of the roses. *They _must_ be from Quatre!*
"Thanks Boss," she took the bouquet and saw the note attached. With
trembling fingers she opened it.

One minute later the Ringmaster touched Catherine's shoulder. "Er... Cathy?
Are you... alright?"

Catherine looked up from the note, her eyes sparkling with rage. "Why that
little... if he thinks he can get away with this he's got another THINK COMING!!!"
she yelled and dropping the roses she ran away.

The Ringmaster blinked. "I wonder what that was all about!" he muttered.

Trowa, who had been watching, was thoughtful. It looked as if things could be
fixed, but he was going to leave this in Quatre and Catherine's hands to sort out
now. His matchmaking days were through.

But that didn't mean he wasn't going to follow and find out what was happening.

***

"You sent her a _goodbye and let's be friends_ note?" Sophy repeated. "Quatre!
How can you be so brilliant and such a fool at the same time?"

Quatre looked pained. "I thought it was for the best, that everything was over!"

Sophy sighed. "You sent the flowers in a fit of pique you mean!"

Quate flushed and Sophy folded her arms.

"Quatre..."

"I DON'T CARE IF I DON'T HAVE AN APPOINTMENT!!" an angry female voice
filtered into the office. "I'M GOING IN!!!"

Sophy blinked. "I'd say she got your note," she said. "I think I should leave
now."

Quatre stared at his sister as she bolted for the emergency exit, uncoded it and
left. "Sophy..."

The office door slammed open and Catherine marched into the room. Quatre
gulped. "C-Catherine?"

"_What_ is this all about?!" Catherine demanded stalking up to the desk and
waving a piece of paper at him. "What did you mean by this?!"

"Catherine, I..."

"'Miss Catherine Bloom...' Really, Quatre! _Miss_?! 'I regret that I have been
unclear in my feelings and have therefore caused you embarrassment. I agree
that we are incompatible and should keep our relationship on a purely platonic
level. Your friend, Quatre Raberba Winner.'" Catherine screwed the note up and
chucked it over her shoulder. "Okay, so I messed up!" she said glaring at him.
"But I didn't immediately write off all hope! That has to be the most prissy, most
cold note I have _ever_ had! Didn't you stop to think..."

"I thought _you_ didn't care!" Quatre flared suddenly. He got to his feet and
glared back at her. "You kept going on about Trowa manipulating me to take
you out! Did you have that little faith in my resolve?"

Catherine was so taken aback by the normally even-tempered Quatre yelling
that she was shocked into silence. The short pause allowed her to get a lid on
her rage over the note and to analyse her reasons for storming over.

"Quatre... I'm sorry..." she said softly. "I guess I was a little bit afraid to own up
to my own... feelings towards you..."

Quatre's anger died as quickly as it had flared and he came round to stand next
to her. "Catherine," he said. "I like you, I like you alot. I realise that now... and if
Trowa _did_ push us together in the first place, then I'm glad, because I would
have never got to spend time with you and realise that I..." he swallowed and
said quietly. "I love you."

Those words clinched it. Catherine looked at him. "Oh... Quatre..."

He gently stroked her cheek and leant in close. She tilted her head and he
kissed her.

After a while they parted and smiled shyly at each other. Quatre sighed. "I'm
going to miss you," he said. "When will the circus come to L4 again?"

Catherine smiled. "Not for a while, but don't worry!" she said as his shoulders
slumped. "I'm staying here." she told him decisively.

Quatre's eyes widened. "What?"

Catherine hooked her arms around his neck and laughed. "I think we have alot
to talk about," she said. "And I don't want to wait until I see you in four or five
months!"

"B-but what about your job?" Quatre asked as his arms encircled her waist.

"Oh, there are plenty of new girls who can take my place, and the circus can
survive without _me_ for a little while! I don't want to give up the circus life just
yet," said Catherine and she stroked his cheek. "But I'm not going to make the
same mistake twice and make you think I don't care."

Quatre grinned. "I'm not in any doubt now!" he said and kissed her again.

***

Sophy pressed her ear against the door of the emergency exit. "Oh... it's all so
sweet!" she murmured to her companion in the darkness. "They're finally getting
their act together!"

Trowa sighed in relief. "And about time to!"

***

The End.