Author: Honor A. De'Mandoren
Disclaimers: The only things that belong to me is the story itself, the heroine, and the villains. The rest I stole. ^_~
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: nada
Pairings: 3x4, background 2x5
Warnings: AU, romance, language, limeny-lemon things, insane grandmothers
Author's Insane Babblings: I found a picture the other day of Quatre consorting with plot bunnies. It explains everything, I think. It certainly explains where this idea came from... out of nowhere! stalks away grumbling


Matchmaker + Part One
Of Women and their Tendencies to Meddle


"Insanity -- a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world."
-R. D. Lang

+

It was a hot spring day outside, but inside the office the a/c was blasting and making the air frigid. I was sorely tempted to put a sweater on, and if I had one handy, I would have done it.

The whole day had just been ups and downs of stressed out employees, vendors on the phone line demanding ridiculous things, and my grandmother during lunch wanting to know intimate details about my love life... my non-existent love life. She knows that I don't have anyone in my life, but she loves to plague me anyway. It's her way of nagging.

"Mr. Winner," Charlene poked her head into my office. "There's a call on line two, and you told me to remind you to leave in an hour to pick up Amee."

The main reason why I hired Charlene was because she could remind me of those little details I tend to forget without making me feel like a complete idiot. "Thanks, Charlene."

Picking up the phone I cradled it between ear and shoulder as I started working on the tidying-up process so I could leave work a little early. "Winner speaking."

<<Quatre,>> oh good lord, it's my grandmother <<what are you doing Sunday?>>

Maybe if I 'accidentally' hang up, and run really fast, then she won't be able to rope me into whatever it is she's planning. Nope, it wouldn't work. She'd try my cell next. Darn it.

She didn't bother to wait for a response, just kept going. <<I'm having a little informal dinner, and I need another male body. The Jones's are bringing their daughter Emily, you remember her, charming girl, and I need someone to complement her. Come at six, and wear that nice blue shirt I bought you.>>

My grandmother's idea of an 'informal dinner' would shame a five-star restaurant. And that little comment on Emily Jones was not at all innocent. I was twenty-four, unattached, and as far as my grandmother could tell, quite content to stay that way. She associates 'happy' with 'married' and my single state was an issue of great worry for her. She doesn't know the whole truth of the matter, because I do have a latent survival gene in me somewhere, and I'm not about to tell her. Thankfully, I have a very good trump card. "Grandmother, normally I would go without any hesitation -- " lie! " -- but I do have a previous engagement."

<<Who? And you had better not say Amee.>>

"Yes, it is with Amee."

<<Quatre, a grown man does not turn down a dinner invitation because of his little sister.>>

"I've cancelled three of our dates at your behest, and I refuse to do it a fourth time. Amee is much more important to me than your Emily Jones. We have barely seen each other all week and I want to spend some time with her."

<<Quatre, you can do that on Saturday.>>

"The answer is no, grandmother. I'll talk to you later, alright?" I hung up before she could start guilt tripping me, blowing out a huge breath. This has got to end. She's called every week for three months straight with someone set up for me to meet, and I was getting really tired of it. So tired of it that I was perilously close to telling her why I wasn't interested in all of those girls, and that would be... a unique way of suiciding. They would never find my body after my grandmother was done with me.

My eyes fell on the small frame on my desk in reflex, and I smiled a little. Amee is the cutest little girl. She just turned seven a month ago, but in the picture she was five, and hunting for Easter eggs. There's no doubt that we're siblings -- actually, because of the age difference, most people assume that she's my daughter. We both have our mother's pale blond hair, and light blue eyes. I favor my mother, but Amee looks like her younger twin.

Six years... looking back, it hasn't seemed that long. I was almost seventeen when my mother told me she was pregnant. I'd been ecstatic at the idea of finally having a younger sibling. But the pregnancy was a hard one, and my mother died giving birth to Amee. Eight months later, my father had joined her, too grief stricken to keep living. At the ripe old age of eighteen, my father left me alone to manage a business, an insane grandmother, and raise a little girl. Amee had, by far, been the best part of my inheritance.

The phone rang and I picked it up, eyes still on the picture. "Winner speaking."

<<Mr. Winner? This is Ms. Thompson, at Cardinal Elementary.>> I jerked upright in my seat, alarm going through me. <<I'm sorry to say that Amee's had a slight accident.>>

"How slight?" I demanded, already snatching up keys.

<<A sprained wrist and some scrapes. I took her to the pediatric center next door.>>

"I'll be there in five minutes."

+

Nothing of the drive there or the features of the pediatric hospital really registered. I stopped at the desk long enough to give my name, and the receptionist pointed me at the right door. I was inside in a heartbeat.

Amee was sitting on a table, one wrist wrapped and a few bandaids on her hands and knees. She turned with a smile as I entered. "Hi!"

"You're okay? Not seriously hurt? What happened?" I very carefully took hold of one hand, not wanting to brush against any scrapes.

"Tommy Warsaw shoved me against the building," she said in disgust. "But its okay, I kicked him in the shins when I got up."

Hell, if she already extracted revenge, then she was probably alright. I relaxed and started shaking my head. "That's my girl, alright. Are you hurt anywhere that I'm not seeing?"

"Nope. Dr. Barton said I'll be okay in a few days."

I turned to see who she was looking at.

Have you ever laid eyes on something that you really, really wanted? Something that came without a visible price tag? Something that you couldn't lay immediate hands on, and had no idea if you would ever be able to?

That's exactly how I felt at that moment.

He was a good head taller than me, with startling green eyes, smooth auburn-tinted hair falling over the right side of his face, and a lean build. It took conscious effort on my part not to gape or start drooling. Manners kicked in and I offered a hand, "Quatre Winner."

"Trowa Barton," he responded with a firm handshake. That smooth tenor perfectly matched his build. "And yes, she's fine. Her wrist is more strained than anything else. Put ice packs and heat, alternating every twenty minutes on it and it will be as good as new in three days."

"Good." I flashed him a smile. Come on Quatre, don't stand there like an idiot and just stare. Although he was definitely worth staring at... "Do I owe you anything?"

He shook his head, eyes twinkling. "Not a thing."

I couldn't think of a thing to say to get a conversation going, and this wasn't the right moment or place to hit on him. I did the safe thing and turned back to Amee, helping her off the table. "I guess we better postpone violin lessons."

She shook her head ruefully. "Yeah. I can't do anything with one hand."

"You play the violin?" Dr. Barton looked a little impressed.

"And piano," Amee told him proudly. "Do you play anything?"

"Flute. Badly, I might add. Stay with it, Amee. One of my regrets in life is not keeping up with music."

"Oh I'm going to," she assured him, grinning evilly. "I have to beat Quatre."

A cinnamon eyebrow arched a little, and those stunning green eyes settled on me. "You play as well?"

Don't stammer like a school girl... calm... "Yes. It's something of a competition in the family. Whoever plays the best inherits our mother's violin."

I could see him process the last bit of that sentence. "Then you're brother and sister?"

"Yup!" Amee cheerfully confirmed. She was used to the assumption that I was her father by this point, and usually just let it slide.

"I did think you were too young to have been her father."

I shrugged, all easy charm. "Most people assume that I'm older than I look. Amee and I are rather used to it now."

<Dr. Barton, you are needed in room three.> A cool female voice announced over the PA system.

He sighed. "Duty calls. I'll see you both later? Without any serious injury, I hope."

"One can hope. Thank you."

He waved us off in a casual salute and went to tend to his other patients. I led Amee out to the car and let her in, since her hands were a little torn up. As I settled into the driver's seat she gave me a smirk that no seven year old should be able to do. "You liked him."

There is one person in the family that knows the truth. To this day I have no idea how Amee figured it out. She was six when she put it together, and then she cleverly trapped me into confirming it. She'd make a great lawyer -- no one would stand a chance against her. "Yes, I did. And no, you're not allowed to tell him that."

"Meanie." She pouted, scrunching down in her seat. "You have to start going out with people sometime, Quatre."

"Now you sound like grandma."

"She does have a point," Amee defended. After a moment she added, "Even if she is setting you up with the wrong people."

"Ha ha. Speaking of which, she has another dinner thing she's set up this weekend. She wants me to cancel our date -- "

"Quuaatre!" Amee complained.

" -- I didn't say I was doing it! Are you crazy? I'd much rather spend time with you than whatever poor girl my grandmother is setting me up with. Anyway, she was pretty insistent. I need you to lose my cellphone for me." It was a game that Amee and I played against my grandmother. Whenever grandma had a bee in her bonnet, and she wouldn't leave me alone, then Amee would 'lose' my cellphone until the storm had passed, and then it would be miraculously 'found' again.

Amee is such a jewel.

"Good. We'll have to stay out of the house this weekend."

I nodded in agreement. My grandmother was not above ambushing me at home and forcefully dragging me somewhere. "You're out-growing your pants and shirts. I thought we would go shopping."

"Yesss!" Amee, at the age of seven, was already a clothes horse. She has more clothes than I did in my collective lifetime, and everything coordinates to something. We won't even discuss the number of shoes she has.

I probably spoil her rotten (okay, you can scratch the probably, I DO spoil her rotten) but she's just so fun to dress up. It's like having your own living doll, and she's absolutely gorgeous in whatever you put on her, which doesn't help my restraint. Besides, she bribes me with hugs.

The issue of clothes, and where to shop, distracted her from the yummy doctor we had just seen and I was able to relax and just drive, assured that I didn't have to defend myself anymore on that topic.

+

Thursday afternoon, we both got out a little early from school and work so we could avoid our grandmother. She'd left twenty-seven messages for me at home and work since Tuesday. I have to give it to her... she is persistent. We were pretty sure that she would be lying in wait for us as soon as we got home, so we didn't go home.

We went shopping.

A large part of our energy was spent on Amee, which I don't mind. She always makes sure that I get at least one outfit, however. I think it's partly because she doesn't want to be totally self-centered.

The other part is she doesn't trust me to buy my clothes without her guidance.

For dinner we strayed to the Oasis and bought some Chinese food. The food court in the mall was packed, mostly teenagers. That was expected at this time of day. It took a bit of maneuvering and hunting to find an empty table.

Hunger killed any chance of a conversation between us. That was why I was so surprised when Amee abruptly sat up and said "Dr. Barton!"

What? Here?! I turned to see where she was looking and groaned. Yup, there he was, a tray in hand. He obviously heard Amee because he turned right toward us.

Dammit, the man would have to show up when I have half an egg roll sticking out of my mouth.

Amee waved him forward excitedly, nearly bouncing in her chair. Too late, it occurred to me that I should stop her... oh hell. I quickly swallowed the bite of egg roll and conjured of a relaxed smile for the too-beautiful doctor. "Hi. This is a coincidence. Care to join us?"

"If I'm not intruding," he responded a touch hesitantly.

"Not at all."

Amee pulled her purse out of the chair next to her so he could sit down. I wasn't sure whether to kiss her or kill her for that maneuver. On the one hand, the seat arrangements meant I had a fantastic view of Trowa, but on the other, I wasn't sitting right next to him either. Urgh.

He settled into the chair, stretching out comfortably and smiling at us. "So how are you feeling, Amee?"

"I'm okay." She lifted her arm to show him that the wrap was gone, only a few darker patches of skin showing that the scabs were still healing. "See?"

"Four hours of shopping without a twinge," I inserted dryly.

Trowa's eyebrows lifted with amusement. "Four hours?"

"We're hiding from grandma," Amee added in a furtive whisper that really wasn't that furtive. "She wants to set up Quatre on a blind date, and he doesn't want to go, but grandma won't take no for an answer, so we have to hide."

The marvelous thing about seven year olds is that they will tell people things that you didn't particularly want known. Unfortunately, it was all true, so I couldn't refute it. I settled for a shrug and tried to divert the conversation to another direction. "And you? Are you just browsing for something or are you on a mission?"

Trowa looked like he wanted the full story behind my grandmother, but he answered my question instead. "My last pair of decent black Dockers was stained today. I have to bite the bullet and buy some more clothes."

"Work as a pediatrician is decimating your wardrobe?" I hazarded. Raising Amee had certainly had an effect on mine until she was about five.

"Unfortunately."

Amee clapped her hands together, eyes shining with excitement. "Why don't you come with us? We need to shop for Quatre next."

"Amee... " I gave her a weary look. "I have enough clothes."

She looked at me as if I had just uttered something blasphemous. "You have three ties."

"They coordinate with all my suits," I pointed out.

"You have two pairs of dress shoes."

"That coordinate with all my suits," I repeated patiently.

"Polo shirts."

"... " Okay, she had me there. My polo shirts, used only on 'casual Friday', were getting a little faded and threadbare.

Trowa was smiling with open amusement. "Do you usually lose these arguments?"

"I haven't won one yet," I answered in resignation. "I keep trying, though. Do you wish to join us? I should warn you that Amee does not shop quickly." I wanted to give him a graceful out if he needed it.

"Actually... I wouldn't mind joining you. Shopping alone is boring."

Amee beamed at him. That was usually her sentiment exactly.

Somehow, don't ask me how because I still haven't figured it out, but somehow a seven year old girl took charge of two grown men and led them by their figurative ring in the nose into the shops of her choosing.

Amee really does have good taste in clothes, which was our only saving grace. She asked for Trowa's sizes (I thought he was about to openly laugh at that, but he did answer) then started the process of choosing which things would work well on us.

While she was going through a rack of pants, Trowa leaned in close and murmured, "Is she usually like this?"

"Yes," I murmured back. "I'm grateful she has a good fashion sense, otherwise I would have a battle on my hands. Thanks for going along with this."

He shrugged, an easy movement that made my mouth water and my eyes stray to his broad shoulders. "Honestly, I don't have a fashion sense. I usually buy whatever fits. It's more entertaining for me to let her pick things out."

His humor at the situation let me relax and just enjoy the moment. It was rather funny to watch my sister pick out our clothes and have us try them on, modeling in front of her. She put Trowa into form-fitting black pants and a dark green shirt that had me glazed over. Amazing. He looks simply amazing.

He turned so we could see at all angles, then looked at me. "Well? I think she picked out a winner."

You do remember how to breathe, Quatre. Take in a deep breath, and let it out. Repeat as necessary. "Yeah, that looks very good." Makes me want to strip them off and pay attention to the body under it.

"Here." Amee handed me a shirt and pair of pants. "Try these on."

Guess it was my turn. I ducked inside the changing booth right next to Trowa's and slipped the outfit on. Pure black. I try to avoid black most of the time, just because of the associations people make with the color. I kind of like how it looked on me, though. Stepping out I did a quick turn with my arms a little away from my body. "Well?"

Amee was nodding in approval. Trowa... his eyes were absolutely glued to me. I got caught in his _expression and slowed to a complete stand still, watching him watching me.

A second later he snapped out of it and he smiled slightly. "You look like a fallen angel."

He is interested in me! Holy cow, I didn't think I stood a chance, but that husky compliment and heated stare were blatant. I gave him a slightly naughty grin. "Really? In that case, I have to get it."

We paid out shortly after that. Amee was damn near gloating about something, and I didn't think it was the success of a shopping trip either. I was sorry to see it end. I wasn't sure how to maneuver Trowa into asking me out, or at least getting my phone number.

Unfortunately, he had parked in a different direction than we had. There was an awkward moment between us, just standing there, unwilling to let each other go without doing something.

Trowa rubbed the back of his neck and looked up sheepishly. "I hate to lose you again."

Perfect opening! Yes!! "How about a phone number exchange? I've got mine here," I fumbled my wallet out and took out a business card which I handed over, "and the cell number at the bottom is the best way to reach me."

Trowa glanced at it, did a double take, then really looked at it. "You're the CEO of Winner Inc?"

"He doesn't look it," Amee agreed sagely.

"Thanks, Am." I rolled my eyes expressively. Okay, so at 5'5" I'm not exactly physically imposing, so what?

"No, you don't look it," Trowa told me with a spark of humor. "But that's a good thing. I don't have any of my cards with me -- I'll call you later, alright?"

"Sure." I tried to mask my uncertainty behind that word. It was so easy to just 'lose' that card and not call, but I hoped, really hoped, that he wouldn't. I wanted to know Dr. Trowa Barton a lot better.

[part 2] [back to Singles a - k]