by: girl_starfish
see part 1 for warnings/disclaimers

Over Coffee + Part Two

Thanks to the braided waiter, I had now lost two boyfriends. If anything, this was getting depressing. I decided that drastic measures were called for.

I went clubbing.

Night clubs are not my place of choice to find a boyfriend -- for one, they don't allow you to have a decent conversation, and two, after a while, they start to seem kind of fake. I mean, there's all these people, doing their best to look cool, basically putting their bodies on display to attract attention. It's different if you're with someone special or with friends out to have fun and enjoy the music -- but when I'm on my own I find it hard to break the surface layer and make a connection. Call me weird, but I see no joy in being crowded into a loud noisy room full of strangers.

But night clubs do have other advantages. The music is usually good and the noise makes it impossible to think -- I like to just zone out and enjoy the music, imagining myself away --

This was precisely what I was doing when I met him.

Caught up in the music I was startled to find a hand grab my own. I looked up into startingly green eyes.

He didn't say anything just smiled, and not breaking eye contact with me pulled me towards him, the pressure on my hand so slight it was more like an invitation than a demand. Wondering at the absolute perfectness of the man before me I let him and before I knew it, I was dancing with him.

It was like the rest of the night club ceased to exist.

Think floating hearts, flowers, universes, whatever you want. This was every over done cliché rolled into one. He was the dream that I clutched at when waking, the faint hope that kept me going when I just wanted to give it all up and resign myself to being celibate the rest of my life --

Call it lust, foolishness, fate -- I, Quatre Winner, was in love.

I knew this was it -- I'd found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Just dancing with him was enough to put paid to any last thoughts of spending the rest of life in merry bachelorhood -- I knew I'd never get him out of my head, ever.

Think Latin sex-god.

At some point he put a hand on my arm. "Let's go outside," he requested. "I'd like to talk to you."

His touch was gentle. If melting had been an option, I would have taken it.

We talked, walking up and down the street outside the nightclub. We had this connection, its hard to describe -- I felt brave enough to tell him my conviction that he was the one. He smiled, stroking my face.

"Only one way to find out," he said and bent to my lips.

You may be losing patience with me here but I have to state this was the most wonderful kiss I've had in my life. Soft and warm and good --

I sighed as he pulled away, keeping my eyes closed a moment longer to try and prolong the moment. "That was wonderful," I whispered, opening my eyes. "I -- "

He wasn't there.

+

"He ditched you?" Wufei stared at me.

"I don't know," I said frowning at him. "I can't make it out. I mean, he kissed me -- but when I went back into the club he wasn't there and he wasn't outside either -- " I sighed, clutching my coffee tightly. "And everything was going so well!"

"Maybe he lost his nerve -- " Wufei pondered the problem. As I sipped my coffee I thought that perhaps I should have thanked the waiter. Wufei made a much better friend than he did boyfriend -- and it was so good to be able to discuss these things with someone who understood them and who understood me. I turned my attention back to our discussion.

"I don't think so. I mean, he was quiet and everything but I don't think he was shy. Just that he did everything in a thoughtful measured way -- "

"And you learned all this in a couple of hours?"

"Well, I have thought about him a lot since then -- " I said. In fact there was hardly a moment I'd spend not running over that night's events in my head. "And I've been back to the club a lot on the off chance that he'll come back -- "

Every night in fact --

Wufei sighed. "I'm starting to worry about you."

I shrugged. I was off in a happy little day dream where he had come back and everything was explained and the only thing I had to worry about was whether we should move into my apartment or his --

Wufei sighed again, stirring his peppermint tea. Then he paused. "The waiter doesn't look well."

"What?"

"The waiter," Wufei nudged me. "Look at him."

The braided waiter could barely manage a smile as he took the order of a couple of business women. He didn't look well, seeming paler and more distracted than usual. Maybe he wasn't feeling well --

Or maybe, I thought, watching as the waiter's gaze flicked over to the couple at the corner table, there was another explanation.

The messy haired boy and his girlfriend were here once more, sharing an ice-cream sundae. In any other circumstances I would have thought it cute, now --

I just felt terrible for them.

And for the waiter. For some reason, despite his giving me unwanted and very unwelcome advice, I couldn't be mad at him. I guess the realisation that his love-life was in a worse state than mine kind of took the bite out of my anger.

I transferred my gaze to the couple. The guy seemed more morose and brooding than ever, while his girlfriend was just as determinedly cheerful -- what a mess --

"You're not doing yourself any good, just sitting here and brooding over this mystery guy of yours," Wufei said. "You need to get out, start meeting people."

"Easier said then done," I sighed as I returned to my coffee.

"Don't be like that," Wufei told me. "You are handsome, intelligent, warm and don't need me to point out that you have no trouble making friends. Cheer up." He patted me on the shoulder. "I have to get back to work now. I'll see you later Quatre."

"Bye," I said, watching as he went to pay his bill. The waiter was now behind the counter polishing the cutlery, but he put that job aside to serve Wufei. I smiled as I saw a more genuine smile creep over his face -- Wufei always made a point of being courteous. From the looks of things he was giving the waiter a lecture on his health. I looked at my watch, noting that I would have to get back to work soon. I sipped my coffee thoughtfully, determined to enjoy the last minutes of my break.

I spent a few minutes wondering what my mystery guy, as Wufei so aptly put it, would drink. Something dark and strong, or maybe something more exotic? Like one of those cinnamon blends --

I blinked as I realised that Wufei was still paying his bill.

Nor was I the only one to notice.

The messy haired boy was glowering at my friend's back, even as his girlfriend sighed, and proceeded to finish the sundae herself, evidently giving up on her uncooperative partner. I watched as the waiter smiled again, laughing as he said something to Wufei, who nodded, grinned and left.

I raised an eyebrow. Now that was unexpected.

The waiter had resumed polishing the cutlery, but there was a more cheerful aspect to him.

The messy haired boy stood up suddenly. "I'll just pay the bill," he announced to his date.

This couldn't be good --

I watched with misgiving as he approached the waiter. Instead of the angry scene I expected, I was stunned to see the gentleness with which he placed his hand over the waiter's in a gesture scarcely noticeable. Hardly any words passed between them, but the waiter leaned into him in a way that made the entire moment too unbearably intimate to watch. I found the exact change for my coffee and left it on the table, feeling ashamed for seeing such a private moment.[1]

I returned to work in a much more sober mood.

The almost unbearably beautiful look on the waiter's face haunted me -- its was obvious just how much the two of them were in love -- and just as obvious how hopeless that love was.

Maybe I was better off single, I thought, as I reached my office, and began shrugging out of my jacket. What was love anyway? Just a lot of --

I paused.

There was a man sitting in my chair.

A very handsome man.

"Ah, and you must be Quatre Winner," he stood, extending a well manicured hand. "I do hope you'll excuse me. When your secretary informed me you would be returning shortly I took the liberty of waiting for you in your office."

"Not a problem," I said politely as I shook his hand and tried hard to dispel feelings of unesase -- why should I be feeling nervous? This was my office -- "I hope you weren't waiting long, Mr -- ?"

"Kushrenada," my guest said. "Treize Kushrenada." He smiled at me. "I'm delighted to make your acquaintance.

He was still holding onto my hand.

+

I arrived home with a briefcase full of papers for the new project -- Treize's companies proposal -- and a bag of Indonesian takeaways. I dialed Wufei's number as I put the food into the microwave.

"Chang Wufei speaking -- "

"Wufei, you will not believe my afternoon."

"Quatre? I was about to call you."

"Why?"

"Well, I was wondering if you thought I had a chance with that braided waiter."

"The waiter?" I said startled. The afternoon's events had put Howard's far from my mind.

"You know, the waiter. The one who advises you on your relationships."

"Why are you asking me?" I stalled. "I don't know him that well -- I don't even know his name." But I did know he had a boyfriend --

"But how did he look after I left?" Wufei persisted. "Happy? Sad? Thoughtful?"

I rolled my eyes, pulling my takeaways from the microwave. Lucky the phone was cordless so I could move into the lounge.

"He looked more cheerful I guess. At least until his boyfriend showed up." I winced, hating to be the bearer of bad news.

"Yes -- and then how did he look?"

"Wait -- you know about the boyfriend, and you're still asking?"

"He told me about him, but its pretty obvious he's not happy in his current relationship -- I think I may have a chance."

"I disagree -- at least at the moment. He's still very much involved with his boyfriend -- you could tell by the way they looked at each other."

"Ah well," Wufei sighed. Then -- "Duo."

"What?"

"His name is Duo."

It was hard but I refrained from rolling my eyes again. "I haven't told you about my afternoon yet. I got back to the office to find a client waiting for me. In my office, in my own chair no less. Anyway, after I got my chair back and we went over his proposals -- about fifteen minutes later he asked me if I was free tonight." I snorted. "The nerve of the man -- "

"And what did you say?"

"What do you think I said? No!"

"What's the matter with him?"

"It just wouldn't work, its ridiculous! I mean -- well, he's a client for Pete's sake!"

"So? Is he handsome?"

"Wufei! Aren't you not supposed to mix business and pleasure?"

"Why not? Business takes up more of your life nowadays than ever before -- if you can't find pleasure at work, then when will you find it?"

"I bet you haven't put that argument before your father," I grinned.

"Well, not yet. And I'd have to put it towards my mother -- she runs the business. Anyway, Quatre, you haven't answered my question. Is he handsome?"

"Yes," I admitted reluctantly.

"Intelligent? Nice? What's he like?"

"Charming, I guess. Very polite -- makes you feel like a blushing school girl," I said. "He's the kind of guy my sisters swoon over."

"So why did you turn him down?"

"It just wouldn't work, Wufei."

"Why not?"

"Well -- he's old."

"How old?"

"Uh -- early thirties, I guess."

"That's not old. Besides you know what they say about mature lovers. . ."

"Uh... No?"

I blushed as Wufei proceeded to highlight the advantages of experience.

"I'm not going out with him! Forget it! He's just -- all wrong -- "

"You mean he's not green eyed, tanned and mysteriously absent, right?"

I paused, speechless --

"Quatre, you don't know if you'll ever see him again. There's a good chance you might not. So why waste a good opportunity? Treize is interested, he sounds nice, why not give him a chance?"

I frowned. Was Wufei right? Was the reason I didn't want to go out with Treize the fact that I was waiting for him to show up? I couldn't spend the rest of my life waiting for him --

"Fine. I'll give him a try," I sighed.

I said good-bye to Wufei then began hunting through the folders I'd bought back from work. Even after I'd refused Treize's offer of a drink after work, he'd been very insistent that I take his home phone number --

+

Treize was something else.

He insisted on taking me out for lunch the next day to a very up-market café, and out to one of the more expensive restaurants for tea the following evening. He paid for everything, and ordered the finest, deeming no expense too great for my comfort. I have to admit I found the attention flattering. Treize was a brilliant conversationalist, well-informed on every topic we touched, charming in the extreme and sophisticated in everything he did. It was impossible not to enjoy his company.

Impossible, but somehow I managed it.

His wife helped too.

Or rather, his ex-wife.

We were still in the process of ordering in our mains course when two women entered the restaurant. Treize broke off ordering to greet them.

"Une! What a coincidence. Don't tell me you're dining here tonight?"

Une smiled. There seemed to be something stiff about the gesture. "Treize. How unexpected."

"How lovely to see you. Now, I mustn't forget my manners. This delicious young man is Quatre Winner, and Quatre, I present my charming ex-wife, Une," Treize gestured elegantly.

Une smiled the same tight brittle smile as she shook my hand. "Delighted, I'm sure."

"Likewise," I said, wondering why Treize made no acknowledgement of the second woman.

"Why don't you and your companion join us? There's room enough -- " Treize gestured to the empty spaces at the table.

"Thank you but no," Une said firmly, taking the arm of the woman beside her. "Lucrezia and I want a quiet dinner together." She nodded to me. "Nice to make your acquaintance, Mr. Winner."

"Delightful as ever," Treize said as she moved away. "There's absolutely no animosity between us, you'll be pleased to know. Despite the divorce -- and the fact that she left me for that jumped up secretary -- we get on splendidly."

"I see," I said, thinking about the thin line of Une's mouth.

"Yes -- no hard feelings between us at all. More wine, Quatre?"

+

[cont]