For my adored Kitty-kat... Merry Christmas! ^___^
A brief note: This fanfic makes use of several very stereotypical conventions, is AU, and that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. <sweats> Forgive me?
"So, Quatre... dating anyone yet?"
Quatre winced into the telephone as the inevitable question came. "Well, not really, Dad... I date sometimes, but nothing serious... you know that."
His father sighed, half amused and half exasperated. "Well, you don't have to be so evasive about it, son. When you find a nice girl, though, don't be afraid to bring her home to visit."
Quatre bit his lip. "Uh... yeah, okay, Dad. Whenever I find that someone special, I'll be sure to have them over for break or something."
"Well, you just remember that... Study hard, Quatre."
"I always do, Dad... talk to you later."
"All right, goodbye."
"Bye." Quatre hung up the telephone and sighed in relief.
From the bed, his lover spoke up. "Does this mean I ought to be packing my bags for a trip to your place?"
Quatre laughed, moving to the bed and sprawling across the lean body lounging there. "One of these days, yes," he said, nuzzling against Trowa's neck. "Just as soon as I figure out how to break the news to Dad."
"It worries you that much?"
Quatre rolled off Trowa and curled up beside him, tracing idle patterns over his chest through his shirt. "Yeah... not everyone's family is a cool as Cathrine is."
"Not many can be," Trowa retorted drily.
"This is true..." Quatre paused. "Would you want to visit my family over the winter break, Tro?"
Trowa's breath caught slightly. "You mean it?"
"Yeah... It's time that I stopped letting Dad think I'm going to be the one to provide all the grandkids he ever wanted."
"Okay then, I'll go home with you."
"I have to warn you, I have a lot of sisters..."
"Iria? Yeah, it's me, Quatre... um, yeah... Could you do me a favor and tell Dad that I'm bringing a guest home for break - no, not a girl, a friend who isn't going home to his family... okay, great, thanks! See you then. Bye."
"Does everyone in your family want you to get a girlfriend that badly?" Trowa asked wryly.
"You'd be amazed..." Quatre wrapped his arms around Trowa from behind, inhaling the other man's scent and sighing. "Trowa, I'm seriously not sure what's going to happen with this... I don't know how well they'll understand."
"Don't do it if you aren't ready."
Quatre laughed. "So practical..." He sobered. "I don't think it's that simple... I don't think I'll ever be ready for this." Trowa sighed softly. "But I want to do it anyway."
Trowa goggled slightly as woman after woman tumbled out of the house to greet Quatre enthusiastically... there had to be at least six of them, all blonde and blue-eyed. ~He wasn't kidding about the horde of sisters...~
Then came the pack of children, ranging from toddlers to preteens, swarming around Quatre. Trowa hung back, feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable.
"Quatre! Don't just stand there, come in!" called the man standing in the door of the house.
Quatre laughingly disengaged himself from his siblings and nieces and nephews. "Coming, Dad!" He turned to Trowa. "Don't let them intimidate you, Tro, they'll pounce on you if they catch the scent of fear."
Trowa hefted his suitcase, suddenly acutely aware of the dozen or more pairs of eyes fixed solemnly on him.
Mr. Winner smiled at him. "You must be Trowa Barton, then. Welcome to the madhouse... I trust Quatre's driving wasn't too terrible on the way home?"
"Dad!" Quatre protested.
Mr. Winner laughed. "Well, come in, come in! Make yourself at home!"
Trowa dutifully fell in line with the group moving inside, able to cast one last look at Quatre, who smiled at him in a half-heartedly reassuring manner.
"We've got the guest bedroom all ready for you -" Iria was explaining to Trowa.
Quatre interrupted. "You don't have to do that, Iria. He can sleep in my room."
She laughed. "Oh, are the two of you going to have a slumber party? Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt your plans. If you'd rather do that, Trowa, then go right ahead. We wouldn't want to spoil your fun."
"I don't want to put you to any extra trouble -"
"Don't worry, it's fine! Quatre, why don't you show your guest around and get him settled in?"
"I was just going to do that, Iria," Quatre sighed, leading Trowa upstairs. "Sometimes I think they're all persuaded I'm still ten or something. Hope they aren't scaring you off."
"No - it's all just... overwhelming." More family members, more money, bigger house - Trowa immediately squashed the urge to be jealous.
"We've got a bathroom to ourselves, this way. A plus, believe me. You don't want to try and share a bathroom with five women. It's a nightmare."
"So you have... five sisters."
"Seven. Two of them had already left home by the time I'd grown up enough to care." Quatre stopped at a door, seemingly at random, and pushed it open. "Here we are." He pulled them inside. "Welcome home, Tro."
Trowa looked around at the twin beds, the shelves of books, and the posters. "Spacious," he noted, looking at the twin beds. "Which one is mine?"
Quatre grinned at him. "We could always push them together and share," he suggested.
His lover sighed. "It was worth the thought."
"We'd have to be very quiet," Trowa mused.
Quatre laughed delightedly. "I knew there was a reason I loved you..."
"Ooooh, Quatre, he's cute... He's my Christmas present, right?" cooed one of Quatre's sisters.
"No, Kate. Trowa is not available," Quatre replied firmly as Trowa blushed.
She pouted and addressed Trowa directly. "You want my number just in case things with your girlfriend don't work out?"
"That... won't be necessary... Thanks anyway," Trowa fumbled.
"Now, then, Quatre, how is it that your friend here has a girlfriend and you don't yet?" Mr. Winner inquired, laughing.
"Well, um, it's kind of complicated, Dad..." Quatre hedged.
"Aw...is Quatre still afraid of girls?" teased another sister.
"Shut up, Sarah," Quatre growled.
Trowa blinked. "You were afraid of girls?"
"Argh!" Quatre did his best to slide under the table. "You would be, too, if you were surrounded by this many harpies while growing up."
"So you admit to it!" Sarah crowed.
"I did no such thing!" Quatre protested.
"Children, please," Mr. Winner groaned. "Not at the dinner table..."
Sullenly, they subsided, and talk moved on to other things.
Playing with Trowa's hair, Quatre sleepily asked, "Well, has my family scared you off yet?"
"They're very... lively."
"We have to be. It's the only way anyone ever gets heard around here."
"I see... I guess they're not so bad."
"Although if Kate makes one more pass at you, I will kill her. You're mine."
Trowa laughed softly. "Imagine that dinner conversation."
"Oh, I am... Believe me, I am."
"So, what are you boys going to do today?" Iria asked at breakfast.
"Well, I -"
The telephone rang. "Quatre, it's for you - it's Duo," called the woman (Trowa was pretty sure her name was Marie) who answered the call.
"Duo!" Quatre leapt out of his chair, rushing for the telephone.
~Duo?~ Trowa looked curiously at the women around him.
"Best friend from high school," Iria whispered.
"Oh." ~Wait a minute, not that best friend...~ "Oh, yeah, weren't he and Quatre roommates for a while?"
"The very same," Iria nodded. "But they didn't get along well together. Not many do, you know?"
From the other room, Quatre yelled, "Hey, Tro, wanna spend the day on the town with Duo and his buddy?"
"Uh, yeah, sure..." Trowa called back.
"Great! Meet your around nine-thirty, Duo... okay, bye." Quatre bounded into the room. "Well, I guess that settles that question. Hey, think Dad would mind if I have Duo and Heero over for dinner?"
"Duo practically lived here for four years, Quatre, I'm sure Dad won't mind," Iria shrugged. "And if he's welcome, his friends are welcome."
"So what's bothering you about this, Trowa?" Quatre asked, pulling into the parking lot. "You're being way too quiet, even for you."
Quatre parked the car, then turned to stare at his lover. "Is not. Talk to me."
"This is the Duo, right?"
"So that's what this is about. Trowa, that was a very long time ago, and both Duo and I have really moved on. In fact, we're going to get to meet the man Duo is calling the love of his life, okay? And Duo never tosses around the word love lightly."
Trowa managed half a smile for Quatre's sake. "Okay... it just makes me sort of nervous."
"I'm sorry." Quatre kissed him. "But there's nothing to be nervous about, I promise."
"Let's go, then."
They were about ten feet from the mall's entrance when a blur threw himself at Quatre, trailing a long brown braid and babbling enthusiastically. "Quatre, it's so good to see you, how have you been, what's been going on, who's the stud with you and do you think he'd be interested in a threesome?"
Trowa blinked, trying to assimilate the tumbling words, and heard someone else snort. A young man stared at Quatre and the person Trowa was assuming to be Duo appraisingly. "Duo," he said quietly. "At least introduce us before you propose a menage a trois."
Duo stood back, grinning widely. "Oh, right. Quatre, this is Heero Yuy... isn't he cute? Especially when he glares?"
"I'm not glaring."
"Yes you are. And it's cute."
"Nice to meet you, Heero. Duo, Heero, this is Trowa Barton." Quatre paused, mock glaring at Duo. "And he is not available for a threesome. So there."
Duo pouted. "You never did like to share..."
"A pleasure to meet you," Trowa said quietly, assessing Duo from head to foot. Glancing away, he caught Heero doing the same to Quatre.
"Well, if you two are done sizing up the competition," Duo said dryly, "let's go have some fun."
Trowa smiled faintly. "That obvious?"
Duo sighed dramatically. "We go through this with all my old boyfriends, believe me. I'm used to it. Now, shall we?"
Heero smirked. "I'm satisfied... Let's go."
"So then the man says, 'What, you think I asked for a twelve-inch pianist?'" Duo laughed and snuggled with Heero.
"It's good to see his sense of humor hasn't changed," Iria noted.
Heero winced a little. "He gets like this when he's tipsy. I don't usually let him have more than two glasses of wine."
"But you say I'm so much fun when I'm drunk, Heero!" Duo leered at his lover.
"Children present, Duo."
"Oh yeah... I'll be good. Till later, anyway."
Heero rubbed his forehead. "I believe that's my cue... Thank you for having us over, Quatre, Mr. Winner. Now, I think I'd better be getting him home..."
"A pleasure meeting you, Heero... Drive safely," Mr. Winner replied, as Quatre rose to escort his guests out.
Kate pouted when Quatre returned to the dinner table. "How come all the really cute guys are all gay?"
"Because life is very, very unfair," Annette sighed dismally.
"I always thought Duo and Hirde were a couple, though," Mr. Winner interjected, looking rueful.
Theresa laughed. "Oh, definitely not, Dad! Hirde and Duo, a couple? Not in a million years... Hirde's madly in love with a girl named Relena."
Her father blinked several times. "Young people these days... What ever happened to a good old-fashioned romance?" he mourned. "Oh, Quatre, was there something you were going to say?"
His son shook his head. "No, Dad. Maybe later."
"It could have been worse, right?" Quatre muttered, pacing to and fro while Trowa watched.
"A lot worse," Trowa affirmed.
Quatre continued to mutter unhappily, finally turning to his lover. "What should I do?"
Trowa shrugged. "I don't know, Quatre. I have no idea. It's your family, not mine."
"You aren't being very helpful, you know."
"Look, if you're ready to tell them, then do it. If you're not, then don't. It's that simple."
Quatre rolled his eyes. "That's easy for you to say. You're already out to your family."
"I don't know what else I'm supposed to do, Quatre. I can't make the decision for you."
Quatre plopped himself down on the bed next to his lover. "Will it be okay with you if they don't react well?"
"Quatre. I don't care about your family. I'm in love with you, not them. If they can't deal with that, it's their loss, not mine."
Quatre leaned down, resting his forehead against Trowa's. "It'll be all right... surely. And I've got all the rest of winter break to decide."
"Are you glad to be home, little brother?" Iria teased.
From beneath a pile of his nieces and nephews, Quatre groaned. "I'd forgotten how da - darn many of you there are."
"Silly Quatre, I guess you're just spoiled by living in your own dorm room," she laughed. "You need to spend more time with people."
She laughed some more and advised the children, "He's very ticklish, you know."
"Iria!" Quatre would have protested more, but was attacked from several different directions at once by the tickling fingers.
His oldest sister smiled and left the room. "Mission accomplished," she told Trowa. "He'll be good and distracted for at least an hour."
"Then let's go."
"A real last minute shopper, aren't you?"
"It's all a matter of adrenaline." Trowa shrugged. "Besides, I wanted your advice on what to get him. I've got a few ideas, but nothing seemed... appropriate." ~At least, not for giving him in front of the rest of the family...~
Finally escaping the clutches of his sisters' children, Quatre straightened his clothing and wandered around, looking for Trowa.
"Quatre?" his father spoke as he passed by the living room.
"Yeah, Dad?" He paused in the door.
"Come in, sit with me. I've hardly seen you since you got home. You and Trowa stay pretty busy."
Quatre settled himself on the couch, glancing at the television. "Yeah," he said vaguely. "Trying to be a good host, I guess."
"Of course. That's the kind of boy I raised." His father reached over and ruffled Quatre's hair. "How's school going?"
"Well, it's school... but not bad. I'm done with all the prerequisite classes now, so next semester I'll be doing the more interesting classes." Quatre smiled. "I'm really looking forward to it."
His father sighed, looking disappointed. "So you're really going to go through with this music major?"
"Yes, Dad. Don't worry, I'll manage."
"Those are the words that strike fear into a father's heart, Quatre," Mr. Winner said drily. "You know I worry."
"I know, I know... But I just... Music is what I love, Dad. I can't imagine myself doing anything else. Medicine isn't my thing."
"But wouldn't it be great for me to be able to introduce both my oldest and youngest as doctors?" his father asked, laughing.
"No. So there." Quatre chuckled.
"Well, even if I can't call you doctor, I'm still proud of you, Quatre." His father coughed. "Your mother would be proud, too."
"Thanks, Dad." Quatre studied his fingers.
"Well, if I can't talk you into medical school, can I at least pester you into settling down?
His father laughed. "Don't look so outraged. It's not my fault that I want more grandkids to spoil."
"What, the horde you've already got isn't enough?" Quatre fidgeted.
"So I'm greedy." Mr. Winner patted his son's shoulder. "Aren't you even dating?"
Mr. Winner caught the look on his face. "Ah hah! Maybe there is someone after all... You've been keeping secrets, haven't you?"
"Uh, well, yeah, I guess I have." ~Now or never, Quatre... it's now or never.~
"Quatre, you're killing me - Tell me about her, what's she like, what's her name, why haven't you mentioned her?"
"It's complicated, Dad. Really, really damn complicated."
"I've got all afternoon, and don't swear."
The telephone rang. Quatre sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Well, I've been seeing this person... for a while. It's pretty serious, really, but I haven't said anything because -"
Theresa burst into the room, her face pale. "There's been an accident - Iria and Trowa were in a wreck."
Both father and son jumped from their seats. "What - Where are they, are they all right?" Mr. Winner demanded.
"Where are they?" Quatre echoed, face taut and his stomach churning.
"They're at St. Paul's - Quatre, where are you going?!"
"To the hospital!" Quatre called back, already past Theresa and well down the hall.
Quatre planted his hands on the receptionist's desk. "Trowa Barton. Where is he?"
"I'm sorry sir, can I help you?"
Quatre nearly ground his teeth. "You admitted a man, Trowa Barton, this afternoon. What room is he in?"
The receptionist lifted an eyebrow. "Is he a relative, sir?"
"No, he's a guest of mine. Where is he, please?"
The receptionist, moving deliberately, checked her computer for the information. "Room 213, sir."
His thanks were called back over a shoulder. The receptionist snorted. "Just a guest... yeah, right."
His lover, sitting up in his bed and looking somewhat shaken, barely had enough time to register his name before tight arms wrapped around him. "Ow! Quatre, be careful of the ribs!"
Quatre eased his grip a little, but not much. "Are you all right?" He performed a swift inspection.
"A little bruised, and my wrist is sprained." Trowa smiled slightly. "Why, were you worried?"
"Was I worried?! Hell yes I was worried! You bastard, what were you and my sister doing in a car wreck, anyway... is she okay?" Quatre maintained his grasp on Trowa, not ready to calm down yet.
"She's fine... and we were shopping."
"Eh?" Quatre blinked. "What on Earth are you talking about?"
"I needed a ... safe... gift for you. The other presents aren't
"You idiot..." Quatre rested his forehead on Trowa's shoulder. "I love you. Don't ever scare me like this again." He kissed Trowa's cheek.
"Mmm... yes?" Quatre nuzzled Trowa's neck absently.
"We... uh... have a visitor."
"Oh." Quatre looked to see who, and gulped. Mr. Winner was standing there, face frozen an unreadably surprised statement. "Uh... hi, Dad. I told you it was really complicated, didn't I?"
His father seemed to be searching for the right words. "You - he - but --?"
"I'm sorry, Dad. I - Trowa and I have been together for about a year now. I brought him home... so I could tell you."
Quatre's hand sought and found Trowa's, clutching it desperately. "Girls don't do a lot for me, Dad, they never have. But I love Trowa, more than I thought possible, and I want to spend the rest of my life him."
"I - Quatre -"
Quatre winced at the dumbfounded statement on his father's face. "I'm sorry... I guess this is one more way to let you down."
"No..." His father shook his head. "No, Quatre... you haven't let me down... Just really surprised me."
"It's ... okay, Quatre. It's okay. I just wish you'd told me much sooner." Mr. Winner forced a smile. "Just promise me one thing."
"What?" he asked cautiously.
"Don't you ever believe that you're a disappointment to me again, got that?"
Trowa shoved at Quatre gently. "This is the part where the two of you hug, remember?" he whispered.
Both Quatre and his father laughed: it was a little strained, but genuine. "This isn't a movie, Tro."
"So?" Trowa poked him. "Do it anyway."
Quatre tentatively slid off the hospital bed and approached his father. "Thanks... for understanding, Dad," he said quietly.
Mr. Winner pulled him into a tight hug. "It's okay, Quatre. You don't have any other secrets, do you?"
"No... have you been to see Iria?"
"She's fine. A little bruised, but fine."
"Good." Quatre sighed, relieved, returning to Trowa's side. "When do we get to take them home?"
"A doctor has to look us over, then we can check out. Not long."
"Good... I want you home as soon as possible." Quatre huffed, amused. "Well, now I can keep my sisters from hitting on you, at least."
His father snorted. "You always were the jealous type. I'm going back to check on Iria. Did you want to break the news in person?"
"Not really. Go ahead, I'll catch up later." Quatre waved his father out of the room.
"That went well."
"Yes, it did." Quatre snuggled against Trowa. "Love you."
"Mm. Me too. Um... you never told me that you wanted to spend the rest of our lives together." Trowa sounded faintly reproachful.
"I'd meant to sort of surprise you," Quatre said ruefully. "Uh... Trowa, this wasn't how I was going to do this... but... will you stay with me forever?"
Trowa laid his head against Quatre's. "Yes."
Quatre smiled. "Thank you.... tell them at dinner?"
"Okay. Love you."
"Love you too."