Light from the window flooded the room, and now awake, Quatre climbed out of bed. Though he knew he should still be sleeping, he couldn't any longer. Carefully, he drew his covers up, tucked them under his pillows and smoothed out the wrinkles, just as Neecee had taught him. His hand on the coverlet, he looked towards her room. She should have come to get him already.
He opened her door without knocking, and marched inside. She wasn't sitting on the chair by the window reading as she usually did while he napped. She wasn't laying down. Her bathroom door was opened. She wasn't in the room. Neecee had been sad earlier but she was sometimes and he had a special surprise to give her later. His tummy rumbled; it was his snack time.
It wasn't until he was in the kitchen and the cold tile bit through his socks that he remember he was supposed to wear house slippers or put on shoes. He looked around guiltily, but neither Missus Bane nor Lisa were around to see him. The cookie jar was pushed far back on the counter. The chair screeched and almost toppled, but he caught it before it went over. He had to climb up on top of the counter to reach the honey pot, but the oatmeal cookies were still faintly warm. He pulled out two and wanted a third; Neecee didn't like him to have more than two for it spoiled his tea. Instead, he put the lid back on tight, and pushed the jar back in place.
The milk container was heavy, and took both hands to carry it. He missed his glass and spilled a little down its side, but he was able to half fill his cup. Sitting at the table, his feet swinging under his chair, he drank his milk, and ate his cookies. He missed Lisa, though Missus Bane often said the girl hadn't the brains of the carrots she chopped, she was fun and made him laugh. She would have a snack with him when he woke, especially when Neecee went to visit her Mam. Finished with his snack, he carefully dropped his glass and cookie plate in the sink, and tossed his napkin in the trash.
The house seemed quiet, and as he trotted down the hall, he peeked into his father's study. No one there, he continued on his way. Neecee would always have something for him to do after nap - reading or music. Today, he wanted to color her a special picture and make her smile. In the nursery, he pulled out the box of colors and the hardbound portfolio of preprinted sketches. Neecee had told him which was her favorite, how looking at the picture reminded her of home with the greenest grass and the bluest sky.
Under the davenport, he scooted back until he was hidden in its fort-like cubby. Laying on his stomach, his careful selection of crayons spread out nearby, he outlined the first flower. Neecee had told him about control, and how to keep his coloring neat. He could almost hear her telling him in her accented voice how to outline what he wanted to color, how to color in one direction to make it smooth looking. His crayon strokes were careful in their placement.
"...serves as a nursery as well as a playroom. As you can see, there are plenty of books to keep his mind active at this stage." The door had opened and his father was speaking. Quatre froze, and then slid a little more deeper into the cubby.
"I understand, sir." A stranger's voice spoke. A male voice. A non-accented one, with a little clip to it. Quatre was tempted to peek, but held still. He didn't want to see his father. His father had made Neecee sad. He continued to color as they spoke over his head. "Young Master Quatre will take his lessons here, then?"
Shoes appeared in his sight under the tiny desk. "I can have additional books and equipment brought in, if needed. Let Simons know, and he'll make sure you have it immediately."
"Very good, sir." The shoes belonged to the stranger, scuffed brown leather without laces. The man wore blue socks with little red diamonds on them. Quatre wanted to touch one.
"It's imperative Quatre receive a well rounded education with a high degree of emphasis on business and engineering." His father's voice rose in pitch. "Since the assassination of Heero Yuy, the political powers are living in a house of cards. No one faction has the necessary backing to keep the peace." The short speech ended in a dry cough and Quatre peered out from under the desk opening cautiously. His father stood at the window, a hand on the long heavy drapes.
"I understand, sir," the stranger stated clearly. "I do have one question, if I may," the voice paused. "Your son isn't quite four, sir. Isn't that a bit on the young side..."
"No!" Quatre's father's voice was sharp and sudden. Quatre froze and his crayon slipped from his fingers. When his father spoke again, his voice was lower, but no less in its intensity. "It is very important Quatre learn the social aspects to being the head of the Winner Foundation. He will have to be able to deal with all facets and manner of men. And he will have to learn fast."
The shoes rocked and Quatre heard footsteps move over the carpet. "And his nanny? Will she be available for his other needs?"
"I dismissed his nanny this morning. She was not following my directions and continued to mollycoddle the boy."
The door opened and shut behind the voices, but Quatre was beyond hearing. By rote, his fingers held a crayon - sky, grass, tree and flower; green, blue, brown and yellow. It didn't matter. Neecee would always be sad now. Neecee won't see his picture.