Sunday, September 18, 2016

Camelot: Zombies for Lunch 1/?

Camelot: Zombies for Lunch
By Max

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing

Note: This takes place before the Camelot: Corvette.

“Seriously, Dad... you can’t actually tell me what to do,” Roy said, slightly irritated. “I’m two hundred and eight years old, an accomplished doctor, and if I want to work as a Commonwealth consultant, I will.”

Duo lifted the edge of the pancake, testing to see if it were the right color, head tilting, violet eyes narrowing. “No.”

Roy was taller than his dad now and had been for a long time. His bite was still poisonous, but he wasn’t really biting anyone’s ankles and his wife took a daily antivenom.  Much to Duo’s enjoyment, they were having an interesting parenting experience with their five year old daughter, Moody Maxwell.  Roy’s problems were more centered on his dad at that moment though. Hands on his face, upper lip drawn back in a snarl, his slightly longer than normal canines shiny with green saliva, he groaned, took a deep breath. “I don’t think you understand how this works. If I want to be a Consultant with the Commonwealth, I will be.”

“Fine,” Duo snapped, smacking the spatula against the counter hard enough to snap it in half. He spun, pointing the broken handle at his unfazed adopted son. “Be a god damn consultant! Get all up in their new fangled government! Suck their fucking fascist dick, for all I care! Just don’t go on that rescue mission. The Harvey went missing on the same day and time and time as The Rage. Did you think think  I missed that bit, Chompers? That ship should be pushed into the sun.”

Teeth on edge, one eye squinting.  “Why does everything come back to that one ship that you and Papa were on two hundred years ago? You’re so void sucking secretive over it, Dad. What DID. YOU. DO?”

Duo threw the broken handle across the nearly empty kitchen.

“Whatever I fuckin needed to,” Duo spat. He turned the stove off. Hands up, framing his face, violet eyes hard and serious, “I’m down with you doing emergency services for the Commonwealth, Roy, but you don’t like monsters! You know you don’t like monsters, Roy.” One hand turned to an accusing jab downwards, “If you’re there with them with when they breach that hull, there are going to be monsters.”

“Dad,” Roy snarled, moving forward, nose wrinkled, shoulders hunched,  his own hand jabbing accusingly back, “That ship is lost for 300  years. How do you KNOW there’s something walking around that’s not in a cryo pod, uh? How do you know there’s monsters, Dad?”

The fight went out of Duo suddenly. “I’ll come with you. I want to eat first. You’re going to want to take an anti-nausea.”

“There’s already a primary consultant on this mission,” Roy pointed out, eyebrows up, nose pinched. “You think you’ll just call HQ and bounce them?”

“Yeah. Ima make FUCKIN breakfast.” Duo gave him the eye, one eye half closed, the other glaring.

“Fine,” Roy said with a sigh, slumping down into the same spot at the long glorified picnic table he’d sat as a child. “They’re not gonna let you do that, you know. Just who the hell do you think you are anyway?”

“How many pancakes you want?”  Duo snarled.

Heero walked in, one eye watching a small sphere as data flowed rapidly over it. “Four please, and two eggs, that is if you two are done arguing.”

“Well, are we done, Roy,” Duo said with a brilliant grin.

“We’re done,” Roy grumbled, “Morning Papa. He pointed at Duo. “He’s impossible, and arrogant! And he thinks I’m a child!”

“Yes,” Heero agreed, kissing the back of Duo’s neck, which made Duo make this purring, moaning little noise.  “You’ll be home safe tonight, right,” he asked by way of demand.

“Yeah,” Duo squeaked. He reached back and pulled his braid out of Heero’s way. “Roy an’I’er gonna go clean out The Henry, now that they found’er.”

“Oh,” Heero said, suddenly ten degrees more somber as he kissed Duo’s neck tenderly. “I’ll stay home and make dinner then. “I’ll postpone my trip for a bit.”

“Thanks, Heero,” Duo whispered, leaning back against Heero, as he flipped the half dead pancake finally.

“What the hell actually happened on The Rage,”  Roy asked quietly, hoping Heero would give him some kind of answer.

Heero kissed Duo’s neck apologetically, then his shoulder, before turning to Roy. Arms at his side, he bowed slightly. “I intended to ask Duo to marry me on that mission, but we were attacked by someone who wished to use a new mind control technique on me. I went insane. There were serious consequences. Duo saved me. Not all of the consequences have been resolved. There are still four missing ships that were affected by my actions I took while not myself aboard The Rage. My actions were inexcusable, even with insanity. Duo saved me beyond what any person deserves to be saved. I will understand if you feel ashamed of me now.”  

“What?” Roy stared at his papa. He hadn’t much liked him when he’d come into the house as Alexander and didn’t believe in monsters. Over the rest of his childhood, he’d come to love and trust Heero Yuy like the calm at the center of the universe. Heero had been there for him for every significant moment of his life since the moment he’d come into his life. Duo was always there too, but he was like white noise, always moving, always doing, always a hurricane. Heero was the center and the focus. Heero had officiated his marriage. Duo got drunk at the reception. “What did you just say?”

Duo set a plate of food down for each of them, then lifted his hands dramatically.  “Eat my lovelies! For today we cure ZOMBIES!”

“WHAT? What the hell?” Roy stared at him like he’d lost his fucking mind.

Then the portal opened between their homes and Moody came running through in blue jammies with white clouds, her little green braid swaying behind her. “Granda!!! I want pancakes too!”

She ran into Duo’s arms and he lifted her up, spun her around, tickled the tip of her nose with his braid. “Do you want mousie pancakes or dinosaur pancakes!?”

“Dinosaur! Can we go see dinosaurs today? Please, Granda!? Please! Daddy’s gonna be away at work!” She grinned and it was totally Duo’s grin.

To which Duo pointed towards her daddy who was sitting at the family table with a twitch in one eye.  “Moody may not go time traveling,” he said firmly. “Moody, do not ask your grandfather for things I’ve said no to.”

“But...,” she whined.

“Is okay,” Duo said cheerfully setting her on the counter.

“Off the counter,” Heero said, without even looking.

Duo sighed, motioned for a section of the bench and it slide across the kitchen, motioned for it to be higher, set her on that, so she could watch him draw a velociraptor in the pan with pancake batter. “Don’t worry, M-Chan. I’ll bring one home for you.”

“NO,” Heero and Roy said at the same time.

This time Heero turned to look at Duo, blue eyes very serious. “You will not bring hostile biological material into this station.”

Duo wrinkled his nose, shrugged one shoulder. “Meh. I brought you two didn’t I and it’s been okay. Think of how well Maki did?”

“I can not believe you gave my daughter a shark,” Roy said, mouth full of pancake. “It tried to eat the neighbor’s cat.”

“Yer wife’s allergic to dogs,” Duo pointed out. “Shark’s are hypoallergenic. Besides, M-Chan likes Maki, don’cha?”

“Yes, Granda! Make me a shark pancake!” She said, bouncing on the elevated bench section.

“Maki’s a good sharkly.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Camelot: Corvette 1/?

Camelot: Corvette  1/?

By Max

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing

Note: This is set like a hundred years after A Wrench to the Heart.

Two hundred years after A Wrench to the Heart.... Duo has, hopefully, perfected the time travel technology and to test it.. he has talked Mr. Anderson into going back to 1955 Earth with him.... and while there... Duo just happens to want to look for a 1955 Corvette... but there are so many other cars.. and what kind of trouble can he possibly get into in 1955 Kansas?

Mr. Anderson rubbed his eyebrow, squinting at Duo. “I’m not sure this is a good idea.”

Duo tilted his head back, sighing dramatically. It didn’t stop him from moving little shapes around on the, setting the time travel portal for his experiment. “Oh come on, I’m sure the return will work. You talk about 1955 like it’s the best place ever. I’m sure I’m gonna love 1955!”

“Yeah... about that. I’m not sure this is a good idea,” he stressed again, scratching the back of his head with both hands. “Maybe we should talk to Heero first.”

“Look. If it works. We’ll be back in ten minutes, but we’ll have a whiskey at your favorite bar, spend a day fishing, ride a horse, and I can get me a look at a real 1955 Corvette! It it doesn’t work, we die and we’re back in five minutes, either way, you’ll be home by dinner. No issues.”

“Now, see,” Ernie said hands held up, “There aren’t a lot of Corvettes in Kansas.”

Duo winked, then grinned, violet eyes glittering. “I ain’t never been to Kansas before. I’m sure there’s a Corvette around somewhere!”

“Those’er kind of rare, Duo,” Ernie said, trying to explain the time he’d been a young man in to a man who’d been born long after Ernie should have been dead. He felt like he owed Duo more than he could ever repay, felt like he was like... like a grandson he’d never been able to have and he loved him, but Kansas and 1955 where a very long ago and far away place. It was a place where long haired boys with violet eyes  who practised science liked wizardry  while married to men ... well they didn’t just go looking under the hoods of other folks Corvettes, even if you could find them. “I think we should find another way.”

“It’s not that bad,” Duo said, moving one last little piece into place on the big screen he was working on. “Just bare with me! Close yer eyes, take a deep breath, there, that’s good,” Duo said, coaxing, sweet, “See, now? That wasn’t bad at all, was it?”

Ernie opened his eyes. His mouth dropped open. A Studebaker rumbled by on the road behind him and he nearly jumped out of his skin, shoulders up, eyes looking funny. “Sweet Jesus on a cracker! This is Earth, 1955?”

“It is,” Duo said, shoving his hands in his jeans pockets, “I brought you along so you can help me fit in, not so you can get our asses thrown in the loony bin straight away though, so like keep it together, uh?”

“Oh god,” Ernie groaned. “Your hair. Why didn’t you cut your hair? It’s 1955,” he whispered.

“Ain’t cuttin’ mah hair,” Duo said as he pivoted on his heel and headed for the bar.

Ernie rushed after him. “You look 16 and you got hair to your waist! You can’t go in a bar, Duo, please. We can just... get your hair cut. You can regrow it when we get home.”

“Ain’t cuttin’ mah hair,” Duo said, “But I always want a drink after a time jump, then I wanna look at all the car flesh around here! There’s cars everywhere! It stinks too.”

“That would be exhaust. Don’t say ‘car flesh’. This whole trip is really about cars? Cars?”

Duo grinned brilliantly, all tooth and sparkling violet eyes. “Ah like cars.”

“Sweet Jesus on a cracker,” Ernie said. “My Peter Pan likes to look at cars.”

Monday, September 12, 2016

Story: Pompeii

By Max
Copyright 2016
All rights reserved

Note:  A slightly longer version.

“You’re stubborn,” Marcia snapped, holding her soot smeared hands out for her son. “Give him to me. Now.”
Smoke, ash painted the villa’s walls, muting paintings, dimming the very air. The servants were gone. The guests gone.
Adrasteia wrinkled her nose, dark eyes staring at her daughter-in-law. Her back hunched over her sleeping grandson, shielding him from the heat and smoke. Resolutely, she lifted her chin.  “Δεν τρέχει από τη φωτιά.”
“Grandmother,” Marcia cried, shrill, at the very end of her reason with the old woman. “The mountain cries fire!”  Ash weighed down her grown, pulled her elaborate curls down as if nature herself were done with the niceties of the culture. “If you won’t leave your house, fine! I have to get Caelius to the boat. I won’t let him die! Your son is dead! Do you want your grandson to be dead too?”
Her walking stick pounded the floor in reproach. Finely carved of hard oak, it was the last gift of her husband. She glared out the huge fine window at Vesuvius as it belched  black rain. Her jaw shifted to the side, dark eyebrows drawing down. “We don’t run from fire, girl,” repeated in poorly spoken Latin.
“Maybe you don’t! I’m not Spartan. I’m Roman. I run when the sky rains fire! Now. Give. Me. My. Son.”
The boy slept, suckling his thumb. Adrasteia would never have tolerated such a weak behavior before, but Caelius was such a perfect, such a pretty boy. There were so many things she was unwilling to drink, so many sorrows she was too strong to bend for, and yet there were bottles of tears stored her beloved  husband (the damn Roman that he had been, soft and decadent), for her son, for her country, and now for her Caelius. She looked up at the girl she’d known since her son’s marriage, a girl who had been a girl, but was now woman. She would cry for not being with her longer. Reluctantly, she lifted the sleeping boy to the woman’s shaking arms.
She wanted one more day to watch him chase the ducks, reach his fat hand for the fish in the water, listen to his laughter. If the sky wanted to rain fire, maybe today was the day to drink tears. “Fine. Go. Run. I don’t care.”
“Come,” Marcia pleaded,  “Come, Grandmother.”
“No. I’ll just slow you down. I’ll watch the house.”  She smacked her walking stick to the stone floor, definitive punctuation, her dark eyes looking up at her beautiful daughter-in-law. She’d been such a baby when she’d first come to the house and now she was so much stronger, braver. “I’m proud of you girl.”
The arrow took Marcia’s throat as easy as a blade in cheese. Adrasteia watched the metal tip disappearing into delicate throat, carrying shaft right in after.  Marcia’s lips opened in a soundless O.  The tip of the arrow emerged from the other side of her neck. Thick blood mixed with ash, slipping down towards the now grayish fabric at her shoulders.  Eyes wide, she dropped to her knees, her little boy held close.  She held her boy close, protective. Another arrow sailed passed, clattering to the marble floor.
Adrasteia’s palms itched. Her face twitched.
The man approaching the little girl that had been her daughter-in-law was a peasant Roman, with less value than a good dog, some big cock who walked around thinking himself a free man, but with less manners than a decently kept slave.
Rage seeped red over her vision. The stick in her hands felt as weapons had in long gone times. When she stood, she was decades and children younger. Her body moved as she knew it could and when the man knelt to search her daughter-in-law for treasures, Adrasteia swung her staff, “Sparta!”
His head caved like a poorly made pot in a kiln, coming apart with a slight pop. There were serious reasons you didn’t attack Spartan cities, even when Spartan men were away.
When the red cleared from her vision, she ran through streets she’d never found familiar. This was never her city, never her home. It was her husband’s home. For a moment she remembered him so vividly, his promises and his poetry and the strength in his shoulders.  Caelius’ little hand tugged at her tunic and she ran faster. What was left of her Caelius was in this boy and he was not going to die.

The baby in her arms, she ran, just as she had run as a girl. A burning Roman city was no worthy foe for a woman of Sparta.  At the ship, she lifted the boy, her dark eyes pleading the woman on the ship to take him. As he left her arms, age returned, her bones withering, back curving. Without the boy, or the girl, or her son, or her husband, she didn’t care if the very earth opened beneath her and dropped her into Tartarus.  A  hand reached down,  grabbed her, lifting her over the railing, dropping her down to where Caelius was crying. He snuggled back into her lap, hiding under her cloak, confused and dazed. She rubbed his back and rocked him.  

“There mother,” a burly black man rumbled. “Settle with the boy. We’ll outrun the beast.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Santa Clarita: Gundanium Shark 2

Santa Clarita: Gundanium Shark 2/?
By Max

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing. I also don’t own any sharks. My housemates won’t even let me have chickens. I also don’t think sharks enjoy being owned.

“You can’t run those damn tests right now,” Major Vana hissed threateningly. “The fucking summer camp is in session. You know... children!”

Dr. Patel looked up at the military babysitter she’d been given. Dark eyes watching him from under long dark lashes. “I love children,” she said sweetly, “They are excellent with chocolate sauce.”

Vana’s face twitched with nausea. He’d been minding Dr. Patel for the better part of two years and he really wasn’t sure she was human. He rubbed his forehead. Not that he was any bigger fan of the brats at the camp either. There ought to be a limit to how smart a human being could have. Anything over 140 and they seemed to run towards insane. Patel had been in the 160 range, but he knew she’d augmented herself. She didn’t sleep anymore, as far as he could tell. That only made it hella harder to keep tabs on her.

The brats at the camp were all fucking prodigies too, in their own way. The government had some interest in all of them. As far as he was concerned, they weren’t that much different than Patel’s pet project Lucy. And here he was, a decent man, sane, excellent service record, in the last five years of his twenty and he was surrounded by white rabbits and then the reflection of dark eyes in glass caught him and he jumped back from the thick aquarium wall. Lucy stared at him, those big black eyes watching him, staring at him, tracking him, and god, he felt like he wasn’t sure if he was on the menu or just being mistaken for a soccer ball. “God! What did you do to her? She’s... different.”

“Indeed,” Patel said laying her hand on the glass. Lucy touched her nose to the glass, then turned and swam back into the darkness. “I have built her something. She won’t hurt them, much. Those children are smart and gritty. Duo Maxwell is with them this time. This will be an excellent test of her skills!”

“The Gundanium,” Vana said, voice low. “What did you build? You didn’t have any authorization to build anything. You’re out of control!”

She turned to him, tilted her head, and for a moment she looked like a lovely little doll, long dark pigtails to the sides of her face. She held up her hand, like she was going to reach for his. The whole pose was eery and unsettling to Vana, who took a cautious step back. “I think you should get some sleep, doctor.”

“Maybe later,” she agreed, but then her some small object in her palm spiked, impossibly fast, putting a hole right through Vana’s spine and everything between. “Though, I don’t think you’ll be as interested when you’re dead.”

“Fuck,” he whispered as the last of the air left his lungs.

“A true man to the last,” Patel sneered as he fell.  “You were never really military, Vana, but more like content security. A house cat who has forgotten how to use his claws.”

Lucy glided past the wall again, eyeing the fallen man.

“Oh baby,” Patel purred. “Are you hungry?”


“Xenomorphs are way better than sharks,” Duo said with convictions. “Sharks don’t get out of the water... and a special kinda water at that. They’re really limited and you can kill’em easy with a buster cannon or beam scythe.”

Ripley pinched her nose, arching an eyebrow.  The ten of them that were on the marine biology track sat in a circle on the beach.  “So is that the value of a creature then? How hard it is to kill and how adaptable to various habitats it is?”

“Yeah,” Duo said, shrugging, sure he was right. “What good is a movie if the monster isn’t scary?”

“Okay, well, how’s this for scary... after that movie human attacks on sharks rose so steeply that the shark population seriously declined until protections were enacted.”

“Well, isn’t that a good thing,” Nari asked, “I mean... they attack humans.”

“Even at the height of their population, shark attacks on humans were very rare. Apparently they mistook surfers for prey animals, but we don’t really taste very good.”

“Ewwww...,” several kids said.

“Wait!” Duo raised his hand even. “Are you saying that there are fish with teeth that eat humans?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Yeah. They’re called sharks.”

“Or piranhas,” Sean added. “Piranhas are worse.”

Duo’s face paled, his face going long. “And they’re like... real? They really exist? We’re not talking about dragons or velociraptors or xenomorphs... but real animals?”

“Velociraptors were real,” Nari said, “The dinosaurs were wiped out XX years go by a meteor impact.”

Duo’s eyes became little violet slits and he grabbed hold of his cross. “How do you know that?”

“Science,” Nari said, giving him the eye. “Like... do you even know how to read?”

“Okay, enough of that,” Ripley said. “We all come from different backgrounds and experiences. We all have different skills.”  She dialed up a hologram on her tablet and a very realistic velociraptor appeared in their circle. “These were predators XX years ago. We have bones, some of which we’ve found DNA sequences in.”

“Show me,” Duo challenged her and she changed the display to recovered velociraptor DNA. Duo reached out and grabbed a copy, spreading it open on his tablet. “Oh wow! Oh wow!”

The rest of the kids looked at him like he was faking, but he just sat there playing with alleles, reordering them. “These are in the wrong order,” he mused, “The pattern should be like this...”  He triggered it and it generated a velociraptor off his reordered DNA, but a brightly colored one with odd vestigial feathers.

“Okay. We’ll talk about this, Duo,” Ripley said, clearing the shared display space. “Who wants to take a stab at explaining evolution?”

That got her a total of zero hands.

“Who’s heard of evolution?”

All the hands went up, except Duo’s.  Ripley’s face twitched.

“Understanding the science of marine biology requires an understanding of evolution. I’ll assign basic reading and exercise. Take the mastery tests if you’re comfortable. For now, there’s a tide pool that I want to show you.”

An hour later, Duo knelt at the edge of a tide pool, staring at an orange starfish, his lip between his teeth, just entranced.

Ripley squatted down without even disturbing him. “What ya thinking?”

Duo lifted his head, stared out at the Pacific Ocean, which seemed nearly endless from where he was on firm ground, not like flying over it at a 1000 knots.  “Life is way bigger than I thought. There’s so much I don’t know. I’m so fucking small.” A tear slipped down his cheek, trembling over the salt and sweat on his cheek.

“That’s a pretty cool place to be. Come on, lunch is waiting.”

“Okay,” Duo said, happily getting up and following her along the little ledges between the pools, his braid swinging. “How do you talk to starfish? If sharks are sentient, why don’t they pay taxes?”

Monday, August 1, 2016

Fic: Santa Clarita: Gundanium Shark 1/?

Santa Clarita:  Gundanium Shark 1/?

By Max

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing or any of the bad shark movies that inspired this story.  Also, any similarities to the Lake Placid movies, Sharktopus, Ice Spiders, or any other SyFy channel movie is completely coincidental...

Duo Maxwell leaned his head against the school bus window. Sitting on the uncharitable green seat, next to an angry little kid with no front teeth, which didn’t prevent the brat from threatening to bite him if he didn’t say well on his half of the seat, he thought he was the most miserable being in all of the Earthsphere. The tracking anklet on his ankle irritated him, not in any physical way.  Martha was very good about making sure it didn’t cause any bruising or abrasions and was always more fucking difficult to get off after every time he successfully got it off.

He sighed, head against the warm glass window. He blew on the window, as if that would make it fog up. The environmental controls were so clearly broken on Earth and no one believed him, not even a little. It was summer, they said, and that’s why it was too hot to sleep. It was winter, they said, and that’s why frozen water fell from the sky... like that wasn’t some kind of horrible disaster just begging to happen. But bring one dead cow, and okay, a crazy South American woman, and you were some kind of dangerous evil plague, at least according to Sandy.

That had all been worth it though. The look on that fussy English teacher’s face was a prize worth keeping for years. It was like she’d never seen a whole in somebody’s hand before. He snickered to himself, fingers brushing over the warm glass that wouldn’t steam up no matter how hard he tried, and wondered how many fucking trees there could be along this road. Who would plant so many fucking trees and why? Maybe some king did it once, like the king who put out all those hedges in Versailles.

“What are you laughing about, you freak,” the kid next to him sneered.

Duo looked over at him, just his eyes moving, like violet sentinels that should put the fear of God into all manner of vermin. “Who you callin’ a freak, kid?”

“You,” the boy said before sticking out his tongue. “Over there kissin’ the window. Try ta touch me in mah sleep an’I’ll kill ya.”

“Shadup, brat,” Duo snapped back, “Ain’t nobody gonna touch you, you know. If they even try, you tell me and I’ll make sure they get what’s comin to’em.”

The boy tightened the arms across his chest, chin down. “What’s yer name?”

“I’m Duo Maxwell,” Duo said, smiling brighter. “Sandy thinks goin on this trip’ll make me ‘appreciate the Earth and the forces of nature’, but he don’t know nuthing.”

“Yeah,” the kid said. “It was time for me to move to a new foster family and they didn’t have one so, they sent me up here for two weeks. I’m Jose.”

“Nice ta meet ya,” Duo said, holding out his hand.

Jose stared at the hand, eyes lifting to look at Duo’s grin like he wasn’t exactly sure what kind of crazy Duo was. “You a homo? I’m from ELLL AAAA, man. We don’t be touching each other’s hands like that.”

“Yeah? Well, I’m from L2. Where’s Ellll Aaa?” Duo said, turning, one knee bent and then he had was sitting lotus style. “Do you like it there? What’s it like?”

“OH man,” Jose said, tilting his head suspiciously. “You ain’t never heard’ Los Angeles?  Where’s L2?”

“About a million and half miles out. The Webb 9 telescope is at that point.  It’s gonna be a great place now that the war’s over. Someday Ima go back and I’ll be a doctor. Ima gonna be a doctor.”

“You talk a lot,” Jose said, relaxing a bit. “And you’re crazy, but I guess that’s okay. You got any food?”

Duo wrinkled his nose and slipped a package of red licorice out of his jacket. He gave a couple vines to the kid, who shoved them into his pocket, just in time for Coach Yander  to be glaring at them. “No outside food,” he said sternly, holding out his hand.

Duo shoved the last two vines into his mouth, grinned with them in his cheek, a bit of red smeared across his teeth. “Got no food.”

“Boy, you like food so much, you’re on kitchen duty tonight.” The man growled, his fat face a bit red in the nose.

As soon as he turned to walk back to the front of the bus, Duo flipped him off behind the seat.

“Sorry,” Jose whispered.

“Don’t worry. Ain’t no thing. Don’t worry. This ain’t gonna be so bad,” Duo said, pulling another hard candy from his back pocket and offering the little wrapped butterscotch to the boy.

“So you say,” Jose grumbled, the little candy disappearing. “You like guns?”

Duo tilted his head, violet eyes narrowing a little. “Yeah, and?”

“Just saying,” Jose said. “You bring any?”

“God no, Martha’d kill me so dead. We aren’t gonna need any. Look, as punishments go, this ain’t gonna be that bad. After I got Joel stabbed in the heart, I thought I was gonna go to prison. Fish camp is a prize.”

Jose turned away, arms tight across his chest and refused to say anything else.

“Fine. Whatever,” Duo said, turning back to the window.  Maybe that was the punishment of fish camp... not having anyone to talk to. That might actually be genuinely painful.  He crossed his arms over his chest too, hands under his arms and thought about Heero.  Heero understood him, or at least was okay with having him around.  Jazz and he had cheer choreography to get done. Him being suck out here was a hardship for her too, unless she just founds someone else to work with. For a moment he had a vivid daymare of getting home and being told he’d been kicked of cheer squad. Well, breaking and entering had kinda been a violation of his probation. Worse could happen that getting kicked off cheer squad and sent to fish camp.

His shoulder slumped and he felt like an idiot. Always so eager to prove he was right.  Stupid.

And while the window wouldn’t fog up, there was plenty of fog having over his head.  Fuck. Everyone.


The camp didn’t look any more exciting than the endless tree garden had to Duo and he sighed dramatically as he oozed down the exit stairs like some teenage sludge spill. The world was ending. Wufei would seduce Heero and Heero  would realize that the Imperial Chinese Emperor was a way better match than an obnoxious brat who used to eat out of garbage cans.

“I’m Dr. Jewls Le Chance. I’m a professor of mythology at the University of Oxford. I’ll be your lead assistant on your educational journey! I know you’re all tired from the trip,” a perky red headed man said, “So I’d like to give you all your cabin assignments. That way you can put your things away, get cleaned up, and meet us in the main hall for dinner! We have several tracks for you to consider joining during your time here. There’s archeology, marine biology, and forestry. All of them have excellent leaders! Please give all of them your consideration. Now, let’s get you to your cabins!”  

Duo wrinkled his nose. It sounded... fun... that just didn’t feel right. It was a trap somehow.

But the dinner was fine.  The other kids seemed... normal enough.

“Before we all go to our cabins though, I need to let you know some rules,” Professor Jewls  said, “Not a whole lot - as we trust you to have common sense and be decent to each other. This is a multi-use facility. We share with the United States Army. The areas that are not safe for us to use are clearly defined. Do not go beyond the signs. Do not leave the main camp without one of our two way phones. We want you to explore and have a fantastic time, but safely. Okay! Go put your things up and down to the main hall for dinner.”

So... Joel hadn’t actually died and the Mary was finding the Cornflake Princess really interesting.  As he ate dinner, he thought about how Heero and Wufei would be as a couple and really, that wasn’t gonna last really long, even if they did try it.  Wufei would be all... you don’t speak properly. You don’t dress right. Why do you sleep like that? And Heero would want to get all cuddly in the middle of the night and Wufei would get all bristly and then they’d be back to being friends. Heero really did like to cuddle and he really didn’t like to be told what to do or how to speak.

“You all glassy eyed. You on drugs,” a girl across from him asked insultingly.

Duo wrinkled his nose and made a face at her, eyes crossed, tongue out the side of his mouth, food on his tongue.

“Oh grosss,” she groaned and got up and moved.

Duo held Heero’s chopsticks up as if he were offering her back an obscene gesture. Heero was gonna miss his chopsticks, Duo thought, grinning crookedly.  

The next person to sit down opposite of him was a pretty black man, soft curvy lips, beautiful brown eyes, dreadlocks to his shoulders, capped with golden beads. Maybe if Heero and Wufei were going to fuck while he was away, maybe he’d do this pretty incarnation of chocolate. “Hey,” he said sweetly.  The man was clearly an adult, but Duo lead with, “Which path did you pick while you’re here?”

All the things that had clearly been building to come out the man’s mouth dropped to a blank face for a moment as his mouth dropped... but then his eyes narrowed. “I’m Shelly. I’m the head of anthropological studies. I was interested in seeing if you’d like to join my track.”

“OH yeah, totally thinking about it,” Duo said, winking. He hadn’t seen a lot of people with that kind of dark onyx skin. That woulda been real cool to have when he was piloting. He and Deathscythe couldna been the same color. That woulda been hella cool. “I am totally thinking about joining you.”

That lead to several moments of words that didn’t make it past the pretty man’s tongue. “You can’t flirt with me. I’m staff.”
“Sure I can,” Duo pointed out. “I already am. See how easy that was?”

“How old are you anyway? 14?”

Duo stabbed Heero’s chopsticks into a potato. “I’m seventeen. Fuck you.”

“Not this year,” Shelly said. “I think you might like marine biology.” And with that the pretty black man was gone.

Duo actually growled at the next kid that tried to sit with him. Fuck. He’d been exiled! He wanted to be at home! It was the only real home he’d ever known and he didn’t need new fucking teachers. He wanted Martha to tell him what to do, to make everything normal. He wanted to sit on their bed and read stupid stories with Heero. This was so wrong! It was inhumane! It was unfair!

“Hey,” a woman said as she sat down, kicked his feet out of her spot and took a bit of her burrito.

After a moment where his glaring did nothing at all to her, he replied. “Hey.”

“So I hear you signed up for marine biology.”

“Whatever. It’s fine. I guess.”

“Great! I was hoping we’d get you. You have piloting experience, yes?”

“Yeah...,” he said, while looking at her suspiciously. Did she not know who he was?

“Great! We have a two person submarine and you’re our only pilot. “I’m Captain Ripley. I hear you’re the best pilot in the war.”

Duo perked up, smiling. “I’m kinda good.”

“Well, great,” she said after swallowing and on her way to another bit, “I’m jazzed to have Heero Yuy on my team.”

Duo’s face fell, violet eyes wide and puppy like.

“See? Not fun, right? Don’t be an asshole to the other teachers. They ain’t military and they don’t get paid enough to put up with your shit, Maxwell. They’re just nice folk.”

“Whatever,” Duo said, blushing, feeling a little like an asshole himself. “Can I go now,” he asked already getting up to go no matter what Ripley said.

“Sure. You know you have unfiltered, uncensored, unlimited high speed internet acces in your private cabin, right?”

He perked completely up, glowing just about. “Okay. Whatever.”

“Also, there’s a very nice camera in your room. Everyone gets one. You can take it home with you. The photos you take with it while you’re here belong to the camp. You can use them too, but we they’re important to our work.”

Duo’s jaw shifted to the side, eyes narrowed, like she was trying to sell him a bridge. “An I just getta keep it?”

“Yup. What you do for science and community is important, Duo. You’re important.”

“Uh,” he said, spinning on his heel, braid flaring. He’d believe that when ... well.  He wished he could believe that.

He found his little cabin to be ... nice. The bed was comfortable, even more cushy than their bed at home. The computer powered right on and spoke to him,  playing music on voice command. He really wanted to be suspicious. It didn’t seem even remotely reasonable that folk would make this kind of place for kids that couldn’t pay, or for kids at all, but he just couldn’t really find anything to be legitimately suspicious about.

He sent Heero an email telling him all about it. He wrote Wufei and told him in a way to make Wu jealous. He wrote Jazz and told her all about his fears and how stupid he felt. He wrote Martha and begged to come home. He wrote Joel and told him it was all his fault and he would never see him again because he was going to be worked to death... to deaaatttttthhhhh.

Joel replied with a selfie.. A beer in one hand, a cigarette between his lips, and his middle finger up.  Martha told him to focus on his work, not to be lazy. Jazz wanted to know if he had access to social media and if he was going to be home in time to help with getting everyone ready for cheer tournament and god, why did he have to get himself in trouble so much. Wufei said he didn’t care. Heero sent him a selfie that made Duo blush and neeeeed to take a nap. Which he did... and then he fell asleep, sprawled half dressed across his very comfy bed.

The knock on his door brought him slowly awake. It was dark outside his windows. “Yeah?”

“Hey,” a strange voice called. “We’re gonna watch a movie. There’s ice cream and popcorn and lemonade. Come watch with us?”

His first reaction was to say no, but then his stomach growled and he was kinda lonely and ice cream and .. “Yeah, I’ll be right there.”

“Great,” the voice said, sounding genuinely pleased. “I’m Darren, by the way. I’m doing marine biology too.”

“Cool,” Duo said, screwing up his face as he yawned. “What movie?”

“It’s Jaws. Old classic. Have you seen it?”

“Naw, I’ll be there in a few minutes,” he said.

So what was a classic movie called Jaws about? Maybe it was like Saw, but with teeth... maybe. He wished they were going to watch the newer Alien movie. Whatever.

True to his word, a few minutes later he end up in the main hall in clean jeans and a tee-shirt, his damp hair in a ponytail, his cross on top of his shirt. The red headed dude offered him a bowl of popcorn or a bowl of ice cream. He took both and went to sit on the floor. The screen was nice with 3d projection. The lights were down and the movie started.

Okay. It was a romance. Meh. Maybe it would be okay.

The water looked really good. He wanted to see light from under the water like that. That was cool. It looked kind of like being weightless. That was cool.  

And then...