Santa Clarita - Value of Us - Halloween
by Pink Whirlwind (Max)
Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing - the boys are only borrowed because I enjoy playing with them.
Note: I started this at a comic, but we were so busy today that I didn’t make much progress and drawing at the bus station sucks, so here we go with some prose :)
Heero had gotten use to doing chores at 5 am in the morning, every morning, whether they were expected to show up at school or not. He didn’t particularly like it, not like Duo did. Heero couldn’t tell the horses apart, not by name anyway. He could tell which of them he’d fed and which of them hadn’t been fed, but Duo could tell which of them were in a good mood and which were threatening to come down with cholic. Frankly, Heero wasn’t really convinced that horses had moods. For them to have moods, they’d really have to be sentient and Heero wasn’t sure that was an accurate assessment.
Then there were the cats, the chickens, and a couple of pigs that Duo was trying to figure out how to adapt for speech modules. Heero had started shorting their feed at night and Merin had commented that they weren’t gaining as quickly as he wanted. Heero was pretty sure he knew what was going to happen at a certain weight level, but Duo was trying to have actual conversations with the swine and swore that the smaller of them seemed to be having some understanding of Earth English.
One task at a time though. Right at that moment, Heero wanted his coffee and to sit next to Duo as he ate at least 3,000 calories of pancakes and eggs. He’d worried that Duo was going to gain unwanted fat over the months that they’d been living on the farm, but instead he’d grown three centimeters and was indisputably taller than Heero.
Mary stood across the breakfast bar from them, checking an order of parts that they were supposed to turn in at the feed store when they went to school. She looked so innocent and productive to Heero. “So... what are you boys dressing up as for Halloween?”
Duo chewed pancake, one eyebrow lifting. “Uh?” Heero didn’t have much more than that to say either.
“You were too sick to bother with it last year, Duo, and Heero you hadn’t got here yet, so I’ll tell you all about it. It’s a holiday.. it used to be the celebration of the new year for pre-Christian peoples in Europe, but now it’s mostly celebrated by collecting offerings of candy by visiting houses in costume.”
“The name suggests a more recent origin,” Heero protested, “Hallow eve or something like that. If the Romans celebrated the new year in January, why didn’t this holiday move too?”
“Because it didn’t. So, you have a week to pick something tasteful.”
“We’re not children, Ms. Mary,” Heero insisted, trying to take another path to avoiding such a useless holiday.
“Exactly! Which is why you’re going to take the younger children trick or treating. What would you like to be? I’ll help with your costumes.”
Both of them stared. “What kinda things da people usually do,” Duo asked.
“Oh, ghosts, witches, emergency personnel, police officers, doctors.”
“Can I go as a stripper?”
“Then I’ll go as a cop,” Heero agreed.
“You’re taking the younger kids,” Mary pointed out. “Some of whom have had quite enough of that experience.”
Heero’s face twisted as new ideas and a bit of actual teenage rebelliousness mixed with the coffee in his belly. “We could go as,” and he summoned a deep radio announcer’s voice, “Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell - Heroes of Earth! Live for one night only!”
Duo nearly spit pancake. His eyes bulged and then he fell off his stool, grabbing for a napkin as he went. before he hit, he’d spit the pancake into the napkin and completely crippled by a laughing fit.
Heero smiled contentedly.
Mary snickered. “Well, that might work, if you weren’t both still on probation. Duo just got six months extra for that stunt at the airport. So, let’s think up something else.”
“But there is a show in Las Vegas, of exactly that name,” Heero pointed out. “I don’t see why it’s okay for some people to claim to be Duo and me, but not Duo and me.”
“I’ll ask Martha to look into that show. You on the other hand, should pick something more traditionally Halloween. You’ll only be out a couple of hours. You can’t let the kids eat any of the candy until we get home and we’ve scanned it.”
Heero blinked, processing. “So.. we are dressing up in costume and this is a long standing Earth custom. We will be going to houses asking for candy. People know we are coming, but some of the candy might be poisoned? Is this part of the tradition? A brush against death? Is it meant to lower the population?”
“Some people are just assholes.”
“If we can catch any of them, with 100% certainty, can Duo kill them?”
“NO. There will be no actual killing or harming.”
“Except in self defense,” Duo amended, as his eyes peeked over the breakfast bar.
“Don’t get in those situations,” Mary stressed, “But if you do, come home with as minimal damage as possible.”
“Yup,” Duo said. “Will do. Minimal damage.”
“But,” Heero said, not letting go, “Why might some of the candy be hazardous? That might actually harm children? Who would like to harm children? Why would they do such a thing? Why?”
Mary stopped what she was doing and reached across the breakfast bar, slowly, making sure her movement was clearly visible and anticipated. She laid her hand on Heero’s arm, gave a very gentle squeeze. “I work with artificial neural networks, Heero, not natural ones. If I had to take a guess, there’s a lot of emotion to a child getting hurt and if a person doesn’t get caught, there’s just... I don’t know... maybe it makes them feel important, somehow. Heero, my darling, we don’t have to understand why someone would do that. I’m not sure we can. We just have to try to prevent bad things from happening.”
“Understanding helps with prevention,” Heero insisted.
“It does,” Mary agreed. “Maybe that’s something you can work towards. For now, you both need to get to school. Three days until Halloween, so you better think about those costumes.”
“Yes, m’am,” Duo agreed. “I think I’ll be a veterinarian.”
“You should be something you’re not normally. Isn’t that part of the custom?”
“Duo is 17. He’s not a veterinarian. It’s up to you, but maybe something more fun than that.”
“Duo thinks that animals are fun,” Heero said.
Duo was picking up his backpack though and gave Heero’s shoulder a shove. “I can speak for myself. Heero? We’re in for taking the little kids.”
“Affirmative. I will dress up as a cat.” Heero said, smiling as if he were keeping a secret.
“Oh god,” Mary said shooing them both out. “I don’t want to think about it. School.”
Duo giggled, a little color coming to his cheeks. “Yeah, well, I do love the cats. Here, kitty, kitty.”
“Get out of my kitchen!”
On a different ranch...
“So we’re on for the bonfire, right?” Jason leaned out the window of his jeep. “It’s gonna be real old fashioned. Spooky like you have no idea. Real old school shit. I got plans.”
Bobby leaned on the pitch fork he’d stabbed into the ground. “I don’t know man. Some of the chicks ain’t gonna like it.”
“So we don’t tell’em. The sounds those cats’re gonna make will scare the shit out of’em and we’ll be there to comfort’em. It’s gonna be the best Halloween ever.”
“You’re sure it’s not illegal?”
“Shit no. My dad says they used to do it every year, like population control and all. It’s not like we’re using anyone’s fucking pet. Though Old Mrs. Archer won’t miss a couple. These are feral, diseased things. We’re doing the town a favor and getting laid in the process. Chill out. It’s some wild ass cats. My dad says they make sounds like Hell’s opened up, scary ass shit.”
“It better be as good as you say,” Bobby complained. “If I don’t get laid because of this shit, I’m gonna be pissed at you.”
“Yeah, whatever. Your girl is going to melt into your pants. I’m telling you, this is going to scare the fuck out of’em and they’ll do anything not to be alone.”
They fist bumped before Jason took off, raising a great cloud of dust.
Bobby went back to mucking out the stalls and his uncle came in with a solar panel he was repairing. “What’s that boy want? He drives like a maniac.”
“Just plans for the the Halloween bonfire.”
“You all haven’t invited that Maxwell boy have you?”
“Nope,” Bobby said, shaking his head for emphasis. “He’s probably got work to be doing anyway. He’s not so bad, Uncle Jay. He’s just a little strange.”
“A little? That boy’s a menace and he has outrageous hair. This town is getting to be filled up with delinquents and felons.”
“Yeah, well, don’t worry. He and his boyfriend aren’t coming.”
“Good. Now finish up these stalls and sit down to study for a while. SATs are coming.”
“Yes, Uncle Jay,” Bobby said, thinking about the new video game he had, and Halloween. God, he wanted to get laid!”