Santa Clarita: Settling In: The Feather
Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing.
Notes: Santa Clarita is a large arch. It’s really kind of my version of therapy. The story starts in the war and extends hundreds of years into the future and it’s not being written in chronological order, so I’m trying to use a naming convention like Santa Clarita: period where story happens: name of story.
Joel answered the door, elbow on the frame, green eyes, narrowed as he stared at the blonde girl on the doorstep. He closed one eye, tried to understand why there was a strange young woman banging on the door. She didn’t look like a social worker and they weren’t due for a visit. She wasn’t a neighbor. With blonde hair and blue eyes like that she wasn’t from the reservation. He switched open eyes and wondered if the aphrodisiac that Martha cooked up was causing hallucinations. It was possible. He pressed his hand over his mouth. He’d never had a thing for underaged girls, or girls really, but she wasn’t doing anything really outrageous like hallucinations were wont to do.
She glared back, one hand going to her hip. “Look, asshole,” she said, nose wrinkling. “I’m Zip. I’m here to pick Duo up. It’s Monday. School.”
Okay, so it was October. After the 4th of July, he’d taken an assignment in Venezuela and hadn’t been back until Saturday. He wouldn’t have heard the door at all if he hadn’t been in the kitchen looking for ingredients to cure the flaming hangover that Martha’s ‘cocktail’ had given him. ‘God fuck me,’ he thought to himself as he squinted at his watch. That’s right. They’d taken in fourteen children. God fuck me twice. He loved Allen more than anything he could possibly imagine, but his feelings matched Martha’s way more than they did his soulmate’s. He licked dry lips. “The kids don’t leave for school for an hour and a half. There’s a... a minibus.”
“Yeah,” she said, “There’s a minibus. Are you hungover? You’re so disgusting.” She pointed a pink manicured fingernail at him, eyebrows arching, pink painted lips tight together.
Joel’s mouth dropped open. He’d been Preventer for as long as that was possible and before that he’d worked for the remnants of the United Nations. His body count was probably higher than the Gundam Pilots combined and god, he wished the whole start a group home had been an hallucination. Maybe if he’d just fucked Allen harder and more often. “Little girl, you do know he’s fucking gay, right?”
She rolled her eyes as if he’d just said Duo’s hair was long. “Gay or not, he still needs to be on campus at cheer squad practice in a half an hour. We’ve got a game tonight!”
“Zip,” Duo yelled from the top of the stairs, coming down them three at a time. “Sorry! Sorry!”
Joel took a step back, opening the door a little wider. One of the most dangerous men in the world, who had been too dangerous to have around, in Joel’s opinion, came running down the stairs, cheeks blushing, braid flaring as he rounded the landing.
“Now there’s my hallucination,” Joel said.
Duo had put on muscle in the months that Joel had been gone. He was grinning, violet eyes full of life, and somehow he’d gone from a gray, angry, violent psychopath to a sixteen year old boy on the cheer squad, running down the stairs in blue and silver pants and a half shirt, a matching backpack slung over one shoulder. God, Martha makes good shit.
“Hey Joel!” Duo said. “You’all need more insulation and god you look like shit!”
Joel took a deep breath, and suddenly he believed in miracles. “Nice to see you too,” Joel said. “You’re on cheer squad? Not the football team?”
Duo’s energy level was so high, he bounced on the balls of his feet. “Gotta go!” He ran out the door.
“Hey! You’re allowed to leave the property this early,” Joel snapped, “No parole violations?”
Duo had boosted himself up to the passenger door of Zip’s pink convertible, top down. He balanced there, arms up. “Well, there were three, but all minor and I just got my time extended a bit.” He held out both hands, palms up, “It was all TOTALLY justified and hardly anyone got hurt.”
Zip gave his braid a tug and he slipped down into the car, pulling his legs in as if he were made of rubber, and Joel just stared. “Oh wow, only three,” he said, watching them race off.
Allen laid his hand on Joel’s back, rubbing up to his shoulder. “Come back to bed, for another few minutes, uh?”
Joel turned, leaned into his lover. Duo’s energy had been infectious, he guessed. “You are a miracle worker. I really thought I was gonna have to bury that guy when he first got here.”
“He’s just a kid,” Allen said, fingers brushing over Joel’s face, “He’s got a good heart and he’s smart. If there’s something dangerous about him, it’s how smart he is, though, you might be right about him being a little less than sane. He talks to the animals.”
“Still,” Joel asked, though he wasn’t really interested in talking about Duo anymore. “You said something about going back to bed? I think I’m still really tired from that mission.”
The door to their shared bedroom opened and Martha snapped, “Twenty-three minutes until the start of the day, boys.”
Duo leaned the seat back so he could stare at the very pale sky. “So I’ve got this idea for a new routine!”
Zip reached into her purse and pulled out her phone. “Listen to my voicemail.”
“Okay,” Duo said doubtfully. “You get that email on the math problems?”
“Yeah, thanks,” she said.
“Yeah, so you have a nail appointment at three on Saturday,” Duo said, eyeing her, face long.
“Not that voicemail,” she said, irritated. “Do the next one.”
“Oooookaaaaaay,” Duo said, but then he was sitting up, face white, hand clutching the phone. “Oh... Heero.”
Heero’s voice played back, “Thank you for calling me, Zip. I appreciate the offer and if Duo ever asks me to marry him, I will be happy to do so, but until such time as he is able to make the offer himself, I will just wait. Please... tell him....” And then there was a long pause and Duo looked at the screen to make sure the call hadn’t disconnected.
“Keep listening,” Zip said.
Duo put the phone back to his ear, to a little more pause, and then, “tell him that he should... live.”
“Oh hell,” Duo said, replaying it.
Zip pulled the car over and turned a bit to watch him. “Well?”
The color had faded from his face. “He’s depressed. I have to go to him.”
“He’s in New York. That’s a long way from Wyoming and I think your fancy jewelry will shock you into a jellyfish before you get there.”
“Well,” Duo said, his foot up on the dash, “it can’t go with me, for sure. We got all the same classes. You just take it around with you. I’ll be back before the end of school.”
“You gotta go to practice,” Zip said, thinking it through, “And you have to make it back for the game. How are you going to make it to New York and back, without getting caught, with no money, even if I do carry your anklet?”
“I’m gonna borrow a plane, forge a manifest, probably commit a bit of breaking and entering.”
“Soooooo like they’re gonna send you to jail, no way. I’m not helping with that.”
“Heero’s thinking about killing himself.”
“He didn’t say that,” she said, pulling them back onto the road.
“But I KNOW! I can hear it in his voice! I’ll be back. I’ll go to practice, and I’ll make it back by the game. No one will ever know! I won’t let you get in trouble!”
“Do you promise?”
“I promise,” Duo said, with all the conviction of the universe behind his words. “I won’t let us get in any trouble!”