Santa Clarita: A Merry Misunderstanding
Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing
Note: If anyone has noticed that the continuity of this story is wonky.... it is. I blame Heero... and the time travel the story started with. Besides, I’m just writing this for fun and personal growth.
This story is set, probably, the first Christmas that Duo was at the ranch, well before Heero shows up.
So there they were on a fine winter break, in the wilds of Wyoming with clearly, and perpetually broken environmental controls. There were days when he succeeded in not thinking about Heero by obsessing about the broken environmental controls. Ice. Falling. From. The. Sky. SOOOO dumb. No matter how much Mary try to explain that Earth was like a very large colony with a weather system that no one was in control of, Duo just wasn’t liking that answer either. Then Kat introduced him to the idea of tornados and he went back to obsessing about Heero.
In that moment, he snuggled up on the bed with a handheld game system, the door locked, the window done up with an extra lock to keep the asshole blond out. The big black dude had gone back to California for a few days to do whatever it was he did with the school he was running down there. The nice twin of the evil bitch had gone away with some other girl, to Paris or something, and Duo was sooooo done trying to figure out the complicated relationship between his foster parents. At least Earth weather made some mathematical sense, even if it was just too strange to really accept. Jazz had gone to South Carolina to visit relatives. All the kids who lived at the ranch were running around and playing and singing and eating cookies and being so.... so something that annoyed Duo in ways he didn’t even know how to begin to explain. He still wasn’t allowed to contact Heero. He was still sending him emails and messages and not getting any replies.
The blond fucker with access to nice planes promised that Heero had been moved to a different foster home and he was safe and seemed as happy as he ever seemed.
Everyone was fucking happy.
Duo murdered some dude in a PVP battle, then kicked his pack over the cliff before he could respawn.
He’d grown an inch since he’d gotten there. They gave him new clothes and he kept expecting... that they somehow weren’t free, though, to be fair, he hadn’t gotten any bills yet and the world just kept going on by.
Relena was on talk shows chatting about the value of marriage even in the new world they were all building and how wonderful it was the Gundam pilots were all proving how heroic they had always been. Trowa and Quatre got married. Wufei got married, again (... because apparently the Emperor was supposed to make babies and Q hadn’t just shared the whole thousand sisters in a tube shit.), though Duo knew that look on Wu’s face and hoped the wife was a lesbian with a very favorite girlfriend. Heero was an ideal everything, according to Relena, and listening to her talk was the only time Duo had wanted to argue that Heero was a cold fucker who came too fast if he wasn’t really into it. Duo had seen the look on her face before too, when he looked in the mirror and fuck, he hated everything!
The world didn’t need him anymore. It had never needed him.
He wasn’t supposed to have stayed around this long. He had had a job. He did his job. There was supposed to be heaven or hell or some fucking shit that didn’t involve him having to feed someone else’s cows and turning in homework! He wanted to stick his tongue in Heero’s mouth until the world made sense. He wanted Relena to see him sticking his tongue into Heero’s mouth. Looking up from the game got him killed, but it was the first smile he’d had in a long time.
The smile made his nose hurt. His face had dots, which to be fair were almost fun because they exploded if you pressed on them just right. There were dots on his shoulders too, but he was very happy when Martha said they weren’t likely to spread any further. With a sigh, he went back to his game and prowled around on on the battle plane, his digital mecha humming with murderous rage, while every other player in the Earthsphere seemed to need to be some fucking where else. How unfair was the whole world ... you save the world and then lose your boyfriend, get an incurable skin condition that requires smelly soap, and have to spend every Saturday trying to teach football players trigonometry?
He was sure that Relena didn’t have to go to high school. He missed Heero so much. He felt really stupid for thinking that Heero would ever have wanted him anyway. There should be a button.. you just press and then you go to heaven and everything is good forever. His thoughts were like fireworks, exploding before the last one had even faded.
The knock on his door suddenly drew all his emotion and he growled, “GO away!”
“Shower and get dressed! I’m leaving the clothes you’re to wear out here. Joel will be here for you in less than an hour.”
“No!” He shouted and pulled the blanket up like a cloak.
“I have told you everyday since we got the invitation that you were expected to attend the United Earthsphere Holiday Celebration. You have to go, Duo. It’s for the good of the peace.”
“No.” Violet eyes glared at the door. “I can’t! I’m sick.”
“The acne is really not that bad. Have you been using the soap Mary gave you?”
Duo wrinkled his nose, felt the unexploded mine at the edge of his nose, and just didn’t want to talk about it. “I’m not going to their stupid party!”
“Heero will be there.”
Duo chewed at his lip, thumbs rubbing the edges of his game deck, calculations going off like fireworks. “Can I talk to him? Without fucking getting arrested?”
“It’s a party that the government invited both of you to, so I would expect so. Joel will be with you as your bodyguard.”
“I dont need no fucking body guard.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” Martha said, in about the same tone she’d used when he tried to explain that Sandy really could talk, really. “Will you please get ready?”
“Yeah. Are Q and Wu going to be there?”
“And Trowa,” Martha said.
“Can I have some of my money so I can buy presents?”
“The party is in D.C. Joel will have a little time to take you shopping. Duo, this trip will be good for you.”
Duo doubted that, but giving the others presents, seeing them... maybe that would be good. “Yeah, but decent gifts,” he said, thinking about how he would be maybe able to get a little of the money put back, maybe a gift for Jazz. “It’s my money anyway!”
“It’s money you stole,” Martha said, “Hurry up and get ready.”
“Yeah, yeah.” He growled, yawning as he got up.
All life is a little stolen. Staring at his face in the mirror, the passage of time was undeniable. There was a faint scattering of dark brown hair on his chin. The side of his nose was a little swollen from the zit trying to shift gravity inside of it. There was another red bump on his chin with a little white star in the center of it. Naked in his little bathroom, he wanted to be smaller. He wanted to look at himself with the same violet eyes that he'd looked at Solo with. There was some promise that he'd given that he couldn't remember giving, couldn't remember the words that had been used, but it was there, nonetheless.
I'll follow you
Wait for me.
I'll be right along.
There had been scars and burns and bullets and bruises so bad he'd pissed blood for a week, but he hadn't kept that promise. He ran his fingers over the slight scar from the bullet he'd tak the day that Heero and he had become lovers. Tears ran down his cheeks, slow and disconnected from the chaotic storm of emotion. Memories jumbled in his head, corpses and parts and screams, bad people, people worse than plague, people bad enough that he'd break into secure Sweeper ships to get away.
Those were the rules, weren't they? A man had to keep his promises.
He leaned toward the mirror and pressed on either side of the red dot until he exploded the thing with a satisfying pop.
It wasn't like people didn't talk at school about how Heero and Relena were the perfect couple.
Sure, gay was fine... weren't Quatre and Trowa beautiful in their wedding photos? God how people talked. The pilots were amazing heroes and well, Duo was just a kid, just math tutor and a cheerleader and GaWDDD Duo... don't be such a drama baby! Their words were like the shocks of sensation one felt as one peeled off a scab.
"Heero needs me," Duo told his reflection as he gave that red dot another squish.
"Sure he does," Solo said, arms across his chest.
Duo jumped, glared, and the kid who had been so big and so powerful was barely tall enough to reach Duo's waist now, ragged and angry, skinny and vulnerable with angry brown eyes. "Sucks for him. We know how it comes out when people need you, don't we?"
"Not today," Duo said, clinging to all the numb he could get hold of. "Soon."
"Bastard," Solo snapped.
Martha knocked at the bathroom door. "Duo?"
"Hey," Duo said, pulling the door open, still naked, daring her to be uncomfortable.
She held up the altered tux. "I think it'll fit right now. Who were you talking to?"
"Ghosts," Duo said, chin lifting challengingly. "Don't you even fucking think about putting more shit in my food."
"I could just inject it in your stubborn little ass," she snapped, holding the tux out. "Get dressed. You need to talk to someone."
"All stories end sometime, Martie. No big fucking deal. Nice threads. The Earthsphere pay for these?"
"They did. Try not to ruin them. They have to be returned."
"Gee," Duo said, taking the outfit. "I hope they're not holding a deposit of your money."
"The Pope will be there. He wants to meet you."
"Well, we all fucking want something. I've wanted a beer for months now."
He gave her a one fingered salute and slammed the door. Turning that bright white shirt red with blood seemed like such a beautiful art project!
A gentle buzzing came from the pants pockets. For a moment he wondered if it was some kind of explosive, then told himself he was being stupid. It turned out to be a very small mobile phone. A flush of power went through him, like being a free man with control over his own communications. He turned the shower on again, then answered the phone. “Yeeeesssssss,” he said, sounding like a butler he’d seen on television.
“Q?” Duo said, straightening up, a bit of blush on his face. “Hey? You goin to the party tonight?”
“I am,” Quatre said, sounding suave and very adult. “Trowa and I will both be there. I was hoping to talk to you about a business opportunity.”
“Oh, Q,” Duo said, sinking down to the bathroom floor. “I, uh, have three parole violations and they’re makin’ me actually go to high school. You don’t gotta do that?”
“Are you they abusing you?” Quatre asked, deadly serious and threatening.
“No, no,” Duo said, “They’re good people and they’re trying really hard, but they treat me like a kid. It’s surreal.”
“Well, not this weekend!” Quatre said cheerfully. “Hurry up and get here! We’re going to have a fantastic holiday weekend!”
“Yea,” Duo said, feeling like his old self, like the start of a mission. All the darkness was gone from his thoughts and the world was full of possibilities! He was going to get to see Heero! He’d be damned if there wasn’t going to be time for sex! Christmas was going to be amazing!
A few minutes later, he was sliding down the banister in a custom made tuxedo, the bow tie done perfectly, his braid flaring as he landed and spun around. “I’m ready! Is he here?”
Martha smirked. “See? You’re feeling better already! Joel’s in the kitchen.”
Duo ran that way. “Thanks!”
Joel wore his own tuxedo, an unusual cut, more curvy than straight lines. He wore an emerald in one ear, and his naturally curly blond hair framing his face. “Oh my god, you’re smiling! Did Martha drug you?”
“Not that I know of,” Duo said, taking a slice of the cheese. “I wanna pilot.”
Joel laid a finger over his lips. “I want to avoid trouble with authorities.”
“Excellent idea,” Martha said disapprovingly.
Duo spun, gave her his best and brightest and most innocent smile, “Merry Christmas.”