Santa Clarita: Trust Me - You don’t
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing or the Avengers or Invader Zim
Warning... crack fic... seriously :)
Note: The boys are 16, Wufei is already staying at the Wyoming Ranch. :)
Trust Me - You Don’t.
Joel sighed. There were hundreds, probably thousands, of things that he’d rather be doing than taking a call from Commander Une. Jazz, his AI and assistant, had been tricked or hacked into putting the call through. So there he was standing in the living room with someone else’s face in the middle of his screen, pausing his game, and in general being a pain in the ass. “Look. What DO you want? I promised my family I’d be home for Christmas, so I’m not doing anything till after.”
“It’s not always about you,” Une snapped. “I need Maxwell’s expertise. Do you think your ward could be bothered to look at some data for me? How did you ever become one of his legal guardians anyway?”
Joel sighed again, thumbs caressing his steering wheel. “He’s 16, maybe. Martha thinks he’s fucking younger than that. Leave him alone. For that matter, leave me fucking alone too. Talk to me after the new year and I’ll be open to a job. By then I’ll be stir crazy.”
“You should have some respect when talking to your superiors, Major Murphy.”
Joel glanced out the window, watching the snow start to fall and the kids who were out there playing. Mary had given all of them a holographic skin toy, kind of like a collar, but it skinned you in one of an array of popular characters. He arched an eyebrow as Duo finally slipped free of Wufei’s grip on his ankle and took over the top of the monkey bars... once up there, he threw his arms over his head, activated his toy and screamed, “I am Thor! God of Thunder!”
Joel groaned, green eyes hooded as he pointed his steering wheel at Une on his screen. “Look. I’m not a Major. You stripped me of my rank after you found out I covered up Duo’s trip to New York. So fuck you. I’m a contractor. I don’t owe you anything. I’m sorry you got difficult data. Go ask Martha. I’m sure there’s gotta be some brain power you haven’t verbally abused somewhere between here and Mars.”
“They’re not actually children, you know,” she snarled, leaning closer to her camera. “They’re dangerous and less controllable than you are.”
Wufei was now wearing a Loki skin, firing some kind of green light at Duo, who was running along the monkey bars and likely preparing to jump to the geodesic dome. The whole theme seemed to be very much Avengers. Also running around the play area were two Hulks, a Black Widow, a couple of Ironmen, a second Loki, and then a Hello Kitty swinging as high as one could go that Joel was sure was probably Didi. There were too many kids on the ranch for him to make any pretense of keeping actual track of them.
“Yeah? Control is overrated, Une. It’s snowing. It’s a few days from Christmas, which matters to some of the folk here, and I just leveled to a new track. I’m real sorry you got cases to solve. Solve’em.”
“You are a shitty soldier,” she snapped. “Just let me talk to Maxwell. I’m sure he’ll agree to help me if I can just talk to him.”
“I’m sure he would,” Joel said, sitting down in the bay window to watch the kids run and play, “But that’s why I won’t let you talk to him. Also, I’m not a soldier. I’m a contracter. I do the contracts I want and I’m damn good at what I do. I’ve always thought I was mostly a shitty parent. Ain’t none of these kids my biological spawn, for one thing, and I don’t know that I had much of a childhood either, but watching what it’s doing to Maxwell to watch him just... play and learn to feel safe, well, that’s worth a lot and I will not let you, or anyone else fuck that over for him. I want you to see something.” He shifted his video feed to his mobile, setting to over over his shoulder like a drone as he turned, giving Une a view of the play yard.
Hello Kitty was climbing up Thor’s back and a small Loki and Hulk held onto each of Duo’s hands as he spun them around, laughing, making his braid flair out, breaking the ‘skin’ of the Thor hologram. The Loki skin flickered over Wufei as he swung, standing on the swing, flying high.
“You’re drugging them,” Une accused.
“No, you stone cold bitch,” Joel spat. “They’re playing. It’s something humans do, so I guess you wouldn’t know anything about that.”
“But they have so many useful skills. Where’s Yuy?”
Joel pointed to the edge of the play area, where a peaceful looking Steve Rogers was writing something in a hemp covered journal, blue eyes watching Duo with pure adoration. “The point of childhood isn’t getting skills so you can be a useful tool. The point is to just fucking enjoy it. I’ll let Jazz come help you. She does a pretty good sim of Duo. Maybe that will help solve whatever shit is bugging you, but leave me alone until after New Years.”
“You can’t think they’re just going to get a little taller and be normal men, can you?”
“No, Une,” Joel said, having moved her view back to him. “I think they’re going to get a little taller and be fucking amazing - at whatever it is they want to do. I also know that whatever it is they want to do, it isn’t going to be an attack dog for you.”
“I have you for that,” she said hurtfully.
“Yup,” Joel said, “But not today, Une-babe. You should set Jazz on your problem, then go get a drink, play with a vibrator or something.”
“If I hadn’t already stripped you of rank, I’d do it now. You’re lucky you’re useful.”
“Maybe I’d be luckier if I weren’t,” he said, closing the call.
He put his game to sleep and grabbed his coat from by the door. He also picked up one of the little collar things that Mary had given the kids. It just barely fit around his neck and took a moment to sync with his wishes before he suddenly became the Ultron. He screamed and ran towards the play area. After a moment, all the kids rushed him, tackling him, attempting to push him over. For a moment it felt stilted, as if he were doing it just to spite Une, but then he forgot such things, laughing and staggering under the weight of playing children. Snow started to fall harder, but none of them were cold, not even after someone reinvented the snowball. White flew, mixing with laughter, giggles, sliding across the padded play area.
Inside the house, Mary sat down in the bay window, smiling happily. Away from home, she was a very competent and aggressive lawyer, but watching Joel run and play with children, she just felt aggressively happy.
“Joel!” Martha shouted, following up when he didn’t respond by letting herself into his play office.
She smiled at Mary as a shiver went over her shoulders. Mary held out her hand and Martha crossed to take it, to lean down to kiss her. “Welcome home. Did you win?”
“I ruined them. My Christmas gift seems to be successful.” She gestured towards the playing Avenger’s characters.
“Oh my god,” she said, sitting down close enough to touch her wife. “Joel is... playing outside.”
“Allen is right. Having the kids here has been good for all of us.”
Martha brush soft hair back from Mary’s face, smiling adoringly. “If you say so. Are you home till after Christmas?”
“Good. Quatre Winner says he and his wife are coming, and Relena Darlian as well. I want a restraining order so they won’t try to talk to me.”
Mary laid a hand on Martha’s cheek. “I’ll run interference. It’s only for a few days and we’ll find time to share a bottle of wine and a fire, uh?”
“I promise. Merry Christmas, Martha.” She leaned closer and they kissed, warmer than snow could ever chill.
Their kiss lasted just until the herd of Avengers came rushing in, trampling towards the kitchen, screaming for hot chocolate and cookies.