A Wrench to the Heart 1/?
Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing
Notes: Not a Santa Clarita story. It’s 1x2x1, eventually.
Warnings: Mention of drug abuse by Duo, by ocs, oc death, violence, criminal activity, a messed up Heero, foul language, probably some smoking, drinking, sex, various other questionable behaviors. It wasn’t beta’ed. I wrote it just for my own mental health. I hope some of you all might enjoy it too.
The truck was old. It had been old before the first US rocket breached the blue and flirted with the stars. It was huge with rounded and seafoam green with huge round headlights and enough chrome to dip a gundam in. The white on the original tires had been broader than his handspan, and the material on the tires was so old he had to send it out to have it sourced. It turned out to be made of some kind of plant blood called rubber - like real rubber. He’d mocked up some tires of a nice clean synthetic that looked like the originals. Duo figured his truck was from around 1992 - mostly because he found a love letter in the glove box with a date stamp on the envelope for that time. In any case, it was old. Like not quite Ancient Rome old, but still pretty old.
Duo rose up on his toes, reaching deeper into the engine block. Now the engine block wasn’t even remotely classic and might well have been in breach of patents and interplanetary law, but it was a work of love and he was pretty sure it was gonna break the sound barrier when he opened it up.
He himself looked too young to be who he was. At forty-five his face was lineless, his hair a dark chocolate, and he looked like he looked a couple years after the wars. His eyes were sharp violet, squinting at the plasma passage he was trying connect to the generator, long fingers reaching around other cables to push the connector into the right place. It was taking all his focus.
A small hand took a handful of his gray coveralls and tugged.
Eyes wide, his head came up right into the huge hood of the ancient truck. One eye twitched.
“Daddy! I’m not sick no more!”
Duo reached up to rub his head as he squatted down to be on her eye level. “‘Sat so,” he asked. His other hand reached out to touch the back of his hand to her forehead. She had dark curls and dark eyes, caramel skin and a smile full of baby teeth.
“Yups. I bes fine now. I wanna play My Little Ponies! I’ma gonna be Rainbow Dash.”
Duo pushed at the back of his head, feeling the lump forming, the trickle of blood. “I’m glad you’re feeling better. There’s some math and English modules you need to work through, Julia.”
“Nooooaaaaaooo!” She said, big brown eyes wide. “I wanna play ponies!”
“One math lesson and one English lesson and then I’ll unlock one level of Ponies. How’s that?” Duo smiled crookedly, wiggling his eyebrows.
She eyed him, her rosy lips all drawn together as she evaluated his will. “One math.”
Violet eyes rolled. She patted her hand on his knee. “DADDY, Please! I wanna play ponies!”
“Okay,” he said, picking her up as he stood. She snuggled close, her slightly snotty nose rubbing against his coveralls as her hand reached behind him to grab at his coverall covered braid. “How about one level of Ponies and then one math and one English and then you can play Ponies until dinner.”
“Okay,” she said, head heavy on his shoulder, her thumb in her mouth. Voice muffled around her thumb, “I want macaronis and cheeeses.”
“Can do,” he said, as he set her down on the couch. She fell over sideways, thumb still in her mouth. He pulled the fluffy blue afghan up over her, ruffled her hair, then picked up her tablet, keyed in the security code that would let her play a level of her game and handed her the tablet.
She moaned, eyeing, clearly struggling with if she should take her thumb out of her mouth to reach out and get it or maybe he’d just hold it for her.
“I have to go start dinner, Julia.”
She sighed, rolled over on her belly and he tucked the tablet where she could reach it.
His house was pretty big, with ten bedrooms, but he lived with the twelve foster kids and his three adopted kids, and more barn cats then he wanted to count. He also had an assistant who went to college during the day, but helped out for room and board. She wasn’t much good at somethings but she was damn fine at making great amounts of food that he could just slide into the warmer.
The kitchen was a huge affair with a nice polished table along the lines of a picnic table. There was a three method sink and a walk-in cooler in place of a fridge. There was also a really good first aide kit on the wall by the door that lead to the upstairs part of the house. He keyed in his personal code and it gave him access to a broader variety of medical tools. While it was opening, the AI in the kit scanned him and generated a empathy expressing face that looked a lot like Sally Wu. “Maxwell. Your white blood cell count is high. You need another treatment. You are also bleeding from a small wound on your scalp. You have to do your best to not take damage until your treatments are complete. Do I have permission to raise my nag level?”
“Yeah, fuck no. I’m fully away of my condition. Give me a knitter for the scalp wound and take your nag level down two notches.”
A small tube of medication appeared in the materization port. His fingers shook as he picked up and opened the tip with his thumbnail. As he dribbled it on the cut on his scalp, the AI had shifted representations and now looked like Heero Yuy. Heero smiled a sweet and adoring smile that no Heero Yuy ever had smiled. “Good job, Duo. I’m so glad to see you taking such good care of yourself.”
“Thanks, Heero. How ya comin on that new body o’yours?”
“I’m sorry Duo. I can’t print myself a new body. I’m not the real Heero Yuy. Do you need me to make you a therapy appointment. It has been two years and four months since your last appointment with Dr. Graves.”
“Nope. Up your nag rate by two notches. Thanks.”
Sally glared at him. “You are definitely in need of more medical care than I can give you as a first aid box, Maxwell. You need to restore my connection to the greater net so I can provide you with greater care!”
Duo wrinkled his nose, tossed the empty tube into the recycle shoot. “Like the time you called the EMTs on me because I was drunk? No. Thank. You.”
“You were making credible threats of self harm.”
“Yeah, well, I was drunk off my ass, Sally.” Duo winked, keyed in the code that would shut the box down. It folded in on itself until it looked like a nondescript little beige box on the wall.
Next he went about getting the long pans of dinner out of the walk-in and into the ovens. It turned out dinner was mac and cheese and baked chicken. Not his favorite, but he wasn’t sure had the energy or the will to make himself anything else.
After the pans were into the oven, he went into the restroom by the kitchen, stripped out of his coveralls and stared at himself for a moment. If he stared long enough, he wondered if he’d succeed in making Heero’s ghost appear behind him this time. Slightly too slender fingers touched the mirror and he whispered, “Bloody Heero, Bloody Heero, I dare you to fuckin’ show.”
It didn’t really rhyme and it wasn’t the way it had been in the movie and it was completely stupid, but it still made him feel a tiny spike of happiness. If anyone was going to be a vengeful ghost, it wouldn’t be fuckin’ Heero Yuy.
He hung his coveralls up and made back into the kitchen in time for the buzzer on the oven letting him know that the oven was heated enough to put the food in, though he’d already put the food in so he wasn’t real concerned.
“DAAADDDD! I need tissues!” Julia hollered.
He rubbed his temple, head bowed for a moment. He hadn’t been a religious man in a goodly while, but there were times he missed the comfort of it. Somehow, when Heero stopped being alive, it just wasn’t possible to believe in anything else.
Out of the corner of his eye though, out the window by the sinks, out into the grassy yard, right in front of the big wooden swing set, he saw a scraggly figure with tangled purple hair and a coat like it was January on a nice April day. Duo jaw went steely. The whisper of Shinigami, who had long lain quiet and waiting in Duo’s non-existent soul, curled up hungry and attentive, “Dangerous... Kill her.”
Duo wanted a shot of whiskey about as badly as he’d ever wanted such a thing. Instead, he splashed some water on his face, scrubbed with the kitchen towel, and shouted. “I’m going in the yard. Julia - go to your room. Shut the door. Do not come out for any reason. Now.”
“Yes, Daddy,” she said, stomping as she went up the stairs, just so he’d know she was unhappy about it.
After he heard her door closed, without taking his eyes off the vagabond looking girl in the yard, he pulled a jar of peanut butter out of the cabinet. She was out of his sight for the time it took him to make it to the back door and he was relieved to see her standing in the same place.
There is something in the heart of a parent, even if not biological, just adopted or long term foster, that when it cracks, there’s nothing that feels like it will ever fully plaster over. She was at most eighteen or nineteen. With kids like he’d been, born in the aftermath of the wars, that it just wasn’t always possible to now the real age. Her hair was matted, spotted with purple and green dye that was likely the leftovers of a party more than intent, but it reminded him of bruising. Her shoes didn’t match, but at least they looked like they fit well enough. He was glad he couldn’t see her arms.
After Heero had gone, he’d gone through a couple months of drug use, but he didn’t really understand the appeal and he didn’t approve and standing a couple feet from the first foster kid he’d ever taken in, he wasn’t sure if he should hate himself for not doing a better job or hate drugs or hate ... god, except there wasn’t any god and his nose wrinkled for a moment and he thought about hating Heero.
Maybe if Heero hadn’t died and they’d gotten together, together they could have done a better job. Heero had always been better at fucking everything so that made sense. It was all Heero’s fault after all.
His chest literally hurt as he stood there next to her and finally he broke shoved the jar of peanut butter in her direction. “You need to eat more.”
She liked dry, parchment pale lips. “I want to get clean.”
“Go to the Center. I’m an engineer, not a doctor and I sure as fuck don’t do rehab, Tyla.”
“I’m in trouble.”
“Of course you are,” he said shoving the peanut butter at her as if that would everything. Thicken the blood right up. Yes, yes it would.
“They want you to race. If you don’t race, they’ll kill me.” There wasn’t much emotion in her face. It was like age was a snake and it was swallowing her whole, creativity, spark, dreams, cognition, all fading away well before they should.
He dropped the jar of peanut butter on the grass. “Go to the Center. They can’t get you in the Center and once you’re clean, you can transfer to a different colony, start a new life. You don’t have to let them bully you.”
There it was, some spark of emotion, but was dark, angry. Whatever human process had become Shinigami in him, had become something else in her. “I’ll go to the Center if you race.”
“Do you promise,” he said, remembering when she had been so small, so sweet, remembered reading her bedtime stories.
“Sure. Yeah. You promise to race? And not get hurt?” The memories of bedtime stories showed in her pale lined face. “I don’t want you to get hurt. Are sick?”
“Yeah, I promise,” he said, comforting himself that she’d asked so many questions that it was legitimately confusing what he was promising.
“Yeah, I promise,” he said, comforting himself that she’d asked so many questions that it was legitimately confusing what he was promising.
From the back steps, Charlotte, his current assistant called, “Duo? Everything okay? Dinner’s in the oven, right?”
He looked over his shoulder, but only for a very brief moment, “Yeah, Charlie, everything’s great. Dinner’s in the oven. I’m gonna go down to the Center. Might be late. Tell the kids I’ll tuck’em in when I get home.”
“Okay,” she said, unsure of the situation.
“Everyone stays inside tonight,” Duo said firmly, wishing he’d grabbed a coat before he went outside. “No exceptions. Lock all the doors. Use the first aid kit to turn on the extra security.”
“Yes, Sir,” she said, and then turned tail and ran back into the house.
“Overkill much? Yer crazy,” Tyla accused.
Shinigami boiled under skin. It made his gums itch. He leaned closer to her, smelling the novo on her skin, lingering in her breath, her hair, on her clothes. His smile was more of a grimace, teeth bared, “At least I’m alive and have a house to secure.”
She returned his sneer, her expression very similar to his, just like she was actually his kid, “Yeah? Well, at least I don’t drink my ass to sleep each night cryin over some heartless fucker I couldn’t even tell I wanted to fuck when he was alive.”
Shinigami coiled and writhed in him, begging for blood. Duo took a step back, rubbed his eye socket, his jaw, wished he didn’t feel hollow. If it wasn’t for his kids, there wouldn’t be any point,and looking at Tyla, he wasn’t real sure there was a point, even with them. “Go around front. I’ll get a car.”
“You race tonight.”
Part of him wanted to, to race, to run, to feel machine roar under him, to drop into space, and dance around the outside of the colony like some manic metal firefly. He hadn’t stopped racing because he lost or because he didn’t like it. Just like novo, he liked it fuck tons. He stopped because he couldn’t take good care of his kids and race, or jack up on novo. It was one or the other.
“Sure,” he said and in that moment, he wasn’t real sure he wasn’t going to go through with it. Maybe just one more go, one more race, small jack up. Jacking up would knock back the pain, make him stronger. If he was going to race, he’d have to jack up a little. “Meet me in front, Tyla.”
A few minutes later, he pulled up out of the underground garage in a black late model Mustang. It was completely electric. The colonies did not allow fossil fuels and Duo was totally behind that. He really hated getting called in for air filter cleaning. His car roared though, which was totally a noise violation, but there weren’t that many people in his area of the colony. Those that were tended to be pretty close knit. It was Shinigami under his skin though that revved the engine again, roaring loud enough that it shook the windows of his house and he probably was going to get a nasty email about sound pollution from the colony authorities.
Tyla jumped into the passenger seat.
Duo flicked on the aircycler, desperate to get the stench of novo out of his mind.
“Yer a fuckin’ jacker,” Tyla accused.
“I ain’t the one gonna be sleepin in the Center. Put yer seatbelt on,” Duo snapped, refusing to move the car until she did.
She finally sat up, pulled the safety harness on. Her nose wrinkled and he could just hear her telling him he wasn’t real father.
He wanted to snap that he was as good as she was going to get and it sucked to be her, but didn’t. It was really hard not to see her when she was eight, lost and half feral from living on the streets and maybe to see himself in her. “I’d let you come home, but I’ve got other kids now too, you know. Some of them have never... well, been on the streets or anything.”
“Innocent little angels,” she snapped. “Fuck’em.”
“Well, I like to keep the house a safe place. It needs to stay safe. I didn’t make your choices for you, Tyla. I’ve helped you all I can.”
“Yeah,” she said, not convinced. “Yer helpin me tonight though.”
“Yeah,” he said, eyes on the road.
It took the nearly an hour to get to the Center. By the time they got there, Duo thought the hard part of his night was about over. He was wrong.
(I’ll write more tomorrow.)