Disclaimers: Yada yada, not mine, yada yada, don't sue, yada yada....
Pairing: implied past 1x3x1, eventual 1x2, 3x4
Rating: this part - PG-13, NC-17 overall
Warnings: AU, OOC, abuse (but not sexual), high school angst (egads!), crossdressing (*snicker*), eventual lemons...
Notes: This fic is an experiment of sorts. Before, with any fic I've ever written, I had an outline written down for the whole thing. I had the whole plot laid out in front of me before I even began to write. This time, I'm not doing that. I don't know where I'm going to go with the story until I sit down and write it. The result has been... less than stellar. I don't particularly like a lot of it, but it's been kind of fun to see where I go next. And Tanith seems to like it, so I think I'll dedicate it to her, since she's been kind (and brave!) enough to read it beforehand. Thanks Tanny! I owe you one! ^_^;;
1. Dramatis Personae
"Duo! Get your good for nothing ass down here now!"
The braided teenager set the heavy box down on the floor, then stood up carefully, wincing as his bruised ribs caught as he straightened. He looked around the room disparagingly, sighing as he took in the sight of the small, dingy, and utterly messy room. His new room. There was one small window near the bed, but it faced the house next door. Not much sunlight would be able to get in through there. In his old room at his old house, he'd had three large windows facing east to catch the morning sun. Now he was condemned to shadows and darkness.
"Duo!" The angry voice of his step-father drifted up the stairs. Duo turned and left his new room, closing the door behind him. He'd better go see what 'daddy dearest' wanted before he had another bruise on his left side to match the one on his right.
He took the stairs carefully, not wanting to add to his collection of bruises and scrapes by taking a tumble down the still unfamiliar flight of stairs. He nearly turned left to go towards the kitchen, but stopped when he realized the kitchen was now off to the right. He shook his head. This house would never feel like home to him.
He entered the kitchen and looked around. Robert Winner was standing near the table, rummaging through a box.
"Where the hell did you pack the silverware, boy?" his step-father said, not looking up as Duo entered the room. "I thought I told you to label all the boxes."
Duo fought the urge to roll his eyes. "I did," he replied, moving to the corner of the room and picking up a box marked 'silverware'. "It should be all in there."
"Hmph," Robert Winner muttered as he began digging through the box. "Have you got your stuff out of the living room yet?"
"Yeah." He hesitated a moment. "Um, Robert? Um, I was wondering something…"
The older man turned a steely gaze onto his step-son. "Well? What is it? Spit it out, boy!"
"I was wondering if I could switch rooms? That one is… really small and I don't know if I'll be able to fit all my stuff in there. The room under the stairs is bigger and has more light and…"
The fist came out of nowhere. Duo grunted and stumbled backwards, catching himself on the kitchen island before he could fall to the ground.
"I already said no, boy! That room is going to be my new office. You'll make do with the room I gave you and be glad I don't just throw you out into the street, you lazy, good-for-nothing…"
Duo was never so happy to hear his half-brother's voice. His step-father rarely yelled at him in front of Quatre, and never, ever laid a hand on him if he thought his precious son might be watching. Quatre was his father's golden child, a son of his own who could do no wrong. And Duo was a hindrance, a nuisance, and the spitting image of his mother - something for which his step-father never forgave him. Duo could easily have resented Quatre for being the favorite, but he loved his blonde brother too much to ever hate him for something which neither of them had any control over. And Duo never wanted Quatre to know what Robert did to him. Quatre loved his father and looked up to Duo. There was no way Duo was ever going to take the sparkle from his little brother's eyes by telling him what a bastard his father was.
"Did you find the market, son?" Robert asked, his voice changing into his 'fatherly' voice.
"Yeah, but they didn't have any chocolate milk," Quatre replied as he entered the kitchen and set the bag of groceries down on the island. "We'll have to find somewhere else to get… Duo! What happened to your face!"
Duo winced and glanced at his step-father. Robert narrowed his eyes as if daring Duo to tell his brother what really happened.
"Ah, it's nothing, Quat. I'm just not used to the house yet. I walked into a door earlier. I'm sure it looks worse than it feels."
"Still, let me get some ice on that. You don't want to start our new school tomorrow with a black eye, do you?" Quatre asked, opening the refrigerator and taking out some ice. He placed it in a dish towel and held the make-shift ice pack to his older brother. "Here. Go sit down and hold this on your eye for a while and hopefully the swelling will go down."
"Thanks. I'll do that," he said, then quickly left the room before Robert could say anything. He hurried upstairs to his new room, wanting to unpack some of his things before his step-father could find something else for him to do. He didn't dare sit down like Quatre had suggested. Robert Winner already thought his step-son was a lazy hippy. He was constantly threatening to cut Duo's long hair.
'I'll kill him before he ever touches my hair,' the teen though venomously. 'My mother used to braid my hair for me. I keep it long for *her*. He will *not* touch it or I'll… I'll…'
He didn't know what he would do, but his hair was the most important thing in the world to him, next to his brother. It was nearly all he had left after his mother died. Robert had gotten rid of everything reminding him of Helen Maxwell-Winner after her death four years earlier. All Duo had left was a silver cross and a photograph of his mother. He'd never known his real father. He'd run off before he was born, or so Helen had always said. And Duo had no desire to look for a man who had abandoned his wife and child. He was better off without him, even if what he got in return was Robert Winner.
He entered his room and closed the door behind him. Sighing at the impossible task before him, he quickly started sorting the boxes containing his things. He'd deal with most of it later. At the moment he wanted to get his school clothes out and hanging in the tiny closet so they wouldn't be too rumpled for the next day. While he didn't relish the thought of entering a new school, he would enjoy being away from his step-father for nearly the entire day. He'd have to remember to check out the after school clubs as well. Anything that kept him out of the house for lengthy amounts of time would be preferable.
As he hung up his collection of T-shirts and jeans, he again thought of the idea of just dropping out of school altogether, getting his GED, and leaving his sorry excuse for a life behind. But he didn't want to leave Quatre. As much as Robert Winner loved his son, Duo didn't trust him to start beating on him if Duo were no longer around. No, better to finish his senior year and stick around long enough to see Quatre, a sophomore, graduate. Once his little brother was safely away at college, he could leave. He'd leave and never look back. How he looked forward to that day.
Wallowing in his daydream, Duo set out to attempt to make the tiny room as hospitable as possible. He was going to be there for the next couple of years. He might as well try to make it livable, even if he knew it would never be home.
Trowa watched the scene in front of him in amusement. His best friend was having a glaring contest… with a piece of paper. Wondering what the innocent paper had done to his friend, he stepped into the room and closed the door.
"Whatever that paper did to you, I'm sure it didn't mean it," Trowa said, sitting down next to his friend on the bed.
"Hn." The blue-eyed boy tossed the paper to him. "I have to go talk to the guidance counselor tomorrow. I apparently don't have enough humanities credits to graduate in the spring."
Trowa almost smiled. Heero said the word 'humanities' like it was a dirty word. He picked up the paper and looked at it. "So what will you have to do?"
"Take some after school course, I suppose. Dammit. There goes my computer club time."
"You know more about computers than that old biddy who runs the club, Heero," Trowa said, handing the slip back to his friend. "You won't miss much."
"True. But whatever they put me in… ugh. I don't even want to think about it." He looked up at Trowa. "So what do you want to do tonight?"
"Something blonde and short and hung like a - what?" Heero just glared at him. "Can't a guy dream?" He flopped down on his back and looked up at Heero. "Do you know how hard it is to be a horny, gay teenager in a school full of straights?"
Heero gave him a wry look. "Yes, I think I know something about that."
Trowa grinned and sat back up, scooting in real close to his friend. He traced a finger down one jeans-clad leg and breathed into Heero's ear. "We could… always stay in tonight."
Heero rolled his eyes and shoved Trowa away playfully. "What happened to not ruining the friendship?"
Trowa shrugged. "Seemed like a good idea at the time. But shit… if I don't get laid soon, I'm going to burst."
Heero made a face. "Well please don't do it all over my bed. I don't have any more excuses to make why I had to wash it all the time."
Trowa pouted. "Come on Heero. For old times sake?"
"No, Trowa. You know we'd both regret in later."
The green-eyed boy sighed. "Yeah, you're probably right." He stood up. "Come on then. Let's go out. We can at least ogle the guys at the ice rink instead of being stuck at home all night. Who knows, maybe the figure skaters will be practicing tonight. There's bound to be at least one gay one in the bunch."
Heero shook his head but stood up and followed his friend out of his room. He'd worry about his missing humanities credit tomorrow. For now, he might as well enjoy his free time. He might not have a whole lot of it left after whatever they were going to assign to him to make up the missing credit. So much for enjoying his senior year…
next part: Heero learns what he has to do and Duo makes a friend.