By late afternoon on the third day in the beach house, things finally took a turn for the better
for the Gundam pilots.
Sitting at his laptop, Heero suddenly muttered, "Well, it's about damned time!" Then turned
and called over his shoulder, "Yo, Duo, got a minute?"
"Sure thing, Heero," the braided boy answered, walking over from the spot on the floor where
he'd sat cleaning his revolver, not that it needed it, he was simply bored and worried since
Trowa and Wufei hadn't rejoined the group yet. Peering over his lover's tank top-clad shoulder,
he looked at the screen and frowned since the message was in the weird code that Doctor J
insisted on using for the most sensitive messages. "Well, what does old claw-hand have to
say? You know I can't read this crap, Heero."
Snickering softly, the Japanese teen nodded, then said, "I know you can't, baka, that's
partially why J uses it. He thinks that I tell you too much as it is!"
Heero glanced up at Duo, but the American stuck out his tongue at this and then squeezed his
powerful fingers together where they rested on Heero's shoulders to remind his unusually
playful lover that this wasn't the time for teasing and to get on with it.
"Ite," Heero grumbled, then finally shared his good news with the only one who would
understand it, "Xanadu has finally been given a green light for habitation in over 75% of the
areas with gravity and atmosphere."
"Hot damn!" Duo rejoiced, "How soon do we report there, koi?"
A frown crossed Heero's face as he looked through the message again to be sure of the
answer. When he found it, though, he immediately opened a response form and angrily typed a
response in the code his mentor wanted, barely taking time to proofread it before sending it
back with a touch of a button.
"Well?!" Duo exclaimed, still excited and pleased, but annoyed to have missed what was
obviously an important piece of information.
"Gomen," Heero apologized. "The message said that you and I alone were to report to the new
base as soon as we were done here. But the other three pilots were to split up and each go
back to their respective home-bases and wait for 100% completion of Xanadu."
"The hell he says!" Violet eyes were flashing with anger and Duo would've said more, but Heero
looked at him and smiled the dark smile that he usually reserved for battle.
"I agree," Heero growled softly, "And that's almost verbatim what I told J. After all this shit,
there's no way in the world that I'm letting anyone break Wufei and Trowa apart before they
decide they're ready for it and I won't let Quatre be sent off alone, either! He needs to stick
with the team until everything's resolved. The kid still feels guilty for what happened a couple
"Yeah, that's true," the Deathscythe pilot muttered and then looked at Heero more closely
before grinning, "But that ain't what you told him, now is it, Yuy? I know that evil look you
threw me a second ago means something more, doesn't it?"
Heero snickered as he nodded, "See why J insists on encoding everything, Duo? You know me
too well." He was pleased with the grinning peck on the cheek he got and went on to say, "I
told J that all five of us report at the same time or none of us report at all. Frankly, they made
me team-leader for a reason and I'm invoking that authority on this one since I offered zero
explanation for my decision." He shrugged as if that explained everything and then watched
Duo's reaction carefully.
Duo nodded thoughtfully, the cheery grin wiped from his face as he asked solemnly, "We're
gonna keep Wu's rape a secret from them, aren't we, Heero? That's what you've decided after
"Yes, for now," Heero admitted unhappily yet without apology. "If Wufei wants to tell them, let
it be in his own way at a time and place of his choosing. I think we dealt his dignity a fairly
significant blow by discovering on our own and then confronting him with it, but we did what
had to be done."
Nodding agreement, Duo simply waited allowing his silence to encourage Heero to complete his
"As for the scientists knowing, well, if it turns out that Master O knew all along and did nothing
to help him cope with it, then the man just might not wake up one morning, I don't know." The
vindictive tone in Heero's voice was carefully modulated as Quatre suddenly walked in the
front door, arms full of groceries.
Taking immediate note that something important seemed to be going on, the blond pilot
apologized, "Uh, sorry for intruding, guys, I had no idea something was going on in here."
Duo straightened and smiled as he walked over to grab a bag that was slipping free of his
friend's collection. "No problem, Q-Ball! We're all done anyway, ain't we, Heero?"
Heero blinked in slight confusion, he felt certain that Duo would have his own things to say
about whether or not any of the five men responsible for their lives had knowledge of the
sexual assault on the ShenLong pilot. Realizing that his lover would tell him what he felt like
saying when he was ready to do so and not a moment sooner, he nodded, "If you say so, Duo.
I'll let you know when I get an answer to my inquiry."
"All righty then!" The American teen responded with false lightness in his voice, along with a
bad Jim Carrey impression. Duo was actually analyzing any number of options and plans for
Xanadu and had already moved past the conversation to other things including cooking. "So,
Q-my-man, did you find everything I put on the list?"
"Sure did," the blond answered happily. "They even had the specific brand of Mediterranean
tomato sauce you asked for at the market. I was really surprised by that."
"Me too," Duo commented, then took another look at the number of bags Quatre was carrying
and frowned, "This can't possibly be all of it, Q, how many more bags are out in the car?"
Quatre flushed a little in embarrassment, there was just something so relaxing about going
shopping he'd gotten a little carried away. "Um, well, about twelve or fifteen more, I think,
Duo. But don't worry, I'll go bring them in!"
"Nani?!" Heero exclaimed from his spot in front of the coffee table, "I thought you were only
getting enough for dinner and breakfast, Quatre. Are you planning another giant brunch
tomorrow or something?" The Wing pilot was referring to the breakfast that Quatre had
prepared for everyone a number of mornings prior when he'd been awake all night despite the
Disney "Fantasia Trilogy" video collection.
"Not really, Heero," Quatre admitted. "The store was so very well stocked and I found some
things that I thought Wufei might enjoy, he hasn't been eating enough lately in my opinion, so
I just got everything that looked good."
Heero stood up and strode towards the front door, saying, "I've got to agree with you on that,
Quatre. Neither Wufei nor Trowa have eaten much lately and while it's understandable, it's got
to change. That's why Duo's cooking his special spaghetti tonight, Trowa can't resist it. As for
Wufei, well, here's hoping you were successful, I have no idea what lures him in."
Quatre looked nervous and jumped slightly as Duo put a friendly hand on his shoulder before
the braided boy said, "I think it sounds like you went to some effort on all this, Q, and I hope
you were successful. But if not, we can always get some chocolate cake for Wu. I've yet to
see him turn *that* down!"
"Um, I know," the blond responded almost shyly as he reached into a slightly larger bag and
pulled out a triple-layer devil's food cake with the most luscious looking dark chocolate icing
that Duo could recall ever seeing. "Think this will work?"
"Damn straight it will!" Duo grinned then licked his lips, "That looks incredible, Q! And they just
had this sitting in the deli/bakery of the store?" The last part was asked with more than a little
"Uh, no," Quatre admitted, "I called ahead and ordered it off the 'special occasions' list the
patisserie gave me yesterday. I thought Wufei might enjoy a treat."
Duo glanced back from the refrigerator where he was now putting the numerous fresh
ingredients for his culinary effort for the evening and said in amazement, "Shit, they've got a
French pastry chef at that place instead of just a regular baker? Damn, this must be an
expensive place to vacation, huh, Q?"
The Winner heir snorted softly and then nodded, "I dare say so, Duo! This three-story house is
actually one of the smaller rental homes around here. I'm willing to bet that this is the kind of
place my sisters would love to bring their kids someday." He shrugged nonchalantly and added,
"Who knows, maybe I'll come back some day and buy a house around here for them or for the
five of us when we feel like some quiet time at the beach."
"Planning on living past the war after all, Quatre?" Duo asked quietly. None of them usually
spoke so lightly of the future, and he found it both disturbing and reassuring at the same time.
"Why not?" Quatre said with a sigh, "After all the bad things we're going through right now, I'm
getting a really strong feeling that we need to start thinking more positively if we're going to
survive all of this. I think it would do us all some good to try to be more upbeat."
"I'd tend to agree," Heero commented with a nod and carefully put eight more bags on the
counter before turning to get the final ones. "If nothing else, it gives us something to think
about that has nothing whatsoever to do with secrets or pain, and I'm all for that! Oh, by the
way, Quatre, your Neapolitan ice cream is over by the sink. But since when do you eat
The blond pouted briefly then laughed, "Since they didn't have the cheap brand I usually like
better, Heero. Thanks for bringing everything in, I appreciate it!"
"Don't worry about it," the Japanese teen remarked easily before heading back out. "Just put
the Rocky Road that's for me in the freezer, too, it's getting soft."
Duo chuckled at this and took care of putting much of the remaining items away then asked,
"Quatre? Did you need anything else from all this stuff or mind if I take over the kitchen for a
"Let me get some ice for a glass of root beer and then I'll be out of your way for awhile, Duo,"
Quatre offered with a smile. "The shrimp boats were out and I thought I'd go sit on the deck
and watch them."
"Sounds like a plan," the chef of the moment responded, pulling an apron on over his
loose-fitting blue jeans and Old Navy t-shirt.
Of all the accessories in the well-appointed kitchen that the braided boy enjoyed, he'd decided
he liked best the coverall that was provided for anyone willing to face the challenge inherent in
preparing a gourmet meal.
The apron had an image of the venerable Chairman Kaga of "Iron Chef" fame about to take a
bite from a yellow bell pepper with a smirk. Emblazoned across the top were the words,
"Welcome to Kitchen Stadium" while at the bottom, someone had added in hand-printed
letters, "Those of us that are about to eat, salute you!"
Chuckling at the references to two of his current favorite popular culture items, the
competitive Japanese cooking show that he preferred to watch in the non-dubbed version and
the movie "Gladiator", Duo pulled out almost every pot and pan he could find. Feeling glad that
not only was the dream that Xanadu represented a lot closer now but that he knew for certain
that a few hours of culinary effort would be rewarded by seeing one Trowa Barton actually
eating well for a change, no small achievement in and of itself.
A cloud seemed to dampen Duo's enthusiasm briefly as he realized that this was based on the
assumption that Wufei would be doing well enough that Trowa would even consider taking time
to eat. Duo refused to let that slow him down, though, as Heero brought the last items in,
storing them quickly and efficiently.
Washing his hands off, Heero glanced at Duo and asked, "Want my help with the usual?"
"That'd be great, thanks," Duo smiled at him, watching approvingly as Heero set about the
task of cleaning and dicing a small mountain of fresh garlic.
A quiet happiness filled the house along with the smell of Italian sausage browning in a skillet.
A meal worth remembering well on its way to completion courtesy of two deadly young
assassins who found pleasure and hope in such a simple offering of love for their friends.
Full Author's Notes to Run at Conclusion.
End Notes for Parts 30-32:
Ah, a happy ending for this portion, ne? A special dinner underway for the
entire team (especially Trowa and Wufei!), news about Xanadu, an update on
the Lightning Count, and plans for vengeance in the making. What could be
[pauses as a voice calls out softly and the llama answers]
What? A happy ending for the whole fic might be better? Huh? Someone wants
one of those? Oh, well, I'd better check my rough draft since there's only
three more nights to post this if it isn't already written, it's too late
now. But give it a chance, you never know with my muses, Melpomene can be
fairly decent at the strangest moments.
Now, as promised to Wufei last night, allow me to get out the Disco Ball of
Champions and light up the "Hall of Fame" as we herald those kind souls who
took the time to let me know what they thought of last night's somewhat
[lights sparkle and dance as the disco ball spins]
Dedication thanks go to my good friends: Danielle, Rubious, Azzie, SkyLark,
Beechan, Nazarri, bearilou, Trixie, and saving the best for last is my
kitten-koi, the darling Ryoko who is working on more "Miracle" for all of us
to smile and go "awww!" about! The list seems short, but I'm afraid that my
kids wanted to chat with me by IM and it distracted me enough that if there
were more I might have missed them but will try to include them tomorrow.
Thanks also go out to all the people who have yet to get notes from me about
the posting runs that were sent before I went out of town. It's amazing how
hard it is to go through old mail when it takes so long to edit and post a
new fic. But you're tired of hearing me complain, so I'll just keep the Disco
Ball shiny and hope there's time for more belated C&C thank you's tomorrow.