4-27-2001

Uh. I just found out that one of my friends and his wife split up. They have a five year old boy. I was listening to Everclear's "Wonderful" and decided to write this fic for my friend's son.


Wonderful (Songfic)
Disclaimers: Don't own the boys. Everclera wrote the song and I'm just borrowing it for my purposes.
Warnings: Violence, language, OCC. Au.
Pairings 1+2, 3+4 and original characters.
Takes place about thriteen years after the series and EW. it's a sequel of sorts to "The future Shhinigami and perfect soldier" Okay. On with the fic.
<> LIam's thought's
=Duo's thought's
// song lyrics
++ Scene change

 

"Dammit! Heero! Why the fuck do you have to be this way?" Duo shouted at his husband, who sat stoically ignoring him as he read his newspaper. Which made Duo angrier than he already was that morning. With a snarl, he reached over and ripped the paper out of Heero's hands.

"Why did you do that, Duo?" Heero asked, his voice quiet and annoyed as he spoke.

"Because I'm sick of you being such a prick, Heero Yuy!" Duo hissed as he threw the paper on the floor and went up to the cobalt eyed man.

"Because you don't wanna talk to me unless you need to get your rocks off. Hell, You aren't even paying attention to Liam, Solo and Jude anymore!" Duo shouted as he waved his arms around for emphasis. "What the fuck is wrong with you?! Are you forgetting that we are a family?"

Heero closed his eyes as he tried to keep his patience. Nowadays, he found himself doing that a lot. It wasn't that he didn't love Duo. Or his sons. It was just that his job at the preventor's was really getting to him. Every time he came home, he was exhausted and simply didn't want to think or do anything. But Duo didn't seem to understand that. But that wasn't the half of it. Another reason why he kept his distance from Duo was because he had, due to the pressures of his job, succumbed to Dorothy's pleas and was carrying an affair with her. Although he felt cheap and dirty for doing it, he didn't want to stop. Or tell Duo.

Heero got up and looked at the tall man standing in front of him. He shook his head. "How can I forget with you reminding me of it every time I get home?" Duo's eyes blazed.

SMACK! Heero's cheek sported a deep red imprint of Duo's hand. He looked at Duo.

"You bastard!" Duo shouted at him as his hand clenched into a fist.

"Don't do it. Or you'll regret it." Heero warned in a low, chilling voice. Duo's eyes showed a flicker of fear for about ten seconds. Then his fist shot out. Heero ducked it easily. And returned a blow that had twice the strength of the one Duo had thrown.

-

"Why the fuck do they do it?" Liam hissed as he stood against the door of his brother Jude's bedroom. Even though it was on the second floor and away from the stairs, they could clearly hear their mom's shouts and screams of pain when their dad began to hit him.

"Are they at it again?" Heero jr., who was mostly known as Solo, asked Liam. Silence and the sound of a body hitting the floor was his answer. He sighed and held a bewildered and scared Jude closer to him.

"Fuck. I hate this! Why do they do it? Why?" Liam asked, his mismatched eyes tearing up. "Sometimes I wish they'd just kill each other and get it over and done with." He told his brothers, who didn't answer him right away.

//I close my eyes when I get too sad
I think thoughts that I know are bad//

"Do you think they will?" Solo asked as he stroked Jude's red hair. Liam shrugged at Solo.

"Who knows?" Jude whimpered as he buried his face into Solo's chest.

"I'm scared. I hate it when they fight. I don't want them to fight" He mumbled into Solo.

Liam and Solo exchanged looks. Time enough to deal with their emotions later. They were thirteen and much more used to it than ten year old Jude was.

"Let's play a game." Liam said suddenly. Jude looked up at his brother. "Let's close our eyes and pretend we're somewhere else, like Uncle Trowa and Uncle Cat's house." Jude ‘s face lit up.

"Yeah. And Galicia, Montserrat and Esteban are there too?" Jude asked excitedly as he followed the request eagerly, closing his cobalt eyes quickly.

Liam looked at Solo, who smiled weakly and nodded as he tried to ignore the sounds downstairs.

"Sure. And we're playing in Uncle Cat's rose garden..."

//Close my eyes and I count to ten
I hope it's over when I open them//

-"L-L-Liam?" Liam opened the door he was leaning against and gingerly peered outside.

<Shit. I hope he didn't beat mom up too badly this time.> Was his thought as he looked at his mom. Liam winced when he saw his mom's face. <Shit. I can't let Solo and Jude see him like this> He thought when he saw the bruises and blood on Duo's pale face.

"I'll be right there, mom. Hang on." He said in a quiet and pained voice before he turned back to his siblings, who were still playing the game of make-believe.

"Mom's outside." He announced in a flat voice that spoke volumes to Solo and Jude.

"I wanna see mom. " Jude piped up as he moved to get up from his brother's lap.

"Sorry, Little Dude." Liam said, using Jude's nickname to soften the blow. "But mom's gotta sleep now. I gotta help him lie down and do some stuff and maybe later you can, okay?"

<Yeah, later when the worst of it is hidden under a bandage.> Jude's eyes darkened.

"Mom got beat up pretty bad, didn't he?" He asked in a low voice. Solo and Liam exchanged looks as they tried to figure out how to handle the situation.

"I hate him for that. I wish they were happy, like Uncle Cat and Trowa." Jude sighed.

"Like they used to be. We were all happy." He shook his head and slumped back against Solo.

"Jude..." Liam bit his lip. <We've always wished for that, Jude. You can't believe how many times mom, Solo, and I have said the exact same thing. I hate him too, sometimes. I also hate mom for ...egging him on? Not leaving and going to Trowa and Quatre? I don't know.>

Jude's eyes filled with tears as he kept on staring at his brother.

"Don't you?" He then turned to look at Solo. "Don't you, Solo? I do." Solo swallowed.

Liam thought it was time to step in. Solo wasn't qualified for the role. Not like Liam was.

Liam had been the one to protect them all when this all began. Solo also did his share. But his gentle nature couldn't really handle the violence between their parents. Which was why Liam stepped into the role easily and without competition. Like he did now.

"I'll be back soon and maybe then you'll see mom, okay?" Jude nodded tiredly. <Good>

//I want the things that I had before
Like a Star Wars poster on my bedroom door
I wish I could count to ten
Make everything be wonderful again//

Liam stepped outside and forced the tears down when he faced his mother. <Aw, mom.>

"Is he gone?" Liam asked quietly as he came closer to Duo, who was leaning exhaustedly against the railing. Duo nodded as he raised his hand to cover the bloody, swollen pulpy mess that his left eye had become. Liam noticed this and grabbed his mom's arm. Duo looked at him.

But Liam didn't reply as he carefully studied the injury. The worst one among many.

Duo's face was a mass of bruises and swollen flesh. His left eye was leaking blood and was nearly shut from the swelling. <Shit. Probably got the tear-ducts torn again> Liam thought as he coolly took stock of all the other injuries. Split lips and hand-shaped bruises on Duo's neck were the other visible injuries. But Liam knew from past experience that there were more hidden under the mussed up and ripped clothes that his mom wore.

"Why did you guys fight this time?" Liam asked as he let Duo hang onto him for support as they slowly made their way to the master bedroom that was slowly and surely becoming Duo's bedroom; since Heero's absences were becoming a norm at the Maxwell-Yuy household.

And when he was at home, he slept on the couch in the den except when he had been with Duo.

Duo shook his head and smiled as bitterly as he could with his injured mouth.

"I know that he's been cheating on me with Dorothy Catalonia. And I just wanted the truth from his lips." Liam's mouth tightened when he heard this.

"Funny how he's always calling you a slut and accusing you of doing things with Uncle Trowa and Aunt Hilde and he's the one fucking around like a bitch in heat." He spat out as he helped his mom lie down on his bed. Duo looked away from his son when he heard those words.

=Why the fuck am I not protecting them better from the shit Heero puts out? What the hell's wrong with me? Have I become soft because I'm afraid to be alone?=

"How do you know he says that?" Duo asked as he heard Liam rummaging around the bathroom for the first-aid supplies that they had taken to storing there.

"We can hear everything you guys say when you fight. Well, I do. I try to send Jude and Solo out of the house as much as possible when I feel a fight brewing." Liam answered as he came back with the first aid kit and sat down on the bed next to Duo.

//I hope my mom and I hope my dad
Will figure out why they get so mad
I hear them scream, I hear them fight
Say bad words that make me wanna cry//

"Why do they fight, Solo?" Jude asked as his brother rocked him back and forth. Solo sighed.

"I wish I knew, Little Dude. I really wish I knew." He whispered as he tightened his grip.

"I wish they'd stop it." Jude said before his tears spilled out again.

++

"Thanks Liam." Duo whispered drowsily as his son taped the bandage over his eye and put an icepack over the worst of the bruises. The broken ribs and wrist would have to wait until he'd be able to get a hold of Uncle Trowa or Uncle Cat. They were the only ones that new how bad the situation had gotten between Heero and Duo and he wanted to keep it that way.

"Sure mom." Liam replied as he put the unused supplies back in the box and placed it on the night stand before resuming his perch at the foot of the bed.

"How are Jude and Solo?" Duo whispered as the fatigue and pain hit him mercilessly as he lay there. The ribs weren't helping either. But he'd been through worse.

He could deal with them.

"Jude wants to see you. Solo's quiet. I'll deal with whatever comes up later." He said, ignoring the tears that were leaking out of Duo's right eye. < Mom, don't cry. Please.>

"I-I- I need to sleep right now, Liam. If that's all right." Duo whispered. Liam's lips tightened.

<Aw shit. Fuck. I hurt him. Again. It's bad enough that asshole of Dad is doing it. Now I have to do it too?> He thought guiltily as he got up.

"Sure mom. I'll keep the brats quiet. Get some rest. I'll come back in a while, okay?"

Duo nodded as he closed his eye. And Liam silently left the room with tears in his own eyes.

//Close my eyes when I go to bed
And I dream adventures* that will make me smile
I feel better when I hear them say
Everything will be wonderful someday//

Duo began to cry in earnest as he replayed all the happy memories they had shared as a family. Going on pic-nics, travelling to the Rockies, visiting the Van Gogh and Rembrandt museums in Rotterdam, going to amusement parks or just walking round the neighbourhood graveyards. All had been so perfect. Why had it all fallen apart on them? Was it him? Was it Heero? What?

But the empty room gave him no clue or answer. Nor did sleeping. He knew it was a diversion from his problems. But at least it gave him the illusion that things could somehow work out and be the same as they used to be when the children were young and Heero was in love with him.

"I wish that things could be the same again." Duo whispered as he began to sob once again.

++

"Hello? Preventors. How may I help you?" Liam swallowed. He hated bothering Uncle Trowa at the office. But Uncle Cat wasn't at home, it seemed. And he needed to get mom to a hospital. Especially after this beating. He hated to admit it, but he sincerely hoped that this was the wake-up call that his mother needed to finally extricate them all from the constant war-zone that they lived in. <Maybe now he'll keep his promise. I know it's mean. But I'm tired of cleaning up the blood afterwards.>

##

"Mom?" Liam asked as Duo put the ice-pack on his swollen jaw were dad had hit him earlier.

"Why don't you leave him? All he does is hit you and treat us all like shit. Why can't we go and live with Uncle Trowa and Uncle Cat? They wouldn't hit you." Eleven year old Liam pointed out as he sat next to a crying Duo on the bed after yet another fight with Heero.

"The next time that he hits me, we're leaving. I promise you that, Liam." Duo said as he hugged his son close to him. "Then everything will be all right again." Duo said as he sniffed.

##

//Promises mean everything when you're little
And the world's so big
I just don't understand how,
You can smile with all those tears in your eyes
Tell me everything is wonderful now
na, na, na, na, na, na, nahhh (repeated)
Please don't tell me everything is wonderful now
Please don't tell me everything is wonderful now//

"Yeah, May I speak to Preventer Barton, please?" Liam asked politely as he tried to keep his nervousness at bay. <Please let him be there. Please let him be there.>

"One minute." The voice was cut off by the sound of a ringing phone. It rang two times before it was answered. "Barton here. How may I help you?" Liam sighed in relief .

"Uncle Trowa? It's Liam. Sorry to be calling so early. I tired your house first; but uncle Cat wasn't home." Liam apologized in a wavering voice.

"Don't worry about it, Liam. Is something wrong?" Trowa asked in his low voice.

"Direct hit." Liam acknowledged to his uncle. He heard the sigh on the line.

"It's Duo isn't it?" He asked, his voice a little sad and weary at the same time.

"Yeah. It was bad this time. He needs to be taken to the hospital. He's got a broken wrist and ribs and something's bleeding in his eye. I think there's more, but he won't admit to it."

Trowa's hand tightened around the receiver as he heard the words.

"I'll be there in twenty minutes." He told Liam. "Do Solo and Jude know?"

"No. They just know there was a fight. Jude wants to see him. But I'll send him off to school or something with Solo until mom gets fixed up." Trowa laughed softly.

"Alright then. I'm on my way." They said their good-byes and Liam went to Jude's room.

Jude and Solo were in the middle of a chess game when he stepped into the chamber.

"Can I see mom now?" Jude asked as he got up from the floor. Liam frowned.

"Little Dude! Get some clothes on! You gotta be at school in an hour!" Liam exclaimed as he pointed to the ragged Oilers pajamas that Jude was still clad in. Jude pouted.

"You said you were gonna let me see mom now. Why aren't you letting me see her?" Jude asked as he tugged the top off and threw it on his bed. Solo stood up and looked at Liam.

"Tell him." Solo said in a low voice as he ran his hand through the rat's nest that his braided chocolate hair had become during the night. Liam closed his eyes.

"Mom's sleeping right now. He needs to sleep because Uncle Trowa is coming to take him to the hospital cause he got hurt." Liam explained to Jude as the little boy got dressed.

Jude paused in what he was doing and looked up at his brother, his eyes bright.

"I hate him. I hate him. I wish we could live with Uncle Trowa and Uncle Cat." Jude said as he ran a hair through his own long braid of hair. "They like mommy." Liam sighed.

"I know, Little Dude. I know. But right now, You need to get ready and got to school."

Jude sighed as he began to smooth out his hair."Okay. At least school is better than here."

Liam and Solo looked at each other, but said nothing. How could they? It was true.

//I go to school and I run & play
I tell the kids that it's all ok
I like to laugh so my friends won't know
When the bell rings I just don't wanna go home//

++

After Solo had come back from taking his silent little brother to school, he was surprised to find Uncle Cat sitting in the kitchen with a cup of tea in one hand and the newspaper in the other.

Quatre didn't look up until Solo had tapped him on the shoulder. It was only then that the blonde man acknowledged his "nephew' and smiled at him.

"Solo. How are you? Do you want some tea?" Quatre asked in his flat voice, making Solo smile wryly as he looked fondly at his uncle. Quatre, or Cat as the children ha dubbed him, had been deaf ever since he and his mother had contracted a rare and virulent of meningitis during a mission when he and Liam turned seven. His mom had been lucky, since he only escaped with no sense of balance or depth-perception; which ended his career as a preventor. Cat had lost his hearing and had lived in a world of silence ever since.

\\Uncle Cat and his tea. I think Hell would freeze if Uncle Cat didn't have his tea.\\

Solo nodded as he fetched a cup and sat down next to his favourite Uncle.

"Where's Liam?" He asked as Quatre poured the tea and passed the cup back to him.

"He and Uncle Trowa took your mom to the hospital. They should be back soon." Quatre took a drink before he continued. "And I didn't have to be here, but I know that this is taking a toll on you and you won't spill to anyone but me." He raised a golden eyebrow at Solo.

"Yeah. You're right." Solo admitted as he took a drink from his tea. He turned and looked at his Uncle as he debated whether to say what he thought about his parents. \\Fuck it.\\

"Why the hell does mom take it? Every time it happens, it gets worse. He just hits him and hits him and calls him names and..I just hate him!!" He burst out in uncharacteristic anger.

"I just don't understand why he stays with him when he treats him that way." He turned midnight eyes on his uncle, who was watching him as he spoke. "Does he forget how much it hurts because he loves him?" Solo asked as he tried to analyse the reasons why his beloved and fun-loving mom would stay with such a bastard as his dad.

Quatre sighed. How could he explain it to the small boy? That Duo was afraid of losing anyone close to him? Especially after he had lost Solo and Liam for two years after the Eve wars?

"Your mom isn't stupid, Solo. I know it may seem that way. But he's not. He just thinks with his heart first, then with his head." Quatre said as he stared into Solo's midnight eyes.

"And that sometimes makes people make bad decisions in their life. I think the reason why he stays with your dad is because he doesn't want to have your family split apart."

Solo looked down at his tea and frowned. "I don't want that either. But I'm tired of running from the truth. I'm tired of shielding Jude and tired of crying with my brothers while they fight." He looked up to his Uncle's face once again.

"After it's all over. We crawl into bed with mom and we cry and wait for the morning to come. Liam and mom have nightmares. Jude clings to me in his sleep. I try to pretend it's all okay, but it's not. Not anymore. He fucked it up for us." A tear slipped down Solo's cheek.

"And nothing's ever gonna be okay. No matter what mom says or how many promises he makes. We're all fucked up. And we are already split apart even if mom doesn't want to admit it."

//Go to my room and I close my eyes
I make believe that I have a new life
I don't believe you when you say
Everything will be wonderful someday
Promises mean everything when you're little
And the world is so big
I just don't understand how,
You can smile with all those tears in your eyes
When you tell me everything is wonderful now

na, na, na, na, na, na, nahhh
na, na, na, na, na, na, nahhh
na, na, na, na, na, na, nahhh
na, na, na, na, na, na, nahhh//

++

"You gotta leave him, Duo." Trowa told the man lying on the hospital cot. Duo looked at Trowa, and the silent man nearly shivered at the lack of statement on the battered face.

"This is too much and you know it." Trowa said as he mentally tallied up all the injuries Duo had received that morning from Heero. Five broken ribs, a fractured wrist, damaged tear ducts, abrasions and bruises in more places that he could count. It was so bad that the doctors had nearly charged him on the spot until he had done some fast talking and explained the situation.

"Yeah. I know." Duo answered, making Trowa look at him in unveiled surprise. After two years of being told to leave Heero and stubbornly refusing, Duo had suddenly given in without a fight.

"I've been a coward these past two years. I was afraid of being without Heero, so afraid that I let him do whatever he wanted with me and the boys. But that was weak. I never saw how weak it was until Liam told me half-of the things that he does so that Jude and Solo don't get the brunt of hearing us fight and me getting beat up." He lay silent for a little while before speaking.

"I also realized that I've been breaking a promise that I made to Liam when this started." He grinned at Trowa humourlessly."It's time to finally act on it."

++

We take clothes, some cd's and books and a couple of Jude's toys. We can't take anymore stuff cause Trowa is watching us =Actually, me= to make sure that I will keep my promise to leave this time and he wants us to hurry up and get out before Heero gets home. "You have all you need?" He asks us. We nod. Even though I'm twenty-eight years old, I feel as young as my sons. He takes out his keys and heads to the front door. He was just about to open the door when it flew open out of it's own accord to reveal Heero.

"So." Trowa says softly after we have spent two minutes gaping at each other in absolute silence. Heero doesn't blink.

"I can't believe you're my father" Solo spits out, breaking the silence by his disgusted remark. Heero's eyes widen, but he doesn't give any other indication that he has heard what Solo said.

"Let's go, uncle Trowa. I don't want my mother to be in his presence any longer." He added before pushing his way through Heero and exiting the house.

Heero finally reacts to what's happening around him. He looks at me as if he doesn't know me.

"What have you been telling them about me?" He asks coldly, taking a step towards me.

"Nothing" I replied quietly as I stare at him. It doesn't matter if he hits me. It's over and I don't have anything to lose if he does.

"The walls are thin. We can't help if we hear." Liam replied, stepping in front of me and looking at his father with ill-concealed contempt.

"So you're leaving me?" Heero asks me, his voice low and disbelieving.

"Yes." I answer in a weary voice. "I can't take much more of this, Heero. I can't keep on fighting anymore. I'm tired of it all. I'm tired of having my sons live in a battlefield. I lived through one and promised myself that I wouldn't let them go through what I did" I reply.

"So the vows we took, do they mean anything to you?" He asks me. =The last ditch effort?=

"They meant the world to me, Heero. And I love you. I always will. But we have changed too much to be with each other. You aren't the same boy I fell in love with and I expect that I'm not the same either." I look at my hand at notice the rings that I have worn for ten years.

"Is there hope for us?" He asks me in a low voice. Liam and Jude look at me in fear.

=No. I promise I won't do it this time. I'll do the right thing for onfiltered=

I take off the rings and give them to him. I then turn to Trowa and my sons. "Let's go"

++

Saying those words and walking out of that door was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. I don't know how I managed it. But I did it for the sake of my sons.

=I feel so empty.= I get up off the bed and walk to the bay window and sit down . Outside, I can see the beautiful garden and the children playing in the rows and rows of roses that Cat loves to tend. It's a gorgeous day, but I don't want to share in it. Nothing seems to touch me, ever since I split off from him. I miss him terribly. Even though we were fighting all the time, he was there, with me. We were still together and the illusion that we could eventually return to the way we had been when the children were young was still a possibility. But now, I know that it isn't possible no matter what I wish.

"It's truly over" I told myself as I look at the brilliant sky outside. "It's finally over."

The children are happier than they have ever been, I am safe for once and life should be good. But the ache of having to leave him makes everything seem mundane and bittersweet. Even though Trowa and Quatre and Liam tell me that I did the right thing. I still miss him.

//I don't wanna hear you tell me everything is wonderful now.
I don't wanna hear you say
That I will understand someday
No, no, no, no
I don't wanna hear you say//

++

I go downstairs and walk to the kitchen. As usual, Quatre is sitting at the table with a cup of tea in front of him and a teapot at his elbow. I sit down in front of him and poke his arm.

He smiles at me and puts a cup in front of me. He then quickly fills it up and I take it up. I used to hate tea. But living with Quatre made me like it in self-defence. Besides, it was sort of relaxing to sit for a couple of hours and sip Earl Gray while we talked. Or rather, I spilled and Quatre comforted me.

"How are you feeling right now, Duo? " He asks me as he takes a delicate sip from his cup.

"I still miss him, Cat." I tell him bluntly. "Even though I shouldn't. I still miss the bastard." I sigh as I lift my own cup to my lips and take a mouthful of hot tea.

"It's natural to miss him, Duo." Quatre re-assured me as he put his cup down on the table. "You were together for thirteen years." I close my eyes when he tells me this.

"I know that, Cat. But it's been six months already and it feels like my life just stopped. The kids are moving on, you guys are moving on, he's probably moved on and me? I'm still stuck in the same spot as before."

I open my eyes and find him giving me a thoughtful look. He plays with his cup and I know what he's going to say to me. I don't want to hear it, but it needs to be said, right?

"Maybe it's time that you tried to move on, Duo. I know that it's a hard idea to contemplate, but maybe you have to take that step. It's no use staying in the past."

I nod in agreement, but inside, I feel like screaming and running back to Heero and shamelessly begging his forgiveness and his love once again. But I don't. I just nod and drink my tea.

"Besides, Duo. Your life may not be perfect, but you have to admit that it is better than before. Also, your sons are doing much better now." He looked at me sharply as he spoke.

"I know, Cat. Life is better for all of us now that we're with you guys. I don't have to dodge." I joke, but inside, I feel dead. It's not what I want to hear.

But it's what I have to hear.

If I don't, I know that I'll fall back into the same trap once again. And that would mean breaking my promise yet again. =I've broken too many already. I don't want to do it anymore=

//No, no, no, no
I don't wanna meet your friends
And I don't wanna start over again
I just wanna my life to be the same, just like it used to be
Some days I hate everything
Some days I hate everything
Everyone and Everything
Please don't tell me everything is wonderful now//

The children all come in then and we sit and watch them as they rifle through the cupboards in search of the cookies Trowa thoughtfully stocks the kitchen with.

"Did ya find them yet, Jude?" Esteban, with Trowa's hair and eyes asks Jude, who is perched on the counter with his bright head in the depths of the cupboard.

"Nearly. I can smell them." Jude's voice comes out muffled, making Galicia giggle and look coyly at Liam, who is oblivious to the flirting that is so clear in those aquamarine eyes.

Solo rolled his eyes and nudged his brother in the ribs. Liam looked at Solo and shrugged at his brother, completely clueless and continued to read the comic book in his hands. Montserrat came into the kitchen and batted her eyes at Solo, making him blush and look at the ceiling, the floor anywhere and everywhere in order to avoid catching Montserrat's green eyes again. He then leans over and whispers in Liam's ear, making him look up from his comic book and give him a look of disgust and disbelief before whapping him with the flimsy comic book. Solo cowers in mock horror and nods to Galicia, who is still trying to flirt with Liam.

Liam scowls at his brother and gives the little girl a good-natured smile before returning to his book.

"Found them!" Jude crows in glee as he jumps down and tears the package open with Esteban's help.

"Alright!" Solo cries out as he and the others, even Liam, start grabbing cookies and eating them while talking, laughing and teasing each other non-stop.

I laugh softly as I watch the noisy tableau before me. I turn around and look at Quatre, who is also smiling as he takes in the scene.

"Reminds me of you after you had a sugar high." He says as he drinks more tea. I wrinkle my nose, but don't bother arguing with him. He's probably right. I was pretty obnoxious when I had too much sugar and coffee in me. I can only imagine what the others went through with me.

"It's funny." I comment as I pick up my tea and cradle the cup between my hands. I throw another look at the kids and see them laughing over some joke that Liam and Solo have told.

"I don't remember the boys ever being like that before." I say as I look down into the amber liquid in the cup I hold. "In fact, I don't think we have laughed much at all in a long time." I say softly.

Quatre reaches over and places his hand over mine.

"You will laugh again, Duo. Once everything settles and you can start re-building, you will be able to laugh again." He tells me quietly.

I sigh. I hear the laughter and feel a pang when I remember Quatre can't hear it and realize the purity and innocence of it. Nor does he realize that despite the guilt and sadness I feel, hearing that laughter coming from my too-adult sons makes the burden I carry seem less. But I still don't think life is better.

//Please don't tell me everything is wonderful now
Please don't tell me everything is wonderful now
I don't wanna hear you tell me everything is wonderful now
I don't wanna hear you tell me everything is wonderful now
Please don't tell me everything is wonderful now //

For my Little friend, Jude.