DISCLAIMER: Not mine. Theirs. Wish they were. They aren't. Damn. *pout*
WARNING: I can't think of any RIGHT NOW. There might be something, but I'm half asleep, sooo.... *shrugs*
PAIRINGS: 1+2, 3+4, ?+5
ADDITIONAL NOTES: Final Fantasy VII crossover. BEWARE! *chibifies*
"Heero!" Duo heaved, sitting up from his slumped position. His breathe was erratic and uneven, his voice filled with insecurity and doubt. He hurt. His head pounded, his body was pain-filled. Even his hair ached to the very last strand. Ached so much that the braided boy was sorely tempted to find the nearest pair of scissors and
//Now, now, Shinigami,// Duo reflected lightly, lifting one sore hand to swipe at the perspiration collecting on his damp brow. //That's the pain talking. No way in hell you'd REALLY want to cut you'r braid.//
Other than the pain, he was peachy.
His other white knuckled fis unclentched from one of the many levers in his Gundam. It hurt to flex his nearly numb fingers; he had held the accelerator so tightly that the circulation had been cut from his blue-tinged fingers.
He leaned into the seat, closing his eyes as his heavy hands unbuckled and pushed away the bothersome safety harness installed inside his Gundam. He didn't like that stupid harness, even if it did save his life more times than not. If it weren't for the thing he'd be banged around his cockpit all of the time. That, as Wufei graciously pointed out, "killed too many much needed brain cells". Good ol' Wu, always worrying about the braided boy...
He hurt like hell. //What was that Hee-chan once said? Ah. Dying hurts like hell'.// Duo chuckled and clutched his side, wincing at what the action caused him. "Score one for Yuy," he wheezed. He didn't know if he had died, but it certainly hurt enough to offically be `Hell'. At least, that was Duo's opinion...
"Guys," Duo broadcasted through the comm link tiredly, "if you're out there listening... I hate you." Not really. He was just a little moody since the others had to drag his sorry posterior off the battle field. That was really bad brownie points where Heero was concerned. It meant no `pattiecake' whenever the mood hit Duo. //Bum~mer...// And why did they leave him in his Gundam, anyway? They knew how discomforting it was to sleep in the cockpit of a Gundam. He loved Deathscythe dearly, but... sleeping in his Gundam royally _sucked_.
"Time to get out and face the music," he muttered moodily. Heero was probably waiting right outside his Gundam with one or two of the others, just wating for him to step out. Then he'd start belittling him in front of the other/s. Duo knew that doing that was the only way Heero could show that he was worried, but really! It was embarrassing!
He opened the hatch and found himself free-falling. He wasn't prepared to suddenly _fall_ out like he did. It was the first time he noticed that his Gundam was tilted at an angle. //Stupid, stupid Duo,// he scolded himself.
Luckily he landed in a pile of brush, but the leaves scratched and the sticks poked, so he didn't escape unscathed. He was cursing silently, lying in the underbrush and not moving a muscle. More pain was absolutely the last thing he needed...
Sighing loudly, he tiredly pushed himself into a sitting position and studied his surroundings. Mostly underbrush and scattered trees, but in the distance he saw lighting. //A town,// Duo guessed. The sky was rapidly turning dark, and the full moon was already casting light on the dark land. Something howled in the distance, but it was too far away to be a real danger.
"Looks like the only place to go is north..." mulled the Shinigami pilot. And as he made is journey to the smallish town in the far distance, the sun lowering into the sky and the moon already making an appearance high above, the Shinigami pilot never noticed the shadow silently following him, a sort of wheel-shaped weapon in one clenched hand...
It didn't take Duo as long as he suspected to reach the small town. The place was busy; it was like there were more people than places to live. A frantic mother held a crying baby and clenched the hand of a whining child. A fish seller was trying to pillage to shoppers so he could rid himself of the days catch and go to his new home and spend time with his new wife. There seemed to be someone selling marble-like stones, yet they seemed very costly. Another was selling with looked like drinks and armor; this confused Duo, but he paid no attention. And the weapons... Oh, even if they WERE sort of oldish-styled, he had a kick over the weapons. They even had an old fashion scythe! Duo had laughingly told the men to put that little toy on lay-way.
The men simply smiled and nodded. Duo didn't really expect them to take him seriously, but they apparently did. Guess they weren't as frumpy as those merchants on L2...
He found a restaurant and sighed in relief. It was a deal among his comrades and himself. If they were somehow separated, find the nearest food establishment and wait. And he had to admit, he was pretty famished... The shameless grumbling of his stomache proved his point. The woman walking passed him looked startled at the noise, and Duo expected a dirtty look and a disapproving sniff. He was surprised when she gave him an understanding smile and a friendly pat on the back.
"Been travelin', kid?" she inquired lightly. "Need to get some food in yoah belly. The land surrounding this land is dangerous, y'know?"
Duo had to grin at that. Rarely had he ever run into a woman so outward. Instead of saying that out loud, he simply said his thanks and offered her a good-bye before finally making his way into the homely restaruant.
Homely it was. It was like those Ma and Pa diners he saw on those old T.V. shows. The bar had stools surrounding it, red seats matching the apple red bar top accordingly. Lined against the walls were booths, most filled with civilians, men, women, and children alike. A few were empty, however, so he chose a dark booth in the back, the seat that had a direct eye contact with the doors. It was old habit; doing such would enable him to see any threat or ally forthcoming.
The place seemed to also serve as a liquor establishment; a few burly men nursed cider colored drinks in their hands, some just getting started, yet others who were swaying in their stools.
A girl of about five years old walked up to the side of his table, and Duo tilted his head to the side. The girl's brown eyes were warm and friendly, and her smile seemed to disarm his wariness.
"Hi!" she greeted warmly. Duo KNEW even Wufei would soften at the sight of the girl giggling. "Are you new around here?"
Duo gave a teasing grin himself, laughing as easily as the young girl. "Yep. Just came in today."
She nodded. "Would you like anything to drink?" Duo kept his surprise well-hidden; was this girl his waitress? Amused, Duo nodded. "Ah, whatever you recommend." She asked if he was too young to drink alcohol, which caused him to shrug. "Dunno. The age limit is eighteen, right?" //I wish...//
She wrinkled her nose adorably, her eys crossing in thought. "No, I don't think so. Age limit's fourteen. So would you like anything with alcohol?"
Duo was shocked. Like, way BEYOND the simple surprise he had felt not two minutes ago. Fourteen? Fourteen?! That was impossible! Everywhere he'd been, the age limit ranged from twenty-one to eighteen! "Really. Huh, I must be in Heaven," he remarked lightly. "Ah, I could afford to have one. Gimme a special, I guess."
She nodded, her brown head bobbing. "Okay, a Lockheart #002. I'll be back with your drink and if you're ready to make a food order, all you have to do is ask." She left him be with a small wave, humming cheerfully as she made her way behind the counter, leaving the braided boy to himself.
Duo was realing. A place where people were nice, guys actually put stuff on lay-away, and little girls were waitresses at bars selling alocohol. Didn't anyone in this town hear of child labor laws? Under-age drinking? That being nice to strangers didn't cut it? Where the hell WAS he and why the hell were the guys
"Maxwell." Duo's head snapped straight up, his eyes finding the Chinese pilot sliding into the seat in front of him. Duo beamed, winking at the Chinese Shenlong pilot flirtiously.
"Hiya, Wu-man. How's it shaking?"
Wufei narrowed his ebony eyes. "You are hurt." It was a simple claim caused by simple observation, but Duo was, deep down, touched thay the lone pilot would even comment on it. His grin widen and his eyelids fluttered playfully.
"Wu-kitty, I didn't know you cared!" He was still chuckling when the small waitress brought him his drink. She smiled innocently at Wufei and asked him if he wanted anything. Momentarily disarmed, Wufei blinked, but the old mask appeared again.
"Whatever he's having," he said gruffly after pointing to the braided boy happily gulping down the smooth liquid. The girl nodded and smiled once again, telling hyim she'd be right back with his order.
Duo didn't know what was in the Lockheart #002, but he liked it. It was smooth and tangy, cold as it slid down his throat. It seemed to flow through his veins like his own blood; this liquor was like nothing he'd ever tasted!
"Y'know, I was just wondering what this backwards town is called," Duo remarked in a murmur, meant for Wufei's ears only. "A town that ignores child labor laws, encourages under-aged drinking, and seems to be nice to everyone. I think I LIKE it here."
Wufei snorted. "You brought us here." It was said neutrally, but Duo suspected it was as if Wufei had expected it. Blinking, Duo gave him a funny look.
"Huh? No, YOU guys brought me HERE," Duo pointed out. "Oh, and about leaving me in La-La Land while I was in my Gundam? Thanks," his tone filled with sarcasm, "I'm sure you know how very uncomfortable sleeping in small, enclosed spaces are. I really appreciated it."
"Hn." The last thing Duo needed was to be stuck with another Heero. Rolling his eyes dramatically, he lifted the tangy drink with one hand and did a mocking salute. With a light smirk he took a swing and sat the glass down with a satisfied sigh.
"I hope Heero gets here soon."
"Amen..." Duo Maxwell grinned at the Chinese pilot's muttered relpy and began to talk. About school, the flavor of his drink, did he mention that this must be heaven?...
//Black, swirling, so much darkness...//
Quatre R. Winner moaned, his head rolling to one side as his soft lips parted slightly. One hand twitched spastically, as if he was desperately clasping his gun in one hand. Another moan left his parched throat as his back arched slightly.
//The noise.... the screaming... They were screaming...//
"Trowa," he called weakly for his lover, but his eyes never opened. Alternatively, behind his eyelids his teal blue eyes roamed, as if searching for something... anything...
//What?... I don't understand!... Y-you need help?//
The young pilot of Sandrock gasped loudly as he arched again, this time feverishly. A young child's voice called through the room of the little farmhouse, calling attention for the occupants. The young blonde simply stirred this time, a keen whine escaping from his slightly open mouth.
//Help... Cetra?... The Ancients? I don't understand! WHO are you?!//
"Mister Funny-Bangs! He's wakin' up from a bad dream!"
"If he needs to cry, he can borrow Mister Scruggles; I don't mind." A puase. "Mister Scruggles was always good to me after I had a bad dream."
//Mister... Funny-Bangs?// One bright teal blue eye opened to connect with gentle emerald green. His mouth parted slightly, hoarsely whispering his lover's name once again.
"Aye, little one," came the equally quite answer, followed by a soothing hand grazing through his bright fair hair.
Trowa's strong hand stilled in it's stroking before resuming his calming brush motion. "Aye. The children have been calling me that ever since we came here." His tone told him he didn't really mind, yet it was hard to tell. Trowa lifted a glass up to his lover's soft lips and instructed him to drink.
Quatre didn't question the emerald eyed pilot as he reached out with a trembling hand and took the glass, lifting it to his lips and taking a small sip. It was warm and bland, but seemed to be just what he needed to sooth his parched throat. He drained the glass before inquiring of the content.
"Chicken's milk." Quatre's stare was certainly incredulous, to say the least. He lifted one skeptical bright blonde brow and coughed lightly.
"Chicken's don't have milk for human consumption..."
Trowa nodded solemnly. "That is what I said prior to seeing Joe milk it himself."
There was a small, joy filled giggle as a dark brown head of hair entered the fair-haired blonde's line of vision.
"Blacky isn't a chi... chi..." The young boy's nose wrinkled as he struggled with the word unfamiliar to him. "Chicken! He's a Chocobo!" He sounded proud of it, his small chest puffing out with pride. "Fastest black Chocobo around! He belonged to AVALANCHE once, you know? Mr. Strife gave ALL his extra Chocobo away, `cept for his special ones."
Quatre blinked. "Right..."
A smaller brunette's head poked passed the boy, one finger stuck in her mouth as she stared at Quatre with innocent bright blue eyes. Hesitantly she held out her rangy stuffed bear as an offering. "Mr. Scruggles is good with handling nightmares," she said innocently. "You wanna hold him?"
Quatre laughed breathlessly, slowly taking the bear from the girl's small hands. One eye was slack from it's socket and the nose was completely gone. Stuffing seemed to be falling through a small hole near the ear. Quatre made note of this, fingering the ear fondly as the little girl pouted.
"Pap got `hold a' him," she replied, a cute scowl crossing her face. "He's such a bad dog!" She brightened like all children do, and added, "But Mr. Scruggles forgave Pap. So Pap isn't in trou'le `ny more!"
"I'm sure Pap is happy about that, ne?" Quatre replied lightly, taking his eyes from the bear's scraggly ear. After seeing the girl's reply, Quatre smiled gently and turned his eyes back to his silent lover, apparent worry on his face.
"Something's different," he said quietly, brushing one golden lock from his eyes. "My space heart is telling me something, but I can't understand." It troubled him; he almost always understood his space heart whenever it felt like this, but this time it seemed different. Like on a wider scale. "I hear voices screaming... and they seem to surround everything. Like it's coming from the very earth itself."
The girl's face twisted in awe. "Are you a' Ancient?"
Her brother scoffed. "No, dummy! Miss Aeris was the last Ancient. Remember?"
"But he hears the Planet!" protested his sister obstinately. "`Member when _eve'yone_ could hear the Planet scream when Meteor was `n the sky? It sound'd like the Planet was screamin' and cryin'!"
Trowa and Quatre exchanged looks. Ancients? Meteor? Talking planets? Just where had Duo taken them, anyway? Quatre uncertainly cleared his throat and shook the hair that had fallen into his sight from his face. They never knew of anything major falling from the sky other than their Gundams that fateful day almost half a year ago, and the children couldn't possibly be talking about them!
"Could you tell us about this?" Quatre requested softly. "I don't think we were... around... when this happened."
The brother gave him a peculiar look. "_Everyone_ was around when Sephiroth the Mad called Meteor to destroy the Planet. Everyone could see Meteor in the sky, everyone could see how everone else was scared, and everyone all most died from it. So how come _you_ don't know about it?"
Quatre smiled meekly in reply, one hand rubbing the back of his head in the typical "I'm so confused, I should have been a blonde" motion. Wait... he was a blonde...
"Let's just say that I think we're from far, FAR away..."
He was FINALLY getting the vacation he deserved. No loud-mouth Elena, no silent Rude, just him, his wardrobe, and a glass of chilled booze. Life was, of course, very grand for Reno of the New Turks. After months of whining and complaining, his new boss let him off all on his own. He was happy about it, too; his new boss, President Reeve, was a better chief than his ex-boss. At least _Reeve_ promised a raise and more vacation time after New Midar was complete. Until then, he could lounge around the bar at Costa del Sol and get as drunk as he damn well pleased.
He couldn't say he missed Rufus that much. The Shinra was a bastard, through and through. He didn't expect to be liked, and he didn't want to like. So what if the action had dwindled down to almost nothing? So the hours were irregular and the jobs Reeve sent them on usually didn't involve beating the snot outta people.
Reno and the others had a beer tab in care of Midgar Electric Co. He was, of course, content with that alone.
But there were things he missed. Tseng, for one. He was close to the leader of the Turks; close enough to be qualified as friends. When they'd heard about Tseng's demise, they were all saddened in their own way. For Rude, it was the loss of his oldest partner. For Reno, it was the loss of his friend and comrade. For Elena, it was the deprivation of a budding romance and the the loss of the man she loved.
He sometimes missed the action. Spending hours at shooting clubs didn't cut it; using the Turks name to get his way spoiled him. Now the New Turks were not feared, but well-taken and respected. Well- taken and respected. Those two aspects were good things that came from the whole mess. But anyway, he didn't miss the action very often. Only when work seemed so monotonous that he would start wishing for more action.
His booze was in one hand as he slowly sauntered down the beach, way out of the outskirts of Costa del Sol. Not many people traveled far from the town out of habit; even though the number of monsters had dwindled down, there were a few scattered around. Nothing Reno couldn't handle, though. So he braved the oh-so-pathetic challenge of a few measly monsters to take a walk on the beach. Alone. As in solitude.
That's when he stumbled upon it. A giant... _something_. It was the size of one of those WEAPONS, except the shape and color was different. This huge _thing_ was red, white, and blue and more humanoid than any of the WEAPONS he knew. It apparently hadn't been there long; the sand had yet to encrust the outer shell and smoke rose from the huge sand crater it had created. The redhead New Turk honestly didn't know why no one else had found or seen it come from wherever. He wasn't very far from the vacation town and the thing couldn't have just _appeared_ from no where!
Before he could ponder further, the tell-tell sound of a gun being cocked echoed from behind the redhead. Slowly he turned, noting that he had no where to dive if his attacker decided to shoot him there on the spot. He cursed and praised himself; cursed himself for leaving his gun at the villa Reeve leased to him and praised himself for being prudent enough to bring his Nightstick and a few high level Materia. Prepared to make a move any time, he leisurely faced his assailant...
To find himself face to gun barrel with a boy no older than fifteen, possibly sixteen. Reno, luckily, wasn't dumb enough to let his guard down. The kid with moss green hair and almost dead prussian eyes held himself like a pro assassin and appeared not to show any qualms about shooting him. He held his hands up in defense, an easy- going smirk crossing his lips.
The boy wasn't detoured by his smooth relpy to the fact he was being held at gunpoint. Instead, he carefully aimed with such easy grace that Reno knew for sure this wasn't a first for him.
"You see my Gundam," he stated flatly, coldly narrowing his eyes on the redhead. "Now you have to die."
And he pulled the trigger, a roaring repercussion of a gunshot being carried with the gentle costal breeze.
Kel: Sleep. Now. C&C most definately welcome. *hears a very loud scream coming from the T.V. in the livingroom and winces, knowing that the living room just happens to be right beside her bedroom* Maybe attempting sleep isn't such a good idea right now...
Sephy and Duo: *snoring loudly*