8-17-2001

Title: Hereditary Pains

Author: Sony_Mouse (Sony_Mouse@hotmail.com)

Pairings: If you've read the original (like you should've) you'll know the pairings. But come' on, what's the ONLY thing I write??????

Warnings: I can't think of any warnings, I can't think of any, there's nothing really you should be warned about. Normal Universe, Two OCs (Nate and Lizzy)…that's it I think

Archives: www.gwaddiction.com If you've not read the original, Hers, Yours and Mine, I suggest you do. (or not, you'll just not like this one as much)

Disclaimer: GW not mine, kids are

 

**********************

 

13 years after war...

 

"Good Morning Sank and welcome to `Morning Time with Suzy Rhyme'. I'm Suzy, and I'm happy to introduce today's guests. Here with is ... "

Duo tuned out the annoying voice belonging to the country's most well known morning talk show host. She was a whiney blond who never really knew what she was talking about, but she did get the best guests to come on her show.

So like every other morning, Duo faithfully tuned into her show to see who was on while he got dressed in his room. There were actually quite a few respected people on today, a few that Duo had actually met, but only at parties from long ago. There was no way they'd remember him today.

As Duo went to pull on his last sock, he nearly fell off the bed when they announced today's hot topic, HIM!

"Now ladies and gentlemen, we at SBC [1] are just as concerned as the rest of the country about our future heirs." All guests nodded rapidly in agreement.

"They are this country's future, and we have no idea who or what is raising them. So my question is, is this Duo Maxwell able to bring up the royal heirs properly?"

A stumpy, balding man jumped in to give him two cents on the argument. "I've heard rumors about this man, I've heard that he may even have been a Gundam pilot, but we don't know that for certain. He could be any idiot living in some poor part of town trying to bring up our royalty. I hear he's not even from Sank, but from the `colonies' of all places."

This time it was a stuck up brunette who interrupted. "I couldn't agree more with Dr. Noel. The man won't even have interviews to prove that he's able to raise these children. They should be with their family, not with some possible ex-terrorist that was so bad that no one's even heard of him, except from rumors that he was that Gundam Pilot who was captured during the war. I think we'd even be happy if Colonel Chang raised them! At least then we'd know a trusted person was taking care of them."

Suzy smiled smugly and was soon back in the game. "Recently the newspapers have discovered the location of the school that the children now attend. We are unfortunately unable to announce it on television due to court restrictions, but we are able to announce that it IS in some poor part of the city that they are being raised in, not even getting the proper education that they deserve. It's obvious that this man is incapable of doing the great task of rearing these children for royalty, the government should act now and remove the children from his dubious custody... "

The television suddenly went black as a very annoyed looking 11-year-old turned it off in a hurry.

"Duo, I'm going to be late for school, lets gooooooo!"

Realizing that he'd been so engrossed by the television that he'd forgotten, why he'd even bothered to get up at this ungodly hour, but Duo quickly recovered.

Placing a bright grin on his face, he jumped off the bed and tackled the surprised girl, swinging her over his shoulders and running downstairs.

"Ahhh, put me down, put me down!"

"I wouldn't want you to be late, besides, it's time to see how you've been doing in school." Duo placed the put-off girl on the ground so he could do up his shoes. The moment he was done he called Nate down and rushed the two children out the door.

The small 8-year-old boy was still half asleep, dressed up in a small pair of jeans and a dark red T-shirt, his hair still messy from sleep, just like it always was. He wasn't fond On the way to school he even fell asleep on his sister's shoulder, much to her great annoyance.

The bright yellow car was the very same one that Duo had crashed in all those years ago. After all that had happened, Duo had decided he would need a car to get around, and had enlisted the help of the two willing children to repair the damaged vehicle. All they had done was pass him a tool every now and then, but it was a great chance for them to really get to know each other.

And now they had a beautiful, very yellow, vintage car to drive around town with.

"Duo, please behave when you meet my teacher, I don't want you to get detention of anything, she's very strict."

The braided father figure couldn't help but smile at the girl's protectiveness over him; she'd been like that since day one.

"Yes, Mommy. But if she confiscates my toy then I make no promises"

"Duooo, be serious. I want the teacher to like you."

Briefly turning his attention from the road he grinned at her from the front seat. "Not like me? Impossible!"

"Oi, I have a bad feeling about this."

***************************

"Mr. Maxwell, I'm so happy you could take a moment from your busy schedule to come visit me."

Duo walked into the small classroom and warmly took hold of the stern teacher's offered hand.

"No problem, I was fortunately able to get away from my work today." The truth was that Duo didn't work at all. He'd smuggled enough funds during the war that he was able to live quite comfortably. Nothing like Quatre, but it was more than enough. That was the beauty of war time, funds were lost so easily, covered in so much paper work that no one would even notice it missing at all.

For about the first year after Lizzy and Nate's arrival, he'd just stayed home with the youngest child all day, but soon enough, even he had to start school. He'd been in been grade two for about a month now. [2]

"I'm so glad, please take a seat."

Duo tried to find something big enough to actually sit down in, but was only able to spot many of those small chairs that they made for children. He somehow managed to seat himself without much difficulty.

"So what brings you to call on me. I doubt it's something bad, I mean she has great marks, and she makes lots of friends. She's a regular social butterfly."

Sitting down in the much larger teacher's chair, the stern lady looked down at Duo, slightly disapproving.

"I realize all that Mr. Maxwell, but it has recently come to my attention who Lizzy really is."

A warning light went off inside Duo's head

"I can't believe I never made the connection myself, but you just never expect something like this to happen, Lizzy Maxwell is really Elizabeth Peacecraft. I have to say I'm quite displeased with the fact that you had her lie about her own name. Teaching deception at this age can be quite damaging."

Trying hard not to lose his temper, Duo slowly interrupted. "I realize your concern, but I'm afraid you have to see how this would be necessary. We're trying to keep them away from the media, bedsides, I've adopted her, so she really is Lizzy Maxwell."

The elder woman chuckled softly before continuing. "Mr. Maxwell, you can lie to the children, but I know as well as you do that you can't adopt them. That's ridiculous."

It took a great deal of Duo's self-control not to start yelling he instead decided to just drop that the subject of adoption. What did this old lady know anyway?

"Is this all you called me in for?"

"No, there's also the matter of Lizzy's, sorry Elizabeth's demeanor. Yes, she makes a lot of friends, but the wrong kind I'm afraid. Most girls are starting to be concerned about their looks and makeup and impressing the right type of boy. But Lizzy isn't interested in any of those things. She wears loose, baggy clothes, and her hair is always in some silly braid, and she has a very controlling nature. She acts like some sort of hooligan who always speaks her mind. The kids love her for it, but it's very unacceptable for a young lady who will take over the throne, a fact that you've kept from not only from myself, but also from the entire school. I've already spoken with Nathaniel's teacher."

"Does she actually pick on any other students?"

The teacher looked around nervously before responding, "Well no, but the fact of the matter is that she is just as rambunctious as the most outgoing male in our class. The future heir is a tomboy for goodness sake!"

"So, what's wrong with that?"

"How will she relate to diplomats if all she wants to do is play sports and go looking for excitement. It would be fine if she was just some ordinary child, but she will be the queen. At the moment, she's nothing like her mother!"

"That's not surprising considering she isn't her mother. Maybe she takes after her father."

Another uncalled round of chuckles escaped the older woman's lips. "Oh please Mr. Maxwell, King Heero was about as vocal as a rock. If there's one thing she isn't, it's her father."

That was the last straw, before he knew it, Duo was on his feet yelling at the close minded, sexist woman. "How the hell would you know what `King' Heero was like. I'll have you know he was very vocal when he felt strongly about something, just like Lizzy is. He just preferred to work behind the media, not for it. I'm proud with the way Lizzy is right now, and I have no problem with her being a tomboy. She's learning what the `common' folk live like, I wouldn't want to change that for anything."

"B-but what about the aristocrats, how will she associate with them?"

"Screw the aristocrats, it's not for them that I'm raising her, and I'd ask you that unless Lizzy is bullying other students, being a snob, or failing, then to mind your own business and let me raise her and her brother the way I want."

"But Mr. Maxwell, think of her mother, that great pacifist couldn't possible approve of such teachings, do you realize Elizabeth is learning martial arts from an expert? I'm not sure you know HOW to raise them properly."

"Oh course I'm aware of her learning martial arts, and she's good at it too. Maybe you're right and her mother wouldn't have approved of her kids, but her father would have been damn proud of her, and so am I." Without dropping his deadly gaze, Duo continued, but with an ounce of frustration in his voice. "You people don't seem to understand what it's like just jumping in and being the only parent for these children, I'm the doing the best I can, and if that's not good enough for you, then take it up with Queen Relena next time she's in town. Good bye."

Without waiting for a response, he turned on his heel and left, slamming the door behind him.

*************************

"What's your name?"

The little boy being asked the innocent question looked up in delight at being noticed.

"Nate… what's yours?"

"Sam, so what's your dad do?"

"My dad?"

The taller boy gave a bemused look questioning the boy. "Yeah, your dad, what's his job?"

"I don't have a dad."

"Oh, then what do you have?"

"I have a Duo!"

"A Duo! What's that? Sounds stupid!"

"A Duo's not stupid, and he can do anything."

"Ok, so what's his job."

"I don't know... maybe being a dad?"

"That's sounds just as stupid. Besides my dad could kick your Duo's butt."

"Uh uh, Duo can beat anyone, he's... well I can't say, but I'd be afraid if I were you."

Just then, a tall, lean figure entered the room. He smiled grimly at the teacher, making it obvious that he did not want to talk to her right now, and then waved over at the small boy.

"See! That's a Duo."

"He looks just as stupid as his name, and he has girl hair."

"He does not, take that back!"

"NO, he does, and my dad could so kick his butt."

A deep scowl graced Nate's features as he clenched his small fists in anger. "Take it back!"

"NO!"

Without warning, the smaller of the two flung his fist back and slammed it hard into the taller boy's face, thereby knocking him to the ground. A brawl quickly followed, bringing the attention of not only the teacher, but also a very upset Duo.

"Nate! Stop it!" He leaned down and plucked his ward off of the other boy, who now had a bleeding nose and a very sore eye. Sam was crying out loud, laying all blame on Nate, who was still trying to wiggle free from Duo's grasp.

Nathaniel Maxwell Yuy-Peacecraft was in big, big trouble.

******************************

The ride back home was silent for the most part, but the tension in the air was loud enough to fill the gap. Nate tried to look everywhere but at the man who looked mad enough to kill him, or at least ground him for awhile.

Lizzy had decided to go home with a few friends. Duo didn't mind, he knew that she could take care of herself, and would be home soon enough.

As they drove on, Duo's mind was in turmoil. It was like today was some big boiling point for all the complaints he'd been getting from all sides. No one seemed to think he was capable of raising Lizzy and Nate properly, and now one of them had to go and start a fight, somehow proving Duo wrong. He wasn't mad at Nate, he was mad at himself, the world's worst father who apparently was unfit to raise anyone.

As soon as they spotted the familiar neighborhood, the braided ex-pilot took a few deep breaths and felt composed enough to ask the boy about what had happened.

"So, can you tell me why on earth you felt it necessary to give your new classmate not only a bloody nose, but a black eye?"

Nate tried his best to curl into the seat, hoping that it would engulf him or protect him in some way, no such luck.

"He... he asked for it..."

"Oh, he asked you to beat him. Ah, that explains everything."

A soft whimper came from the boy and tears welled up in his eyes.

"I'm sorry Uncle Duo, I didn't mean to, please don't be mad at me, please don't hate me."

Sighing to himself, he caught sight of the trembling lips and the tears that were now escaping the small prussian blue eyes. Duo decided to pull over to finish the conversation, he was just too emotional to really concentrate on driving right now.

"Don't cry Nate, I'm not mad at you, I'm just wondering if it was a mistake to teach you how to fight. Your mom would kill me for doing that, and so would the country it seems. Just tell me why you did it, maybe you had a good reason."

"He said some things."

"About?"

Gathering up his courage, the words started to pour from the small boy's mouth.

"He asked about my dad, and then started to talk about his dad and... "

Without even giving him a chance to finish, Duo interrupted, realization dawning on him.

"Oh Nate, I'm so sorry, I should've know it was about something like that. Boys always like to compare fathers." Unbuckling the crying boy, and scooping him up into his arms, Duo tried to reassure him once again that he wasn't at all mad at him. But Nate didn't seem to be finished talking.

"That wasn't why I hit him."

Confusion quickly spread over Duo's face. "Then why'd you hit him?"

"Because he called you stupid and said you had girly hair and said his dad could kick your butt and that having a Duo was stupid, so I hit him."

Running a hand through his bangs, Duo seemed genuinely surprised, "That was the last thing I ever expected you to say."

Duo gave Nate a tight hug and wiped the tears that stained the small boy's face. "But I'm afraid that's still no reason to go around beating up other people, he may be bigger than you, but he probably wasn't taught by an ex-Gundam Pilot, and long time street rat, how to fight. I taught you that to defend yourself, not to defend my honor, or your honor, or anyone else's honor."

Nate tired to avoid Duo's stern gaze at this point, choosing to look down at his nervous hands instead. "So what are you going to do to me?"

A small smile crept up Duo's face when he heard this. "Well I think you feel bad enough at it is. You're not exactly the type to go around hitting people, you're usually the first to try and stop a fight. So all your going to have to do is apologize to Sam tomorrow, and I mean sincerely." Before Nate could agree, he continued. "AND just try and think before you act next time, figure out if it's really worth hitting the guy over."

Nate nodded slowly, curling himself deeper into Duo's embrace.

Taking pity on the young boy, the braided man smiled down at the eight-year-old and whispered in his ear.

"Besides, we both know I could kick his dad's butt any day of the week, no need to go ahead and prove it. I am Shinigami after all."

Nate's eyes shot up in surprise, a grin breaking out before he could stop himself. Duo just winked once before giving him one last hug and placing the boy back in his seat.

As soon as his seatbelt was done up once more, Duo started up the car and drove off grinning to himself. Thinking that maybe the whole country was wrong after all, maybe he was a good father.

With the tension gone, and Duo in a much better mood, the bright yellow car sped off into the distance.

**************************

Saturday afternoon found Wufei once again visiting Duo's house. Because of his busy schedule, he was only able to make it out once a week. The children absolutely loved it when he or any of the other ex-pilots visited.

Duo tried to get them to visit often, and they needed no pushing. Although the braided man was going out a lot more these days, Wufei, Quatre and Trowa still remained his only real friends. His fear of making new ones was a habit that was just too hard to break.

On this particular Saturday afternoon, Wufei was teaching Lizzy how to do a few more advanced katana moves, while explaining the philosophies on fighting. She has asked about two years ago for him to teach her how to fight, he'd slowly become her unpaid teacher. Wufei insisted it was the least he could do for Heero. Though Duo suspected a little bit of guilt over his death still remained and helped him in his decision to teach.

Lizzy just loved it though, and for the last two years had worked hard in learning not only fencing, but marital arts as well, not to mention the street fighting that Duo had taught her and still continued to teach her as she improved. In all aspects, she really was Heero's daughter, though a lot of Duo had already rubbed off on her.

They were now waiting for Quatre and Trowa to show up so they could spend a rare afternoon together, catching up on each other's lives.

They didn't have to wait long, Quatre showed up at the door smiling and bearing a jug of Iced Tea with him.

Wufei left Lizzy to work on some new movies while Nate happily sat near her doodling pictures of everything around him. Over the years Duo had discovered that the small boy had quite a passion for drawing. He enjoyed capturing the world around him on paper.

The three young men sat sipping their Iced Tea. Duo hadn't drunken any alcohol in over 3 years, not since Lizzy had decided to throw out all of his `secret' stash in an effort to `save' him. And Quatre, who now sat beside him sipping the bitter home made drink, had never drunken alcohol to begin with; it was against the young man's religion. Wufei could have used a beer, but was more than happy to share Iced Tea with his friends.

Duo was the first to inquire about Trowa not being there.

"I think you forgot something Quatre, is it hiding in your car?"

"Oh Trowa can't make it today, he's held up with some paperwork, something to do with a pet project of ours, and his `midlife crisis'."

"So, Trowa's going through some kind of mid life crisis."

Wufei seemed to be very surprised, not catching the teasing tones the two other men were using.

"Already? He's still twenty years away from being anywhere close to his midlife."

Quatre sat chuckling, knowing that it was more of an excuse than an actually midlife crisis. " I know, I know. It's just that since he turned 30 he's wanted to start doing more than just living."

"Oh!" Duo lifted his eyebrow in suspicion. "And what does that mean?"

"Well, I guess it's just something us 29-year-olds can't understand, well maybe you can, but he wants to start a family."

Duo nearly spit out his bitter drink once he heard that. "I'm sorry, did you just say a family, I thought he had started one already, and you're it."

"He wants more than that, No, I should say, we want more than that. We want children."

"Let me be the first to talk you out of that silly notion, they are noisy, pushy, get into trouble easily and... "

"... and they make a great family." Wufei added with a smirk.

"Wu, you're not helping me out here."

"Well I think it's a great idea. They deserve kids."

"And just how to you propose getting said mini-versions of yourself? Using Catherine as a surrogate mother?" Duo addressed this to the cheerful blond at his side.

Quatre blushed but smiled remained. "No, actually we were thinking about adopting. I mean, it just makes sense since we caused so many orphans during the war, and I know that those orphans are now too old to be adopted, but there are other's out there, and we'd love to adopt them."

"All of them?"

Quatre swatted playfully at the braided man's head.

"No, just one for now."

"Well what can I say, I've tried to convince you otherwise, besides, I was an orphan, so I can respect you guys deciding to do that. And who am I to talk, I even adopted two kids."

Quatre's smile faltered for a few seconds, trying to digest what Duo had just said.

"Speaking of which, I had the oddest conversation with Lizzy's teacher the other day. She tried to make me believe that I hadn't adopted the two little munchkins, can you believe that?"

Both Wufei and Quatre stared at the braided man with uncertain looks, not knowing how to continue. It was Wufei who spoke first.

"Maxwell, you haven't adopted them. I've received no such paperwork at my office, and I'm personally in charge of that aspect there."

Gripping his glass nervously, Duo did not like the direction that their conversation was taking one bit. His permanent smile even faltered for a few seconds before going back to normal. "I didn't go through with any paperwork, I thought that was dealt with in the will. Heero gave them to me to raise, I thought that would mean I had adopted them."

Sharing a glance with Wufei, the blond man tried to carry on.

"Duo I'm sorry, we thought you understood. You haven't adopted them, and we never said you had, and you couldn't even if you wanted to, the government wouldn't allow it."

Glaring over at the innocent friend, Duo's temper began to flare dangerously. "Why the hell not, and no, I wasn't clear on that small little detail."

"Maxwell, calm down. Neither Quatre nor myself had anything to do with that. The fact is that they belong to the government as long as there is a regent, and they would normally have the responsibility of raising them, Heero just found a way to bend the rules, he didn't break them completely."

"So let me get this straight, I'm nothing more than an unpaid, long term BABYSITTER!"

Quatre gave him a weak smile, but knew that there was really nothing he could say to cheer the man up.

"No, the government's going to compensate you, not that you really need it with your stolen funds, but it's something at least."

"No Quatre, it's nothing. I don't want compensation; I want to raise these kids as mine, like I thought they were. What if they got seriously sick, I would have no say as to if they had an operation or not. What about when it comes to High School, I won't get to pick where they'll go. Zechs and his lackeys will send them away from me to some overpriced private school that teaches them nothing but how to be a professional snob."

"Duo... "

Seeing the uncalled for guilt in Quatre's eyes, and the regret in Wufei's, Duo quickly let the anger seep out of him, and apologized to the two men who were really the only ones besides Trowa who had stood behind him over the last three years.

"Listen, I'm sorry. I guess this will teach me never to assume. I didn't mean to get mad at you guys. But is there no way I can adopt them?"

"Sorry Maxwell, by law there's nothing you can do."

Quatre agreed with Wufei's statement before giving the braided man a reassuring pat on the shoulder.

"But if you can think of something, you know we'll be behind you 100% of the way."

Duo turned his eyes to watch Lizzy practicing on the front lawn, oblivious to the rest of the world. Each swing was calculate and repeated constantly with such an intense look that reminded Duo of her late father. And Nate sat drawing her without a care, enjoying the statement his drawings gave him. Both of them had bits of Relena and Heero in them, and Lizzy especially, could still remember her parents more or less clearly.

So Duo had to wonder, would they even want him to adopt them?

*************

It had been over a month since Duo had made his upsetting discovery about the kids. Since then, he'd spent all of his time buried in deep piles of paperwork and making appeals to the courts. Basically driving everyone nuts along with him. He was very easily annoyed, got little sleep and made everyone around him worry constantly.

This included a young Lizzy Peacecraft who was now in the middle of one of her lessons. It was now October and getting rather chilly outside, the leaves were beginning to fall off the tress, fluttering to the ground as the young blond practiced her moves under Wufei's watchful eye.

She was a very quick learner, and practiced every chance she got. Smart, biting wit and deadly moves, the young heir was quickly growing up to be much like her father.

But on this particular day, she was as distracted as much her surrogate father was. Making her clumsy and completely unable to perform a lot of her difficult moves. Eventually the Chinese warrior realized that there was no use in any more practice and motioned that she should sit down underneath the tree that they practiced near.

Sitting down beside the tired girl, Wufei tried to figure out just what was making her so worried.

"Out with it Yuy, what's eating you up so much that you can't even perform simple tasks."

Sighing, Lizzy knew that she had to tell someone. "It's Duo... I'm worried about him. He's been acting so weird lately and I think it's got something to do with us."

"Ah, I see. Well you are right, it does concern you."

This alarmed the young girl even more. "Really? Do you think he wants to get rid of us, that he's tired of having us around? Maybe he wants to live alone again."

Shaking his head, Wufei opened up to the girl as he would to any adult he respected, she may be a woman, but he knew she wasn't weak, and treated her better than most other people for this very reason.

"It is the exact opposite, he's afraid of being alone again, he's very insecure and I think he fears that he might lose you and your brother. Maxwell's in the process of trying to adopt you right now."

"But we won't leave, we like it here... I couldn't even think about living without Duo, it'd be weird."

Suddenly the blond haired girl brightened, her prussian blue eyes glowing with untold mischief. "Maybe if he had someone else, he wouldn't feel so insecure. He just needs somebody to watch over him."

"I'm not sure Maxwell would appreciate you playing matchmaker for him, he's very picky with who he goes out with. I've only ever known him to ever like one person in that way." Wufei sounded oddly bitter when he said this, but it was so minor that there was no way Lizzy could have picked up on it.

"You don't have mince words, I know that he was with my father, and I know he likes other guys."

Slightly worried at her words, the dark haired man tried his hardest to persuade her against the foolish idea. "It would be impossible for you to find someone he likes AND trusts, he won't just go out with anyone."

Giving Wufei an once-over that made him feel extremely uncomfortable, she smiled to herself, schemes already starting to pop up in her head. "Just leave it to me, I'm sure I'll be able to find someone."

*****************

"You what?"

Smiling down at her younger brother, Lizzy walked around him as he sat on the floor drawing some homemade comics about `The Great Shinigami Man'.

"I want to set Duo up!"

"Again?"

"Well last time didn't work out, but that's because it was someone he didn't know, I just have to find him someone who is single, worthy, and a good friend of Duo."

"Like who?"

Crossing her arms and giving Nate the smuggest grin she could muster, she replied crisply. "Chang Wufei!"

Worry and something else filtered over Nate's small face, betraying his great dislike he carried for the idea. "What? No, no, no, no, no! This is a stupid idea. I don't want Duo to go out with some guy."

"Would you rather have him alone all day waiting for us to come home from school?"

"Yes!"

"Well fine, but I'm going to find him someone to make him happy."

"We make him happy, he doesn't need anyone else!"

Rolling her eyes, Lizzy gave up on trying to convince her little brother. "I guess you're just too much of a baby, too young to understand anything about love. Well I don't need your help, but give me one week and Colonel Chang will be moving in with us."

She left the room practically skipping, leaving her brother to somehow masterfully display a perfect scowl and pout at the same time.

Realizing that his efforts were being wasted on thin air, he decided to go find the one person who would be able to cheer him up.

Throwing his pencil crayons aside, the small boy jumped up and ran out of the room, searching all through the house until he came upon his overworked `uncle' sorting through mounds of paperwork.

One glance at Nate and Duo was in instant paternal mode, scooping up the upset boy in his arms.

"What's wrong little buddy?"

"Stupid Lizzy."

"Are you two fighting again?

"No... maybe... yes... But it's all her fault, she doesn't think we make you happy."

"Oh, don't think like that. You should know just how happy you make me. You personally saw what I was like before. So don't ever doubt how glad I am that you guys are here with me now."

Looking slightly unsure with himself, Nate asked the question presently on his mind. "Do... do you think you'd be happier if you had a boyfriend?"

Duo froze for about a millisecond, honestly thinking over what the boy had just asked. But before Nate could become even more worried, he grabbed the small chin, forcing the 8-yearl-old to look directly into his violet-blue eyes.

"Nothing in the world, not a boyfriend, nor a million dollars, nor the ownership of the colonies, could make me happier than I am right now living with you two. I don't crave a boyfriend, nor do I want one. I have all I want right here."

A childish grin spread over the cute features, showing just how happy the boy really was. Duo winked and Nate hugged him back as hard as he could. Being possessive in a way that Duo found incredibly adorable.

"Okay, you get going now. I have to finish up these forms, but when I'm done we can work on your costumes for Halloween. Have you decided what you want to be yet?"

Nodding enthusiastically, Nate yelled out his answer. "I'm going to be Shinigami."

Rolling his eyes, and talking to the ceiling, Duo groaned out loud. "Oi Heero, you've created a monster."

*******************************

Halloween itself was only a week later, and all four Gundam Boys showed up at Duo's house in ridiculous costumes to take the two children around town.

By the time Quatre and Trowa arrived, Wufei was already discussing justice philosophy with Lizzy, while Nate clung to Duo, telling him all about his day at school.

"And then in band class, the teacher went and dropped... Hey! It's Uncle Quatre and Uncle Trowa. Wow, you guys look great... what are you?"

Trowa was the first to step forward and pose, dressed in long white trousers, and a very formal tunic with lots of accessories, plus an old sword he'd borrowed from Wufei, he spoke in a mock formal voice. "I'm Prince Charming."

"Is he ever!" Dressed in flowing pants, a loose silk shirt, a bandana around his head, another borrowed sword, Quatre dropped his voice low. "And I'm a manly pirate, beware ye ol' prince."

Duo saw a stuffed toy glued to his shoulder and piped up.

"Oi Quatre, is that a dead parrot on your shoulder?"

"It's not dead... it's resting!"

Duo laughed at the two who were putting on the show for the children and in turn presented his own costume. "It was the only thing I could find on such short notice, I've been busy lately as you know."

Quatre was speechless at first, not knowing how to proceed. "You going as a priest?"

Duo was dressed in a long black robe with the familiar white priest neckpiece and had his sleeves rolled down all the way. He stepped forward to show off his rosary. "That's Father Duo to you, ye ol' heathen."

"What about you Wufei?"

Standing up off the couch, the Chinese Colonel walked up beside Duo wearing a similar black robe, but with no white collar. "You may address me as Judge Chang, be careful or I'll find you guilty. I'm the master of justice."

Trowa smirked at the two young men. "I thought you were supposed to dress up as thing you're not normally."

Duo shrugged with indifference. "I tried to go as ugly, but there were nothing able to hide my incredible beauty."

Not able to resist the open target, Wufei added to the comment "You mean there was nothing able to hide your incredible ego."

"Same thing."

Ignoring the mock fighting, Quatre turned to the two small children, giving them a bright smile. "So what are you two supposed to be?"

Lizzy, who was dressed up in a long brown trench coat and a funny looking hat, waved a magnifying glass in front of her. "I'm a undercover detective, solving the world's greatest mysteries."

She was practically shoved aside as Nate jumped in to show what he was. "I'm Shinigami!" He was dressed in a long black robe, much more flowing than either Duo's of Wufei's, and in his right hand, he held a long metal shaft that Duo must have given him.

"What's that Nate?" Smiling, the boy flipped a switch and a long thermal blade shot into the air, nearly slicing the head off of Quatre's `dead' parrot.

"Shit!" Quatre yelled in surprise. "Duo take that thing away from him right now!"

"Don't worry Q, I taught him everything he needs to know about handling my scythe, safety being the most important thing of course."

"Duo, he nearly chopped my head off. Either take it away from him, or I'll use that thin on you."

Grumbling a bit to himself, Duo turned off the thermal blade that he'd used during the war and put it aside in anther room. He came back out carrying some plastic scythe he had bought just incase. Twirling it in his fingers he handed the harmless toy to the young boy.

"Here little buddy, guess you'll have to use this one, next time only turn it on when people are further away from you. You know Quatre, he really could handle that thing, I've been teaching him my scythe moves, though I must admit it's more Lizzy's thing."

"That's... better." Quatre said as he looked at Nate play with the toy scythe, he then glared at his braided friend. "Duo, you sure to have an influence on children."

"What can I say, I make an impression on kids."

Wufei rolled his eyes. "I think it has more to do with the fact that you share the same mentality."

"Watch it justice boy, you're talking to a priest here, I might have you excommunicated!"

Pretending to tremble slightly, Wufei looked all `worried'. "Oh no! What will my Buddhist guru say when he hears that."

Quatre interrupted the battle of words when he caught sight of the time. "Children, and that means you two." He was pointing at Quatre and Wufei. "Halloween waits for no man. Shall we get going?"

Lizzy immediately jumped into the conversation, trying to put some of her schemes into play. "I want to go with Uncle Trowa and Uncle Quatre, I haven't seen them in awhile, and Nate wants to come too. We can go ahead and you guys can catch up with us later." She pulled at Nate's robe covered arm, but he clung tightly to Duo's hands, knowing exactly what she had planned.

"I don't want to go with them, I want to stay with Duo."

Trying to fix the situation, Duo tried to make a compromise. "Lizzy, you can go on with them, Nate can stay with us."

Putting on her best pout for show, Lizzy looked devastated. "But I really wanted Nate to be there."

"Oh! Well Nate, couldn't you just go with your sister this once?"

"No no no no no no no no!" As Nate repeated the mantra, he dug his hands deeper into the clerical robe and buried his face in Duo's side.

"Com'on Nate, don't be like that, your sister really wants you go with her, we'll be right behind you."

Lower lip extending in an even more powerful pout than his sisters, Nate reluctantly agreed to go, he really couldn't say no to Duo, even when he wanted to. Glaring hard at his sister, he took her hand reluctantly, only turning back to briefly send a death glare in Wufei's direction.

Duo joked as the group walked away. "Hey Nate, smile for me, you might get your face caught in that glare forever. I've seen it happen before, TWICE actually. Just ask Uncle Wufei, he's one of the victims."

"Baka..."

"Hey, I'm just calling it how I see it"

As soon as group was gone, Wufei walked over to the couch and sat down, giving the other Quatre and Trowa a head start on the streets.

"I'm afraid you were just duped Maxwell."

Slumping down besides his old friend, Duo gave him a goofy grin. "Impossible! I can't be duped."

"Has Lizzy ever tried to set you up?"

"You bet!" Laughing out loud, Duo shared the story with Chinese soldier. "She once had this really attractive teacher back in grade 4. She didn't do her homework for weeks and tried to act badly just so I would be called in and have to meet him. But he wasn't my type, way to happy go lucky. So all she ended up with was extra homework and me teasing her about it for weeks."

"Well she's trying again."

"Really? With who? I hope it's not that new teacher, she's a real witch."

Shifting uncomfortably Wufei looked straight at Duo with something like apprehension in his eyes, not that the braided man noticed. "You're looking right at him. She told me at our last practice that she was going to try and set you up so you wouldn't be so lonely.

Giving his friend a wide smile, Duo chuckled once again. "That Lizzy, she really does have a kind heart, but she should know that I'm never going to date again. I don't think I ever even dated when I was with Heero. It just kinda... happened." A sad statement suddenly replaced the shinning eyes and bright smile.

"So you don't think you'll ever even try again?"

Shaking his head, Duo smiled bitterly. "Once was enough, and I guess that I'm not really over Heero. What I had with him was special; it was once in a lifetime. There's no way I could ever replace that."

Wufei nodded his head slowly, disappointment just barely seeping through his controlled statement. But Duo wasn't looking; he just stared at the wall with a far off look in his eyes.

"Besides, ever since Lizzy and Nate came to live here, I feel like Heero's back with me. I mean, sure they both have much of him in them, but it's more than that. It's like I can feel him here watching over us. Watching them grow, making sure I stay out of trouble." Shaking his head to get out of his daze, Duo's happy smile returned to his face. "I'm probably just boring you now, maybe even getting all weird on you."

"No Maxwell, unfortunately you are making perfect sense. But if you ever do decide that there is more to life than Heero, then there's lots of people out there who would be honored to be with a man such as yourself."

"Thanks Wufei, that means a lot coming from you. Anyways, enough of this solemn chitchat. The kids will be getting antsy if we don't' show up soon. Race ya!"

With that, Duo shot up from his position on the couch and ran outside in a hurry.

Wufei smiled sadly to himself. To the outsider it may have appeared that that braided man was completely oblivious to what was going on, but Wufei knew better. Duo had just kindly offered him a way out of this without any embarrassment or mess.

As much as Wufei might have wanted more, maybe since the first day he first met the incredible, longhaired pilot, he was still more than happy to just have this wonderful person as his friend. He admitted a certain amount of jealousy when Heero was able to drag Duo out of his shell; he'd wanted to be the one to do that. And for a long time he hated Heero for what he'd done to his friend, one of the many reasons that he'd yelled at him that fated day 3 years ago. But in the end, it was Heero that Duo loved, and neither death nor time would ever change that.

Putting the depressing thoughts aside, he quickly ran after the exuberant young man before he could get to far ahead of him.

"Come back here you corrupt priest, Justice will not be beaten by the likes of you"

****************************

The regent of Sank, Milliardo Peacecraft, stared straight ahead at the offensive porch door. He was in a place he wasn't aloud to be, trying to meet with someone he wasn't aloud to meet, Duo Maxwell.

Although the children were brought every now and then to visit him at the palace, the meetings were always brief. Like Duo was petrified that Milliardo would try to whisk them away if he looked away for just a second. And maybe he would have, who knows.

But now was not a time to dwell on personal vendettas, he was here to make peace, it was his family's legacy that he had to watch out for.

Knocking once again, the menacing door finally opened up to reveal a very surprised and tired looking ex-Gundam Pilot.

"Zechs! What are you doing you here? You could get in a lot of trouble if anyone finds out, you have exactly one minute to explain yourself."

"I need to talk to you about the appeals you've been making, and please don't call me Zechs."

Pointing a finger at the taller blond man, Duo's eyes glared dangerously. "You know, you've got some nerve showing up here. I have every right to make those appeals, you and your stupid government can talk `behind' my back all you want, and try to prevent me from adopting, but you can't stop me from at least trying."

"That's not why I'm here, I just want to talk, no funny business, I promise."

Throwing his arms up into the air in a show of frustration, Duo gave up. "Fine, I'll talk to you, but don't expect me to change my mind, I'm a better adversary than you ever game me credit for."

The Peacecraft royalty nodded his head in agreement before pushing past the smaller man. "Can I just see Elizabeth and Nate first, I brought them some gifts."

"Fine, fine. Lizzy! Nate! Your uncle's here to see you."

Both children rushed down stairs expecting to see one of the other Gundam Pilots, but were more than pleased to find their one real uncle standing at the doorway.

"Uncle Milliardo! You came to visit us!" Lizzy ran into his open arms, giving him a strong hug, happy to see him once again.

"Yup, and I brought you something. Here, open it." He handed her a nicely wrapped present.

Once opened, it revealed a very elegant lacy, pink dress.

"It's... pink." Looking up into the happy eyes of her uncle, she smiled anyways, telling him just one little white lie. "And I love it, thank you so much."

Nate was jumping up and down impatiently. "Now me, now me." Milliardo handed him another small package; he opened it in a flash of wrapping paper.

"Wow, a computer game. I'm going to go try it out right now."

Looking over at her brother's present in envy, she immediately followed him. "Wait, I'll show you how to use it. I'm older than you, remember!"

Both men smiled as the two children ran off to try the new computer game.

"So Zechs, shall we?"

"Yes please."

Duo led the older man through the house until they came to an old den that he used for `Operation Adopt'. Sitting himself down he offered a chair to the regent.

"Sorry if it's not what you're used to, I'm only a poor street rat if I recall correctly."

"I'm not here to insult you, or threaten you or do anything like that."

"Then why are you here?"

"To make peace."

Duo couldn't help but roll his eyes at the comment. "Oh god, you really are a Peacecraft. I'm thrilled that you want to make peace and all, but it's not that simple."

"But it can be, I would like to propose something to you."

"Sorry Zechs, I just don't think of you that way, but I'm flattered."

Shaking his head in amusement, Milliardo let a smile creep up. There was just something about Duo Maxwell that put you at ease, even when you should be anything but.

"Very amusing, but I think you might like what I have to say."

"Really? Please continue, this should be good."

"First of all, I want you to understand my position. I have never had much of a family, the only one I ever knew was taken away from me at a young age, I think you can understand what that's like, even if it was under different circumstances." Duo nodded grimly, giving the man that much. " So it was a big blow to lose my only sister that I had just found again, but the one thing that made the blow much easier to bear, was the knowledge that she'd left behind two wonderful children. But thanks to Heero's foresight, my only family was once again ripped away from me, I have tried my best to deal with the situation, and with very little co-operation from you I might add. BUT I think I may have found a solution that would please us both."

Finding sympathy for the man against his will, Duo's face softened as he listened to what the man had to say.

"It's come to my attention that you are trying to adopt the Peacecraft children."

"Yuy children, not Peacecraft."

"Fine, either way, my niece and nephew. Normally this would be an impossible thing to grant, you would have unlimited power with the children, even taking them away from the throne if it suited your needs, or replacing the crown princess with anyone in your family, including yourself. You'd have to right to become regent, take over the country. You can see why this presents a problem."

"Zechs, I know all this, but you know that's not why I want to adopt them."

"I know, and that's why I'm here today. I'm willing to make a deal with you. If you can sign an agreement, or even give me your word, that not only will you do everything in your power to make sure Elizabeth inherits the throne, that you won't make a bid for the throne, nor let anyone else make a bid for it. Let the children keep their last names, AND grant me just once a week with both children to train them in matters of the court, then I will use every ounce of my power as regent, and third heir to the throne, to grant your application for adoption."

Duo was completely taken aback by the elegant man sitting before him. "You'd really do that... you'd really go through all that trouble for me?"

"No, of course I wouldn't. But I'd go through all that trouble for them."

Grin returning to Duo's shocked face; he shot out his hand to shake Milliardo's. "I give you my word as a Gundam Pilot, thief, street rat and whatever the hell else you want me to give my words as, that I'll agree to all those terms above. You, Mr. Marquise, have got yourself a deal."

Taking the offered hand, Milliardo shook it warmly, glad that Duo has at least been willing to listen. Nodding one, he then got up to leave. "You can expect the adoption papers to be delivered tomorrow, sign them and I'll take care of them personally."

Happy beyond belief, Duo showed him to the door. "Sure you don't want to stay for a bit? The kids would love to have a family member stay over for dinner."

"Thanks, but no thanks. I really have to get back before the reporters discover my trail and learn where you live. Besides, I think they already have the most important family member living with them. Don't listen to the news so much, you're a much better father than I would ever have given you credit for. Heero made the right choice in choosing you. Anyway, I'll be back in a week to torture the kids. Good bye."

"Thank you Milliardo, I mean it." With a mock look of shock, the regent turned around as he walked down the pathway.

"Milliardo? And I was getting used to you calling me Zechs."

"Hey I was just being polite, you'll always be Zechs to me."

"Good." With one last wave and a flurry of blond hair, the man turned around and began walking towards a waiting taxi.

Duo closed the door, unable to keep the joy bottled up for long. He ran into the room where Lizzy and Nate were now squabbling.

"Lizzy, it's my game, let me play."

"No, you had your chance and you lost badly, now it's my turn."

"Oi munchkins, can I ask you something?" Both children fell silent to look up at their surrogate father. The bags under his eyes had all but disappeared, like he was reborn.

"What would you say to joining the exclusive and, very small, Maxwell family lineage?"

Lizzy was the first to realize what he was talking about and literally jumped into his arms. "You mean you get to adopt us?"

"You bet. Although you'll have to keep your last name, but as far as the papers are concerned, you're mine, ALL mine! Besides, Nathaniel Maxwell Maxwell would've sound wrong somehow"

Nate ran over to join his sister, tackling the man who was in more ways than one, his real father. He had just been too young to really remember all that much about his birth parents.

Ruffling the small boy's hair, Duo flung him upside down and tickled him while he was defenseless.

"See Nate, I told you I don't need anyone else, you guys make me happy enough."

Lizzy seemed surprised at the words, and realized that were really directed at her, she'd been caught before she'd really begun. Darn!

"Oh, and before I forget, you both have political, diplomatic and royal training with your Uncle Milliardo as of next week. We wouldn't want the heirs to the throne ending up like ME, now would we?"

Both children groaned at the prospect of undergoing the training, but were happy that it was at least with their Uncle.

"You guys finish up here, I have to go write a letter, I'll call you over for supper when it's ready."

As he walked off, he could here the squabbling begin just as easily as it had stopped earlier. But the sibling rivalry only made Duo happier as he prepared himself for writing to an old acquaintance of his. He already knew what he was going to say.

`Dear Heero, You'll never guess what happened today... '

 

OWARI

 

[1] SBC, Sank Broadcasting Corporation, as opposed to ABC (American Broadcasting Corporation), BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

[2] In the Scandinavian countries, you don't start grade one until you are 7 years old, as opposed to 6 in most countries, and 5 in Canada. Since Sank is more like a Scandinavian country (just LOOK at Relena and Zechs, what else could the be?), then that would mean Nate is now entering Grade 2, and Lizzy is now entering Grade 6.

 

The end, well what did you think of my little crossover. I was thinking of giving you a hint of the next one, but that would be WAYYY too mean. Plus it might give away too much. So tell me what you thought about this one (See I told you people out there, Zechs isnt' an ass, just hurt like every one else)