> Do it. . . You *know* you want to. . .

You're right... I do...

Not mine, don't sue. And angsty, maybe OOC?

The Mission Gone Wrong by Lys ap Adin

"Just a stupid infiltration, get in, blow it all straight to hell, and then get out, right?! Why does it always have to go wrong?!" Duo ranted.

"Shut up, Duo," Heero muttered. "We don't wanna hear it."

"The funny lady said a bad word," gasped the tiny child clutched in Heero's arms.

"I am not a funny lady!" Duo looked tempted to rant more, but shut up under the weight of the glare from the Japanese pilot.

The kid in his own arms laughed at him. "But boys don't wear their hair in braids!"

"This one does," Duo grumbled. He sighed and shifted the slight weight. "So, now what do we do?"

"I'm thinking about it," Heero snapped.

"Of all the days for there to be a guided tour of an OZ base," Quatre moaned, looking at the pile of children who had glomped him. "Why *this* one?"

"God hates us," Duo muttered. "Ne, Heero, thought of anything yet?"

"No."

The little girl laughed at Heero. "You're grumpy. You need a nap."

Duo chuckled. "Somehow I just don't think it'd help..." He held up the kid defensively. "Oi, you can't kill me with all these kids around!"

Wufei smirked. "What's to stop him later?"

"My sultry good looks and a bottle of chocolate syrup effectively used?"

"Duo! Not in front of the children!" Quatre, aghast, covered the ears of the closest child to him.

A little girl tugged on Trowa's sleeve. "Mister? What happened to Miss Annie?"

The five gundam pilots froze, and looked at each other over the heads of the eight small children. "Is Miss Annie your teacher?" Quatre asked carefully.

"Uh huh. What happened to her?" repeated the girl.

The five winced, each remembering the moments of chaos as they had come upon the confused and frightened school group in the middle of the OZ base that was coming down around their ears--the split-second decision that they couldn't allow the blood of these innocents to be on their hands as well--the panicked flight, the explosions, the screams...

"We don't know where Miss Annie is," Trowa said quietly.

"Do you think she's okay?"

"Oh, Jesus," Duo mumbled under his breath.

"She's probably just fine," Wufei spoke up, expressionless face not quite able to hide all of the pain in his eyes.

"Are you sure?" asked one of the boys clinging to Wufei's legs. "It was so *scary*." He sniffled a little in emphasis.

This started a chain reaction among the children as they remembered the terror that had ended their fieldtrip. Sniffles, whimpers, and crying quickly filled the temporary safehouse.

Wufei looked panicked. "Now what do we do?" he hissed. "We never should have brought them here!"

Duo was rubbing soothing circles on the back of the sobbing child of indeterminate gender in his arms. "You wanted to leave them back there at the base?" he asked sarcastically.

"NO! ...I just have no experience with small children," the other boy muttered.

"Well, neither do the rest of us," Quatre volunteered, doing his utmost to comfort the three little ones who had adopted him.

Heero stroked his little girl's hair awkwardly, trying to figure out how he could open his laptop and start working on a solution while holding her. "Don't cry."

Trowa rescued him, taking the girl. Heero shot him a vaguely relieved look and immediately set to work.

Duo seized on the moment as best as he was able. "Oi, it looks like Mr. Grumpy over there is going to work for a little while. Why don't we do something else?" He smiled at the kids widely, blinking large violet eyes and making a desperate effort to distract them.

Quatre sighed in relief as the Maxwell charm worked its magic; in minutes Duo was laughing and tussling with the four boys on the floor. That, however, left four little girls staring at him, Wufei, and Trowa with large, unblinking eyes.

"Well, now what?" the Arabian asked, mind racing as he tried to remember what his own sisters had enjoyed doing. All he could remember was a lot of pink and stuffed animals...

One of the little girls removed her finger from her mouth. "Let's... have a tea party."

"All right," Trowa agreed.

Quatre caught Wufei trying to sneak away. "Not so fast, Justice Boy," he growled. "You're involved in this too."

Whatever it was that Wufei muttered then, Quatre didn't know. He had a fairly good idea that it wasn't polite...

Several minutes later, Duo sat up, breathless from the tickling he had received at the hands of four very energetic little sadists-in-the-making. In doing so, he was treated to the priceless sight of three of the five most feared guerillas in the world, sitting in a circle on the floor with four little girls, having a tea party. Quatre seemed to be having the least difficulty with the concept. Duo chalked it up to previous experience with the horde of sisters. Wufei was definitely unhappy--Duo could hear faint snatches of a vigorously muttered justice rant. Trowa--who could say what Trowa was thinking? Not Duo, that was for sure. Heavyarms' pilot amiably played along with the charade of drinking pretend tea with the girls, even going so far as to chatter (well, for *him* it was chattering) with the four.

"Let's sing the teapot song!" shouted one of the little boys, obviously inspired by the tableau.

Wufei left off his muttering in order to look confused--and frightened. "The... teapot song?" he asked.

There was a shout of joy from the children, even as Wufei attempted to figure out what they meant. He soon found out.

"I'm a little tea pot/Short and stout. . ." Trowa murmured softly, "Here is my handle/Here is my spout." He made small motions with his hands as he sang.

Quatre recovered from his shock, and joined in with the singing children. "When I get all steamed up, hear me shout: Tip me over and pour me out..."

Heero looked up from the laptop. "Kanryou."

Duo looked at him sharply. "Well?" he demanded softly, eyes flickering to the children and back in an obvious reference.

Heero lowered his eyes. "I found their families. Let's get them home."

Duo's shoulders sagged. He wanted to scream curses and lash out and cry, all at once, but restrained himself. There was no sense in upsetting the children. They'd find out soon enough. Why not let them stay free of the horrors of war for a little bit longer?

He clapped his hands briskly. "Oi, kids, your parents say we have to take you home now... as much as we'd like to keep you. Time to go!"

Wufei looked immeasurably relieved by the prospect, immediately standing and beginning the process of rounding munchkins up. Quatre and Trowa moved more slowly, sliding questioning glances at Duo. He merely shook his head, eyes dark.

They split the children into groups, each pilot taking two children but Heero and Wufei, and they headed out, bidding the safehouse of a few hours farewell.

 

 

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The little girl who had attached herself to Heero looked up at him with trusting eyes as he snuck her home, avoiding drawing any notice to himself. "Do you really think Miss Annie will be all right?" she asked.

Heero closed his eyes. "I don't think anything will ever hurt her again," he said finally.

Her little face wrinkled up as she puzzled through this. "Oh... does that mean she's gone to Heaven like my kitty did last year?"

Heero cleared his throat. "Yeah."

She sniffled, wiping clumsily at her eyes. "Why'd she have to go away?"

Heero knelt so that he could be on level with her eyes. "Sometimes... sometimes bad things happen," he told her, wishing Duo or Quatre--anyone with better people skills--were around to help him. "People make mistakes, and other people have to pay for them. It isn't fair, but it's the way life is." He paused, drawing on his knowledge of Duo's God and Heaven. "But I know that your Miss Annie is watching you from Heaven, and she wouldn't want you to be sad, because someday, you'll get to see her again. Okay?"

She nodded, biting her lower lip, and then threw her arms around his neck. "I'm gonna miss her!"

Heero patted her back carefully. "That's okay... she probably misses you too. Now, your parents must be worrying about you... Let's go home."

She nodded, and Heero stood, taking her hand and leading her to the residential area her address indicated. He paused at the foot of a walkway, letting the child run ahead to knock on her home's door. He waited only long enough to see the door open to let her in before turning away, walking away briskly and wondering how many more innocents would have their lives shattered before the war ended.

 

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~~Owari~~

<blinks> Didn't really expect it to get this angsty. Gomen.