Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing.
Warning: Possible graphic triggers for abused PTSD sufferers.
“You’re limping today,” the voice came to him from his left. He turned and looked at the girl who sat next to him in his math class. She wasn’t smiling but looking at his shirt curiously with bright blue eyes. Her brown hair was messy, like it hadn’t seen a brush, and was pulled back into a pony tail. Her clothes were baggy on her; her pants seemed to have a few stains of unintelligible origins. “Last week you were favoring your left arm, and today you walked in trying not to show a limp.”
“I’m clumsy,” he answered back the unasked question. She smiled and chuckled, but still didn’t look at his face. He tilted his head down a bit trying to get her to look at him and she turned toward her hands on her desk to away from him.
“I don’t think anyone is that clumsy. I understand, though. I guess you can say I’m clumsy, too,” she laughed a bit as if she was saying a joke. “You can come and sit with us at lunch today, okay?”
“I’m fine,” he said. She shook her head. “What?” he asked.
“It wasn’t a question. You need us,” she stated matter-of-factly and went back to doing her math work on the paper. Lunch was after math, so when the bell rang not long after she grabbed her book bag and then onto his long sleeve and dragged him along with her.
The “us” she had been speaking about where a group of misfits who sat together and were the newest group formed in the school. He had heard from some of the other students that they gathered the bullied and the out casts and made themselves a group like non-other in the history of the school. Usually in middle and high schools the picked on stayed away from others to avoid more harassment. These girls and boys’ motto was that you can’t be picked on if you had a group and so they pulled in any who seemed to need a friend. Daniel thought that it wasn’t the worse group to be invited into. She sat down and so did Daniel. He brought out his home packed lunch from his bag, but saw that most of them didn’t have any food in front of them. There were four girls and three boys sitting there on the steps to the court yard in the corner and away from the larger more popular groups. He knew the girl from math was named Jenna, but the others were just from passing. Jenna seemed to sense his hesitation as he didn’t eat his meal so she pointed to each in turn starting with the girls, “This is Bob, Starr, Jessi, and the boys are Lep, Keenan, and Kenré.” Once again Daniel noticed she didn’t look at anyone when she did the introductions. The other’s, except Kenré, all nodded their heads and smiled at him. “You all already know Daniel,” she stated as she looked up finally to another two people approaching the group with their arms filled with food from the cafeteria. “Those two are Ashley and Rosemary,” Daniel recognized Ashley from the special needs students who came into P.E. with him during that hour. She was severely mentally challenged but very quick to smile and want to be everyone’s friend. He had felt horrible with how he watched the female P.E. students treat the girl during the hour.
They all had “reasons” that the popular groups picked on them. They were either extremely obese, mentally challenged, or homosexual. He was sure Lep was homosexual if the rainbow wrist bands, choker, and earrings were anything to go by. He suspected Kenré was mentally challenged, but he was mainstreamed unlike Ashley. He wasn’t bothered, though, by these things. He didn’t think any of those were reasons to not like someone. He had been bullied enough in the bigot school to understand the need to just be yourself. He smiled and bit into his sandwich while their food was distributed. Kenré pulled out his meal from his pack as well and without looking at each other, he handed a similar lunch bag to his own over to Jenna.
“My mother made your lunch for you,” he explained as she took it and opened it up. “She even remembered to cut the bread correctly. She is so sorry she forgot yesterday.” Jenna smiled and pulled out the contents of the bag and precariously set them out on her lap. She brought everything out and then carefully refolded the bag to a square shape. Being as meticulous as she could she start to eat off her lap starting from left to right. He looked over at Kenré who was eating from his bag instead of pulling things out all at once. He reached in and then ate what came out as it came out.
The others all ate as well and talked about random things. Staying at each other’s houses and then everything changed to the mall after school. Lep turned to Daniel, “You’re coming with us.” Once again Daniel didn’t know whether to be annoyed or not that they were ordering him to do something.
“I have to tell my mom first,” he said as he took another bite of his sandwich.
“My sister can drive us there first, then,” Jenna said. “I’ll take Daniel, Kenré, Lep and Ashley in our van. We have one more seat if someone wants it. I’m sure Niki won’t mind.”
Bob spoke up, “I think you should take Starr, too. You know she would be upset if she was separated from her girlfriend for too long!” They all laughed, except Daniel and Jenna, as Jenna turned bright red. Daniel looked at the group and realized that they teased each other, too, but it was out of camaraderie and not out of malice. Starr reached over and punched Bob in the shoulder, then stood up and sat next to Jenna to say something into the other girl’s ear. Jenna turned an even brighter shade of red. Bob laughed harder and choked out, “My brother will take the rest of us. We’ll meet in front of the Chinese food place in the center.” Starr kissed Jenna’s cheek when the bell rang and Daniel wondered how his thoughts that Kenré was dating Jenna turned to sudden realization that Jenna was with Starr. That wasn’t something she expected.
It was Jenna and Daniel only in the van as they waited with Jenna’s sister for the rest of the group to come out of the school. Daniel was nervous and hoped his mother didn’t mind him leaving for the few hours to be with his new friends. Jenna was taping onto the handle of the front seat as she waited. She started rocking in her chair along with the rhythm and humming quietly. Daniel became more nervous as he waited. He didn’t know what she was doing, but it was starting to feel weird to him. Niki, Jenna’s eighteen year old sister, turned in her seat and looked at the wide eyed Daniel. “Jenna,” she brought the girl out of whatever she was doing in a quiet voice. “Jenna, did you tell Daniel about your Autism?” She stopped humming, but now added shaking her head to the rocking. Niki turned to Daniel, “She’ll stop soon. School overwhelms her. She has higher functioning Autism.”
Daniel looked more at the girl in front of him, from what he could see at least, and realized the unbrushed hair, the not looking into his eyes, and sometimes how she would draw circles on the top of her math work was all signs of this disorder he really didn’t understand. “Is the mall a good idea?” he asked. “If school overwhelms her, then won’t the mall put her in a worse… uh… mood?”
“Over stimulation is something she does to herself sometimes. She’ll calm down at home as long as she doesn’t see our dad tonight,” she stopped talking and looked conflicted. Daniel remembered Jenna saying that she was also “clumsy”. Realization once again dawned onto him. Her father didn’t like her behaviors or maybe didn’t like her girlfriend. Something caused him to want to hurt his daughter. “She deals just fine and the others bring out her inner personality more. She’ll stop once we start driving,” she said.
Kenré chose that moment to open the other sliding door and look at Daniel. “That’s my seat,” the blond told him. He stared straight into Daniel’s eyes for the first time ever. A challenge, he realized. He nodded and unbuckled to let Kenré climb in and he went to the seat behind Kenré.
“Can I sit here?” he asked the other boy. Kenré nodded and then looked up at Jenna. “Oh…” he said as he noticed Jenna rocking and humming and now shaking her head. He looked out the window and watched everyone streaming out of the building. Lep and Ashley filed in next and took the back bench with Daniel. Starr got in, shut the sliding door, buckled and then leaned forward to pull Jenna back into her seat and squeeze her lower arm.
“Shh,” she said to the other twelve year old. “Okay, Niki, we’re all set.” Daniel watched Lep pull the seatbelt around Ashley and latch it. Jenna lowered her window and waved her hand through the wind as it blew through like a ship on water. Kenré covered his face with his hands from the wind and Daniel heard him start to hum as Starr reached down and brought a blanket up from the floor and give it to the other boy, “Kenré, here’s your blanket dear.” Kenre grabbed it and pulled it over his head to completely cover himself from the wind.
Daniel turned to Lep who was next to him in the seat, “Is Kenré like Jenna?”
“You mean Autistic?” Lep asked back. Daniel nodded. The red head smiled at him and nodded, “Yeah, but they are different. Things Jenna enjoys can set Kenré off. They both enjoy the mall, though. Jenna can’t stand strangers touching her or talking to her, but she enjoys the sounds and sights. Kenré is extra social, we have to watch him carefully because he’ll wander off to talk with strangers, and he enjoys all of the strangers.”
Daniel looked over at Ashley, “And Ashley?”
Lep looked at the girl who had pulled out a coloring book and was coloring a page of Disney Princesses all red instead of changing colors. “She is mentally slow; about the age of a three or four year old. Her mother said she was born like this. She lets her come with us because she is thrilled that Ashley finally has friends. She’s a sweetheart and always happy. She also has to be watched, though.” Lep sighed, “I usually get Kenré duty since I know how to calm him down if he starts to stim.”
“Stim?” Daniel tested the new word.
“What Jenna does in the van after school. Autistic people have different ways to get stimulation to avoid the real world. Kenré can start to stim, but if whatever is bothering him isn’t removed or he isn’t stopped, then he becomes violent. Jenna has also had a tantrum during an outing, too, but her’s are rare. Only her dad can bring out those tantrums more than usual,” he had the look that Niki had when they spoke of the man. As if they were saying too much. “Starr has Jenna and Rosemary takes Ashley.” Daniel nodded. “We all help, though. If we see one of them wandering off or needing help, we step in.”
This was an odd group Daniel had found himself in. He turned away to see Starr looking at him cautiously. He smiled at her. It might be an odd group, but it didn’t bother him. It was still a way to stay away from his foster dad.
They were standing in line for Chinese food, which Jenna refused to eat and so had a sub from SubWay in front of her made just the way she’d eat it, when a stranger approached them. He had bright blond hair and baby blue eyes. He was older than them by a few years but he seemed to come out of a confused daze when he locked eyes with Daniel. “DUO!” he yelled as he came rushing over. He was a half a head taller than Daniel.
“Duo, where have you been? We thought you were in Spain,” he said to Daniel. Daniel shook his head slowly and looked at the others in the group watching.
“My name is Daniel,” he told the older boy. “I don’t even speak Spanish.” At least, he didn’t think he did. The boy had an Arabic accent that was almost hidden with his perfect American English.
Starr came over then with Jessi next to her, “Maybe you do know him, Daniel.” Starr pointed to the boy who kind of did look familiar to Daniel. “Maybe you know Spanish, too.” They had just been talking about his amnesia after he had gotten permission to go to the mall with the others. They had said maybe he would find his family and here was a boy that looked nothing like him who said his name was a name that started with a “d” like he had thought.
“Duo?” the boy asked concerned.
“Look, my name is Daniel. Please stop calling me this other name. It’s kind of unnerving,” he said. He started to walk away from the blond. He didn’t want to know how this older boy knew him, because right now he was finally starting to not mind his life.
“He was hurt about a year ago. He has amnesia,” he heard Jessi explain to the other boy. Great, even his new friends were trying to “help” when he didn’t want them to. If he wasn’t around to take the brunt of Justin’s temper than he could turn onto Chia.
The boy broke away from the group of children and grabbed Daniel’s arm. Daniel didn’t even think about it, he turned and swung a punch at the older boy. To his surprise the older boy caught the punch before it could impact his face and held the fist tightly in the air. Daniel grabbed back his hand and stepped away. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled. He took off down the long halls of the mall toward the bathrooms on the other end.
When he finally returned to the misfit group all eating their supper at a large table the blond kid was gone. Starr reached into her pocket and handed him a note. No words were exchanged as he opened the note up.
I’m sorry I scared you away. I heard more of what happened from the kids. I would like to talk with you. We didn’t know you were in the States or we would have gotten you earlier. Please just call or text my number and meet me soon. I think you should know who you are. Having amnesia cannot be any fun. I’m sure Trowa would understand better than me, but he’s off planet. I’ll contact him as well since he can help you better, but I do think you should talk with me as soon as you can.
Below that was a phone number for a cell. He sat down with the others who were chatting amongst themselves again and he was grateful they ignored him. He had wanted someone to find him for so long, but now he didn’t want to abandon Chia to a possible life of abuse nor did he want to disappoint Kira with having them remove Chia for his protection. Maybe knowing more about who he was wouldn’t cause them to remove him? He could only hope, because his curiosity was too great not to contact this other boy.
~*~ Tsuzuku ~*~