Blank Slate Chapter Twenty-Four

Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing… *sniffles*

Chapter Twenty -Four

Duo was making himself a tuna and celery sandwich when the others came into the break room. He generously gestured to his food asking if they’d like one, but they all declined in their own ways. Shrugging his shoulders he sat down with them at a large circular table. “The last of the antidote left the tarmac about fifteen minutes ago,” Quatre informed them all.

“We found enough antidote to convict the priest,” Wufei said in answer. Duo snorted and swallowed his large bite, “FAKE priest.” Wufei waved his hand and nodded to concede the man had definitely been an imposter. “We can only link Alecia Grahm into all of this because she confessed, but now she is going against what she said. She has also lawyered up, and they are pressing for confession under duress.” All of them made a small noise to show what they thought of that idea.

“We are making what we need of the antidote now that we have a sample batch to compare it to, as well,” Trowa said after a moment of silence. Duo took another large bite of his sandwich and mumbled something.

“Oh for the love of the Earth, chew and swallow before talking, Maxwell!” Wufei yelled as he turned away from the burnet. Duo started to choke and cough and finally was able to get down what he had taken.

“I said, I’m glad I finally had it figured out… What was the casualty count?” he turned to Heero.

The Japanese boy said in a quiet, but still firm voice, “There were almost 500 dead last we checked. This is all in the British region, though. Here in the United States we haven’t lost anyone.” The unsaid ‘yet’ hung in the air as they knew the first batch of antidote went straight to Britain to stop the dying children from continuing. Their new batches would be ready soon, but they didn’t know how fast the disease could spread in some people and it was a give and take on how long the fever rose to kill certain kids.

“Do you have all of your memories back?” Quatre asked after they were brooding for a while on the innocent children. Duo had taken another bite of his meal so he started off with nodding, and then decided to shake his head, and then rock it side to side and finally just level it all off with an indecisive shrug.

“That was an interesting display of charades,” Wufei said.

“Very expressive,” Trowa added. Heero finished it all off with, “And he still answered.” Quatre laughed as Duo finished the last of his food and stuck his tongue out at them all like a little child.

“I have a lot of them back,” Duo finally said. He used a napkin to wipe his hands and face. They all stared at him, “You want me to elaborate?”

“We want to know where you were before you lost your memories,” Wufei informed him.

“It would be helpful to know how you came across Brennon and Grahm,” Heero added.

Duo sat for a minute and studied the grains in the wood table. “After the party settled down I went to Spain for a few weeks. It’s a large Catholic area, and I thought I could blend in there well and maybe get into one of the churches. It wasn’t so easy, though. After almost three weeks I came to this area. I went to the Cathedral and met with Father O’Neil. He was a bit on the older side, and he at first mistook me for being a kid, but I convinced him I wasn’t and we got along great. I worked in the church doing things that would usually cost money to get done. In repayment I was given a small room up in the Priest’s house on the grounds in the backyard. Many nights Father O’Neil would sleep in his office in the Cathedral, so when he didn’t come home I didn’t panic.

“One day, though, while I was setting up for morning Mass another priest came in to help me. He was surprised to see me, and when I asked where Father O’Neil was, he told me that O’Neil had been sent to another church during the night due to an illness of another priest. It was almost a good lie, and at first I was inclined to believe it, until about three days later during Latin Mass he mispronounced a ton of words. The congregation didn’t catch it, but we’re all very fluent in many languages and a good priest knows his Latin.”

“You figured he wasn’t a real priest when he didn’t speak Latin?” Quatre asked.

“It’s like if an Imam didn’t know Arabic, Q-man,” Duo shrugged. “Anyway, I decided to do some snooping around to figure out what was going on. He hadn’t been there for a month before I found the information on his computer about the virus and the antidote. At first I was confused about it all. I was starting to get worried for Father O’Neil not showing back up, and everything was clicking into the wrong places in my brain. It was another week before I went down to the basement and saw the completed antidote in crates and Brennon and Alecia having a chat over the boxes.

I ran back to my room to pack my things so I could find you guys or just get to a Preventer station as fast as possible. I never made it out of the room. I don’t know what they got me with, but it must have been the same stuff they shot me with later when they had grabbed Sam. Waking up hurt like a… uh, female dog,” he shifted his gaze to Quatre’s and continued, “and I realized I was being tortured by Alecia and some wonderful henchmen. I think they could have been the same guys that hurt Sam, but it’s all still a bit foggy.

I don’t know how long they held me, but at one point they frantically tried to get me moved to another location. The back door, though, wasn’t locked and I was able to shimmy my way from my ropes. I remember thinking that the ground was going to hurt as I went out head first, but I don’t remember the pain.” He sat back and looked up at the ceiling. “Father O’Neil is dead, huh?”

Wufei nodded, “We found him behind the crates in the basement. He was released to the church for a proper burial.”

“Why did you stop taking the pills?” Heero asked after a short silence in honor of the priest.

Duo sighed, “I took them for the first four months I was there, but when Brennon showed up he took me as a kid. I knew something was off with him, so to keep myself from getting bigger as fast as the pills were working, I just stopped taking them. I was going to continue after I reported Brennon for being a fake, but… well, it’s difficult to take something like that when you don’t even remember you need them.” He rolled his eyes and then looked over at the machines before getting up to get a cola from one of them. “Being an adult, though, means I can’t be told to not drink or eat shit foods!”

“Duo!” Quatre scolded. The burnet shrunk his head down into his shoulders.

“It’s not a bad word, Q! I swear it is useful!” Duo defended himself as he sat down with his caffeine and sugar filled drink. Wufei made a face at his selection and the American stuck his tongue out at his friend.

“Cussing is for the uneducated and inarticulate. You are far from being either of those,” Quatre said as he also stood up to get a water from a machine.

“He certainly doesn’t ever shut up,” Wufei added.

“Shove it, Wuffles,” Duo said before drinking a swig. He then looked over at his blond friend, “Can we throw a party?”

“His A.D.D. has returned,” Trowa said in his calm voice. Heero shook his head and gave a small smile to show his amusement. Duo ignored them and waited for Quatre’s answer.

“Sure. I think we deserve to have a party,” Quatre said before taking a drink of his water and smiling at Duo who was showing his excitement by hooting and hollering while throwing his arms around in the air.

~*~Ma~*~

There was cakes, soda machines, water coolers, a fruit bar, and meat and cheese plates. All around Duo was a beautiful display of food and delights. He held back, though, as guests arrived through the doors to the mansion that Quatre had officially given to him just the day before. Duo had argued about it, of course. He wanted to pay for the place or maybe just rent it from his friend, but Quatre insisted and in the end Duo’s arguments didn’t hold water. (“Did Quatre just out-talk Duo?” Trowa asked. Wufei answered, “We are in a lot of trouble.”)

Duo greeted everyone as they came in and he felt his heart fill with a joy he had lost when he had had to leave each of these people for the next foster home. Mrs. Snow showed up first and Duo had hugged her without thinking about it. As more and more people showed up he felt overwhelmed a bit, but happy inside.

“I’m glad you know who you are now,” Mama Snow said as they were talking over a fruit kabob.

“Can I still… uh, can I still have you as, well…” Duo didn’t know how to phrase it without sounding like a creepy guy.

“Duo, I would very much still want you for a son,” Mrs. Snow pulled the boy into a hug. “And at least with you being seventeen, you can drive to see me!” He laughed against her shoulder.

“The scary thought is someone gave him that license,” Wufei said from behind them.

“Don’t mind him, Mama Snow, he has ring-worm and it’s really itchy,” Duo informed his foster mother.

“Are you ever going to grow up, Maxwell?” Wufei asked as he crossed his arms in irritation.

Duo put a finger against his chin and looked up in mock contemplation. “Nope! This is my Neverland and I will never grow up!” he declared. He ran from a now seething Wufei Chang and went to hide in the corner by the soda machines. He looked around as he sipped on a glass of coke-a-cola. Jenna, Starr and Bob were talking with Mama Snow and Quatre. Kennan, Kenre, Rosemary and Ashley were all bent over a table while Heero showed them something on his computer to get a formula for something Duo wasn’t caring about at the moment. Jessi and Lep were trying to convince Trowa to kidnap them into the circus. Wufei was eating from the fruit bar on the other side of the room and eyeing the braided teen back.

As Duo was about to join one of the groups chatting when a woman came through the front door looking hesitant. It was Sam’s mom and Duo felt his heart drop at the sight of her. She had bags under her eyes and her hair was a bit stringy from lack of care. She had done a good job putting on make-up to hide it all, but even her shoulders drooped a bit low. It was hard to see for him, but he had invited them to the party because Sam was still a great friend to him. He walked up to her and looked down at the floor, “I’m so sorry I put him in danger like that.”

She grabbed him into a fierce hug, “You all saved him!” She breathed in trying to hold her tears back. “He will be released from the hospital next month. The doctors say he is doing wonderful and he loves that you call him every day.” She pulled back and smiled at him. He smiled back and brought her around the room to introduce her to everyone.

As everyone was having a lot of fun and enjoying the party, Duo turned to the door as another person, the final person, arrived. “Chia!” he yelled out and ran toward the young child being wheeled in by his new social worker. The little boy smiled brightly and waved one of his hands. Duo stopped in front of the wheel chair and lowered himself down to about eye level, “How are you holding up, little buddy?”

“I wish I could play soccer again,” Chia admitted. He blushed a bit and turned to look at his hands and away from the violet eyes.

“We’ll get right on that, then!” Duo said as he gave the boy’s shoulder a light squeeze. He then stood up and faced the lady, “Thanks Melissa.”

“You take good care of him, Mr. Maxwell, or I’ll flog you myself,” Melissa pushed a strand of hair back behind her ear and the rest of her high blond ponytail shook a bit with action. It was such an innocent gesture that Duo didn’t doubt the lady would whip him if something happened to one of her charges. No one was that innocent, and the gesture reminded him a bit of Releena Peacecraft.

“I wouldn’t hurt him,” Duo promised.

Chia looked up at the lady still holding the handles to his chair, “When are you going to come and get me?” Duo looked down at him and then back at the state’s lady.

“You didn’t tell him?” he asked with shock.

“I thought it best that you told him,” she smiled and walked away leaving a confused Chia.

“Chia, bud, this is your home now! We’ll be brothers forever now!” Duo said happily. Chia’s face brightened fast and a brilliant smile over took him. The other people in the room couldn’t help but smile and some even giggled a bit at the excitement that the little boy shown. Duo grabbed onto the wheel chair and brought the boy around to mingle with all of their friends.

After the whole afternoon slipped by people started to leave and promised to not stay away for long. Mama Snow hugged Duo and then hugged Chia and promised to be back later in the week to play with them both. Mall trips, circus trips, and study dates were all promised. When everyone was gone except for the pilots and their new little brother, Duo disappeared into one of the many doors. He returned with a broom handle duct taped to a child sized cleat shoe.

“What is that?” Wufei ask as Duo handed the handle to the little one in the chair.

“His foot to play soccer with!” Duo said happily. “I made it last night. The basketball court is going to be converted tomorrow with new lines for goals. We’re getting an electric chair tomorrow too. Now we have an even amount of players, we are so going to play soccer next weekend!”

Chia started sobbing and Duo leaned down quickly to embrace him into a hug. “What’s the matter?” Duo asked.

“I don’t know,” the little boy cried, “I’ve never been this happy before, but I can’t stop crying.”

Quatre came forward to hug him as well, “Tears of joy. That is what they are called.” They held the little Chinese boy until all of his tears were spent. Then they set about cheering him up.

“I don’t play soccer,” Wufei said sternly as he crossed his arms when they started picking teams. Quatre gave a disapproving look and Trowa pointed to the boy stuck in a wheel chair for the rest of his life. Heero didn’t seem to change his demeanor at all, but Wufei knew he was also siding with the others.

Chia smiled brightly, though, “Duo, I have an idea!” He motioned for Duo to come over to him and started to whisper into his ear. As he was told the idea, Duo’s face turned into a mischievous grin and then he locked eyes with Wufei. He pulled away from his little brother and said, “That is brilliant!”

Wufei paled, “Oh no, we have two of them!”

~*~KANZEN’NA~*~

Finish dedication to my sister Kier (1987-2009). She was always there to cheer me on when I told her stories and wanted nothing more than to see me succeed as an author. This is the first story I have finished since her death.

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