CHRISTY: Yoicks! Tally-ho! View halloo! Kill enemy shiny things!
DUO: Oh, God, she's still in 'Warped Mirrors' mode. Hide!
[The Gundam Boys and Ardeth Bey all dive behind various bits of furniture.]
CHRISTY: Olly-olly-oxen free! Come out, come out, wherever you are, boys...
[She bounces through the room and out the other door.]
HEERO (whispering): Stay down. She might come back.
ARDETH (whispering): Why are we hiding?
TROWA: Those two are most dangerous when they start a chapter of a fic before they've got the last one out of their systems. They were writing 'Warped Mirrors' yesterday, and that one's insane.
DUO: Yeah! Have you seen it yet?
DUO: They've flipped me out. And I heard Christy say something about scorpions.
ARDETH: Scorpions are bad.
DUO: You're tellin' me?
MEL (bouncing through the room): Oh bo~oys, where are you? I wanna practice quoting the I Ching at you!
[She bounces out.]
ARDETH: That didn't sound so bad.
WUFEI: That woman can use anything as psychological warfare! We're doomed...
QUATRE: Maybe they'll just settle down and start writing this fic soon?
HEERO: That's worse! They're turning Relena evil!
QUATRE: Oh dear. That's true... well, if they turn her really evil, they'll kill her off soon. You know they can't stand Evil Relena.
HEERO: They won't kill her off before she's done damage!
DUO: Probably to me! Warped psychological damage, too. You know how much they love angsting me out!
QUATRE: Well... maybe they'll let you two kill her.
WUFEI: When even Quatre can't find anything more optimistic than that to say, we're really screwed.
MEL (appearing over the back of the sofa): No you're not. Nobody's getting laid yet! Didn't you read the apology? And weren't you going to fetch us more hunky bishounen?
CHRISTY (appearing next to Mel): Aha! Now that we've found our main characters... on with the fic!
DEMON OF JUSTICE
'The Trousers of Time'
"I don't get it," Duo said, scowling at Trowa's laptop.
"Neither do I," Quatre admitted, sitting back and rubbing at his eyes.
Heero had insisted that Duo had to be present when they read the message from the doctors, so everyone was gathered around Duo's bed. A little creative thought applied to the seating arrangements ensured that they all could see the screen, and also meant that Heero got to sit on the bed next to Duo.
Unfortunately, no one could understand the message.
It started out simply enough; after careful study of the Gundams' battle logs and instrument recordings, plus the plans and test records of the weapon that had blown up in Nataku's face (stolen by Heero and Trowa), the doctors believed that they had a good idea of what had happened to Wufei. Then it got technical. The pilots could follow the explanation partway, but when it got to concepts like 'elastic resonance', 'space-time curvature' and 'the Trousers of Time theory', they lost track.
"I think they invented a new symbolic alphabet to use in those equations," Trowa muttered. "Can you make any sense of it, Heero?"
"No." Growling, Heero grabbed his own laptop from the bedside table and hammered at the keys, then sat back and waited.
< < Heero, my boy, > > Dr.J said, popping up on screen. < < Did you get our email? > >
"Yes, but you neglected to decode it before you sent it," he snapped. "Next time you send something important, write it in English, or Japanese, or Arabic, or one of the dozen languages Trowa speaks. Don't use mathematical jargon that you're making up as you go along!"
< < He sounds a little upset, > > Dr. G commented in the background. < < Maybe we should have provided a synopsis? > >
J blinked. < < Are you feeling all right, Heero? > >
"I'm fine. Spit it out in plain language. What happened to Wufei?!"
< < I see that Maxwell is finally rubbing off on you, > > J said, a smile slowly growing on his face. < < It's about time, too; you need to relax more. Now, about Chang-- > >
"Is he alive?" Quatre blurted out. "Where is he?"
< < Well. Hm. That part's a bit problematical. The explosion itself did not kill him, we can say that for sure. Whether he's alive now is another matter entirely. > >
"What do you mean?" Duo whispered.
< < Ah, Maxwell, nice to see you. Hm. How should I put this? Plain language, hmmm... yes. > > J paused for a moment, then nodded decisively. < < The explosion ripped a hole in the universe and blew him through it. > >
"And that means... what?" Trowa asked slowly. "In terms of Wufei, and his survival and getting him back."
G pushed in next to J. < < Let me, you old fart. You all understand the concept of alternate universes, yes? > >
"Universes where things turned out differently in history," Quatre said numbly. "Like... if the colonies never got started, or different sides won wars."
< < Yes, but the change in history could have come much earlier, > > G pointed out. < < Evolution could have produced intelligent races other than human, for example, or, the laws of physics could be entirely different if the Big Bang had gone differently. This is the 'Trousers of Time' theory; you start with one reality, like the waist of a pair of pants, and then you reach a decision point at the crotch. If things go one way, you go down the left leg; if they go the other way, you go down the right leg. Of course, this is a massively simplified metaphor, > > he added. < < Our imaginary pair of trousers has to have an infinite number of legs, dividing at an infinite number of points. > >
"Of course," Trowa muttered.
< < What that weapon was supposed to do was pull a little energy from the boundaries between universes - the fabric of the trousers, if you will - convert it to destructive energy, light, heat, radiation and so forth, and shoot it at convenient targets. They seem to have managed quite a remarkable conversion efficiency in their trials; they got a lot more out than they put in. I can think of quite a few peacetime applications for this process... > > G gazed off into space for a few seconds, muttering, then shook himself. < < Sorry. Back to the point. That weapon had more than enough destructive potential to destroy a Gundam, if all went well. It didn't. They hadn't finished developing it, so it was unstable, and they hadn't finished building it, either, so it wasn't properly shielded or armoured. And then Chang hit it at exactly the right moment, with exactly the right weapon. > >
"Exactly the wrong moment, don't you mean?" Duo said bitterly.
< < I said what I meant, Duo, > > G said sternly, peering out of the screen at him. < < He hit it at the exact moment it fired, with a thermal blade. If he'd struck before it fired, it would have blown up in a conventional explosion and probably killed him. If he'd struck after, well... he wouldn't have gotten the chance. And if he'd hit it with something that wasn't an energy weapon, it could have either blown up, or fired and then blown up. > >
"So... what did it do?" Quatre asked, eyes wide.
G spread his hands. < < Chang struck just as it was accessing the energy that forms the walls between the universes. The energy from his thermal blade caused it to... burp. Or perhaps 'hiccup' is the most appropriate word. It accessed a much larger amount of energy than it was designed to handle. Returning to our metaphor, it pulled a section of trouser fabric into our world, and when it snapped back into its proper shape it pulled Chang and his Gundam with it. The side effects manifested themselves as a large-ish explosion; I can't explain that part to you without talking about eleven-dimensional math and superstring theory. > >
< < We therefore have Chang floating around in the space between trouser legs. > >
The four pilots looked at him with wide eyes.
< < That wouldn't harm him, > > G hastened to add, < < according to the mathematical model we've come up with. Although he would be outside our universe, and therefore outside the influence of its physical laws, we believe that matter taken out of a universe will continue to 'remember' that universe's laws until it enters another. Oxygen would continue to combine with carbohydrates to release energy within his cells, water would continue to be liquid within the appropriate temperature range, and so on. This would continue until he was drawn into another universe. Matter isn't supposed to float around between universes, so he'd get pulled into one quite quickly. > >
< < O has an interesting theory about that, > > J interrupted, leaning over G's shoulder. < < He thinks that matter would be preferentially drawn to universes that operate under similar physical laws. > >
< < Yes, > > G said, swatting irritably at J, < < so Chang's not likely to have arrived in a universe where he couldn't survive, or where Shenlong wouldn't function. Anything beyond that is up to him. > >
"Can we... is there... is there anything we can do?" Heero stuttered.
G shook his head. < < Oh, we could recreate the incident and blow you out of the universe, too, but we'd have no way to make sure you went to the same place as Chang. And we'd have no way of getting anything back. > >
< < All we can realistically do is hope that O is right. Hope that Chang ended up somewhere he can live, and that he hasn't gotten himself in trouble. > >
* * * * *
Metal screamed as the demon forced its tentacles into the hole in Nataku's armour and started to tear it open.
Shit! Wufei thought, wrenching at the controls as alert messages popped up on his screen, warning of growing damage to the systems in Nataku's left lower back. That's the only breach that hadn't started to seal itself-- I can't even pull away! More tentacles were coiled around the Gundam's legs and lower torso, holding it in place. Uthmar had been driven back as the demon pulled more of itself above ground and tried to surround him.
An entire section of the control panel blazed red as the demon reached the control runs for Nataku's legs, and Wufei screamed as pain exploded in his own back.
Wedged securely behind Wufei's chair, Karthan held on grimly as the small room seemed to try and bounce him around like dice in a cup. After several long seconds, it came to rest at a strange angle - the back wall was now the floor, tilted to the side - and he relaxed slightly, alert for the next change.
It's wonderful how the prospect of imminent death clears your mind, he thought dryly. I suppose Nataku's fallen over? I'd better stay put, he'll be getting up soon--
Something warm and slightly sticky dripped onto his hand.
Wincing with every movement, Karthan squirmed out from behind the chair and stood up, leaning over the black- haired demon. Wufei seemed to be unconscious, limp hands fallen onto his stomach, and a thin line of blood was trickling from underneath him.
I heard him yell, Karthan thought, carefully sliding a hand between Wufei and the chair back, but I don't see how he could be wounded. Especially there-- His probing fingers found a blood sodden area of cloth, and his eyes widened. He's hurt all right-- I can feel the hole-- but there's nothing that could have cut him, and his shirt's not ripped!
Nataku shuddered around them, another groan of tortured metal came from below Karthan's feet, and more blood flowed over his hand as he felt the wound tear wider.
Oh, hells! If it happens to Nataku, it happens to Wufei?! That demon's going to rip them apart, Nataku's not moving, and Uthmar said Terrin thinks Nataku can't move without Wufei--
"Wufei!" he said urgently, hands gripping the small demon's arms and leaving bloody marks. "Wufei, wake up!"
He felt as though his back was on fire.
Wufei suppressed a pained groan as he forced his eyes open. A dim shape was bending over him, speaking urgently, and he could see the stars... then he blinked his eyes clear, and the 'stars' resolved themselves into the lights on Nataku's control panels. Far too many of them were red.
"Wufei!" Karthan said, then babbled a flood of unintelligible words. He sounded relieved, but worried at the same time. "An'tiyar krechak sa daru--"
Krechak. Demon. It started ripping into Nataku, and I felt it... Wufei pressed one hand against his side, feeling wet warmth, and lifted it into view, dripping blood.
This is rather more serious than just feeling pain.
Where is it now?!
Something in his back twisted and ripped, and he choked, clutching at Karthan as pain burned into him. ...I can't feel my left leg, he thought hazily, panting as the pain began to recede slightly. Without looking, he knew there was an alert message on screen telling him that Nataku's left leg was no longer operational. It's torn out the control systems... heading for the power plant... if that blows, the whole village is dead!
Snarling, he opened his eyes and grabbed for the controls.
I will not die like this!
Karthan yelped and staggered back, slipping on the blood, as Wufei's eyes glowed green and he snarled. Crackles of white energy ran over Wufei's skin, reaching out for the walls and blinking lights, and then they reached out for him--
Everywhere Wufei's blood had touched Karthan, white fire burned into him, and suddenly it felt as though someone had stabbed him in the back.
Wufei felt the link to Nataku open up inside his mind, and this time he tore it open further and dove through. The Gundam's systems unfolded around him like a glowing blueprint and white fire ran along the lines, jumping the gaps where damage had broken the connections, bringing darkened sections back to life-- and pulling along with it another presence, tumbling in the flow. Curious, Wufei reached out and touched it.
Wufei? What in the name of Krahana's Hells is this?!
I'm not sure. I've never done this before... but I seem to know what to do.
Well, that's comforting-- hey! I can understand you!
I noticed, Wufei thought dryly. Convenient. Be quiet for a moment; I need to concentrate. Part of him could feel Nataku's computer clock, ticking away the milliseconds like slow drops of water, so he knew everything was proceeding with astonishing speed... but another part of him nagged at him to get it done now, get out and finish the fight now, so he hurried.
Carefully, working on instinct, Wufei stretched himself out across Nataku's systems, sliding into the Gundam as if it were a suit of clothes. Where Nataku was damaged, white fire burned, using Wufei as a template for repairs; wires and ceramics and armour moved, joining together, and bits of demon tentacles that were in the way just vaporised. The process of repair sped up as he gained confidence, jumping from spot to spot until it reached the area where he was wounded too... and then it stopped. The schematic of Nataku's left leg remained stubbornly dark.
Wufei pushed at the white fire, nudging a little of it into the dark area, and watched in dismay as it sputtered out. It can't use me as a proper template any more, he realised, frustrated. It doesn't work where damaged areas overlap...
Karthan caught his next thought before it was more than half-formed, and pushed forwards. I'm not hurt, he thought. At least, not there. Use me as a template!
Wufei recoiled slightly. I don't know if it will work that way! he protested. The damage might transfer to you!
So? I'll take that chance, the dwarf persisted. It could work. If we don't at least try, you and Nataku are left half crippled and that damn squirming blob will eat us all for lunch. Do it!
He reached out and pulled himself into the meld.
Uthmar hacked viciously at the multiplying tentacles, his god's energy blazing around him like gold fire, and felt the first touch of despair well up in his heart. It's too strong, Torframos, he thought, jumping away from a strike. I'm hurting it, but not enough! It pulled Nataku down so fast-- I can't even see him any more-- it keeps bringing more of itself up from underground, and sooner or later it's going to get in a solid blow. The thing had already managed to graze him a few times; the wounds were minor, but the fact that any damage had made it through the energy surrounding him was worrying.
=* If I'd had any idea this was going to turn up, I would have sent at least two more champions with you,*= Torframos said grimly. =*I would have asked my brother Semkirk for half a dozen of his magi, too!*=
I don't suppose you could offer a quick promotion to a few of the men? Uthmar asked, half laughing, half serious.
=*I would if I could,*= the god returned; Uthmar could feel a quick smile in the back of his head. =*The situation is serious enough to warrant skipping over a few formalities! Unfortunately, it takes a rare sort of mortal to handle a god pouring energy through them without going mad. Gunnar and Karthan have possibilities, and so do those two hradani, but if they ever become champions, they won't be mine. They don't think quite the right way.*= Torframos sighed. =*You seem to be holding its attention, at least. The innocents in the village have time to run.*=
Run to where?! Uthmar growled, hacking through a tentacle and jumping backwards again. They can't run fast enough to get away if this thing decides to go after them once it's through with me!
The demon suddenly writhed and screeched, pulling all of its tentacles back into the main mass, shrivelling like a spider in a flame.
=*Do you feel that?! That energy?*=
It's like when Wufei hit the archer--
Nataku's fanged arm burst up out of the demon's body, belching white fire.
Karthan held on to Wufei, hands knotted in his shirt, gritting his teeth as he felt blood beginning to trickle down his back. Wufei had an arm wrapped around Karthan's shoulders and the other hand glued to Nataku's controls with his own drying blood; short spits of white energy linked all three of them together.
"That's enough," Wufei thought/spoke along the link. You're starting to take damage.
"No, it's not," Karthan growled. He could feel the white fire still working in Nataku's and Wufei's wounds, and knew exactly how much damage remained to be fixed. You're not tossing me out until I'm satisfied.
Do you argue with Uthmar when he tells you to do something for your own good? Wufei thought, amused despite himself.
Sometimes. Gunnar usually handles it.
Wufei laughed out loud as he/they slashed into the demon.
Now we have a chance, Uthmar grinned, tightening his grip on his axe. "TORFRAMOS!" he bellowed, and charged.
Nataku had gotten to its feet and was carving into the demon with its staff, green and white energy crackling from the head of it. It was working; the cuts stayed open, leaking green energy and repulsive fluids, and when a tentacle was chopped off it didn't flow back into the body. It just lay on the ground, twitching and beginning to dissolve. Wailing, the thing started to pull itself back underground.
"Oh no you don't," Uthmar snarled, and slammed his axe into the earth, releasing the golden energy burning around him through the blade and forcing the demon back to the surface.
< < Thank you, > > Nataku rumbled, and rammed its fanged arm into the next mouth that opened, burning the thing to a crisp from the inside out.
It wasn't quite as simple as that, of course. Bits of the demon's body continued to twitch and writhe for some time, and had to be hacked to pieces and burned into submission; but ordinary axes and fire would work on it now, and Uthmar's lay brothers were more than willing to take care of it. It was the middle of the night by the time they were finished, but none of the villagers complained that they wanted to be in bed instead of hauling wood for the bonfires. Nobody wanted to go to sleep and have some forgotten bit of the monster burrow up through their floor.
Yithar's three healthy armsmen wanted to help, too, but their hysterical lord ordered them to stay by his side.
"He's sitting on Royce's bed with his feet pulled up so that his knees are under his chin, watching the floor," Naiya reported when she brought Uthmar a drink. "His guards are creeping around on tiptoe, because if they step heavily the floor creaks and he screams."
"Has he changed his pants, yet?" Cameron asked curiously, limping up to take a drink out of Naiya's bucket.
"Oh, yes," she said demurely. "He didn't start quaking until after he'd had a bath... and complained about the size of the tub and the quality of the soap he was offered."
"Why am I not surprised?" Uthmar sighed.
"Because you're a man who can see past the end of his own nose, Champion sir," Cord said genially, dumping his load of wood and reaching for the bucket. "Ahhh... that's better. D'you think those lads will be coming out any time soon?" he asked, wiping his chin and nodding to where Nataku stood, watching over the proceedings.
"Wufei doesn't strike me as the sort to take a break until the job's finished." Uthmar mused, scratching his beard. "Karthan's the same. I'd guess they'll stay in there until we're finished, just in case the beast has any nasty surprises left. I don't think it does, though."
=*It doesn't,*= Torframos told him. =*The last bit with any life in it just went up in smoke. A job well done, I think...*=
Wufei shifted slightly, wincing in pain as the link broke apart. He'd been aware of the damage to his body while he was linked to Karthan and Nataku, of course, but it had been a distant sort of knowledge, rather like reading a damage report. Now that he was completely inside his own head, however, the wound was getting personal.
Karthan sat back, grimacing as he flexed cramped fingers, and said something.
"I have no idea what you just said," Wufei said in Chinese, trying to unstick his hand from the controls without making Nataku sidestep.
Karthan blinked in confusion for a moment, then sighed as he realised their understanding had slipped away when the link ended. Reaching out, he carefully helped Wufei peel his fingers away from the dried blood, then clasped his wrist and looked into his face.
"Friends," Wufei replied, smiling despite his exhaustion as he returned the grip.
Once Nataku was back in the village square and sitting down, they staggered out onto the armour 'drawbridge', supporting each other, and gazed down at the ground. "Down, how?" Karthan asked, looking dubiously at the drop.
Wufei grinned. "Jump." He didn't understand much of Karthan's reply, but gathered that he was being instructed to do something anatomically impossible with his sense of humour. Snickering, he pulled the drop wire out of its cache and activated it, lowering them both to the waiting hands below.
* * * * *
"Duo? Heero?" Quatre peeked around the door, carrying a laden tray. "We made lunch..."
"Thanks," Heero muttered, getting up to take the tray and put it on the bedside table. Duo moved a little, but otherwise remained an anonymous lump under the bedcover.
"Come on, Duo, sit up," Quatre coaxed, tugging at the top blanket. "Trowa helped, so it's better than my cooking usually is, I promise."
"I'm not hungry," Duo muttered.
"You have to eat something! Starving yourself isn't going to--"
"He ate a good breakfast," Heero interrupted, glaring. "Skipping lunch hardly qualifies as starving, Quatre. Leave him alone." He herded the blond boy out the door, dropping his voice to a whisper. "I'll try to get him to eat, but nagging is not going to work. Back off," he hissed and closed the door in Quatre's face.
"...thanks, Heero," Duo said quietly as he sat down again.
"Uh... no problem," Heero replied, flustered. "Do you mind if I eat? I'll take the tray downstairs if you'd prefer it."
"Thanks. There'll be plenty left if you get hungry later." Heero quickly made his choices, taking mostly food that wouldn't taste as good once it got cold. As he ate, he thought about how he could persuade Duo to change his mind but couldn't come up with anything that seemed likely to work.
Nagging will just make him stubborn, he thought helplessly, chewing without tasting the mouthful. I suppose I could tell him Wufei wouldn't want him to stop eating... fuck, no. I am not going to try emotional blackmail!
To hell with it, he decided eventually, putting his empty plate back on the tray. Like I told Quatre, skipping lunch doesn't qualify as starving. If he says he's not hungry at dinnertime, I'll try to think of something then.
Duo stirred and sat up, sniffing and wiping at his face. "I guess I will eat something," he said. "Thanks for not nagging me, Heero. I don't think I could've handled that right now."
"Didn't think it would work, or I might have," Heero said truthfully, turning away slightly to hide his face as he started to fill Duo's plate. Well, at least I got that right...
That night, after Duo had eaten dinner and drifted off to sleep, Heero sat by his bed and watched his face in the dimness.
He's not taking this well, at all, Heero thought. He hardly spoke today... just lay in bed and shut himself off. I can't tell what he's thinking. He grimaced. Of course, I don't exactly have a good track record of telling what Duo's thinking.
I'm not sure how I feel about losing Wufei.
In a weird sort of way we were friends, he thought slowly. We saved each other's lives a few times... I was comfortable around him, even when I was focussed on 'the mission' above everything else, and it wasn't just because I knew he wouldn't bother me. I respected him.
It hurt when Trowa told me Wufei was angry at me for mistreating Duo. More than just jealousy. I hope that wasn't entirely true...
This would be a lot easier if we knew he was dead, Heero decided, shifting in the chair. We could all mourn him and move on. Not being sure... hoping he's all right somewhere, and fearing he's not... this could drag on forever.
Duo's breath hitched in his throat and Heero leaned forwards; the sleeping boy's face crumpled as he began to sob quietly, and Heero slid onto the bed, gathering him into his arms.
"Shhh, Duo," he whispered, rubbing the braided boy's back. "Please don't cry..."
Duo curled against him, face pressed against his chest, and cried without ever waking up. By the time his silent sobs trailed off, the front of Heero's shirt was soaked.
"...thanks, 'Fei," he mumbled, pressing a kiss to Heero's collarbone and slipped into deeper sleep with his arms locked around the Japanese pilot's waist.
Heero stared down at the top of Duo's head, eyes wide. I've hardly ever seen Duo cry. And he won't cry if he knows he can be seen. If he's willing to cry on Wufei's chest... 'Thanks 'Fei'... this has happened before. And he kissed...
When Trowa said Wufei wanted to be Duo's lover... how close to the truth was he?!
end chapter 12
DUO: You bitches!
CHRISTY: Why, thank you, dear! We aim to please... our readers.
DUO: You nearly bleed Wufei to death, and you start psychologically torturing Heero again, and you think they'll be pleased?!
MEL & CHRISTY: Yup.
MEL: Everyone survived!
CHRISTY: And people like watching Heero rip himself apart. He's just so sweet when that happens. And at least we aren't torturing you.
[Duo glomps onto Wufei.]
DUO: You think finding out my 'Fei got blown out of his trousers doesn't count as torture?! I think it's torture!
WUFEI: *choke* There, there, Duo. You know how the onnas are.
CHRISTY (suspiciously): You aren't ranting. This is very strange.
WUFEI (calmly): I'm just basking in the joy of not being Heero or Trowa at the moment.
CHRISTY: Why? Oh, yeah, that's right. They went to collect Ryouga and Mousse for us.
WUFEI (getting more serene by the moment): You described the mission as 'a cakewalk'. Therefore, I fully expect them to return in need of intensive care, without the people in question. I'm not involved.
CHRISTY: Wufei, you are evil.
WUFEI: Something had to rub off after being trapped with you two for so long.
CHRISTY: And of course, if Heero comes back in bad shape, you've got Duo to yourself for a while.
WUFEI: That is a consideration, yes.
CHRISTY: You're such a nice boy.
WUFEI: Now I'm worried...
[Ardeth has been watching all this with some trepidation, and now sidles over to Quatre.]
ARDETH: I thought you were exaggerating about them. I see I was wrong.
QUATRE (calmly): We don't need to exaggerate. The truth is scary enough.
ARDETH: Ah... Wufei is calm because he's glad a terrible fate is happening to somebody else. One of those 'somebody elses' is your lover. Why are you calm?
QUATRE: Oh, Mel and Christy won't let Trowa get too badly hurt, and I'll get to look after him once he comes back.
ARDETH: Why are you so sure?
QUATRE (eyes glittering): Because they know I'll go Zero System on them if they don't make sure Trowa's okay.
[Christy catches a glimpse of Quatre's face and jumps into Duo's lap.]
CHRISTY: Eeep! Quatre's looking scary! Save me! I'll be nice to you in the next chapter, I promise! Mel, look out-- uh... Mel?
[Mel is in deep thought, chin in hands.]
MEL: The universe must be male.
EVERYBODY ELSE: ...what?!
MEL: I was just thinking about the 'Trousers of Time' theory.
CHRISTY: ...yes, and? How does that equate to a male universe?
MEL (shrugs): It's obvious! All decisions are made at the crotch!