MEL: No, you may not get Gunnar out of the character closet and have a slumber party!
DUO: We won't--
MEL: I said no!
MEL: And don't whine!
[Christy bursts into the room.]
CHRISTY: Mel, Mel, I just had a great idea for the next chapter of 'Warped Mirrors'!
[All the G-boys flinch. Ardeth Bey looks concerned.]
CHRISTY: See, if we--
CHRISTY: Um... yeah?
MEL: What fic are we doing now?
CHRISTY: Um... 'Demon of Justice'...
MEL: That's not 'Warped Mirrors', is it?
CHRISTY: No, but--
MEL: Write it down. We'll get back to it when we start 'Mirrors' again.
CHRISTY: But I just want to tell you--
MEL: WRITE IT DOWN.
MEL: Oh good grief, I think I'm turning into my mother. Somebody's mother, anyway. And it's all your fault!
MEL: Yes! You! Go to your room!
CHRISTY: Um, Mel, Duo doesn't have a room.
MEL: Then he can go to your room! You too!
CHRISTY: But Meeeeeeeellllllll--
MEL: AND NO WHINING! GO!
[Christy and Duo stomp off towards Christy's room, pouting.]
CHRISTY: Jeez. Talk about PMS!
MEL: I HEARD THAT!
[Mel looks around the lounge room, breathing heavily.]
MEL: Look at the state of this house! Am I the only person who ever cleans up around here?
QUATRE: Actually, I think Christy is--
MEL: DID I ASK YOU TO COMMENT?! Start picking this mess up before I send you to bed without any dinner!
HEERO: It's 10 am.
MEL: That won't stop me. Now tidy up!
[Ardeth Bey sneaks up behind Mel and whacks her with a frying pan.]
MEL: fnerglemnf... *THUD*
WUFEI: What did you do that for? I mean, obviously something had to be done, but why a frying pan?
ARDETH: Christy refers to it as "Mel's reset button". I thought it was appropriate.
QUATRE: I thought it was for when she was hyperventilating.
ARDETH: She was starting to.
ARDETH: Well, that's what I'm going to say when she wakes up.
MEL: Oooooo... did somebody get the number of that truck?
ARDETH: You were hyperventilating. Honest.
MEL: Huh? Wha'happened?
QUATRE: You were acting like a particularly crabby, irrational parent.
MEL: Really? Last thing I remember was drinking some cola...
HEERO: I think Duo doctored the cola. He said he was going to slip it to the muses.
WUFEI, QUATRE & ARDETH: Uh-oh.
[Trowa goes and knocks on Christy's door.]
CHRISTY: What?! Can we come out of the corner now?
TROWA: What did Duo put in the cola?
DUO: Ummmmmm... why?
TROWA: We think Mel drank it.
DUO: I put some of Quatre's pills in it. The ones we slip him when he goes Zero.
TROWA & CHRISTY: Uh-oh.
MEL: I am the walrus! [She runs past with a teacosy on her head.]
CHRISTY: I didn't know we had a teacosy. Um... well, while we're hunting Mel down and returning her to something close to sanity--
DUO: --or as close as she ever gets--
CHRISTY: --shut up. On with the fic!
DEMON OF JUSTICE
"A Prince Among Men"
Yawning, Karthan stretched, wincing as the cuts and bruises over his left lower back protested. Even without opening his eyes, he could tell that Wufei had woken and got up; his feet didn't bump into Wufei's when he stretched, and the link was closed again--
--And what the heck is going on outside? he thought, frowning. That doesn't sound right.
Scowling, Wufei watched as Yithar slowly counted coins and weighed jewelry, and tried to understand what was going on.
Every time he weighs something, he looks more smug and Royce looks more worried, he thought. I think that's all the valuables in the village! I recognise that necklace, Rami wears it sometimes...
Uthmar pushed through the edge of the crowd of watching villagers and hurried across to him. "Stay here," he whispered, tentatively putting a restraining hand on Wufei's arm. "You can't help."
Well, at least I understood that! "What happen?" Wufei asked quietly. "What he do?"
The next sentence out of Uthmar's mouth was almost completely unintelligible, and Wufei sighed. "Not understand," he said tiredly. Damn it, I understood Karthan perfectly while we were linked! Why couldn't that have stayed?
There was a thump and some mild swearing as Karthan jumped down from the cupboard-bed, and Uthmar looked incredibly relieved. "Karthan! Come here and--" The rest of the sentence was lost on Wufei, except for his own name, 'Yithar' and 'explain'.
"Explain what?" Karthan asked, padding over to them; then he reached the doorway, glanced out, and blinked. "Ah. I see."
"Sir Uthmar," Karthan said sweetly, "could you please explain to me how I'm supposed to explain quarterly rent to a demon who lacks most of the necessary vocabulary?"
"Did you have to put it like that?" Uthmar asked, wincing. "One Gunnar in the company is more than enough. Can't you use the link?"
"He's awake," Karthan said flatly, jerking one thumb at the bewildered-looking demon. "It's closed."
"Great," Uthmar muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose. "That's so useful."
"I thought you didn't like me having a link to Wufei at all, let alone an open one."
"I don't," the Champion snapped, keeping his voice down, "but you've got it, and I don't know any way of closing it short of killing one of you, which I don't intend to do. Since we're stuck with it--"
"Nice use of 'we' there, sir," Karthan said sourly.
"--it might as well be useful," Uthmar finished. "Can't you at least try? If Wufei doesn't understand the situation, and this goes as badly as I think it could, he might do something we'll all end up regretting."
"Like killing Lord Yithar and getting the rest of the Purple Lords really angry, I suppose?" the shorter dwarf muttered, glancing a little nervously from Wufei's face to the scene outside. "I'll try. I don't know whether it'll do any good, but I'll try."
Taking a deep breath, he carefully put one hand on Wufei's arm and concentrated, 'feeling' for the link. It's a bit like feeling for a sore tooth with your tongue, he mused, eyes narrowing as his attention turned inwards. You can't see anything, but you've got an idea of where it is... "You might want to step back, sir," he said quietly to Uthmar. "If the power jumps out at me the way it did yesterday, it could pull you into the link too."
"Ah. Er. How far back?"
Karthan didn't answer. "Wufei?" he said, trying to project the words with his mind as well as his voice. "Wufei, can you understand me? Can you open the link?"
"Not understand... word," Wufei said slowly, puzzled. "Open what?"
Karthan said something else, one hand going up to touch his forehead and gesture towards Wufei's, and something whispered in the back of the pilot's mind without him realising he'd heard it.
Frowning, he shook his head. "Shut. Gone."
"Not gone," the dwarf insisted, then closed his eyes and scowled in concentration.
I shared your dreams last night, Karthan's voice said, suddenly clear and recognisable. You had a nightmare. I saw it. Your home died in a burst of fire. You were floating so high that the world looked like a ball--
Gasping, Wufei jerked away and the voice cut off.
"Ow," Karthan muttered, opening his eyes. "You heard me?"
"Yes," Wufei said quietly, swallowing. "I heard." Slowly, he held his hand out to Karthan. "Try again?"
Uthmar combed his fingers nervously through his beard as he switched his gaze back and forth from Yithar, still weighing jewelry with insulting care, to Wufei and Karthan, standing perfectly still with their eyes closed, clasping each other's wrists.
When he finishes, I need to be over there to head him off in case he calls their inability to pay 'treason', the Champion thought, looking back at Yithar. He's nearly finished... but I need to be here, too, to keep an eye on these two--
There was a faint crackling noise as white energy sparked around Wufei's hands where they held Karthan, and the dwarf jerked slightly.
"He's got the idea," he said a little muzzily, opening unfocussed eyes. "That was quick... He wants to know what's so bad about rent, though. Why are the villagers so scared? I'd like to know myself..."
"The Purple Lords apparently don't call it rent," Uthmar explained in an undertone, sidling closer. "They call it tax. If you default on rent you get evicted, but you keep your property. If you default on tax it's treason; the Lord can confiscate all your goods and then have you executed--"
Wufei dropped Karthan's wrists and stalked off towards Nataku, glowering.
"Great explanation, sir," Karthan said, wobbling over to lean on the doorpost.
"Krahana's hells-- did you at least tell him he shouldn't kill Yithar?!" Uthmar somehow managed to keep his voice down to a sort of strangled squeak. "What's he doing?!"
"That was the first thing I told him," Karthan said, rubbing his eyes with the hand that wasn't holding on to the wall. "Well, I didn't exactly tell him... he sort of lifted everything I wanted him to know out of my mind in a lump. He's gone to get something, I don't know what. I was concentrating on telling him something, not finding things out!"
"Is the link--"
"Yes, it's still open, but it's..." He waved a hand vaguely near his temple, blinking. "It's just there at the moment, it's not actually doing anything. I keep seeing faint shadows of what Wufei is seeing, which is extremely distracting, but I can't tell what he's thinking. We're not... touching right now."
As Uthmar turned away from him to follow Wufei with his eyes, Karthan firmly closed his mouth and did not say that although he wasn't touching Wufei's mind, somehow he was sure the small demon was still touching his.
Yithar noted the weight of the last piece of pathetically crude jewelry-- tawdry stuff, the lot of it; nothing more valuable than a moonstone-- calculated the price of the metal, added a rough estimate of the gem value, and wrote the total down at the bottom of his list of figures. As his pen travelled slowly down the columns, adding up, he could feel a bubble of vindictive pleasure swelling in his heart. It wasn't going to be enough. It wouldn't have been enough even if he hadn't been keeping his estimates low...
"You're short," he said acidly, laying his pen aside and looking up at the pale headman. "Eighteen silver, twelve copper short."
And the really wonderful thing, he thought gleefully, is that by Purple Lord law, this is perfectly legal. They've defaulted on their taxes, and their lives and property are now mine to dispose of as I see fit. There's nothing that peasant-stock 'Champion' can do to stop me, and if those filthy demons try to interfere, he has to protect me!
"M-m'lord Yithar," Royce stammered, "if-- if you would grant us a little more time, or accept partial payment until quarter's end, I'm sure--"
"I'm sure you'd default again," Yithar sneered, "and I'd have lost two months in which I could have had productive tenants on my land. Denied! I want you all out of here by noon, leaving everything behind. No carts, no bundles, nothing in your pockets," he hissed, picking up the bag Gwent's ale money had been in and reaching to sweep the jumbled pile of coins and trinkets into it. "Be thankful I'm not going to report your treason to Bortalik and call soldiers in to execute--"
A golden-skinned hand contemptuously slapped his away from the pile, and he looked up into cold black eyes.
The half-elf leapt back from the table with a strangled yelp, nearly tripping over his overturned chair. "Champion!" he screeched, voice cracking as he looked around frantically. "Uthmar! Dwarf! Get this-- this thing away from me!" Another yelp escaped him as he saw Wufei calmly piling the village taxes into the bag. "That's mine! Thief! Give that-- make him give that back!"
"Sir, no," Royce said desperately, pushing the bag away as Wufei turned and held it out to him. "Please, don't-- you'll only make things worse!"
Ignoring his protests, Wufei simply dropped the bag at his feet, pulling a small paper-covered cylinder out of his pocket as he turned back to the table. Ripping the paper away from one end, he poured a stream of glittering coins onto the table, then flicked the paper away and folded his arms, staring challengingly at Yithar.
"I think you will find that this is more than enough," he said, in perfect, unaccented Spearman.
* * * * *
Sitting in the lounge room with a drink and a book, Quatre looked up as he heard the van pull in. For a moment, he was tempted to just stay where he was and ignore Heero's return, but then he sighed and set the book aside.
If I don't warn him, he might go upstairs to check on Duo, or apologise, and walk in to find Trowa with him, he thought, walking towards the front of the house. He'd definitely get the wrong idea. I don't particularly mind upsetting Heero, but it would also upset Duo... so, it's not going to happen.
Pushing open the front door, the blond paused for a moment, raising an eyebrow at the large-ish box in the back of the van, surrounded by shopping bags. Heero glanced quickly in his direction as he hauled a load of bags out of the van, then dropped his gaze and hunched his shoulders, continuing towards the door with grim determination.
He looks like he expects me to kick him, Quatre thought, mildly surprised. Have I been that nasty lately? Casting his mind back over the last few days, he blinked, a faint smirk twitching one corner of his mouth upwards. I suppose I have. Ah well... all in a good cause!
"Welcome back," he said calmly, passing Heero on his way to the van.
When the Japanese pilot came out of the house for another load, Quatre was standing by the van's tailgate, hands full of bags, gazing bemusedly at the box.
"You bought a bar fridge?"
Heero shrugged, not looking at him. "Easier for Duo than trying to get down the stairs or calling us."
"Looks like you bought a lot of things to go in it, too," Quatre continued, looking at the rest of the shopping.
"That's the whole idea," Heero pointed out shortly, grabbing another load of bags and turning back to the house. Quatre followed.
"You might as well leave the fridge in the van for now; you won't be able to put it in Duo's room for a while."
There was a slight hitch in Heero's stride. "...Is he still mad at me?" he asked very quietly.
"No. He's asleep. Trowa got him calmed down." Quatre eyed the shifting muscles in Heero's back, then took pity on him. "I don't think he was really mad at you to start with... just stressed and upset."
"He'd be less stressed if you'd stop telling him Wufei's dead," Heero growled, dumping the bags on the kitchen floor and turning to glare at the blond.
Quatre controlled his temper with an effort. "I have stopped," he said coldly. "I stopped when the Doctors contacted us and told us what happened to him. Did you really think I was going to keep upsetting Duo by trying to convince him of something I don't believe any more?"
"...No. No, I don't think you'd do that," Heero muttered, looking away. His jaw worked for a moment, then he almost spat out "Sorry."
Two apologies in one day, and one of them to me? Maybe Trowa's right, and he is making an effort... "Ahfwan," Quatre said quietly. "That's okay. If I'm going to make allowances for Duo because he's stressed, I suppose I should give you some slack, too... but not much," he added sourly, dropping his bags and going out for more.
They unpacked and put away the rest of the groceries in silence. Afterwards, Quatre came out of the kitchen on his way back to his book, and almost bumped into Heero at the bottom of the stairs, looking up uncertainly.
"Go on," Quatre said sharply. "Go up! Just, for Allah's sake, be quiet! If the alternative is to have you standing around looking like the bottom's dropped out of your world..." Muttering, he stalked off towards the lounge.
Trowa opened his eyes as he heard the floor creak quietly in the hall, and was watching the door when Heero looked in. Heero paled slightly and stepped back when he saw Duo sleeping on Trowa's shoulder, hands firmly knotted into the taller pilot's shirt, but Trowa waved 'come in' and lifted a finger to his lips before the Japanese teen could leave.
"I don't think he'll wake up, but keep your voice down," Trowa whispered as Heero reluctantly sidled into the room. "He hasn't been sleeping well, lately."
"I know," Heero muttered. "Once he is properly asleep, though, he can sleep through a lot..."
"Let's not take chances," Trowa said dryly. "I'd get up and let you take my place, but I don't think I could pry him loose." Besides, I promised him I'd stay...
Heero winced. "I doubt he'd want me in your place."
"I don't know about that," Trowa said, glancing down at Duo's sleeping face, blotched and tear-stained from crying. "He was pretty upset after you left."
"Yeah, at me."
Trowa snorted under his breath. "No, at the way he treated you, and at the situation in general. He was going to lash out at someone sooner or later, and you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Admittedly, you did give him a beautiful opening--"
Heero groaned softly, sinking into the chair beside the bed. "I know. I screwed that one up in style. Not even an hour after I promised to ask him things instead of assuming I know best, and I started laying down the law..."
"At least you know what you did wrong, and you're willing to admit it," Trowa pointed out in a whisper. "Now you just have to work on remembering not to do it again."
Heero almost laughed. "Ninmu ryoukai," he said softly, with a wry smirk. "And for God's sake, don't tell Quatre I said that!"
"Ooh. Blackmail material," Trowa grinned. Heero grinned back, a little lopsidedly, and they sat in silence for a while.
"Why are you being nice to me?"
"...What do you mean?"
"You know what I mean," Heero muttered, shifting uncomfortably in his chair and avoiding Trowa's eyes. "You're being sympathetic and-- and helpful... I thought you two wanted me to screw up."
There was another long pause as the European teen considered his answer.
"Quatre and I love Duo," he said quietly, "but we're not in love with him. It's a strange combination of the love you can feel for a friend, or a teammate, or a comrade-in-arms, or a family member... mixed with a physical attraction. In Duo's case, sometimes he seems like a bratty little brother," he added dryly, "but he's the sort of bratty little brother you're very fond of, not the sort you want to drown. We love him, and we'd be glad to bring him into our relationship... but it wouldn't be forever. It would be good while it lasted, but eventually, it would end, and Duo needs more than 'for now'." Looking over at Heero, he quirked his mouth in a half-smile. "Duo is in love with you, and you... well, it's hard to be sure sometimes, but there's hope for you yet."
"Thank you," Heero muttered sarcastically, blushing.
"Don't mention it," Trowa replied, equally sarcastically. "Anyway, if you can get and keep your act together, you'll be much better for Duo than we could ever be. So, no, we don't want you to screw up."
"Maybe you don't, but what about Quatre?"
"He may be a gentle pacifist, but there are some things Quatre is very slow to forgive. He's pissed off at you and wants you to suffer a bit, but I highly doubt he'd try to make your chances worse."
Heero seemed to be considering that seriously, so Trowa settled back against the pillows, cradling Duo securely against his side, and half-closed his eyes. "Besides," he murmured, watching Heero from under his lashes, "we want you to be happy as well. Duo isn't the only other pilot we've come to love and consider 'family'..."
* * * * *
Appearing at Uthmar's elbow, Gunnar chuckled softly. "Didn't I say he had style?"
"You did," Uthmar replied, suppressing a relieved grin. And I know which one of those two looks more like a lord!
=*Yes,*= Torframos said dryly, =*even wearing nothing but bloodstained pants and bandages. He certainly acts more like a lord than Yithar does, and I don't think he's putting it on.*=
? Uthmar cast a quick, puzzled glance upwards.
=*There's nothing forced about his manner,*= the god pointed out. =*He's used to acting this way. Whatever sort of aristocracy they have where he comes from, he was born into it.*=
How high? Baron? Duke? Prince?
=*That I can't say... but I want you to have a long talk with that young man, while he's still borrowing Karthan's language skills.*= There was a short pause. =*If I had to guess... prince.*=
Wufei was just standing there, loose hair blowing around his face, watching Yithar as the half-elf lord dithered. Uthmar couldn't pick out any one thing in his stance or expression to account for it; but somehow the demon was managing to give the impression that he was waiting, without particularly high expectations, for his social and mental inferior to finish some ridiculously simple task.
Yithar swallowed nervously, glancing from the demon, to the huge gold coins he'd poured on the table as negligently as if they were coppers, to the watching villagers, back to the demon. Slowly, almost unwillingly, he reached out towards the coins, then snatched his hand back.
"You... you can't pay!" he blurted abruptly. "You don't live here. You're not a villager. You can't pay for them!" He chewed at his bottom lip, glaring defiantly at the demon. That's enough gold to pay the taxes for years, but... if he pays, I can't turn the villagers out! They'll think they can get away with sneering at me-- curse it all, where's that damned Champion?!
Wufei raised one elegant eyebrow, and looked down his nose.
Gods, he does that better than my cousin Taihar-- Yithar hurriedly squashed an impulse to smile placatingly and say something mildly self-depreciating, his usual response when Taihar looked at him that way. He's a demon, not a noble, and he's not even dressed! Why am I feeling embarrassed?!
"You are quite right," the demon drawled eventually, still in that astonishing perfect accent. "My error. I beg your pardon."
And he's speaking in high mode as well, Yithar thought, torn between relief, regret and offense as he watched Wufei sweep the coins into his hands. Superior-to-inferior... how did he learn that?! I thought he could barely speak a few dozen words-- and how dare he? he added, almost as an afterthought.
"Royce!" Wufei said sharply, turning towards the headman.
"Yes, m'l-- ah, sir?"
"Here." Wufei took Royce's unresisting hand and poured the coins into it. "A gift to the village as a whole, as thanks for the hospitality you have shown me. Spend it as you see fit," he finished dryly, flicking a quick glance towards Yithar, that the half-elf didn't miss.
"Sir... Sir Wufei, this is far too much," Royce said shakily, looking down at the fortune in his hands. "We can't take--"
"Please," the demon said, voice softening slightly. "My people value kindness in a strange land very highly. I don't consider it excessive."
"Then... thank you, sir," Royce whispered, bowing. "I, I'm sure I speak for everyone--" He stumbled through a halting speech of gratitude, then turned to Yithar, eyes suspiciously bright as he sniffed and blinked.
"M'lord Yithar," he said formally. "I think we can pay our taxes now."
I should say they can! Uthmar thought, hiding a grin behind his beard as he strolled forwards. Those coins are huge, and he's treating them like pebbles. Looks like he's a rich demon prince!
"I'm not taking those!" Yithar sputtered, looking a little desperate. "That's demon money-- it could be cursed, or false gold or-- or anything!"
"I believe I can answer that," the Champion said in his most offensively polite and cheerful voice, stepping up to the small group. "If you'll allow me, Goodman Royce?"
Poking through the coins Royce held out to him, he selected several at random and examined them carefully. Letting a little of Torframos's power leak into his hands, he held one up to the light and rubbed his thumb across the graceful horned animal engraved on one side.
Well? They seem perfectly all right to me. Surprisingly pure gold, too.
=*Surprisingly? I should think so!*= Torframos answered. =*That's nearly the purest gold I've ever seen; it's certainly the purest I've ever seen in the hands of a mortal. Not a trace of magic about it, either. You can tell your squeamish Purple Lord it's all right to take it-- if he can come up with enough change, that is!*=
That will be a problem, won't it? Uthmar suppressed a chuckle as he handed the coins back. "I can testify to the fact that these coins are nothing more or less than very fine gold," he said calmly. "Leaving aside the rarity value, which could increase their value many times over - I'm not qualified to speak on the subject of what collectors might pay for one of these - one of these coins should be enough to pay for two quarters rent. Er, taxes." He watched the glitter of avarice in Yithar's eyes for a moment, then added casually, "Of course, if Lord Yithar isn't carrying sufficient funds to give change, we can always cut one in half--"
"NO!" Yithar screeched, horrified. "That would completely destroy the rarity value-- ah-- I'm mean, I'm sure I can-- er--"
"But surely, the rarity value doesn't come into it?" Uthmar inquired mildly. "After all, you were calculating the value of various pieces of jewelry as if they were unworked metal and loose stones, not finished pieces. With that as a precedent, we can say definitively that it is only the metal value of the coin that matters, and cutting it certainly won't affect that." He watched Yithar hyperventilate for a while, then suggested, "Or we could consider the rarity value of the coin. In that case, we would have to postpone payment until that value could be properly assessed, and the required change would be immense... or we could revalue the jewelry as finished pieces, in which case, I think the villagers could pay this quarter's rent - er, tax - without resorting to Sir Wufei's extremely valuable gift." He smiled benevolently at Yithar.
"That won't be necessary," Yithar wheezed, hanging on to his composure by his metaphorical fingernails. "It is established Purple Lord custom to, ah, calculate the value of any precious metal item offered as tax as if it were unworked. It, ah, saves argument over the valuation."
And makes you bloodsucking parasites a lot of money, Uthmar thought, still smiling.
"I will be able to provide change in less than a week--"
"That's an extension," the dwarf pointed out. "If you wouldn't grant your tenants an extension, I don't see how you can ask for one yourself."
Royce unobtrusively kicked Uthmar's ankle. "If it's more convenient for m'lord Yithar," he said woodenly, "I'm sure we'd be glad to pay two quarters' in advance. There wouldn't be nearly so much change involved, then."
As Yithar babbled acceptance and almost ran to his baggage to get his money pouch, Royce leaned down to Uthmar and hissed, "Yes, sir, it is very funny, but let's not push our luck for the sake of a little revenge!"
"Oh, all right," Uthmar whispered back. "I don't get to act like Gunnar very often, that's all." Turning to Wufei, he quirked an eyebrow at the slender demon. "It's a good thing you had that gold on you! You haven't emptied your pockets, have you?"
"If you have," Royce said hurriedly, holding the coins out, "please--"
Wufei shook his head, looking after Yithar with a definite satisfied smirk on his face. "No," he said, "I have plenty more. Things are a lot more expensive where I come from." The smirk softened and widened into a genuine smile as he looked at Royce. "I usually use Krugerrands to buy weapons," he said softly. "This is the first time I've felt good about the use I put them to..."
end chapter 15
NOTE:  Ahfwan: Arabic for 'don't mention it'.
MEL & CHRISTY: Awwwwwww! Isn't that sweet?
MEL (as an afterthought): We had one, but the wheels fell off.
WUFEI: Oh, shut up.
[Mel is tied to a chair, teacosy still on her head, with Quatre taking her pulse. Her eyes are going around in opposite directions.]
QUATRE: 88 beats a minute... in conga rhythm?!
QUATRE: I don't think it's going to wear off in a hurry. What did you put in that cola?
DUO: Errr... just some stuff. It was, um, kind of lying around handy.
[Mel starts singing 'Supercalifragilistic Expialidocious' in the key of M.]
QUATRE (raising his voice to be heard above the high notes): Well, you should be more careful!
DUO: I was going to give it to the muses!
TROWA: You were going to make a couple of extremely strong mythological creatures, with supernatural powers, who like chewing on us, high?
DUO: I see your point.
[Mel starts bouncing the chair up and down, half a beat out of time with her singing.]
WUFEI: Can't we sedate her or something?!
QUATRE: No. It might combine badly with whatever she's already got in her system.
WUFEI: I'll take that chance.
QUATRE: Badly for us.
WUFEI: Ah. ...I'm going to go join Gunnar in the character closet.
DUO: Wait for me!
CHRISTY: *sigh* I'm going outside for a smoke.
[She walks off. A moment later, there's the sound of the front door opening, then a bloodcurdling scream.]
[Told you so.]
CHRISTY: Get it off! Help! HEERO! SAVE ME!
[Heero springs into action - er, ambles towards the door.]
ARDETH: Ah... remember, Christy is the restraining influence.
HEERO: Hn. Good point.
[He leaps to the door, pulling his gun out of Spandex Space, and lands in an aggressive pose. There's nothing there except Christy.]
HEERO: All right, what do I have to kill?!
[She's staring, horrified, at the front of her shirt. Heero peers closely at her *ahem* frontal elevation.]
HEERO: ...you want me to save you from a click beetle?
CHRISTY: It leapt at me when I opened the door! It scared me! Do something!
HEERO (evil glint appearing in his eyes): Okay.
[He aims the gun at the click beetle from about a millimetre away, and prepares to pull the trigger. The gun is, of course, now pointed directly at Christy's heart.]
CHRISTY (grinning): Go ahead. Shoot. You can't kill me.
HEERO: Why not?
CHRISTY: I'm an author.
[The click beetle walks up the barrel of Heero's gun, and he has to spend the next fifteen minutes disassembling it to get the little buggy out.]
HEERO: Why?! I can just shoot it out!
MEL: Because I think click beetles are cute, and I'm the other author.
MEL: Beep beep fnord! Wheee~!