To Be A Hero



By Vega ( for Christy and Mel.



Dawn came at it's usual time, although to Duo Maxwell, it seemed just a bit more early than was necessary.

He'd had a hard time sleeping the past few days, and the insomnia was starting to take it's toll.

Chang Wufei, his husband of three years and his best sleeping aide, had been sent to a remote asteroid colony five days earlier, to oversee the Groundbreaking Ceremonies at the colony's new Preventer HQ's building site, and although he had been invited to come along, Duo had decided that he would use the free week to try to get some paperwork done.

Normally Duo Maxwell would be the last person to miss out on a party of any sort, but Lady Une had made it more than clear to him that if he didn't start getting his reports finished ON TIME, she'd see to it that he and his husband never had the same days off for the rest of their careers.

Duo scowled at the sun as it peeked up over the lake by his rather large house, and reached over to slide the drapery shut.

It's not that he didn't like filling out reports - it was fun to gloat about how many asses he'd kicked this time - it was that when Wufei was around, there were always many more interesting things to be done than reports.

With a small groan, Duo fell back into his empty and lonely king-sized bed and rolled over to clutch at Wufei's pillow.

The scent of 'Fei's shampoo, mixed with the unmistakable aroma of Wufei-hair, ticked at Duo's nose, distracting him. He'd finished all his over-due reports within the first two days of Wufei's absence, as he'd not been able to get any sleep anyway.

The nightmares were back.

Not as strongly as they had been four years ago, but they were there all the same.

Back when Duo had first begun to live with Wufei, the young Chinese teen would hold him in his sleep, stroking his braid and back, soothing him into a peaceful slumber with soft words. But without Wufei here, Duo had to suffer through the horrid mental images alone.

He didn't have the nightmares as often now as he used to. They only came when Wufei wasn't there, which, admittedly, wasn't often. He hadn't told his husband that he couldn't sleep when 'Fei wasn't home. He didn't want to worry him. But without somebody to soothe him away from the nightly torture parades, Duo felt that he was going to keel over in an exhausted faint any time now.

Sometimes he wished he would.

Groaning once more, and staring blearily at the bed-side clock, the ex-pilot crawled out of bed and sluggishly shuffled into the ensuite for a nice hot bath.

Maybe that would relax him enough to knock him out.


As it was, the bath actually was relaxing enough to put Duo to sleep - right in the tub.

When the braided youth awoke a few minutes after he fell asleep, he jumped, horrified, out of the water. He could have drowned, and the thought of Wufei having to come home to him dead, floating in a pool of freezing water, was not at all an appealing one.

With a growl of genuine frustration -for he was now severely awake and had lost any and all hope of falling asleep again until at least midnight - he stalked back into the bedroom and threw on the closest thing he could find.

It turned out to be his old 'combat uniform' from the war.

Or, rather, the closest thing to it that he had been able to find since. Although the tight black pants, knee-high boots, and button-down black blouse with a sewn-in clerical collar wasn't exactly the same as he used to wear as a pilot - there were no flares in the pant legs, and he had lost his favourite baseball cap- it had come close enough that when he had surprised Wufei with a small fashion show, the other boy had jumped to his feet and declared, "Don't even THINK about going anywhere NEAR your Gundam!"

Smiling faintly at the fond memory, Duo finished doing up the last button on his shirt and reached under it to pull out his silver crucifix.

Staring at it reverently for a few minutes, he then bent double to tuck his pant legs into his boots. Standing back to admire himself in the mirror - "Heh, 'Fei was right, I DO look like I'm ready to go out and kick some OZ ass, as long as I ignore the bruises under my eyes," - Duo then scooped his house keys up off the chest of drawers, and left the house.

It was a relatively warm fall day, and October was just around the corner.

Glad that he had chosen a long sleeve shirt as the wind picked up a bit, Duo walked down the long, winding lane that lead to the mansion that he and Wufei had planned and lived in together.

The closest town was a good hour and a half walk, and since he wasn't going to fall asleep again any time soon, Duo felt up to it.

Duo fully intended to walk right to Preventer's HQ (he had left the files at home, knowing that Une-chan had given him to the end of Wufei's absence to get them to her), and talk to Sally about getting some sort of Herbal knock-out tea. He hated the thought of not being in control of his own mind and body at all times, but when it came down to it, being in 'Zombie Mode' didn't exactly constitute being in control either. He only had two more days before Wufei got back, and he planned to use every spare minute catching up on his sleep.

Besides, he really didn't want 'Fei to worry.

Duo hadn't relapsed since the last bout of severe infections and viruses brought on by his determination to slowly commit suicide through malnutrition and lack of care for himself all those years ago, but every time he coughed, Wufei would still look at him suspiciously.

It felt good to be cared about, Duo knew, but at the same time he hated it when Wufei worried frivolously over his well being.

And so, Duo had resolved to walk into work, talk to Sally, get some pills or something, and walk back home.

His resolve vanished, however, when he walked past a clean little shop with gilded letters on the wall-sized window declaring the place to be "Purrrfect Paws".

With a small snicker at the pun-filled title, Duo stopped and bent to stare at the small batch of kittens that were wrestling each other in the little cardboard box in the window.

One kitten, a tawny brown one with little black tiger stripes, disentangled himself from his littermates and came forward to stare back at Duo with haughty Prussian-blue eyes.

What are you looking at? the kitten seemed to say, and Duo found himself startled.

"What's wrong, kitty?" Duo asked the kitten, resting one hand lightly against the glass. "Don't like being under surveillance?"

The kitten turned its face to the side, hiding part of its features in fluffy brown fur.

"I see," said Duo, "Strong silent type, huh? Like Heero. Your eyes look like Heero's."

The kitten then turned away fully, waving it's tail in a playfully menacing fashion, stalking closer to it's littermates. It then, when they were all distracted by each other, let forth a little growl and leapt up and onto the top of the pile. There was a resounding "mreowr!" as the other kittens fell to the sides, and the brown tiger-stripped kitten stood, haughty and victorious.

Duo caught himself laughing.

"You have my sense of humour, and 'Fei's moves, too, kitty."

The kitten then sat and began to preen itself, smug.

Suddenly struck by how much this little cat was like him and some of his closest friends, Duo straightened and tapped his chin thoughtfully. Then, without another sound, he walked into the pet shop, and leaned over the railing that kept the kittens contained in the window-display area, plucked up the brown kitten by it's scruff.

The kitten just blinked at him, and again Duo laughed. "Look at you. As unflappable as Treize."

Letting forth a little meow of both apprehension, and acceptance, the kitten began to struggle, and swung it's hind legs up to wrap around Duo's arm. Duo watched as animal twisted and turned until his paws were firmly on the human boy's arm, then hissed until Duo released his scruff. Puffing himself out slightly, the kitten then took a leisurely stroll up Duo's arm to come to rest on his shoulder. The kitten then proceeded to run it's rough tongue over Duo's cheek, where Duo discovered he had left a spot or two of jam from his toast earlier that morning.

"Trowa's agility and Quatre's affection," Duo said softly as he reached up to pull the kitten down into his cradled arms. "You're all of my friends rolled up into one little furball. Tell me kitty," Duo grinned, lifting it to be eye-level with him, "D'you think you could survive living with the Shinigami?"

"I should hope so," a deep, very human voice rang out, just behind Duo's shoulder, and the ex-pilot jumped and turned.

"Ah, sorry," Duo muttered, "It's just that the kitten looked just like a friend of mine and, I ... uh..." Duo trailed off, realizing how stupid he sounded.

The man in the "Purrrfect Paws" apron laughed and gestured for Duo to follow him into the aisles. He then began to pluck various things off the shelves - a litter box, cat food, a water dish - and pile them in his arms.

"Erm, what are you doing?" Duo asked the man as he stopped in front of the display of collars.

"It looks like the little Pilot doesn't want to let go of you," the man explained, gesturing with a head nod to Duo's chest, where the kitten had firmly imbedded it's claws into the cloth of his black shirt. "And I'm not letting him go home with you unless I know he's going to be properly cared for."

"Little Pilot?" Duo echoed, absently stroking the kitten's puffed fur.

"Well," the shop keeper inclined his head slightly, "You mentioned the names Trowa, Quatre, Heero, Wufei, and Treize."

"I did," Duo admitted.

"That would be Trowa Barton, Quatre Winner, Heero Yui, Chang Wufei, and His Excellency, wouldn't it?"

"His Excellency?" Duo repeated, violet, bag-circled eyes narrowing in suspicion.

"Treize Kushrenada," the older man corrected himself absently, "Old habits die hard, I guess." With Duo's renewed suspicious glare, the shop keeper sighed as if relenting to fate and added, "I used to work as an Information Analyst during the war."

Duo frowned. "For OZ?"

"For OZ," the man agreed. "I don't regret working for them either," he added, "But I'm glad that we lost."

"Hn," Duo said, vaguely aware that he was mimicking Heero, and that his entire body had tensed, as if preparing to fight or run. In his arms the kitten mewled, as if reminding him not to squeeze too hard.

Blinking, Duo looked down at the bright blue eyes of the cat, and then back up to the shop keeper.

"Besides," the elder man said, "How could I not know everything about the Gundams? My son is obsessed."

As if on cue, a little boy, no more than six or seven, and who was unmistakably the shop keeper's son, came flying down the aisle with a plushy of the Tallgeese in his hand. Duo recognized the toy as one of the ones from the "Whack-A-Leo" carnival last winter.

"Tommy!" the older man shouted at his son, and the boy came to an abrupt halt. "I told you not to run around the store like that, it upsets the parrots."

"Aw, it's okay," Duo grinned, and bent to take a good look at the boy. The war had been over for almost four years, so the child couldn't have been more than two when Duo had last sat in the cockpit of Deathscythe.

A wave of cold nausea splashed in Duo's gut when he realized that he might have been responsible for orphaning this boy, had the war gone on any longer. Smiling weakly, Duo ran the fingers of his kitten-less hand through the child's tousled blonde hair. "Tommy, eh?" Duo asked, and the boy nodded, "I see you've got a Mobile Suit there. You know which one it is?"

"Tallgeese," the boy answered, sounding very articulate, and very proud of himself.

Duo blinked and looked up at the shop keeper, who only shrugged and smiled around his armful of cat-things. "Ever since Tommy was told that the Gundam Pilots were heroes, he's idolized them."

"Who told them the pilots were heroes?" Duo wondered aloud.

"He asked me one day what war was," the elder man smiled sadly, "and I told him that it was like the whole world in one big nasty fight. Then he asked me what peace was, and I told him it was a gift. A gift of friendship the whole world got to share. And then he asked me who GAVE us the gift, and I said--"

"- The Gundam Pilots," Duo finished for him.

The elder man only nodded.

With a more genuine smile, Duo leaned down once more and pointed to the plushy in Tommy's arms and said, "Do you know who piloted Tallgeese?"

Without stopping to think, the boy blurted, "Zechs Marquise."

Duo was impressed. He crouched by the boy and asked, "And what about Gundam 01?"

"Wing!" the boy exclaimed, "Heero Yui!"


"Heavyarms! Trowa Barton!"

"04 and 05?"

"Sandrock! Quatre Winner! Nataku, Chang Wufei!"

Duo let out a low whistle, and straightened.

"Ask me about 02! Ask me about 02!" Tommy wailed, tugging on the hem of Duo's shirt, and the youth blinked.

"Okay, who piloted 02?"

"Deathscythe!" Tommy exclaimed, "Duo Maxwell!"

"Very good, Tommy," Duo said absently, looking back at the boy's father with wonder in his eyes. An OZ ex-soldier who had taught his son to believe that the Gundam Pilots were heroes. Duo felt a lump rise in his throat. "I'll, uh," he said, clearing his voice passage with a small cough, "I'll take this kitten, I think. And, uh.... yeah...."

He watched with amazement as Tommy stared at him with wide eyes, then ran back to the window and counted the kittens, then ran back. "You're gonna take Duo?" Tommy asked with large shining eyes.

"Excuse me?" Duo coughed again, startled.

Tommy pointed to the kitten in the braided boy's hands. "That's Duo. See?" He took the real Duo's free hand and dragged him back to the window box. "He's brown and black. The white one is Quatre, and the yellow one is Zechs. The black one is Wufei. And that's Trowa, that's Heero, and that's Relena!"

"Oh," Duo stifled a snicker as the Relena kitten pounced on the Heero kitten.

The shop keeper walked up behind them, apparently having deposited all of the cat merchandise at the front till, and said in a laughing voice, "I told Tommy not to name them. He knows we can't keep them."

"It's okay!" Duo grinned, suddenly overcome with joy. "Yeah, Tommy, I'm gonna take little Duo here. He's gonna have a great home. Wanna come help pick out a collar for him?"

Tommy nodded and Duo reached down to take his hand, allowing the boy to lead him back to collar display. In his other hand, kitten Duo had snuggled as close to his chest as possible and was watching his dangling crucifix with flashing eyes.

"This one!" Tommy exclaimed, pointing to a black fabric collar with a small silver bat-shaped pendant dangling from it. "See? It's got bat wings, just like the Deathscythe."

Violet eyes full of admiration for the kid's knowledge, Duo plucked up the collar, and walked with it, the kitten, and the boy, back to the check-out till, where the child's father was standing, smiling, the other purchases already rung in.

"Duo-neko's already had all his shots, and he's completely weened," the man explained as the money exchanged hands. "I think the only thing that he's got to worry about when he goes it how it's going to make Tommy feel."

Duo, catching the man's innuendo said, "Well, Tommy. I promise to take good care of Duo-neko, okay?"

Tommy, eyes brilliant with unshed tears and clutching the Tallgeese plushy to his tiny chest, nodded once.

With the deft sleight-of-hand that Duo had been known for in the war, he reached out, and without either the store owner or his son noticing he pocketed one of the "Purrrfect Paws" business cards.

Then he bid his farewell to Tommy, his father, and the leftover kittens (he DID feel a little guilty leaving Wufei-neko all alone, and swore he would make Wufei-human want to come back to rescue him), tucked Duo into the pocket on the front of his shirt where he was certain the kitten would be warm, and headed back home, bags in hand, a smile on his face, and a plan in his mind.

He didn't even realize that he had completely forgotten to stop by the HQ to talk to Sally.


When Wufei returned home from his relaxing, but emotionally exhausting week-long trip, he expected to be glomped the moment he walked in the door by his husband.

Instead, when he swung back the door that connected the garage to the front hall, a tiny "Meeew?" caught his attention, and Wufei was horrified to find a small brown and black kitten sitting at his feet.

"Who are you?" Wufei said, dropping his bags and scooping up the kitten, vaguely annoyed that Duo would go and make such a monumental decision such as buying a pet without asking him first. A flash of silver caught his eye, and Wufei was slightly amused when he caught the bat-shaped pendant and found it engraved with the name "Shinigami".

"Oh, for the love of..." Wufei snorted, and marched into the kitchen, ready to ream his lover out for not consulting him first.

He stopped dead, and a warm smile spread over his face when he found Duo fast asleep on the floor, curled up beside a half-empty dish of cat food and an open, "How to Care for your Kitten" guide crumpled under his cheek.


A warm, wet tongue lapping at the shell of his ear was what awoke Duo.

He wondered blearily when it was that Wufei had developed the habit of waking him up by licking his face, when he realized that the tongue in question was far too small, and far to rough to be his husband's. Which an uttered "Gah!" Duo sat bot upright and opened his eyes, only to find the husband in question holding out a small brown kitten and laughing.

"Fei!" Duo exclaimed happily, and Wufei received the glomp he had been expecting, the kitten held off to the side to keep it from getting smashed.

"Shinigami?" Wufei asked with one eyebrow raised as Duo pulled away to let him breathe.

Duo ducked his head sheepishly. "Well, the boy at the pet shop had him named Duo-neko, but I thought it would be too confusing if there were two of us."

"Duo-neko?" Wufei's eyebrow rose even higher.

Duo then proceeded to spill the tale of that entire morning to his lover, at the end of which, Wufei's eyes were wide and glistening.

"He thinks we're heroes?" Wufei asked softly, absently stroking Shinigami.

Duo only nodded. Then he reached into his pants pocket and produced the small cream-coloured "Purrrfect Paws" business card. "Tommy was a little worried that Duo-neko wasn't going to be happy with out the other Gundam Kittens around to keep him company. What's say we let him check Shinigami's new place out for himself?"

A large grin spread over Duo's face, and Wufei couldn't help but echo it.


Heero shifted a mite uncomfortably in the overstuffed chair by the fireplace, and Relena reached out to pat his hand, attempting to calm her husband down. "It's okay, Heero," she said softly, "It's probably nothing serious."

"If it were nothing serious," Heero argued, "Then Duo would have asked us to bring alcohol of some sort."

Quatre looked up at Heero from where he was seated on the sofa beside Trowa, chewing on his bottom lip. When the Arabic boy had first received Duo's plaintive call to come to his place, and that very evening, he had offered to bring Rashid and the rest of his crew with him, but Duo had politely refused the offer, stating that the only people needed were himself, Trowa, Heero, Relena, Zechs, Noin.

Now former pilots Gundam pilots and their friends sat in Duo's livingroom, wondering what could have prompted Duo to want to see everybody. Was their some sort of trouble brewing? Did the Preventers need a strike force?

Before anyone else could suggest why they had been asked to come, Zechs looked up and spotted Wufei walking in the door, a small brown tabby kitten in his arms.

"What is that?" Zechs asked before he could help himself. He had never seen Wufei as a cat-person before, and he himself wasn't overly fond of the critters due to the fact that they shed. Noin, he knew, was a fan, and that though left him a bit uncomfortable. If she thought 'Fei had a kitten, she might want one too.

"This," Wufei said, holding up the small cat, "Is Shinigami, one of Duo and my new kittens. Formally Duo-neko."

"Duo-neko?" Quatre grinned.

"I shall explain in a moment," Wufei smiled slightly, but kept an otherwise straight face. "This," he gestured to a smaller black kitten who was sitting happily in his breast-pocket, "is Shenrong. Formally Wufei-neko."

Relena and Noin both stifled giggles.

Then Duo came into the room, leading a small blonde boy who clutched a cardboard box of multi-coloured kittens to his chest. Slowly he lead the boy to each couple, depositing one kitten into Heero's lap (Heero sat back away from it, a strange _expression twisting at his lip), one into Relena's, (she cuddled hers immediately and it began to purr appreciably), one into Trowa's lap (the kitten and the human just looked at each other, and gave little shrugs), one into Quatre's, (the kitten immediately scrambled to it's feet and began to climb Quatre's vest to get at his face, meowing happily as the boy giggled), and one into Zech's lap, (who promptly turned the thing over to Noin).

"This is Heero-neko, Relena-neko, Trowa-neko, Quatre-neko, and Zechs-neko," Wufei added, watching the others fuss with their new discoveries, amused.

Duo laughed outright when Trowa and Trowa-neko sent the Zechs-neko who was rubbing its muzzle against Noin's chin identical semi-amused glances. Then he plucked Shinigami from Wufei's grasp and plopped down onto the carpet in front of the fireplace with the kitten in his lap.

"And there you go!" Duo exclaimed, "Happy Yom Kippur!"

"Duo!" Zechs exclaimed, "I don't think the giving of kittens is a traditional gesture during Yom Kippur!"

"I think it's cute!" Noin hushed him, though weather she was speaking of Duo's gesture, or the kitten, Zechs wasn't sure.

"Who NAMED them?" huffed out Heero, and his kitten turned to know the answer as well, erect and proud.

"Truth be told, Tommy here did." Duo gestured for the little boy to come out from behind Wufei, where he had gone after handing out the kittens, and the child did so only reluctantly.

"Hey," Noin said, "I recognize you. You're Major Lampton's son, aren't you?"

Tommy nodded, chewing on his bottom lip.

Relena blinked, and help her kitten away from her long enough to ask, "An OZ officer's son?" When Noin nodded she added, "Why did you name the kitten after u--" Duo sent her a tiny glare and she switched 'us' to "- the Gundam Pilots?"

"They're heroes!" Tommy explained, seeming to think that the answer ought to be obvious.

"Heroes?" Quatre echoed, sending a look at Trowa.

"Yeah," Tommy said, hands on his hips. He seemed very perturbed that the people he was talking to didn't already know that. "My dad told be the war is bad, and peace is a gift. And the gift was brought by the Gundam Pilots. So, I named the kittens after them."

"He admires the Gundam Pilots a lot," Duo grinned. "He even has a Tallgeese plushy."

"He does?" Zechs blinked.

Duo then turned to the boy. "Tommy?"

"Yeah?" the boy asked.

"Want to see the real Tallgeese?"

The child's eyes widened until they looked like they were to big for his face. "YEAH!"

Duo gestured to Zechs, and Zechs was suddenly relieved that he had showed up that night. He had been planning to fake sick - Duo was infamous for his practical jokes.

"Why don't you ask Lt. Zechs there real nicely if you can come into work and see it tomorrow?"

Timidly, Tommy turned wide blue eyes to Zechs. The he let out a squeal of delight and ran towards the long-haired man. "You're the real Zechs?!"

The man made a sort of face, and Noin let out a whooping laugh, as the child leapt into Zech's lap and glomped him for all he was worth.

After allowing the hyper child ten or so minutes to scream out his joy, Duo went and picked him up, and brought him back to the circle and said, grinning like a maniac, "I think I've been rude, Tommy. I forgot to introduce my friends to you."

Nodding to each of his friends in turn, and allowing them the space for a small "Hi", or "nice to meet you," Duo went around the circle. They were all flattered and pleased when Tommy shrieked after every name.

"And my name really isn't Max Chang," Duo said, finally coming round to himself. "I gave you and your Dad a false one, so I could surprise you. I'm--"

"-Duo Maxwell!" Tommy cut in and bounced over to the braided youth, wrapping his arms around his neck so tight that Duo was forced to drop Shinigami to the floor to keep him from being squished. "I knew it! I knew it!"

Duo laughed, "You did, huh? You're too good for us then. Good thing you didn't have your Dad's job, or we'd all be out of business right now. C'mere." He stood and held out his hand. "Your Dad will be back to pick you up in a few minutes. Do you think that's enough time to go call Lady Une and ask if you can come to work with me?"

"I want to come!" Quatre jumped up from his seat, clutching the white kitten to his chest. "Tommy, you have to come meet the Mangaunacs sometime."

"Oooooh BOY!" Tommy shouted, bounding from the room after Duo and Quatre, who were talking animatedly among themselves, each with a hand on the boy's. Trowa looked at the Quatre-neko who had been dumped into his lap, and smiled slightly as the dark brown kitten that was named after him walked over and batted the white kitten's ears.

Eventually, Tommy's father, Major Lampton, arrived to collect his son and thank the gathered group for their generosity, and then gave Duo permission to take his son into the Preventers HQ. He even sketched a salute to Noin, which got her laughing.

After the child left, each person was left to stare down at the kittens they held, and contemplate the things they had done during the war, and the repercussions of each action.

Zechs gave a mild protest when Noin made it clear she wanted the Zechs kitten, and he didn't stand a chance.

Duo was the first to stand, stretching and yawning. "Well, I think I better hit the sack. Shinigami?" The kitten in his arms yawned in agreement, and the others took this as their cue to take their gifts and depart, which they did with much thanks and even more thoughtful silence.


The door hard barely clicked shut in the main entrance hall before Duo was up in his room stripping. Shinigami sat on the edge of the bed, watching with curious blue eyes and Duo shed his clothes.

"Don't you find that a bit disturbing?" Wufei asked as he entered the room, Shenrong in his pocket still. "Shinigami is watching you take off your clothes."

"You watch me all the time," Duo cackled, flashing his lover a peace sign.

"Yes, but I'm not a cat."

"Hmmmm," Duo turned, wearing nothing but his let-down hair and a smile, and pretended to ponder something, "Now, there's an idea. Say, ‘Fei, if I rub you in the right spot, will YOU purr?"

Blushing furiously (and scolding himself for doing so - they were only cats, after all, they didn't understand!) Wufei went to the bed and turned down the covers, then stripped himself and slid into bed. The shirt with Shenrong in the pocket ended up on the end of the bed, and the black kitten scrambled out of the fabric to walk up Wufei's legs and nuzzle his chin.

With Trowa's grace, Wufei's dexterity, Heero's pride, and Quatre's affection, Shinigami scrambled around Duo to nestle in beside Shenrong.

"You're not serious thinking of letting them sleep HERE," Wufei asked, a note of desperation in his tone.

"Nope, not tonight," Duo said, and got up to walk the kittens into the outside hall, then, having closed the door on them in their cat-basket out side of Fei and his' bedroom, sauntered back into bed and climbed on top of his husband.

With a quick kiss, Wufei asked, "What do you mean, 'Not tonight'?"

"I get nightmares still, when you're not home," Duo finally admitted, and when Wufei's eyes widened with horror, he quickly added, "But only sometimes. But I don't think I'll get them anymore."

"Why not?" Wufei asked, wrapping his arms around Duo and rolling so he was now on top. He suspected, however, that he already knew the answer.

With a small nod that indicated the kittens outside of the bedroom door, he smiled warmly and said, "Because, I'll have the best part of all or my friends looking after me."

Then he leaned up and pressed his lips against Wufei's.


The next morning, Duo bounded out of bed, bright and early, and ran around the house making all four members were properly groomed and well fed for the day.

"Yeach," Wufei said softly, staring at his dark-green uniform blazer, "Now we'll have to get a lint brush."

His husband only laughed.

The kittens, who had been allowed back into the room after both men were properly washed and dressed, watched with dizzied eyes as Duo and Wufei rushed back and forth, passing off shirts, ties, hair combs and elastics, brushes, boots, and underwear ("Duo, I refuse to wear these! They have CARROTS on them!").

In the midst of this morning madness, Duo stopped to pat the kitties.

"Do you think they'll be okay, 'Fei?" he asked, as Wufei sat down behind him to plait his long chestnut hair. "It'll be the first time they're alone."

Wufei made an indulging sound.

"They're cats, Duo. They'll survive one day without you."

"Haaaaaaaaai," Duo whined, "But they're my baaaaaaaabies."

"Anno," Fei grunted, tugging his husband’s hair playfully, "if you wanted a REAL child--" Duo's violet eyes lit up and Wufei finished with, "The adoption agency would have turned us down."

Duo's formally bright eyes grew lidded and distant. "Why?" he clutched Shinigami to his chest and the brown tabby pawed his protruding lip slightly, "Because we're.... two men?"

"No," Fei tugged Duo's braid again, sharply, but not enough to hurt, and one corner of his lips pulled up in a smirk, "Because you'd warp the kid for life."

Duo laughed out loud, and the rest of the morning was spent with a light mood about the two ex pilots, but when Tommy Lampton and his father arrived, and Wufei watched as Duo hugged the boy tightly, the Chinese youth wondered if Duo had only bought the kittens because he had really wanted a son.


In the backseat of the Blazer, Tommy had his face pressed to the window-pane as Wufei handed off his ID card to the man in the parking garage booth.

"Welcome back, sir," the man saluted, giving back the card, and Wufei nodded.

"He called you SIR!" Tommy squealed in delight, and Duo joined in the laughter.

Wufei let forth a small growl that was half annoyed and half amused.

Tommy barely waited until the Blazer had stopped before leaping out of the rear passenger door and yanking open Duo's. "Let's go, let's go!" the youngster shouted, his face red with his eagerness and his eyes wide and bright.

Wufei only shook his head as Duo scrambled out to hoist Tommy over his shoulder and fly to the main doors with the child on his back like a ruck-sack.

Shaking his head again as Duo was forced to slow down and show his ID and Tommy's temporary day pass (which he had to search for, one handed, in the opposite pocket), Wufei reached over the seat and grabbed both his and Duo's briefcases, then, stepping out and locking up his beloved Blazer, walked towards the main entrance of Preventers' HQ, the inside of which was already filled with audible shouts.

This was going to be quite the day.


Lady Une stared at the thing sitting on her desk.

Bright blue eyes and tousled blond hair stared back.

Lady Une then turned her eyes to the thing leaning on the window sill.

Bright violet eyes and plaited chestnut hair beamed back.

"Are you really Lady Une-?" the thing on her desk began and she stood up abruptly and turned to the other thing.

"I said you could bring him! And I'm glad to have met him. But, I didn't say you could just drop him on my desk! GET OUT, MAXWELL!"

"Awwwwwwwww....... but Une-chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan... isn't he just so cuuuuuuuuuute....?" the violet eyes and chestnut hair began and Lady Une bit forcefully on her lower lip to keep the non PG comments she had in mind in check. She pointed strongly at the door.

"Show him the.... MS Dock... or SOMETHING. I have WORK TO DO."

"Haaaaaaaaaaai!" they chorused in unison

In a flash both things vanished from her office and Une stared after them, her sanity held together tightly with mental duct tape.

"Two, by the gods, TWO Duos..." she was heard to be muttering to herself for the rest of the day.


As Duo, Wufei, and Tommy entered the Mobile Suit Docking Bay at the Preventers' HQ, a resounding shriek of joy was heard all over the building.


Milliardo Peacecraft, formally Lt. Zechs Merquise of the Officers of the Zodiac, found himself smiling.

He wasn't quite sure why, however.

There was a child, of all things, crawling around in the cockpit of HIS Tallgeese, hitting each and every button, making mechanical sounds and rocking back and forth as if the MS was really walking.

Normally, he'd be annoyed as all hell that someone besides himself (or, on a good day, Noin) was in his suit. It had taken MONTHS to adjust all the controls, environmental settings, and, damn it all, the SEAT, so they were just right.

And here was this child, this blonde-haired, blue-eyed, six year old, sitting in his valued, and loved suit.

Zechs smiled a faint smile and leaned back against the wall of the docking bay, watching as Maxwell and the Lampton boy scrambled all over the Tallgeese, ruining all his hard work.

Then he realized that he had referred to himself as 'Milliardo' for the first time in years.

"I must be going soft, ne...?" Zechs said to no one in particular. "I must be. I let Noin talk me into keeping that damned furball..."


Come lunch time, every Preventers' in the HQ had fallen in love with little Tommy Lampton.

The kid and run around each and every desk, into every room and closet, and up and down every single hall during his tour.

Absolutely every Preventers' was also very sad to see the kid go home with his father shortly thereafter.

Tommy had a way of endearing everyone to him, mostly with his knowledge of the war and Mobile Suits. When Mr. Lampton had come to collect his son, pulling Lady Une aside for a few minutes of reminiscing and thanks, many people were sad to see the boy go.

Mostly because it meant that now that the child's visit was over, they'd actually have to start to work again.


"Thank you!" Tommy said, hugging a kneeling Duo so tightly that the braided man thought he'd suffocate. "It was fun!"

"Yes, yes it was," Wufei agreed, ruffling the boy's hair, then accepting Tommy's hug as the child switched his grip to strangle Fei instead.

"Come on, Tommy," his father said gently, and held out his arms.

Wufei straightened, lifting the child up with him, and Tommy reluctantly, but obediently, climbed into his father's embrace.

"We'll be by with Shinigami and Shenrong next week," Duo promised one last time as Tommy and his father said their goodbyes, and walked out of the main entrance to the HQ.

As they climbed into their car, the wind carried Tommy's excited words across the parking lot to the two men's ears.

"...and I saw the Suits, and I saw Lady Une, and I wanna be a Preventers' when I grow up, and I wanna be a pilot, and I wanna fly the Tallgeese, and ..."

"You know, Fei," Duo said softly, after the both of them had watched Mr. Lampton pull out of the parking lot in comfortable silence, "I was wondering. If the war had gone on too much longer, would we have--"

Wufei turned and took Duo's face in his, pressing his lips hard against his husband's, effectively cutting off the rest of his sentence.

When they finally parted for air, Wufei smiled gently, and ran one hand over Duo's bangs. "Let's just be glad it didn't, okay?"

Duo nodded, a small smile on his face. "Okay."

They turned together to go back inside and start the days paperwork, when Duo reached out and grabbed Wufei's sleeve, stopping them both. He leaned over and gently licked the shell of Fei's ear.

The Chinese youth turned a bright shade of crimson and looked around, hoping nobody was in the hall to witness his husband's playful mood.

"Just, promise me one thing, Fei?" Duo asked, sincerity in his violet eyes.

"H-Hai...?" Wufei said, privately annoyed at the hitch in his voice.

"Let's pick up with that kiss tonight."

Wufei did his best to hide his smile as the two former Gundam pilots walked back into the HQ. "Okay. But Shin and Shen will have to sleep outside again tonight."

Duo only laughed. "Fine by me!"





Gundam Wing



















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