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fic - i backward cast my e'e part 15 [novella] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
turnippatch
turnippatch
fic - i backward cast my e'e part 15 [novella]
Title:  I Backward Cast My E'e
Part:  15



I Backward Cast My E'e
sequel-lite to for promis'd joy
Part 15


"Did you find me a frictionless pulley this year?"

"Excuse me?"

Duo licked happily at his ice cream covered spoon as they walked down the street of the homey commercial area near campus.  "Last year I asked for a frictionless pulley, and you didn't come through for me.  You gonna let me down again this year?"

"But that..."  Heero's brow unfurrowed as he got over the injustice and found a defensible position.  "I'll find you a frictionless pulley if you find me an infinite sheet of charge."

"Hey, that's not how this works, babe."

"What would you do with a frictionless pulley?"  He felt as if they'd had this conversation before.

"I'd do a heck of a lot more than you'd do with an infinite sheet of charge!  I mean, where would you even put an infinite sheet?"

"...In my bag of infinite holding?"

"Whoa, okay, you just crossed my nerdiness threshold with that one."

Heero blinked at him.  "...You want a frictionless pulley for Christmas, and yet D&D pushes you over the edge?"

"Totally."  His next spoonful of ice cream stopped in the air before reaching his mouth.  "Wait, you don't play D&D, do you?"

"No."

"You're really just making a pop culture reference, right?  And not being all weird and role-playery?"

"Duo.  Doesn't Alex GM a D&D session in his dorm lounge every Monday night?"

He huffed impatiently.  "Yeah, but frictionless pulleys are like smart nerd stuff.  Any old nerd can play D&D.  I have my nerd standards, man."

"...I'll keep that in mind."

"Ooh, look at that!"  He pulled them to a halt in front of one of the small stores.

"What?"

"The postcard.  The one that says, 'A mime is a terrible thing to waste.'  Think Trowa would like that?"

Heero located the postcard in question and laughed.  "Well, he's not a mime."

"Yeah, but I'm not getting any closer to a clown than that.  Besides, it's funny because it's a mime and he's being used for target practice.  It'd probably be downright hostile for me to get him something with a clown being used as target practice."

"I think he'll love it."  He strategically didn't inform Duo that he could make his own supposedly hostile postcard just by pulling some photos from the Barton family albums.

"Hm, hey, hold this for me and I'll go in and get it."

Heero dutifully waited outside the store, respecting the request for no food and drinks inside.  It was quiet in the late afternoon, but then, college towns always got a little quiet once the semester was over.  The campus hadn't quite shut down for the winter recess yet, but those few students that hadn't fled town at the earliest opportunity were probably more occupied with preparing to flee town rather than wandering around town for some well-deserved R&R.

A car raised a blip on his radar.  It was parked a ways down the street.  Nothing remarkable about it, but Heero stared at it anyway until he figured out what the problem was.

Duo emerged from the store behind him and leapt upon his waiting ice cream before even greeting him.  "Hey... sorry to make you wait?"

Heero blinked at him, watching as Duo snuck glances at him between spoons of melted ice cream gathered meticulously from the edges of his cup.  It made him remember his own snack/dessert and he hid his attention in it.  "Um, not a problem."

"Uh, okay then.  Ready to go home or something?"

It wasn't a question that really required a long pause, but it got one anyway.  That, and a twitch of a glance down the street.

"Um, or not," Duo appended, sweeping his own look around the area.  "Was there somewhere else you wanted to go?"

Heero sighed and took a few steps toward the wall of the building next to them, pulling Duo along in his wake.  "Duo..."

"...What?"  The glance he threw around was nervous this time, not curious.

"I'm... not sure if I should tell you this..."

"Well, geez, now you have to!  After you've made me all anxious and stuff."

Another sigh.  "...Her car is parked down the street."

"What?  Whose...?"  The moment he figured out who 'she' was, it was immediately obvious on his face.  "You have got to be kidding me.  What the fuck is that woman doing here?  Is she stalking me or what?"

Heero did his best to do some damage control.  "We don't know why she's here, Duo."

"I don't *care* why she's here, Heero.  She shouldn't be here, period.  I don't *care* about it being a free country or a public road.  She's got no business here."

Heero tried to block his path when he appeared to be heading for the car.  "Come on, Duo, we can just walk away from this, pretend we didn't see her."

"Like hell we can.  You wanted me to walk away, you shouldn't have said anything."

"I'm sorry, Duo, I didn't-- I didn't know if I should say anything or not."

"Then why the hell did you?"

"It... didn't feel right, not telling you.  I thought... I didn't want to hide anything from you."

"Yeah, well...!"  He glared at Heero for a few seconds before turning away with a sharp curse.  He leaned his arm against the building's wall and hid his face against it for a bit before heaving an angry sigh.  "I hate that woman so fucking much sometimes.  And it's totally not her fault."

"Duo..."

"Don't... don't 'Duo' me.  You just make me feel worse.  Can't you at least pretend not to be so understanding once in a while?"

"...No.  Sorry."

"Asshole."  He smiled weakly.  "Fuck.  I really am tired of the ball always being in my court, yanno.  I'd be pissed off if it weren't, but, well, you know."

"It's just not a good situation, Duo.  I can... I can go ask her what she's doing here, if you want."

"Nah, I don't need you to do my dirty work, Heero."  He squared his shoulders and took a step in that direction, pausing only to bump their shoulders together briefly.  "'Preciate the offer, though."

"I've got your back, Duo," Heero murmured, falling in a step behind.

"...Remind me you said that later, yeah?  So I can kiss the living daylights out of you."

"Will do."

Duo marched resolutely toward the car, pitching his ice cream in the nearest trash can along the way, but his step became underlined with no small amount of trepidation once he got to the right angle to see that Elizabeth was sitting in the front seat.  Her attention seemed focused on something in her lap, so at least it wasn't as if she'd been stalking anyone with binoculars or something.  It made Duo feel slightly guilty for forcing a confrontation then, but then he became irritated by that prick of guilt, and by the time they were next to the car, his expression had reverted to the near scowl he seemed accustomed to wearing when dealing with this woman.

Elizabeth looked up without prompting and noticed the two young men hovering outside her door with a bit of a flinch.  She quickly set aside the papers she'd been looking at and got out of the car, closing the door quietly behind her when clearly she might have liked to use it as a shield.

Since Duo was getting into the habit of starting off these standoffs, he fired off the first shot.  "What are you doing here?"

She made an attempt at a defensive stance.  "I'm sorry, I didn't think I'd run into you here."

"This is my neighborhood.  Why wouldn't I be around here?"

"Well, no, I mean... I'm sorry.  I'm only here to do a little shopping."

"What, they don't have shops out where you're from?"

She flushed.  "Of course they do.  Just last time I was here, I saw something I thought would make a good gift, and I'm sorry but I just haven't been able to find it somewhere else, otherwise I would never have come here."

"Alright, so maybe that's why you came.  Why are you still here?"

"I haven't been here long."  She glanced to the back seat of her car, where a young child slept hitherto unnoticed.  "She fell asleep on the way here.  I'm waiting for her to wake up before we go shopping."

Duo stared at the girl.  "Is that..."

"My daughter.  Maddie.  Your--"

"Don't," he cut her off harshly.  "Don't say it."

"Duo--"

"No.  Just... Look, I know I don't have any right to tell you where you can go, but just get what you came here for, and get out of here.  Please."

"No, Duo," she answered softly.  "You do have a right.  I'm sorry for all of this.  Really, I am.  I know I'm just being selfish by coming here to find my own answers, but... I have a right to try to find out what I can, too.  A right, and a need.  It's just your right not to give me those answers."

"Fine.  Whatever.  Just leave the kid out of this.  It's got nothing to do with her."

"Nothing to do with her?  This is her father we're talking about."

"No, it's not.  We're not talking about her father.  We're talking about -my- father.  My crappy douchebag of a father.  The guy that lied to you and wished I never happened.  I'm more than happy to burst whatever little bubbles you may have about him, but I'm not gonna be responsible for popping hers.  I'm sure you've noticed I'm not real big on holding my tongue when it comes to that son of a bitch.  So trust me, it's really in your own best interest to leave her out of this."

Her expression softened.  "You're a good person, Duo.  I didn't come here expecting to find that."

"Expected me to take after my father, then, did you?"  He'd been relatively civil for a while, but couldn't help the acidic comment this time.

Elizabeth's mouth twisted into an odd grimace.  "I expected to find you were a little monster... or else a man like his father.  Yes, maybe I came here hoping to find a man like Jake left in this world.  Maybe you're nothing like him, but you're still a piece of his legacy.  He had his flaws... but I think I'm happy finding he brought something good into this world."  She laughed a little, softly and self-depreciatingly.  "That may not matter much to you... You may consider yourself good in spite of what he did to you... and I may agree.  I'm probably farther from understanding him than I've ever been, but... Like it or not, Duo Maxwell, I'm glad I came out here.  I hope you don't think too poorly of me for that."

"Whatever," Duo responded almost dismissively.  He had been casting furtively apprehensive glances toward the back seat of the car while she had been speaking.  "Just don't -- aw, crap."

She looked over to see her daughter was awake now, stretching and yawning, but her attention was quickly diverted as she spied Duo turning to go.  "Wait.  Please."

"Hell no."  The answer was flat, but his steps slowed.

"Please."  She rushed to find the words when he stopped, reluctance clear in his stance.  "We don't... She doesn't have to know.  Not yet, maybe.  One day, I hope, when she can better understand all of this.  But at least for now... you could at least say hello?"

The matter was somewhat decided for him as the car door opened and a little voice called out.  "Mom?"

Elizabeth encouraged her out of the car and gave her a small hug.  "Hey, Maddie, have a good nap?"

"We're here?"  She looked around the new town curiously, then seemed to notice the two young men hovering nearby.  "Who're they?"

"They're some people I met here, sweetie.  This is Duo, and this is his friend..."  There was a short, awkward pause as she looked blankly at Heero.  "I'm sorry, I don't think we've ever been introduced."

"Heero."  His answer was short and neutral.

"Heero," she repeated carefully.  "Duo and Heero.  And this is Maddie."

"Nice to meet you," the little girl intoned politely.

Another silence followed, this one possibly more awkward than the last.  Heero almost rolled his eyes at the others and bravely leapt into the fray.  He normally stayed out of their confrontations and dealt with the aftermath instead, but everyone seemed to be in agreement on keeping the child out of things.  "Nice to meet you, Maddie."

"We're here to go shopping.  Mom, weren't we going to go shopping for Uncle Bill?"

A startled laugh escaped her mother's lips.  "Why, yes, Maddie, so we were."

"Uncle Bill?" Duo asked softly.

"Yes, my brother," Elizabeth elaborated benignly, her smile fading a little when she considered where the question may have come from.  "My brother.  Not... his.  Do you... do you know any of the family from that side?"

He shook his head minutely.  "Don't know, don't wanna know."

Her sigh had a bit of wry humor in it.  "Don't blame you, really.  They... they share his opinion of the past.  I've found it hard recently to... deal with some of them.  People who'd think such things."

"Sorry to hear that," he muttered, glancing away when he saw her surprised look.  "Family's important... but luckily, blood isn't what makes a family."  He let the words sit there for a few seconds before acknowledging the undertones with a pointed look and a sidelong glance to the little girl that was looking around at the storefronts.

There was a short wait before she grimaced faintly and acquiesced with a nod.  "Very well.  I suppose... I suppose we should be on our way.  But... so it turns out he wasn't always the man I knew.  Would you find it equally as disappointing that he wasn't always the man you knew, either?"

His eyes flicked back to the girl.  "Hell, I'd be glad if he wasn't.  But it doesn't matter.  Wouldn't matter to me if he ended up being a saint.  Doesn't matter to me who he turned out to be.  Doesn't change anything about who he was at the time."

She exhaled audibly.  "Well, that's up to you, I guess.  But I'd... I think I'd still like to know more about who he was.  If that's alright with you."

"Real glutton for punishment, aren't you?"

She flushed.  "Well, it's just... I..."

He looked her steadily in the eye for a good long while before finally rolling his eyes.  "Geez.  You know, could you just... stop dropping in all of a sudden?  Out of the blue and stuff?  I mean, really."  He made a show of digging his wallet out like it was just so much trouble and extracted a business card for the market.  "Here.  Have some contact info and stop being all stalker already, okay?  We're outta here."  He waited impatiently for her to take the card, then turned and waved carelessly over his shoulder as they walked away.

Heero bumped shoulders with him once they were a safe distance down the road.  "Suckered in by the little girl, huh?"

"Oh, shut up," Duo groused, hunching in on himself.  They walked a few steps in silence before he broke it.  "How old do you think she is?"

"Hm.  No idea.  I don't have much experience judging that kind of thing.  Eight, maybe?"

"Round about same age I was when I... moved out here."

Heero caught his hand briefly as they walked side by side to give it a squeeze.  And then he chuckled.

"What?" Duo asked defensively.

Heero presented him with a small smirk.  "Just trying to picture Howard trying to figure out just what the hell to do with you."

Duo decided to let Heero succeed in lightening the mood, but not before another little shoulder bump to show his appreciation.  "Heh.  You have no idea."





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13 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 2nd, 2009 07:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Duo is a sucker for the ladies, isn't he? ^___^ Or some of them, at least.

She's bound and determined to get it all out, isn't she? Elizabeth's every bit as tenacious as Duo. Damn. They could end up friends. O_o Whoa.

Y'know, I still wonder what Howard did to Duo to make him so terrified of clowns. ^____~

turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Duo's no stranger to a gluttony for punishment, so he may actually respect the lady in some demented way. =p Elizabeth doesn't have any scheduled reappearances in mind.  I think she was just looking to secure permission to come back later if she needed to.  I think Duo's just sort of given in to the inevitable.

It wasn't Howard that terrified Duo, it was the clowns!
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 5th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
But Howard *laughed* at his terror! O_O Hm... It wasn't by chance a clown dressed as a Brussels Sprout...? O.o

*snerk!*
rosalui From: rosalui Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I love seeing Duo with Elizabeth... really lovely. ;)
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure Duo wishes there was less screentime with Elizabeth. ^^ But the poor boy's gotta unwind sometime.
_x_rae_x_ From: _x_rae_x_ Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Heero is so sweet sometimes. Duo may not want to talk to her, but Elizabeth is bound and determined to talk to him. Maybe one day he'll accept he has a little sister?

It's great to see an update. Thank you!
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heero's *always* sweet, my dear. *_* I'm not sure about Duo accepting a little sister... I think at most, he'll accept he's got someone he has something in common with.  The kid and Elizabeth both.  Probably the only reason he lets her keep on coming by.

This was that part I was dithering about a couple of... months? ago. ^^' Should I or shouldn't I... Duo had to have his next confrontation with them some time, but I'm enough of a softy that I don't like doing it to him.  Figured all the fluff I gave him in the preceding chapters should be enough to cushion the blows, though.
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: December 3rd, 2009 01:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Playing the kid card was just so unfair! ^o^ Just don't use that 'S' word... just somebody he shares relatives with. :P
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 3rd, 2009 01:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I totally didn't want to do it... but after mentioning the kid, she had to show up sometime! *petsduo* If there was one thing that could soften him up to them... (and maybe simultaneously make him more bitter... >_>)
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 3rd, 2009 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Duo and sister

I like this and have been following it for years. I just hope it doesn't take as long for the next update.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 3rd, 2009 08:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Duo and sister

Sorry about that... reality's been a little topsy-turvy lately.  With any luck, normalcy shall return us to our regularly scheduled programming soon.
pyrrhical From: pyrrhical Date: December 6th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awwwwwwwwwww.

No, seriously, just, my woobie factor, it is ridiculous. Uhm.

In other news: OMG IT IS BEING CONTINUED. *does dance*

*VERY BIG DANCE* Yay! That was such a gorgeous chapter, and this book in the series is just so lovely. ♥
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 8th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Well of course it's being *continued*.... just... slowly.... >_> Duo doesn't exactly enjoy being all woobie all the time. ^^''
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