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fic - i backward cast my e'e part 11 [novella] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - i backward cast my e'e part 11 [novella]
Title:  I Backward Cast My E'e
Part:  11

I Backward Cast My E'e
sequel-lite to for promis'd joy
Part 11

Duo told himself this was a good thing.  It was going to be healthy to get this all out.  Then the lady would go away, he could go back to not thinking about this, and life would be happy.

That didn't stop him from feeling a bit betrayed.  He was still trying to get past the way Howard had just let that woman into their lives.  Now Heero, his stalwart companion through it all, was throwing him to the wolves to fend for himself.  It was, of course, the most practical and supportive thing Heero could have done.  Heero had only opted to sit this one out because he thought Howard had more reason to be in the conversation than he had, and he was, of course, quite right.

But that didn't mean Duo had to like it.  He grit his teeth and made the effort to convince himself that Heero was watching his back by watching the store and freeing Howard up to join in the festivities.  Heero didn't have to physically be here to get his back.  He wouldn't have had anything to contribute to the conversation, anyway, except for the quietly supportive touch he was good at, the kind he'd given Duo before they'd parted.

Maybe it was a good thing anyway, Duo thought, that Heero had stayed behind.  Maybe it would be better if Heero didn't hear about his past, about his loser parents.  He didn't want Heero picking up any ideas.

The park was just down the block.  It wasn't much, but the modest expanse of grass and the basketball courts and the little sandbox served the neighborhood's need for some open space.  The area around the picnic tables was empty.  Duo chose the table still soaking in the sunlight and sat down on one end of the bench on one side, gesturing tensely at the others to seat themselves at will.  Elizabeth sat hesitantly, choosing the corner of the bench farthest from Duo, while Howard sat down across from him.

Duo stared at Elizabeth, at his father's second wife, and after a long silence, started the conversation himself.  No one else seemed willing to do it, and the sooner this was over, the happier he'd be.  "So?"

Elizabeth winced with just a little crinkling of her brow.  Her eyes dropped nervously to her hands in her lap for a few seconds, until she managed to muster up the courage to look her husband's son in the eye.  "I... I don't even know what to ask.  I don't even know what I don't know."

He had agreed to talk.  He hadn't agreed to storytime.  There was no way in hell he was just going to start narrating his life from the beginning.  He rubbed at his forehead irritably.  "Well, what *do* you know?"

She took a minute to gather up her facts in her mind.  "I... I know Jake was married before.  Her name was Eleanor.  She was Howard's sister.  Jake told me... he told me they'd married young.  Young and stupid.  That... that it was a mistake.  And..."  She paused, swallowed, verified the memory, and finally dared to speak it aloud.  She sensed Duo's impatience would only increase if he thought she wasn't being as forthcoming with him as she wanted him to be with her.  "And he used to say that... that nothing good ever came out of that marriage.  The divorce was bitter, but it was behind him, and he moved on.  That's all."

Duo digested that with a neutral look on his face.  At length, he chuckled darkly.  "Well, can't say he told you wrong."

Howard reached across the table and cuffed him on the side of the head.  It had the strength of a firm, but roughly loving reprimand.  "Don't you even start with me, boy.  *You* came out of that marriage, and that's more than enough good for me."

They glared at each other stubbornly for a few seconds before Duo shrugged in a way that was open to interpretation and backed a few inches farther out of Howard's reach.  "Technically, I came before the marriage."  He waited with a defiant tilt to his chin for Howard to respond with more than a scowl, but when nothing came, he turned back to Elizabeth to explain himself.  "I was, as they say, 'an accident'.  They were finishing up high school, looking forward to their futures.  'Going steady', as they used to say back then.  I've been told they actually made a pretty good couple, but I tell ya, coulda fooled me."

"It was hard to say," Howard interjected softly.  "They were teenagers.  But they thought they were in love."

Duo's grunt was rich with derision.  "Teenagers.  They don't know anything.  Maybe they could have done alright with each other.  Dunno.  But then dear ol' Mom got knocked up, and I don't know what devil possessed them to think that getting married and trying to raise a kid was a good idea, but there you go.  That's how it happened.  That's how their 'little accident' turned into a 'big mistake'."

"They..."  Elizabeth started the sentence, aware that it was now her turn to say something, but it was difficult enough to figure out what she wanted to convey, let alone how she ought to convey it.  "It... didn't turn out the way they had expected?"

Duo politely kept his dark amusement to a mild snort.  "Yeah.  You could say that.  I'm no parent, but I think I can confidently say they had no idea what they were getting into.  I dunno, maybe they started out on the right track, but got derailed somewhere along the way.  That's the best I can say about it."

Howard stepped in with his knowledge of the situation.  "I was older by a good number of years.  By the time all this was happening, I was already out doing my own thing, so I wasn't there.  But they tried.  So far as I can tell.  They tried."

Elizabeth chewed on her lip, running through the scenarios in her head.  "I... think back to what I was like at that age.  And I think about raising my daughter at that age."  She was pre-occupied enough that she didn't note Duo's suddenly sharpened attention.  "No matter how committed they were, it couldn't have been easy."

Not being in a position where he could speak from experience, Duo could at least offer a bitter observation from his side of the fence.  "'Not easy' doesn't mean you can't succeed.  It just means you try harder.  Now, I like to think that I wasn't some sort of unholy terror or anything, so I had my part covered.  They just couldn't manage theirs."

"What do you mean by... that is... well, obviously you..."  She shook her head and tried to just ask the question without trying to be over-sensitive.  "I can see why they might have gotten divorced.  And... And I can see how that might have led to an unpleasant home situation for you.  But... the way you speak of them..."

"You don't get why I hate them so much, you mean?  Heh, maybe every other kid whose parents got divorced hate them, too, only I'm just a lot more obvious about it."  He looked away to give himself a virtual private space in which to lick his wounds.  "Or maybe we were just a lot more messed up than most."  When he thought he heard a sharp intake of breath, he turned to pin her with an intense look.  "What?"

She denied everything with a shake of her head, but when his look didn't waver, she did.  "I... I just suddenly... Did he... did they...?"

Duo looked her over critically, took in all the aspects of her demeanor, and laughed.  "What?  Abuse me?  Sorry to tell you this, lady, but not every kid that's been messed up was abused by their parents.  No, they didn't abuse me or anything.  I mean, sure, I got smacked around a few times maybe.  More than a few times, maybe.  But not like real abused kids get abused.  Not like... not like all that crazy shit you see on TV or anything."


Howard cut in when it looked like she was ready to offer a sympathetic apology that wouldn't go over well.  "They probably just didn't know how to take care of a kid.  They barely knew how to take care of themselves, I think.  And no," he said, giving Duo a stern glance, "I'm not making excuses for them.  It's just, since we're here telling stories, we might as well tell the whole story.  As whole as we can get it, anyway.  Like I said, I wasn't there most of the time, but I heard some stuff through the grapevine.  Now, our parents, Eleanor and me's, they were the sorts that believed you make your bed, you sleep in it.  Were they happy she got knocked up?  No.  Did they like Jake?  Didn't hate him, but I think he got points for not just running off when he had the chance.  But did they offer to help out?  Nope, wasn't their style.  Best way to learn was by doing, figuring it out on your own.  So they didn't provide much in the way of advice beyond the basics."

"Even when... it seemed like things weren't going too well?"

He snorted.  "'Well' is a relative term.  You learn from making mistakes, and I never heard they almost got Duo here killed or anything, so they probably weren't inclined to go jumping in.  They didn't raise us to go begging for help, either.  As for Jake's parents... well, you listen to Eleanor tell it, they never liked her one bit.  Got angry over the whole thing, always thought they knew what was best, but never helped out too much.  Said they blamed her for getting pregnant and all that."

Elizabeth nodded hesitantly.  "From what I heard... everyone always talked about Jake's first marriage like it was just some... some youthful indiscretion.  He made a mistake when he was young, but then... then they divorced, and everyone could just sort of move on with their lives and put the past behind them.  I remember... I remember being surprised.  When I found out how long the marriage had lasted, actually.  They all made it out to be so insignificant.  So forgettable.  Jake... never spoke much about it, and I... well, what second wife wants to ask questions about the first?"

"His mistake was just getting married?" Duo asked skeptically.  "Nothing about a kid?"

"The mistake wasn't getting married.  It was just... whom he married.  No disrespect intended, of course.  They just... they just never spoke well of her."

"Hey, don't apologize to me.  I don't speak well of her, either."

She flushed uncomfortably.  "I sort of thought of her as... one of those crazy types.  You know?"

Duo shrugged.  "She sort of was.  At least at the end.  But they both were.  Maybe they made each other that way.  I dunno.  I don't remember a time when they were all loving and stuff toward each other.  But I remember that for both of them, the crazy just got worse and worse until those papers were signed."

"What kind of... crazy?"  She had always pictured that first wife as being the screeching, plate-throwing kind.  Either she'd been mistaken, or Jake had also been the plate-throwing kind, if what Duo was saying was true.  Neither sat particularly well with her.

Duo gave her another one of those long, steady looks before he turned his eyes away with something akin to irritation and resignation.  "Yeah, they had to give up a lot of stuff when this all happened.  Some people, that kind of sacrifice makes 'em stronger.  Other people, it makes 'em bitter.  Bitter and mean.  One guess which way they went."

He spit the pronoun out with a contempt that disturbed her.  "They... wanted more?"

A short laugh answered her.  "Wanted more?  Deserved more, they liked to think.  And both of them were the type to blame everyone and everything but themselves for it.  If Dad hadn't been so damn horny he couldn't get a condom on right.  If Mom hadn't been so stupid as to not be on the pill.  If their parents weren't so selfish that they were unwilling to help out.  If Mom hadn't been so useless that she couldn't go out and get a job.  If Dad hadn't been so useless that he couldn't get a better job.  If Mom didn't have to go out and spend their money on stupid things.  If Dad would only man up and take proper care of his family.  If Mom was better at taking care of the home, then Dad would be able to relax and recharge at home.  If Dad weren't such a slob at home, then Mom could take care of the house better.  If only they'd never met.  If only she weren't such a slut and he weren't such fast talker.  If only I'd never been born.  If only--"  He broke off abruptly and recalled himself to the present with a brittle smile.  "Well.  You get the idea, anyway."

Howard broke into the awkward silence that followed with a light snort of disgust.  If he'd thought the kid would be receptive to it, he'd have offered a more tangible sign of support.  "Not ones to hold back, were they?"

Duo's attention was focused on some point across the field, his fingers drumming occasionally on the table top.

"He... he must have changed," Elizabeth said, a bit incredulously, a bit desperately.  "Jake... wasn't that kind of person.  When I met him."

"Maybe on the outside," Howard responded, assessing Duo's mood and concluding that further conversation from that quarter was unlikely.  "We ran into him a few years ago.  Probably wouldn't have recognized Duo on his own, but he recognized me.  And Duo sure recognized him.  Farmer's market, wasn't it?  That time they were having a fair for something, too?"

She gasped softly.  "I... I remember that.  We went for the fair... and at one point, he went off to find the bathrooms.  When he came back, he was... he was angry for some reason.  He insisted we leave immediately.  I never knew what set him off.  He wouldn't tell me.  He just... he made us leave, and he was in a foul mood for the rest of the day."

"He wasn't the only one," Howard muttered.

"You... talked?"

"If you could call it that.  Just confirmed that he was still..."

"A total douche," Duo volunteered darkly, posture not changing.

Howard hitched a thumb in his nephew's direction.  "Yeah, what he said."

"But.. maybe he was angry because he was off-balance?  Or he was worried we would find out?  Or--"

He shook his head apologetically.  "I wouldn't bet on it.  If he was, he sure had a funny way of showing it."

"What did he say?"

"He pretty much looked Duo up and down and promptly disapproved of him.  Didn't hold back then, didn't hold back now."

Duo's head swiveled back in their direction.  "He had no right to--!"  He stopped himself harshly from finishing the sentence and went back to staring angrily off into the distance.

"Yeah," Howard echoed gently.  "What he said."

Another one of those uncomfortable silences descended upon them.  Elizabeth finally found the next direction in which to push the conversation.  "Was that... the only time you ran into him?"

Howard's eyes slid over to Duo first to gauge his volatility before answering.  "Yeah."

"And did he... did he know where you two lived?"

"General location, yeah."

She made a frustrated, perhaps annoyed sound.  "It's not like you lived across the country!  I can't believe that all this time, you lived only a few hours away from us, and he never, not once--!"  She stopped, drew a breath, and continued in a more normal tone.  "Granted, we met up north, and moved here about three years after... but still.  All this time..."

"Some of us," Duo said softly, eyes still distant, "prefer to forget the past.  Put it behind us and not be reminded."  His words sat heavily in the air for a moment before he refocused his attention on her.  "Maybe this one thing I have in common with him."

Sounded like a dismissal to Howard.  He waited long enough to make sure there were no more words immediately forthcoming from either side before he spoke up.  "I think we've given you a lot to think about, Elizabeth."

She blinked at him uncomprehendingly for a few seconds before her mind switched gears and figured out what he was saying.  Then she became keenly aware of the fact that any information she got out of these two was strictly at their own discretion, so she had best not overstay her welcome.  "Yes.  Yes, of course."  She bit her lip nervously before edging out of her bench seat.  "I think I do have a lot to think about.  Thank you.  I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to...  I appreciate your speaking with me... despite everything."

Howard nodded amiably enough and watched her leave.  He waited until she was out of sight and then some before he nudged his nephew's foot with his own.  "Come on.  Let's get out of here."

The walk back to the store was silent.  Upon arrival, Duo walked straight through the market without a word and headed upstairs.  Heero watched him disappear into the back with an uncertain look on his face.

Howard met him at the register and tapped his shoulder.  "Tag.  You're it."

Heero nodded decisively before surrendering his post and moving to follow.  Three steps later, he stopped and turned around.  "How about you, Howard?  You okay?"

The older man was startled, but pleased.  He granted Heero a muted smile.  "Yeah, kid.  I'm okay, all things considered.  Now go upstairs and give that kid a hug."

"Will do."  Heero quickstepped it to the back, took a deep breath when he got to the bottom of the stairs, and climbed up with what he hoped was the proper noise level to both provide warning and be respectful.  Once he got to the top, he poked his head cautiously around the corner to do some recon, but spotted no one immediately.  He padded further in and spied no one hidden on the couch.  His eyes turned to Duo's corner of the studio space.  The partition screen was closed.

He knocked once, then slipped inside and shut the screen behind him.  "Hey, Duo," he breathed, not quite daring to put much more sound into it.  The figure curled up on the bed did not respond.  Unsure of what to say next, Heero decided to just follow everyone else's advice.  He spooned up behind his boyfriend and wrapped him in a wordless embrace.

It was a long while later before Duo finally shifted, then squeezed the arm around his midsection.  "I just... had to think about stuff I haven't had to think about for a long time.  That's all."

Heero came out of his half-doze to press his lips to Duo's neck.  "You're okay?"

"Yeah, I'm okay.  Just... haven't thought about that stuff for a long time."  He twisted around in Heero's arms until they were face to face and presented a wan smile.  "Had plenty of better things to think about instead."  He feathered a kiss over Heero's lips, then settled down, and they stayed like that until it was time for dinner.

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21 comments or Leave a comment
ravelqueen From: ravelqueen Date: December 1st, 2008 08:59 am (UTC) (Link)
uuhh, at last the conversation happened....even though not a lot was actually said, was it^^, more like implied, but actually that is so Duo

oh the half-sister was mentioned, how long will it take to figure that one out...

I would really like to see a conversation with elizabeth and Heero, that is bound to be interesting :-)

anyway another great chapter, can't wait for the next!
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 1st, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I got to the end of the conversation all proud of myself, and then went back to look at it and found that it was actually really short and covered very little ground!  Arm-flailing ensued.  And then a great big meh.  Duo says what he wants to say, and then he says no more, so what can you do?  =p

Huh.  You remind me that I had totally planned on Heero laying down the ground rules for Elizabeth...  *rummages around*  Heh, oops, I think I plotted around it.  ^^  We'll see what other opportunities come our way.
jaefire From: jaefire Date: December 1st, 2008 09:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, that was heavy. ::rubs chest:: Ouch. Very Duo, the way that whole conversation went, I agree.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 1st, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's kind of unfortunate that 'Duo' means uncommunicative, grumpy, and kind of bitter.  =(  *shoves heero in his direction* *as if he weren't already there*
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 1st, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
and she's still not finished with him... *sigh*

i kinda have a feeling that things may be pretty strained between elizabeth and the in-laws after all this... O.o

poor duo. at least he has heero, howie and his snark; he may be uncomfortable for a bit, but he'll be okay. ^___^

*hugs howie* *he looks like he could use it*
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 1st, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
There will, of course, be a practical limit to how much Elizabeth continues to hang around.  We'll just have to see how long it is.  But she started out with a pretty good list of questions, and every time Duo opens his mouth, he pretty much adds to the list.  =p

Yeah, I kind of feel bad for Howie, don't you?  ^^  But it's not like I'm going to go hook him up with some plushy new SO just for kicks.  I think he'll just have to have his heartwarming moments seeing how well his kid is being taken care of.
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 1st, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Howie with a plushy SO?! O_O Oh, I can hear Duo now!


Does Duo realise that he's adding to the questions, yet? O.O
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 3rd, 2008 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure whether you took my mention of plushy to mean plushy like Grumpy or plushy like Heero, but either way, it's an amusing image. (i meant plushy like heero.)

Duo probably doesn't realize he's adding to the questions because he already knows everything from his end.  It's not so easy for him to see when he says something that would require further explanation from Elizabeth's end.
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: December 3rd, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
*giggles* I meant plushy like Heero, too. ^____^

I *almost* feel sorry for Elizabeth; she wants all the details, but getting them means sticking her hand into the crocodile's mouth and... damn! It's got BIG teeth! O.O
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 4th, 2008 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Duo's sure making her work for getting her fingers bitten off!
miyun From: miyun Date: December 1st, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
whew. nice chapter. good to get those things out, I guess. Interested in what comes next. :D
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 1st, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
What comes next?  What comes next...?  Um...  >_>  I'll go find out.  <_< *ninjasmoke*
miyun From: miyun Date: December 1st, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: December 2nd, 2008 02:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Uh... could you lift your left foot there? Thanks... that would be my heartstrings you're standing on.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 3rd, 2008 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)
*looks down* Oops!  Sorry about that.  *brushes them off*  I'll try to be more careful about where I put my feet in the future.  ^^

(now that the major Tragic Backstory Scene has been taken care of, that should be an easier task.)
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: December 4th, 2008 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I note that you say 'major' scene...
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 4th, 2008 08:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, there's so much Tragic Backstory that Duo left out.  ^o^  It'll probably make appearances here and there, but I don't think there will be any more whole TBScenes devoted to it.
vega_lume_chan From: vega_lume_chan Date: December 3rd, 2008 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)
*lets out held breath* whew... that was an intense moment there at the park. I keep getting this feeling that Liz will be back.

update soon please *chibi eyes*
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 3rd, 2008 08:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Elizabeth at the very least deserves an honorable send-off after all she's been through.  She'll get a bit more.  =)
hostilecrayon From: hostilecrayon Date: December 28th, 2008 07:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh... poor Duo. I don't know who to feel sorry for... Howie has to deal with it all, and so does Heero - though he's been sort of left out of the actual conversation - but Duo is just getting kicked left and right and Elizabeth has no idea what she's doing. >.>;

I'm still on the edge of my seat here!
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: December 29th, 2008 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I kind of feel the most sorry for Elizabeth!  ^^'  Sure, it sucks to be Duo, but that boy sort of needs to learn to deal with his issues, and he should count himself lucky that he's got a good support network.  I feel like Elizabeth, on the other hand, got sucker-punched the hardest by this little thing her husband forgot to mention, and she doesn't have a Heero to snuggle up with, either!

(i'm still saving all my hugs for the three aforementioned guys, though. =D)
21 comments or Leave a comment