Author: UtopiaDoesn'tExist
see part 1 for notes, warnings, disclaimer

Low + Part 4

Sellotape and stashing in the cupboard (again) sorted out the rat poison. A brillo-pad and three hours of solid scrubbing sorted out the dishes. A binbag was the only thing that could be done for the contents of the fridge, but an actual shopping trip sorted that out. And Duo wiped down the benches, mopped the floor and declared a truce with all mouse-kind, for today anyway. Yep, it felt good to have a fridge full of things that were actually edible and a kitchen that looked habitable. He worked his way through the rest of the house, actually made his bed for once, and turned up more pairs of dirty underwear than he'd thought he owned. A couple of hours of laundry, then he had at least another weeks' worth of clean clothes. Come to think of it, how long had he been wearing these jeans? He had a think about it, and didn't much like the answer he came up with, especially since it factored in a couple of nights of sleeping in them, so he stripped those and put on a fresh pair.

He'd found a couple of pairs of Trowa's underwear too, including the yellow pair with the bumblebees on them. That had been a bit of a moment, really, he'd just grinned as he saw them, and Trowa had simply said 'laundry day'. That had led to the whole 'get Trowa to go commando operation', which never had been successful. Maybe he could try it on Wufei... Maybe he wouldn't need to.

He filed that thought away for later use. Now, anything else to do? He walked around the house a bit more and found nothing. He could do some more work... No, no. He was going to have a break. A real break. Well, he could reorganise the plans and stuff, but wasn't that work? Damn it, why did he have to clean so quickly? He was going to have to watch more TV, wasn't he?

Screw that, he went on the 'net and played some game with a spaceship and be-tentacled aliens that kept trying to grip it and eat it. The best strategy was to get underneath them, shoot off the tentacles one by one as they tried to grab and then shoot the body. He was up to level forty by lunchtime, and decided to pause rather than switch off when he let Seb in.

"It's...clean," he said, when they got to the kitchen.

"Hey!"

"Cleaner, it's cleaner. Sorry."

"Nah. I know my housekeeping skills leave a lot to be desired. How was school this morning?"

"Nobody bothered me, if that's what you mean. People are acting really weird around Thomas and Ben as well..."

Duo managed to keep a straight face, which only broke into a grin when he turned to the fridge. "I figured you only eat crap so I got some burgers and stuff in for you."

"I sometimes eat lettuce," Seb said.

"You'll regret it when you're older, you know. Bad lifestyle creeps up on you."

"I think if I start exercising and eating properly when I turn eighteen it should be okay."

"Whatever... Go and wait in the sitting room, food'll be about half an hour."

"Am I annoying you?"

"What? No. I just thought you'd get bored standing around in the kitchen."

"Oh. Okay."

Okay, burgers and waffles in the oven, and a salad, rice and fish meal for him.

"You're playing Space Wrappers?" was exclaimed from the living room.

"Yup."

"You haven't beaten my high score yet."

"'That a challenge?"

"No. I stayed up for three days straight in the summer holidays and got to level two hundred."

"I tell you, you'll regret it all when you're thirty. Get eight hours sleep a night, while you can."

"I did start hallucinating a bit..."

"Really? What did you see?"

"A weird wing thing bursting from my chest."

"I've had way scarier sleep-deprivation hallucinations than that. Ever seen a plague victim? A yellow-eyed junkie?"

"What did you do before the war?"

"I was a life-insurance salesman."

"What were you really? Did you really live on L2?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I've heard...things...about it."

"Oh yeah? What kind of things?"

"That it's a rough place. Is it?"

"Not all of it. But yeah, some areas are pretty bad."

Seb went silent after that. Duo placed his plate on his lap, and settled down to eat his.

"How bad was it?" Seb asked, through, as far as Duo could tell four and a half mouthfuls of burger.

"Not too bad. What's with the sudden interest anyway?"

"I looked up L2 on the Internet and... You saw real plague victims, didn't you?"

"Yeah... But you didn't think that living on the streets was nice, did you?"

"I didn't realise how bad it was, though," Seb wasn't touching the rest of his food, but since that consisted of a single fry there wasn't much to be worried about. "I read some articles and they said that people sell their organs and things so people they know can get vaccinated against stuff that shouldn't even be fatal. That the streets and everything are so bad that it's like Victorian England..."

"Look, things are picking up for L2 now. A ton of charities sprung up for it, there's actual aid on the streets and stuff, rehabilitation clinics, everything. It's gonna get better, all right? Ahh, stop it."

"Stop what?"

"The face. You look like the poster child of glum."

"Just... Now I know why dad donates so much to those L2 charities."

Duo sighed. "They all do, you know. They think I don't know about it. Cheer up, I'm pretty sure you weren't even born when the economic crisis happened. Hell, I wasn't even born."

Duo took the plates and stuck them into the sink, and came back to a posture that could only be described as crushed.

"You ticklish?" he asked.

"What?"

"Are you ticklish?"

Seb looked up to give him a wary look, before he pounced. Turned out Seb was very, very ticklish.

"Stop! Stop!" he shouted, between bubbles of laughter. "I'll-pull-your-hair!"

"Yeah, that's manly," Duo said, mercilessly attacking his ribs and armpits.

"Duo!"

Seb tried to squirm out form underneath him, but he was firmly pinned down. He did, however, free an arm and grip the end of Duo's braid. And yanked.

Duo swore for a steady five minutes, then caught Seb's expression and burst into uncontrollable laughter.

"What?" he said, when he'd quite finished. "You go to school and you've never heard language like that?"

Seb shook his head, eyes still the size of dinner plates.

Duo laughed again, but more restrained this time. "You're too cute," he said. "I hate to think what the real world'll do to ya."

"Hmph.. I need to go back to school," he said, standing up and tripping over the bag he'd put on the floor in front of him. Apparently he'd also left it unzipped, so all of the contents spilled onto the floor. He set about stuffing the pencil case and books back in with lightening speed and dove on the glossy magazine Duo reached for.

"You know, that looks incredibly suspicious," said Duo.

Seb ignored him and inched along the floor like a caterpillar with the magazine still underneath him.

"And your parents would probably disapprove of you reading that sort of thing."

Seb blushed right down to his shirt collar and curled up in a ball.

"Ah, damn, look, it's okay," Duo said, kneeling down next to him. "Most boys look at stuff like that at your age, and I'm guessing since it still had the price tag and cover on you bought it on the way here. I know the guy in the off-license is pretty liberal about who he serves what to."

Seb mumbled something that ended with a squeaky 'does nothing'.

"Hey, it's okay..."

"No it isn't! They're all too curvy and pouty and pretty and they do nothing!"

"All right... Calm down there. What do you mean?"

"I mean, girls, they're not... I don't think I like girls."

A certain conversation floated into Duo's mind. "Oh..." he said. "Right. Well, that doesn't matter, you know?"

"It doesn't matter to you! I've got to go through five more years of school!"

"Hey, I've had to deal with some crap too..."

"But you don't have to take it."

"That's...true. Sorry. But so? Is anybody that matters going to care? I'm gay, remember? And your mom and dad haven't severed all contact with me. And just between you and me, Trowa and Wufei are too, and I think Heero's bi."

"Heero's not bi."

"How do you know?"

"I asked him."

"Hm. Maybe you should stop being so direct? Hey, get up. You're gonna be late."

Seb got up, so that he was still sitting on the magazine. "What am I going to do with that?"

"Swap it for a copy of Jumbo?"

Seb pouted long enough to make him apologise.

"Now, get to school, or I'll tell your dad you bought porn," Duo said. "I'll dump it somewhere. Or give it to Heero. Even though he'll probably say something like 'why would I want to look at glossy images of women I've never met'. Shoo."

[part 3] [part 5] [back to Singles l - z]