see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
in a Nutshell +
our Sash with Heedless Strumming
Crosswords had never been Howard's forte, but he was getting pretty darned
good at 'em. Even if he did say so himself. Was getting a lot of practice,
what with all the waiting around. Although the beach wasn't the best place
for a newspaper. Paper tightly folded to the cryptic, he squinted at the
tiny print that they insisting on using these days, and tried to ignore
the sounds of watery carnage from the surf.
Ten minutes of wanton destruction, and Duo and the Yuy kid had been railroaded
onto opposite teams, in a lethal game of volleyball that had migrated
down the beach, annihilated half a dozen towels and turned into a mutant
sort of water polo; Duo and his brown-haired amazon against Heero and
the rest of the world. The scores seemed to be locked, with Heero and
Duo, one each, and the rest of the world, nil.
Hmm... Howard eyed the crossword. Three Down. Retie our sash with heedless
strumming... Nine letters. Our sash. Cumerbund. Although...
he consulted his beer... one emm or two? One. Maybe. Hopefully, he wrote
cumerbund in a circle and tried to rearrange the letters. Wasn't a crunedumb
some kind of horn?
Glancing skywards for inspiration, Howard winced, as a body ploughed face
first into the sand at the water's edge. Ouch. Looked like that hurt.
And, the Kid was nowhere near, oddly enough. Howard nestled his bottle
under his deckchair again, just to be on the safe side. Checked over his
Nope, no Kid there. Must've scarpered real fast, because that looked like
him out the back, catching a wave. Looked kinda funny, actually. Howard
peered over his glasses. Ahh. On his back. Uh huh. Smartypants. That'd
be him. Come a long way from the runty little kid that'd never seen more
water'n a washtub, until Peacemillion. And that, not that often either.
He grinned fondly, remembering a runty little kid, and his abiding joy
in hot showers. Not much water on L2, that was for sure.
Crumbdune... Nope. That was that crumbly sand stuff. Maybe. Nothing
to do with music, for sure. He jotted it down anyway, just to be on the
safe side, and looked up in time to see Duo somersault out of the wave
and land on his feet. Kid was like a cat. Always seemed to land butter-side
up, no matter what.
Bum...duncer. Howard stared at it doubtfully, then crossed it out.
Cryptics didn't normally have rude stuff in ‘em.
Duo was waist deep over near the second sand bank, with the Yuy kid and
that brown-haired girl. Howard inspected her through his sunglasses. Pretty
little thing. Nice Hawaiian-print bikini, too, but she was darned lucky
it was Duo she'd latched onto, and not Heero Yuy, because she might just
have lost an arm. Still might, if the look on the Yuy kid's face was anything
to go by. Didn't seem to worry her though.
She was still tugging on Duo's arm, small hand locked confidently around
his forearm as if it belonged there. Howard eyed the hand around the wrist
so recently broken. Maybe that was why Heero was cranky. Kid was like
a mother hen around Duo. Howard frowned, trying to remember if that was
Duo's cracked wrist or not, as she abruptly let go and grabbed onto Duo's
shoulders instead, laughing up at him. Tugged him down until he was neck-deep
in water, and clambered astride his shoulders, clinging tightly, giggling,
as he listed sideways and then caught himself with a shout of laughter.
"Hang on! Dumper!" Duo's voice was unmistakable over the wash of the waves,
as he locked his arms around smooth, tanned thighs and dived into the
green, glassy monster with the girl still on his shoulders The two of
them vanishing for five long breaths, before exploding out of the foaming
white wash, streaming with water and clinging together, laughing uncontrollably.
Snatches of sound drifted back towards Howard with the calling of gulls.
"Come on! Piggy-back wars! It'll be fun!!"
Didn't look like the Yuy kid's idea of fun, somehow.
Howard watched thoughtfully as Heero shook his head and dodged a hopefully-smiling
girl. Put her aside with one hand and waded towards the shallows, his
face obscured by inky streamers of hair. Paused on the safety of the first
sand bank to look back out to the breakers, pushing his hair back with
a jerk of his hand, then continued on to shore.
Rummaging under his chair, Howard rescued his beer, and then glared at
it. Warm. Thunderation.
Miraculously, a cold bottle found its way into his hand from the cooler
as Heero stretched out face-down on his towel, and Howard took a welcome
swig, relishing icy glass against his skin. Then glared again. Water.
He glared at the Yuy kid for good measure, but he had his head down on
his crossed arms. For a moment Howard thought that he'd gone to sleep,
but then he caught a focused spark of blue, arcing seawards through all
that mess of hair. Kid really needed a haircut. But wasn't asleep, after
Sighing, Howard eyed his water, and drank a small mouthful, eyes drifting
back to Three Down.
"...retie our sash with heedless strumming..."
"Oblivious," said Heero Yuy softly.
"Hmm?" Howard blinked and looked up. Followed Heero's veiled regard to
where the water swirled and simmered in hidden sink-holes between the
And saw Duo, still engaged in joyful battle. Pausing, the Kid glanced
around once, as if looking for something, then dashed water from his face
and waded back into the fray. Yodelled a blood-curdling war-cry, the laughing
girl on his shoulders urging him on, her hand, curled securely in his
hair. Slim, brown calves hugging his sides.
"Oh," Howard said thoughtfully. "Hmm...
He looked back down to his paper.
"Oh I see. Obi...viol...us. Oblivious."
He pencilled it in.
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