"Daddy says get up RIGHT NOW!"
The little boy shook the lump under the blanket.
The lump stirred. "Go away." a muffled voice hissed. "Or I will bite you."
The child sighed. "Come on, everyone else is up." he wheedled.
"Go play in traffic!" the lump ordered.
The little boy marched out of the room and back into the kitchen. "He told me to go play in traffic." he announced.
"Oh did he?" Duo snorted, glancing up from his breakfast. "I swear he gets more impossible every day."
The man walked over to the sink, braid swinging against his back, and filled a glass with water, handing it to his son. "This should get his attention."
The child giggled.
"Can I do it too?" A little girl pleaded. "Please?"
Duo smiled and filled a glass for her as well. "Knock yourself out."
The children tiptoed out of the room. Duo resumed his seat at the table next to Heero. On the other side the table, Linra was smothering a chuckle.
"Three, two, one... " Heero counted.
"SON OF A.... I'LL KILL BOTH OF YOU!" came a howl, and the sound of pounding feet.
The two children hurled themselves at Duo for protection and he pulled them both onto his lap, gasping for air. Linra's head was on the table as she shook, and Heero was snickering himself.
A few seconds later the source of the yell stomped into the kitchen.
He looked like a very angry young lion, tall and muscular, with a thick mane of honey-blond hair falling over his eyes. The front of his pajama top was soaked in water.
"YOU!" He pointed at Duo. "YOU put them up to that!"
Duo smirked. "Worked, didn't it? Good morning, sunshine. Nice of you to join us."
The young man stormed past Duo toward the counter, grabbing a box of cereal. "Traitor." he muttered at the still-laughing Linra.
The girl bit her lip. "You do look cute like that, Jazz." she offered, then lost control again.
"Maybe next time you'll get your lazy butt up when you're told to." Heero raised an eyebrow at his pledge-son.
"Why do you all insist on treating me like a child?" Jazz demanded, pouring cereal into a bowl.
"Well, for one thing, you're eating Luke's Sugar Doodles for breakfast." Duo felt the need to point out.
Jazz flipped a piece of cereal at his father. "And why do I even bother trying to have a sane discussion with you?" he grumbled.
"Beats the heck out of me. I thought you'd have given up on that years ago." Duo cheerfully replied. He reached out and tousled his son's hair playfully. Jazz gave his hand a half-hearted shove, unable to keep from smiling.
"Hurry up and eat so we can go." Four-year-old Luke urged his brother, still on Duo's lap.
Jazz glanced up. "I hate to be the one to break this to you, Small Fry, but Seta's been there a while now. It's not going anywhere."
Rosemary, seven, slid down on the floor. "I'm going to go make sure I packed everything." she announced.
Linra got up as well. "I'll follow and make sure she does NOT pack everything." the girl offered. Rosemary still had a little trouble comprehending her prize possessions would wait for her return and was if left to her own devices would have brought everything the family owned along for the vacation.
"Excited?" Duo asked Luke. "Can't wait to hit those waves, eh?"
"Yeah, this is gonna rock, Daddy!"
Watching them, Jazz tramped down a seed of jealousy. He instantly felt ashamed of himself. Here he was trying to get them to treat him like an adult, and he was sitting around steaming over the fact that someone elsewas sitting on his father's lap. He was hopeless.
He loved his little brother. And Luke was his brother even if they were no blood relation. Pops and Ojisan had adopted him when he had only been a few weeks old. The red-haired, brown-eyed little boy had never known any other family. His mother had died shortly after his birth and he had no idea who his biological father was, nor did he care much. He had Daddy and Otosan, two doting big sisters, and a big brother to spoil him and he was perfectly content with his lot in life. And Jazz wouldn't have traded him for anything, but there were days when he wanted nothing more than to be that small again. It was a ridiculous notion; he was fifteen; he was a whole head taller than his father, almost as tall as Ojisan, and would probably be taller by the time he finished growing. Still...
"Jazzy? You okay?" Duo asked, breaking into his son's mental journey.
"Yeah, just sleepy." He gave Luke a mock-glare and the little boy stuck his tongue out in reply. He was embarrassed that the use of the baby name made him feel better, and he had the disturbing feeling that Pops had known exactly what he had been thinking about and used it on purpose. It wouldn't surprise him.
"You're sure Jebi is going to take care of my crops?" Jazz asked.
"Yes, Jazz, he promised. He won't let them die." Duo shook his head. "I swear, if you're this protective over a bunch of vegetables I can't wait to see you with kids of your own."
Jazz's boyhood interest in plants and growing things had increased as he grew older. Although he had never lost his mechanical knack and still enjoyed tinkering with electronics, he was never happier than when he was out in his fields weeding and plowing. It wasn't exactly what Duo had expected from his son, but he was proud of him anyway for finding his niche in life so young.
It had taken Duo much longer to find his true calling, which was writing novels with his maclen Heero. Their books were by far the most popular romance stories on both Dera and it's sister planet Seta, and had even been received to a lesser degree on Earth. At least, so he had heard. Once deciding to live on Dera, he had never been back.
Others had come to the planets from Earth and the colonies, and quickly adapted to the Deran and Setan life-style. On the same token, many Derans and Setans had relocated to the other side of the galaxy. Thanks to increases in technology, a journey that had once taken months could now be accomplished in a matter of days, and trade flowed freely between the worlds.
"You're going to show me how to make sand-castles, right?" Luke asked his brother. "You promised you would."
"Yup. Best ones on the beach." Jazz nodded. "Should last at least a few minutes until The Brats knock them down."
"Well, they ARE." The boy countered. "Completely out of control."
"Jazz, they're all of two years old. They're babies!"
"Devil babies." Jazz muttered, and Luke giggled.
"Okay, okay, no need to go there." Jazz held up a hand. "I promise to say nothing more about the fact that Wufei's kids are more evil than. "
"More evil than what?" Asked a voice behind them. "Oh, hi there, Wufei. Didn't hear you come in. And there are the little darlings now." Jazz held out his arms. "Come give me kissies." He knelt on the floor as the toddlers pounced on him.
"Oh, isn't that cute? She's trying to rip my ear off." Jazz muttered as Meishel's tiny teeth sank into his lobe. Her twin brother Shan was speaking to Jazz in a solemn voice about cookies.
"We're back." Linra steered Rosie into the kitchen. "Everything we need is packed, nothing we don't need is."
"Are we ready to go?" Denea felt her way to the doorway, and Wufei took her hand.
The woman had never regained her eyesight, and Jazz felt a flash of pain that she had never seen her own children. Demons or not, they were cute little things. Both of the twins had Wufei's black hair and eyes, and a blending of Chinese and Deran features that was really quite attractive. Denea had assured him she didn't need eyes to know that her children were beautiful.
"We will be. " Heero remarked. "Once certain members of the family change out of their jammies."
Jazz shrugged. "Maybe I'll start a new trend on Seta."
"Come on, Jazz. Put some clothes on." Linra teased. "You've held up the works enough this morning." She put her hands on her hips. "Don't make me do it. "
"Don't you dare. " Jazz warned.
Linra stuck out her lower lip in a pout. "Please?"
"I told you not to do that!" He gave her a fierce frown. "You don't play fair."
"Yeah, well I learned from the best." She shot back. "March!"
"Yes ma'am." Jazz saluted and walked back to his room to dress.
"How do you DO that?" Wufei asked, bewildered.
"He knows not to mess with me." Linra grinned.
"She's our savior around here." Heero added. He squeezed Linra's shoulder affectionately. "We'd have sold him for scrap a long time ago if it wasn't for her."
A few minutes later Jazz reappeared in black shorts and a purple tee shirt. Linra nodded. "Much nicer."
"How much?" He pulled the girl against him. "Do I get a reward for being a good boy and doing what you said?"
Linra patted him on the head, having to stretch on her tiptoes to do so. "I'll get you a cookie."
"COOKIE COOKIE!" Shan yelled out.
"ME GET COOKIE TOO!" Meishel joined the chant.
"No cookies!" Wufei announced.
"Please, Baba?" Meishel's lower lip trembled. "Cookie?"
"Nice Baba." Shan added, gazing up at his father.
"Behave and you can each have one cookie on the shuttle." Denea told them. "But only if you're good."
"We good, Mama." Meishel patted her mother's hand. "We always good."
Jazz made a choking noise and Wufei glared at him. "Was that an editorial comment from the person who once rewired my doorbell to spew obsenities at the person who pressed it?" He narrowed his eyes at Duo. "One of the people, I should say."
"We're all ready. We should go now." Jazz quickly changed the subject.
He scooped Luke up onto his arms and hoisted him on his shoulders. "Tell the Setans to look sharp; the Maxwell brothers are on the loose."
"Yeah!" Luke cheered, waving a fist in the air.
The group, consisting of four adults, four small children, a load of luggage, and two teenagers headed for the transporter.
Jazz fell back and slid next to Linra. "What do you say we ditch the rest of these clowns and head out somewhere on our own?"
"I'd say that Heero would immediately trace the transporter records and drag us back by our ears." Linra replied.
"Now see? Logic takes all the fun out of a good plan." He complained, as they stepped into the transporter. It was a tight fit with everyone there. One of the twins had a foot sticking right into his ribcage.
"Doesn't it just?" Duo nodded, catching the tail-end of the conversation. "Seems like every time I come up with a good idea someone has to bring reality into it." He made a face at Heero.
"Which is why owning a Maxwell is a big responsibility." Heero teased, as he punched in the code. "Turn your back for a minute and they're off on some crazy scheme somewhere."
"Tell me about it." Linra agreed. "I should ask for danger pay in my allowance."
"I think we've just been insulted." Duo sulked. "Just because THEY lack imagination."
"They think we should be all stuffy and boring as well." Jazz agreed. "No one understands us."
They stepped out of the transporter into the shuttle dock, blinking in the warm sunlight. "We just make life more. interesting." Duo said finally, clapping Jazz on the back.
"Exactly." The boy nodded. "But do we get appreciated for that? No, just picked on all the time."
"Yup. All the time." Luke agreed sadly from his brother's shoulders.
"If you boys are done feeling sorry for yourselves we have a shuttle to catch." Linra called back to them.
The twins took off down the tarmac with Wufei chasing off after them, ordering them to stop and as usual being completely ignored.
"This is going to be a very interesting vacation." Heero noted dryly.