"Very, thank you." Duo relaxed on the bed next to Heero, a glass in his hand. He smiled, trying to remove the worried look from his maclen's eyes. "Deran medicine is wonderful stuff. I'll be ready to run a marathon by next week."
"I don't want you doing anything for the next month." Heero growled. "I almost lost you. I'm not taking any chances."
"Nag, nag, nag." Duo leaned over and kissed him quickly. "But don't stop on my account."
"Your ice is almost melted." Heero pointed at the glass.
"So it is."
Duo reached over and pressed a button next to his bed. Snickering, he tapped it over and over, playing "Jingle Bells." An angry beeping could be heard from the next room.
"I'm coming! I'm coming!" Jazz yelled, and his feet thumped down the hallway. "YES?" He asked through tight teeth, poking his head in the doorway.
Duo held out the glass. "This ice is melted. Go get me a fresh cup."
Jazz glared daggers at him. "I just brought you that one twenty minutes ago."
"Yes, you did. Where does time go?" Duo smiled. "I'll probably need another one twenty minutes from now as well."
Jazz whispered something under his breath.
"I speak Chinese." Heero commented. "I'm sure I must have heard that wrong. Otherwise I might have to make your life miserable for that."
"Why can't YOU get him what he needs?" Jazz countered.
"Because, I'm not the one being punished." Heero said cheerfully. "Until your father is up and around again, we own every second of your day. Tell Linra that when she's done waxing the kitchen floor, the bathroom tile needs scrubbing. And we'll be wanting dinner in about an hour. You might want to get started on that. And if there's daylight left, there's a loose shudder on the left side, near the dining room window.
"Slavery has been illegal on Dera for a long time now."
"Making sure that your children get chills if they EVER think about doing anything so reckless and stupid again has been legal even longer." Duo retorted. "But..." He sighed. "I'm too thirsty to sit here and argue with you." He made an effort to get out of bed, and his face tightened in pain.
"Pops, no!" Jazz was immediately by the bed, forcing him back down, and taking the glass. "I'm sorry. I'll get your drink. Just... don't move." He hurried out of the room.
Duo glanced over at Heero, smirking. "Guilt. It does a body good."
A few minutes later, Jazz was back in the kitchen, pawing through the refrigerator to find something to make for dinner. Linra had been a bit over-enthusiastic about waxing the floor, and Luke and Rosie were sliding across it in their socks.
The transporter chimed. "Oh goody." The boy muttered, skating his way to the living room. "What now?"
Wufei stepped out, leading Denea. Jazz peered into the transporter, but no one else was there.
"Oh no you don't!" The boy ordered. "What kind of parents are you, leaving two year olds home alone? Especially THOSE two year olds? They've probably drank six kinds of poison by now."
Wufei glared at him. "Then Quatre and Trowa will have a lot to answer for, won't they?"
"Oh." Jazz was deflated. "Sorry. Didn't think about that." He noticed they were both smiling, however, and Wufei was holding a letter in his hand. "Are you staying for dinner? We're having... something. Not sure what yet. But I'm sure it'll taste okay."
"Sounds good. We need to speak to your parents first. We want you and Linra there as well." Denea sounded breathless. "Please."
His curiosity peaked, Jazz found Linra in the bathroom. He burst out laughing to see that she had written on the floor, in tile cleaner "Heero sucks bonatar balls."
"Come on. We've got a short reprieve. The Changs want to talk to us for a little while."
"As long as I take the meds, I don't feel a thing. When they start to wear off, it hurts like heck." Duo was saying. "Drugs are our friends."
"We're here." Jazz spoke up. "What's up?"
"Seb Nela came to see us earlier." Wufei began. "She had something to give us. It was a letter."
"Jaf. They found it near him when he took his life. With all the confusion, it's only just now they've had a chance to deliver it. It was addressed to Denea and myself."
"An apology?" Duo raised an eyebrow, skeptical.
"See for yourself." Wufei handed him the letter.
Duo read quickly, his brow wrinkled, Heero looking over his shoulder. "Is this for real?"
"I'm not sure. But if it is..."
"Umm, could someone please clue us in?" Linra asked. "I have a bathroom to clean."
"Apparently Jaf hacked the Wronith's computers on a regular basis, he says. He collected some of their information, including some outlines of medical procedures. He's included here one of them." Wufei said softly. "A procedure to restore damaged eyesight."
"We took it to some local specialists." Denea put in. "They've not 100% sure it will work, but they think there's a chance that it might." The last was spoken so low they barely heard her.
"Oh, Denea." Linra embraced her foster aunt fiercely. "You'll be able to see again!"
"Maybe." Denea cautioned. "But maybe is a heck of a lot better than what I had before."
"This calls for celebration. Just the idea alone calls for celebration." Heero nodded. "I've got a good bottle of Champaign on ice.
"Heero, I can't drink while I'm on these meds." Duo protested.
"We'll drink yours." Jazz offered.
"On second thought, I've got a good bottle of fruit juice." Heero amended. "I'll be right back."
He had only been gone a minute when Linra turned to Jazz, swallowing. "I hope he doesn't need to use the bathroom... "
"I DO WHAT TO BONATARS?" Heero's voice came bellowing down the hall.
"Whoops." Linra blushed.
"I don't even want to know." Duo leaned back on the pillows, chuckling. "Ow."
Jazz grabbed his pills and shook one out. "Here. Dope yourself up again."
Duo, Wufei reflected a week later, made a good patient. As independent as he was, he still enjoyed letting people fuss over him and spoil him. As long he was kept entertained, and with both Heero and VR it wasn't hard to do, he was content to stay in bed.
Denea, on the other hand, was the kind of patient doctors seriously considered euthanizing.
She had expected to have the surgery, go home, and return in a week for the bandages to be removed. However, as the procedure had never been done before, she had been required to stay in the hospital the entire time, in case complications arose. She hadn't taken it well.
Wufei had brought the twins to see her every day, and spent every spare minute he could with her, and yet the woman was still climbing the walls. She was constantly leaving her room to visit the other patients; once she had been found in the maternity ward, surrounded by anxious new mothers, giving a lecture on how to handle Hard Cough, a common newborn ailment.
"Okay, Denea." Doctor Worad leaned over her. "Let's get these bandages off and see how we did. Then we'll see about getting you released and back home."
"You'll do better than see about it. I'm going home, even if my eyes have turned into tea leaves!"
"Now, don't be upset if you don't see right away." Worad continued, unwrapping the gauze. "It could still take several weeks for you to heal completely."
She held her breath as the strips were removed from her face. "It's still dark." She whispered, as the last one was lifted away.
"Try opening your eyes." Worad suggested.
Swallowing hard, she did as she was told (for the first time since arriving here, Wufei thought to himself.)
At first, there was nothing but a bright blur, but it immediately rushed into focus. A short, balding man was smiling at down at her. Sucking in her breath, she turned her head to the right.
"Denea?" Wufei asked hesitantly, and she could not stop staring at him. She had only seen him once, during that brief dinner, right before she had been blinded. He was older now, but...
"Figures." She blurted out. "That'd I'd end up with a man prettier than I am." Her voice broke.
She reached out, and touched his face, noticing tears forming in his eyes. "But no one can say I don't have good taste."
He tilted his head, kissing her fingers. "I'll be right back."
Before she could protest, he was gone from the room.
Worad began examining her eyes, making notes on the pupil dilation, when Wufei returned. But he wasn't alone.
Denea began to tremble. In his arms were two small children, both with a predominance of his Asian features.
"Hi, Mama." The little boy called.
With a moan, Denea held out her arms, and Wufei placed the twins into them. She was unable to speak; she could only drink in the sight of them, of how beautiful they were, how perfect. Surely she could have had no part in creating them...
"Why you cryin', Mama?" Meishel asked, worried.
"I'm crying because I'm so happy." Denea leaned forward and pressed her forehead against her daughter's. "I can see you."
"The doctors made Mama's eyes better." Wufei managed to get out.
"Can Mama see me?" Shan wanted to know.
"Mama can see everything now." Denea confirmed. "And right now, I'm looking at everything."
Jazz lay on his back on the roof, counting the stars over head.
"I thought I might find you out here." Linra sat down next to him. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah." He reached out and entwined his fingers with hers. "Just got a lot on my mind."
"It's been one heck of a summer." The girl agreed. "But it seems weird that it's over. We're going to be zombies at school tomorrow."
"You're not... upset, are you? That I turned down the position of Tren?"
"Jazz, why in the worlds would I be upset about that??"
"Well... a Tren makes a lot of money. Probably a lot more than a farmer will. I'd have been able to buy you a lot of stuff."
"First of all, I'll be making plenty of money on my own, and I'll be more than capable of buying my own 'stuff'.
"And second, I'd rather live in a tent, then in a mansion with a maclen that's miserable. And being a Tren would have been nothing but misery for you. We both know that."
She lay down, and he cradled her head on his chest, stroking her hair. "And I'll be proud to call you mine no matter what you do."
"I had a dream about my mother last night. She told me that I'd made the right decision."
Linra laughed. "Funny. I had a dream about my mom as well. She wanted to tell me what a good job I did with the memory walk."
"I want to do something tomorrow after school. Let's go to the River of the Brave. I want to send off floats for Sem and Sashi. They never got any. And ones for the kids the Wronith killed as well."
"And for Vire?" She asked quietly.
"No. Not for Vire." He kissed her. "But I want to do one for Jaf."
"And then, I need to talk to Pops and Ojisan. I want a dog! Rylan stole mine!"
"Shame on you. He's just a little kid."
Jazz laughed. "I'm kidding. I'm glad they've both got a home now. I don't think I've ever seen Trowa and Quatre look so happy. They've promised to come back for the ceremony when we pledge."
Jazz looked at her, his eyes pools of emotion. "I, Jason Heero Maxwell, pledge to you, Linra Rynt, to stand by your side for all eternity. In this life; in whatever lives may follow. Through whatever comes. I love you."
Linra took a breath. "I, Linra Rynt, pledge to you, Jason Heero Maxwell, that you will never alone. I pledge to be your shoulder to cry on, your friend to confide in. For now, forever. For as long as time. I love you too."
Sometimes, Jazz mused, the dragons just appeared out of nowhere. And sometimes, it looked like they were impossible to defeat. But if you had the strongest of swords; faith, love, hope, then they were no match for you.
Would he go back, if he could? To the person he was a few months ago?
No, he decided, pulling Linra closer. Back then he had been two people. He had been Jazz the Jester and he had been Jason the Warrior. And he had learned to bring the two together, merge them into one.
The dragons were sleeping once more.
And he was whole.