"We'll be home very soon." Heero squeezed Luke tightly. "You be good now."
"I will, Otosan." Luke promised. "You'll get the bad guys who tried to hurt Linra, right?"
"We'll do our best." Duo assured him.
I'll do better than my best, Jazz smirked to himself. I WILL get them.
"Jazz?" Duo said warningly. "That 'be good' was a blanket statement for all of you. No giving Wufei a hard time."
Jazz wrinkled his brow. "I've been giving Wufei a hard time my entire life. You TAUGHT me to give him a hard time. You LIKE me giving him a hard time."
Duo sighed. "Okay, let me rephrase that. Do not give him any more of a hard time than usual."
"I promise not to bother Wufei one bit." Jazz swore sincerely. "He won't even know I'm there."
"We better go." Linra nodded toward the waiting shuttle. She hugged Heero and Duo tightly. "Get home soon."
She led Rosemary and Luke into the shuttle after the men kissed them goodbye. Jazz started to follow them.
"Jazz?" Duo said suddenly.
The boy turned around.
"We've got a few minutes. I want to talk to you about something."
Jazz jumped down the last step and stood before his father, his face devoid of all emotion.
"Heero and I were talking last night. We think you made some good points. You also acted like a complete jerk, but that's not here or there right now. It's been very hard for us to accept that you're growing up, and maybe we have been treating you too much like a child." Duo paused for breath.
"We've decided that as long as you can swear to us that you will not go all the way with Linra until you are both of age, it's okay if you kiss her. You're a teenager, it's not really fair of us to expect you not to be able to kiss your girlfriend."
"I swear. Nothing will happen." Jazz couldn't stop grinning. "Thank you!"
"It better not. This is your chance to show us that you can handle being treated like an adult." Duo sighed. "I'm sorry, Jazz. You've never let me down before and it wasn't right for me to act like you were going to because of one mistake. I know I can trust you."
"I better get on board." Jazz said gruffly.
"Hey." Duo grabbed his shoulder. "You're not too big to go off to another planet without even a hug."
Jazz turned and embraced his father so tightly that Duo had to gasp for breath. Fierce hugs weren't uncommon for Jazz, but this one seemed to have a different quality to it, something almost desperate. Heero found his own oxygen supply temporarily cut off a moment later, and then Jazz was gone, jogging into the shuttle, hair flying behind him.
"He's up to something."
"Of course he is." Duo shrugged. "I meant what I told him, but I hope that he feels so guilty now that he'll change his mind about doing whatever he's planning on doing."
"You are truly the master of guilt as a weapon." Heero bowed deeply.
"Why thank you. I like to think I have a talent for it."
"Humm. You have a talent for a lot of things." Heero agreed, pulling him close.
"A tarmac isn't the best place to go into a demonstration, though." Duo sighed. "And we're supposed to meet with the police in twenty minutes."
Heero pointed to a young man and woman kissing passionately a little way down. "Are you going to let them show us up?"
Duo laughed and grabbed his lifemate, locking his mouth firmly to Heero's.
They both had their eyes closed as they kissed. So it was easy to miss the blond figure slipping out of the back of the shuttle and running back toward the main terminal building.
Jazz glanced around Jaf's living room. "Are you here?"
"Right here, Jazz." Jaf entered. "Everything go as you planned?"
"Sort of. The part about my father telling me how he feels he should start trusting me more was a little unexpected." Jazz said with a half-shrug.
Jaf made a face. "After this he's not going to trust you to cross the street by yourself."
"Can't be helped." The boy sighed. "I have to do this. I just hope that eventually he'll understand."
Jaf cocked an eyebrow. "Do you have any ideas where to start looking?"
"Not a clue." Jazz admitted.
"Well, let's start with this, then." Jaf led him over to a table containing various electronic equipment.
"What's all this?"
"Surveillance equipment." Jaf explained. "It occurred to me that it might help us to know what your fathers learn. As well as know where they're going to be so that we can make sure to go in the opposite direction. So I bugged your bungalow." He gave Jazz a wicked grin.
"Jaf, I am liking you more and more every minute." Jazz picked up a pair of headphones. "But please tell me you didn't put bugs in their bedroom." He shivered.
"No." the older man laughed. "Rest easy."
Jazz examined the rest of the equipment. "Hey, you run a hotel, right? Do you ever bug your guests rooms? Find out anything juicy?"
"No, I do not." Jaf huffed. "Not often, anyway."
"You liar. You probably listen in all the time. Especially the newlyweds."
The man narrowed his eyes. "I refuse to answer that question."
"This stuff is pretty keen. What's the rest of it do?"
"This will send us a record of wherever they transport to. This one lets us monitor any incoming emails they receive, this is just a standard phone tap."
Jazz was impressed. He liked to think of himself as a techno-geek but he hadn't ever had a chance to play with real toys like this. Mostly because his father refused to break the law and buy him things like wire-taps.
"Where did you learn to do all this stuff? Or should I ask?"
"It was something of a hobby of mine before I went into hiding. Afterward it became a matter of survival. More than once I've saved my skin by making sure I was not where my enemies expected me to be.
"We won't be using all of it." Jaf continued. "I have the rest out just to show off, I'll admit. Take this one, for example." He help up a device. "Very handy for making people think they're going mad. It makes phantoms appear out of wall plugs. Has a 5 mile remote radius."
"I've heard of those!"
"So have a lot of other people. Which makes them no longer as effective as they used to be."
Jazz grinned to himself at the thought of zombies moaning at his father and Heero. He had to remember to give that a try.
"Transporter override. Say someone is about to transport somewhere you don't want them to go. This will send them to any transporter you want. Really more of a toy than anything useful. They'll just get back in and go where they intended originally unless you stand there playing with it. Although it's good for buying another person time to finish what they need to."
"Where did you buy this stuff?"
"I bought the parts at regular electronics stores. The schematics I found here and there. Hang on."
He reached in a drawer for a small notebook. "They're all drawn out here. Nothing is really very complicated. I've got them memorized. You can have that if you want."
"Wow. Thanks! I can build any of this stuff with this?"
"This and more. Jazz, not all of the things in the book are harmless, however. There are devices in there that can kill an enemy instead of just confusing him. Be responsible with it, okay?"
"Sure I will. Only people I'd want to kill are the people who tried to hurt Linra." His fist clenched. "Only people I've ever wanted to kill."
"Oh?" Jaf cocked his head. "Surely you've wanted to kill someone else before now, at least once."
"Your father told me that you were kidnapped when you were a little boy. Didn't you want to kill the man who took you?"
Jazz considered for a moment. "I wanted to hurt him. I'll admit that. I wanted to make him suffer, but I didn't want to kill him. I mean, I was a little kid at the time. Sure, I mean, if it happened now I'd want to see him dead, but back then... "
Jazz shook himself. "I didn't know what hate was until he taught me."
"That's a hard lesson to learn at any age."
The boy's long fingers danced on the table. "But I had a choice, see? I could have paid attention to what he taught me and learned from that, or I could focus on the lessons my father had tried to teach me. Mercy, compassion, love, trust. I had two paths to follow: Tren Vire's and Duo Maxwell's.
"It would seem to me that you've followed Jazz Maxwell's path."
"I'm trying to. It's not easy. Let's face it; my father was a war hero when he was my age. I grow vegetables. Not much of a comparison there."
Jazz laughed suddenly. "Guess you got more than you bargained for, letting me stay. Didn't think you'd be playing shrink as well."
"Relationships fascinate me even more than fancy gadgets do. Parent/child relationships most of all, maybe because I'm neither. I'd be very interested in hearing anything you want to tell me about yours."
"You and your father didn't get along very well, did you?"
"We despised each other. Your father taught you love and compassion; mine taught me that to achieve anything in life one had to be devoid of any humanity; he taught me to be totally ruthless."
"But you overcame that. You don't follow his way any longer."
Jaf shook his head. "His way has kept me alive for a long time now. As long as my life is in danger, I will never be free of him."
Jazz did not look convinced. "You should ask Pops and Ojisan for help. I'm sure that they could take care of whoever is after you. You wouldn't have to run away any longer."
Jaf flexed his fingers, and Jazz noticed the long white scar on one of his palms. "Not even the great Duo Maxwell and Heero Yuy can get me out of this one, I'm afraid."
Jazz nodded, but he was sure in his heart that Jaf was wrong. When this was over he would talk to his parents and see if they could find a way to lend his friend a hand. This was the man who had saved Meishel's life, after all. Surely his own was a fair gift in return.
"That was nice."
"Better than nice."
"Hnnn. That's all?"
"It was wonderful. You know it always is."
The lovers cuddled together, sleep tugging at them. Neither of them had gotten much rest the night before with Linra's attempted abduction, and they had spent a good part of the day going over and over the story with the local police. Duo had been ready to collapse when they had returned to the bungalow, but his maclen had had other ideas.
The phone chimed, and Duo sat up, blinking. It was an off-world chime. Maybe something was wrong with one of the kids. He pried himself away from Heero and padded naked to the phone. "Talk to me." he answered.
Heero watched his face grow pale and then turn scarlet. "THAT BOY IS SO DEAD!!!!"