Street of Dreams
by Lasha Lee


"They're kissing, and I don't like it."

"Their odious display of public affection nauseates me."

"That tastes gross."

"I'm not sure on what planet that wretched concoction is considered food, but on this one, it's thoroughly detestable!"

"I don't want to take a nap."

"I assure you, I am more than capable of deciding when I am on the brink of exhaustion. Your concern for my well-being is commendable, however."

"I didn't break that."

"The dog was feeling rowdy again, and in a manner quite acceptable for a canine, chanced to knock that priceless whatever it was onto the floor. I'm sure that if asked, he feels dreadful about the entire thing."

A frown. "We don't have a dog."

"All the more reason to blame it on one. They'll think 'the poor dear is so devastated by what she's done she's on the brink of insanity' and you won't be punished for it."

"Neat."

"Gage, what are you teaching my daughter?" Jazz had appeared behind the couch, startling both the young man and his pupil.

Nadia gave her father an innocent look. "I'm learning his language."

"You can thank me when your child registers a verbal IQ of 445." Gage waved his hand. "I figured if I'm going to be responsible for educating impressionable young minds one day, I should practice."

Nadia nodded. "Education is the cornerstone on which the rest of our mortal lives balance." She explained to her father.

"Now really, Jazz, how many three year olds do you know that can spout off something like that?" Gage asked smugly. "And not a bad saying for the price of the fortune cookie I got it from."

"Oh good god. It's bad enough that she acts like Wufei. Now you want her to talk like you?" Jazz flopped down on the couch, covering his eyes.

"Tell him Nadia." Gage's mouth twitched.

"We insult other people to cover our own inad..." she looked up at Gage hopefully.

"Inadequacies, Poppet."

"Thank you."

"Gage, what good is it going to do for her to know words like that? None of her friends will understand her when she starts school."

"So she'll teach them." He ruffled Nadia's curls. "She enjoys learning, and I like teaching her. Are you asking me to stop?"

"No." Jazz laughed. "We all know she's a genius. I guess it's okay if she sounds like one."

"Wait until you hear what I plan to teach her brother."

Under Gage's fingers Nadia stiffened and got down off the couch.

"Where are you going?"

"To play." She didn't meet his eyes and wandered off into the kitchen.

"What's all that about?"

"She's got her nose out of joint about the baby. We keep telling her we're not going to stop loving her but..." Jazz sighed. "I guess she won't believe it until she sees for herself."

"She'll realize how lucky she is. I always wanted a brother or a sister." Gage stared into space and then shook himself.

"And now you have two brothers and four sisters."

"Three sisters."

"Gage."

"Meg chooses not to consider me a brother. I choose not to consider her a sister." The young man said firmly.

"That doesn't change the fact that she is."

"Yes, and Laura Landfill is my mother if you want to go that route, but it'll be a cold day in hell before I call her that."

Milliardo's eldest daughter, Amy, had been to Dera several times during the last few years to visit with her father and half-brother. Gage and Amy had been fond of each other when they thought they were cousins, but the revelation of Gage's true paternity had formed a true bond between them. "You were right you know." He'd told her before she'd left the last time.

"About what?"

"Narnia. When I stopped looking for it, I found it." He motioned around him. "But if it hadn't been for you, I never would have recognized it when I did find it."

The boy smiled at the memory now. "Besides, even if I can forgive her not wanting to see me, I can't forgive her not wanting to see him."

"She doesn't know he's sick. If she did..."

"She'd go to him out of guilt. He doesn't want that." Gage looked angry. "Jazz... I'm going to lose him." He blinked quickly. "I'm running out of time. And she's wasting it. Wasting his time."

"Hey, they could still find a cure."

"Yeah right." Gage stood up quickly. "I used to tell myself that. But wishing all I want isn't going to change the fact that my dad's a dead man walking."

"Gage, come on. Let's talk."

"No, I have to go. Shan's going to be home soon and we're taking Meishel dancing. Luke canceled on her again."

Jazz knew it would do no good to argue with him. It was always the same. He'd say only so much about Milliardo's illness and then nothing. The older man wondered if he talked to Shan about it. He had a feeling he did.

"Be back here early. Rosie and Rylan are due to arrive about 10."

"Will do. Tell Nadia I said goodbye." Jazz watched his back vanish into the transporter.

He settled back, swinging his legs up onto the couch. Not only was he worrying about Gage and his feelings about Milliardo, but on top of it was Nadia's reaction to the baby news and the whole thing between Luke and Meishel.

He suddenly grinned. Maybe he could solve one out of three problems anyway.


Luke walked into his room and stopped cold.

"DAD, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!" He screamed.

"Pops had nothing to do with this." He heard someone say behind him, and he whipped around to see Jazz leaning against the wall casually.

"Where is it?" Luke demanded, storming up to his brother.

"Your computer?" Jazz chewed a thumbnail.

"Yes, my computer, you asshole!"

"It's on vacation." Jazz grinned.

"Jazz, give it back! I'm working on something important."

"So am I." Jazz looked hard at Luke. "I'm working on making sure you don't fuck up the rest of your life. Heard you blew Meishel off again. Thought I raised you better than that."

"Jazz..."

"Stop whining." The older man held up a hand. "Now I'm going to make you a deal. I'll give you the computer back for ONE HOUR. And I'm timing you. After that hour you are going to get dressed and go meet Meishel at the new club she's been going to. You are going to dance with her and show her a good time, and show her that you love her."

"Or what?" Luke challenged.

Jazz leaned very close. "Or I'll reformat your harddrive."

"You wouldn't dare! I've been working for months on that program."

"I remember what it felt like when my fields were burned. It's like having your guts ripped out." Jazz agreed. "But right now, you're ripping Meishel's heart out. Don't you know I won't stand for that?" He smacked Luke on the back of the head.

"OW!"

"Do we have a deal or not?"

"Yes, we have a deal!" Luke ground out. "Now give it back!"

"I'll go get it. But remember, you have one hour and then you're a dancing fool for the evening."

Jazz hummed and left Luke's room, aware of the daggers his brother was shooting into his back. Luke would thank him for this someday, when he and Meishel were older and pledged and happy. By then, he'd probably be grayer than Wufei, though.

He looked out the back window, and saw Ojisan swinging Nadia. She was laughing, her head thrown back and her curls going everywhere. For a moment, she was letting herself just be a little girl, and he smiled to himself. He'd make sure Luke had that, that joy that came from watching his child play in the sunlight. Wasn't that was big brothers were for?


Heero lifted Nadia off the swing and onto the ground. "Like that?"

"You swing higher than anyone." Nadia was impressed.

Heero laughed and kissed her. "Well, you're brave enough to let me. Luke and Rosie never would."

"Can we go to the lake?"

"I think we can do that." Heero took her hand and they walked together through the browned stalks off the fields, Nadia guiding him.

"Aunt Rosie will be here tonight, right?"

"She sure will. And your Uncle Rylan. They're going to stay with us for a while."

"Why don't they live here?" Nadia asked suddenly.

"Well..." Heero tried to think of an explanation without lying. "Because Rylan's parents live on Earth and he likes being near them."

"Rosie's parents live here. Doesn't she like being near you?" The little girl wanted to know.

Heero stopped walking and sat down on the ground, pulling Nadia into his lap. "There's another reason."

"Why?"

"Because some bad people came here. And they hurt a lot of people. And some people here are still pretty angry about that. Your Uncle Rylan is related to the bad people. That doesn't mean that he's bad; he's not. But sometimes people blame all members of a group when a few do bad things. Do you understand?"

"They're intolerant and narrow-minded?"

"Where did you learn words like that?"

"Gage."

"Of course. Gage. But yes, they are. And some of them might actually want to hurt Uncle Rylan because of that. So he doesn't like coming here."

"Why is he?"

"Because Rosie wants to, and I need to talk to Rosie, and he loves her. And we're going to protect him. Right?"

"Right." Nadia looked fierce and Heero laughed to see pure Duo in her eyes. "No one hurts my Uncle Rylan."

"You know it." He stood back up, and put her on his shoulders. "I'd like to see them get through you."

They walked along in silence, and Nadia was content to let him carry her, something she did rarely. Even as a baby, she'd been fiercely independent and introspective, and he knew there were some who might even call her cold for that. She went after things she wanted with a single-mindnesses that nothing could shake, and it amazed him that he could look at this child who had not even a drop of his blood in her, and see himself. Just as he had been able to with all four of the children he had raised, even Jazz.

She wiggled to get down again and he put her back on the ground.

"Come on." She tugged on his hand.

Come on, slowpoke.

Heero tensed, accidentally squeezing down on the small fingers in his own and Nadia yelped, giving him a dirty look.

"What did you say, Honey?"

"I said to come on." Nadia cocked her head. "Are you okay, Grandpa?"

"Yeah, I'm find." Heero shook himself. "Let's go."

"I'll race you." Nadia urged and took off running. "Can't catch me."

Can't catch me!

He caught a glimpse of her running ahead of him and for a moment the world around him seemed to shift and he staggered. The fields were gone and he was in a green pasture. Ahead of him someone turned around.

It was a little girl, her golden hair glistening in the sunlight; it fell over her face and she was laughing, her white dress streaked with mud.

Slowpoke! She mouthed at him. He could see her mouth moving but couldn't hear what she was saying. Behind her he saw someone else.

Come on already! The other person was calling, and Heero knew what he was saying even if, like the girl, he couldn't hear him. There's a million of them!

He began rushing toward them, tripping and falling, but laughing, and then it faded.


The back door opened with a bang, crashing against the wall, and Jazz looked up. Nadia stood there panting, her cheeks wet.

"Nadia?" He was immediately in front of her, Duo at his side. "Sweety, what..."

"Grandpa fell!" She cried. "He won't wake up."

"Oh my god!" Jazz picked her up. "Where?"

"Near the pond!" She was sobbing. "He just fell over!"

Still carrying his daughter, Jazz ran out the door as fast as he could, looking back to see Duo running behind. Duo looked almost as hysterical as Nadia and he was limping heavily, his bad leg making it almost impossible for him to move.

"GO!" He shouted at his son. "I'll catch up! Please Jazz."

Jazz nodded and raced through the fields.

Duo tried to ignore the pain in his leg as he ran. Twice he fell, once scraping his palm against a stone, but it didn't matter.

Stroke. Heart Attack. The words echoed in his brain. Heero wasn't old enough for that. He was only fifty. He took good care of himself.

As he ran, his mind flashed back on their lives together. Meeting Heero for the first time, his despair over ever winning the quiet boy's heart. Telling him goodbye. Find him again, marrying him. The day they brought home Luke. A thousand memories, a thousand details, and he wanted a million more. He wasn't ready to give him up yet. He'd cheated Death before and he'd do it again if he had do. Heero was his!

He finally reached the spot. Jazz had Heero's body propped up on his lap, and Heero was groaning. Duo felt his heart sink to his feet in relief and he collapsed next to them.

"What happened?" Heero asked, blinking. "Jazz..."

"Ojisan, can you understand what I'm saying?" Jazz asked.

"Of course I can understand you." Heero grumbled, sitting up. "What..."

"Nadia said you fell over." Duo took his hand. "She ran and got us."

"You were out cold when I got here." Jazz explained.

Heero rubbed his head, feeling a knot starting to form. "I remember walking. That's all."

"Can you stand up?"

"Yes, I can stand up." Heero lurched to his feet. "Quit treating me like a baby."

"Heero!" Duo snapped, still on the ground, holding Nadia now.

"I'm sorry..." Heero patted Jazz's arm. "I'm sorry I scared you. I don't know what happened."

"We're taking you to the hospital." Jazz announced.

"Oh no you're not. I'm fine." Heero glared at his son.

"Oh yes we are. Fine people don't pass out." Jazz rolled his eyes. "Look, a guy your age..."

Heero's eyes narrowed.

"Well, you're not a kid, Ojisan. I'm sorry, but you aren't. What if you had a mini stroke or something? Maybe next time..." Jazz's voice broke off and he turned his head away.

"Okay." Heero said softly. "If it will make you feel better, I'll go to the hospital. And let them tell you that there's nothing wrong with me."

"Deal." Jazz agreed.

Duo sat Nadia down. She still hadn't said anything, but she looked much calmer now. He tried to stand and fell with a curse.

"Here." Jazz knelt and gave Duo his arm and Duo used it to lurch to his feet. He attempted to put weight on his bad leg and winced.

"You ran." Heero felt a pang of guilt, moving to take Duo's other side.

"Hell yes I ran!" Duo leaned against his mate. "I thought I was about to lose you."

"Is Grandpa okay now?" Nadia asked suddenly. Heero was Grandpa, Duo was Gramp.

"Grandpa will be fine." Duo promised her. "He just needs to rest."

"I just fell over?" Heero asked the child. "Just like that."

"Yeah. Just like that." Nadia nodded. "You were talking crazy and then you stopped."

"Talking crazy?" Heero was baffled. "What did I say?"

"You were talking about frogs."


On to part four. Back to part two.