Two Divided By Zero
by Lasha Lee


"Who's the Bunny Girl? Huh? Who's Daddy's Bunny Wabbit?" Jazz nuzzled the infant before handing her off to her mother. He'd brought in some music, and it was playing softly near the window. The baby seemed to enjoy it, anyway.

They'd dressed her in a pink nighty, but it was far too big on her, making her look even smaller.

She was an intense little thing, Jazz thought, watching as Linra nursed her. She could cry a little, but she didn't much. She seemed to be saving her strength, examining everything, trying to figure it all out. He offered her his finger, and she wrapped her tiny ones around it. But as small as her fingers were, he could see that they were long for the size of her hands, and tapered. She was going to have his hands, and his father's hands.

The only thing about his daughter that wasn't miniature was her appetite. They were going to have to clone Linra to keep her fed.

When she was finished with her breakfast, the baby pulled away from her mother and burped loudly, with no prompting from either of them. Jazz helped Linra fix her clothing, and then kissed her deeply.

"Let's have the next one the normal way." He suggested. "I can't go through this again."

"You? I'm the one they cut open." Linra protested. "All you had to do was stand there and panic."

"Honey, you got anesthesia. I felt every movement of that laser."

"fboffff." The baby commented.

"You tell him, little one." Linra snorted. "We did all the hard stuff."

"You know, we can't keep just calling her little one." Jazz pointed out. "She does need a name."

"I know. I'm at a loss. She hasn't been very helpful."

"bofft." Suggested their daughter.

"Bofft." Jazz repeated. "It's got a nice ring to it, but it doesn't seem to suit you."

He shrugged. "We'll think about it." Jazz climbed in bed next to his maclen, and pulled her against him. For a long time they stayed like that, watching their daughter nap, make faces at the world, and mutter to herself.

"Jazz?"

"Humm?"

"This music is pretty. What's it called?" The song had changed, it was now slow and solemn, but moving none the less.

"It's an old Earth song. Its called 'Nadia's Theme.'" Jazz said absently, then paused, looking at Linra.

"Nadia?"

"Nadia. That's beautiful." Linra whispered. "What does it mean?"

"Not a clue." Jazz admitted. "But what's important is, what does she think of it?"

They looked down at the infant. She blinked sleepily up at them.

"Nadia?" Linra asked. "Do you like that name?"

"bofft."

"No daughter of mine is being called Bofft so you can just stop asking already." Jazz said in mock-sternness, and laughed. "She loves it. She's just teasing me."

And although she didn't quite understand what was going on, or where that nice warm room had gone, or why everyone started leaking when they looked at her, Nadia Hilde Sheld Maxwell felt no fear. She recognized these voices as the ones she'd loved to listen to for months, and she sensed that she was safe in their hands.

But she'd definitely be in a better mood if they'd just let her get some sleep. They thought they'd had her birth rough? They should have tried it from her point of view.


The rain was pounding down on the roof, and the field work for the day had been cancelled. Gage was not in the best mood as he laid on his bed, thumbing through a fantasy novel Jazz had lent him. His time with Shan was so limited now that he treasured every single second of it. Sure, they managed to sneak out, but those moments were hard to come by. Shan's folks were watching him like a hawk these days, and he couldn't blink without Heero and Duo breathing down his neck.

He heard a tapping on the window glass that did not sound like rain, and he hurried over to it, pulling it open.

Shan climbed inside, his glasses so wet that he had to take them off. He had a black plastic parka over his shoulders, but it hadn't done much to protect him from the elements, and he was drenched to the bone.

"My parents are gone for the whole day. They won't be back until really late tonight." Shan grinned, dripping all over the floor. "I decided to take advantage of their trust and misuse it."

"That's my boy." Gage whispered. "Hang on." He walked over to the radio and turned it on, not loud, but loud enough to cover up most of their voices. He also locked the door.

"Come on, I'll warm you up." Gage gave him a feral grin, and quickly undressed, then slipped under the blankets, holding out his arms.

Shan removed his damp clothing and slid in next to him. His skin was damp and clammy, but heated up quickly as Gage began kissing him.

"Umm..." Shan gave him a drunk gaze. "Gage, please. You know what I want."

"I know, Shanny Boy. It's what I want too, but not yet."

"Why? Why not now?" Shan knew that he was being pushy. He didn't recognize himself in this needy stranger. Gage laughed, but it sounded shaky.

"We need stuff." He said at last. "Stuff to make it easier. And I... god, Shan, I want it to be perfect. Not just something we jump into. I want to make it special. You deserve that. Sometimes... sometimes you make me think that I deserve it too." He kissed a patch of bare, bronze skin.

"You do." Shan argued gently. "You can start over."

"Shan, I've been with a lot of people. Guys, girls, men, women. The one thing I've never done is make love to someone. Or let someone make love to me. That's never what it was about. Not until now."

He kissed him again. "So we need to make sure that it's as perfect as it can be."

Shan did nothing for the next few minutes but hold him close, stroking Gage's back over where the tattoo was. "The night of the anniversary party. They're all going to be busy. We can slip away. We can go back to my room. We were planning on telling them that we're in love that night, anyway. They just don't need to know how in love."

"That's over a week away. You think you can hold out that long?" Gage teased him.

"No. It was your idea to try." Shan kissed his nose.

"I know. You're going to make me suffer every second, aren't you?"

"Maybe." He sighed. "I miss you so much. It drives me nuts that we have to sneak around like this just to see each other. It's like we're criminals or something."

"Oh, you'll get used to being treated like that easily enough. Do one tiny thing, sneak out when you're grounded, or steal the Christ child from a nativity scene and you're branded for life."

"You stole..."

"I left a note. It said 'Ha. This time I win. Love, Herod.' No one seemed to find it as funny as I did. Christians. No sense of humor at all."

"So what are you?" Shan asked suddenly. "Do you believe in a higher power?"

Gage rolled over on his back, staring up at the ceiling. "I want to. It would be great to believe that there was something up there bigger than me, someone keeping an eye on me. Even if they didn't like me, I'd still like to know that they're there."

He touched Shan's face. "I used to pray to him. It. Them. Whatever. I used to kneel beside my bed, and I'd promise to be a good boy, the best boy that ever lived, if he could make my mom like everyone else's mom. If he'd make her sing to me, and tickle me, and tell me that she loved me more than anything else in the world. Or if he couldn't do that, then let me go live with my uncle. I'd even put up with my aunt not liking me, but I wanted to live where someone did. But he never answered me. I mean, even if he does exist, why would he give a damn about me, anyway?"

"Gage..." Shan sighed. He didn't know what to say.

"What about you? What kind of gods do you believe in?"

"Well... my father believes in a goddess, Nataku. Meishel still does, but I don't know. Sometimes I think I can feel her speaking to me, but I just don't know for sure. I wish I could believe in her completely, like I did when I was a little boy. Things were so easy then. My parents could do anything, and Meishel and I were royalty. Everyone adored us. But I don't want to be adored any more. I want to be respected. You're the first person who's ever done that."

"They teach us, on Earth, that God doesn't approve of two men loving each other. That he hates them for it."

"My father has never said which way Nataku leans. I like to think that in her eyes, love is a blessing and a gift, and that she approves of it no matter how it's created."

They listened to the rain again for a while, feeling small, wondering if anyone was watching them. If they had the curse or blessings of any god; if anyone cared enough to do either. It was a lonely feeling and all they could do to fight it was cling tighter to each other. They couldn't depend on divine intervention to clear the way for them to be together. They only had themselves, and it would have to be enough.

Gage began kissing Shan's neck and chest, and moving lower. And Shan knew what was approaching, a road they hadn't crossed yet, and he welcome it, begged, pleaded, coaxed. Gage knew this act; he had been taught it to perfection years before, but it had never held any meaning for him until now. He gave without taking, using every trick he knew with his touch, his lips, his teeth, his hands. He felt like an addict; the taste and the scent reducing years of civilized conditioning to ashes, and he was primitive man, animal man. He had bragged that he could make it last for hours, and he knew how, but he had no desire to torture Shan, just tease him a little. And he knew the very moment when his lover had reached the end of his tether. He took him over the edge, let him lose himself in the overpowering sensations, let him shake and reenter reality as slowly as he needed to. And Gage was content; he needed nothing else but the love in Shan's eyes to be satisfied.

But then that looked turned predatory, and he felt Shan moving over him, kissing him, and he managed a groan. "You don't have to..."

"I want to. Shut up and let me, Drummond."

So Gage shut up, and he let Shan explore to his heart's content.

He was a fast learner. Any awkwardness that he felt did not affect his actions. He did not ask questions out loud, but every now and then he would catch Gage's eye, asking permission to go on, and Gage would nod, not trusting his voice.

And even if there wasn't a Heaven, there was a paradise, and it consisted of inexperience, sheltered, incredibly beautiful boy, and his warm, soft fingers, and his hot, softer mouth. Gage had no delusions about being allowed to enter Heaven, but this paradise he did claim, accepted. He made an offering to his God, and his God took all that he gave, and kissed him afterward; a bitter, salty kiss, and God whispered in his ear how much he loved him, needed him. How he would follow him anywhere.

A half-hour or so had passed, and they were on the edge of sleep, their limbs heavy and entangled, when there was a knock on the bedroom door, and they both sat up.

"Gage, it's Duo. Can I talk to you for a second?"

Shan grabbed his clothes and ran to the closet, slipping inside. He ran back out, grabbed his glasses from beside the bed, and disappeared again, but not before glaring at Gage, who was laughing at him as he pulled on his own jeans. "Just a second, Duo." He called out as the closet door shut again, and unlocked the bedroom door.

"Sorry, I was taking a nap."

"Oh, sorry to wake you." Duo sat down on the edge of the bed. "We got an update from your family. Your dad can't make the party. Neither can your aunt. But your mother and your uncle have promised to be here."

"Any chance she'll have a change of heart? She could suddenly come down with something that wouldn't allow her to travel. Rabies, perhaps?"

"Gage..."

"A boy can dream, can't he?"

"I know it's been rough. I want you to know that Heero and I... we're very glad that you're here with us." He patted Gage's shoulder. "We're going to do everything in our power to make sure that you stay here."

"Does that mean I'm not grounded any more?" Gage asked hopefully.

"Nice try. The grounding still stands. Can't have you thinking that we're not serious." Duo lightly punched his shoulder.

Gage seemed to be gathering his thoughts. "Can you make me a promise?"

"Sure. Lay it on me."

"If I... if I screw this up, don't send me back to my mother. I'll leave; I'm not saying that. I'll get out of your house, but don't make me go back to Earth. I want to stay on Dera."

"Whoa. Gage, this offer isn't conditional. If you screw up, we'll nail your rear to the wall, but we're not going to throw you out for it. No matter what you do, you will always have a home with us. We're not perfect people, but we take care of our own."

"Do you know, if I had a time machine, I'd go back to the day I came here for Jazz's wedding, and when my parents went to take me home I'd fight them. I'd make them let me stay here, with you and Heero. Everything would have been so different..."

"I know. I wish we'd known then what we know now. We wouldn't have let them take you back if we had." He ruffled Gage's hair, which was starting to grow out. "That doesn't mean we hate your parents, or think that they're bad people. They're not. It's just... some people aren't good at raising kids. That's not an excuse, but we hope, Heero and I hope, that in time you guys will be able to talk it out, reach some kind of understanding. We want you to be close to your parents; every kid deserves that."

"How's Nadia today?" He changed the subject and Duo allowed it.

"She's great. Eating like a pig. Why don't you come down to Jazz's with me and see her?"

"Maybe later. I'm still kind of beat. Rain makes me sleepy."

"Me too." Duo yawned. "I think I'll go later as well. Get some rest." He started for the door. "Oh yeah. I'm going to talk to Wufei. The grounding stands, but I'm going to see if he'll allow Shan to come over here, or you to go over there so you can keep each other company."

"Thanks. That would be great."

"I know you've missed him."

"More than you know." Gage said sincerely. "You know, he's the first real friend I've ever had. I can talk... just about stupid stuff, and he'll listen. He won't judge me for it."

"What kinds of things do you talk about?" Duo was curious.

"God. Love. Parents. Just stuff."

"I'm glad you've found someone you can trust."

"Duo, I don't want to hurt him, or get him into trouble. I just want to see him... I want to talk to him. That's not wrong."

"No, it's not. And I'll talk to Wufei. Go finish your nap."

Duo left the room, and a moment later Shan slipped out of is hiding place. He'd finished dressing in there, and Gage felt a flash of disappointment.

"I should get back." Shan sighed.

"Yeah, you better."

Shan headed for the window, and then paused, running his hands down Gage's face. "You are the best thing that ever happened to me, Gage Drummond. We're going to make this work. We're going to find a way to be together." He opened the window and stepped out into the rain. Gage watched him vanish into the downpour, and shut the window.

Well, God? Nataku? Do either of you exist? Do either of you look at us, and what do you think?

He hesitated, and then went over to his bed, and got down on his knees.

"If anyone is out there, if anyone can here me, I don't know who you are or what to call you. But if you do exist, then you created love. Shan and I are in love, and all we want is a chance. That's all. Just a chance. Maybe I'm asking for a miracle here; just living after his father finds out will be a miracle. But if love means anything to you, and if you are real, and if you can hear me, then just grant me this. Let Shan and I have one night together. Let me hold him, make love to him, let him make love to me. Then, if you want, you can strike us both down or something. Whatever happens afterward, just let us have that night."

But God was silent, and the rain continued to beat on the roof.


Authors note: "Nadia's Theme" is also known as "Cotton's Theme". It's better known now as the theme to "The Young and the Restless." And it truly is a beautiful piece of music, and the real inspiration for Nadia's name. (Jazz probably wouldn't have minded naming her Cotton but...)

On to part nineteen. Back to part seventeen.