Two Divided By Zero
by Lasha Lee

"She restless?"

Duo watched from the doorway as Jazz danced slowly around the room, Nadia laying on his chest.

"Not really. She's a quiet one. She only cries as a last resort, but it's so funny. It's like she expects us to completely anticipate what she's going to need before she needs it, and if she has to cry to tell us, she looks so indignant."

Duo laughed softly. "Not like you. You started yelling if you thought there was even the slightest chance you might be hungry in the next few minutes. We were zombies for months, your mom and I. But as long as you had what you needed, you were a happy baby." He walked up to them and rubbed Nadia's back gently. "And you were evil. Be glad you have a girl; you and Luke both would wait until we got the diaper off to cut loose. Shan did the same thing to Wufei."

Duo was silent for a moment. "I came here for a couple of reasons. I know that Shan has always trusted you more than just about anyone else, and if something... well, you'd know. On the other hand, I don't expect you to betray a confidence."

"What's on your mind, Pops?"

"Ummppasss?" Nadia muttered against Jazz's chest. That could have meant anything from "Tell us, Grandpa." to "Are you here again? Don't you have a house of your own?"

"I went to talk to Gage earlier. He hadn't been outside all day, but there was a nice big puddle on his floor, and the curtains were wet. Now why would he have opened the window on a day like this?"

"Pops, this is Gage. Who knows?"

"Possibly to let Shan in?"

"Possibly." Jazz shrugged. "They're best friends; it's not easy on them being kept apart. And Wu and Denea are gone for the day; he could have snuck over. I don't think it's any big deal if he did."

"That's not what concerns me." Duo sat down on the rocker, gathering his thoughts. "I asked Gage earlier what he liked about Shan. He just lit up; I don't think he even realized it. But that look on his face... guys do not look like that when they're talking about another male friend. Even a best friend."

"What are you saying?" Jazz kissed Nadia and laid her down in her crib, turning on the mobile.

"Jazz, is there something going on between those boys? Something more than friendship?"

Jazz did not reply.

"I see..."

"Pops, if hypothetically there was something going on, and I'm not saying that there is, what would you do? Keep them apart? Make sure they couldn't see each other again? Send Gage back to Earth?"

"Of course not. We'd want them to be responsible about it, but we didn't stop you and Linra from seeing each other. The attempts at sex we had a problem with, but the love we didn't. I'd encourage it the best I could."

"Suppose, hypothetically, that while they could count on your support, other parties might not be so thrilled."

"I'd say that even if I disagree, it's not my place to control how someone else raises their child. If those other parties forbid their son to see Gage, then there wouldn't be anything I could do except make him respect that."

Jazz stood staring down at Nadia, smiling. "You know what we would have done? Linra and I? If you had told us that we couldn't be together?" He turned around. "We would have run away. We would have gone so fast and so far that you would have never found us. Our love was strong, even back then. We would have done whatever it took for us to be together. If you had forbid us, you would have lost us." He sighed. "I hope that other parties, assuming there was something going on, stop to think about that. That sharing their child with someone they don't like might be better than losing him all together."

"We don't always think rationally where our children are involved though. Especially when we believe it's for their own good." Duo pointed out.

"Maybe not." Jazz admitted. "My Bunny Girl here has made me irrational since the very beginning. But I know that if she's lucky enough to find someone who loves her as much as I love her mother, then I'd want her to fight for that love. And I'd fight beside her. Love doesn't make you rational either."

"So, assuming that Gage and Shan were interested in each other, what advice would you give me?"

"Well, you and Heero sat him down and talked to him about the house rules, right?"

"Right. No sex until he's 18, in our house, or anyone else's house, or the fields, or wherever else he might decide to try and score."

"Okay. He knows where you stand. Will he respect that? Who knows? I know that he likes you. He respects you. But he's fifteen. If Linra and I had decided that we were going to have sex, then we would have had sex. In the end, it wasn't you who stopped us. Or Ojisan. It was our own fear. We knew that we weren't ready for Nadia yet." He sighed. "But take away that fear for a minute. Take away any chance of having a baby, or any repercussions except for maybe a middle-aged, hysterical Chinese man trying to cut off your head, both heads. Those are pretty good odds. If Linra and I had had odds like that, we might have risked it."

"Risked what?" Linra asked from the doorway.

"What are you doing up? You're not supposed to be moving around yet." Jazz scolded.

"Oh hush, it's been weeks. I'm fine." She leaned against the wall. "And I'm going bonkers in there. Now, what would we have done?" She folded her arms.

"Slept together, if we knew there weren't any risks of having a baby."

"Oh, absolutely." Linra agreed. "I'd have jumped your bones in a minute."

"You aren't making me feel any better." Duo protested.

"Just trying to be honest. It's a hypothetical situation anyway, remember?"

"I think I'm going to go home and hypothetically nail that window shut." Duo muttered.

"Pops, you can't watch him every second. Do your best, but if something does happen, remember what I said. You can't stop someone if they're determined enough. And you had another ace with me; I was a virgin. I didn't know what I was missing. Gage isn't."

He walked up to Linra and put his arm around her, kissing her cheek. "What you cannot do is go to Wufei with your theories. Because he'll form his own and all hell will break lose. Hypothetically speaking, you're in position of great power right now. You're holding two hearts in your hands; you can carry them or drop and break them. And Pops, you don't have a cruel bone in your body."

"Sometimes I wish I did. It would make things a whole lot easier." He gave Jazz an amused look. "Who told you that you could get so smart?"

"Ma's DNA?" Jazz teased.

"Must have been. Thanks for listening, big guy."

"Any time." the young man smiled. "Just remember what I said. Because assuming that those boys are in love, then it's safe to assume that maybe I've never seen two people as crazy about each other."

"That's what I'm afraid of."

Duo had laid the charm thickly on Denea and Wufei, and in the end they had caved in and agreed that the boys could spend time together provided it was in one of three places: the fields, the Chang house, or the farmhouse. So once again, they were spending every second together, much to Wufei's dismay. He had hoped that the semi-separation would somehow purge Shan's desire to associate with the troublesome boy, and that he would realize his time was spent much more productively studying for the upcoming school year.

Well, he was, but not in the way Wufei had intended.

The boys were in the living room, with books piled around them. Since Gage was going to be attending school here, Shan was trying to get him ready for it. He might have a few problems going from one education system to another, but it wasn't anything they couldn't work around.

"Baba teaches Earth history. He's a tough grader, but he's pretty fair." Shan was saying. "If you pay attention, you'll do okay."

Wufei made a noise under his breath.

"History was one of my best subjects back home." Gage glanced back down at the book. "Not the greatest in the world at math, I guess. What I really loved was sociology. Human behavior is a trip and a half."

Wufei made another noise of derision.

"I take it, Mr. Chang, that you do not find that subject as fascinating as I do?"

"It's not accurate. It's full of flaws and holes, like psychology." Wufei snorted. "It generalizes people too much."

"I disagree. I believe that people will behave as people no matter what the circumstances. How else do you explain, besides the racial memory, the similarities between Dera and Earth? The humans were the same, so the behaviors were the same. The family structure, for example."

"The racial memory, as you said."

"What about the tendency for people associate and mate only within their own race?"

"Another generalization. My wife and I are clearly not the same race."

"But your first wife was, Shan tells me. And you must admit that it's rare. Most people stick to what they know, and children like yours are the exception and not the rule."

"There are traditions..."

"Exactly my point! We are slaves to our traditions and taboos. Take the taboo on clothing."

"Excuse me?"

"We have been conditioned that walking down the street with our bottoms bared to the world is wrong. Even if there were suddenly no legal consequences, most of us could not bring ourselves to break that taboo. It's too well-ingrained.

"However, there are places where its not a taboo and no one thinks anything about it. Humans will tend to follow the behavior considered acceptable by the group at large, even when it's against their own beliefs."

"That's a valid point, but what about those who flaunt taboos? Like yourself?" Wufei shot back.

"I'm a deviant; I follow my own rules. Which led to my interest in the subject, if you must know. I was curious; what was different about me? What led me to recognize the restrictions placed on me, and yet not be bound to follow them?"

"And what did you come up with?" Wufei asked sarcastically.

"There could be any number of reasons for it. Genetics or environment. I certainly had no financial disadvantages to speak of. The answer I came up with is that in any society, there are mutations."

"Gage, you are not a mutant." Shan protested.

"That's kind of you, but you are alone in your assessment." He was staring at Wufei.

"Well, whatever you are, you're not stupid." Wufei forced himself to admit.

"I've always been studious little boy. My grades have never suffered for my lack of ethics. I can assure you that if I do end up under you tutelage, Mr. Chang, that you will have no worries on that end. I shall put our personal differences aside and to put it bluntly, work my ass off."

"You'd better. I expect nothing but the best from my students." Wufei warned.

"And if more people did, the educational system would be far above what it is today." Gage agreed. "Half an effort is not good enough, especially for an educator."

"Oh, don't worry." Shan grumbled. "He'd extend the school day three hours if he could."

"You mentioned that you were adequate at history." Wufei said thoughtfully.

"I'm not adequate, I'm excellent. Of course, you do have me at one disadvantage, that you would be kind to consider. Your students remember everything that you say to them. I am not, as Shan pointed out to me the other day, Deran."

"Quite a few of my students were born on Earth, or have Earth parents. I understand that they cannot learn the same way a Deran student would. Young man, I've been a teacher for a very long time now. I do know how."

"Well, then we'll have nothing to worry about." Gage said cheerfully.

Wufei did not look convinced. Shan bit his lip. He'd never seen them go this long without getting into it. Maybe there was hope for the future.

The older man watched the boys for a minute, their heads together over the book again, and then went into his own study, closing the door behind him.

Gage puzzled him, and he disliked puzzles. He liked his world to be straight-forward, laid out perfectly before him, with all the pieces where they were supposed to go. Duo called him anal retentive, but he simply disliked chaos. He'd seen way too much of it as a boy.

The fact that Gage was a good student had startled him; he'd expected the boy to be barely squeaking by. And Gage would not have lied about something so easily verified. So there was at least something that he cared about and made an effort toward, no matter how careless he seemed in other areas.

He didn't like Gage Drummond, and he didn't trust him, but maybe he was being just a tad too judgmental. He'd clearly lacked any discipline on Earth. And he could make derogatory remarks about Heero and Duo as much as he wanted, but they were excellent parents; all of their children had turned out wonderfully. Perhaps they could, if not correct all of Gage's abhorrent behavior flaws, at least leech some of the criminal out of him.

And he would help, he decided. If Shan was so determined to be friends with Gage, then he could make an effort to train Gage to be someone that he wouldn't object to his son associating with. Once school started, he would have free reign with the young hooligan. A challenge. It had been a while since he'd had a good challenge. He would reform Gage Drummond; single-handedly if need be.

He sat down in his chair, wondering exactly where he should start.

And if he had opened the door to his study, he would have found that his work was definitely cut out for him; the books had been pushed aside, and all that the boys were interested in studying at the moment were each other.

The party was three days away.

On to part twenty. Back to part eighteen.