Two Divided By Zero
by Lasha Lee


There had been a homosexual boy on his colony. Oh, there had probably been more than that, but only one that Wufei could remember. His name had been Jiang Ling-Mu and he had been wretched. Bigger than other boys his age, and meaner. Ling-Mu hated women to the degree that he considered them only useful for reproductive purposes. Only a man, he insisted, was a suitable match for another man, and he had spent much of his time trying to convince the other boys that this was so. He wasn't a molester, but he was persistent.

He'd never bothered Wufei; the small, bookish boy had been beneath his interest. His main target was another boy, named Kong Dian-Wei. Dian-Wei had not been an overly bright boy but he was good natured and loved sports and the outdoors.

Wufei rolled over in his bed, knowing the memories were going to come, powerless to stop them.

Ling-Mu hounded poor Dian-Wei constantly, until the very foundation of the other boy's beliefs had been shattered. What the final straw had been, no one knew. Something had happened between them, and whatever that something was had caused Dian-Wei to go home that evening and hang himself.

No one could prove that Ling-Mu had done anything (although Wufei suspected now that Dian-Wei had been checked carefully for signs of sexual assault and that none had been found.) Ling-Mu's family had gone to a different part of the colony soon after, and he knew that the boy had died when everyone else had. His loss to the universe was minor. As far as Wufei and Dian-Wei's friends had been concerned, Ling-Mu was nothing but a murderer.

And now his own son was going through the same thing. Shan was so innocent, so naïve. He'd never been in love before; he had nothing to compare it to. How easy it must have been for Gage to convince him that he was gay, that he wanted it. Although he had not appreciated Gage's attentions toward Meishel, he had had faith in his daughter's ability to see through a slick veneer and not be taken in.

He had never thought, though, that his true fears should have been with his son's heart and not his daughter's.

He had failed. He had been blind to what was happening to his boy, and Shan had paid the price for it. Well, never again. He'd protect Shan from poor Dian-Wei's fate even if he had to dig out the wrist tethers he and Denea had used on the twins when they were toddlers.

He finally gave up on sleep and climbed out of bed, tucking the blankets around Denea as he left. It was still early, not quite six, but he was too restless to sit still.

What he needed, what they needed, was a chance to reconnect. Away from distractions, away from the meddling Maxwell clan. Just himself and his son.

Yes, that was it. He'd take Shan to Seta for a little while. Denea would understand. They'd spend a few weeks on the beach, and have a chance to communicate. He was sure that if he had the chance, he could make the stubborn child listen to reason.

His mind made up, he felt as if a great weight had been lifted off of his shoulders.

He headed up the stairs, smiling. Shan was an early riser; if the boy was awake he'd tell him the plans now. They could leave by this evening. Oh, Shan would sulk and protest at first, but he would make it clear that he WAS going, and no was not an acceptable answer.

The door to Shan's room was propped open, but to Wufei's surprise he was not inside. "Shan?" He called out.

"You'll have to yell louder than that." Came the reply from Meishel's room. "He's not here."

He walked to her door, which was open ajar. "Oh? Where is he?"

"Damned if I know." Meishel was propped up in her bed with a book, but he noticed that her eyes were red. "He ran away last night."

"Meishel, that's not funny."

"Who's trying to be funny?" The girl asked with a shrug. "He packed his things and booked last night. He and Gage ran away together."

Wufei felt his panic starting to rise. "Shan... gone? With Gage?" He sputtered. "YOU LET HIM GO??"

"Of course I let him go." She gave him a bored look. "I told him good luck. Oh, I found this on his bed. I haven't opened it." She offered him a crisp white envelope.

His hands shaking with rage at his daughter and fear for his son, Wufei opened Shan's letter.

Dear Everyone:

We've had enough. Gage and I are out of here. See you in three years.

Shan

That was it. Three small sentences. No apologies, no accusations, no regrets.

Compared to Earth, Dera was enormous. And somewhere on this planet was his fifteen-year-old son, accompanied only by a fifteen-year-old criminal.

"DENEA!" he bellowed.


"Animal." Duo laid on his back, running his fingers up and down Heero's spine. "Here I just woke up and you're ready to tire me out again."

Heero was dropping kissing on his chest. "Uh huh."

"Okay, but you've got to make me breakfast afterward. If you're going to get me up this early I want something more to show for it than an aching backside."

"I'll make you any breakfast you want." Heero promised, pulling the blanket up so that it covered both of their heads. "But I've got a little something to whet your appetite first."

Before Duo could inquire just as to what that might be, and how he might obtain a sample, the phone next to their bed chimed.

They froze. "I swear, if that's Peacecraft again..." Duo muttered, reaching out for the phone blindly, still under the blankets. "I've seen less tenacious bloodhounds..." He pulled the receiver to his ear. "This better be good."

"What?" He pulled it back. "Wu? Calm down. He did WHAT? Gage did... are you sure? Oh my god... come on over right now!" He hung up the phone and jumped out of bed, pulling on his pajama bottoms. "Heero, go hit accept for the transporter. Shan's run away and Gage has gone with him."

As Heero went to let the Chang's in, Duo ran to Gage's room, hoping that Wufei had been wrong, hoping that it was all a mistake or a joke.

The note on Gage's pillow made the reality all too clear.

Dear Heero and Duo.

This is in no way to be taken as an insult to your hospitality. The two of you have been wonderful to me, more than wonderful. Far more wonderful than I deserved.

But to stay here any longer increases my risk of being taken away from Shan, and that is not an option. I cannot leave him, or live without him, any more than the two of you could live long without the other.

By the time you read this, Shan and I will both be gone. Don't try and find us because you won't. It's not forever, but it must be goodbye for now. I hope the next three years are good to you, and that they are filled with nothing but happiness. As long as Shan and I are together, ours will be.

Thank you for showing me how good it could feel to be part of a real family.

Tell my father to go back home, back to those he chose over me: his wife and his daughters. Tell him to love them, take care of them, and to keep the secret of my true paternity from them at all costs. For you see, until the other night, I believed him to be god, and the loss of that is crippling. And the only gift I have to give to my sisters is a request that they not be faced with the same disillusionment. Let them go on thinking that their father is flawless.

Gage

Duo squeezed his eyes, trying to hold back the tears. He heard Wufei now, ranting in the living room, and suddenly he was angry, furiously angry. He felt something long buried rising within him, something that was half Shinigami and half father. He loved those boys; Shan was his nephew in all ways but blood, and Gage... Gage was as dear to him as his own children now.

He stormed into the living room, and Wufei froze at the look on his face, taking a step back. Denea was there as well, but to his surprise, Meishel was not.

Just when the tension could not seem to rise any more, there was a pounding on the front door. Duo handed Gage's letter to Heero, and jerked it open.

Milliardo was standing on the doorstep, glaring at him. "I'd like to see my son." He greeted Duo.

"Yeah pal? So would I!" Duo shot back. "But that's not likely to happen anytime soon!"

"What are you talking about?" Milliardo pushed him aside and entered the house. "GAGE!" he called.

"He's gone, dipshit!" Duo yelled back. "Thanks to you!" He grabbed the note from Heero. "READ THIS!"

Milliardo scanned it quickly. "Have the police been called yet?" His rage drained, replaced by a look of stark terror.

"Not yet. We just found out a few minutes ago." Heero sighed. "What time did they leave?" He directed his question at Wufei.

"Sometime last night. Meishel KNEW! She knew he was leaving and she just let him go!" Denea was furious. "You know what she told me? She said that she hoped we never find them."

"I suppose Gage kidnapped Shan?" Milliardo was asking Wufei sarcastically.

"No." Wufei did not rise to the bait. He suddenly looked much older. "No one forced my son to do anything. He left of his own free will. That's what he's been trying to tell me all this time, that he's got a mind of his own. But he's so young..."

Denea put her arm around him. "He's a smart kid. We're going to find him, and he's going to be just fine."

Milliardo looked paler than usual, and he was staring at the letter in his hand, as if willing it to vanish. "He ran because of me..."

"He was terrified that you were going to take him away." Heero said gently. "We tried to reassure him that you'd do that over our dead bodies, but I guess he wasn't convinced."

"I'll call the police." Duo offered. "Why don't you sit down? All of you."

Milliardo gave him a curious look. "I'll go back to hating you once the boys are safe." Duo explained with a half-smile. "Jazz ran away when he was Gage's age; I've been here before. We need to focus on what's important."

He began to dial.


The police were kind but thorough, asking for pictures of the boys as well as DNA samples. Milliardo was surprised at that, but Duo explained that any time anyone applied for a job or sought medical attention, their DNA was scanned against a data base to make sure they weren't wanted criminals. Or runaway kids. Gage's hairbrush had supplied what they needed for him, and Denea had gone home for Shan's. She returned a moment later, followed by her daughter. Meishel was clearly not in a mood to be helpful, and stood glowering at all of them.

"We'll find them." The first officer, a middle-aged woman, promised. "Most kids come home on their own, once the romance wears off and reality sets in. Being cold and hungry isn't something they ever count on."

They left with the samples and pictures, promising to keep in touch, leaving the family alone with their own raging feelings.

"He's so angry." Wufei's voice was nearly dead. "I knew he was upset, but I never thought..."

"No, Baba, you didn't think, did you?" Meishel snapped. "You didn't leave him a choice. And I hope you DON'T find them."

"Meishel." Heero warned. "This isn't the time..."

"It's true. They deserve better." She had her hands on her hips. "And you!" She pointed at Milliardo, who looked both shell-shocked and startled. "Who do you think YOU are? You think just because you slept with some tramp it makes you a father?" She was in his face now (well, as close to his face as she could get, as her head did not even reach his armpit) shaking her finger. "YOU drove them to this! You and my own father! Well, I hope you're satisfied, because right now my brother is out there with no food and no money, and no way to take care of himself. Maybe that means nothing to you, but it means everything to me!"

Milliardo blinked. "Well..." he said after a moment. "You are definitely Chang's daughter."

"Hey, if you want to trade insults, I'm game." She offered. "But not now. NOW I'm going to go tell Jazz what's happened. And if you think I'M mad at you, you ain't seen nothing yet!"


They'd traveled most of the morning, until the heat of the day and exhaustion finally caught up with them. Although they had enough money to stay at a hotel, they were hesitant to spend any they didn't have to.

Which was why they were now laying in the dust and gloom of a deserted building, trying to get as comfortable as possible on a buggy mattress.

They were quiet for a long time, just holding each other, their feet throbbing, when Shan asked "What are you thinking about?"

Gage sighed. "I'm thinking, Shanny Boy, that this was a mistake."

"Huh?"

"Look at us. Look where we are." He pointed. "Look what I've done to you. You should be at home, with your parents. Not living like this. It wasn't supposed to be like this at all."

"Gage, it's not like we're planning on moving in here." Shan shushed him. "We're far enough now that it's safe to try and find jobs. It'll have to be something under the table, but we both know how to do farm work. There are tons of farms around here, and they probably won't ask a lot of questions." He rested his head on Gage's chest. "I'm here because I want to be. Because I love you."

"It is just for now." Gage promised, holding him tightly. "Someday, you know what we'll have? We'll live in a big house, one that you and Meishel designed. And you two will be famous, making lots of money from your company."

Shan felt sleep tapping him on the shoulder, asking him politely to cut in, but he ignored it for a minute. "What'll you be doing?"

"I don't know." Gage yawned. "Maybe have my own nightclub or something. And after it closes at night, and everyone has gone home, we'll turn the lights low, and turn on the music, just for us. And we'll have the whole dance floor to ourselves. And we'll know something no one else does; that we've made love on every single table in the joint."

Sleep tapped Shan harder, getting impatient. Shan asked him to wait another minute.

"Sounds nice." He muttered. "Don't forget the chairs as well."

"You're ambitious." Gage noted.

Shan finally gave in to sleep and his dreams were peaceful. He was able to forget, for just a little while, how truly afraid he really was right now.


On to part twenty-seven. Back to part twenty-five.