Two Divided By Zero
by Lasha Lee

Even though Gage hadn't been with them for very long, he had seeped into the house just as much as Jazz and his siblings, and it was impossible for Duo to look anywhere and not see something the boy had touched. The memories he'd left behind were strong; the strongest of all when they had asked him to stay with them.

Oh Gage, why couldn't you have trusted us a little more? We would have fought hard for you, buddy. Then again, why would you trust anyone right now? They've certainly not given you a lot to believe in.

He looked over at Milliardo and Relena, who were comforting each other, and at Wufei and Denea, who were busy arguing about who's fault it was Shan had turned out the way he had. As if that was going to solve anything. The temptation to bash all four of their heads together was overwhelming.

Luke, Linra, and Jazz had taken Meishel out to dinner. Not that the poor girl was going to be able to eat much, but it was better than moping around here and listening to her parents fight, he supposed. He wasn't happy that Meishel had allowed her brother and Gage to run away, but he understood why she'd done it. And although he didn't approve of her actions, he couldn't help being proud of the courage it had taken for her to do them.

Quatre and Trowa, along with Rosie and Rylan, had gone home. They hadn't wanted to; had offered to stay until Shan and Gage were found, but Duo argued that it could be weeks or months before that happened, if ever, and that he honestly couldn't handle worrying about them as well.

Jazz had been furious with Wufei and Denea, but it was cold, solid anger. Duo knew that Jazz remembered when he himself had run away at fifteen, determined to do what he felt was right in his heart no matter what anyone said. But Jazz had had a place to go, even if it was unknowingly with his worst enemy. And Jaf/Vire had taken excellent care of him, as well as helping him come to terms with a lot of his issues regarding Duo.

Who would take care of Shan and Gage? Who would make sure they had a warm place to sleep and hot food? Who would help them make peace with themselves about their own fathers? All they had right now was each other.

Heero wasn't home; he'd gone out to try and make use of some of his connections to try and locate the boys.

The problem was that these boys were not idiots. They knew perfectly well how the system worked, and Gage had probably figured out at least six ways around every problem by now. The boy was too clever for his own good at times, and now he had the motivation of making sure no one took Shan away from him.

"And what if we do find them?" Duo looked down at the bouncer, where Nadia was studying her fingers. "What then? They'll just run away again."

"Booot." Nadia advised.

"Boot. Boot Zechs off of Dera?" He smiled. "Believe me, that's first on my list. Any other ideas?"

She stuck out her tongue at him.

"Okay, okay, I'm on my own this time. Can't expect you to save my rear twice, I guess." He reached down and stroked one downy cheek, and the baby suddenly smiled at him, and held out her arms.

He picked her up, settling her on his shoulder. She'd put on weight, but he wasn't brave enough to tell anyone woman that. "Don't suppose you can say Grandpa yet?" He teased.

He never told anyone what happened next, because no one would have believed him. He wasn't sure he believed it himself, but Nadia turned her head and gave him an absolutely wicked look. "Baka."

He nearly dropped her in surprise. "What did you just say?"


"Oh, no, that was NOT what you said."

Nadia, looking smug, began sucking on her thumb.

The doorbell rang. "Oh, saved by the bell. We're going to talk about this." He mock-frowned at the baby. "We share DNA, you know. If I'm a baka, you're one too."

She gave him a raspberry around her thumb.

He opened the door, and again, nearly dropped the baby.

A crowd of reporters were standing in his front yard, holding microphones and cameras.

"Mr. Maxwell, is it true that the son of the Earth Tren is missing?"

"Is there any news on where he might be?"

"Is it true that he's been abducted by Chang Wufei's son?"

"Are the Wronith suspects at this time?"

"Has ransom been demanded?"

Duo tried to shut the door, but someone had a foot in it. "Get out of here! All of you!" He shouted.

Nadia, encouraged by her grandfather's bravery, leaned forward and spit up on one of the reporters. "See?" he whispered in her ear. "It's FUN being a Maxwell."

Someone was shoving him aside, and he saw that it was Relena. Her eyes were red but her face was calm. She stepped out on the porch, and held up one hand. The chattering crowd went silent.

"The facts are these." Her voice was stronger than he'd heard it since the whole incident happened. "My son, and Chang Shan, for reasons we do not care to discuss at this time, ran away together early this morning. We are following several leads, and we hope to have them both home soon. There is no foul play involved; they are not with any Wronith, and teenage boys run away all the time. This is a private, family matter, and we appreciate your understanding in this."

"Is it true that you're not Gage's real mother?" Someone asked, and Relena froze.

"Gage is my son." Relena replied carefully. "By my definition, that makes me his mother."

"According to a statement you gave to the police this morning, your brother is Gage's father." Someone else commented, and Relena froze again. Duo realized what had happened. Someone at the police station had sold them out.

He was being nudged aside again, and Milliardo was now standing beside his sister, holding on to her hand.

"Mr. Peacecraft, is Gage your son?"

"Who is his real mother?"

"Was he a test-tube baby?"

"Is he a clone?"

"My sister and I have no further comments." Milliardo led Relena back inside, and with Duo's help managed to get the door shut again.

"Thank you." Relena told her brother.

"For what?"

"For not telling them what they wanted to know."

"It's none of their business. Like you said, this is a family matter."

"And there's the little fact that your wife doesn't know." Wufei had been listening. "She might take the news better from you than hearing it on her television set."

"Probably." Milliardo agreed. "But I really don't have time to worry about that right now. One crisis at a time."

"Gage is enough of a crisis for anyone." Wufei muttered, and Milliardo glared at him. "Well, he is. I'm not making excuses for Shan, but before your son showed up, he was manageable."

"Wu..." Denea looked pale, and sick of fighting for the day.

"He's turned Shan from a sweet, innocent boy into a rebellious..." Wufei broke off.

"Say it, Wufei." Duo broke in. "Go ahead and say it. He's turned Shan into a homo. You can't see that your son has always been gay; you can't accept that so you have to immediately blame Gage for it."

"Maxwell, if I'm so homophobic then why do I associate with Heero and yourself? Or Trowa and Quatre?"

"Because you don't have a problem with other people being gay. You can just say 'it's because of how they were raised and they can't help it.' But your own son? You see it as a failure on your part, something YOU did wrong. Well, I hate to break this to you but this has nothing to do with you. Shan is what he is."

"And he IS fifteen. That is far too young for him to decide that he wants to spend the rest of his life with anyone!"

"You hypocrite." Duo laughed. "What about Pell and Adyn?"

Wufei paused. "The situations are NOTHING alike."

"Who?" Relena asked.

"Pell and Adyn. Two Wronith boys Wufei captured during the Invasion. They were lovers; and among the Wronith two men being in love is a death sentence. Wufei let them go to Seta with his friend Macus. He's been a hero to them for thirteen years now. They're still together, and just about the happiest couple I've ever met." Duo explained.

"It is not the same... they would have been killed if I hadn't given them what aid I could."

"And given a choice between death and separation, what do you think they would have picked? They risked their lives for a chance to be together and you were all for it. But Shan and Gage do the same thing, and it's the sin of the century. You need to pick an opinion."

"They're good boys." Wufei had an argument left. "They're respectful and polite. They're nothing like Gage."

"Why should Gage treat you with any more respect than you showed him?" Duo sighed. "If you'd get to know him, you'd love him as much as Heero and I do. He's a good boy too."

Heero stepped though the transporter at that moment. "Someone leaked to the press." He announced.

"We know. They're camped out on the lawn." Duo jostled Nadia proudly. "Our kiddo here puked on one." He made a face. "She need a change. Hang on."

He laid the baby down on a counter, and grabbed one of the spare diapers, pulling off the soiled one. "Wheew. Stinky baby." He waved his hand.

"I'll take that." Heero picked up the used diaper, and walked to the front door, opening it.

"Ambassador Yuy. Ambassador Yuy. Do you have a statement to make?"

"Yes I do." Heero nodded. "And here it is." He threw the diaper at the crowd and slammed the door shut.

They figured, by their calculations, that they had enough money to be able to eat for a few weeks, as long as they didn't waste it on things they didn't need. Of course, they hoped to find jobs long before then.

They were sitting now in a small restaurant, empty plates in front of them, feeling full and content. "We can spend the night in that building we found." Gage suggested. "We'll get some blankets or something."

"You don't trust me to keep you warm?" Shan teased. Here he was, in a public place, able to flirt with the guy he loved, and no one would care. The waitresses weren't even looking at them, focused on the computer's news broadcast.

"You'll be too busy protecting me from those brallies." Gage grinned at the other boy. "I swear, right now they're sharpening their little knives in anticipation."

"SHIT!" One of the waitresses suddenly yelled out, and the boys whipped around. She was pointing right at them. "It's THEM! The Tren's kid and the other one!"

"Oh fuck me." Shan muttered, jumping to his feet.

"Love to, but please control yourself." Gage grabbed his hand as they ran for the door. "This is hardly the time."

One of the other customers, a burly man, lunged forward over a table and grabbed Gage by the back of his shirt. Shan moved like lightning, kicking the table so that the edge struck the man right in the groin. He howled and released his captive, and they made it out the door. "This way." Shan pointed at a transporter in the distance.

One of the waitresses was gaining on them, no doubt visions of fat rewards dancing in her head. Gage snatched up a trashcan as they ran, throwing it backwards at her. It slowed her down, but didn't stop her. They dodged around pedestrians, who gave them startled looks. Gage, being Gage, and not able to help being Gage even at the worst of times, waved cheerfully at them, blowing kisses.

A woman was trying to wrestle a screaming toddler into the transporter when they reached it.

"WANT ICECREAM!" The little girl was protesting.

"If you run that way mommy will buy you some." Gage panted, and pointed down the street.

"YEAH!" The toddler broke free and ran as fast as she could, and the woman took off after her. "ARRICIA YOU GET BACK HERE!" she was yelling.

The boys ducked inside and slammed the door. Gage was thumbing frantically through the book. "HURRY!" Shan was trying to hold the door shut as the determined waitress fought for entry.

Gage punched in a code and the door gave way, toppling the waitress inside. But the booth was empty.

"Well, from what you've told us it had to be them." Heero sighed. "That should cover what they ate. They're not thieves; they definitely would have paid for their food if they'd had time."

But how? He wondered. Neither of them was stupid enough to use their own bank accounts.

"Sir, I apologize..." Wufei was saying to the customer Shan had injured.

"What the hell kind of kid did you raise?" The man was not in a mood to be consoled. "Damn Irnao-borns! You wouldn't see a Deran child act like that."

"Oh get over yourself." Denea snapped. "My son was born and raised on Dera!"

"Threw garbage all over me!" A waitress in stained clothing was berating Relena. "You're going to pay for my clothes; this will never come out!"

Relena, unseen, kicked her brother in the leg. Milliardo had been snickering.

"You have to admit, they're good." Duo couldn't help himself. "Better than we gave them credit for. For one thing, who expected them to come this far?"

"The question is, where are they now?" Heero sighed. "They're going to make sure they lay low from now on."

"We'll find them. I mean, they screwed up once; they're bound to screw up again." Relena shrugged. "They're only children."

"Children my ass!" The injured customer snapped. "I've seen grown men that couldn't have pulled that off."

Somehow, Duo didn't find that reassuring.

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