Two Divided By Zero
by Lasha Lee


The house was quiet the next morning when Gage awoke and hauled himself out of bed. He figured that Heero and Duo must still be asleep, worn out from their reunion, but the door to their room was open.

He stripped and jumped into the Quickbath, and then out again a second later, clean. They had them on Earth, and had since before he was born, but his parents didn't want to spoil the "effect" of the old house and had never installed one. For the same reason, they'd never installed a teleporter either. While his classmates could sleep until the last minute, he had always had to wake up early so the driver could drop him off at school. However his uncle had just about every Deran convenience one could imagine, so he was familiar with how they all worked.

He walked back to his room and unceremoniously dumped his suitcase out on the bed, pawing around until he found his favorite silk shirt and jeans. Feeling a lot more awake, he headed out to the kitchen to find something to eat.

Unfortunately, Deran food was something he was not very familiar with, and he stared perplexed at the packages and jars in the refrigerator. Nothing was polite enough to have "Eat ME for breakfast" stamped on the side, so he started pulling out things at random.

"Hungry?" An amused voice asked behind him.

He almost dropped a bottle on his foot, and turned around to see Jazz putting a basket of vegetables on the table. "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you." Jazz continued. "But if you try and cook that, you're going to end up with something that's the Earth equivalent of ketchup-topped cheesecake with beef stew filling."

"And what, my good sir, is the matter with me craving a bit of my mother's home cooking, since I am far the land of my birth, and her loving bosom?"

"Here." Jazz rummaged around and handed him a package of meat. "Fry that. It's like bacon, but I like it a lot better. We've also got some cereal in the cupboard, but Deran milk isn't all that great. Quatre sends us the evaporated stuff from Earth. There's some in that jar down there."

"What are those?" The boy pulled out a skillet, pointing at the vegetables.

"The first of my crops. My dad says that since he technically owns this land, he gets first dibs on anything I grow." He grinned wickedly. "Want to try one?"

"Sir, I assure you that poisoning me, while it may be personally satisfying, might not go over well with those who must explain to my uncle why I'm returning home in a somewhat more immobile state than I departed in."

"Oh, please." Jazz grabbed a red fruit and took a large bite out of it. "Look, see? I'm still alive."

Gage held out his hand and Jazz handed him another fruit. The boy bit into it.

"AHHHGGG!" He dropped it to the floor and grabbed the milk bottle, guzzing it as fast as he could. His mouth was on fire, and he could almost imagine the cartoon steam coming out of his ears. His eyes were watery, and dimly he could hear Jazz roaring with laughter.

"Sorry, I couldn't resist." Jazz tried to calm down. "Are you okay?"

"What, in the name of all things vile and slimy, IS that?" Gage was still breathing flames.

"Derasian Pepper. Let me explain. After you've eaten a few of them, your body develops a tolerance. They're still spicy, but not bad. But the first time, it nearly kills you. I created them myself." He added proudly. "I've got people on a waiting list to buy them."

"You sir..." Gage pointed a shaking finger. "Are an odious, evil man. Do you feel no shame in pulling such a heartless prank on a child?"

Jazz considered. "Nope."

Gage tossed the meat into the skillet. "Remind me to buy many of those from you before I return home."

"Oh, yeah, speaking of buying things, I was supposed to give you this if I saw you before my folks did." Jazz laid a card on the table. "This is an account card. You can use the number on it to order stuff from the home transporter, or buy stuff when you're out. You can also register with certain places like Minos. When you go there, they'll automatically ding your account for whatever you order. My parents have moved funds into an account just for you, you lucky little boy."

"So that's why the twins didn't pay for anything last night."

"Exactly. If they hadn't recognized them, they would have had to ask for their card number. But they know Shan and Meishel on sight. I mean, they're a little hard to forget. We've only got one other Chinese person in town besides Wufei, and she's nearly 90 and not likely to be shaking her wrinkled behind at Minos any time in the near future."

Gage took his breakfast back to the table. "Can I ask you something?"

"Fire away."

Gage explained what had happened the night before, and Shan's brief mention about the fire from his childhood. "What was all that about, anyway?"

Jazz sighed. "It's a long story."

An hour and four pans of the Deran bacon later (Jazz had been hungry as well) Gage was shaking his head. "Geez..."

"That was a rough summer." Jazz nodded. "The twins were just little things. They were way too young to understand what was going on; where their father was, why bad people were trying to hurt them, why I didn't come home. According to Wufei, Meishel kept insisting that I'd been taken by thieves."

"So what happened to these Wronith, anyway?"

"A truce was worked out with them. The fact remained, whether anyone liked it or not, that the Wronith had been wronged first. They'd settled Seta before the Derans had, and their race had been first enslaved and then exterminated. We felt their crimes since had far outweighed that, but it had to be considered.

"The Wronith agreed to leave Dera and Seta in peace, but they asked a condition. They wanted the word sent out to the women on both planets that if they wanted to go back to Wroni and do nothing but sit around popping out kids, they'd be welcome.

"A lot of women jumped at the chance. After we used some... interesting methods to make sure they were being honest with us and not going to kill the women after three kids. We haven't seen or heard from the Wronith since. Good riddance. My father's leg still looks like it went through a meat grinder."

"What about those Wronith guys Shan's father captured?"

"Pell and Adyn. They're ministers on Seta now, along with Macus. They run the first ever Setan Church of Nataku. And they consider Wufei a prophet."

Gazz snorted.

"My thoughts exactly. Denea thinks they're lunatics, but Wufei is so touched he almost can't stand it. Believe me, his ego did not need the boost."

"It bothers him that Shan is so afraid of fire." Gage pointed out.

"It bothers him a lot." Jazz agreed quietly. "But he doesn't try and do anything about it. Not since..." he paused.

"Since what?"

"Well, I guess it's okay to tell you. We never talk about it, but it's not like it's a big family secret or anything."

"What did he do?" Gage felt uneasy.

"Shan was seven years old. It was right after his birthday. Denea took Meishel and Rosie out for a "girl's day" and Shan was at home with his father.

"Wufei's study has a big fireplace, but because of Shan, Denea won't let him light it. Since she wasn't home, he figured it wouldn't hurt.

"Shan went down to the study to ask his father a question, saw the fire, and kind of freaked. I don't know what was different about that day; maybe he was under a lot of stress, maybe he hadn't gotten enough sleep. For whatever reason, Wufei just snapped.

"He grabbed Shan and carried him back to the study. He put him inside and shut the door. He held the door shut. Shan was hysterical; he was beating on it and crying for his father to let him out, but Wufei wouldn't budge. He was determined that it was for Shan's own good; that he would 'cure' him once and for all. He'd rather die than hurt that boy, though."

"He should have died for it." Gage said in a savage tone.

Jazz continued. "Shan finally passed out. Wufei opened the door and found him sprawled on the floor. His pants were soaked, and he had a knot the size of Seta on his head. He finally came to, and freaked again, this time at the sight of Wufei. He ran to his room and locked the door, and refused to come out until his mother came home."

"Denea can't have been thrilled."

"Understatement. She packed up the twins and came here. She left Wufei over it."

"But she's with him now. How could she forgive him for something like that?"

"Well, Shan was terrified of him at first. Denea told Wufei that until Shan could find it in his heart to forgive him, than neither would she. And Meishel didn't want anything to do with him either. If you haven't figured out, those twins share a single brain at times."

"How long were they here?"

"Almost a month. It was that long before Shan would even speak to his father, let alone allow himself to be in the same room with him. But he's a good boy, and he has a big heart, and he forgave Wufei in time. Before the rest of us did, actually. For a while, I hated him for it."

Gage felt his initial dislike of Wufei crystallize into a pure loathing. He didn't care how long ago it was, or for that matter that Shan had been willing to forgive and forget. Some crimes were beyond forgiveness. He should have never been allowed neither either of the twins again.

"I'd consider it a favor if you didn't tell Shan I told you this." Jazz added. "It would stir up some bad memories."

"Tell him what?" Gage asked innocently. "Were you saying something?"

"Exactly."

"So where are your most esteemed elders today, Mr. Maxwell?"

"At Luke's school spending the day with him. They're hoping to coax him into coming home for a visit, but he's really into his studies. You'll like him; he's a little quiet but he's got a wicked sense of humor. It's just a lot more subtle than mine."

Jazz glanced at the clock. "And speaking of Luke, I'm supposed to be meeting them. The codes for the transporter are next to it. Order whatever you like to eat, and help yourself to the VR." He grabbed the last piece of meat. "See ya."

There was a good feeling to the house, Gage decided, glancing around the empty kitchen. An accepting feeling. It was only a fraction of the size of his own home, and he thought that maybe that's why the family was so close. It was difficult to go off and find somewhere to hide. It must have been really crowded when all four kids had been growing up here.

His memory took him back...

How old had he been? Six, seven? Still young. His parents had gone away for a week and he had been with his aunt and uncle and cousins and only recently come back home.

Amy had been about fourteen and Megan had been eleven or twelve, by his counting. Megan, picking up on her mother's dislike of Gage, had avoided him whenever she could and told him he was disgusting when she could get away with it.

But Amy had been okay. She was more like Uncle Milliardo in attitude if not appearance, and Gage realized now that she had felt sorry for him. Even when he broke her favorite old doll by accident she hadn't gotten upset and yelled; she'd just asked him to please help her glue it back together, and that had been fun.

But the best thing about Amy was that she had read to him. She had a book collection to rival any library. She had tried for years to interest her sister, but Megan's tastes ran more to make-up and boys and always had. So when she noticed Gage shared her love of the written word, she had been overjoyed.

They'd only had time for her to read him one book completely, and that had been "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe." Gage had been completely enchanted by the tale.

"Do you think Narnia really exists?" He had asked her.

She'd reached over and hugged him. "Sometimes, little cousin, when I've had a bad week, believing that Narnia exists is the only thing that makes me get out of bed in the morning."

"But you've never found it, right?"

"No, but that's because I'm always looking for it, even if I don't know that I am."

"I don't understand."

"That's one of the rules of Narnia. If you're looking for a way in, you won't find it. You'll find the entrance when you least except it."

She had let him take the book home, although he was still too young to be able to read most of it. (As soon as he was able, he had read the entire series and found that it never lost its enchantment for him.)

But now he was back at home, in the big mansion. His parents were downstairs talking, and after his uncle's house he was lonely and bored.

He thought about Narnia and the urge to go there was so overwhelming that he wanted to cry. He was sure that his life would be better there. It had to be better. A part of him understood that Narnia wasn't real, but it was out-weighed by the part that said it just might be.

So he'd taken off to go and find it.

First he searched the closets in his own room and then his parents' bedroom. Then the guest rooms. Nothing.

It came to him that the door to Narnia might not be in such an obvious place. It might be where someone never went. Like the locked wing.

The rooms to the back of the house were locked up because there was no need to open them. The rest of the house had room enough to accommodate anyone who came to stay there.

So Narnia might be there. The question was how to get in.

He thought for a minute, and then went down to where his parents were sitting. His father smiled at him, but his mother looked annoyed.

"We're busy, Gage. Go play."

"I need your keys."

"Huh?"

"I want to go to the other rooms."

"Gage, don't be silly. There's nothing in those rooms you could possibly need.""

"Yes there is!" He'd stamped his foot.

"What? What do you think is in there?"

He muttered something.

"I didn't hear you."

"Narnia." He said sulkily. "I'm trying to find Narnia."

His mother had looked at him like he was a lunatic but his father had laughed. "Come on, Gage. Let's go look for it."

And for a moment, for a wonderful moment, Gage had felt a warmth seep into him. His father believed in Narnia! He was going to help Gage find it. Together they'd gone into the locked rooms and began to look under beds and in closets. Gage was busy making plans. They'd go to Narnia together and find Aslan. Aslan would help them find a place to live and they'd meet Susan and Peter and the other children. He was beside himself with joy.

Then his father had knelt next to him. "Well, Gage, we haven't found anything. Do you know why?"

"Cause we were wanting to find it?" He asked.

His father shook his head. "Gage, that's because there's no such thing as Narnia. It's a fairytale. You can't get into it from a closet or under a bed because it just doesn't exist."

"It does too!" Gage felt his dreams shatter like ice.

"When we're little, it's okay to believe in fantasies. But you're getting to be a big boy now, and you need to accept some pretty hard facts. One of them is that we live in the real world and that's what we need to pay attention to, and not waste our time believing in things that just aren't."

Gage, his eyes filled with tears, pulled away from his father. "It is real. And I'll find it someday, and when I do, I'll never come back!" He had run back to his own room and cried himself to sleep.

Now the teenager shook himself. He wondered if Jazz had ever looked for Narnia. He had a feeling that he had, and that Duo had been right there looking with him, the difference being that Duo believed they just might find it. He couldn't image Wufei poking around under beds with the twins, but Jazz probably had. No wonder they loved him so much.

He stood up, amused at his sudden desire to see Shan and Meishel again. Maybe Dera wasn't Narnia, but it definitely had its selling points.

He headed for the transporter.


On to part nine. Back to part seven.