“No,” Wufei says from his position on the couch. He crosses his arms and sinks lower into the cushions and refuses to even look at Quatre in the door again. This is a perfectly justifiable response to the situation. They are the ex-Gundam pilots, leaders of a revolution, Preventers, and enforcers of peace in the new era. What they are not, are babysitters.
Quatre seems to think differently though, because he is standing in the doorway of their current safehouse with a child hanging off each of his arms. No, children is too mild a term. They are little monsters waiting to tear through the house and destroy all that is safe and peaceful about it. Wufei can tell. He can see in the monsters’ eyes from only his first glance that they are on a mission to be unholy terrors. Maybe it is their life’s goal, maybe just a mission from some enemy, certainly not from anyone who means them any good.
“But it’s our new assignment,” Quatre says carefully from the doorway, and Wufei is insanely glad, for a moment, that Quatre is still holding the children back. They seem to like Quatre, but they are eyeing the curtains above the couch with too much interest. “Annie and Andre’s parents promised me they were perfect angels and it’s just for a few days, maybe a week, while their parents attend the new defense conference.”
“Which is really where we should be,” Heero says from the kitchen. Wufei approves.
Sighing loudly, Quatre ushers the devils into the living room and Wufei scoots farther away from them as their eyes turn to him. “It sends a better message if we’re not there,” Quatre says. “We’ve already been over this fifteen times in the last month. I thought you’d accepted it by now.”
With a snort, Wufei says, “No, we’ve just accepted that there’s no arguing with those crazy women.”
“I thought this would be a nice change of pace,” Quatre says, looking so pathetic and sad that Wufei almost feels bad. Almost being the key word.
“Excuse me, Mister,” the little girl says, staring at Wufei with huge, brown eyes. “Are your pants made out of marshmallows? Can we eat them?”
The thing is, Quatre really did think it would be a welcome change of pace for them to have kids around the house. Not that they can get out of this particular assignment if he didn’t think that, but still. Wufei’s derision makes it even more difficult to take care of the two children than it should be. Quatre really just wishes that Duo and Trowa were home from their latest mission; Heero and Wufei aren’t the best at childcare and have left him to do most of the work.
By the second day, Quatre is worn out. Annie and Andre are very sweet, but they have so much energy. Quatre figures he has lost some of his ability to be active twenty-four hours at a time over the last few, peaceful years, but it is a little ridiculous how quickly the two children wear him out.
“Mr. Quatre,” Andre says sweetly from the side of Quatre’s bed. It is, Quatre realizes with a glance at his clock, seven in the morning, and while that isn’t an entirely unnatural hour for Quatre to rise, he is unnaturally groggy for it.
With a deep breath, not quite a sigh, Quatre turns to Andre and smiles. “Yes?” he asks, trying not to yawn.
Andre looks down at his feet, or at least Quatre assumes he looks at his feet, and mumbles something under his breath. Before Quatre can ask him to repeat himself, Andre looks up and says, “Annie’s set toaster on fire.”
Quatre almost swears as he flings the covers off and rolls out of bed, but he stops himself because he’s fairly certain someone in the house wins money whenever he does swear. Or because Andre’s in the room--that’s probably a better reason. He consoles his conscience with the fact that he’s more concerned for Annie than the toaster or the kitchen or the house.
As it turns out, Andre has exaggerated the gravity of the toaster situation. The toaster isn’t on fire, exactly, the toast is just emitting a fair amount of smoke into the tiny space of the kitchen. Annie herself looks unmoved, sitting on a stool and watching Heero curse colorfully and pick at the burnt toast--in the thankfully unplugged toaster--with a fork and knife. Heero is clearly also guilty of being insensitive about the impressionable minds of small children.
When Trowa comes home, he realizes that a) the message Quatre left him about a mission taking care of the children of diplomats is true, and b) the subsequent eighteen messages Wufei left him about the small, child-shaped demons destroying their home is also true.
In the living room, the television is blaring and a girl is sprawled across the couch, drooling sloppily into one of Duo’s favorite pillows as she sleeps. A boy sits next to the wall by the couch with crayons in both hands, stray marks across both the wall and the coloring book in front of him. A quick glance around reveals Quatre just visible in the hallway, where he seems to be scrubbing the carpeting.
Trowa makes a quick plan of attack as he sets his bag down by the pile of shoes at the door. First, he crosses to the television and turns it off and second--he’s interrupted by a startled, overjoyed, and somewhat hysterical cry from Quatre.
“Thank goodness you’re home!” Quatre says, dropping his cleaning supplies and jumping to his feet. “I woke up this morning and Wufei and Heero had left a note on the fridge saying they went out shopping but they haven’t come back--it’s been six hours--and there’s no way to reach them and nothing is going right at all and I’m so glad that you’re home.”
It takes a few seconds to process all of that, because really, Quatre is usually very articulate and precise and Trowa isn’t prepared to take in that much from him all at once--Duo, maybe, but not Quatre. “Duo will be home in a bit,” he says and Quatre looks like he might cry from happiness.
“Who are you?” the little boy asks, his crayons abandoned as he stares up at Trowa. The girl is awake now, too, watching him quietly from the couch where she is now sucking on Duo’s pillow.
“This is Trowa,” Quatre says, biting his lip nervously. That has to stop.
Trowa hasn’t ever been responsible for kids before, but he’s certainly seen and entertained enough of them in his life to know what they like. After a quick assessment of the pile of toys on the floor, Trowa rules out juggling and reaches for a pack of playing cards. “Would you like to see a magic trick?” he asks, dropping to his knees as the children loudly voice their enthusiasm for magic.
Trowa’s not certain, but he thinks Quatre swears in awe behind him. Another twenty bucks for Wufei, then.
Duo loves kids. Sometimes he forgets how much fun it is to be around children, especially when dangerous missions line up, one after another, and then leave mountains of paperwork in their trail. So he is a more than a little excited when he comes home to find Trowa sitting on the floor looking very confused as two children attempt to teach him some sort of card game.
After taking one sniff at his arm and shirt to make sure he doesn’t smell too horrific, he jumps into the middle of the action. Or the inaction. Card games aren’t actually that active. Actually, he thinks, some of them are. Trowa needs to learn a few things.
“Your hair is pretty,” Annie says after everyone’s been introduced. Duo grins and feels pretty good about that, considering his hair hasn’t been washed properly in a week.
“Yours is very pretty, too. Now, what were you teaching Mr. Trowa?” Duo asks, picking the cards out of Trowa’s hand. He probably won’t mind.
Andre looks guilty and Annie grabs all the cards back into a sloppy pile in front of her. “Nothing,” she says, nudging Andre with her elbow. He nods in agreement. They really were very sneaky. And Duo knows a lot about being a sneaky child.
Also, he knows about being a sneaky adult. “What do you like doing the best?” he asks, carefully gathering all the cards to himself and slipping them back in their box; the kids don’t even notice. Trowa stares at him in amazement and Duo grins.
“Mr. Trowa turned the TV off,” Annie says, glaring at Trowa who looks hurt at the accusation.
“Mr. Quatre took my crayons,” Andre sniffs, crossing his arms over his chest.
On cue, Quatre enters the room with an armful of books. “I thought maybe we could read for a little bit,” Quatre says. He looks awful, his hair sticking up all over the place and his shirt coming untucked. The kids making booing noises and pull faces.
“How about if I read?” Duo asks, standing up to take the books from Quatre. The children eye him warily and Duo can’t help but grin again. Damn, these kids are bright. “I do voices and everything,” he adds.
The house is unexpectedly and blissfully silent when Heero and Wufei return from their “shopping trip.” Really, they’d just gone to the library to do some work and get away from all the noise that Andre and Annie make. Heero considers for a moment that their trip might not have been required as he looks into the dimly lit living room.
The scene that greets him is even more unexpected than the silence. Duo is asleep, slumped over a children’s book in the recliner. On the floor, Quatre sleeps sprawled out with Andre’s sleeping head pillowed on his arm. And, maybe most surprisingly, Trowa is wrapped up in a blanket on the couch with a decidedly Annie-shaped growth on his side. Trowa glares at him from the couch and raises a finger to his lips to indicate silence is necessary, as if Heero would dare make any noise in this situation.
Really, it makes his chest feel a little tight and his feelings toward the children lean a little more toward fondness. In his mind, Heero can still see that little girl and her puppy, and he wonders, absently, whether they should get a dog for the kids. But, seriously, what the hell, the defense conference is over and they are taking the kids back to their parents in the morning, so why the fuck would they get them a dog. Well, Duo would probably get along with a puppy really well, anyway. Which is a ridiculous thought to have, too, because their lives are not sedentary enough to have dogs. Kids are clearly damaging to brain functionality.
Heero takes another quiet step into the room after taking his shoes off before the door bursts open loudly behind him and Wufei says angrily, “What the hell? Why are you still in the doorway?”
The peaceful scene shatters before Heero’s eyes at the loud noise, Duo falling out of his chair, and the two children jumping up with a flurry of elbows, knees, and feet that will probably leave Quatre and Trowa with more than a few bruises.
“You’re home! You’re home!” Annie chants, standing on the couch next to a groaning Trowa.
“You were shopping for a long time. Did you get ice cream? Mr. Duo promised you’d bring ice cream,” Andre says grumpily.
“Mr. Wufei, Mr. Wufei!” Annie says excitedly, “Mr. Duo said we’re having a slumber party tonight. Can I braid your hair? He said I could do yours after I did his!”
The horrified look on Wufei’s face is more than enough to convince Heero that the kids are actually heroes and should be awarded medals.