Originally published in 2000. Undergoing revision since 2008.
Space Colony L2
Four weeks paid vacation.
Four whole weeks.
It all sounded real fine and dandy to one Duo Maxwell, who, for the past month, had been teetering on the precipice overlooking that endless void of executive insanity. When he had been delivered the news, a dance of joy was later performed in the office of his superiors to a captive audience. His superiors, or what remained of them after the whole Christmas fiasco last year, were willing to do anything at this point to get the destructive, maniacal pilot out of their hair for a while, even if that included a paid holiday.
A Trailer Somewhere
“Don’t eat too much of that stuff or else your mouth will chafe.”
Trowa Barton looked across the breakfast table at his sister Catherine and ate his bowl of Major Munch® in silence.
“I don’t know how you can stand to eat it anyway,” she went on. “It’s got no nutritional value. The circus sells healthier food than that junk.”
“I didn’t buy it,” said Trowa.
“Well I didn’t buy it, either.”
“Maybe J.J. bought it.”
“Trowa, J.J. is a tricycle-riding Beagle. What do you think, he just pedaled down to Publix because he was in the mood for cereal?”
Trowa shrugged and went to pour another helping. Suddenly a plastic-wrapped something fell out of the box and into his bowl. He picked it up.
“What’s that?” asked Catherine.
“Huh. It looks like I won something.”
Somewhere in the L1 Colony Cluster
It was a very large bomb. Larger than he would have liked. Actually, it wasn’t large at all, but the combination of C4 and nitroglycerin wired up to the detonator made it large in the largest of ways, especially if he were to accidentally trip the countdown mechanism. That made the bomb larger than life in this case, and probably larger than death, too. Dismantling it would be a meticulous process. The slightest disturbance could blow him straight to Kingdom Come and all the way through to Kingdom Gone. In convenient, bloody, bite-size pieces.
The room was dim. A bare light bulb hung above his head, burning through the back of his skull. He held the red wire with a pair of tweezers. He brought the scissors down. Slowly . . . slowly . . .
The phone shrieked in Heero’s ear, and the poor bastard nearly exploded. He fell off his stool and thudded onto the concrete floor with a dismayed snarl. Why he had a phone was anyone’s guess, because nobody called him since Heero didn’t have any friends, and the friends he did have he didn’t want.
He grabbed the receiver and put it to his ear in time to hear a male voice sing, “Hello hello baby you called I can’t hear a—”
“Who is this, and how did you get this number?”
“It’s Duo, man! You know: long braid, cassock, jodhpurs? Shot you when we first met? Loyal friend and ally who—”
“I know who you are, Maxwell, you idiot.”
“Oh, good. Saves me the trouble of introducing myself. How goes it, ol buddy ol pal?”
“Oh, fine, fine. Couldn’t be better. I’m just dismantling a bomb that could take out half a city block, nothing impor—”
“You on vacation, too? I heard you were taking it easy over there.”
“Who told you that lie? I’m working, which is more than I can say for some people I know—”
“Oh, pipe down. Trowa won five tickets in a box of Major Munch for an all-expenses-paid trip to Saint Abalone Island in the South Pacific. Think, Heero: sun, fun, all-you-can-eat lobster buffets, slot machines and blackjack, hot babes in bikinis puttin’ on suntan lotion—don’t you tell me you aren’t tempted by that—and most importantly—”
Heero pulled the phone from his ear as he heard Duo’s tinny voice scream, “NO WORRRRRK!”
He put the phone back to his ear as Scotsman William Wallace bellowed, “And it’s FUH-REEEEE!”
He switched ears. “Thank you for that lovely and tempting invitation, Duo. No need to worry. I have another ear.”
“You beast. That was cold.”
Heero grinned his trademark grin of reckless abandon and toyed with a set of needle nose pliers. “I’m the King of Cold,” he said.
“You aren’t, won’t not be for long youse ain’t not by a long shot!” Duo spouted, ignoring the quintuple negative run-on sentence in wrong tense he just uttered. “You’re takin’ a vacation (haha, that rhymed) if I have to come over there and break your arms and legs—and maybe your ribs if I feel the need—although you can probably just pop those back into place. Can you?”
“I can. Double jointed ribs.”
“Rats. Well, so much for that idea. C’mon, man! We need you.”
“Why, Duo. I’m touched.”
“Shut up. You need a break. Please. Come with us and I promise I’ll leave you alone for the rest of the year.”
“You swear it?”
“Man, don’t you remember my frickin’ motto?! I may run and hide but I never—”
“Never mind. You swear on your mother’s good name?”
“I don’t know my mother’s name. I’m an orphan.”
“You’re an orphan too, Heero. We might be brothers, separated at birth—”
“The hell we are. I think I’d shoot myself first. Or shoot you. Or divorce you.”
“You can’t do that! I haven’t finished paying off your engagement ring yet!”
Silence on the other end. Duo thought he heard a clip being loaded into a handgun.
“Well, me and the boys are gonna meet up at the Honolulu International Spaceport tomorrow and drive down to the harbor to catch the cruise out to Saint Abalone. The boat leaves at 1600 hours, so you better start packing now. Oh and Heero?”
“Leave your guns at home this time.”
“I mean it, Heero. It’s hell trying to get through customs.”
“The last time all of us went anywhere with you, Quatre got molested by a security guard and I got a free cavity search.”
“Yes, I remember that.”
“I couldn’t shit right for a week.”
“I remember that, too.”
“Really nice of you to tell my co-workers I was on sick leave because of a goatse-related accident, by the way. I really appreciate it.”
“Your best interest is always in my mind, Duo.”
“Sure it is. Hasta mañana, Hermione.”
Heero hung up the phone, then froze. It took a full minute for the reality of what he had actually done to register in his head. When it finally did, he slapped a hand to his forehead and groaned, “Oh no.”
“—everybody’s goin’ SURRRFIN’! Surfin’ You Es Ay! Round round, get around, I get around! Get around, woo-ooo, I get arou—”
“Pull over, Duo. I’ve got the dry heaves.”
“You shut your pie hole, Barton. It’s not like you can sing any better.”
The tall, lanky brunette straightened himself. “Actually, I’m quite a gifted musician, and I studied song and chorus at Berklee for four years.”
Duo narrowed his eyes. “Tell ya what, I’ll ignore that last part and you can keep all your teeth, how’s that sound?”
“Sounds like Bob Dylan doing a Yoko Ono impersonation,” Trowa muttered as he hunched in the passenger seat of the drop-top military Hummer Duo was driving and crossed his arms. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.”
“Please, fellas. Can’t we all get along?” Quatre, sitting in the back, leaned between the front seats with a friendly smile. “It’s been ages since we’ve been able to get together like this, so why don’t we . . . Wufei, is that a seppuku blade you’re sharpening?”
Wufei, seated beside Quatre, stuffed the blade behind his back. “No. Maybe. It’s for cutting vegetables.”
“It’s a seppuku blade, isn’t it. Give it here!”
“Give it here now!”
“It’s my own life! I can kill myself if I want!”
“I don’t like bloodshed!” Quatre cried.
“Which is ironic, considering you’ve got a vagina.”
“I do not have a vagina! Take it back!”
“It’s probably a big ugly hairy one, too. With warts.”
“TROWAA!” Quatre sang. “MAKE WUFEI STOP!”
“Don’t let him bother you, Quat. I’m sure you’ve got a lovely vagina.”
“Thar she blows!” Duo declared, and spiked the brakes with both feet. The vehicle stopped, but its occupants were still traveling at 65 mph. All three passengers were sent hurtling forward until their safety belts abruptly strangled them.
Wufei wrenched his forehead from the back of Duo’s seat and advised Quatre to do the same with his teeth which were embedded in Trowa’s headrest. Trowa had his face smeared into the glove box and a nylon strap pinning his thyroid to his spine. Duo, oblivious to them all, waved cheerfully at Heero.
Pilot 01 was standing on the curb outside of Honolulu International with a silver attaché case instead of a normal suitcase like everyone else had, and wearing deeply tinted sunglasses, a dark button-down shirt and black slacks. He looked like he were going to a funeral, and for all Heero was concerned, he was. The others wore similar attire except Duo, who was dressed in a flapping pair cargo shorts, neon orange flip flops, and an unsightly Hawaiian shirt adorned with hula girls and surfboards.
“Climb on in!” he called. “You can sit between Winner and Chang.”
Heero looked at Duo in his hideous outfit, then at Quatre, picking the leather out of his teeth, Wufei with upholstery marks on his forehead and sharpening his seppuku blade, then back at Duo, then at Trowa, who might have to have surgery to get his seatbelt removed from his larynx, and finally back at Duo again.
“You’d better hope I die before you.”
They reached the dock right on time thanks to Duo’s reckless driving, parked the Hummer, and went to get their luggage checked at the dock.
“Duo, did anyone ever tell you that you drive to kill?” Heero inquired. “You were speeding into oncoming traffic half of the time.”
Duo shrugged. “Hell, this is America. I pay taxes for both sides of the road. I can drive anywhere I damn please.”
After getting their luggage taken care of, they were given their passes and prepared to board the small cruise boat that would be taking them to Saint Abalone, island of luxury vacationing. However, one member of the group wasn’t too thrilled about the water.
“I . . . I think I need some air,” Quatre said hoarsely as they were all standing on deck, watching the land disappear behind them.
Trowa nudged Wufei. “What’s wrong with him?” he asked.
Wufei raised a finger and recited, “The desert flower that tames the sun, the river’s flood still overruns.”
Trowa’s eyes were as empty and vacant as Duo’s skull. “I’ve read VCR manuals that made more sense than that.”
Wufei leaned casually on the rail, jerked a thumb toward Quatre and muttered, “He’s about to toss his fortune cookies.”
Trowa looked over Quatre, who was by now turning a very distinct green hue, and instantly became nervous. He nudged Duo. Duo took one look at Quatre and began to tug on Heero’s sleeve.
“What is it?” Heero snapped, then caught sight of Quatre. “Oh no.”
“Guys . . . ?” Quatre moaned. “I think . . . I think I’m gonna—”
The five intrepid vacationers stepped off the gangplank and onto Saint Abalone Island just as the stars were beginning to come out. It looked like the typical tropical tourist trap, at least in the dark: rounded mountains loomed from a dense wild jungle on the horizon, and everything five miles inland from the beach looked like downtown Las Vegas. But the boys didn’t really give a damn what the island looked like. It was dry land, and that was really all that mattered.
“That’s the last time you’re ever gettin’ on a boat with me again, Quat,” Duo muttered.
Quatre, who had resumed a healthier shade of skin tone, replied, “Sorry, Duo. I can’t help it.”
“You can help next time by not vomiting on six-foot-ten Swedish bodybuilders named Bjorn,” Trowa said. “It was pure luck that Heero was able to step in and save your life.”
Heero was last down the gangplank, supported by Wufei, and looking positively fetching with a black eye and busted lip.
“Good thing you know how to set bones, Yuy,” Wufei remarked, “otherwise we’d be carrying you off this ship in an Ikea punch bowl.”
“I made a minor miscalculation,” Heero muttered, limping slightly. “I thought I could take him. It was a bad call, I admit it. Now let’s all just shut up and forget about it.”
“Aw, did big bad Heewo get his big bad ego bwoken?” Duo teased.
“Maxwell, you’re going to be in serious trouble when my bones knit.”
“Ease up, guys!” Quatre chided. “Come on, let’s just find our hotel and get settled in. I’m sure we’ll all be feeling better after a good night’s rest.”
“They what?” Duo slapped his hands down on the front desk and glared at the clerk, who gazed at him through half-closed eyes. Either Duo’s Shinigami Glare was losing its sparkle or the clerk had run out of fucks to give.
“I’m sorry, sir,” she repeated flatly, “but we have no record of your reservations. However, we’ll be glad to accommodate you in one of our honeymoon suites—”
Heero’s left eye began to twitch.
“But there’s five of us!” Duo cried.
“Well, it’s none of our business how you boys make it work. What happens on Saint Abalone stays on Saint Abalone, you know what I’m saying?”
Duo put on a smile that looked more like a grimace. “Um. Whatever you say, lady.”
“Very good. Here’s your key.”
Duo looked at the number on the tag and froze. “Is this room 999 or . . . 666?”
“We only have 700 rooms, sir.”
There was silence.
“The hell you say.”
“Precisely,” the clerk replied.
One hour later
“Well, now what?” Heero muttered, massaging his still-sore cheekbone. All five of them were seated on a bench outside of Gilligan’s Gumbo Hut and watching the other tourists enjoy the evening activities.
“We need to find a hotel,” said Wufei. “We can’t stay out here all night.”
“Just watch us,” Quatre moped, resting his chin in his hands.
Trowa sighed, propping one foot up on his suitcase. It looked like it had been around the world six times and visited every circus on its route. “I knew it was a bad idea coming here.”
Slowly, all heads turned to gaze coolly at Duo. He grinned weakly and shrugged.
“If we survive this, remind me to kill you,” said Heero.
“You can kill him after I kill him first,” Quatre seconded, cracking his knuckles.
“Hey, don’t blame me,” Duo cried. “Trowa here won the tickets—”
“Yeah, but asshole here took them from me.”
Wufe snarled, “Will the both of you just shut the hell—”
A shadow suddenly materialized before them and they looked up to see a portly old chap with white hair and a bushy mustache smile down at them. “Sorry, I didn't mean ter eavesdrop, but are ye lads lookin’ fer a place to stay?” He sounded like Mr Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants.
Duo practically jumped from his seat. “Are we ever!”
The jolly old seadog laughed, his massive gut quaking. “I see! Well, then, look no further! I have room for you all at my hotel.”
“But how much is it, sir?” asked Quatre politely.
“It’s free, lad! I had a group book a room and pay in advance and they never showed up. I was jest steppin’ outta the galley here when I overheard yer plight. Figured I’d be nice and do a good deed, eh? And by the way, just call me Captain Billy!”
He pounded Quatre on the back and roared with laughter. Trowa had to catch him as he plunged forward out of his seat.
“You alright?” he asked.
Quatre wheezed, “Vertebra. Punctured my lung.”
“Wow! Thanks a lot, Captain!” Duo cried, springing to his feet and grabbing his luggage.
Beaming, Captain Billy proclaimed, “Follow me, mates! Har har!”
It was a rustic looking place that looked as if it had been there since the island was first inhabited by white man. Decorated in a flashy, touristy, tiki style that would have spelled gaudy in capital letters elsewhere, it had a nice view of the ocean and was away from the crush of downtown paradise. Potted tropical plants adorned the large, drafty lobby while native islander masks hung on the walls. Torches lit the front veranda and festive lanterns traced the pathways to the separate bungalows, which were all connected by gravel walkways to the main building. We find our heroes stepping into their apartment right now . . .
“Well, guys, this is it,” Duo declared, dropping his suitcases on the floor. “Home away from home.”
Wufei shouldered past him. “Not to me it isn’t. This island is crawling with evil. I can feel it.”
“Oh you think everything is evil,” Quatre said.
“Only ‘cause it is.”
“It’s actually kind of nice here,” said Trowa, lifting his hair out of his eyes for a better view. “Mini kitchen. Vaulted ceilings.”
“There’s probably bats up there,” observed Heero.
“Oh, goody! I love bats,” Duo chirped. “I got dibs on the bed near the window.”
“Fine,” said Heero. “Then I can just lift up one side and roll you out if you start snoring.”
“Hey, it’d be my first time being dumped by a guy.”
Quatre studied the room with a worried expression. “Looks like we’ve got a problem, gentlemen. Two beds and five people.”
“There’s always the bathtub.”
“I think I’ll sleep in the jacuzzi.”
“Does anyone in here sleep naked?”
“You don’t kick in your sleep, do you?”
“I will if you spoon me, damn it.”
“I hope I don’t meet a girl. I don’t think I could bear bringing her back to this place.”
“Duo, if you told her you were rooming with four other guys she’d probably think you’re gay.”
“You are gay.”
“Your mama’s gay.”
“Haha, joke’s on you, my mama’s dead.”
“And so are you!” POWF.
The cry went up: “PILLOW FIIIIIGHT!”
In a matter of seconds the room was filled with feathers and everyone was playing offense by buffeting anything that moved with a pillow. Quatre spat out the prickly feathers coating his tongue and shouted over the muffled thumping, “STOP IT, GUYS! ONLY GIRLS HAVE PILLOW FIGHTS!”
“Then you should fit right in!”
Pilot 04 was pummeled with a half-empty pillow and sent tumbling down onto the bed mattress. Duo, in an attempt to dive-bomb Wufei, jumped from a bedside table and onto the bed. Unfortunately, he didn’t count on the bed having such sturdy springs and was propelled headfirst into a ceiling rafter with a great THUNK. The plank splintered and Duo hit the mattress on his back. He didn’t move.
“Wow. I bet that hurt,” Trowa murmured as they all calmed down and went to their fallen amigo’s side.
“The crazy bastard probably broke his neck,” said Wufei after a head-to-toe forensic assessment of the now possibly-paralyzed American.
“Hey, Duo.” Heero nudged his shoulder gently. “Are you alright?”
Duo’s eyes fluttered open and he groaned. “Wh . . . what happened?”
“What’s your name?”
“Dangledick Humptywank,” he murmured.
“Oh dear,” said Quatre.
“Where are you from, Dangle?”
“Russia with love.”
“What’s your mother’s maiden name?”
“China. Everything’s made in China.”
“Where do you live?”
“Inna gadda da vida.”
“What’s your dog’s name?”
“I don’t have a father.”
“How do you feel?”
“With my hands.”
Heero crossed his arms and shook his head. “You’re a terrible actor.”
Duo uncrossed his eyes and grinned at his fellow compatriots, who collectively breathed a sigh of relief.
“I don’t suppose a hit like that could damage your thick skull,” Wufei said.
“I'm actually surprised he didn't bring the roof down.”
The phone on the nightstand rang suddenly and Trowa picked it up. “Yello.”
“Yeah. Yes, we are. Uh huh.”
Duo tapped his shoulder but Trowa swatted him away.
“Yeah. A-yeah. Mm hm. Is that all? Alright. I suggest then, sir, that you take your end of the phone and kindly ram it up your—”
Quatre grabbed the receiver away with a horrified look. “Are you nuts!”
“It was the people in one of the other bungalows. They were complaining about the noise.”
“Well let me handle it!” Quatre snapped, and put the phone to his ear.
“Bribe them, Winner,” said Wufei. “It's the only way.”
Quatre motioned for them all to shut up. “To whom am I speaking?” he asked cheerily. “Well, Mr Babaganoosh, I am terribly sorry for the disturbance. You see, I’m a Nepalese trainee monk with the Foundation for Underprivileged Children of Kathmandu, and am in charge of looking after four mentally handicapped students, one of whom is a diagnosed sociopath—”
Quatre shot a glance toward the sulking Trowa.
“—one manic schizophrenic—”
Duo looked flattered.
“—one obsessive-compulsive hypochondriac—”
Wufei returned the glare.
“—and one suffering from pure psychosis.”
Heero lifted his eyes briefly from whatever device he was making beep urgently in his silver attaché case.
Quatre absently toyed with the curly phone cord. “They’re all orphans from meth-addicted mothers and have been afflicted with leprosy and have inoperable carcinogenic hemorrhoids. Yes, sir, very tragic. We’re on a field trip for therapeutic purposes, you see. It might be the last time any of them get to experience a life outside of shoveling yak patties and fainting from edema in the Himalayan Mountains.”
Quatre winked at his four comrades, who were gawping at him in shock.
He continued, “Yes, terribly sad. Thank you for understanding, Mr Babaganoosh. I hope we won’t be disturbing you any further. Oh, no no, really, there’s no need to apologize. Yes. Of course. Thank you. And a good evening to you, too.”
Quatre placed the receiver on the cradle, crossed his legs, and smiled politely.
Heero broke the silence. “You’re the master of phony platitudes, Winner.”
Winner took a bow. Wufei beamed proudly. Trowa arched an eyebrow. Duo abruptly had a hilarity overload, convulsed as if in seizure, and fell on the floor braying like a jackass. Heero curled his lip in disgust and moved away. For the next four minutes everyone watched the American laugh himself to tears until he at last sat up and gasped, “Woo. That was funny.”
“Yeah,” said Wufei levelly, “I almost ruptured a testicle.”
Trowa turned to Quatre. “What’s the time?”
“Exactly nine thirty,” Quatre replied, looking at his wristwatch.
“Fantastic. I’m going to bed.”
“Yeah. Putting up with you maniacs is exhausting.”
Heero concurred, “I think we should all go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.”
Duo looked delighted. “Why Heero! Does this mean you actually care about your friends?”
“No. I just don’t want you morons keeping me up all night with your giggling and pillow-fighting.” He looked directly at Quatre. “Or pillow-biting.”
The blond raised his hand, thumb and forefinger an inch apart. “You’re this close, Hiiro-san. Go on. Say something else, I dare you. I double dare you, motherfucker.”
It was suddenly so quiet you could hear a flea fart in Bangladesh. Heero, who had seen firsthand exactly what Quatre was capable of doing to a human body even without the influence of the Zero system, elected not to say something else and turned his attention back to his attaché case.
“Okaaaay,” Duo drawled. “Uh, let’s see, Heero and I will take this bed. Quatre, my man, you and Trowa and Chang can share that one.”
“Oh hell no, Maxwell,” Wufei growled. “You can’t expect me to share a bed with that lanky, long-legged bastard. You can sleep with the clown, I’ll bunk with Yuy.”
“You can’t, ‘cause I’m bunkin’ with Yuy.”
“If you kick him in your sleep he’s going to put his thumbs through your eye sockets.”
“No he won’t.”
“Yes he will, I’ve seen him do it.”
Trowa looked at Quatre. “This could take all night. I’m going to bed.”
“Good plan. Leave some leg room for me.”
The sounds of deep breathing filled the bungalow. Our heroes were fast asleep, suitcases strewn all over the floor and shirts and socks draped over lamps, bureaus, and headboards. They hadn’t even bothered to fully unpack their things. It seemed that as soon as one of them got tired the rest followed, as if their minds were all connected by an invisible force. Which is terrifying, when you think about it.
As far as the Who-Gets-to-Bunk-With-Yuy situation went, after much arguing Duo and Wufei finally managed to reach a compromise without too much grief and bloodshed; Quatre and Trowa had one bed all to themselves while Duo and Heero had the other bed all to themselves, and Wufei had a cot on the other side of the room all to himself. The only reason Wufei wasn’t upset about this arrangement was because certain intelligence had surfaced that Heero farted uncontrollably in his sleep, and Duo didn’t mind sharing a bed with an uncontrollable farter. “It keeps me warm,” he said, and that was that.
At the moment Heero, still awake and in a non-farteous state of consciousness, was huddled as far away from Duo as possible while the American’s somnambulant body insisted on conquering the entire bed or be destroyed trying. Heero found himself the unwilling bedfellow to one of the world’s antsiest sleepers. Tossing and turning and kicking—it wouldn’t end. And Duo snored. Loudly. Heero had jabbed his bedmate in the ribs and stuffed a corner of the blanket into his mouth, but nothing worked. He finally nodded off with Duo’s leg splayed across his back while defending his half of duvet from the dreaded Hogging.
Duo was dead to the world when a strange sensation brought him from a very pleasing dream he had been having about hula girls. It was a . . . tingly sensation. Something—something was on his leg! It felt like a hand, and for one horrified moment he thought Heero may have been having a dirty dream, but it felt too cold . . . and hairy. Wait a minute! Heero didn’t have big, cold, hairy hands!
Duo ripped the blankets from his body and looked down to see the biggest, nastiest, hairiest, ugliest tarantula—the mother and father and God Almighty of all arachnids—ascending his leg with gleaming fangs. A scream of feminine shrillness rent the air like a pistol shot and suddenly the occupants of the bungalow were wide awake. Bedside lamps clicked on and everyone sat up in alarm.
“GITTITOFF OHMAGOD!” Duo bawled with enough force to blow out a lung. “AUUUGH! AUUUGH! JEESUS! JEEEEEEEEESUS!”
And he kicked the arachnid off. It went sailing through the air, landing squarely in Quatre’s nest of messy blond hair. Quatre shrieked and went into a spastic, hair-ripping, hand-flapping frenzy, sending the unfortunate creature flying into the air yet again, this time touching down on Heero’s chest.
Duo screamed as loud as his vocal cords could permit and pointed, ranting hysterically, “IT’S ON YOU, HEERO! AIIIEEE! DON’T LET IT GET ON ME! OHSHITOHGODOHFUCK IT’S GONNA BITE!”
He leaped across the room and onto Trowa and Quatre’s bed. Unfortunately, the frame was made of rather weak bamboo and the legs snapped off like cheap toothpicks. The mattress crashed onto the floor, and Duo tumbled over Quatre and accidentally smashed his balls into his pal’s head.
“AAAAAUUUUGH!” he wailed. “MY CHILDRENNN!”
Trowa made like eggs and scrambled away from the melee. Heero flung the tarantula off of himself and, with a heaving bosom, jumped up onto the bureau in the corner.
Trowa looked up in time to see the underside of the spider as it landed on his face. Quatre was the first to scream and lit upon the nightstand like a frantic canary, knocking the phone across the room and ripping the wire out of the drywall. He put his hands to his face in horror. Trowa looked as if he were being electrocuted as he danced around the room and beat at his face. Duo went ice cold with paralysis and stared. All throughout the entire event, the screaming was ceaseless.
Wufei watched them all with a dull, sleepy expression.
“KILL IT, DUO! IT’S GONNA CRAWL DOWN HIS THROAT!” Quatre shrieked.
Duo, one hand protecting his testicles from any more unexpected assaults, clambered to the floor and grabbed one of the broken bed legs with the intention of knocking the hostile monster off of Trowa’s face.
“HURRY! BEFORE IT LAYS ITS EGGS IN HIS CHEST!”
The spider had the sense to leap off of Trowa’s face just as Duo swung back for the pitch. Green eyes opened in time to see a small tree come flying into his face.
Right in the kisser. There was the sound of cracking bamboo. Shards of wood exploded. Snot and spit and bloody chiclets sprayed into the air. To Duo’s horror, Trowa fell over backward, semiconscious, and onto the floor.
“GET HIM OFF THE GROUND!” Quatre howled. “THAT THING’LL GET HIM!”
Duo, like a heroic soldier dodging enemy fire in the trenches of World War I, dragged Trowa’s limp body onto the broken bed, brandishing the bamboo leg like a sword. Heero had his eyes shut tight and mouth open in an endless scream. When he finally ran out of air, silence descended. It was quiet for a long time.
Wufei, at a loss, spoke up. “Are you all out of your fucking minds, or did I miss the memo?”
Quatre pointed to an open suitcase. “OHMAGODTHEREITIS!”
Summoning his courage, Duo jumped off the bed and began to enthusiastically beat the hell out of the suitcase’s contents. He finally ceased after several articles of clothing lay in shreds and pieces. Panting for breath, he lowered his weapon.
“Did you kill it?” Heero asked.
“I du, I-I dunno.”
“Well, check, stupid!”
Duo inched forward and poked at the clothes.
How the tarantula survived in the first place was a miracle, and the thing was so frightened it came streaking out of the suitcase like a furry black cannonball and attached itself to Duo’s foot.
“AAUUUGGHH FUCKIN HAIL MARY MAMA HELLLLL!”
Quatre and Heero screamed along with Duo as he threw himself against the walls, kicking at the furniture and clawing at the arachnid on his foot. When the thing finally lost purchase, Heero ripped the nearby glass frame painting off the wall and smashed it down on the floor. In his hysterics, he missed the creature by a yard. The spider scuttled under his and Duo’s bed. He grabbed the lamp and hurled it down, just because he was so upset. It shattered into a million pieces.
Duo, white as paste, chucked the bed leg away with disgust. “The hell with this thing. I’m gettin’ my gun—”
“Oh sure,” Heero snapped, “it’s okay for you to bring your guns.”
Duo raced across the room and to his suitcase, then raced back and kicked the ancient TV in the corner off its stand so he could climb on top; it exploded and shattered with an electric sizzle. He had his holster in hand. He pulled out his M1911, loaded a round in the chamber, popped in a 7-round clip, and cocked it just as the arachnid emerged from beneath the bed.
“THERE! THERE!” Quatre shouted suddenly, jabbing his finger in the air.
Duo brought the gun up like a flash and aimed.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAMBLAMBLAM!
Quatre performed Riverdance on the nightstand. “OH GOD IT’S UP THE SHEETS! IT’S ON THE BED!”
Feathers and mattress stuffing erupted into the air like confetti.
“Are you blind or something!” Heero screamed, his voice cracking. “You missed it completely!”
Duo lowered his gun and looked around the room. “Where the fuckin’ fuck did the fucker fuckin’ go?”
“IT’S BACK!” Quatre shrieked, stabbing wildly with his finger. “THERE! ON THE FLOOR!”
Duo jumped from the TV stand and fixed his laser sight at the spider’s head. It froze, looking at Duo. “MOVE ONE HAIRY LEG AND I’LL SHOOT!”
Wufei rose from his cot. “Crazy fucking white people.”
“Chang! Don’t!” Duo yelled as Wufei bent down and picked the spider up with his bare hands. It wriggled its thick black legs forlornly as he walked across the room and gently tossed it out the window, shutting it afterward. Then he turned and looked at his comrades: one holding a smoking gun, one out cold, one on the nightstand, and the last one on the bureau. The room was torn apart, one bed was broken, there were bullet holes in the mattresses and floor, claw marks etched onto the walls, feathers were everywhere, and all four were pale and sweaty and gasping for breath.
Duo slumped to the floor with his gun in hand, staring vacantly into space.
Trowa stirred and moaned. His nose was bleeding badly enough that he might hemorrhage right then and there. “Duo . . . you . . . bidge,” he grunted. “I’m gonna kill . . .” Then he passed out and kept bleeding.
“Well, goodnight honkies,” said Wufei pleasantly, cutting off the lights and snuggling back into his cot, leaving his four friends alone in the dark.
The Ones Who Go On Rated: T After months of radio silence, Heero unexpectedly shows up in the L2 cluster with a personal favor to ask of Duo. Unable to say no, Duo struggles to come...
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