DISCLAIMER: Really now, would you believe me if I did say that I owned it? I thought not. But just in case any lawyers are out there and looking for something to sue I might as well say that I do not own Gundam Wing. I don't know who does, but their fucking lucky whoever they are.
WARNINGS: language and that stuff…You probably get the picture by now…
A//N: Whoopee! People are actually looking forward to this chapter…Wow…That just tickles me pink. Okay, not really, but I'm all happy and gooey inside. Keep reviewing people. Hopefully this chapter will be longer and hopefully I'll get it done faster. Who knows? Not me. I've never lost control [continues singing Man Who Sold the World redone by Nirvana and gets typing]
This is dedicated to my friends who showed me how you upload stories onto the web. So I'm pathetic with computers, what of it? [glares at snickering audience] Get use to it.
And to the lovely Angel Selene who has been reading and commenting the chapter for me before I posted. Thank her for the smoothness of the chapter. ^_^ She also kept me from falling into overdone stereotypes. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! [huggles Angel] She's an awesome beta!!!!
Chapter four: Dragging
I wouldn't have described Jero as the five-minutes-early type when I first met him. He seemed so carefree and fuck offish at the house that it was kinda surprising when he started speed walking down the sidewalk saying we were going to meet his friends in ten minutes and that he wanted to get there before they arrived. I normally wouldn't have cared except I never really got the chance to enjoy New York City before. The times I've been here were during the war and I was on missions, with Heero no less, who was not the touristy kind of person. We spent most of our leisure time upgrading our Gundams while I tried multiple times to sneak off and visit the city. Heero had expected what I was attempting and thus laid down traps. Those traps were pretty low of him; the stupid bastard knows that I'll never cut off my braid. So I didn't get a chance to visit NYC before and dammit, now that the Perfect Soldier wasn't around to tie me to a chair with duck tape and attach it to Wing's foot, I was going to enjoy myself. Hurrying be damned.
Jero didn't appreciate my la-la-la pace. He made that quite clear when he yanked me away from that toy window display. He then committed the mistake of letting go of my arm; turning his back on me and continuing on to wherever we were suppose to go. I went back to the toy window to watch the blue train go through the tunnel then appear again between the large stuffed giraffe's legs. I loved that. There was something so cheerful and innocent about it. Something I never got to see living in L2. It was like I could be a little kid again. Sappy, I know, but without the sap, all a person is left with is the cold harshness of life. I've had enough of that, thank you very much. Of course that was all ruined 'cause, five minutes later Jero was freaking out at me.
"What the fucking hell do you think you're doing?" He shouted trying to grab me again as I danced out of reach. "C'mon you little piece of shit, we're five minutes from being late!"
"Breathe the polluted city air, Skunk! Listen to the racket of honking cars and irritated people, and tell me you don't feel happy to be alive!" I did a little twirl, feeling like somebody out of a Broadway play.
"What are you doing," he hissed, "Are you high or something?"
"I'm high on life!" I responded with a cheeky grin. As corny as it sounded it was also pretty true. I was finally free from the constant stress that comes with trying to survive on a day to day basis.
"Oh for the love of God," he threw his arms up exasperated, "What are you twelve? Ten? Five? Not saying that you don't look it…"
"Now that was just a mean thing to say," I tossed over my shoulder as I skipped into the toy store.
"Where do you think you're going?" Jero asked me in a panicked voice, making another grab at my arm that I avoided easily. He had no choice but to follow me.
Have I ever mentioned that I loved playing follow the leader when I lived at the Maxwell Church? I was always good at it too, following the leader's actions to the dot and then when it was my turn to be the leader...well, Sister Helen didn't like it when I was leader but the kids sure did. Well, the kids who didn't mind high places that is… I think Father Maxwell nearly had a heart attack that one time, but really, it's not like we were in any danger of falling off the roof.
I stifled a sad sigh by grinning even wider. I missed them a lot, Solo, Sister Helen, Father Maxwell, and it was still painful to know that they died while I survived. I'm told I have the Devil's Luck. A double edged gift, that. More of a curse then a blessing. I pushed those thoughts away, it wouldn't do to let my demons show, not when I was in a store full of happy children. Solo wouldn't have wanted it, neither would the others.
With that resolved, I quickly 'lost' myself within the toy aisles. I passed by the action figures of mobile suits and super heroes. Those were all nice and good, but what I really wanted was something soft and cuddly. Something not made of metal, plastic, and wood. Something that had no undertones of violence or despair. I wanted a stuffed animal.
With a bound, I popped into the aisle that I wanted and spent a few moments just gazing at row after row of cute, cuddly animals and dolls. There was so many! How was I supposed to pick one?
I began walking back and forth, running my hand lightly against the rows of neatly stacked furry toys. I kept my other hand loose and near my side. Those two drug dealers over there by the model kits were acting civil so far, but if they so much as twitched wrong, well, the four knives and Browning .9mm gun I had hidden around my persona weren't there for nothing. I had more then enough experience with getting rid of unwanted obstacles without drawing attention that I was pretty confident that I could scare off those druggie bastards without scaring the children. And without alerting Jero to anything either.
With one eye on the possible troublemakers, I studied each toy, waiting for something to catch my attention. I had found a few possibilities. That T-rex with the floppy teeth was pretty cute in a cool way. And that white rabbit just begged for me to rub my face in it. But it was the lion that took the cake. Not just any lion, I might add, and not for me either, despite what I originally intended. This lion was humanoid and wearing a clown outfit. Sort of like the one Trowa wore, except it was more clownish and colorful. It was perfect for my circus buddy. I could just see his face as he opened the package, the one visible green eye sparkling with amusement, lips quirked in a slight smile.
I grabbed it off the shelf and squeezed it, please to note that it was cuddle worthy. It was also damn cute. I couldn't help myself, I had to pinch one of its cheeks. I looked at the price tag, then blinked and looked again. Fifteen dollars for a fucking toy?!? Were they out of their freakin' minds? It was just a toy for Christ's sake! I snorted. If they thought I was paying fifteen dollars for a toy then they had another thing coming. Security here was lax (probably why the neighborhood friendly druggies were making their deals here) and it would be a cinch to steal the toy. I could probably steal half the store before anybody would realize what had happened. No, I am not bragging, merely stating a fact.
I was all set to do it too, as naughty a thought as it was, when Jero finally found me. Once again he began freaking out, "We are late!" he roared, making the already edgy druggies jump and some little kids scamper away to their mommies. "How many fucking times must I tell you that before you get it through that dense head of yours that we need to get moving now!" He noticed the toy in my hand and snatched it out, pulling me by the arm, "If you want the toy than fine, but come ON! I'll buy it then we leave," He all but growled the last part.
I let him have his delusions of control. It seemed to make him feel better. And anyway, if he really wanted to buy the toy, then fine, go for it. I was willing to steal it for no charge.
Jero was still muttering as we left the store and a very bemused cashier, "I have no idea why some fifteen year old wants to go to a toy store and buy a stuffed lion. I don't think I want to know. It probably has to do with being dropped on your head at an early age. You weirdo."
I smiled sweetly at him, swinging my bag back and forth, "Your one to talk, Skunk. You may call me a weirdo, but at least I don't go around advertising it, Psycho," I said referring to his orange shirt that had those words written across it.
He turned his head to glare at me, "It's called fashion, dumbass. Something you obviously don't have."
"If you say so," I told him in a fake sugary voice, "but whether I have it or not still won't save you from walking into that light post if you don't watch where you're going."
"Wha—" He said turning around. He just missed the metal object by millimeters.
He got his balance back and glared ferociously at the inanimate object. He didn't notice the kid who causally bumped into him. And he didn't notice the quick, silent fingers that dipped into his pocket, removing his wallet. I watch the pickpocket kid stuff the wallet subtlety into his own pocket, walking by me. As he passed by, not bothering to try and steal from me since my clothes showed that I wasn't a great target, my own quicker and stealthier fingers did their own theft. The kid didn't notice that his newly won treasure was now in my pocket. He wasn't bad, but he still had a ways to go.
Jero began walking again, dragging me along. Still ranting at me the whole time. I slipped his wallet back into his pocket. It was sort of sad how easily that was all done beneath his nose without him catching on. He may live in New York City, but he was no thief.
We finally reached his friends, Jero cursing me the whole way there. It was quite funny, too. Reminded me of Wufei in a way, except Wufei had the means of backing up his threats while I was sure Jero was all talk. Scary talk, but talk nonetheless.
He yanked me up to the steps of a library then dropped my arm like a hot potato, glowering at the air. His friends, well, I assumed they were his friends, gave him a wary look. Not that I blamed them, if I hadn't become immune to Glares o' Death that Heero was frequently known to give, I might have been a bit intimidated by Jero's dark seething look.
I decided to break the ice, "Well Skunk," I chirped at him, "Looks like we made it." Okay so it wasn't the best thing to say to an already aggravated teenage boy, but hey it wasn't like he had a gun or anything. No swinging katana either. I turned to his friends, a boy with shaggy brown hair, blue eyes was staring at me with a bewildered expression on his face. He was good looking, but nothing breath taking. Then again, I was comparing him to Heero.
A girl with pink hair and a little bit taller than me (could be her expensive 'combat' boots) gave me a nice smile which died a little as she looked at Jero. A hot, taller girl with POPULAR written all over her (not literally of course) stood scowling sexily at Jero and me. She had a look that made me a bit nervous, like she was ready to scratch somebody's eyes out with her manicured nails. I hope that look was directed towards Jero and not me since I had no desire to knock somebody out on my first day here. Doesn't make that good of an impression, ya know?
"Hi, the name's Duo, nice to meet cha!" I told them, hoping to defuse a somewhat explosive situation. It seemed to work too, Terri, the pink haired girl, introduced me to everyone and then gave a look towards shaggy head Jason. A look that clearly stated 'say-something-nice-now!' The message must have gotten jumbled for ol' Jassy boy went and stuck his rich little footie right in his mouth.
"You look like a girl," He stated, then turned a bright red. Heh, I be if he knew who I really was he wouldn't be standing there idly waiting for the Earth to swallow him up. Instead he would most likely be running for his life as fast as his rich little bon-bons could take him. The thought made me feel a bit better.
I felt my left eye twitch. It was the slightest of movements, but a dead give away to anyone who knew me that I was…upset…
It was one of my pet peeves, people calling me a girl. Sure I have long hair, but then again don't those really famous rock stars have long hair too? I don't see people calling them girls. I bet I'm manlier than all of them put together. And no, I'm not sulking…Okay, maybe I am just little bit…
I managed to keep myself from strangling the poor, ignorant boy with an unconscious death wish, and instead reverted to another tactic which did not involve invoking my darker side. I gave a huge, dangerous grin that didn't really reach my eyes, but hey, nobody is perfect. But damn did I hate it when people called me a girl. They did it when I was living on the streets, they did when I was at the orphanage, and they did when I was captured at bases. Not pleasant memories, any of those. Too bad that I wasn't paid a nickel every time someone used that insult; I'd be almost as rich as the Kasamakas then.
"Oh, I can assure you, pal, I'm all male, not that I have anything against women and all, but I was defiantly born with a dick," I smirked at him, then looked down at my crotch, "It isn't all that small either if ya catch my drift…but hey, if you haven't been seeing anything nude but yourself how would you know the difference?" 
"Jason, you IDIOT!" Terri hissed/screamed at him, after a slight pause in which everyone processed what I said, punching him hard in the arm. I wanted to applaud. Usually girls just give a wimpy slap, but nope, not Jero's little pink-haired Terri. "Don't you have any tact? Sure he looks like a girl, but it's kinda cute in way. Actually, he doesn't really look like a girl all that much once you get over the first shock; he's actually really hot…" I didn't know if I wanted to strangle her along with Jason, or hug her. Damn conflicting emotions.
Luckily before I had to make a choice, Claire intervened, "Enough of this foolishness!" Oh God, she sounded like a watered down version of Wufei if he was a woman. A mental image crossed my mind: Wufei gone female…that just didn't sit right… Damn, but I needed to stop eating those expired Twinkies. "I have a job to do here! Duo needs clothes and he needs them now!" She grabbed my arm and started to drag me behind her, stalking ahead in those heels of hers. Man, that girl was strong. And what was it with these people dragging me by my arm? It wasn't like I couldn't walk…
"Hey where do you think you're going?" Jero demanded, catching up to Claire.
"To a store, asshole, where else?" She snarled back.
"Listen, bitch, you can't just butt in and take over. I'm taking him shopping and if you want you can just tag along," Jero snapped right back.
"You? Shop? HA! We all know what fashion sense you and your friends have," she sneered looking him up and down with an appalled look on her face, "You obviously haven't a clue."
"Why don't you go play Barbies and gossip with your carbon copy friends?" Jero responded.
"You're just jealous that Ken looks hotter than you on your best days."
"There's something wrong when a girl gets hot and bothered over a piece of molded plastic." Jero twisted his lips up in a horrified, disgusted sneer. Obviously he didn't get off on Barbies.
"Oh puh-lease! Is that the best comeback you have?"
I grinned, swinging my toy bag back and forth. This was soo damn entertaining… It was like watching Wufei and Sally go at it, minus the waving swords and deadly aimed needles. Okay, so it was mostly Wufei doing the sword waving, and only when Sally was refusing to listen to his 'wisdom', but still, that lady could be an ice cold sadist sometimes. She just didn't heat up like Wuffers. Thankfully all Jero and Claire had going for each other were barbed words that in no way could hurt me. How nice. And also, for once, I was not participating in exchanging barbed words. How weird.
"You are so not taking him in there," Jero snarled, yanking on my other arm as Claire headed towards an Abercrombie and Fitch store. I was inclined to agree with Jero on that point, but wisely kept my mouth shut. No need to direct attention towards little ol' me and stop the show that the two of them were putting on.
"Let go of him," Claire snapped right back. "I'm taking him wherever I damn well please." Whoa, going into ultra bitch mode, warning, warning.
"No, you let go of him," Jero tried to pull me out of Claire's grasp, but Claire wasn't so inclined to let go. In fact, she yanked me right back towards her. My amusement was quickly dying away. It's one thing for them to talk about me as if I wasn't there. It was a little annoying, but really, nothing I wasn't used to. And it wasn't like they were doing it on purpose, just trying to get on the other's nerves. But it's quite another thing for them to play tug o' war with me. They may be taller than me, but they sure as hell weren't as strong, and I had had enough. If they wanted to kill each other, they could go for it, I wanted to have fun, not participate in another war.
"No," I told them in a cheerful but firm voice, grin still in place, "You both will let go of me. Now." They automatically dropped my arms, instincts warning them that it would not be good for their health if they continue to hold onto my sore arms. Good instincts.
I dusted myself off, "Well, that was fun, but I have some shopping to do, see ya in a few!" I waved to them and sprinted away, losing myself in the crowd, ignoring their frantic shouts. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy my time with them so far. I did, they all seemed like nice kids, but I needed to acquaint myself to the city. Ya know, get a feel for the place, learn its ins and outs. Street habits die hard, and there are some that should never die. And I would meet up with them in an hour or two. Jero didn't know but I had placed a tracking device on his choker collar. It was small enough that it wouldn't be seen or fall off. My battered watch was connected to the little bug so it wouldn't take all that long to hone in on the flabbergasted group I had just left. I had designed the watch and bug myself after all. Prof. G's lessons put to good use.
Now, on to a different sort of fun.
 Thanks goes once again to Angel Selene for coming up with that insult.
A//N: So, what do you think? It took me a while to write, but RL has been getting in my damn way [growls] Well at least this chappie is longer than the others. Review please.
*Errr…Sorry about the error when I first updated. It should be fixed now… [Goes off mumbling about damn computers and their damn copy and paste things]*