Take a cliche give it a poke, a prod, a little twist and this is what you get. I hope you like it.
Betaed by Skippyscatt
Duo danced at the sink "Mary Sue, Mary Sue. Pretty, Pretty, Pretty, Mary Sue."
"Maxwell. I'm not well acquainted with your style of music but isn't that Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly?"
"Yeah. But from now on I'm singin' it Mary Sue. In her honor."
The woman was, not old, but past what most would have called her prime. She walked the mountains because she liked to. She almost walked past the bundle on the ground. It looked a lot like a boulder but there were no other boulders here and this one wasn't the right color for rock around here either.
So she scrambled up to the object and found a boy. Not more than sixteen at the most. She sighed he was beaten half to death and filthy and cold. Too cold. So she took off her jacket, wrapped the shivering unconscious form in it, hefted him over her shoulder and headed for home.
It wasn't far and he wasn't that heavy, so she made good time. When she got to the cabin, she kicked the door open with a toe and then kicked it back shut. She lowered him onto the couch and started talking to him.
"Here we are bright eyes. Not much, but it'll do. Why they call this hovel a cabin I'll never know. I like it here for a little while. Came up to get away from Christmas. I'm tired of all the hoopla."
She efficiently undressed the boy. She dumped his wet, torn and dirty clothes on the back porch and returning to the living room realized that he was too dirty and too cold to just put to bed so she took him into the bathroom and rubbed him vigorously with a towel. After running a tub full of warm bath water she wrestled him into it and washed him. It wasn't embarrassing to her. She had four kids or had had. Two of them boys. Now men.
"You're a real mess. What the hell did they do to you? And why?"
The violet eyes opened and a soft, hoarse voice murmured. "Torture. Wouldn't tell. Won't tell. Lemme 'lone."
"Not a chance. I don't know what it is they were trying to find out, and I don't want to. But if Oz did this . . . bastards that they are--I'm on your side. Now, you mind me."
He didn't resist being washed but his face turned red under the bruises. She un raveled the long braid and washed the silken hair. She dried him carefully and dressed his wounds. Then she brushed and combed out his hair and braided it into a tight braid.
The boy made an irritable face. "Don't like it so tight."
"Well. I'm not undoing it. It'll loosen."
She picked him up again with some effort and got him into pajamas and then bed.
"How's that jaw?"
He moved it around a little. "Hurts."
"I"ll make soup." She headed for the door "You got a preference?"
"Well, you're easy to get along with. Comin' right up. Stay awake until it's down you . . . they . . . well, I better check for myself, silly old woman that I am."
She came back to him and ran her fingers through his hair checking for lumps. She found more than one. "Pricks really worked you over good. Don't you worry. They won't get hold of you again."
The boy heard banging in the kitchen. She was obviously taking her ire out on the pots and pans.
Duo sighed and put his head down on the pillow. (Yeah, it's me, shut up) This was not good. No one knew exactly where he was, he'd been moved at least twice. At least they hadn't found 'Scythe. He was good at hiding his Gundam not so good at hiding himself it seemed.
The lady came back with a cup of soup, home made onion by the smell. And a piece of whole grain bread.
"Don't make faces. It's what I like. So, you'll have to make do."
"Not making yuck face, like it. Really."
She watched as the boy sipped at the soup, then dipped the bread in it and carefully chewed. He used the spoon to scoop the onions into his mouth then practically licked the cup clean.
"How long has it been since you ate a proper meal?"
Duo looked at the lady and sighed. "A couple of days . . . I think." He yawned and started to snuggle down into the covers. He felt uncomfortable without his side arm. But he'd just have to get used to it. The Ozzies had everything. Even his favorite pick.
Lady walked over and pulled the covers up to his chin and tucked him in carefully. "You get some sleep. I'll be here . . . Oh. You'll like this I think." She handed him a small caliber hand gun and smiled. "Not what you'd really like, but better than nothing. Right?"
He was already asleep, clutching the gun like a teddy bear. She wondered if it was good to give him that, but he'd looked so scared and alone, she didn't know what else to do and this seemed right somehow. She tended to follow her feelings, every time she didn't, bad things happened.
Her feelings were also telling her that this was going to turn out wrong for someone. She just didn't know who.
"Come on a boy, wake up. They're searching all the cabins. Hurry . . . we got to get out of here now. Damn! I wanted you to get more rest."
Duo woke up with a start but focused quickly, he felt like he'd been beaten all over. Oh, wait a minute, he had been. He groaned and wondered if his clothes were dry yet.
"Your cloths are ruined. Nothing but rags. I burned them. Here. Belonged to my son when he was little. You're probably half his size at the same age so they'll make you look about ten. . . . don't you puff up on me young man. And call me Granny. Now get your butt in gear."
Duo managed to dress himself and stagger into the living room.
"They're looking for that Gundam terrorist. Sad. " She suddenly whirled on him and pointed her finger. "Do not tell me you're him. I don't want to know . . . not a word. I can't tell what I don't know. Now come on."
"Yes, ma'am, I'm coming. Just a minute."
Duo stuffed his braid down the back of his shirt and buttoned the collar up tight. It wasn't what you'd expect from a kid his age, but it was cold and he could always claim that 'granny' made him. He managed the coat and started for the door only to be met by Granny with a watch cap and mittens. Nice, except they were bright orange.
"Hunters' orange . . . common as dirt around here. You'll fit in better, believe me."
"Ok. Um . . . where are we going?"
"My place. In town. Don't argue. Purloined letter."
"Un . . . what?"
"I'll tell you about it on the way in. Unless you fall asleep. You should sleep."
Duo groaned his way to the car and settled himself gingerly in the seat, the car was warm and he managed to stay awake only long enough to hear about Edgar Allen Poe and the letter.
He woke up to the unpleasant realization that they were stopped at a road block. "Oh shit."
"Excuse me? I did not just hear you curse, did I?" the lady's voice was cold.
Duo blinked himself awake and realized that there was already an Ozzie shining his flash light in the driver's window.
He hung his head. "Sorry Granny. I . . . "
"Well, you have an appointment with a wash rag and some soap when we get home. I don't want to hear another word out of your mouth. Do you understand me?"
Duo just kept his head down and nodded. That old lady had a voice of command that rivaled Howard's. Man, I'd hate to have her angry at me for real. Strip off a chunk, she would.
"I'm sorry, he doesn't have a daddy. Off on some colony or other. So, all he's got to keep him in line is me. Now, what was it you were wanting to know?"
"Sorry ma'am. We're looking for that Gundam terrorist that escaped from prison. You're obviously neither of you him, so go along home."
The man turned his flashlight to the next truck in line and move away.
"Well, that went well. I was hoping you would sleep through, but that came up out of nowhere. You did good. We'll be home, my home, in about three hours. If the weather holds."
Duo figured in his head. Three hours due north on a good highway would put him in Canada. That was good. Canada was fairly safe.
"What's stuck in your craw?"
Duo started, he'd been absently looking out the window as he thought. "Nothing. Just thinking is all. Are we going to Canada?"
"No. We're not that close. It's around a day's drive from Aurora, where I live. Go back to sleep."
Duo watched Granny drive for a little, then went back to sleep.
When he woke again Granny was poking him gently, whispering, "Wake up. Come on. We need to go inside."
She herded him into the kitchen and helped him get out of his hat, gloves and jacket. He was wishing for coffee when it hit him. When he'd been captured, he'd been no more than three hours from the Canadian border, now she said Aurora.
"Umm. You said this is Aurora? Colorado?" At her puzzled nod, he sighed. "Shit!"
"What's wrong?" Granny put a kettle on the stove and took hot chocolate mix out of the cupboard.
"When I was captured, I was near Canada. How the hell did I get clear down here?"
She poured mix into cups and waited for the water to boil. Her lack of answer was answer enough, she didn't know.
But she did know how to coax and cajole a weary boy to bed and to sleep.
"Well, young man. I think I know who you are, but you're not telling me. If I don't know, I can't tell. Go to sleep and we'll figure this all out tomorrow." She turned out the light and gently shut the door. ". . . damn! I'm too old for this shit."
They both slept late and got up groggy and cranky. Granny made breakfast and coffee, checked dressings and bruises. Then she sighed as she watched 'her' boy stuff himself with eggs and bacon and toast. He swilled coffee and orange juice, she nibbled and sipped.
Then they sat down on the couch together and planned as best they could, but both of them were weary still, so instead of getting anything done, they wound up asleep together on the couch, Duo's head in Granny's lap. They slept most of the day and woke again in early evening still grumpy and disoriented.
Granny made coffee again and they sat at the table for a while drinking coffee in silence neither one very happy with their thoughts. Finally she slapped a hand down on the table. "Enough of this. We have some time still, and I'm not wasting it sitting around feeling sorry for myself. We need to eat something good. Come on."
Duo helped with the cooking, peeling potatoes and chopping onions. Granny made stew. Not the caned stuff Duo was familiar with, but real home made stew from home made soup stock. He noticed that the cupboards were full of all kinds of canned things. He couldn't resist. He had to burrow in and ask what every thing was. She laughed at his face of wonder as she explained Chow-chow and pickled okra, corn pickle and watermelon salad.
"I've got everything open in the fridge. There's also some pickled green beans. I'll let you try it all. Now come on. Come chop these carrots for me."
Duo obligingly chopped, and washed dishes and helped stir. Granny told tales of her children and grand children.
"But Sylvia got killed in an Oz attack and Harold took the kids back to live closer to his folks. They're real good people and we get along, but it's a drive so I don't get to see them as much as I used to. . . Ginny, she just. . . I'm not sure what's wrong with that girl. She's just plain crazy. Can't settle, won't work. Just drifts in and out; here today, gone tomorrow. Then there's Clark. He's a commander over in China. The resistance . . . only, if you tell, I'll . . . well, you won't . . . I know that. And Billy. He's on L2 trying to organize unions. That's going over real well."
"Yeah, and my mother knits me socks." Duo knew very well that Billy was taking his life in his hands; the L2 manufacturers were non . . . no, make that rabidly anti . . . union.
"I bet she would if she knew how."
"If she knows how, I'll never know it. I don't even remember her she's been out of my life so long. But never mind that. What's this?" Duo was fingering a thing on the back of an overstuffed chair in the breakfast nook.
"Anti-masacar . . . You are a box of why, aren't you boy. It's a thing to keep oil from your hair and hands from staining the upholstery. They've been around since I don't know when. They're just for pretty now, but they do help keep the furniture from wearing. . . . Biscuits or bread?"
"Biscuits please. Teach me how to make them?"
"Ok. First you take this much Crisco." She dipped her hand into the can and scooped out a ball about the size of Duo's two fists together. As she talked, she scooped flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a bowl together, she whisked them around with her fingers, then eyed the amount of flour. "It takes about half again as much flour as lard, a tablespoon or so of baking powder, and a handful of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Then you add the milk. Don't go overboard, but the dough should be just a little sticky. Don't worry about it if it's a bit too much one way or the other, as long as you're not way off, just add to correct and barely knead it at all. The more you mess with it, the tougher they'll be. You like them pinched or cut?"
Duo was wide eyed. When Quatre cooked, he measured every thing like he was making nitro and the slightest mistake would blow him up. Chang was the same way. Heero could manage boxed mixes and so could Trowa. Duo realized that he was the only one who just threw something in the m-wave and hoped for the best.
"I don't know the difference. Don't cook much."
"Oh, everybody should know how to cook."
"Well, I know the best dumpsters around and how to make sure it's not spoiled."
Granny gave him a disgusted look. "Don't try to shock me. After four kids, I'm shock proof. If you ate out of dumpsters, where the hell did you grow up?"
"L2. Can we change the subject please?"
Granny didn't challenge him again, she'd gotten letters from Billy that made her realize that she didn't want to know. Don't push him too far. He's worn thin enough as it is.
"Well, We'll make some of both. Here we go, here's the cutter. You can cut, I'll pinch. They'll bake the same. It's just that cut rise better, but pinched are more tender and short."
Duo cut and Granny pinched, they got the bread into the oven and waited in silence for them to bake. The stew bubbled cheerfully. When the biscuits were done, granny told Duo to get all the pickles out of the refrigerator and put them on the table. Duo set bowls and utensils, butter and napkins out.
Granny dished out the stew and set the bowls down. "You pray?"
"Well, yeah, but not over food. It's disrespectful."
"Well, you worked real hard to make all this nice food and we're going to sit around yakking at God while it gets cold? God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows if we're thankful or not. So can we just eat, please."
Granny passed him the basket of biscuits and helped herself. Boy was smart and his opinions well thought out. She'd get him out of this mess and back where he belonged.
Duo stuffed himself, the stew was good and he'd never had anything like the different pickles. He liked the chow-chow and the corn. The okra was slimy and the watermelon too weird. But all in all, it was fun to see some of the things people would pickle.
"We'll leave tomorrow. I've got to set things in order. Get someone to water the plants, feed the cat, that sort of thing." Duo couldn't help the gasp. "Don't worry, it won't raise suspicions. My daughter-in-law has been trying to get me to come for Christmas forever. So I'll just tell everyone I'm going. Then I'll get lost. We'll wind up somewhere your friends can come to pick you up, then I'll just be late, with a story of wandering around the country-side lost. If I don't make arrangements, someone's sure to wonder why I didn't. Act natural, no one pays attention; just disappear and everyone and his dog will be wondering: What the hell?"
"Yeah . . . you're right. Don't run if no one else is. Don't do anything unusual. That's a sure way to have everyone looking. Fine. You . . . here's the phone. You need anything?"
"A new heart. And a little extra energy wouldn't hurt." Granny smiled at him and took the phone. "But other than that I'm good. Let me . . . yeah . . . no . . . well . . . oh, clear the table will you?"
Duo nearly hurt himself trying not to laugh. Here was some little old lady telling one of the terrorist Gundam pilots to clear the table. Bet she has me fill the dishwasher too.
"Oh and fill the washer will you?"
Duo gave up and laughed softly.
"Would you like to put your head in my lap and have me read to you?"
Duo eyed Granny for a moment then just nodded. He wondered what she was up to but didn't think it was much more than a lonely old lady wanting a substitute grandson.
Granny eyed the now, or again, sleeping boy and stroked his bangs back from his forehead. She'd wanted to get him to rest some more, so she'd picked a book that would probably bore him to sleep. She'd been right, but it had taken longer than she'd expected.
She was tired, this kind of thing was well and good when she'd been twenty, even forty; but now it was just a bit more than she really wanted to cope with. She had to get him out of the area soon. If the Ozzies started a house to house, she couldn't hide the boy.
When she went to wake him at dusk, she realized that he looked much better. The two plus days they'd spent fooling around had done wonders. She urged him up and into the truck, explaining on the way that they had to go now or people would get suspicious. It was the day before Christmas Eve.
"If we don't get going soon, people will know something is up."
"Ok, I'm coming in just a minute." Duo slipped into the bathroom, did his business, and snitched a small framed picture of Granny. She looked about thirty in it, smiling into the camera like any tourist. He didn't think she'd mind.
"I'll have to make a couple of stops to hide what we're doing. You have a way to get hold of your people?"
"Yeah." Duo frowned, if he could get in touch on an untapped line it would be good. If not he'd have to be cryptic and hope Heero or Quatre could figure out what he meant
"Ok I'm going to stop for gas at the mini mart. Then we'll stop at a department store. They both have phones you can get in touch from one of them. "
"That's good. You do some shopping and I'll hang around the video games, I can make a call as soon as I find an untapped line."
Duo got in his phone call and the lady came out of the store with arms full of bags, which she dumped on him.
"Come on, boy. Shopping's all done, now we got to drive all night to get there in time."
When they got to the truck she pulled a map out of one of the bags.
"Here. You know where we're going?"
Duo opened the map, nodding.
"Yeah, all I got over the landline was a list of numbers. It'll take me a little while to figure it out, but we're good to go."
Granny waited patiently while he spread the map over the hood and made marks on it with a pencil. When he refolded the map, she opened the passenger door, motioned him in, and told him to navigate.
"Sure. Just head for I-70 and go east . . . for now."
They got into her truck and headed out. She drove for over an hour then turned to Duo.
"You drive? Shouldn't even ask. You do, don't you."
Duo just nodded. Granny pulled over and got out. Duo slid over under the wheel and settled himself, fiddling with the seat until he was comfortable. Granny fished the map out of the side pocket and consulted it.
"We need to be here?"
Duo looked, then nodded. "Yeah, and we've got eight hours to make it."
Granny looked at the map then humpfed. "Plenty of time. If nothing gets in the way."
"What could happen? It could be a lot worse."
Granny buried her face in her hands. "God boy, never tempt the power of worse. The god of badness will pull out all the stops to show you worse."
Duo laughed softly and drove on into the night.
Granny knew they were in trouble the minute she saw the flashing blue and red lights in the side mirror. damn Her decision was the right one for the mission.
"Don't stop. Drive faster."
She turned around and pulled the shot gun from the back floor boards, waiting for the right moment she made her shot. It blew out the rear window of their truck and the windshield of the pursuing car, which rolled then flipped.
"Good shooting. Just hope they didn't get off a call to HQ."
"I'm sure they did."
"Ya think?" Duo eyed her from the corner of his eyes
Granny just looked grim "I know. Drive."
Duo was soon swearing a blue streak, the occupants of the car had managed to get in a call to their HQ.
"Son of a fucking bitch. We've got company again. Dammit!"
"Watch your mouth. . ." Granny pointed to a black top ahead. "Turn there. Secondary roads are harder to follow on. If we get really lucky, we'll get far enough ahead of them that we can loose them. But . . . shit. It's really hard to out run a radio."
Duo drove like a maniac with Granny pointing out turns at the last moment and making obscene predictions about their pursers parentage and personal habits.
They managed to lose the immediate pursuit while staying more or less on course.
Duo pulled over on a gravel road and waited while granny found their location on the map.
"We need to be in Kansas by . . . " she sighed. "Four a.m.. We're not going to make it. You'll never . . . better let me drive."
"I can do it." Duo didn't want her driving. Not that she was a bad driver, she was, in fact, very good. But he could see that she was tired and he didn't want to chance a wreck.
"You sure? I'm not a spring chicken anymore but I could drive for a while more."
"No, I got it. I'm already behind the wheel. Why don't you get some sleep? If I get lost, I'll wake you up."
Granny didn't think Duo was going to get lost. The way he drove, he'd probably memorized every road between Aurora and their destination. She snuggled down to get some sleep.
"Granny! Wake up! Now. we're boxed in, dammit."
Duo reached over to give the lady another shake. She woke up and sighed.
"How bad is it?"
"Bad. I've been driving in smaller and smaller circles for the last hour. I didn't want to wake you, but I need you to get out the map and see if you can't find some gravel roads that will take us east again."
"We can't go east. They'll expect us to. We need to go either north or south. Best to go south. There aren't as many Ozzies that way."
She dug out the map and navigated. Duo drove full out, even on the gravel roads. She decided that she was glad she didn't really have a bad heart.
"Turn in here and we'll hole up for the rest of the night."
"Ok, how . . . the clerk might recognize me."
"You're not going in, most kids don't. I'll get us a room, you stay here. Just slump down like you're still asleep. No one will suspect anything."
Granny went in and got a room. She looked Duo over and realized that he was on his last legs. Between being beaten half and death, escaping, laying around in the cold and snow, and now driving half the night, the strain of everything was catching up to him. He was really drooping.
She got him into the motel room and stuffed him into bed over his protests.
"Not another word. You're worn out. I know you really started recovering over the last days, but this was hard on both of us. Get in that bed now. And no arguing. You sleep, I'll watch; then I'll sleep and you watch. You first. I don't need as much sleep as you do."
So Duo went to sleep and slept like the dead for over five hours. Then she woke him up and she went right to sleep. Duo sat in a chair by the window, studied maps and worried. He had to get to the rendezvous sight soon, or they wouldn't be there. They'd wait only twenty-four hours, if they could.
He'd missed the first rendezvous, the second was in three hours; he was going to miss that one too. Heero was going to have a fit. He could hear him now, kicking Wings foot and swearing.
By noon she was up and grumbling. "We missed check out. We better get it on the stick or we're going to have to pay for another day. Don't want to attract attention."
"Yeah. I know. I got a route all figured out. It'll put us at the rendezvous in time for the next pick up. If I miss two more, they'll consider me MIA. They won't come back again. Then I'll be in a real mess."
They stuffed their things back in the truck and headed out, just ahead of the day clerk, who was coming to throw them out. He just waived and went back to the office.
Duo drove for most of the way. Granny drove more carefully than Duo did, but she made good time on the highways. He handled the black top and gravel. It seemed that all they'd done forever was drive, and drive some more.
Granny sighed and stretched. "Looks like we lost them. Thank goodness." She rubbed the back of her neck "I still got a bad feeling. Something's not right. Let's keep to the back roads. Not that that'll do a lot of good. This is Kansas with a vengeance. There isn't a tree in sight."
"Yeah. How we're supposed to meet at Sutter's Grove is a mystery to me."
Granny laughed. "Sutter's Grove doesn't have a tree anywhere near it."
Duo turned white, "Oooh, fuck. They'll come in hard looking for trees . . . shit . . . god dammit!"
"What! What's wrong? Your contact . . . oh, hell. I was hoping you weren't really who I thought you are." Granny sighed and rubbed her forehead. "You got trouble with a capital T. If whoever is supposed to meet you comes in in a Gundam you might as well put up a neon sign. How does that work?"
Duo told her. When he'd finished, she sat biting her lip and thinking. Finally she asked how they were going to know exactly where he was.
"I got a beeper. I activate it and it sends out a pulse every ten seconds. They home in on it. But it's short range, not more than a mile. They'll be quartering the area looking for the signal. That's why I have to be there. They won't come back to the area more than so many times then they . . . well, I told you . . . MIA, presumed dead."
"Tough life you live. I'll manage to get you out of this mess one way or another. If we have to, we'll just drive cross-country until you can setup another pick up. I've got savings enough to keep us going for a while."
"Money isn't the problem. People will miss you. They'll start searching for you. And that beeper is a one shot. Then I have to have a new one implanted."
Granny nodded. Then grimaced as the last sentence hit home "You're right. But I'll still have a few days. Let's not borrow trouble, we got enough on our plate as it is."
Duo sighed then turned in at a restaurant. "We might as well stop and get a burger or something. You doing ok?"
Granny grumbled her way out of the truck and into the diner. "I'm too old for this shit. I'm too old to be running all over the country side dodging Ozzies."
"Yeah an' I'm too young. So what. It is what it is. Here."
Duo picked a booth where they could both keep an eye on both doors. They settled in and ordered burgers and fries, Duo ordered coke while she ordered coffee. They just got their food and started eating when the busboy got a good look at them, he nearly dropped his tub, then he hurried into the back. Duo watched for him but he didn't come back out, so Duo made a quick trip to the men's in order to get a look into the kitchen. As far as he could see there was no phone anywhere in the kitchen. He made his way back to Granny and settled into his place again.
"Something's up. Not sure what. Just act normal for now but be ready to bail if I yell."
"Ok. The coffee is terrible. Really bad."
Just then the busboy came back in with an empty tub and started clearing their table. But he snarled "long haired freak." just loud enough for the nearest tables to hear. Then he dropped a napkin on the floor. When Duo bent down to pick it up, he bent down too. They banged heads but Duo knew the other boy had done it on purpose.
"Dammit. You did that on purpose."
Duo eyed the boy. "You did it, not me. What's your malfunction?"
"What's yours?" the boy grabbed Duo and yanked him out of the booth. Granny slid out and got out of the way. She didn't want Duo to hurt the boy but she wasn't getting between two roosters establishing dominance.
Then the boy did something really strange, he stuck his face into Duo's and keeping an angry expression on his face, he hissed, "You got to get out of here . . . now. That new cop is Oz. He'll be here in twenty minutes. He's coming in from the east."
Duo did something fast that put the boy face down on the table with one arm twisted behind his back. He kept his voice low and angry sounding. "Thanks. We're out of here now. You going to get fired over this?"
"Naw, my Dad won't fire me. He'll whale on me for messing with a customer. But I've gotten more for less. Once he's over his mad, I'll tell him who you are. He'll flip. Go."
Duo pushed the boy into the booth and pointed his finger in his face. "I don't know what your problem is, but take it out on someone else. You upset my Gran, jerk." Duo turned to the lady and jerked his head in the direction of the truck. "Let's go, Gran. We don't want to hang around where we're not wanted. I'll pay and we'll go on to Denver."
They got to the truck and climbed in, Granny groaned. "What the hell was that about?"
"He needed to talk to me and I guess he couldn't think of any other way. I wondered when he dropped that napkin on purpose, so I gave him his chance. . . There's an Oz cop on the way here." Duo looked at his watch. "He'll be here in about fifteen minutes. Let's get out of here."
"Where's he coming from."
"The east. If we take the next black top, we'll come in behind him and we'll be home free."
"Good. Let's get going. I'm sick of this. All I want is to get home."
Granny nodded. "Me too. Home, take a hot bath and settle down to watch the news."
"Oh, my god." She gave a dramatic shudder. "I hate soaps. All that angst and drama. Give me a good talk show any day."
Duo laughed. "No angst on a talk show. Nope, no siree bob. Not a bit."
Granny laughed too. "Insolent whelp, just you wait."
"Granny, we're almost there."
"Good! I'm tired, sore, and I want a bath. I think I'm beginning to mold to the seat."
Duo glanced at his watch. "The next rendezvous is in twenty minutes. I'll activate the homer."
"Ok. How will we know if they 'heard' it?"
"Oh, we'll know all right. You never heard a gundam before. There's no mistaking the sound of their verniers."
"Bet it gets you right in the gut."
Duo grinned. "Sure does. Look . . . there's a glint . . . right there. It . . . looks . . . "
"Boy watch your driving, that ditch isn't real soft, but I still don't want to wind up in it. This old bucket of bolts won't handle it. We'll be stuck."
Duo pulled over. "Here, change places with me. We hit the field, I jump out, and you high tail it for home."
"Ok." Granny got behind the wheel and settled to wait for the fireworks, confident that they were home free at last.
"Oh just fucking great. Look." Duo glanced through the smashed rear window. He'd seen something in the side mirror and his quick look confirmed his fears, they were surrounded. Two squad cars were bearing down on them, followed by a hummer. They were cut off from the road and two Gundams were dropping out of the sky like stooping hawks. "Ohfuckohshitohdamn."
Granny gunned the engine and took off. Duo yelled, but she didn't pay any attention.
"Look. We can put them off long enough for your friends to take them out. They'll pick you up and I'll lead the stragglers away. Can you get in touch with them? Signal somehow?"
"No. But if you go north, then east they'll land. I can go up the winch line, but I'm a sitting duck from knees to door. Fuckshit! They're shooting already. Damn I . . . Granny?"
"I'm ok. They missed us. Thank goodness. I already went north, now to go east. They'll follow and your friends can land. Get ready to, huh!" Her short grunt told it's own tale, she was hit.
"Granny! Damn. How bad is it? Stop. Let me look."
"Don't have time . . . just let it go." She looked over her shoulder at the blossoming explosion. One of the Gundams had blown the hummer off its wheels. No one was going to survive that.
She stopped the truck and clambered out awkwardly. The bullet had gone through the back wall of the truck and the back of the seat interring her back to one side of her spine. It had taken out most of one kidney and part of her spleen. She was going to bleed to death before they could do anything. But she was going to take the rest of the Ozzies with her.
"I'm gonna take those bastards with me. They hurt my boy. Damn them. Oooohhh." Her knees buckled, but she managed to stand long enough for Duo to get to her and help her into the bed.
"Here, lay down and give me that. If I shoot at them, the muzzle flash will tell" Duo looked up to see who it was ". . . Trowa that they aren't friendly. Wufei . . . Granny? Oh shit. Granny. I'm so sorry. You. . . "
She put a bloody hand on his lips. "Don't worry about it. It's a better way to go than many. I won't get so old I hurt, don't know my kids, that. . . umm. Hurts. Don't forget me. That's all I ask."
Duo ducked his head so she wouldn't see him cry. "Ok, I won't I promise. You've saved my life at the cost of yours. You know there's no way to help you. I'm so sorry."
"Yeah, well, spit in their eye for me. . . . don't let them get me. Please. I don't want my kids to see them . . . do something nasty with my body. Ok? . . you can do something?"
Duo looked around, while he'd been comforting Granny, Trowa had blasted the two cop cars, but some more were coming. He could hear the sirens in the distance. Wufei was there. His flame thrower was glowing slightly, showing that he'd used it recently.
"Yeah . . . I can do something. How'd you like a real Viking style funeral pyre?"
"Sounds good. . . . don't think I'm gonna last too much longer. You better go."
"I'll go in a minute. What's your name?. . . you never told me your name."
Her voice was so faint that Duo had to lean over and listen hard. "Mary Sue Hancock."
Duo held her a moment longer, then put her down, arranging her neatly. He ducked as Shenlong landed nearly a straddle of the truck. The line dropped quickly and he grabbed it, riding it to the cockpit. Clambering behind the pilot's seat he frantically worked controls.
"What the hell are you doing? We don't have time, we have to take off."
"Got to burn that truck. They can't have what's in the bed. Please Wufei."
Wufei took off almost straight up. The verniers peeled paint and started fires in the dry grass. But the truck and contents were still intact.
"Please Wufei, I promised. Please."
"Yes, I' m on it. But I have to have some more altitude for the flame thrower to do a good job." Wufei maneuvered and swept the truck with a long blast of his weapon. The truck blew up in a ball of flame, everything organic or plastic in the area was ashes in a second.
"So. Now you know. She died so I could live. She was a really nice old lady. And her name was Mary Sue. So from now on I'm singin' it. Mary Sue."
Duo wiped a tear off his cheek and then brightened. "And she gave me this." Duo reached out and picked up a fingernail sized chip. "All her recipes. She made it for her granddaughter and let me have a copy. And I snitched this." He showed Wufei the picture.
"She was a good and honorable woman. I shall remember her name."