Hm, I believe I'm out of things to say. But I'm not out of quotes. ^.^

"Pa, I is gonna keel yew so haud!" -Tamiuana, Camp Rising Sun, 2001 (I have no idea why we started talking like hillbillies and calling each other 'pa')

Duo: Hillbillies?

MaraJadeblu: Hillbillies.

Duo: :sigh: well, you've done worse. Anyway, when is it my turn! I have hidden past crap too, don't I?

MaraJadeblu: No comment. Only that this chapter is about you……

Duo: Oh, god… what did you do to me?

MaraJadeblu: No comment! :runs away:

Duo: Why is everyone's life so screwed up?! :runs after her:

MaraJadeblu: Everyone's got problems at home! Usually…

Duo: :sweatdrop: What did you do to meeeeeee??????

:She runs away, Duo follows:

MaraJadeblu: Why can't I have a NORMAL muse!?

Duo: :stops: I want you to think that question over for a second.

MaraJadeblu: :thinks: There's no such thing, is there?

Duo: Very good… :reads over chapter: Oh My God!

MaraJadeblu: Eep! It's because I love you!!!!! :runs: Who gave you that?



NORMAL: CHAPTER 5
It's a Hard Enough Life


Duo sighed. His book bag was heavy, already, with new books. He also knew there were more books to come… books he had to buy. He considered his options; he could ask his mother for money they didn't have and she would be angry to give and immediately dismissed that thought or he could use money he had made from his job that he saved for lunch money. He opted for the second.
He wasn't gonna not do laundry because he had a date the next night and he needed clean clothes. It wouldn't be nice of him to have smelly clothes on their date and to make her put up with it because he chose himself over her. And he definitely wouldn't use the money for dinner. He was really looking forward to it.
Being poor sucked. He looked around the bus, the other people there didn't look like they could afford the Ritz either.; probably because he lived in a poor neighborhood. He wasn't like, living-in-a-trailer-park kind of poor but his mom and him lived in the basement of a three family house where the boiler room was and only a wall away from the garage.
Duo got off the bus and thanked the driver who only grunted in response. He plopped onto the urban street, which was spotted black from gum. After walking from the main street in two blocks he entered the gate that closed in the 'front yard' of his 'house'. He walked past the normal entrance up the steps and unlocked the door underneath the steps that led to the garage. His mother didn't give him the key to the other door because she felt he was too irresponsible, therefore he had to hike through the dark garage to get inside while the side entrance on the left side of the house led right into the kitchen.
The garage was dark and had a musty smell and he thought he heard his friend, Squeaky the rat. He had lived there long enough to navigate through the dark and not hit his shin on the many tools and poles lying around the car and speed boat owned by the upstairs neighbors. He ducked his head under the light he knew was coming and then pulled the cord to turn it on. The shelves on either side of the entrance to the basement became visible as well as the cobwebs connecting them to the wall. Duo unlocked the final door again with a key from his Mtv keychain.
First the smell hit him, his mom had been smoking before she went to sleep. He closed his eyes in defeat, he had tried to get her to quit but when his situation became even more difficult he couldn't expect too much. Luckily he didn't smell any liquor, his mom probably just fell asleep when she got home from working nights. That wasn't too bad, now if he could just wake her up then he could approach her. Waking her up was not something he wanted to do.
He stepped over the pile of dirty clothes and made a note of where they were so he could do them later. Before Duo even touched his mother he glanced at the kitchen area (there was no wall between that and the living room, just a couch) to see if his mother had perhaps remembered to feed him.
There all he saw was the cigarette his mother had been smoking smoldering beside the sink. He reached in his pocket… if her was going to feed himself and his mother he would need more money than he had on him. It had occurred to him many times that he could steal the money from her but if he did and his mother found out, he would no longer have a home to return to.
He closed his eyes and closed his hand around his crucifix for a brief prayer before his other shaky hand reached out to wake up his mother. After a tap he was ready to jump back but he should have known better than to assume that his mother would be awakened so easily. He nudged her harder and added a cautious "Mom…"
His mother stirred and rolled over to peer at him with one dull blue eye. "What?" she mumbled through the pillow she slept on. Her brown hair that was shoulder length and wavy fell in a mess around her face and head. She wore a wife-beater and some sweats that he thought she had come home in that morning.
"I need some money to go to the store and buy dinner," he gulped, "and maybe some things for school," he added much lower.
Immediately she was awake, though not fully enough to reason with. "What did I tell you about that prissy school?! Heh?" She yelled blurrily.
Duo looked at her sarcastically, "You said that I should go to it because Such a stupid boy like me would have the chance to-"
"Don't talk back!" she yelled with her charred voice. It always made him think that some one had burned her throat… or maybe just the cigarettes. When he was a boy it seemed much more caring. "I tell you, this school won't be free like everyone says. It's gonna suck every living cent we have. Be grateful I work so hard for a brat like you! I don't know why though." She laid back down and shut her eyes, only muttering something like, "Money's on the dresser."
Duo said nothing, he only walked into her room, which still lingered with the overly sweet smell of alcohol and took the wad of money on the dresser. He shoved it in his pocket and hurried to get out of the door before his mother could change her mind or even speak to him. He swore, one of these days, I'm gonna steal her #$%^ keys.
Where to go was an easy thought, he needed a couple of cheap meals and already made for that matter. He would go to the butcher down by the corner, who sometimes gave him a discount because the register boy knew he didn't have much money and took pity on him. He hated that, but it wasn't his choice, plus, as much as he hated pity he'd be a fool to turn down cheap food.
The sore had a small entrance and was very narrow with only two aisles, it made it very camped and almost impossible to get to the front. The was the line worked was kind of funny. The people in the direct front were taken care of by one of the cashiers, who both used the same register. The other cashier walked a little down the line and if he say someone he knew he would take their stuff and ring it up first. None of the customers really noticed because the store was so cramped, but Duo did, ever since he started being the one the cashier usually picked.
The butcher had ready-made dinners that just need to be heated up in the cold section, but they were homemade meals, only cold. At home Duo could use their microwave, which was years old since his mother had been able to keep it only from the time in their old apartment when they had money. Duo picked two, some bake ziti and a cold cut salad. With that he stepped up to the line, which already had about four people on it.
Techno music played in the background from the speakers that were hidden behind hanging hides of meat. The place smelled like salt, meat and cheese. It wasn't a smell he particularly liked, but it was better than the smell of the gas station that his mom used to work at… that reminded him way too much of urine. The short cashier walked inconspicuously next to him and suddenly pointed to his stuff.
"Is that all you have, man?" The cashier, Shawn asked.
Duo nodded, "Sup? I haven't seen ya in a while."
"Well, you haven't been in here. Where've you been?" he asked as he walked back to the front and behind the counter to the register. Duo weaved his own way to the side of the line to get to the front.
"School started, I've actually been going too." Shawn rang up the two items. Duo took out his money ahead of time so that Shawn could see if he had enough money.
"You haven't been in school, don't lie," Shawn said slyly, "You can tell me," he glanced at the money and rung up the cost minus one dollar, "6.26, please," he said in his cashier I-say-it-because-I-have-to voice. "What is it, a girl?"
Duo smiled widely, "Please, like I'd let any woman control my life. No, it's not the girl. I changed schools. I got a scholarship to that rich school in Sohok Corners." Duo paid with a ten, "There is a girl though. I have a date tomorrow."
"No shit? And a rich, prissy ass girl from that bourgeoisie school. You're probably gonna need money to impress her too." Shawn handed Duo his change.
Duo rolled his eyes, "She's not like that."'
"I sure hope not." Duo looked down at his change: 5.74. Shawn winked, "Wish I could help."
Duo smiled slyly and turned to leave when he was interrupted by the sound of an annoying voice that was laughing at a joke, but seemed nervous.
"So, Ma, we were driving down the interstate at like 85 mph" she glared at her son, "But he didn't see us! We passed the cop just as he was turning, he had just pulled someone over and when I looked back I was like, 'holy shit!'"
The guy's mother took a piece of waxed over meat and thwacked her son in the side with it, "Pulling such a stupid stunt, I'l kill you!" she held up the meat threatening.
Her son jumped to the back of the store, the woman, exasperated, turned back to Duo and said, "I'll kill 'im." She shook her head then announced to the store comically, "I'm gonna kill my son! He'll be on sale Friday and Saturday!"

The day Duo found out his mother had aids was the first time since he turned eleven that he ever cried. He wasn't the type, and it had been a couple of years since he'd actually cried, that was back when he still loved his mother, and his mother still loved him. Back then they had an apartment on the second floor of a family house. He ran downstairs with tears in his eyes to go take a walk and think. No one had followed him. But when he looked in the mirror at the bottom of the steps he hated what he saw. He wiped away his tears gently so not to make his face even more red and smiled. That didn't look right, he still looked sad, so he smiled again, he looked a little better that time, his eyes less red. With that he opened the door for that walk he had planned.
From then on, practicing smiling became a habit of his, but it helped him through a lot. When he smiled the pain disappeared a little, and he didn't get unwanted pity, and he didn't have to deal with people's questions, and no one figured out that there was anything wrong. It was great. He had been doing it for years and when they had to move out of that apartment and into the basement he had bought a small mirror to hang on the wall of his room, that way, whenever he left his room, even his mother couldn't tell what he was thinking, plus he wouldn't be able to see himself in the dark of the garage.
When his mother broke that mirror he no longer could afford another one to hang on his wall so he bought a compact, that way he could always glance at his smile before having to be around people, he had still carried it around to that day, in one of his pockets.
That's where his trouble began. He had caused himself several problems in his new neighborhood. First of all, he was used to being rather safe when he first arrived. However, on his treks to the store to run errands and such he had quickly learned it was not so in the 'slums'. Second, he couldn't help it, he had a smart ass mouth. He simply found the world somewhat funny and felt it was good to share the fun… or maybe it was part of his ego. Last was the mirror.
The first two things hadn't affected him up until the compact mirror had become a habit. Actually he had learned quickly that his fast mouth gained points with some of the locals and he had several friends that he could depend on. That gift didn't work on everyone. So partly it was his smart mouthed ego that had convinced him to take a darker, yet faster way home in his first month living in the slums. He had figured he could handled it…

He knew that if he took the dark ally through the tall apartment buildings it would end him two lighted blocks away from his house. Stupidly, he had also wanted to make a good impression on the neighbors, making as many allies as possible. So right before he was completely visible to the neighbors he pulled out the mirror and glanced at his face and then smiled broadly.
Duo had thought nothing of it and was quickly pocketing the compact when he heard a shuffling noise behind him. "See," a deep voice started, "I told you there was something up with him. With the braid and now he applyin' makeup."
"I ain't so sure it's a 'he'" Said another voice laid with humor.
Duo heard himself take a sharp intake of breath. He had never been caught before and he was trying to calm his heart and facial features before turning around. "Did you just imply I was a girl?" He started his trek to obtain a 180. The gallon of milk at his side banged into his already unsteady knees as he turned.
"Who needs to? Love the braid, does your mommy do it for you? Ya' ain't so bad looking with your blush and mascara," the same one who had insulted him replied.
Duo knew that this guy was no match for him in wits, "I braid my own hair, but I'm sure your mom does it for you real good every night." He smiled cockily.
"What the fuck?!" The more forward one started towards him but was held back by the quiet one.
"You've got a rep for your smart mouth but it won't help you here. We hafta teach you a lesson. Your mouth won't help you out of this one."
"Yea, you're no match for us, girly man-"
"I'm surprised. I didn't know you swung that way." Duo winked but when the larger one with the deep voice stepped into a slightly lighter shadow he could tell that he should start running. He flung the milk carton at them but it only managed to slightly ruffle the belligerent one who caught it with an "oof" and tossed it aside.
But by the time Duo had released and started his turn to run the superior thug was only a step behind him. Duo's last thought before he was most painfully choked as the massive one grabbed the back as his collar and yanked him back into darkness was: Damn that bastard's fast!
Duo had never taken a beating before but apparently he was pretty good at it. After he was dealt a hard blow to the stomach that made him want to hurl they ganged up on him. One kicked in the side and the other hit his head with something not of the fist variety. Duo never did find out what it had been. But darkness flashed in front of his eyes for a split second and he could no longer see the light near his only escape, the looming silhouette of his attacker covered it.
He remembered crying out and falling into the spilt milk. Then his thoughts only focused on pain as he was kicked repeatedly while down.

On that night Duo closed his eyes in regret at the memory. Well, he had taught himself how to defend with more than just wit and milk (though he had both at the moment). He heard them following him. After two years of beatings turned into sparrings he had learned their names. The weasely one, who he openly addressed as 'Weasely', was Mark and the larger, more challenging and extremely fast foe was Jorge, but no one called him that. He was known infamously as 'Gran'. The name was short for the Spanish word 'grande' and Duo sometimes enjoyed taunting him by talking to him in español.
Duo smiled, he was not the once naïve boy he had come here as. At the moment he was wondering if it would be wise to attempt a one-handed climb up the fire escape and keep the milk. Gran hadn't caught him in about three months… maybe he was going soft. "No necesitas ser furtivo," You don't need to be sneaky. Duo addressed Gran without looking around.
"Pues, lo empeza ahora." Well, now it starts. They both broke out into a simultaneous run. By the sound of them there were more than Weasely and Gran. Hm, heavy steps, Duo deduced, Probably Norb and Jack. They were brothers and after Duo had unluckily and inadvertently insulted their sister… long story.
Duo decided that he was in a mood for a work out and he didn't want to go back home, because he still had shopping to do. It occurred to him that he couldn't afford to get caught because they would take his money but it had also occurred to him that his mom wouldn't let him into the house after giving him money and telling him to get milk if he came back without the milk.
Duo had developed a specialty. Suddenly, to his pursuers… he seemed to disappear. He had ducked into a shadow and switched direction from his house back into the maze of dark alleys. Gran was used to it and accepted the challenge immediately. He knew Duo would head right and jump the fence to enter into a different sub alley on the other side of the block. Duo was buying time in his mind.
Duo was actually trying to tire them out so that they would give up. He knew that Norb and Jack would be first to give up. He could kick Weasely's ass but he still couldn't do that without being caught by Gran and there was no way he was going to willingly fight Gran.
Cats meowed in protest as Duo raucously used a metal garbage can to launch himself quickly over a fence. He landed easily and continued running. Behind him he heard the others struggling, even Gran, whose specialty was not that of clandestine.
While he had a lead Duo led them into a smaller alley for two reasons: then they had to file themselves in singly and also because that meant the buildings were closer together. Immediately Duo reached for the first fire escape ladder and yanked it down as he began climbing it nimbly yet with awareness of the milk in his hand. The jostling clang as the ladder reached its limit only delayed Duo a second and he speedily reached the first floor only to begin ascending again.
Gran cursed as he realized that they wouldn't be catching up with Duo unless there was an unlucky twist of fate for the braided lunatic. He knew Duo well as one knows their enemy intimately from excessive battle and as soon as Duo jumped into a narrow alley, he knew the danger that lie ahead. Norb had given up at the third floor and seconds later so did Jack in between the forth and fifth.
All were breathing heavily by the time they were on the seventh floor and only one flight away from the roof but the new conditions drastically increased the risk rate. Duo didn't seem to care.
Duo did care indeed. He felt his heart beating painfully in his chest and instead of forcing himself further he used his lead to lock arms with his hands on his knees and took some deep breathes. Gran took the cue and rested momentarily as well but was good to go before Duo was. (Duo had an extra weight after all).
By the time Duo reached the roof Gran was only half a ladder behind him (Weasely had long ago given up) and he had no time to gather his head before he chose a side of the building and took a leap of faith. The roofs weren't that far apart but the possibility of falling was terrifying. Duo almost fell over after making the jump and stumbled around to see his progress.
They faced each other on separate roofs. "Give up!" Duo shouted heavily in English. "There's no point anymore!" He was talking not solely about the current incident, but the whole ordeal in general.
"I would but," Gran breathed, "I can't now that," he breathed, "you joined that prissy school."
Duo had suspected that. He was too lazy to talk but thought, Well, if that's what it is then there's no stopping it. All he did that communicated his feelings though, was bow. He then turned and fled down the fire escape nearest him. Gran didn't follow.



I'm so proud I wrote this ^.^ I love Duo. I LOOOOOOOOVE HIM! The Spanish should by all means be correct but there's a chance it isn't. (I only got a 79 in the class -_-) It won't be the only language I'll add and I'm sorry if I used words ya' didn't know. Hell, I didn't know them until I read 'When Push Comes to Shove' RK fic. -_-0 I admit it. You don't have to.
The thing in the butcher? I thought it was funny, it actually happened to me.
I'm sorry if you especially like this fic, I won't be working on it for a looooong time. Unless I get hit with a burst of inspiration I did this school night as 12:10am. … thank you for reading. Itll be back!!! It shall!!! Ack! :sleeps: