DISCLAIMER: If I owned anything but this fabulous ass of mine, then 'disclaimer' would be spelled dsklaymur and Swedish would be the national language of the US. Suffice to say, I do not.
"Military school?!" Duo half-shrieked, keeling over on the floor right then and there. He righted himself quickly as if nothing had happened. "You're kidding right? If this is some sort of elaborate practical joke as punishment, I never bought a word of it. You didn't get me with that one – "
"… One more time for the deaf?"
You are going to military school, young man. You are NOT going back to that backwater school you learn such behaviour from next week." His mother regarded him with cold eyes. "You may not believe that what you did what that serious, but your father and I both think differently. You have this week off from school to pack."
"NO! I stay right here or else – "
"You are NOT the decision-maker in MY house, you ungrateful, rotten child! Your room!"
"Like I'm really gonna – "
Duo didn't have the chance to argue further. His father, the hulking robot of a man that he was, silently forced him to obey his mother's order and bodily tossed him into his room. Duo dimly heard the soft click of the outside lock turning.
"You pack. No supper."
Duo waited until the footsteps grew faint enough before muttering, "Fine. I'll stuff you all into the most 'backwater' nursing home I can find when you're even more old and wrinkly than you already are and then run off with every last penny of your 401k. See if this seems serious enough for godforsaken military school THEN."
"What was that?" Duo cursed quietly.
"I said, 'I don't want any food if you're gonna use a gay word like 'supper'."
Duo now stood in front of the most depressing little camp-type… thing he had ever seen in his regrettably short life, about to get shorter, as he constantly reminded himself. There were few buildings, but masses of equipment lay strewn about between them, obviously for training or whatever it was that you were really supposed to do at a military school. That led Duo to wonder what the kids did when it rained out. He shivered, knowing the answer to his question already. This was going to be hell.
He had bid goodbye to his parents already, if you call ignoring them completely and walking away from them like you've never seen the people before in your life and really don't care to a goodbye. That left Duo to register and check in on his own, never mind the fact that he hadn't the slightest idea how to do so. But at least delinquents like him had a cool little thing called 'instinct'. For the most part, Duo was always right about any gut feeling he got. Never mind that. He was always right.
That was why he trudged drearily up to an ugly building and opened the door, letting himself in. What do you know, it was the right one. Fancy that.
"Are you Maxwell, Duo?" asked some random woman.
"I might be. 'Pends on who you are."
"Once again, my obedience 'pends on who you are. Care for an all-around introduction?"
She smiled, almost against her will. Duo decided that she had nice eyes. So why did she cover one up all the way with her bangs hanging all over her face like that? It was a waste of a teensy-tinsy bit of pretty in an annoyingly bland place like this. "My name's Noin."
"A first or last name?"
"'Pends on who's asking." She raised one eyebrow teasingly. Duo couldn't suppress a tiny chuckle. She looked fun at least. "Okay, we're here. You need to speak to this guy with a lot more respect if you want to make it through this alive, Maxwell."
"It's just Duo, Noin. And I'll see what I can do." Duo reached up and removed his baseball cap, a gesture of respect in every country but for a few. Noin smiled at him and stepped forward to open the door.
"Commander Trieze? The new arrival, Duo Maxwell is here, sir."
"Welcome. Please, take a seat, young man."
"Thank you, sir. Your kindness is most appreciated." Noin almost gave the boy a strange look but decided against it at the last minute. Surely there had to be some reason or another for the boy to adopt a heavy Scottish accent in the space of three seconds.
"Scottish?" asked Trieze, lifting an eyebrow.
"Yes, sir." Duo scanned Trieze absently, noting that this guy must think himself fairly important. Manicured nails, styled hair, the whole nine yards. Duo automatically decided that the man was tolerable, but he couldn't help the feeling of dislike.
"Your parents didn't have accents of any sort when they called me. Are you faking it? We do not tolerate any such jokes here."
Duo sighed slightly. "I play no such jokes here, sir. I am well aware of my position. You see, my parents have much thicker accents than I. They often request the assistance of their friends or coworkers when they need to speak on the phone. When we first came to America, several misunderstandings occurred because of our accents over the phone. Perhaps you had noticed that the voices you heard seemed oddly indifferent to the situation?" Duo gave his best cutesy look. Adults tended to fall prey to it time and again.
"You are quite right; I thought that they were just cruel parents at first," Treize admitted. "My apologies."
"I see nothing to forgive you for, sir," Duo said semi-honestly. Noin was rubbing a temple, a headache clearly coming on fast.
"You will be bunking with the bunks in the 23rd block. We expect no problems from there; they are all good boys and will not haze you, as other boys are wont to do. Noin here will be in charge of your block, along with a few others. Try not to trouble her too much, but remember that she is there to ensure your overall well-being. I hope your stay with us will not be… too horrid."
"I appreciate it, sir." Duo recognized a dismissal and stood to leave.
As the door shut behind them, Noin clapped him on the shoulder. "What the hell was that about?"
Duo grinned. "Fun, that's what it was. Nice, huh? I'll be doing that for the first couple months to every officer. Unfortunately, I kinda forgot to do the accent when I first walked in here, so you'll have to be an exception to my deception." Duo wiggled his eyebrows, the accent gone completely.
"Nice accent, though. I almost believed it myself."
"23rd block. Treize must either like you or hate your guts." Noin sighed.
"Eh? But I thought he said – "
"Yeah, these guys are better with hazing problems, but their – erm, personalities, I guess? Uh, why don't we just introduce you to your hell face-to-face, 'kay?" Noin fingered her hair, an expression of vague pity on her face.
"Noin, what the hell is wrong with the guys in the 23rd?" Duo asked, fearing for his life already.
She avoided his eyes.
"And this would be Duo Maxwell. I want everyone to treat him with respect and, hopefully, that will entail not killing him. 'Kay?"
Every person in the room, all four of them, saluted stiffly. Duo curtsied. Noin slapped herself in the forehead.
"Hey, Duo. With your long hair and everything, that wouldn't be the best idea. Curtsies are feminine, and… er…" Noin muttered.
"Oh, no troubles there. I'm cute." Noin slapped herself in the face again. "Hey, Noin? You keep doing that and it'll leave a mark."
The other boys exchanged looks at how informally the newcomer already spoke with their fearsome dorm leader, not to mention how accepted it was by the woman herself.
"Alright, Duo. Just call me up if you have any problems." She smiled, then swooped in with serious eyes. "I'm dead serious, these guys will kill you or drive you insane. Call me if you need any help," she whispered.
"No sweat, Noin. 'S'all good. I won't need to call you for anything, trust me." The smile never faltered. Noin just looked worried.
"Fine, if you really feel that you'll be fine. I suppose I'll see you around."
As Noin left the room, the boys stood frozen. Then, as one, they all turned to look at Duo. Trowa walked forward slightly, the little blonde growth (whose name was Quatre, Duo reminded himself) hanging on his arm every step of the way.
"Hey, man." Trowa smiled guiltily. "Was hoping that I'd never get to see you here."
Duo shook his head, still smiling. "Yeah. Wasn't really planning on it myself."
"Your parents or the law?"
"Neither. Parent. Singular."
"Okay, someone care to explain how the hell you two know each other?" The Chinese boy (Wufei? Yeah, that sounded about right. Or maybe it was Ku fei or something…) glared over at them. Duo internally winced at how tight this kid's hair was pulled back. It must've reflected how tightly that stick was wedged up his-
"We're here for the same reason," Trowa said. "We used to be friends. I'd like to think we still are?"
"Yeah, man! Of course we are!"
"But I got you caught –"
"No, you didn't. I was the one who convinced you to do it in the first place." Duo looked a bit guilty as he glanced to the side. "'Sides, I mean, I wasn't even around to help you take the heat when the cops found you."
"I told you to leave to get the ketchup, so it's not your fault you weren't there."
Everyone seemed to be getting really curious right about then. Wufei and Quatre sort of had shocked expressions, glancing from side to side, not really sure what to think. The boy that had been introduced as Hiro Yui[A/N- Yeah. This is probably closer to the actual romanji. The US had an irritating habit of dumbing stuff down for us in the 90s. Sorry for explodey brains. just stood in the corner emotionless. His face was vaguely irritating when it just didn't move like that. Strangely enough, it was Hiro who interrupted next.
"Would the both of you hurry a little to get the whole story out? I don't particularly care, but Quatre and Wufei will automatically assume the worst if you don't get their heads all sorted out now." Wufei shot the boy a hateful glare. It was clear that he didn't appreciate being spoken about as though he were a three year old in need of babysitting.
Trowa smiled gently, but it was barely seen next to Duo's massive grin. "Ooh, this is gonna be good. All right guys, we'll tell, but only because it was asked of us. Don't bother sitting down, it's not too long of a story to tell," said Duo. "Consider it your introduction to me.
"Okay, it was a dark and stormy night –"
"It was a warm and beautiful morning, Duo."
"Oh, shove it. Let me tell, 'kay? All right. It was a dark and… vaguely nice morning, just before dawn, when the idea hit me. It was the best of the best of the best pranks, amazing singularly because I am the one who thought it up."
"He's modest, too. Can you tell?" Trowa asked Quatre quietly. The blonde boy chuckled, trying to smother the noise with a cough.
"My idea went as follows: Trowa, my wonderful and ever-faithful friend who happened to be particularly gullible would accompany me on an expedition to Times Square to carry out a secret mission before anyone woke. We would embark at the wee hours of the morning that no sane person would dare venture onto the streets at. But our valor prevailed!"
"Jesus Christ, it'll take forever if we let Duo tell it. Everyone, we stole mannequins from every store we could find and set them all up in Times Square in rather compromising positions with each other. We also rigged speakers into the mannequins and programmed them to play a bad recording of Bad Touch by Bloodhound Gang for thirteen hours straight, or until someone whacked them hard enough with something blunt and heavy. Or shot them. Shooting works just as well," Trowa said.
Duo glared. "Tro'! Dammit, man, I wanted to tell it!"
"We would've been here all night," Trowa pointed out.
"That's what makes it fun, buddy 'ol pal of mine," Duo grumbled sardonically.
"So what was that part about ketchup?" Quatre asked, confused.
"Oh yeah," muttered Duo. "You know that one line in Bad Touch that reads, 'want you smothered, want you covered, like my Waffle House hash browns'?"
Multiple people exchanged looks.
"Stupid as this is gonna sound, what do you put on hash browns?"
"That really is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard."
"It was THREE O CLOCK IN THE MORNING!! THINGS AREN'T SUPPOSED TO MAKE SENSE," Duo growled. "But either way, I left to get the ketchup and Tro' got busted while I was gone. When I came back, there was suspicion, but nobody could prove that I'd had any part in it. Thank God that Tro' didn't squeal on me or I'd be in juvie, not this place. My parents knew that Tro' was a fairly good kid – when I was nowhere near him. So they got the idea in their heads – and when I say that I mean my mother got an idea in her head – that I'd come up with the whole plan. Ma also knew that I was the only one out of the two of us who could've picked the locks on the department stores. Ma knew I'd had a definite part in it, so she stuffed me in here to, ah, discipline me." Both Duo and Trowa chuckled quietly at that. "Alright. Now that I've shared, everyone else share. What'd you do to get sent here, of all places?"
Quatre straightened a little. "I'm a prince of a neighbouring kingdom. It's not an astoundingly large country, but all the same, we have a military. I need to understand the ethics of such a military if I am to rule efficiently." Everyone gave him weird looks. Did that mean he came here willingly? How many kids actually wanted to go to military school? "Well, that and it's a family tradition. Had to go." Okay, that made more sense.
"What about you, Wufei?" asked Duo.
All eyes turned to him. Wufei turned red a little and turned his head away quickly. "Ah, it's a family tradition for me, too. Nothing interesting."
Trowa chuckled and shook his head. He turned to Duo and muttered, "I know that's not it, but the guy never is going to tell me. You might have better luck getting the real story out of him, though."
"I accept this mission," said Duo, mimicking a salute. Then Duo remembered exactly where he was and cringed at the irony.
"What about Hiro?"
The boy in question's head lifted slowly at the mention of his name.
"Huh, come to think of it, I never even asked Hiro what he did. I think I was too scared of him to ask," Trowa murmured.
"For shame, dude. So, Hiro? What'dja do?"
Hiro looked up, as bland-looking as he had since the instant that Duo had walked into the room.
"It's not really that interesting."
"Told you he wouldn't want to say," muttered Trowa. Quatre gave a remorseful nod of agreement.
"But I insist."
Hiro paused. He let out an emotionless sigh and settled into a more comfortable position on the wall. "Alright. It's not a very good story, but here it is. I blew up one of the Marquesas islands in the Pacific Ocean, currently owned by France. I told you it wasn't terribly exciting or elaborate."
"You… blew up an ISLAND??"
"In the Pacific."
"Owned by France?!"
"…Holy hell," whispered Wufei, ignoring his own oxymoron, his face paler than before.
"I consider myself lucky that France didn't declare war on my country," Hiro remarked.
Duo snorted. "You wouldn't have to worry about that anyway. The only war the French ever won was when they fought against themselves."
"Ouch," winced Quatre sympathetically.
"That's not the point!" yelped Wufei. "You blew up a Pacific Island?! How exactly does one go about blowing up a frickin' ISLAND??"
"I'd rather not say," said Hiro.
"I'm scared of him on an all new level now," said Trowa.
"Me, I've just got this 'respect' thing going on," said Duo. "It's kind of weird; I don't respect a lot of people."
"We noticed, said Wufei. "Since when does Ms. Noin let anyone refer to her without some honorific of sorts?"
Duo looked at the other boy, puzzled. "You mean she's uptight?"
"Like you wouldn't believe. She doesn't like this block in particular, either, so she's extra uptight about us."
"Weird. She was really nice to me and even let me get away with a little… prank, of sorts, in Treize's office." The boy's eyes widened.
"What did you do?" asked Trowa in a motherly, scolding tone.
"I just made him think that I'm Scottish. Heavy accent and everything. I'll be like that around all of the teachers for a while, save Noin, so now you know why."
"Really?" Trowa looked mildly interested.
"As advertised," Duo said, hand over heart.
"But one more thing before you crash for the night."
"You kind of need to know where you're rooming. You know, where your bed is."
"Oh. That might be vaguely convenient, knowing where my bed is." Duo nodded.
Trowa looked awkward. "Um, right. Okay, since the rooms are divvied up into two beds each, you'll have a roommate."
"Yeah, that roommate is Master Combustible-Island over there. Sleep well!"
I'm part French, part Portugese(sp?), so I can totally get away with that line about the French. You, however, unless you are one too, cannot. Nyaha.
But please, by all means, review. BY GOD, please review. Hated it? Love it? Don't give a rat's arse? REVIEW. It makes everything better. except chocoloate. 'Cause dudes, there is NOTHING that can improve chocolate. That, and Rupert Grint's line about tap-dancing spiders in that one Harry Potter movie. You can't get better than that.