Maxwell Family Values

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5. Get back on your feet. We'll guard your back, but you stand up on your own.

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The ride back on the subway from Sharp Street Station to South City was a bit disorienting, only Duo's chattering keeping him from wondering if he'd dreamed being a Maxwell. Rabi had decided to come along for the hell of it, but was absolutely no help, just sitting with one of his Libraroom books (when Naruto asked how the hell he'd gotten it out, Rabi had just pointed to one of his bangles and turned the page).

"Relax, Naruto," Duo groaned, spinning around one of the poles and looking for the world like a bored five year old. "It's a school. You've been to those before. Trust me, they're all the same."

"Except for Ouran," Rabi said, turning a page with a smirk.

"Ohhhhhhhh yeah," Duo grinned. "Can't forget Ouran. Very special bunch, there."

"Hear they're holding some sort of dance at South City in a couple weeks," Rabi added.

"Hmm," Duo frowned, his twirling stopping abruptly. "Think I could get Heero into a dress?"

"I think you'd look damn good in a skirt," Rabi grinned. Another page turned. "Let your hair down, a bit of makeup, oh yeah. One hell of a hot she-male."

Naruto just groaned, slapping a hand over his face and wishing the world would just go away.

"That means embarrass Duo and stop freaking out," Rabi said, eye finally shifting from the book to Naruto, chin propped on the back of his hand. "I seriously don't think I've ever seen you this worked up. What's crawled into your pants?"

"I, uh…" Naruto began, and gulped down the lump in his throat. "I'm not the…smartest person, you know. And my first day-"

"That was some kid named Uzumaki," Duo said, frowning. "YOU have never been to this school, brother mine. That Uzumaki kid might have been a lot like you, maybe looked like you, sure, but you're Naruto Maxwell." He paused. "And even Rabi says you can be smart when you're interested in the subject."

"And I don't ever call Reno smart, but that's because he's a moron when he isn't at work," Rabi grumbled.

"Yeah, I think they were conjoined twins at birth and they just gave Axel the brain," Duo grinned.

"Ha! Maybe Reno got those missing bits of Axel's spine, too," Naruto laughed as the train screeched to a stop. "NOBODY is that flexible naturally."

People got on, Rabi and Duo walked off with Naruto and most of the younger crowd. "Just never play twister with that bastard," Duo shook his head. "It's like he's a cat, I swear. Waaaaaay too bendy."

"He'll make someone a very happy husband some day," Rabi grinned.

Ah, yes. The other Maxwell trait, the one Naruto just had to suck up and accept.

'Naruto, you will more than likely be gay,' Rabi had said. 'You seem more bisexual, like Axel and me, but I warn you right now. The Maxwell Boyfriends are all just that – BOYS. When that dastardly hitch hits you, there's about a ninety percent chance it'll be with a guy. So suck it up and fuck them.'

"Ohhhhhhhhh, so is THAT why you're coming to school?" Naruto grinned at Rabi, who frowned at him. "Your Boyfriend?" Always a capital B to a Maxwell Boyfriend. He'd learned that when both Rufus and Heero had been there for breakfast. Both had immediately jumped up and been about ready to kill him until they were informed he was a fully-fledged Maxwell, at which point the two couldn't have cared less and Rufus asked politely for another piece of French toast.

"Naaaaaaah, Yuu'd just kick me in the face if I showed up during school," Rabi sighed, rubbing the back of his head and looking put-upon. "I'm backup in case you try to run. And speaking of which, good job."

"Wha…?" Naruto frowned, only to gape as he realized that they were already through the high school's doors, Rabi leaning against a wall, book open once more as he grinned.

"Welcome back to higher learning, Lil' Bro!" Rabi said cheerily. "Duo, you alright on your own?"

"Awww, but Rabi, don't you know?" Duo frowned. "I'm never alone - I keep you here in my heart, which is why it makes that obnoxious thumping sound since it's you with that Mallet of Doom."

They ushered him over to the main office, where a scowling Iruka Umino was waiting for them. "Naruto - " he began, only to be cut off by Duo.

"Yeah! Naruto Maxwell, meet Iruka! Best damn teacher you'll ever meet," Duo grinned as Rabi vanished out the door with a wave to the reddening teacher. "Iruka, meet the youngest Maxwell. He's a good kid, so treat him right, okay?"

"What – I – of course I'll treat him right!" Iruka snapped, slightly flustered at the circumstances of being reintroduced to a student. That, and being complimented by a Maxwell of all things. The apocalypse was clearly approaching.

"Hey, Iruka," Naruto grinned, rubbing the back of his head and holding back a blush. "Nice to, uh, meet you?"

"Damn straight it is," Duo sniffed imperiously into the air. He turned to look at Iruka. "Mind if I help out on the tour until first period? I think he's kinda jumpy today."

Iruka swallowed the lump in his own throat. A jumpy Maxwell usually meant lots of property damage and even more paperwork, in his experience.

"And I know you don't have a cell yet, and Rabi's working on getting you one, promise, but for a couple days it'll just be me sticking by you and telling you whatever's going on, alright? Don't worry, you'll love being back," Duo grinned, and they stepped into the huge commons that most of the school surrounded, a large fountain in the middle of it which was spurting up half-heartedly. Purple eyes glanced back at Iruka. "He's in your careful, caring hands, Iruka."

"I'm so confused," Iruka muttered, but Duo was already bounding off to underneath one of the staircases, where he pounced on four boys that looked rather long-suffering about it, really. Of course, Heero looked a bit happier, but he was also half asleep.

"Hey hey Iruka what happens next?!" Naruto grinned. "I've got normal classes now, right?"

"Actually your schedule's about the same," Iruka said dryly. "Because of someone giving you the PSAT a year early we had to move you back up in history and math."

Naruto glared at nothing in particular. "Maaan, I shoulda known there was something messed up about that stupid test. Rabi was being all orderly about it and shit-"

"LANGUAGE!" Iruka snapped.

"-SHIT, okay! I forgot how scary you are!" Naruto yelped. Iruka decided to ignore the way the blond's hand had immediately reached for the side pocket on his cargo pants, knowing damn well what any startled Maxwell would be reaching for.

Iruka cleared his throat again, giving Naruto a cut-off glare as he handed him a sheet of paper from the folder he was holding. "That's your schedule. Do you really want a tour, or would you rather I just tell you that if you set a single toe out of line I'll throw you in detention and let you wander off?"

Naruto paused, blinking, as his head tilted to the side. "But…haven't you already done the second one just by saying that?"

"Stop being smart," Iruka grumbled. "I expect you in class on time, Maxwell."

Naruto grinned. He hesitated for a moment, and then Iruka blinked down at his armful of Naruto.

"You're great, Iruka," he said quickly, and with a grin was already sprinting through the commons, Iruka's sheepish smile following him all the way to the quick twist into another hall. Conversations flooded around him, passing through one ear and out the other.

"- I swear he's an alien!! HIS SKIN IS GREEN!"

"Come off it already, Zim's been with us since elementary school - "

"B-but Wolfram I don't think we're READY -"

"WE'RE ENGAGED AND HAVE A DAUGHTER, YUURI! ARE YOU CHEATING ON ME?!"

"Kyon, hurry UP! This Dib guy says there's an ALIEN! In OUR school! How can you be thinking of a math test at a time like this?!"

"…Haaah…"

It was ridiculously refreshing, such a rush of people not trying to kill him or teach him how to kill people. Snickering to himself at how strange his life was and how he hadn't even noticed, Naruto twisted into an emptier hallway…only to smash his skull into someone else's.

"FUCK," Naruto shouted out, grabbing his forehead and wincing again when he noticed there was actually blood on his hand. He glanced from his hand to the person he'd run into…and growled. "It's you."

Dark eyes, dark hair, a pretty pretty face that clearly wanted to kill him in his sleep. Or right now, really. "You should have left for good, idiot." What was the bastard's name? Gah, he could barely remember. It was at least satisfying to see the bastard was bleeding as badly as he was.

"Really? I think you should go back to your prissy rich-boy school," Naruto snapped, slinging his backpack off and, while tempted to go for those lovely kunai Rabi had gotten for him, grabbed a Kleenex instead, wiping the blood off his forehead an not even looking at the bastard who had made him bleed in the first time. "You're not worth my time, bastard."

He walked away, glaring at the floor and wishing he felt superior. They'd all said that walking away from a fight first tended to make you the winner, but…man, he really just wanted to punch that bastard.

The bloody Kleenex was tossed in a trash can, and he rounded yet another corner to see a strangely familiar-looking kid blinking at him. Naruto knew he'd never seen him before though, because honestly? Brown hair that spikey would be pretty damn hard to forget.

Spike was flanked by two kids, also staring at Naruto. One was taller, probably older, with ridiculous silvery hair hanging in his eyes, while the other was a pretty girl with dark red hair.

"Um, you're kind of gushing blood from a gaping wound on your forehead," Spike said.

Naruto just frowned. "Have I seen you before? You look really familiar." He paused, the flash of a face coming to mind. "…have you dyed your hair recently?"

While Silver over there snorted, the girl giggled, reaching for his wrist. "I think maybe we should check you out for a concussion…"

It took him a while to figure out she was waiting for a name. "Oh! Yeah, hi, I'm Naruto. Naruto Maxwell."

"It's nice to meet you, Naruto," she said, leading him along. He was getting kind of pissed off about how soothing she was trying to be. Seriously, how bad a wound could he have gotten from a head butt? "My name is Kairi, the guy with silver hair is Riku, and the boy staring at you strangely is Sora."

"Huh," Naruto frowned, still trying to figure out why he felt like he'd seen this Sora guy somewhere before. He twisted toward where the boys were walking carefully behind Kairi and Naruto. "Hey Sora, do you have a brother or something? Or, I dunno, like…an identical cousin?"

All three of them stopped, and Naruto found himself nearly thrown towards Sora via Kairi's ever-so-firm-and-caring death grip on his wrist. Sora took up where she'd let off, gripping him by the shoulders, his big blue eyes doing one hell of a puppydog expression. "Roxas?! You've seen him?!"

"ROXAS!" Naruto said, snapping his fingers as the name and the face finally clicked together. Tsukikage, Gaara's co-boss of Twilight Sands. "Yep. Roxas. Is he your cousin or brother or what?"

"He's my twin!" Sora said, looking close to tears. "Where did you see him?! I…we haven't seen each other since the orphanage got shut down!"

"Did you see Namine?" Kairi asked, eager, and Riku was staring at Naruto like he was Jesus. It was creepy. "Looks a lot like me, blonde hair, likes to draw, almost always has…well, had an art pad with her?"

"Uh, sorry, no," Naruto said, actually feeling sorry for the girl. She looked crushed. "Another twin?"

"Kairi's half-sister and Sora's cousin," Riku said, sounding ridiculously tired. "Where was Roxas? If he went somewhere, it's likely he's taking care of Namine."

"Uh, I don't think I should tell you," Naruto said.

And boy did that ever earn him some very pissed off and overprotective glaring.

"I have a gaping bleeding wound on my forehead!" Naruto protested.

"It's just a scratch, you pansy," Kairi snapped. Naruto blinked at the turn-around. "Where are they?!"

"…Naruto?!" another girl's voice. He nearly cried. His savior! Sure, she didn't like him much, but she'd save him even if it was just to tape up the forehead wound…

…aww, crap.

Sakura Haruno, just about the only person he'd gotten to know and like during his one day stay at South High as an Uzumaki, rounded the corner with an already-bandaged Sasuke.

…oh hey, that was his name. Wow. First Roxas, now Sasuke. His brain was apparently awesome when bleeding profusely.

"…Hiiiii, Sakura," he said a bit pathetically, and turned back toward the trio. "Will me telling you he's doing better than fine, not selling his body on the street, and has devoted and loyal friends watching his back get you to let me go?"

"For now," Sora said, a small smile on his face. "Come talk to us some time!"

And get tortured for information? Thanks, but no.

"I can't believe you were talking to Sora and Kairi," Sakura shook her head. "AND Riku! You've certainly moved up in the world, Uzuma-"

"Maxwell," he corrected, glaring at Sasuke. "I'm a Maxwell."

With a 'hmph', Sasuke walked past him, intentionally bumping their shoulders together. As tempting as it was to punch him in the back of a skull, he knew Sakura would kill him if he did.

She gave him a thin smile, and sighed. "I should have known the first day you came back you and Sasuke would be bumping heads."

"He bumped into me!" Naruto protested. "I was just walking around and -" doing a primary reconnaissance sweep! "-getting to know the place!"

Another sigh, this one half-laughter. "Come on, I've got another band-aid in my locker," she said, and Naruto grinned, letting himself be led along by the nice pink-haired nurse-in-training who was actually being nice to him for once, even when she knew he and Sasuke had more or less got in a fist-fight but with their heads.

Sakura was awesome, he decided, and followed, polite enough to not ogle her ass and instead keep up a polite, amusing conversation as they headed for her locker.

Except then Duo came sprinting down the hallway, grabbed Naruto in a fireman's hold, and sprinted back out the main door and into the parking lot, where a waiting Heero was already inside the driver's seat with the car running.

"Wha-WAIT! Duo! What about school?!" Naruto gaped as he was bodily tossed into the back seat, door shut behind him and Duo snapped into the passenger seat. "DUO. What the HELL is going on?!"

In response, Duo just threw a cell phone into his younger brother's lap. Blinking, Naruto put it up to his ear. "…Hello?"

"Hey, Naruto, sorry to ruin your first day of school and all but we have a bit of a problem here at home," Rabi's happy I-will-kill-you-all voice sighed.

"How big a problem?" Naruto asked, and blinked as Yuu Kanda, pitch-black hair tied in a hasty ponytail at the back of his hair, skill still slightly damp, joined Naruto in the back seat.

"Ohhhhh, about the size of my whole floor," Rabi said dryly. "The entire library's been raided. No more books. Yaaaaay."

Naruto blinked. "…well, shit."

"Yeah. Kanda still at kendo club or what?"

"He's right next to me, actua-eeh?" Naruto blinked. The phone was yanked from his hands by the man in question, who seemed to be glaring a burning hole in the back of Heero's seat. The car took off at a blistering speed.

"When?" Kanda asked. Waited. "Any idea who?" A smirk. "I'll hold you to that." A SUDDEN TERRIFYING GLARE. "They better not." Another pause. "Yeah. Okay."

And the phone went back to Duo, who hung it up.

"The twins?" Kanda asked.

"Still trying," Duo sighed, and put the phone to his ear one more time.

---

"Gaaaaaah, I fucking hate our uniforms," Axel winced as he and Luxord climbed down a ladder and into the subway tunnels, a few rungs above him. The leather of his coat was smacking into Axel's face. "Ever thought of upgrading to a waist-length coat, Luxord?"

The blond man just snorted at that, shaking his head as Axel touched down on the concrete and moved out of the drop zone.

"We're looking for some weapons cache down here, so the odds are more in our favor if we split up," Luxord said, eyes sweeping from one direction to the other.

"Have I ever told you I hate how you always turn everything into a bet?" he griped, and shook his head. "Eleven active members and I get stuck with the gambling addict."

"Everyone gets stuck with everyone else," Luxord smirked, not terribly bothered by the statement. "I'd bet not everyone is terribly keen on working with you either, Axel."

"Yeah, whatever," he muttered, only to pause. "You hear that?"

"Hear what?"

There was whispering from the left. No, not whispering, it was muffled voices. Muffled…bickering?

He hand-signaled 'wait here, will scout and return' to Luxord, who just shrugged and leaned against the wall, clearly not bothered at all with doing nothing for a while. Of course, that didn't sit too well with Axel, who finished up the hand signals with a one-fingered salute before slinking off.

"-I'm not shitting you, Rude, I heard something down there," an all-too-familiar voice snapped as Axel moved closer. "Someone else is down here."

With a groan, Axel flung the hood of his coat back and just walked straight out of the shadows.

His twin blinked, and groaned. "Fuck it, are we on the same side at least this time?"

Axel sighed. "Weapons cache?"

"Grab and dash," Reno muttered, and rolled his eyes. With a practiced flick, the rod was stowed up his sleeve and he moved, almost bored, towards Axel. "Usual method, or want to add some flavor?"

"I'm tired and it stinks down here, so usual." Axel stated blandly.

Rude, used to seeing this every now and then, sighed and moved a bit further away. The twins turned back to back.

"Rock, paper, scissors!"

The two turned, hands in the same position as when they hadn't been looking at each other. (Maxwells don't cheat each other, after all.)

Axel grimaced at his scissors while Reno smirked from his rock. "Nighty night, bro."

"Motherfucker," Axel growled out, although whether it was to his twin or his luck Rude didn't know, and Reno punched him hard enough in the face that the other redhead was knocked out and fell to the ground.

Reno shook out his hand. "Ow. Now where the hell is this weapons cache…?"

Which was, of course, when both Maxwells' emergency cells rang due to a sudden satellite burst and two very determined brothers dialing them every five seconds.