Duo Maxwell: Operation: Santa Claus

By Ammie Hawk

Summary: Duo is doing some last minute shopping when a few things hit a little too close to home for the former street rat.

AN: Okay this is a little oneshot I did for Slytherins_Collective yahoo group Christmas Challenge. I hope everyone likes it.

It was Christmas Eve and the weather in Sanq was acting in accordance with the season. Duo Maxwell huddled deeper into the warmth of the thick coat Quatre had insisted he take with him on his shopping trip. He had to admit, with all his years on the streets, winters on the Sphere were much worse than anything the colonies could ever hope dish out. He pulled his black ball cap lower to keep the falling snow out of his face and picked up the pace to the door of the shopping mall, and the warmth that awaited him inside.

His steps faltered, however, as he caught sight of five small boys huddled together near the entrance. He could tell by the state of their clothing that they didn't have much, but it was the look in their eyes as they watched his approach that broke his heart. He knew that look all too well, having warn it himself for most of his life.

"It's cold, Suki," he heard the small blonde whine as he passed and he wanted badly to turn and hand over the ridiculously expensive coat that adorned his frame.

"Hn, come here, dobe," the raven haired boy grunted, pulling the blonde close and blocking most of the wind with his back.

As much as he wanted too, Duo didn't turn around and talk to the five boys but continued on into the store. He was there for a reason after all. He still had to get his friends presents for the following day. Quatre'd probably flay him alive if he didn't have Christmas gifts for them, especially after he had begged and pleaded that they have a lavish party at the blonde's estate.

He made his way through the various stores he wanted to purchase his friends' gifts at, and was done in record time, if he did say so himself. He was also glad that he hadn't been recognized by anyone, and if he had that they'd kept to themselves. It wasn't his fault that he was the most recognizable of the five Gundam pilots. It wasn't his fault he'd been captured and sentenced to execution. And it wasn't just him who'd saved the world, god damn it!

It was as he made his way back toward his exit that he spied a shop that had him stopping in his tracks. It was a children's store, and his mind was drawn to the small chibi's he'd seen on his way in. What would it hurt to have a look?

The braided teen slowly made his way over, not quite sure if this was the right thing to do or not. He could see the expressions and hear the voices of his friends echoing in his head. Heero would glare at him and tell him he was an idiot for even thinking about it. Quatre would probably start to cry and then buy the kids some outlandishly lavish gifts that they couldn't possibly carry around with them. Trowa would probably ignore him, like usual. And Wufei would probably go off on a tangent about the injustice of Duo going out and spending money on complete strangers. Okay, he could admit that he was probably giving his friends a bit too little credit, but hey, it was his mind, he could think what he wanted.

He finally made it into the store. He made a beeline for the coat section, as it was what had caught his eye in the first place. He looked through the selection, finally picking out five different colored, down filled coats. He made sure they would be a big enough that the kids could wear them again next season.

He then made his way over to a large selection of stuffed animals. He knew he probably shouldn't get them all plushies, as they were rather girly, but hey, he'd never had one as a kid, but always wanted one, so why not.

Grabbing one final item on his way to the register, he quickly checked out. He paid an extra five dollars (1) to have the items gift wrapped and then made his way back outside. He hoped the gang of kids were still there, otherwise, his gifts would be meaningless. As it was, they were right where he'd left them. They had obviously been in the mall, if the little gift bag clutched tightly in the blonde's hand was any indication.

"Do you think Ruka will like it, Suki?" he asked the raven haired chibi.

"Hn," was his reply, and Duo was reminded strongly of Heero.

"Oi, what do you want?" one of the other boys had spotted the former pilot.

His cry caused the other four boys to turn their attention to him as well. Duo took a tentative step closer, not wanting to scare them off. However, as he did so, he took the time to study each of the boys' faces.

The blonde was the scrawniest of the lot and had some strange scarring on his face, which made him look like he had whiskers, and had the biggest, purest, blue eyes he'd ever seen. The raven haired chibi was pale with dark eyes and a serious expression, he looked like he was the leader of this ragtag group of orphans. The one who had shouted at him had shaggy brown hair, much like Heero's, and two red tattoos in the shape of an arrow on either cheek. Beside him, a lone redhead stood; he was just a bit bigger than the blonde, with clear jade eyes and a Japanese symbol tattooed on his forehead, whoever had given him that was one sick mofo, since it was the Kanji for love. The last boy was also a brunette, though his hair was longer and pulled up into a high ponytail, he wore a bored expression, and was leaning against the wall as if the whole even were a waste of his time.

"Well, kiddo," Duo smiled, setting down the bag from the children's store, the rest of his purchases were in the backpack slung over his shoulder, "I actually came to spread a little Christmas cheer."

The gang straightened at his words and quickly formed a tighter group, with the blonde at the center.

"We don't want none of your cheer," the redhead glared at him, causing the former street rat to blanch in sympathy.

"Sides, we're not s'posed ta take things from strangers," the blonde said, peering cautiously around the raven's back.

"Ah, but you see, I'm not a stranger," he tapped the side of his nose and whipped out a red and white hat, which he was so glad he'd had the presence of mind to grab before he left the store. "You see, I'm Santa Claus."

Four sets of eyes darted between him and the raven, obviously not sure what to do anymore. Duo waited patiently, knowing from his days on the streets that this wasn't going to be an easy task. He knelt down in the snow, ignoring how it soaked through his jeans, and pulled the bag closer to his side.

"Now, I've got some presents for ya," he beamed. "I can leave 'em here and let you have 'em at your leisure, or I can give 'em to ya, like Santa should."

All of them squirmed at the word presents, but it was the blonde who made the first move toward the braided teen. The others tried to stop him but he was too quick for them to grab before he was standing in front of Duo. He shuffled nervously from foot to foot before looking up with bright, hopeful eyes.

"Ruka said Santa migh' be too busy to visit us this year," he tilted his head to the side. "But I been really good. I even bough' Ruka a present stead of me," he held up the package in his hands.

"Well," Duo ruffled his blonde spikes, "shows what grown-ups know, huh? Anyway, let's see what I got in my magic bag for you."

"I Naruto," he bounced on his toes eagerly.

"Alright, Naruto," the braided teen chuckled, making a big show of digging around in the bag. "Ah, here we are."

He pulled out a bright orange box and handed it over. Naruto took it eagerly, tore the paper off, and opened the box. Inside was a coat that matched the wrapping paper and a cute fox plushie that had nine tails coming out of the back. The blonde beamed at him, hugging the stuffed animal close to his chest.

"Thanks, mister," he bit his lip excitedly.

"Here, let's get this on you," the braided teen held up the coat invitingly. "It'll keep you nice and warm."

As soon as it was settled around his shoulders, the shaggy haired brunette bounded forward. He obviously took the former pilot's actions toward his friend as a good sign.

"Hiya, I'm Kiba," he bounced excitedly on the balls of his feet.

"Well, hello, Kiba," the former Deathscythe pilot beamed.

He couldn't help but thinking that if he and Heero ever had a kid together, it'd be a lot like this little guy. He quickly shook that thought aside and reached back into the bag. He pulled out a white package and handed it to the bouncing boy. Kiba took it and ripped the paper off impatiently. There was another coat inside, this one grey with a faux fur lined hood, and a little white stuffed dog with brown ears.

"Sweet!" Kiba quickly shrugged his old coat off and scrambled into the new one, throwing the hood up over his head, then picked up the dog and stuffed it down the front, leaving only the head visible. "I'm gonna call him Akamaru."

"Baka," the other brunette rolled his eyes as he stepped forward, "it's just a toy."

"Aww, Shikamaru," Kiba pouted. "You're ruining my fun."

"So, you're Shikamaru, eh?" Duo interrupted holding out a brown wrapped package. "Well, Merry Christmas Shikamaru."

"Humph, thanks," the boy shrugged, taking the parcel.

He just held it in one hand for a moment, not even paying attention to it. The two boys who had already opened their gifts were getting impatient, while the other two just watched with feigned indifference.

"Come on, Shika," Naruto finally sighed in exasperation. "Open it."

"Troublesome," the brunette shook his head, but began slowly peeling back the wrapping.

Inside the box was a light brown coat and a stuffed baby deer. Shikamaru blushed slightly when he saw the plushie but didn't say anything. Instead he opted to put on the new coat, hiding the deer on the inside.

Duo smirked as he watched the brunette's actions. He could tell he'd liked the gift, but he wasn't going to let his friends know that. Such pride for one so young, but that's how little boys were. Some things were universal.

Amethyst eyes rose to the remaining two boys, who hadn't taken a single step closer. He reached into the bag once more and pulled out a red package. He waved it in the redhead's direction.

"This one's for you, green eyes," he beamed, recalling he had a similar nickname for his circus friend.

"Gaara," he said, stepping forward slightly and snatching the present out of Duo's hands, as if afraid getting too close would get him hurt.

Gaara's coat was as red as his hair. He put it on before looking back in the box to see what toy he'd gotten. What he saw, however, had him raising startled green eyes to the strange man before them. He has to be Santa Claus. How else could he have known that Gaara had specifically asked for a teddy bear exactly like this one. In a move that caused all the other children to stare at their friend, he darted forward and gave the braided man a hug.

"Thank you, Santa," he whispered.

To say Duo was shocked by the redhead chibi's actions would be an understatement. He had been caught off guard when the little boy had run over and practically tackled him, but had managed to catch himself in time to return the embrace he was being given, knowing what a gift it was from the little street rat. He must've gotten the right gift for this little guy.

"Alright," he said when the redhead finally pulled back, his amethyst eyes suspiciously moist. "I've got one last gift here."

He held it out invitingly to the stoic raven haired boy. Said boy glanced around at the others, who were watching him expectantly, Gaara still exceedingly close to the stranger. He finally rolled his eyes and moved confidently forward. He took the gift without a word and began removing the blue paper.

His coat was a dark navy with a red and white design on the back, Duo had tried to find one without it but couldn't. Still silent, the raven slipped it on. He then reached in and pulled out his animal, which happened to be a small black cat. The blonde and shaggy haired brunette began giggling when they saw it, causing onyx eyes to narrow into a glare in their direction.

"Well," Duo beamed once more, pushing back to his feet and dusting off the snow on his knees and legs, "Merry Christmas, boys."

"Thank you, Santa!" Naruto called out as the braided teen started walking away.

Duo turned and gave a final wave before heading off toward Quatre's house.

8888888

"RUKA!" Naruto shouted, bounding into the Konoha Street Orphanage, the rest of his friends trailing behind him. "RUKA! GUESS WHAT?!"

"Naruto," the manager of the orphanage came out of his office, followed by the owner, a tall, silver haired man with a patch over one eye, "what have I said about shouting?"

"Ta not to," the blonde shuffled his feet.

Iruka Umino glanced at his five little charges, trying to pinpoint what was different about them today. Well, the package in Naruto's hand was definitely new, but they had gone to the mall. That's when he noticed the coats and toys.

"Boys!" he yelled, his mind automatically assuming the worst. "Where did you get those?!" he pointed at the new additions.

"Iruka calm down," the man behind him put a calming hand on his shoulder. "Let them explain."

"Santa gave them to us," Naruto bounced up and down excitedly.

"Yeah, he exists, Iruka Sensei," Gaara nodded solemnly, holding up his teddy bear.

Kakashi Hatake smirked from his spot behind his lover, "I see. Can you boys tell me what he looked like? No, let me guess, he was dressed all in red and had a belly that was out to here," he held his arms out as far as they could go in a circle, "with a white beard and a red hat."

"No," Naruto giggled. "He did have a red hat, but he was dressed in black, with a white collar," he held up his fingers to his throat about an inch apart, "and a long braid. Ruka, can I grow my hair out and braid it, like Santa."

The two men shared a look, that sounded an awful lot like a terrorist they'd seen on the news a few years back. Of course, he'd later been acquitted as he had ended up saving the Earth Sphere at the end of the Eve Wars and the Mariemaya uprising.

"He also had purple eyes," Kiba added. "He was so nice, he gave me Akamaru!" he held up the little dog plushie.

"Come along, boys," Iruka shook his head, "it's time for dinner and then bed. Christmas will be here before you know it."

The five boys shared a look before taking off down the corridor, talking excitedly about their adventure. Iruka sighed as strong arms encircled him from behind. He leaned back into his lover's embrace, not sure what to think of the boys' adventure.

"What do you think, Kashi?" he asked quietly.

"I think," he placed a kiss on the top of Iruka's head, "that our little rascals caught the eye of a Gundam pilot."


Ammie: Okay, there ya'll go, hope you enjoy it. I had fun with it. The Sequel is up and running, it's titled Operation: Parenthood.