Author's Note: Insert standard disclaimer about me not owning Gun X Sword here!


Lost and Found

"Yukiko! Yukiko, have you seen the data board I was working on?" Yukiko put down her cup of tea and looked up at the anxious man standing in the doorway, considering the question for a moment. He had run a frantic hand through his shaggy blond hair, leaving half of it standing up, and half of it hanging over his eyes. She smiled a little, then got up from the table so that she could brush the hair away from his eyes and kiss him on the cheek.

"Are you sure it's not on your desk, dear?" she replied. She didn't need to glance at the kitchen table to know that it wasn't here. There was nothing on the table but a basket of fruit, a vase of flowers, and the stack of mail she was supposed to be sorting through.

"I looked! It's not there!" But he dutifully kissed her back, then walked out of the kitchen and back into his office. There was a pause, which Yukiko assumed meant that her husband was looking again, just in case. "It'd definitely not here!" he yelled back. "Where could it be?"

"Did you take it to Bucci's place last night? Weren't you two talking about armor?" That was pretty much all those two ever talked about. She couldn't complain, though: it was nice for Joshua to have one friend who shared his enthusiasm for technical things. He had learned a lot from Bucci over the last few years.

"Yeah, I did, but I know I brought it back," Joshua said fretfully. She could hear him moving things around in the office. "I REMEMBER carrying it back in here and putting it down somewhere. What am I going to do?"

"It's probably still in the office somewhere," Yukiko suggested gently. She sat back down at the table and picked up the mail again. Bills; a check paying Joshua for some armor customizations he had done; more bills; another check; and a letter. Yukiko smiled immediately at the sight of the bold handwriting on the envelope of the letter. "There's a letter from Wendy!" she called out to Joshua.

"That's nice," he replied absently. "Do you think the dog could have carried it away?" Yukiko glanced at a corner of the kitchen floor, where their middle-aged cocker spaniel snoozed in a basket.

"I don't think so," she said tactfully. "Mini can't reach your desk, you know." Mini had long grown out of the stage where she chewed on anything in reach, too, so there would be no reason for her to abscond with a data board.

Yukiko wasn't all that worried about the missing data board: it was certain to turn up somewhere, as long as it was in the house. And even if it wasn't in the house, there were only a few places it could be. If necessary, she would search the Pink Amigo for it. She was much more interested in what Wendy had to say. She and Wendy had been corresponding regularly for years, though they rarely got a chance to meet in person. Wendy's last letter had mention something about an armor attack in Evergreen, and Yukiko wondered how that had been resolved.

Wendy's last letter had also suggested potential changes in Wendy's friendship with Van, who had shown up again in Evergreen after a little more than six years of mysterious absence. Yukiko was even more interested in finding out how things were going in that department. So, she set aside the bills and used her penknife to slip open the envelope, pulling out Wendy's letter. It was a long one: two pages, front and back.

She didn't have to read far to get to the important news. "Joshua!" she yelled, raising her voice more than usual in her excitement, "Wendy and Van are getting married!" There was an ominous rumble and clatter from the office, as if a whole box of widgets had just tipped over. Was Joshua digging through the closet? Why he would think that his data board was somewhere in the back of the closet was beyond Yukiko's comprehension, but if it got him to sort through boxes of old junk, that might be a good thing.

"What?" Joshua yelled back. He came trotting out of the office again. "I don't believe it," he said bluntly. "Wendy and Van? Are you sure you read that right?" Yukiko sighed. Joshua had always been in denial about the nature of Wendy's affection for Van. If you listened to his version of events, Wendy had viewed Van as a surrogate older brother. (The fact that Joshua himself had seen Van in such a fraternal light probably contributed to the problem: he seemed to assume that Wendy felt the same way that he did about the hero they had both followed.) Yukiko had given up on trying to correct his misconception, thinking that with Van out of the picture, it didn't really matter. Now that might make it harder for him to accept the new relationship.

"You can read it for yourself if you don't believe me," she told him, handing him that letter. He picked it up and skimmed the first paragraphs.

"Why, that dirty old man!" he exclaimed. "What right does he have to take our Wendy away?" Yukiko sighed.

"Sweetheart, I don't think Wendy objects," she pointed out. On the contrary, Yukiko knew that Wendy had been hoping for this for years. It seemed that Wendy's patience and loyalty had paid off.

"But he's taking advantage of her gratitude," Joshua insisted. "He spent so much time looking after her all those years ago . . . of course, she's going to feel that she owes him something." Righteous indignation was written all over Joshua's face. It would have been more impressive if his face hadn't also been covered in dust from digging in the closet.

"You need to wash your face," Yukiko told him.

"Oh, right," he murmured. He was frowning at the letter in his hand, as if he could scare it into saying something other than what was written on it. "I just can't believe it! What is she thinking? He's too old for her!"

"Look, love, Wendy is an adult now. She can make her own decisions. She's smart enough to know not to marry Van unless she really wants to be his wife, isn't she?"

"I guess so," Joshua said fretfully. He was still skimming the letter, and still frowning. "Hey, she wants us to come to Evergreen next month!"

"She does?" Yukiko hadn't gotten that far in the letter. "Why?"

"She wants your advice," he summarized. "It says something here about wedding dresses and catering. And she wants to meet the baby." They both looked up at this, suddenly thinking the same thing.

"Joshua, where is Ray?" Yukiko asked. Why didn't she hear him cooing or fussing? "Is he still in the nursery?"

"No, he's in the office," Joshua said uncertainly. "I put him down on the floor to play with some toys." They exchanged another meaningful look and both raced to the office. Sure enough, the baby blanket on the floor was empty. Ray was gone. "Why does everything always disappear in this house!" Joshua wailed.

Because you don't keep an eye on it! Yukiko wanted to say, but she restrained herself. It would do no good to blame her husband for his absent-mindedness now. Better to find the baby. However, she couldn't resist the impulse to remind him: "Now that he's crawling, he can get almost anywhere."

"Is the pet door open?" Joshua suddenly asked.

"No, I'm sure I remembered to block it when it when I got up," Yukiko said. They left the pet door open at night so that Mini could come and go in the yard as she pleased, but they had to keep it sealed in the day so that the baby wouldn't crawl out.

"I'll go check anyway," he said, and went dashing off. Yukiko let him go, thinking that it would probably be easier to look around if he wasn't in here freaking out. Now that little Ray was mobile, there was all kinds of trouble he could get into, but there really wasn't very far that he could go. He might still be in the office. The room was messy enough that there were plenty of places for an enterprising baby to hide. She listened carefully, hoping to get a clue.

Was that the sound of chewing that she heard? She squatted down on the floor and looked around. Sure enough, Ray was lurking under Joshua's desk, and he was indeed chewing on something. Yukiko opened her arms up and called out to her son, and he crawled under the desk, still holding his new-found toy in his mouth. Once she got a good look at what it was, Yukiko concluded that it was a good thing that Ray didn't have many teeth yet. It meant that he probably hadn't damaged it beyond repair.

"Joshua!" Yukiko called, once she had their son safe in her arms. "I found him!"

"That's a relief!" her husband called back. He came galloping down the hall to the office to see.

"And," Yukiko said with a smile, "it looks like he found your data board for you."

The End