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Mindless Tripe Productions Presents:

Yardwork
(featuring Heero Yui)

A Gundam Wing story
by DB Sommer

As with all Mindless Tripe Productions, this fic will make a very real attempt to deal with serious current day issues in an earnest manner. Gundam Wing provides the perfect venue to discuss in an intelligent manner such controversial topics as sexism, racism, free choice, religious demagoguery, and the course modern day world governments should take in influencing the world. Think of this as a forum, nay, a piece of history in the making as ideas at creating a better tomorrow are put forth for deep reflection for the reading public, making them question the very values their entire lives have been based on.

God, you're gullible if you actually believed that.

MTP puts out crap like 'The Top 10 Rejected Gung Ho Guns', and 'Those Who Hunt Ninjas'. This particular fic is actually going to deal with married life in the 'burbs, focusing on the 'perfect soldier' from Wing Gundam, Heero Yui. The most serious thing discussed will be gardening, which, though ordinarily not the sort of thing you would associate with Wing Gundam or Heero, seemed the perfect topic for Mindless Tripe Productions to deal with. God willing, after reading this, you'll never look at doing chores the same way again.

This is going to be my first attempt at Wing Gundam. I'd ask you to be gentle, but let's face facts, after all I've done, I know better and deserve worse.

Disclaimer: Sotsu Agency, Sunrise, ANB, and Bandai Entertainment Incorporated own the copyrights to Gundam Wing.

MTP is proud to declare this a YFZ (Yaoi Free Zone). Sorry fangirls, but Heero's straight here. Of course the others, Duo, Wu Fei, Quatro (or was that Cinco?) and Trowel… Trowy… Chewy… whatshisname with the pointy hair, are as light on their feet as participants in a Dorothy Parade held in San Francisco. But they don't appear here, so by definition it's yaoi free.

All C+C appreciated. You can contact me at sommer@3rdm.net

And on with the show…


A piercing cry shattered the peaceful morning air, the tranquil moment of perfect serenity shredded irreparably by a vile cacophony composed of howls of anguish that rivaled any suffering in the long ended war. It tore at the very basis of the soul and threatened to extinguish hope in the clarion call of primal anguish. Or at least that's the way it was perceived to the subject the sudden burst of noise had assaulted.

The raucous din straight from the pits of Hell ended abruptly as the hand of Relena Peacecraft slammed into the top of her alarm.

"Vile cacophony composed of howls of anguish?" she mumbled through a cottony mouth as she roused herself from the lingering traces of sleep. Gods above, that was terribly melodramatic. And all of that build up for turning off a lousy alarm? Frankly, it sounded to her like a standard misdirection ploy that talentless hacks that pompously considered themselves genuine authors would use.

Though correct, the fact remained it was still a fourth wall breakthrough. Since the story was not to be in that vein, however, Relena decided to abandon that sort of critiquing for the rest of the fic. It would be for the best.

Groggily, she yawned, stretching out and raising her arms to the ceiling of her home, located in the peaceful suburbs of Neo New York, the recently christened capital of the world. She smacked her lips, trying to get the awful flavor of whatever the horrible tasting substance was that accumulated in people's mouths while they slept. It was odd, how merely by leaving one's mouth shut and consuming nothing while they slept led to an awful taste mysteriously forming within it. Where did it come from? She would have to ask her spouse his opinion on it.

Relena turned her gaze to the person in bed next to her. Her husband of ten years, Heero Yui, was already sitting up, wide-awake and merely awaiting his wife to fully return to the land of the living. He held a flat stare as he looked upon her. It was a look she had seen many times before, that stare of expectation. Or maybe it was one of lust. Or boredom. Sometimes it was hard to tell when it came to Heero. He still hadn't learned the art of 'emoting.'

"Heero, did you wake up with a funny taste in your mouth?"

"Yes."

She continued blinking the sleep from her eyes. "Why do you think that is?"

"I would assume it's because right before we went to sleep, you had me eat out your—"

"Oh, right. I guess that's why you would have a funny taste in your mouth." Relena sighed. Just looking at her husband as he sat up in bed reminded her she was in love just as much now as the day when he first spoke to her at their school so many years long past. She remembered them like it was yesterday, those words that won her heart.

"I will kill you."

It still sent shivers of bliss down her spine.

Most people probably would have been afraid for their continued existence, but there was something in the way he had said he was going to end her life that had touched her heart and bound her to him forever. It had taken a long war, near death experiences in just about every episode, and the years of reconstruction afterward to finally complete the ties to each other. It had been an unconventional romance, it was true, but they were unconventional people, so it was appropriate. She recalled the time they finally admitted their love to one another, the day their lives had intertwined and finally became complete when she told him…


"Damn it, Heero, I'm tired of all this dancing around one another, putting things off again and again! It's time to stop skirting the issue and admit our feelings for one another! Heero Yui, I love you. You love me too, don't you?"

"I don't see any reason to kill you anymore. Does that count?"

"Yes. That's close enough when it comes to you. So, now that that's decided, let's get married."

"Why?"

"So that we can live together as husband and wife, and raise a family."

"Why would I want to do that?"

"Do you have anything better to do?"

"No. Not really."

"Then it's settled. I order you to propose, then marry me."

"Okay."


It was fortunate she had figured out Heero tended to respond to orders very well. Part of his upbringing, she supposed. But he was happy. She could tell, even if others couldn't; she knew him that well. It also made their sex life fantastic, since he would perform on command. She was the luckiest woman alive.

She met her husband's expectant…lustful… whatever, gaze with one of envy. "I can't believe how quickly you wake up."

"I've trained myself so that my internal body clock is accurate to within two point one seconds of standard time. Every morning I awaken ten seconds before the alarm goes off. I am always able to achieve one hundred percent combat readiness in less than a second."

"Oh."

She gave him a peck on the cheek and got out of bed. He continued to stare as she discarded her nightgown and went to the bathroom to prepare herself to face the trails of the day ahead. Once properly cleaned and refreshed, she donned one of the elaborate Napoleonic uniforms she wore to work as an ambassador at the United World Government's headquarters. The jacket was hand-woven from the purest silk. It was a shade of azure that matched the color of the deep blue sea. Silver buttons and gold trim lined the outfit, meshing perfectly with the white pantaloons that billowed slightly around her legs. Black leather boots completed the uniform that was the current style the government was using. The ensemble cost a small fortune, like the rest of the outfits in her entire wardrobe. She was one of the people that used the government's clothing allowance she received from her job to the fullest.

Heero stood next to her, dressed in a white sleeveless T-shirt, plain brown shorts, and gray tennis shoes. He was one of the people that didn't use the government's clothing allowance to the fullest.

Relena admired the way her husband still filled out his attire. Unlike some of his contemporaries, (such as Wu 'Blubberguts" Fei, who had discovered the joys of red meat and beer and ballooned to a whopping four hundred pounds) Heero had stayed in the same shape he had maintained during the war: somewhat lean, but all wiry muscle. And he was as flexible as an accordion, too. It made for some very interesting bedroom gymnastics, though the first time she had used that term, Heero misinterpreted it and performed an elaborate floor exercise for her benefit. He tended to take things a bit literally. Not that that had stopped her from jumping his bones the moment he was finished. And she had ordered him to buy more white tights. Those were a definite keeper, with that sweet ass of his.

Relena shook her head free of such thoughts; there was no time for a morning quickie. She gathered her briefcase and went to her desk. It only took a moment to grab a sheaf of papers she had finished writing the night before. She placed all but one of the appropriate documents within the case. The remaining paper she handed to Heero. "Here's a list of chores I want you to do."

He looked at it, momentarily confused.

Relena released a sigh. "I mean it's your mission profile for today."

"Oh." The look of confusion passed and the flat stare returned.

Her husband was full of his little eccentricities. She had learned to deal with them, though sometimes they were a bit on the trying side.

Heero read the document. "I notice sex isn't on the list, like it usually is."

Relena rolled her eyes. "Some of us like to pretend it's spontaneous every now and then. For instance, if you were ever struck with the urge to, say, rip off my clothes, tie me up, and treat me like your personal bitch, you could go ahead and do it. I wouldn't mind in the least." She gave him a hopeful smile.

Heero continued giving her a flat stare.

"I suppose it is a bit much to ask," Relena sighed. "I'll add it to the list later if I'm in the mood. Oh, I also want you to spend some quality time with Selena."

"I do spend quality time with the girl," Heero responded.

"Daughter, Heero. Refer to her as your daughter." Relena gave yet another exasperated sigh. "And when I say quality time, I don't mean teaching her unarmed combat techniques, demolition disposal, or how to field-strip pulse laser rifles."

"We haven't gotten to pulse laser rifles yet. We're still working on ballistic firearms."

"You know what I mean!" After a moment, Relena added, "Actually, you probably don't. Look, all I'm asking is for you to do things with her that involve a normal childhood."

Heero's flat stare changed to a quizzical one. "That is how I spent my childhood. I learned all of those things, and you can see how I turned out: normal."

"I am so not going there," Relena said dryly. "All right, don't worry about the quality time. Just take care of the list." She gave him another peck on the cheek. "I might get home early today. I think I'm wearing down that moronic appropriations panel. God, I hate that English ambassador. He's always going out of his way to make problems for me. Sometimes I just want to kill him."

"Do you want me to add that to the mission profile?" Heero asked.

Relena found herself seriously considering it. "That's sweet of you to offer, but it goes against my intrinsic pacifistic nature, unfortunately."

"Then you just want me to wound him?"

"Tempting, but I'm afraid I'm still going to pass. I'll just have to satisfy myself by outmaneuvering him on the battlefield of politics and convincing him to see things my way."

"Try kneeing him in the groin. I've found that tends to get people to see things my way."

"Now that's something to consider. Take care." She kissed Heero again, and headed out the bedroom door.

"I'll escort you to the hovercar, just in case," Heero said, hovering protectively near his wife, eyes scanning the stairs in case of ambush.

His actions made Relena's heart flutter. Not that she believed for one second anyone was going to try to assassinate her, she was nowhere near as important a political figure now as she had been at war's end, but that he was so protective reminded her of how much they loved each other.

Once the pair made it to their hovercar— and Heero searched the vehicle to make sure no one had attached any bombs to it— she bid him goodbye and drove off for work.

Heero watched until her car was out of sight. Once convinced she had made it out of their development safely, he turned his attention to his mission profile. It contained the standard day's parameters he had grown used to. Wake and feed the child, clean the house, do the windows, clean the clothes, and the other usual things. There was only one curious item that caught his eye:

Do yardwork.

That would require a significant amount of time. He mentally calculated the most efficient way to complete the tasks set before him. It would probably be best to do the yardwork early, after breakfast. He reentered the house, intent on waking the gir… his daughter. It had become something of a morning ritual for them, and he felt it qualified as the sort of father-daughter bonding Relena seemed insistent he do with the child. He grabbed a metal bucket, filled it with water, and headed towards her bedroom.

Once outside the door to her room, he paused to examine it. It was just like all the bedroom doors to the house, oak with a fine fuchsia coating of paint decorating it. He liked fuchsia. If had had his way, his old Gundam Zero would have been painted in that color. But his mentor had expressly forbidden it, stating he would sooner personally turn the Zero over to Treize himself if Heero even contemplated throwing on that 'garish' style of paint. Heero obeyed orders, as he was trained to, but it was one of the few times he had known the faintest pang of regret. Once Relena found out it was his favorite color, she had allowed him to paint the majority of the interior house in fuchsia. It brought that flat stare to his face, the happy one, when he admired his handiwork.

On the door there was a wooden plaque of Sandrock, which bore the name 'Selena,' hanging on the center of it. The plaque was a sweet little thing, or so Relena asserted. Heero thought it unwise to give any potential enemies that made it into the house all but a map to where the girl lay, but Relena insisted it remain. He supposed it was all right. Besides, anyone that managed to make it that far would probably have already done sufficient research to know where the child's bedroom was anyhow. Any one of the neighbors that had visited and seen the interior of their home could be abducted and tortured into revealing the layout of the ground and upper levels of the house. Only the basement remained off limits to any but immediate family, a stipulation that Relena had accepted from him.

Returning his full attention to one of his mission objectives, he looked at the door. He gave what passed for an affectionate glance from him; a flat stare, at his daughter's bedroom door and promptly kicked it in.

As the door's lock shattered into several of its component parts and wood from the frame went flying through the air, Heero drew back and then forward with the pail. His timing and aim were flawless as the watery contents cleared the aperture the instant there was enough room and headed directly for the bed.

However, the eight-year old girl that was supposed to be lying there was no longer in it. The instant the Heero's foot made contact with the door, a pair of brown eyes flew open. In one fluid motion Selena's hand, which had been under the pillow, gripped the handle of the object that lay underneath as she rolled to the right, kicking the covers high in the air and obscuring her form as she flew free of her mattress. The water was still in mid-air as Selena landed on her feet, crouched behind the side of the bed away from the door for cover. The liquid had just hit the mattress as she coolly gripped the handle of the gun that had been under her pillow and brought it up to eye level. Automatically, she maneuvered the rear and front sights into alignment, perfectly centered on their target: Heero's head.

"Die!" Selena shouted as she snapped off two quick shots in less than a half second: the maximum rate of fire possible for the firearm. Both projectiles made a direct line for their target, bringing a smile to the shooter's face.

Faster than the eye could follow, Heero raised the bucket up in front of his head. Both projectiles slammed into the side of the pail, the metal ringing as each detonated on contact, their impact sending the projectiles' payload across the surface of the bucket instead of the flesh of Heero's face.

He lowered the bucket, now covered with pink dye from the paintballs, and stared at his daughter. In an even voice he said, "Excellent reflexes, except for shouting out 'Die!'. You're distracting yourself and potentially aiding a possible second attacker into keying into your position. Remain silent next time."

"Goddammit, Daddy! Why can't you wake me up like a normal father?!"

"Good morning to you too." Heero turned to exit the room, mentally deciding what to prepare for breakfast as he grabbed the edge of the door and swung it between him and his daughter. The move just preceded the sound of four more paintballs impacting it at eye level.

Selena's marksmanship was improving. That knowledge doubled the happy, flat stare on his features.


The tantalizing aroma of breakfast filled the kitchen. Heero found himself admiring his culinary skills at creating a meal high that was high in nutrients and would help his progeny grow up fit and in perfect health. Assuming she continued maturing at her current rate, within five years she would be able to disable any eight standard military trained personnel in a single fight, and still have enough energy to pilot a mobile suit into battle and emerge victorious. When it came to more highly trained commandos and their ilk, the number she could handle all at once would probably drop to three. Relena's genes seemingly watered Heero's own impressive contributions down, but it couldn't be helped. Genetics was a part of life he had learned to put up with long ago.

Heero was forced to wait patiently for an additional ten minutes after the meal was prepared before his eight-year-old daughter chose to appear. Selena's long, blonde hair was done up in its traditional single braid, one identical to her 'Cool Uncle Duo's,' a name she had dubbed him with, even if they weren't related. The amount of time it took for the girl to do such basic things in making herself 'presentable' for the day was annoying. Her mother was the same way, taking up to an hour at times before they could go to some official dinner to meet foreign dignitaries and such. Again, it was nothing that could be helped. Relena had explained to him that women had to take ten times longer in the bathroom then men; it was genetic. Heero could not recall reading that in medical journals, but his spouse was fairly knowledgeable about such things, and as a woman, she would know.

Selena plopped herself down at the table and in front of her plate. Her eyes widened and she gave an almost inhumanly wide smile. She picked up a fork and knife and held them high in triumph. "Oh joy! Scrambled eggs, straight from their MRE packaging. Powdered milk. And my favorite of all: gruel. Yum, yum, yummy!"

Heero would have beamed if he knew how. "It's nice to see that you like it so much."

"Sarcasm, Daddy! Sarcasm!" Selena slammed the fork and knife on the table top, shaking it from the force of the blow. "Is it too much to ask for a normal breakfast, like all the other kids get? Maybe you could serve eggs that aren't two years old and come in a foil covered square? Milk that was never in something other than liquid form? Maybe even, *gasp*, some kind of fresh meat?"

"All perishables. The food we have now is more practical. Not only does it fill all of your nutritional requirements, but it's easy to transport and will last months if we come under siege."

"We live in the suburbs! No one lays siege to anyone out here, Goddammit!" Habit made her grab onto her braid, threatening to pull it out by its roots in frustration.

Heero looked disapprovingly at the gesture. "You really ought to cut that hair short and lose the braid. It's too easy for an opponent to grab onto it and gain an advantage."

Selena looked aghast at the very idea. "Where else would I hide my lock picks and collapsible stiletto?"

"So that's where you put them. I hadn't considered that. Very ingenious." Heero gave her a flat stare of approval. "You can keep the hair."

Relieved that her father was not going to press the issue, she returned to her original argument and pointed at the food at her plate again. "It's just I don't think it would be too much to ask to have fresher food instead of this military crap that dates back to the war. Some of us still have functioning taste buds, you know."

Heero gave her his offended, flat stare. "You're spoiled. I'll have you know I grew up on food like this and counted myself lucky."

Recognizing what was to come, Selena covered her ears and shouted, "No! I'm sorry for arguing! I was wrong. Don't start telling me about what it was like during—"

It was far, far too late as Heero, cast adrift on memories, never even heard his daughter's plea. "Why, back when I was your age, when we still had things called wars, there were times when I had to lay low in the middle of nowhere and ran out of delicious MREs. I'd be forced to run twenty miles through minus ten degree weather dressed only in a T-shirt and shorts just to find some tree bark to eat." He sighed. Those were the days. "I didn't even have any water. I had to melt snow in my mouth to wash the bark down."

"As long as you didn't eat the yellow snow," Selena said acidly.

Heero looked at her curiously. "What was wrong with the yellow snow? It was the only kind that was flavored. I counted myself lucky when I could find some."

Having lived with him her entire life, Selena understood her father's sense of humor. That was to say, she understood he didn't have one. "Ewww! That's disgusting! You're giving me serious mental scarring here, Daddy."

"Mental scarring's good for you. It builds character. Just look at me."

There was no way she could argue that one. Resigning herself to the fact that her father would remain unyielding on their breakfast fare, Selena forced herself to consume it. Each mouthful was about as pleasant as eating wallpaper paste. Heero did the same.

They were almost finished when Selena said, "Oh, by the way, Jimmy Lopez is coming over to play with me today. I'm warning you in advance since he's the first friend I've had that's willing to come over since the last time you screwed everything up with Tommy Thorton."

Heero looked at her in confusion. "Screwed everything up? I have no idea what you mean."

"You locked him in a full nelson and mashed his face into the ground, shouting out, 'Who sent you?' over and over again!"

"When I see some complete stranger furtively looking around my house, I disable first and interrogate later."

"He was a scrawny eight-year-old looking for the bathroom!"

"He could have been a highly trained midget commando that was disguised to look like a scrawny eight-year-old in order to lull us into a false sense of security." Heero snatched the butter knife thrown at him out of mid-air. "You're getting faster."

"Just don't !#$% Jimmy's visit up!"

Heero noted that when the girl spoke like that, Relena would tell her to watch her mouth. That always seemed silly to him; it was obvious from her choice of words that Selena knew exactly what she was saying.

Heero took another bite of his meal, using the knife that had been thrown at him. "Very well, just make sure you frisk him before he enters the house."

"Agreed. I'll even be extra careful and look for telltale scars, just in case he really is a midget commando in disguise."

"That's the idea. Now you're being a good girl."

"No, just a sarcastic one."


The sky was clear of clouds and the sun was shining brightly as Heero emerged into the backyard. It was like most of the others in the neighborhood. A large bed of thick, luxurious, green grass covered the whole area, with only a small stone patio encroaching on the grassy terrain. A large oak sat near their next door neighbors' yard on the right, its leaves giving in to the inevitable approach of autumn and falling in a large circle that encompassed the span of its branches, decorating the ground in a multi-colored blanket. A sizable garden sat off to the side, a small distance away from the house. The yard itself was marked off by a high fence on all sides. That had been Heero's idea. The barrier that appeared as though it was nothing more than light wood was actually a disguised metal with a special plywood sheath that was designed to throw people off. Its resilience would serve to delay a mass of attackers momentarily, breaking up an attempt to charge and allowing Heero to hold them off, if not repel them outright.

The garden was Relena's idea, and she usually maintained it. She claimed gardening helped relax her, easing the intense pressures that her job forced upon her. She also claimed sex relaxed her as well. Heero couldn't figure out the connection between the two.

He mentally decided the order of the yardwork. Raking the leaves would come first, the garden would be tended to last. He grabbed a rake from the garage and headed for the leaves, keeping a close eye to the ground, mindful of any patches of freshly dug up earth that might indicate a land mine. He hadn't found any yet, but knowing how fate worked, the only time he didn't check would be the one time someone managed to plant one while the family was out of the house.

Reluctantly, Heero admitted that he had a small measure of consternation. The peace had somehow lasted long enough that even he was in danger of going a little soft. No one ever seemed interested in attacking him or his family. There was the one incident with the stranger in the coveralls that had been lurking around the outside of the house in the middle of the afternoon a couple of years back. Heero took care of him with a lug wrench applied to the back of the man's head. He had tied the stranger up, and was just about to start a little interrogating, when Relena came home and spoiled everything by identifying him as a water meter man instead of a spy. For some odd reason, the water company no longer sent anyone by. It made things frightfully boring.

There was only one bright spot. Selena, bless the little child, still kept him on his toes, and he returned the favor by doing the same for her. If he pulled a paintball gun on her, she was quick enough to get out of the way and counterattack with one of her own, though she did have a bad tendency to distract herself with cursing him out during the middle of their bonding sessions. It was a bad habit he was trying to break her of, but having little success. Kids, he thought with a touch of exasperation.

Heero had started raking the leaves when the telltale sound of someone moving on the other side of the fence reached his ears. He pretended not to notice and continued raking, all the while priming his body for combat. Adrenaline rushed through his system, preparing him for what was to come. His knuckles whitened with how hard he gripped his tool.

It was easy to identify the sound of someone trying to climb the fence right next to where Heero stood. The ambushers were clumsy. Now aware of the exact direction of the attack, he mentally planned his counter. He would plunge the rake into the first attacker's eyes the moment his head poked over the top. Then, while his opponent was crying out in pain, Heero would vault over the fence and take the attack to the enemy. Odds were they would be caught off guard as they underwent the transition from hunter to prey within two heartbeats. He would use the rake to disable as many as he could in close quarters, then pick up one of the fallen weapons and use it against the remaining personnel that were outside hand-to-hand range. It was the perfect plan.

A hand made its way to the top and a loud huff of air came from behind the fence. Whoever it was needed far better training. Even at the age of eight, Selena could climb four times as fast in far worse conditions and make less noise in the process.

Heero inconspicuously positioned his rake so that it appeared he was still intent on piling up the leaves, all the while tensing and preparing to lash out with it. He could see the brown head of hair cresting the top. Drawing in his breath, he turned the tines of the rake upward so he could—

"Hidey ho, neighbor." A bespectacled face said in an inhumanly cheery voice as it peered over the top of the fence.

Heero scowled and released his breath. It was just his next-door neighbor, Ed Flanders. The man was no threat to anything, save Heero's nerves, which he seemed to dance upon with a jackhammer. It did take Heero a moment to loosen his grip on the rake. Gouging out the man's eyes with the garden implement was a tempting thought, given how annoying Flanders was, but Relena categorically prohibited him from killing anyone without her approval, save in life and death situations, or if they broke her antique china.

No one touched the china without her approval. Lady Une had come by for a visit and done so once, taking nothing more than a tiny chip out of one of the cups when it slipped from her grasp. To anyone else, it would have been unnoticeable, but not Relena. Even donning her glasses could not save Une from his spouse's rage. It was the only time Heero could ever remember drawing back from violence being inflicted on another. It was lucky for Une Relena was a pacifist, otherwise the outcome could have been worse for her. Heero wasn't exactly sure how it could have been worse, but he had faith in his wife and her ingenuity.

Barely able to cling to the top, Flanders gasped out, "Wow! Your fence sure is mighty high."

"Not high enough."

Either missing or ignoring the meaning behind the remark, Flanders turned his attention to the sole occupant of the yard and whistled at the size of the pile of leaves Heero had accumulated. "Looks like you're really hustling there, Mr. Peacecraft."

Heero replied in an even voice, "My last name is Yui, not Peacecraft. Relena decided to keep her name due to her high profile and importance in the government. She said I could keep my maiden name, though."

"Whoa ho! Sounds to me like someone's kept on a short leash."

"Relena only tried that once. She didn't care for it. She said I was already too obedient for it to turn her on."

"I love that way you fire off jokes by the minute." Flanders gave off his laugh, a high-pitched giggly snort that caused animals to howl in agony and run away. It tended to have the same effect on people too.

Heero scowled. Flanders annoyed him in a way few ever had. There was something about someone being so unnaturally cheery under any circumstance that rubbed him wrong. That and he never listened to what a person said. Relena once told Heero it was because Flanders was the antithesis of what he was. He was also disappointed when Relena informed him that it was illegal to kill one's antithesis, no matter how annoying they were.

Flanders, completely unaware of Heero's mental state, said, "Anyway, I just wanted to ask you if you wanted to come over for a little while and spend some time with me and the missus."

"That's not in my mission profile." Thankfully.

Flanders dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "Well, to be honest, Mr. Peacecraft, we're going to be doing something rather naughty and we sort of thought we might ask your advice on it. We're kind of nervous since we've never done this sort of thing before, but since you've been around, having been a soldier and all and probably have experience, we thought you might help us out."

Heero felt his heart skip a beat. "You're planning to launch a raid on a military outpost and want me to help you with the assault?"

"Ah…no."

"Oh." Heero relaxed and went back to raking the leaves. He hated being led on like that.

Keeping his voice low, Flanders said, "Can you keep a secret?"

"Yes. I would sooner die than yield any secrets. To ensure no others let the secrets out, I usually kill anyone else that knows about it, including the person that told me it. Don't listen to what others might tell you. Dead men never tell any tales."

"Good one!" Flanders laughed again. "You see, the little wifey-pooh has been feeling very risqué lately, and she's talked me into going through with this. Actually we were thinking of playing Scrabble for…" He dropped his voice to a whisper, barely audible even to Heero. "Money. A penny a point. Gambling, Mr. Peacecraft. Ohh, it sends chills down my spine. I've never gambled before, with it being a sin and all."

"Actually, I'd say you were gambling with your life right at the moment, and not doing a very good job of it."

"Ha ho! You sure are a kidder, Mr. Peacecraft."

"My wife tells me I don't have a sense of humor. Everyone agrees."

"Well, I sure think you're funny, Mr. Peacecraft. Those jokes of yours kill me."

"Hardly. Believe me, you'd know if I killed you."

Flanders nearly lost his grip. "That's great! You could be a stand up comedian with the way you tell gags. Why, you could be the next Yahoo Serious."

For a split-second, one of the muscles under the far end of Heero's left eyebrow twitched slightly.

Ignorant of the tremendous emotional outburst Heero had just exhibited, one that would have sent even his fellow pilots heading for the hills, Flanders continued laughing. "What a riot. Anyway, I sure hope you change your mind about coming over. There'll be an open spot at the table for you. Hidey Ho, neighbor." Flanders looked down at the ground, then released his hold on the fence and dropped back down to earth. It was odd, but for a moment, just as he started dropped below the top of the fence, he could have sworn something whisked over his head. Perhaps it was a low flying bird.

Heero scowled at where his target had been. His reflexes must have been deteriorating. He hadn't anticipated Flanders releasing his grip when he did, and the rake missed his head by a hairsbreadth. Duo referred to it as 'Annoying Luck,' meaning the annoying always had luck. Heero found himself inclined to agree. Although this did settle one thing in his mind; he was putting barbed wire along the top of the fence, no matter how much Relena protested.


It took ten more minutes for Heero to complete his task. He finished raking the leaves into a pile, then grabbed several lawn trashbags and took them to the incinerator in his basement. It was good to have an incinerator. One never knew when one would need to dispose of messy things that could get one in trouble with the authorities, or worse, one's spouse, if said things were intact instead of unrecognizable piles of ashes.

Heero had just finished burning the leaves, and was heading back outside, when the front doorbell rang. Rather than immediately head to it, he walked to one of the windows located on the porch close to the front door. Being careful to stay out of sight, he slid the window up quietly, grabbed a hand-held periscope he kept nearby for just such occasions, and peered toward the front door with it.

Using the periscope to get a view of the entire porch, Heero saw that there were only two people present. It took a moment to identify them as Dolph Grenlund, a man that lived down the street, and his ten-year-old son, Jean-Claude, who had several bandages around his head and his arm in a sling. When they had first moved in, Heero had secretly infiltrated their residence and searched it thoroughly, just in case they were spies sent to assassinate him or his wife. But their belongings indicated they were just what they claimed to be: he a high school phys-ed instructor, his wife a computer programmer, and his child a… child. He and Relena had no real contact with them aside from greeting each other when one couple passed by the other on the street.

Just in case things were not what they seemed, Heero grabbed an umbrella from the stand next to the door. It was inconspicuous enough that most people would never realize how deadly he was with such a common household item. During the war, he had once incapacitated a whole platoon of OZ soldiers with only an umbrella. Well, okay, Duo had helped out slightly by shooting a handful of rounds, no more than a thousand or so, from his Deathscythe Gundam into their midst, but Heero could have taken them out with just the umbrella. That he had been shot three times before he had a chance to get to them just meant it would have taken longer. Being shot was a hindrance; not an excuse to die, despite what most people claimed.

Heero threw open the door, catching the pair off guard. Dolph quickly recovered. He brought his full, six-foot-six, two hundred and fifty pounds of chiseled muscle to bear. He stood well over the five-six, one hundred and fifty pound Heero, and stared down contemptuously at the smaller man. Slowly, almost as though he was reading lines from a script (quite badly), he said in a threatening tone, "Little man, are you the father of that hellion, Selena Peacecraft?"

Heero noted Dolph's voice had a faint accent. "Yes."

"Look at what she did to my son the other day!" Dolph thrust his son forward.

Heero looked at the boy more closely. He had a bandage over his left eye, and his arm was in a sling. There were several other bruises where his flesh poked out of his clothes. That made Heero scowl. "You say she inflicted these injuries upon him?"

"Yes. She did it yesterday. It took me until today to get him to admit a little girl did this to him. Now, are you going to do something about it," He drew near Heero, easily encroaching on his personal space. "Or must I break you?"

Heero scowled even more intently. "If what I suspect is true, my daughter needs to be shown the error of her ways."

Dolph was surprised by Heero's quick and easy acceptance. He had heard the little man was some kind of hotshot tough guy, despite being a skinny little runt. Apparently his reputation was highly overrated, even if it was painfully obvious Dolph could take him out at will.

Heero turned his head to shout into the house. "Girl!"

Moments later, Selena appeared, growling, "Goddammit, Daddy, I have a name! Why don't you… Uh oh." She caught sight of who was standing in the doorway. Her attitude shifted immediately as she bowed her head, her whole body giving off a resigned 'I've been caught being naughty and am in for it now.'

She stood a handful of feet behind her father. Heero pointed to Jean-Claude. "Did you do this to him?"

Finding some spine, Selena said defensively. "He's nothing but a bully with a bad accent that beats up all the younger kids. He told me my thighs were fat, ran over my foot with his bike, and said he was going to beat me up if I didn't give him my lunch money. I was just defending myself!"

"That's no excuse, girl. Now tell me exactly what you did to the boy."

Rarely had Selena seen such an intense look coming from her father. Reluctantly, she said, "When he went to punch me, I gouged him in the eye, then grabbed his arm in a lock and popped his elbow out of joint. Then I continued beating him up." She bowed her head and said sincerely, "I'm sorry for messing up, Daddy."

Heero would have none of it. He said to Dolph, "I need your assistance here. You don't mind, do you?"

Dolph shrugged. "No, not really."

"My thanks," Heero said, then turned his attention to Relena. In an authoritative tone, he told her, "We'll start at the beginning. First, when you go to disable an attacker, especially one that is taller and stronger than you, you eye gouge first," He poked Dolph in the eye, causing the big man to roar in agony. "The pain catches your opponent off-guard, limits their vision, and gives you an opening as they reflexively cover their eye. Once the opening is presented, you then go for the knee." He kicked Dolph in the knee, nearly breaking the joint. The big man collapsed like a house of cards and began writhing on the ground in pain. "Remember: the knee second. That neutralizes their mobility, allowing you far more options than simply disabling their arm would. Observe. You can go for the ribs." Heero sent a shot into the man's ribs that made him roll the tender area away from his attacker. "Or back." The point of Heero's foot met the middle of Dolph's spine. " Or head." The shot to the temple nearly robbed the big man of consciousness. "You have to quit going for the arm as your second move. That's a really bad habit you've developed, and it's going to cost you someday."

"I know, Daddy. I got caught up in the heat of the moment. I won't let it happen again."

Heero turned to the big man who was moaning in pain on his front porch. "Thank you for your assistance. I don't know what got into my daughter. Next time she will disable your son in a proper manner. It was nice meeting you. Let's get together for lunch sometime." Taking the man's moans for an agreement, Heero closed the door. That had been a major waste of time. He had to increase his rate of work and get back on schedule.

He went out to the garage, needing to move some pieces of equipment lying around. To the casual observer, it appeared messy, but there was an unorthodox organization to it. Heero wasn't sure exactly what that organization was, but it was there. He moved past a large, halfway-completed piece of machinery, the hum of several running computers hooked up to it filling the garage.

Some fathers wasted their time by teaching their children how to do useless things, like how to play sports or fly-fishing. It was just so…basic. Now Heero had the right idea in raising children. The machine was a perfect example. With it, he was teaching Selena how to fix the sensitive power and response systems on mobile suits by building one from scratch. While it was true that there were no known mobile suits around anymore, as Selena was happy to point out whenever they worked on the system, one never knew when someone might have found a mostly intact mobile suit in some destroyed military base in Morocco when he had taken a personal vacation alone a couple of years ago. And how it just might have found its way into a large warehouse where it might have been secretly stored on the outskirts of town. And how, in order to get it functional, he might need a sensitive power and response system, and someone to help him build the system so they understood all the intricate details of it just in case something happened to him and he was unable to use it for some reason. True, there were others who could operate it, like Duo, Quatre, or the spiky haired guy whose name was escaping Heero at the moment (Blubberguts was out. He was too big to fit into the cockpit now), but there was something about Selena flying around in a mobile suit, terrifying ground troops, blasting other mobile units into their component parts while sending their pilots to freeze to death in a vacuum, and threatening to blow herself and her suit up rather than allow it to be captured, that filled him with… pride. It was most peculiar, but it felt right to him for some odd reason he couldn't fathom.

It was all just supposition, or so he would claim even if he were tortured. Though perhaps he should look around and see if he could find a flight suit in Selena's size…

He shook his mind, clearing it of its useless wanderings. He had a current mission to perform. He went over to the center of the garage, where his rider mower lay.

Pulling the green tarp covering it aside, Heero gave a flat stare of appreciation. Before him was a thing of beauty. He had built the rider mower from scratch, using parts from his old Gundam's head unit, which he had blown up himself so many years ago. It was fifteen feet long and five feet high, composed of Gundanium alloy and weighing close to two tons. There was even a wraparound shield to protect the driver from small arms fire. It had a fusion reactor, armor plating, a fuel injection system, and its own self-destruct device to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. He had wanted to install a chain gun on the side, but Relena expressly forbade it.

His wife wasn't terribly fun at times.

With time still wasting, he began examining the entire machine, making sure everything was in working order and that no one had tampered with it in any way. Car bombs (and even mower bombs) were such a useful means of eliminating problems when one didn't have the time to dispose of said problems in a more personal fashion.

He was crouched behind the vehicle, almost finished checking it out, when he heard a footfall near the door that attached the house to the garage. In less than a second, a pistol was in Heero's hand as he darted his head and gun over the top of the rider mower, using it for cover as he pointed the pistol at the intruder.

"Down!" Selena shouted as she tackled a normal-looking boy her age out of the line of fire, while simultaneously kicking an empty oilcan towards the armed opponent as they ducked under the cover of the power and response system.

Heero darted his head to the side, allowing the can to sail past, coming close enough to brush against his hair before continuing on to hit soundly off the garage wall.

Nodding in approval, Heero lowered the gun and placed it back into the pocket of his shorts. The girl was getting fast. She was quick enough that if Heero had fired immediately instead of pausing to identify the target, the boy would have only been wounded instead of dead. In addition, she had employed the best possible counter-attack she could manage with the tools at hand.

Selena removed herself from on top of the young boy, whom she had instinctively shielded from harm with her body. "Goddammit, Daddy! I specifically told you I was having a friend over and to not screw things up! Now look what you did!"

"What did I do?"

"You pointed a gun at Jimmy!"

"So? People pointed guns at me all the time, and I never felt offended."

"They pointed guns at you because you had a bad tendency to kill them in large numbers and they knew it. I know if I had been on the other side and captured you, I'd have shot you on sight."

"Smart girl. If you had been with Treize, he probably would have won the war."

"You're missing the point. Sticking guns in people's faces is rude and wrong."

"Your mother seems to think it's a sign of affection and sexual interest."

"I am so not going there," Selena spat in disgust.

Jimmy's initial look of fear was replaced by one of awe as he turned his gaze upon Heero. "Wow! That was great! Most parents just say 'hi'. I've never had anyone point a fake gun at me. I loved it!"

Selena looked at her friend in disbelief, then rolled her eyes. She walked over to her father and held out her hand. "Daddy, gun."

He handed her the pistol.

She examined it briefly, then aimed at the bullet-riddled silhouette target, shaped like a person, attached to the far wall of the garage. She fired a single round. A deafening crack filled the garage as the bullet slammed home, hitting the silhouette squarely in the head. She handed the gun back to her father and looked expectedly at Jimmy.

"Wow! That's even better! I've never had anyone point a real gun at me before. You've got a cool dad," he informed Selena.

The statement made her indignant. "No, I don't! He's stupid. All he does is act like we're preparing for a war. Instead of playing with me like a normal dad, he teaches me how to do things like shooting firearms, setting explosives, engaging in extensive hand-to-hand combat, using field surgery, and repairing complicated computer equipment. Sometimes he makes me do it with one hand tied behind my back in case one of my arms ends up immobilized."

Jimmy whistled. "That sounds really neat. All my dad did was teach me how to play baseball and football, and I don't even like sports, except bowling."

"Bowling's a pastime, not a sport. It's just like race car driving and miniature golf," Heero stated.

Selena turned defensive as she pleaded to Jimmy, "But don't you want me to learn stuff like normal girls do and be feminine? Things like cooking and dancing and sewing?"

"I taught you how to sew," Heero pointed out.

"You taught me how to stitch myself up if someone stabs me!"

"Better than bleeding to death," Heero defended. "And what did you tell me happened when you dislocated your shoulder playing kickball last month? You reset it right there and kept playing, scoring the winning run for your team."

Jimmy looked on Selena in awe. "You did that? Wow! That's really cool. You're way neater than any of the other girls at school!"

Selena's face turned a bright shade of crimson. Suddenly finding the floor more fascinating than her guest, she mumbled, "Do you really think so?"

"Definitely. You're the neatest girl I've ever met. I'm really glad you invited me over."

Shame and doubt turned to open pride. "Why don't I show you our basement? Daddy dug an escape tunnel that leads to the next street in case someone storms our home and he can't repel the attackers. He even has charges set so the house will collapse in on itself, taking as many of the enemy as we can and hiding our escape. I helped him set up the explosives," she bragged.

"Awesome. I wish I had a dad just like yours," Jimmy said as he let Selena escort him from the garage.

Right before she made it inside the house, Heero quietly said, "Selena."

She turned, unnoticed by Jimmy who continued on, looking for the door to the basement. "Yes, Daddy?"

"I like him. He can come over any time from now on."

Selena's eyes bulged so far they nearly fell out of her head. Her father never invited anyone to the house. Even his friends invited themselves over, rather than being asked. She doubted he knew how to spell the word, 'hospitality.' But to have him not only approve, but encourage her to have a guest nearly caused all of her eight-year-old brain cells to fuse together. "Thank you, Daddy." They were the most sincere words that passed from her mouth all day.

In response, Heero returned to examining the engine of the rider mower.

A voice from the basement called out, "What's this red button next to the furnace do?"

"Don't touch it! That sets off the explosives!" Selena ran as fast as she could to the stairway leading downstairs.

Behind his mower, Heero smiled. Not nine years old and the boy already wanted to blow things up. Such a nice child. He hoped someday when the gir… his daughter got older she found someone as normal and stable as Jimmy to settle down with.


Ten minutes later, the garage door opened, allowing Heero Yui to emerge into the light of day, seated upon his colossal lawn mower. Every other man in the neighborhood that heard the engine's war cry echo through the streets grunted in envy at how lucky Heero was in commanding such a magnificent piece of machinery.

Heero circled around the house to the backyard. The skies were still clear and the air was slightly on the cool side. It was ideal weather for mowing. The moment the titanic blade of his big toy (which was powerful enough to slice through a four inch piece of wood without slowing) touched the lawn, the air became filled with the scent of freshly cut grass. It wasn't as pleasing to Heero's senses as the smell of gunpowder and blood, but despite what some contended, he did possess some male instincts, and the knowledge of having such power between his legs comforted him in ways women would never understand.

The cutting progressed quickly, but only a fifth of the lawn was finished when a furtive movement close to the ground grabbed Heero's attention. It was a subtle thing, a motion that well over ninety percent of the population would have missed, but an alert Heero caught the movement just out of the corner of his eye. It had come from the direction of the garden. Pretending not to notice, Heero circled the mower so its long and armored side was parallel to where the activity had come from, then jumped off, the dead man's switch causing the mower to shut down the instant his foot left the pedal. Staying low, he crouched down behind the mower, keeping it between him and the garden. He pulled his gun out and darted his head around the edge for only a split second to see if the potential enemy would react. Seeing nothing the first time, not even a stray shot in his direction, he then looked out from the opposite side, again spotting nothing and gaining the same results.

After waiting a handful of moments, continuing to steal glances from various spots so no one could get a proper bead on him, Heero fell on his stomach, then began crawling, staying flat and presenting as small a target profile as possible. Seeing nothing react to his behavior, Heero became emboldened, and leaped up, tucking into a roll that ended with him coming into a shooter's crouch right next to the garden.

Now that he was up close to the sizable bed of plants, Heero understood what had happened. A series of small holes were spread throughout the garden, dug out from below. They were too small to have been created by midget commandos tunneling underneath his lawn, and with the collateral damage from around the plants, it was easy to see what had really happened.

Tiny toothmarks dotted many of the plants and their leaves, ruining them beyond any hope of repair. By Heero's estimation, nearly thirty-five percent of the garden had been destroyed by at least one small animal. It must have been working intensively at inflicting the damage since the end of yesterday, when Relena had last tended her hobby.

A busy little pest had inflicted casualties upon Heero's home— even if they were only plants, they were part of the family— and those that would harm anything under his protection would soon meet a dismal end of their own.

Heero smiled.

He stood motionless, pistol at the ready, prepared for action the moment a head stuck its inquisitive nose out of a hole. More statue than human, Heero remained standing still for nearly half an hour before he saw something black start to rise to the surface of a hole located next to some rutabagas. It was a tiny part, barely noticeable, at least to one who wasn't as constantly aware of his surroundings as Heero was. That it was almost directly behind him was no problem; his peripheral vision would make a fly envious. He tightened the grip on his gun and waited.

Eventually the black object was joined by another, and both started to rise evenly and in conjunction with one another. Soon it became evident to Heero what the objects were: rabbit ears. Now he had a name to his foe. It would make dealing with it easier. Heero waited patiently for the head itself to poke above the top of the hole. Once it did, it would all be over an instant later with a quick double tap to the head. While many would think it a waste of bullets to use two instead of one, Heero would take no chances. It never paid to take chances. What if the rabbit fell back into the hole and survived the wound? Ten years later it could 'return from the dead', seeking vengeance, just like Treize had.

Well, actually Treize hadn't come back from the dead, and there was no indication he ever would, but Heero always held out the hope that he would return and try to gain vengeance by building some mobile suits and making life interesting again. Treize could still do it, even fifteen years later. Just look at Lady Une. Being shot at point blank range, then having the asteroid she was on blown into gravel, and then being propelled into space without a space suit for at least a little while hadn't killed her. It hadn't even given her a scar, and she was just Treize's flunky. Surely he could have survived. All that happened to him was his Gargoyle being destroyed in a spectacular explosion with him in it. He was the true mastermind behind the war, and was entitled to survive just about anything, especially a demise where they never recovered his body. Of course he might have just been lazy and decided death would be preferable to coming back. He did drop out of sight in the middle of the series, only reappearing at the end, as though he had grown bored about midway through and only chose to reappear long enough to allow himself to be finished off and tie up some loose ends. He might have thought resurrecting himself cliché. And, the truth of the matter was, Treize was pretty much a self-centered dick. It would be just like him to stay dead solely to piss Heero off.

Heero was still entertaining fantasies of flamboyant evil masterminds triggering global wars involving the entirety of humanity when he realized that the ears weren't rising any higher. Patiently, he stayed right where he was, but all waiting nearly fifteen minutes did was give him a case of having to go to the toilet. But no matter how much time passed, the ears remained motionless. That made things a bit problematic. While it was true Heero had enough patience to watch paint dry and then flake off, he did have a mission to complete. Already the rabbit had wasted too much time and was going to force Heero to revise his plans.

Deciding it was in his best interest to end things quickly, Heero decided to take a chance. He spun and leaped up in the air, hoping to get a better angle at shooting downward into the hole and nailing the rabbit in the head. Amazingly, the ears went back down in the hole even faster, and all Heero did was cause several clods of dirt to be hurled into the air as the shots hit where the ears were just a split-second earlier.

He hovered above the hole, a cat waiting for the mouse to come out of its home and play. He held little hope for its reappearance, which made it all the more surprising when he saw the ears pop out of a different hole several feet away. Seeing them halt their upward movement once again, Heero tried repeating his tactics, only to net the same result as the ears went subterranean again, evading the bullets fired their way.

This time Heero did not remain next to the hole. Instead his eyes darted back and forth, waiting for what he suspected was to come. He must have been getting rusty to have missed nailing the furry rodent with four shots, but the little bastard wouldn't dodge a fifth bullet. Heero swore that to himself.

His vigilance was rewarded as he saw the slightest tip of black appear from out of one of the holes again. Rather than waiting for more to appear, Heero fired instantly. This time he was rewarded by the tip of the ear suddenly developing a half circle where the bullet had hit its target. The ears dropped down and out of sight before a second shot could follow.

That made Heero nod in satisfaction. That should do it. Rabbits were just animals. No doubt the little beast would run as far away as it could in fear rather than risk losing even more of its ear. Pain was a far more effective deterrent in animals than it was in people. With any luck, the annoying pest would find its way to Flanders yard, where it would…

A pair of rabbit ears poked just above the rim of a hole right in Heero's line of sight. A semicircle was taken out of the tip of one of them. Not wasting a moment, Heero fired repeatedly. He took a chunk out of the second ear, nearly a centimeter lower than the first hit, before the ears ducked back in the hole.

Gun held firmly in his hand, Heero's eyes scanned the various holes strewn throughout the garden. Odd, how the rabbit hadn't reacted by running away after Heero nicked it in the ear. True, perhaps the shot wasn't as damaging as it appeared, or maybe the rabbit was determined to hold his ground since it had been dining with such impunity on the garden until now, but with the second shot in a lower area, the animal was certain to flee.

At least until it reappeared. Heero snapped off two more shots at the ears that suddenly popped up out of the hole. Neither shot struck this time as they ducked down as quickly as they appeared.

Adrenaline coursed through Heero's veins as he looked quickly around, trying to spot the target. Again the ears popped up, and again Heero took a couple of shots, hitting the ears once more and them still showing no real deterrence as they popped up five more feet away.


At the window of the house, Selena and Jimmy watched on.

Jimmy stared in awe. "Wow! It's exactly like someone playing 'Whack-a-Mole', except it's a rabbit and your father's using a gun."

Selena sighed. "Looks like things are going to get crazy around here. You'd better go home and take cover."

"Awww, but it's getting fun."

"You're not trained to take a bullet the way I am, and I have a feeling if you even get grazed, your parents won't let you come over any more."

Jimmy hung his head low. "Yeah, you're probably right. They get paranoid when people start firing guns around me. Can I come over again tomorrow?"

"Sure. Remind me, and I'll show you my collection of throwing knives."

"Cool." Jimmy allowed himself to be escorted out of the home. Once convinced he wouldn't be hit by a stray shot from her father, Selena went inside to dig up her bulletproof vest, just in case a stray bullet hit her. It wouldn't kill her, of course, her father had taught her not to die when she got shot, but the damn things hurt like hell when they penetrated the skin. She preferred to avoid the experience altogether, thank you very much.

"You're such a !#$%, Daddy," Selena grumbled.


One last shot rang out.

Heero scowled at the sight before him. Now he was out of ammunition. Unbelievably, he had gone through three magazines, all that he kept on him during low risk operations, like mowing. The results were two shot up ears which, given the condition they were in, wouldn't be able to hear a nuclear bomb going off right next to them. Ten times Heero had hit the ears, shooting them down until they were little more than nubs, and still the rabbit had seemed unfazed by the hits. Was it on PCP, or was it merely far tougher than the rest of its ilk?

That was when Heero noticed something odd. The tattered remnants of the ears had stopped moving. Instead they just lay there, slumped against the rim of the hole.

"About time," Heero mumbled. He kept the gun raised up. Despite being out of ammunition, it might serve as a distraction. When most people found a gun leveled at them, they tended to duck first and wonder if it was loaded later.

He moved to the edge of the hole and looked down, counting on seeing a bleeding corpse. For his hard efforts in trying to permanently remove the unwanted pest and expending all of his ammunition, Heero was rewarded with a pair of tattered pieces of black cloth attached to a 'T' of wood, left lying in the hole.

A crunching sound came from behind him.

Slowly, Heero turned, knowing exactly what would be awaiting him. As expected, his eyes fell upon a completely black rabbit, save for a distinctive patch of white around the left eye. It stared at Heero contemptuously, eating one of the carrots it had dug up during his shooting spree.

Heero stared at it, their eyes locking onto one another. The challenge unmistakable.

Had Heero's brother-in-law, Zechs, been present he would have recoiled in horror, recognizing the rabbit for what it was. It was the end result of an alternate plan Treize had come up with while formulating the all-encompassing one concerning the war. One of the things Treize had mentioned to Zechs and the others was that training animals to wire explosives to mobile suits was a cheap alternative to actually building suits himself. It had worked with the navy and dolphins planting mines on subs and ships, so why not some land-based animal as well?

Zechs and the others went to work. After watching Planet of the Apes, primates were out. Dogs were too stupid to learn. Cats were too smart and refused to learn. The rats worked out well, until they went renegade and formed some organization called N.I.M.H.. Slugs had that whole salt problem. Eventually, rabbits and ferrets were chosen, mostly because they were the only animals left to experiment with. Everything went well, until someone had the bright idea of trying to get them to work in mixed teams. The ferrets and rabbits got along about as well as starving tigers and animal rights activists slathered in bacon grease would. When the dust settled, there was only one rabbit left standing, a pure black one with a white patch around his right eye.

When the results of the experiments were revealed to Treize, he said, "I was only joking. We're going forward with the whole global war thing using mobile suits instead of trained animals. I'm astounded that you were stupid enough to actually try to go forward with that plan. I can't believe you're that gullible. The next thing you'll tell me is that you really did recruit a psychotic multiple personality whacko as my aide when I was joking about it last week."

Everyone laughed hard at that one.

As to the rabbit suddenly finding itself unemployed, it chose to escape and headed for the hills, never to be heard from again. Until now.

Okay, actually Zechs would not have recoiled in horror, but rather would have laughed his fool head off at Heero having to square off against a commando rabbit. It was quite silly, really, the idea that Heero, the master of the Zero Gundam, who had racked up a higher body count than most natural disasters, would end up facing off against a small mammal and it would be a close contest, but in a peacetime setting, it was the best opponent Heero could hope for, pathetic as it was.

To emphasize the point, the rabbit paused in its dinner to give Heero the middle finger, which was actually a toe since it had no fingers, just paws, but Heero still understood the meaning.

The gun whipped towards the rabbit's head, but the animal effortlessly evaded the thrown projectile by ducking back under the earth. There was what sounded vaguely like a snicker emanating from the hole, a mocking noise composed of a nasally whine and gnashing teeth that taunted and ridiculed in a manner no human would be capable of. It was only slightly less irritating than Flanders' own laugh.

Lesser men would have been enraged at being mocked in such a manner. But Heero Yui didn't care in the slightest. He found being fired upon far more irritating than someone trying to make fun of him. Besides, most of the people that tried to mock him tended to be on the opposite side of whatever battle he was involved in at the time, which meant they tended to not mock him for very long, since corpses have a hard time doing anything outside of decomposing.

Deciding to plan his next assault, Heero entered the house. Inside, he found himself greeted by his daughter. "Need help?" she asked.

"I am trained in every form of combat on the face of the planet. I have killed more people than even I can count. If you combined the other four Gundam pilots, you might come within a hundred or so of the number of enemies I took out during the course of the war. I am probably the deadliest human being on the planet, just as you are probably the deadliest eight-year-old. Stop making that face. There is no one that can defeat me one-on-one, perhaps even two-on-one. Now you stand there, asking me if I need help in exterminating a bothersome pest whose existence solely consists of eating, crapping, and reproducing, then going to sleep and doing it over again. What does that tell you?"

"I got that pair of Colt Pythons you got me for Christmas upstairs in my room. Just say the word and I'll be good to go."

"Excellent, but I require no backup today. I want you to go ahead and make a homemade landmine using only an etch-a-sketch, ramen noodles, two bottle caps, and a badminton birdie."

"Can I use duct tape?"

"Don't be ridiculous. Anyone can make a landmine using duct tape. I want you to test your skills and build it without any. Now go. Daddy has business to take care of."

Selena shrugged and let her father leave. For some odd reason, she thought it was going to be a closer fight than the big dope would admit, even if the odds were ridiculous. It would serve him right for getting cocky and being upstaged by an overgrown lapin.

Gathering the materials her father had instructed, Selena kept one eye on her equipment and the other on the backyard, where the upcoming battle was about to take place.

It took less than five minutes for Heero to gather the weapons he needed for the second round of attacks. Gun reloaded, he uncoiled the length of garden hose he had gathered and held the open end of it. It was a disgustingly simple plan and method of attack. He would flush the vermin out using the water hose, flooding the holes and conduits that led between them. Forced to the surface, Heero would shoot the rabbit dead.

Looking at the state the garden was in, Heero realized that his enemy had succeeded in destroying another five percent of it in his absence. The creature was moving fast. Heero placed the end of the hose in one of the holes, turned on the water full blast, and stood off to the side, waiting for the rabbit to be flushed out. Five minutes became ten. Ten minutes became fifteen. Fifteen became twenty.

"I'm starting to see a pattern emerge," Heero commented.

Sure enough, five minutes later, twenty minutes became twenty-five.

"I knew it," Heero said in a flat voice full of satisfaction.

What Heero didn't know was why the holes weren't filling. Surely there was more than enough water in them by now, but water hadn't come out of the top of a single one yet. How deep could the holes be?


"Wow, dear! You spelled Quarxxzlus on a triple word score. That means I owe you three more dollars. With the way you're wiping me out, you might make me have to work overtime. Hehehehe." Flanders snorted in laughter, as did his wife.

He stood up. "I'm getting a drink. Want me to get you some?"

"I'll pass," she said.

Flanders went back to the kitchen and grabbed some milk from the refrigerator. He was just about to return to the dining room when he cast a glance out the back screen door. "Honey?"

"Yes, dearest?" came the reply.

"You know the pond out back?"

"No, I can't say I do."

"I thought so. We didn't have one earlier today, did we?"

"Not that I can recall, although it did rain last night and I wasn't paying close attention to the yard today."

Flanders looked the scene over more carefully. "Oh, I see. Water is gushing into our yard from a hole in the ground. There must have been a very localized earthquake that ripped open a path to an underground river, which is now submerging our backyard. There's also a rabbit in the water."

"A rabbit? What's it doing in the water?

"The backstroke."

"Hmm. A pond in the backyard? Well, I've always liked ducks," his wife said with the kind of carefree glee that most associated with being on a mind altering drug.

"And we can invite the Peacecrafts over to fish. Good thinking, honey." Flanders looked at the rabbit. It was now doing the butterfly, and with a darn good form as well. He'd have to get some lily pads to help add to the effect.


It was time to admit a temporary setback in the current attack. Heero decided to enact the third stage of his plan. He went back into the house only to run into his daughter once again. The homemade landmine sat next to her as she was perched over her small laptop computer, hand deftly playing and focusing on the image displayed on the screen. Eyes still affixed to her work, Selena said, "Daddy, I've been reviewing your old battle footage, specifically your fights with deranged Uncle Zechs."

"Your uncle's not deranged."

"Then why does he still wear that ridiculous metal helmet on his head, the one that covers the upper part of his face?"

"He says it's part of his mystique. Apparently it helps him pick up girls. A mix of being bishonen and mysterious apparently really turns women on."

"Yeah, right. I think it's to hide his age, since he's so much older than the rest of the far more bishonen Gundam pilots, who have a much bigger fangirl base than he could ever hope to have. Aside from a few lemons with Treize, he almost never gets any. Even Quatre sees more action than him."

"Selena, you're breaking through the fourth wall. Even I disapprove of that sort of destruction."

"Oops. Sorry. Forget I said anything."

"And you're right about the age thing. He's getting so old and dumpy even Noin has been showing more interest in Une than him. Or at least she was before the whole china incident. Don't say it to your uncle's face, though. He's a bit sensitive, and tends to cry a lot when people mention it, and then his helmet gets rusty and he looks even more stupid. Then even I feel compelled to tell people we're not related. Like Duo always says, there's nothing more pathetic than seeing a flabby, aging bishonen bawling like a little baby about losing his looks."

"All right. I'll keep my lips sealed."

"Was there something else you wanted to mention?"

"Yes." Selena went back to the computer screen. "Like I was saying, I was examining your old battle footage."

"Ah yes, the good old days of inflicting mass destruction and running up a massive kill rate. And the best part of all was that the sides kept changing. One day OZ is bad, the next it's good and being attacked by the new, more powerful bad guys in town. It meant there was always a battle to be fought somewhere, and I was always in the thick of it, jumping to whichever side was weakest since that meant I had more targets to destroy. So many mobile suits and so little time." He gave a mournful sigh.

Selena returned it with a level stare. "Okay, but if you were such a hotshot pilot, how come in all the times you fought Uncle Zechs, you never spotted the hole in his defense?"

"He didn't have any holes. If there were, I would have spotted them instantly and killed him like I did everyone else."

"Sure he did." Selena punched up a computer screen and displayed a side-by-side image of two of the numerous fights between Heero and Zechs. After a moment, the computer froze the images. Manipulating the mouse, Selena pointed to an area that was identical in both scenes. "Right there. He leaves himself open around the waist after two high strikes, anticipating the third to be either just as high, or from the opposite direction. One energy blade thrust coming in low at his center, and it's curtains for him."

After a moment's pause, Heero said, with just a hint of reluctance in his voice, "I deliberately never killed him. You see, I'm secretly a closet romantic. I knew your mother and I were destined for one another, and I knew that if I killed her brother, she would never forgive me. So I toyed with Zechs, only pretending he was as good as me so that Relena would never hold his death against me. It's the greatest secret I've ever kept. If people knew I had a compassionate side, my image as an ice-cold perfect soldier would have been irreparably shattered. I had to maintain the illusion, to sustain my aura of invincibility. That was the only way I could do it without being seen as human."

Selena looked at her father through wide eyes, as though seeing her father in a new light. "Daddy?"

"Yes."

"That's the biggest load of !#$% I've ever heard! You were still trying to whack Mom even after the first five or so fights with Uncle Zechs!"

Heero's voice became flat again as all emotion left it. "You're right. I can't believe I missed such a glaring hole. I could have removed that pest easily, and gone on to double my kill score if I hadn't wasted so much time fighting him. I applaud your awareness in spotting his weakness." He looked at her computer screen again. "By the way, just out of curiosity, did you find any holes in my defense?"

"Yes, one."

"I see. So, what is it?"

"You'll find out the first time we fight for real in mobile suits." She gave her father in evil smile.

"That's very amusing. But seriously, what is it?"

"I'm not telling."

"I'm your father. I demand you tell me."

Selena stuck out her tongue at him.

He unleashed a flat look of disapproval. "I'm disappointed in you. I taught you to respect your elders."

"No, Mom taught me to respect my elders. You taught me to never give up an advantage in combat no matter what, since it could mean the difference between life and death."

Heero dropped his hand to his pocket, the one where the gun resided. "But aren't you forgetting something? I could kill you now and remove your possible threat from my future."

A burst of laughter escaped Selena's lips. "Wrong on three counts. The first is, I exchanged all of your bullets for that gun with blanks. The second is even if you did find some live rounds, I have my finger on a dead man's switch. Shoot me, and the explosives I rigged in this room for just this particular conversation will take you out, as well as most of the house."

Heero felt his heart swell with parental joy. Selena was learning. "What's the third?"

"Bad enough to make the second seem like a blessing. Mom would be… upset."

There was an involuntary movement of muscles down Heero's back. It took him a moment to remember what that was: a shudder. It had been so long since he had experienced one that he had forgotten what it felt like, the creeping sensations down the spine. The only other time in his life when one had wracked him was when Relena had described, in excruciating detail, just what would happen to him if he ever touched another woman in an intimate way. He didn't know if a rocket launcher could fit there, let alone three, but his wife could be inventive when she wanted to be, and he had no desire to find out.

"You're a devious little girl," Heero said.

"I learned from the best."

"I know. It's good to see you paid attention. I look forward to meeting you in mobile suit combat someday. It should prove interesting," Heero said.

It was the closest thing to a compliment Selena had ever heard pass through her father's lips. She would have felt proud, if he wasn't such a putz. "Given the way you entered the house I take it the rabbit hunting isn't going to well."

"The target is still alive at the moment."

"Want some help?"

"That will be unnecessary. Continue what you were doing."

Selena closed the computer. "Actually, I was done. I just wanted to rub your nose in your inadequacies. I'm getting a jump on becoming a teenager. I'll be upstairs when you decide you need my help."

"I'll be serving lunch in an hour," Heero informed her as he went to the refrigerator and then the cupboards, retrieving a thick carrot and then some rat poison. He grabbed a coring knife, cut open the top of the carrot, and proceeded to carefully remove the center while leaving the enough for the exterior to remain intact. Once more than three quarters of the interior was removed, Heero placed a quantity of rat poison in the center. There was a sufficient amount to kill five rabbits over. Satisfied at his ingenuity, he proceeded to tape the top back on, masking the cut and affixing the top securely in place.

Heero went back outside and dropped the carrot down one of the holes, leaving only the very topmost part of green in sight, then backed away and proceeded to wait. Not more than a minute passed before the top of the green disappeared.

The trap had been set off without a hitch.

Heero waited motionless for a handful of minutes, just in case the rabbit sensed the trap and threw the carrot back out. When nothing happened, he walked over and gazed down the hole, just in case the carrot had merely slipped further down. A close inspection revealed the bait had indeed been dragged back in the hole, not that it had merely fallen a little further in.

And so it was over. The ending had felt almost anti-climatic to Heero. He had halfway expected the rabbit to somehow circumvent the trap like he had the other two, but it appeared even his newfound opponent had limits. It was a shame. At least the little vermin had made things interesting this afternoon. He could thank the rabbit for that.

Heero was so wrapped up in the finality of the moment that he missed the swift form that jumped out of a hole next to the porch and ran inside before it was spotted.


Sweat began to trickle into Heero's eyes as he mowed the lawn. He was finished with over seventy percent of it now, but was feeling hungry. Naturally, he could go weeks without food when he had to, but it would negatively affect his performance if he didn't get the ideal amount of fluids and nutrients in him now. Besides, it was lunchtime for the child and he had to make the meal for her.

Entering the kitchen, which was attached to the back porch of the house, Heero spotted a sandwich lying on a plate in the middle of the table. It was made with his favorite: peanut butter and peanut butter. He didn't like jelly. There were too many flavors, and they tended to have a fruity taste that excited his tastebuds. He didn't like excited tastebuds. It tended to lead to other things, like showing his emotions. And the next thing he would know, he'd burst into song and dance for no apparent reason and lose the urge to shoot anything that he regarded as a potential threat. No, jelly was bad for him, and he would have nothing to do with it. Peanut butter was good. Nothing exciting about that; just bland stickiness. Unless it had nuts in it. Nutty peanut butter was almost as bad as jelly. Only the plain, sticky stuff for him. And only white bread as well. It was the most bland, and therefore the most satisfying to him, given his personality.

Remarking to himself that it was nice that Selena had made his favorite lunch for a change, Heero poured himself a glass of water, the most efficient form of liquid which would re-hydrate him, and sat down. He began to eat half the sandwich.

Selena came into the room a moment later. She looked around the table, then at what her father was eating. "Mind if I have some?"

He moved the plate with the remaining half towards her. She picked up the piece and began wolfing it down. "Tastes a bit salty," she said between bites.

"Yes. It is." Luckily, salt didn't really tantalize his tastebuds either, despite it being a flavor enhancer.

"You could have put a bit less on it," Selena complained.

"I didn't put any on it. You did."

"No, I didn't. You saw me just pick it up. I didn't put any on."

"I meant when you made it."

"I didn't make it. You did."

Heero stopped chewing.

Selena looked at the window. "Daddy, why is there a rabbit standing in the window, laughing and waving what looks like an hollow carrot around?"

It only took a moment for Heero to put two and two together. It was coming up four, since he was good at math. "Evidently the rabbit made the sandwich, placing a large quantity of rat poison in it. That would explain why it tastes salty." Heero grabbed the peppershaker resting on the table, threw some on the sandwich, then proceeded to take another bite. "That's better."

A strangling noise escaped from Selena as she spat out her food and began shouting, "Ipecac! Ipecac!"

"I can't see that negating the salty taste," Heero said through a mouthful of peanut butter and poison.

"I'm not putting it on the sandwich! I'm going to take it to throw up!"

"Why?"

She threw a chair at him. He caught it and placed it back on the ground. Selena shouted, "What are you, stupid?! I've been poisoned! I need to purge my stomach before it gets absorbed into my system and I die!"

Heero scoffed. Actually, he said in a flat voice that was intended to be a scoffing tone, "Don't be silly, girl. That pitiful amount of rat poison won't kill you. It won't even upset your stomach."

Sensing the seriousness in her father's tone, Selena stopped running around in a panic. "And just what is that supposed to mean? Why wouldn't rat poison affect me?"

"You have a tolerance to it. A very high one. Over the years, I've been putting increasing amounts of poison in your food. I started it when you were a baby, using only trace amounts in the beginning and slowly building up to the present day. Right now you could probably eat a whole box and the only negative side effect might be a case of the runs."

Her jaw nearly hit the ground. "Goddammit! I can't believe you've been feeding your only daughter rat poison at every meal, you !#$%^!"

Heero waved a warning finger in Selena's direction. "I never said I fed you rat poison at every meal. Nothing could be farther from the truth."

Her father's sincere demeanor relaxed Selena ever so slightly. "You didn't?"

"Of course not. That would be absurd."

"Oh."

"Sometimes I used arsenic. Other times it was cyanide. Or curare, or a host of others. That way you developed a well-rounded immunity to a variety of lethal poisons someone might try to slip you."

"…"

"No need to thank me. You're my daughter, and I look out for you."

"Yeah, and I'll look out for you too… through the crosshairs of a scope," Selena growled.

"Remember to lead your target slightly if it's in motion."

"Argh!" Selena pulled her braid again. "Why couldn't I have a father that wasn't a complete nutcase, like Uncle Duo? He would have made a great father."

"Duo your father? Now that would be a neat trick."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I'm afraid your 'Cool Uncle Duo,' is gay."

"He is?"

"He wrote a book called, 'Why Heterosexuality is Overrated'."

"It isn't?"

"No. I believe your mother will be more than happy to explain that one to you. As to Duo…" Heero's eyes took on a distant glint. "I remember the first time I learned the truth about him. It was during the war, and one of the few times the other Gundam pilots and I were around each other at the same time. I overheard Duo tell Quatre that they should go to his quarters to 'Grease their guns and practice firing in the hole.' Well, it sounded like a good thing to do to me, so after I was finished with adjusting the sensors on the Zero, I went to Duo's quarters. It was there I discovered that the 'guns' they had greased were only standard issue to the male of the species, and the hole Duo was firing into was—"

"No details! No details!" Selena covered her ears and started to race out of the kitchen.

"Don't forget the rest of your sandwich."

She returned, grabbed the remaining half her father offered, took a bite, made a face, threw some pepper on top of the peanut butter and poison sandwich, then proceeded to devour the rest on the way back to her room.

Once Heero was finished with lunch, he assessed the situation. He was far behind schedule, and it would be nearly impossible to catch up now. There was no time to waste as he proceeded to initiate plan four. Upon returning outside, he saw that the damage total to the garden was over sixty-five percent. Now in addition to falling behind schedule, he was failing a mission objective. That was an unacceptable situation. The matter had to be resolved, and quickly.

It was time to eliminate some of the enemy's maneuverability. Heero grabbed a shovel from the garage and headed toward the garden. He would begin filling in all of the holes he could find, systematically herding the rabbit into a corner and effectively trapping him.

As Heero stepped between two mostly destroyed rows of peas and carrots, the ground beneath his foot caved in. His foot only fell six inches, but it was enough to cause the single sharpened stake that lay beneath the trap to impale Heero's foot, breaking through the top of it by in inch.

"Impressive," Heero said casually as he watched the blood flow through the piece of wood protruding from his appendage. He was getting soft. There was a time when he would never have fallen for so obvious a trap.

Sighing, he fell onto his backside, removed the stake, and proceeded to bind the wound.

While Heero was busily engaged in first aid, the rabbit initiated the second part of its own plan and made its move. It burst up through a newly dug hole on the opposite side of the lawn mower, spared a glance to make sure Heero was distracted, then proceeded to go to work.

Heero had finished binding the wound when he heard a sound that was becoming all too familiar: a rabbit's laugh. He turned and saw the creature staring derisively at him, nibbling on a purloined head of cabbage. It placed the cabbage on the ground and contemptuously defecated on it.

Heero kept his cool. He didn't like cabbage anyway. Knowing with his foot now injured he could never hope to outrace the rabbit on his own, he calculated the distance to the nearest hole from where the rabbit currently was in contrast to how far the riding mower stood from it. No holes were nearby, and the vermin was standing directly in line with the front of the mower, near the fence with next to no maneuvering room. Yes. That would work.

Biting down his pain and hobbling noticeably, Heero sprinted as quickly as he could and jumped upon his rider mower. A quick turn of the key started it up in under a second, the engine rumbling with the hundreds of horsepower it held under the hood. The rabbit continued looking on, unimpressed. That reaction wasn't a surprise to Heero; no normal riding mower, especially one as massive as his, could outrace a rabbit, and undoubtedly the enemy knew that. What it couldn't possibly realize was that Heero had installed a macro-nitro-fuel injector of his own design underneath the hood. Opening up to its fullest, the mower could maintain a speed of seventy miles an hour for two minutes. The boost's primary purpose was for escape, although with the way the front of the mower was heavily reinforced, it could be used as a battering ram, capable of smashing in a hummer in a head on collision, and not be the worse for wear.

Heero maintained a straight course in line with the rabbit, who remained where he was, standing casually. No doubt it believed it had all the time in the world to move out of the way, when in truth the only move it had left would be to go from this world to the next.

Once the distance was closed to Heero's satisfaction, he hit the switch to start the turbo boost. The instant the load roar came from the rear of the vehicle, the rabbit bolted to the left. The move made Heero smirk. The rabbit was out in the open. Running wouldn't be enough to evade death for even a second, not with the amount of time Heero had to react. He spun the steering wheel to the left.

The mower continued going straight, past the rabbit, and at full speed.

Even with Heero's nearly inhuman reaction time, he couldn't jump off quickly enough. The mower plowed through the fence separating the Peacecrafts' yard with the Flanders', smashing the barrier into jagged metal toothpicks. Heero was barely able to throw himself clear of the vehicle before it ended up in the shallow pond that dominated the Flanders' backyard, impacting it with a tremendous splash.

Ed Flanders placed the boxes of lily pads he had bought on the ground and looked at Heero's prone form. "Hidey-ho, neighbor. Change your mind about the scrabble game?"

"No," Heero grunted as he rose to his feet. There was a pain coming from his arm.

"Looks like you've got a broken arm there, Mr. Peacecraft."

Heero stared at the limb. The ends of two bones were clearly defined under the skin, coming close to breaking the surface. "Yes. It's a simple fracture, I'd say." The remark was casual, as though Heero was merely commenting on the weather being a tad on the humid side.

Flanders pointed at the riding mower. Only the top half remained partially out of the pond. The rest was firmly entrenched in the mud at the bottom due to the mower's tremendous weight. "Ordinarily, I'd complain about dumping trash in my pond, but I think it looks kind of neat sunk halfway like that. It almost looks like a real Gundam head blown off a mobile suit. I bet once some algae grows on it, it'll be a great centerpiece to the pond and cute little animals will make their home on it. Thanks for the contribution."

For almost the first time in his life, Heero gave a mournful look. One of his few prides and joys was now reduced to a tasteless pond ornamentation, and at the hands of a four-legged beast. It was unacceptable. Not only had the little vermin ruined Heero's mission for the day, but he had continuously outmaneuvered him and destroyed one of the last remnants Heero had of the joyful days of his youth.

There was only one course of action to take.

Selena was on the phone, talking to one of her friends, when she saw her father return to their home. She placed her hand over the mouthpiece and pointed to her father's arm. "Looks like it's broken. Want me to set it?"

"Why? It's only a simple fracture." Heero went about the task of resetting his bones. It took him the better part of five minutes before he was satisfied with the results.

"Took your time with that," Selena commented, once again placing her hand over the phone.

"I'm having an off day," Heero offered in explanation. With the bones properly set. He went downstairs to the basement, returning several minutes later, bearing several items in hand.

Selena saw the objects he carried. "Want me to help you with that?"

"That's unnecessary. I can do it myself. It's good practice, using only one arm."

"True." Selena went back to chatting with her friend. As she talked, she watched with one eye as her father finished the last stages of his final plan and returned to the backyard. She was only just starting to get fully back to the conversation when she heard the front door open. The sounds of footsteps headed directly to the kitchen.

Relena Peacecraft began speaking before she entered. "Heero, I just wanted to thank you for that good advice this morning. Kneeing the English Ambassador in the groin worked. He saw things my way almost instantly." Upon actually arriving in the kitchen and only seeing her daughter, Relena said, "Where's your father?"

Irritated at the interruption, Selena jerked her thumb in the direction of the backyard. "He's out back getting ready to blow himself up."

"Again?!" Relena growled, her eyebrow twitching excessively. Even Selena cringed away from her incensed mother as she stormed out of the kitchen angry enough to make even the hounds of Hell run for cover.

The sounds of Relena stomping echoed throughout the yard as she threw open the backdoor to the porch and looked around for her husband. Sure enough, she spotted him next to the garden, gratuitous explosives strapped to his body and detonator in hand. Her eyebrow was a blur, twitching as though it had a mind of its own and had taken some amphetamines. "Damn it, Heero! How many times do I have to tell you you're married now and not allowed to blow yourself up?!"

Heero pursed his lips in obvious disappointment. "It has to die. It's interfered in my mission and managed to escape from every other trap. This is the only way to achieve my goal."

"What are you talking abo… MY GARDEN!"

Heero released his hold on the detonator and backed away towards the jagged hole in the fence. It wasn't in fear of his wife's anger, he told himself, it was because he liked standing near Flanders yard, since Ed could appear at any time and they could engage in witty banter.

"What… happened?!" Relena got out through gritted teeth.

Heero explained all that had occurred that afternoon pertaining to the garden. He did it quickly, but not fast enough for it to be called blurting. Blurting implied fear, and he was not afraid of his wife; he just had good marital instincts and knew when to acquiesce to a far superior force.

A wild gleam entered Relena's eyes. "Oh yes. That rabbit has to be taken care of. Lucky for it, I have such a pacifistic nature, or its fate would be much, much worse. Isn't that right, Heero?"

"Yes, dear." It was odd how once he was married, his mouth would automatically give that response at various times. The phrase came to him as an instinct, every bit as natural as breathing.

"However it has destroyed my garden, and must pay for it. But clearly in such a way that it doesn't go against my inherently pacifistic nature. Right, Heero?"

"Yes, dear."

"Such a good husband, so supportive. Now, here's what I have in mind…"

Heero listened to the details of the plan. It was good. Very good. And, very, very evil. For perhaps the first time in his life, Heero was very glad his wife had a very pacifistic nature. There was no telling what kind of misery and depredations she would have inflicted on the world had she been more inclined towards violence. Even Heero had limits to how far he felt wars should be fought.


The rabbit aroused itself from its sleep. The stupid humans had given up trying to kill him for the night, though he had heard them moving around above ground with what might have been heavy equipment, as though they were trying to set another trap for him. It wouldn't do any good. He had been trained by the best, and then learned more than them. It would be simplicity itself to circumvent any trap the stupid humans had laid for him. He had already laughed in their direction, humiliating them at every turn. Hopefully he would get a chance to do it one more time before finishing off their garden. He would only eat enough to ruin each plant as a sign of the contempt he held for the two-legged simpletons.

He went to one of the secret holes he had next to the tree. It had one of his topsoil trapdoors above it, hiding it from view from the above ground world. Once he had his bearings, he would assess the situation, and turn the tables on the stupid humans once again. Tormenting such an inferior species was terrible fun.

The rabbit placed his paw above the disguised patch of ground and pushed up. It didn't give in the slightest. Annoyed, he redoubled his efforts. Again nothing happened. Thoroughly irritated, he went to a different hole located near the fence. The same results ensued. He tried digging a new hole, somewhere between a couple of shrubs. But as he dug upward, rather than bursting through to daylight, he came into contact with something that was altogether different.

Concrete.

That was cause for concern. Out of curiosity, the rabbit headed to the open holes where the garden was. As he came upon them, he saw that concrete had seeped down into the holes and solidified.

Devious humans. He hadn't thought them capable of taking such drastic measures. A bit more ruthless than he had given them credit for, but he had planned for such an eventuality and had an escape route planned. He had already been forced to use it once in diverting the flow of water from the hose out of his underground warren and into the adjacent yard, but with the flow of water stopped, it would be safe to use once more. After he had a chance to properly assess the situation, he would plot his revenge on the humans that had dared to thwart his schemes.

Traveling along the length of the tunnel, the rabbit saw the morning light peeking from the opening. Excellent, they hadn't stumbled on it after all. He went forward, poking his head through the opening…

…And had the twin barrels of a shotgun pointed into his face.

Heero gave the rabbit a flat, approving look, which seemed odd given the circumstances. "An escape tunnel. Very smart. Just the sort of thing I'd have planned… which is how I knew it was here."

The rabbit cursed his luck and tried to figure out how he might escape.

Heero kept a close eye on him. "Be thankful I found you first. You don't want to know what my wife had planned for you. Let's just say it involved Vaseline, hamsters, duct tape, and lots of explosives." Those muscles along his back moved on their own again.

The rabbit's did the same. Sensing he was indeed caught, the he held up his front paws and gave as disarming a smile as he could muster.

Heero cocked his head quizzically. "Surrender? Sorry, I was never quite able to grasp that concept."

Before the rabbit could protest, Heero pulled the trigger.


Selena continued staring at the backyard. The whole thing was now completely paved over. "So we're really going to put in a pool?"

"Yes," Heero said in confirmation as he put the finishing touches on their breakfast, making certain it was laced with the appropriate amount of arsenic.

The smile nearly stretched across Selena's entire face. "I've always wanted a pool. Now I can swim when I want to, learn how to dive off a diving board, get a decent tan—"

"—Practice underwater demolitions, SCUBA exercises, experience fighting in foreign environments." Heero snatched the knife thrown at him out of mid-air. "It'll be good training for you. And it means less yardwork for me." The latter was a definite plus in his book. He completed making the breakfast and turned the oven off, then placed part of the main course on the plate and handed it to Selena.

The eight-year-old looked at the food before her, completely bewildered. "I'm not sure about this, since it's been so long since I've last seen it, but is this fresh meat being served at our kitchen table?"

"Just like you asked."

Still unable to believe her eyes, Selena said, "Not to sound ungrateful, but is rabbit something that's usually served at breakfast?"

"It is now."

Seated next to her daughter, Relena said in a pleasant voice, "There is no such thing as a free meal. You take food from me, you end up providing some of your own, one way or another."

Great, Selena thought, her mother was turning weirder on her too. It figured. In a neighborhood full of a bunch of weirdoes, her parents were the biggest ones, right after the Flanders.

Tired of lamenting her fate, Selena shrugged and dug in. The rabbit tasted wonderful, having been broiled to perfection and with just the right touch of arsenic. Maybe her father wasn't the total putz she thought he was, if he was willing to listen to her and give her a little of what she wanted. Perhaps she would become a less sarcastic child and try to understand her father better, tightening the bonds between the two of them until they became inseparable.

Nahhh. Things were fine the way they were now, and deep down inside, Selena didn't want it any other way.

 


Author's notes: Not as satisfied as I thought I'd be with the ending, not that it's meant to be a huge, telling climax— not against a rabbit that doesn't appear until half-way through the fic— but it'll do. Hopefully you enjoyed.

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