I hate God's War. It's terrible. But the idea of the cyborgs getting psionic power upgrades fascinates me and has far too much potential to waste on such a bad story. So, I took it and this is the result.
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“You want me to what?” Junior asked, not quite thinking he’d misheard
“Throw me,” Joe repeated, pointing up and over his shoulder. Out the window, Junior could see – and thankfully couldn’t hear – Francoise and Pyunma yelling up at where GB and Jet looked to be playing keep-away with a volleyball. Knowing them, they were just out of reach.
The logic behind Joe’s request was suddenly very clear.
Junior considered. Even with their enhanced durability, Junior’s strength could still easily hurt his fellow cyborgs. Joe knew that, and still asked.
“Alright.”The squawking noise Jet made when Joe slammed into him was incredibly satisfying
Laundry day in the Gilmore household could be interesting, given that the various adventures they had were not easy on their clothes. Francoise was thankful that her turn had fallen on one of the less interesting weeks; the most she had to do was gather up the stray clothes that inevitably ended up strewn around.
Her circuit through the house – surprisingly short, resulting in a shirt from the lab and a pair of pantyhose that were most definitely not hers in the bathroom – ended in the den, where Junior sat reading a book. She dropped a kiss on his temple and reached for the sweatshirt piled in the throw blankets next to him.
Junior caught her hand just before she grabbed the cloth. At her surprised look, he raised a finger to his lips and tilted his head down.
Now that she was giving it more than a glance, Francoise could see the fall of red hair coming from the hood and the hand loosely grasping Junior’s shirt and the whole thing resolved into Jet taking a nap in the hoodie he’d stolen from Junior ages ago. The hoodie he only wore when he was having a particularly bad day.
“Did he say what’s wrong?” Francoise asked in a whisper, carefully pushing the hood back to brush her hand over Jet’s forehead. He shifted at the touch, the edge of strain in his face smoothing out.
“Nightmares, I think,” Junior murmured back, and Francoise nodded. They all had them, and they had their own ways of coping. There were certainly worse ways to get through the day.
With one last brush over Jet’s hair, Francoise hefted the laundry basket and smiled at Junior. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” She started humming as she left the room, the soft sound drifting in her wake.
Breath in, two three four, breath out, two three four. Francoise breathed in the steam of her tea in time with the music playing on the radio, some slow song that had been new when she’d been in the labs. The house held that particular silence that only came when everyone else there was asleep; she wasn’t usually up that early, but she also didn’t normally share a bed with the house’s earliest riser – and didn’t that thought bring heat to her cheeks and a smile to her lips. He’d pressed a kiss to the corner of her lips with a murmured apology for waking her before he’d left for his daily walk. She’d been in too good a mood to go back to sleep.
So, tea and music, with a second mug ready to be poured when Junior returned.
When he did, he pressed a kiss into her hair before listening to the radio. “My parents used to play this.”
“I’d heard it before. It’s nice.”
He hummed his agreement and offered his hand. “Want to dance?”
“That tree still has fruit at the top.”
Junior obligingly walked over to the tree Chang indicated, hand held up so the other cyborg had something to hold on to, riding on Junior’s shoulder as he was. Chang balanced a basked half full of apples with his free hand, and cheerfully whistled.
“Do you want to get down?” Junior asked. “It would probably be faster.”
“I like it up here,” Chang said, inspecting the apples on the tree before picking one. “Between the two of us, we can get more of the higher fruit this way, and it’s easier to carry the basket. And while I’m up here, I can do this.” He tilted Junior’s head back and planted a kiss on his lips.
“Those are all good points,” Junior agreed, smiling against Chang’s mouth. “You’d better stay up here.”
This wasn’t what the newly implemented “Bedroom doors stay open when you have company” rule was meant to prevent, but Junior wouldn’t have known it from Joe’s reaction. He jerked back, his hands jerking in Tsutomu’s grasp, and turned bright red. Tsutomu, for his part, just looked over at Junior curiously.
“Dinner will be ready in ten minutes,” Junior told them, waiting until he got a confirming nod from Tsutomu and making a mental note to check the sign later himself. He sent a glance at the boys’ joined hands, Tsutomu clearly in the middle of guiding Joe’s hands into the proper shape, and added, “Come down whenever you’re done.”
Joe made a small strangled sound and said, “It’s not what it looks like?”
Junior blinked slowly, letting his amusement tinge his expression. “Tsutomu isn’t helping you learn sign language?”
Joe hesitated, his face turning even redder. “It’s exactly what it looks like?”
“I wouldn’t have thought otherwise.”
“Are you all right?”
Joe rolled his shoulder again, wincing at the feel of the synthetic muscles tightening and pulling at his real muscles. “I’m fine. I’m just a little sore.”
Junior gave him an even look, then put the folded blanket down on the bed. “Sit down.”
Joe gave him a confused look, but set down his pile of pillowcases and sat on the half-made bed. He felt the bed shift as Junior sat behind him, places his hands on Joe’s shoulders, and squeezed.
Joe groaned as Junior started a slow massage, his strength obvious even in the gentle press of his fingers. He couldn’t help a few more happy noises escaping as knots he hadn’t even been aware of came undone. It only took a few minutes before Joe melted back against Junior’s chest with a happy sigh.
“Better?” Junior asked, placing a kiss on Joe’s head. Joe just made a small noise of contentment, his eyes sliding shut for a moment before a light tap sounded at the open door.
Francoise stood in the door, a blush high on her cheeks as she stared at them. Joe instantly sat up straighter, reaching out for her. “Francoise?”
She visibly shook herself and took a step towards the bed. “Dinner’s almost ready,” she said, even as she let Joe draw her into Junior’s arms. She glanced at the piles of bedding around them. Joe followed her gaze and winced.
“We’ll finish making the bed before we head down. We got distracted.”
The blush snapped back over Francoise’s cheeks. “I heard.” She shifted slightly, leaning more into Joe’s side. “It… sounded very different.”
Junior’s laugh rumbled through both of them when Joe realized exactly what she meant and buried his face in Francoise’s shoulder, his own blush as bright as hers.
All 005 really wanted right then was a hot shower.
They’d just spent the last few days running across – and on one occasion under – the Greenland ice sheet. At some point, he’d be able to appreciate the memory of the vast expanse of blue-green ice in the moonlight. As it was, the last edges of cold dragged at his skin like cobwebs.
“So much for a quiet Christmas at home,” 007 sighed, drumming his fingers on the instrument panel in front of him.
“Relax,” 008 said. “There will still be a few hours left by the time we get back to Japan.”
“Not if we follow that course you put in,” 002 interjected.
The lingering battle tension lifted at the familiar bickering, and a murmur of conversation started among the rest of the team. 006 was already up and heading out the door, muttering to himself and visibly ticking something off on his fingers. 005 signed off his station – 002 gave him a wave of acknowledgement without taking his attention from 008 – and followed 006 out.
“Cocoa would be good, I think,” 006 said when they were both in the hall. “We all need something hot after that.” He looked over to 005, eyes sharpening as he pulled his mind from planning. “Is there anything you’d like?”
“Whatever you make will be good. As long as it’s hot.” 006 snorted at 005’s dry statement, and they parted ways.
* * *
*Snacks are ready and waiting in the lounge!*
005 sent an absent acknowledgement as he dragged a towel over his hair. The steaming shower had washed away the feel of ice from his skin, leaving not-quite exhaustion in its wake. The thought of a hot drink and something to eat before a bed sounded perfect.
A thought that was delayed when he reached the lounge and found most of the team already there. Punch-drunk giggles mixed with the clatter of crockery as 006 passed around bowls and mugs, carefully avoiding the cake sitting in the center of the table.
“Hey, don’t block the door.” 002 shoved at his back, which was enough to draw everyone else’s attention to them. 005 quickly found himself ensconced on a couch, squeezed between 009 and 003.
004 gave him a wry smile from across the table. “Did you think we forgot?”
“I think I forgot myself,” 005 admitted, accepting his own bowl of noodles. Sau mein, he realized. Longevity noodles. 006 must have been planning for this, to have the makings ready.
“We can’t light any candles right now,” 003 said, motioning to the cake, “but you could still make a wish.”
“Maybe later.” Right then, with warmth in his hands and elbows jabbing his sides and the light of the aurora shining through the window, wishes didn’t quite live up to reality.(Tumblr post)
“Oh no,” Francoise murmured, her voice full of amusement and exasperation, as Pyunma excused himself and slid out of the booth.
“Not a word,” Pyunma said, not looking back as he headed for the bar.
Junior leaned down, pulling Francoise closer to his side so he could quietly ask, “Is something wrong?”
The glance Francoise sent him showed she wasn’t fooled in the slightest, but she leaned into his side just the same. “Just watch.”
He did. Pyunma made a beeline to where Jet waited at the bar, the woman on the stool next to him leaning in close. Pyunma wrapped his arm around Jet’s waist as he joined the conversation, and while Junior couldn’t see his face, the woman suddenly leaned back.
“Does this happen often?”
“Not as often as it used to,” Francoise admitted, turning her attention away from the couple at the bar. “I think they’ve talked about it.”
Junior glanced back at the bar, took in that Jet had curled his hand over Pyunma’s even as he finally got the bartender’s attention. “I think,” he murmured, “that they understand each other.”