The next morning began with a loud wail. Thinking someone was hurt, Sister Helen immediately left her post as cereal pourer and made her way upstairs to the room where the distress call was being made. There was Duo sitting on his bed, surrounded by some of the other boys in his room, tears streaming down his face. In his outstretched hand he held the black scrunchie that had been in his hair the night before.
The Sister dismissed the crowd and sat down with the boy, taking him in her arms. “It’s alright Duo. We can fix it,” she soothed. But still Duo sobbed.
After her conversation with Relena’s nanny the previous night, Sister Helen had an inkling as to why Duo seemed to have such a fondness for the young girl. ‘Poor Duo,’ she thought, ‘you must think she’s all you have left.’
She held the boy tighter, running her fingers through the now loose strands of his hair. “Duo, honey, I know it won’t be the same, but I can braid it back up for you.”
Duo shook his head.
“Are you afraid Relena will be angry?”
“I’m sure she would understand it was an accident.”
“And from what Eliza has told me, Relena might enjoy braiding your hair again, when you see her today.”
“I pway wit’ Rewena?”
“Yes, you will. After school. Surprise!”
Sister Helen returned the smile, gently wiping the tears from Duo’s damp face. “Do you think you can get yourself ready for school now?”
“Good,” she said, patting him on the back. “When you come downstairs for breakfast I’ll explain everything to you.”
Duo couldn’t wait for school to be over for the day. Neither could his teacher. By lunch time, the non-stop chattering, constantly fidgeting, catch-me-if-you-can king of the monkey bars was wearing on her last nerve. Ms. Luca was certain that everyone on the school grounds knew Duo was going to play with someone named Relena today. It was hard to believe that this was the same child who quietly kept to himself the day before.
Fortunately for her, Duo seemed quite content spending the remainder of the day drawing. Surrounded by fat crayons in a rainbow of colors, he concentrated on his masterpiece. He still fidgeted, but the project managed to keep him in one spot. And he was quiet.
Finally the bell indicating the end of school rang. Duo waited as patiently as he could for the arrival of Milliardo. Since Sister Helen already knew where Duo was going and who he was going to be with, she felt comfortable about letting the young boy travel by himself. She did, however want to make sure he got into the right car, so Milliardo was to wait with him until Pargan arrived.
“Millie-yardo?” Duo called out again.
Milliardo had not spoken to the younger boy at all since he received his punishment and he wasn’t about to start now. ‘Besides, he’s not even calling me by my proper name.’ Instead he ignored the brat that was responsible for his grief, standing silently until his services as baby-sitter were no longer required. The platinum-blonde eleven year old sucked his teeth in annoyance. He swore he could still taste a hint of Lever 2000.
“Tawk to me, Millie-yardo!” Duo still wasn’t getting any response so he decided on trying more drastic measures.
Milliardo wavered slightly as the youngster began ramming himself into him. ‘Give it up, brat. Nothing you do is going to make me want to talk to you or hear a word you say. I am Zechs, I am strong, I am a rock, I am–‘
On the ground. Duo caught Milliardo in the back of his knees and “the rock” toppled effortlessly. He looked up, grinning proudly from beneath the older boys legs, as Milliardo groaned in pain.
“Duo!” Relena came running to Duo’s aid. “Is you awright?” she asked as she pulled her friend up.
Duo nodded, realizing that Relena probably saved him from a throttling.
Eliza offered a hand to Milliardo, who was suddenly too distracted to have any idea what was going on. “Would you like some help?” she asked, hoping to clarify things for the boy.
“Oh… Yes… Thank you,” he said, taking the hand. Finding himself upright once again he began to dust himself off and straighten his clothes. Eliza watched him preen himself before he offered his own hand. “Hi! My name is, my name is um…”
“Milliardo,” Duo offered.
“Milliard–no! It’s Zechs! Zechs dammit!” He glared at the youngster who was, along with his little companion, now caught up in a fit of giggles.
“Nice to make your acquaintance.” Eliza took his hand, expecting to shake it. She was certainly surprised when he raised her hand to his lips and kissed it!
“The pleasure is all mine,” Milliardo replied, trying to look smooth.
Duo looked at the googley-eyed Milliardo, then at the flustered Eliza, then at his new sidekick. “Milliardo likes Eliza,” he began to chant. “Milliardo likes Eliza.”
Relena joined in,”Milliardo likes Eliza.” Soon they where spinning each other around. “Milliardo likes Eliza.”
Milliardo covered his embarrassment with both his hands while Eliza tried her best to stifle the laughter that was bubbling up from her chest.
“Milliardo likes Eliza.”
“Okay, that’s enough you two,” the nanny lightly scolded. She thought Milliardo’s actions were sweet; something to be encouraged. She also remembered what it was like to be at that awkward age. “Pargan is waiting waiting for us in the Town Car. Since we couldn’t park in front of the school we have to walk a bit to get to it, so let’s get going if we wish to have any time to play.”
“Yay!” screamed Relena as she ran down the street, Duo in tow.
“Yay!” screamed Duo.
“Are you coming?” Eliza asked Milliardo.
“Well, um, actually, I’m kind of grounded.”
“Well then, allow us to give you a ride back to the orphanage. After all, it’s not everyday I have the honor of being seen with such a handsome young man.”
‘She thinks I’m handsome!’ He smiled as suavely as a pre-teen could. “Then I must take you up on your offer.” He held out his arm so the nanny could take hold of it and together they strolled after the screamers.