Pyrenean mountain, evening

A black clad teen with a long chestnut colored braid is trudging wearily along a river shore. He is Duo Maxwell, pilot gundam from colony L2 and the infamous self-appointed shinigami. He was just came out from a single mission to infiltrate and destroying an OZ metallurgy plant on several hours ago. Since he didn't bring on DeathScythe he must resort to stealing a military truck to escape, which was unfortunately only have a little gas left in it's tank. So, once it run out of gas on the next twenty miles later he found himself stranded in the middle of a mountain. On top of that, his cell-phone didn't pick-up any signal at all. He must walk until he found some kind of transportation to lift-off or if he's lucky, a house with a telephone. But so far the prospect for either of them is almost null. Duo plopped down on a fallen tree trunk. His feet feel very sore and his stomach is complaining.

" Arowowowowo roooowwwwlll!! " it grumbled loudly.

Duo looks at it in irritation. Sure, water could quench his thirst but it didn't satisfying his empty stomach, and the poor Duo was forgot to bring any ration bar. The wild berries he found some times ago didn't enough to keep his blood glucose within normal range.

Duo stretch his abused feet and huffing indignantly. His eyes straying to the river where the water run calmly and the fishes swam in complete ignorance about any possible danger.

" Fish! " Duo shouted and jumped from his seat.

Hey, maybe I can catch a few and have a little roasted fish party .

He's proceeding to walk to the river until the clear water is reaching until his mid-calf. The fishes are continuing to swim around, they treat his feet like a pair of ordinary and harmless rocks.

" Nice fish. Come here to papa Duo " he cooed.

Carefully he bends with both hands ready to grab a quite large fish. The fish continue to swim slowly. With the speed of a hungry and desperate gundam pilot he lunge to catch it.


The fish suddenly run out from the range of his hands and causing Duo to lost his balance and stumbled into the water, face first. A few seconds later a wet and pissed pilot emerged from the river.

::Cough ... hack ... cough::

Duo spat the last water from his mouth. Then he wrings and squeezes his braid.

" I looks like a wet and drowned cat, " he grumbled.

A loud rumbling sound was heard, and it's not from his stomach. Just then he realized that the sunlight was blocked by something. He raised his head then sees a dark and large cloud looming above. Looks like the oncoming storm.

I must find a shelter he thought. But first ... he shakes his head to force out the water that reside inside his ears.

And combined with the sound of the booming thunders above explained why he didn't perceive the soft clop-clopping sound of something came, not until whatever it is already very close to him.

" Excuse me " a new voice asked from behind him.

Duo whirled around with a battle ready stance and fierce expression on. He see a teen approximately on the same age with him with a slightly wavy golden brown hair and a pair of kind looking deep green eyes is standing in front of him. He clutched a rein that attached to a black stallion that standing patiently beside him. The newcomer looks startled at his expression; Duo saw fear on those green orbs. Quickly Duo change his expression into his usual easygoing face.

" Ooops, sorry, didn't mean to scare you. I thought you were some wannabe mugger " he grinned apologetically.

" It's my fault anyway, surprising you. I couldn't help to notice because usually didn't many people around here at these time of the year. Are you lost?" the newcomer asked Duo.

" Well, kinda like that. My car was run out of gas several miles from here. I had walked since then because my cell-phone didn't pick any signal ".

" No wonder, almost these entire mountain is a blank spot. I have a phone on my cabin that could reach outside world ".

Duo's face brighten, " Can I use yours? ".

" Of course. It didn't far, only four miles from here ".

Duo groaned at the words ' four miles '. The other teen smiled, a humorous twinkle on his eyes.

" We could ride my horse. He's strong enough for both of us ".

" Great! Let's go! I'm Duo ".

" I am Nicholas ".

Both teens ride together on the back of the fast running horse. Duo's arms tighten around his new friend's waist every seconds that passed.

I hate horse riding! He screamed inwardly in fear. That's Heero's stuff .

" Uh, Duo? Not so tight please. I couldn't breathe ".

" Sorry " Duo loosen his arms.

" Your first experience with a horse? ".

" Not really. Since a horse throw me from her back I have this phobia ".

" Don't worry, this journey wouldn't be long again. Just imagine you are sitting above a carrousel ".

" U huh " he answered. Yeah, right. No carrousel can thrown people from their back he thought sarcastically.

Soon they arrived in front of a medium sized cabin with a small horse stall attached to its side. Both dismount the horse. Duo is shaking like a leaf because the anxiety he felt earlier. He's so glad the dreadful ride was over.

Nicholas looks at him pityingly, " Maybe you should sit on the porch while I bring him to the stall ".

" Yeah, thanks " Duo wobbled to the porch then plopped down on a rattan chair.

A short moment later they enter the cabin.

" The phone is on the living room ".

" Thanks ".

Quickly Duo dials their current safe house's number.

As soon as the phone on the other end was picked Duo blurting out, " Hiya, this is me ".

" Duo! Are you all right? We were worried about you " Quatre's voice blurted out from the receiver.

" Yeah. My car decides to empty its fuel tank in the middle of a forest. Someone let me use the phone on his cabin ".

" Where is your position? ".

" Wait a moment ". Duo stick his head to the kitchen next door, " Where are we? ".

A coordinate was given to him, which he repeated to Quatre.

" Hang on there, we will pick you ".

Just then the sound of rain and furious howl of wind came very quickly around the cabin.

" Seesh, right on time. Looks like there's a storm raging here " Duo said.

Then a brown-topped head poked around the door, " The storm could last all night. It's better if you stay here at time being ".

Duo nod in agreement.

" Take your time, I was just invited to stay tonight " Duo said to Quatre.

" Alright. We will pick you in the morning ".

" Bye " then Duo hung up the phone.

An enticing smells wafting from the kitchen. Duo decides to follow the trail. From the kitchen's door he saw his host stir some kind of broth.

" Arrooowwll! Grrrooowwwll!! " Duo's stomach protested again.

The other teen turning around and saw an embarrassed shinigami. He smiled in understanding.

" It's almost done. Would you take a bath before dinner? There's plenty of hot water, and you are dripping to the floor " he smiled, amused.

" Yeah, sure. Thanks ".

" No problem. Please watch this for a while, " he indicated their would be dinner, " I'll be back soon ".

A short moment then he came back carrying a set of extra toiletries, a towel, a bed robe, and a set of pajama. He dumped them into Duo's waiting hands.

" Here you are. The bathroom is the third door on the left ".

Duo nodded then set off to the bathroom. On the bathroom he still can hear his host humming a melody, somehow it remind him of Quatre and his excellent skill as a violinist.

In the middle of dinner suddenly the lamp on the ceiling blinked off and darkness enshrouding them.

" The storm must be cut the electric line. I'll lit some candles " Nicholas's voice cut through the darkness.

A short moment later several candles were lighted. The scent of fresh green apples is drifting from them. On the yellow light Duo is just realizing that his host's face is familiar to him but he can't remember where he saw this face before.

Must be a same type of face he concluded.

Their conversation is turning toward what they do day by day.

" I work on a salvage yard as an errand, pushing around the stock. And you? " Duo asked his companion.

He toyed with the food on his plate, " I am going to an Academy. It's some family tradition ".

Duo recognizes the uncomfortable note on that sentence. It's seems that either the subject of school or family tradition is best to be avoided. He leads the conversation to the other way, toward these mountain and its inhabitants.

On the end of the dinner the light is back on. Duo yawned uncontrollably.

" Sorry " he apologized.

" Understandable. Here, I'll show you your room ".

" But the dishes ... " Duo protested.

" I'll take care of them " Nicholas push Duo from the kitchen, literally.

Geez, he's just like Quatre on his worst mother hen mood Duo thought.

Both of them came in front of two doors. Nicholas opens the left door.

" This is your room, " then he indicate the right door, " And this is mine. Feels free to ask if you need something ".

" Thanks ".

Nicholas smiled, " Good night ".

" Night ".

Then Nicholas heading back to the kitchen. Duo stare disbelievingly at the retreating figure.

He's skipping?! .

Indeed, Nicholas's steps were practically bouncing because he's on a good mood. Very good moods since everything were going just like how he wants them to goes.

Duo's room was equipped with a single bed, a dresser, a medium high bedside table with a reading lamp on top. In the other word, Spartan. He flopped down to the soft bed and hugging the pillow. The sound of furious storm outside and the combination of the warm room, a comfortable bed, and a full stomach make his eyelids closed in a short moment. But then suddenly he jump out from the bed because he realize something, the fact that he behaved like the one on the same house with him is one of the pilots which he trust with his life when the reality he's with someone who's practically a stranger.

Darn, I'm getting sloppy .

Carefully he twists his room's doorknob, and the door opened soundlessly. He tiptoed to the next room, then twist the doorknob. To his surprise the door is unlocked. He peer inside and saw his host asleep with a blanket tucked until his chin. Relieved, he close the door then going back to his room.

A little precaution never hurt Duo propped a chair under his door's knob.

Duo flopped down to the inviting bed for the second time on this night.

It's hard to believe that someone so trusting to a stranger is still exist on this time of war. I could strike without he knows what's happen. But that's exactly why we fight, to preserve the innocents from the effects of war . The scene of the burning Maxwell church flashing on his mind, Not anymore, that kind of thing won't happen again, not when I had a say over that he vowed.

With that final thought Duo drifted to a restful sleep. Even the howl of wind and the rain that beating on the window didn't faze him.


The next morning,

::Knock knock. Silence. Knock knock::

" Go away " Duo mumbled automatically from behind the pillow.

::Knock knock::

The persistent tapping succeed to wake Duo, although it's more on the ' behavior by habit ' than he actually realize what he do. Duo walks to the door then open it.

" What's up, Q-man? " he asked blearily.

The reaction came because; 1. It's usually Quatre who bother to knock at the door. 2. Quatre know that he's not a morning person so he won't disturb him unless they have a mission to do or something very important happened. 3. The fact that he's awaken in an unknown place is not new for him because he used to changing safe houses so he didn't bother to think about it anymore.

" Good morning Duo, rest well? " a cheerful voice that's not belongs to Quatre jolted Duo from the haze that surrounded his higher brain functions.

Automatically he jumps backward a few steps, and caught on the edge of the rug thrown on the floor. He crashed with a loud bang.

" Ouch " he sits and rubs on the back of his head where it came into a rather painful contact with the edge of the bed. Then he noticed a worried face hovering above his.

" My God, I am so sorry. Where is it hurt? " Nicholas talked rapidly.

Before Duo can answer it, his hand already came into the place where a bump began to form. Startled, Duo instinctively jerks his head forward. The movement brings a sensation of a whirling room around him and a monstrous headache. Meanwhile his host already determines that nothing fractured.

" It will swell a bit, " he said apologetically. He stands up then says, " I'll go get the icepack ".

Left alone, Duo began to think, I knew that sooner or later something is going to happen and ruin the day. So much for the hope of a perfect single day without any kind of accident, missions, or fights .

The icepack was arrived along with an aspirin and a glass of water.

As soon as he can stand up and walk normally Duo proceed to take a quick shower then hopping to the kitchen from where the heavenly scent of warm pancakes is wafting out. He wears his own clothes that he dried above the radiator last night. A quick breakfast then he's full. Duo's ears perked up as he caught the sound of an oncoming car.

::Knock knock::

Someone knocked on the front door.

" I'll get that " Duo jumped from his chair.

When he opens the door Trowa's impassive face greet him.

" My ticket to go home has arrived " Duo said to his host, " Thanks for your hospitality ".

" It's my pleasure ".

" I'm off now. Maybe we can meet each other again ".

" Maybe, if the circumstances allows ".

With that final parting words Duo hopped down to the waiting jeep Trowa brought.

Duo and Trowa was just out from earshot when Nicholas said softly, " Until the next time, Duo Maxwell ".

A merry chime came from inside the cabin.

A pleasant woman's voice came out from seemingly nowhere, " A one-way message from Ms. Hélène was coming in secure channel ".

He says, " Bring it on ".

A holographic screen sprang alive in front of him with a young woman's face displayed.

She says short and cryptically, " The lion was out. Be prepared to take the position " then the screen blinked out of existence.

He thought, It seems that we would run into each other sooner than expected. I am waiting for you, pilot 02. The next time we meet again it would be under much graver circumstances .


P : Hi, I'm Poppy and this is my companion, Chibi Duo. He have something to say to you.

CD : Not to the readers, to you. ::glared to Poppy:: You make me into the unluckiest character on this chapter. First the gasoline, the fish, and then the bed.

P : E he he. ::grins cheekily:: It's fun.

CD : For you, not me. Many more fans of mine will treat me better than that.

P : U huh. But right now you have a contract you must fulfill. ::Waving a bunch of official documents:: So do it.

CD : Fine. ::Grumbling under his breath:: The last time I'm allured by sincere voice.

P : Did you say something?

CD : No! I'm just taking a breath. ::Taking a real deep breath:: Okay, this is it. ::Looking at a paper he must read:: Hey, this said that I could ask you anything about my role on this chapter.

P : ::Nods enthusiastically::

CD : ::Glaring full force:: Why the touchy-feely stuff?

P : Huh? ::A big question mark is floating above her head::

CD : The bump on the head scene!

P : Oh that. I think it's a normal reflex if a stranger suddenly touching you, or at least it's my kind of reflex. Next please.

CD : ::Snort. Reading chapter one again:: And why did he call me Duo Maxwell when I never tell him my last name?

P : Easy, he know who you really are.

CD : Can you be more specific?

P : Let's just said that as a soldier for the colonies you were just met one of your supposedly archenemies. He did call you by pilot 02 too.

CD : You said that he's from OZ? Only them who call us gundam pilots by numbers.

P : Not quite. The warriors from the colonies do have other enemies besides the former Alliance and OZ.

CD : You like to make our lives miserable, did you?

P : ::Beaming:: Of course not. I am all around supporting the warriors for good cause.

CD : ::Eyeing Poppy suspiciously::

P : Don't mind him, please. He does just hate to be shown as a clumsy guy.

CD : ::Snarling:: Who's clumsy?!!

P : See? He's even behaving like a cranky Wufei. Anyway, please give me a chance. This is just the first chapter. ::Giving the puppy dog eyes::