LSE // 7-5-03
(Moonlight Sonata - Chapter One)
rated: PG13 - language, content (and more later)
shounen-ai/yaoi

Chapter One

-

With a hard pull, Duo tightened the laces on his right boot before
quickly and effortlessly looping them into a large, snug bow.
Checking to make sure nothing dangled within reach of the blade, Duo
slipped the guards on over the blades for the short walk to the gate.
Une had burst a vessel nearly the last time she'd caught him walking
on the skates without guards, and Duo was in no hurry to see a repeat
of the explosive rant. Only once he reached the threshold of the rink
did he slip the hard plastic off, setting them atop the boards.

The sound of his blades against the ice seemed to echo off the walls
of the rink, and Duo looked around with a smile. The place was
abandoned at five in the morning, which was just as he liked it; no
need to worry about slamming into someone trying to set up a Lutz or
land a quad. The influx of patrons when begin soon but, for the
moment, he had the entire rink to himself.

Gliding away from the boards and out towards the center of the slick,
virgin ice, Duo shook his arms and rolled his neck to loosen the
joints. Sliding gently to a stop in the middle, Duo surveyed the
space around him before closing his eyes and imagining the jump he
wanted to try out that day. It was something Zechs had demonstrated
at their last practice, and he was eager to learn it.

Pushing out with one blade, Duo gravitated towards the boards and
started a slow, easy lap of the rink to fully warm himself up. Unable
to resist, he pulled a quick waltz jump and glided around one of the
corners backwards. Duo took note of the way his braid tumbled over
one shoulder and fluttered out in front of him before turning around
and regaining some of his lost speed.

After his third sweep of the rink, Duo put more energy into the
cross-overs, feeling the way the ice flew beneath him. Cutting
through the silence of the building was the unmistakable shnnk, shnnk
of blade across ice. Duo slowly swept around the corner before
adjusting and gliding out backwards on his left foot.

Even though he knew the rink was deserted, Duo glanced over his
shoulder to check before beginning the Lutz. His right toe pick shot
out into the ice, sending up a small cloud of frozen particles that
tried to cling to the flowing hem of his black pants. Spinning up
into the air, Duo focused on keeping his shoulders and hips aligned
for the full two rotations before landing smoothly on his right
outside edge.

Then came the tricky part. Before momentum could carry him out into a
glide, Duo spun up again off the same edge into an attempted loop
jump. His skate wobbled dangerously, but managed to get himself up
into the air anyways. The landing, however, failed, and Duo went
sliding across the ice unhurt.

Laughing softly, Duo picked himself up and floated slowly backward
across the ice. Hands held behind his back, Duo weaved his way over
to the gate and sat on the threshold. Maybe he'd just landed the Lutz
badly, or his shoulders had slipped, but the wobble to his ankle was
concerning. Checking over both skates, Duo found the lacing on his
right boot had broken.

With a 'tsk' sound, Duo grabbed his guards off the boards and slipped
them on before going over to his duffel bag. Hunting through the
contents, Duo managed to find the emergency set of extra laces, which
were a brilliant hot pink in color. Absolutely hideous with the black
boot of his skate. So the last time he let Zechs buy laces.

Making a mental note to buy new laces soon, Duo carefully removed the
busted laces and strung the new set into the eyelets. He was wasting
valuable practice time, but the consequences of poorly laced skates
involved things breaking. Specifically, his ankle, and Duo did not
want that. Une's rant would be worse than the actual injury.

Getting ready to go back out on to the ice, Duo noticed one solitary
figure slowly gliding across the rink. He grinned, instantly
recognizing his friend Trowa, who either did not notice him or chose
not to say good morning. Tall and slender, Trowa was two years older
than Duo and, in his opinion, the best skater in the world without
exception. However, to Duo's knowledge, Trowa did not have a single
medal or title to his name.

Trowa spread his arms and spun around with his right leg extended,
centering and slowly drawing the leg in to cross against the left as
his body gradually began to blur. The boy extended his arms up as the
spin increased in speed until, finally, he was twirling like a
stationary top. Abruptly, Trowa ended the spin, kicking against the
ice to completely stop moving.

Moving out on to the ice, Duo applauded Trowa's scratch spin, causing
the other boy to look over in surprise. "Duo," he said softly once the
distance between them had closed enough for words. "Haven't seen you
in a while."

He shrugged lightly, "Une's been keeping me busy, with the season
starting up again, and I got bottled off for a week's training."

Trowa nodded carefully, looking out at the rink as if searching for
something or, as Duo knew, someone. Deeply emerald eyes glittered out
from beneath Trowa's long chestnut bangs, which swept over his left
eye and obscured most of the side of his face. In all the years Duo
had been friends with the quiet boy, he had never once seen more than
a small, rare smile from him.

Following the green-eyed gaze, which had stopped its hunt and rested
firmly on the object of search, Duo found himself staring at a small
blond boy who was leaning against the boards. The boy waved to them
both with a bright smile, and Duo eagerly returned the wave. To know
Trowa was to know Quatre for the two were inseparable. It was only in
the small boy's presence that Trowa ever made his rare smiles, and
Duo knew that, over the summer, the friendship between the stoic
Trowa and sensitive Quatre had grown into something more.

Quatre's father was behind Winner Corp., which owned a nation-wide
chain of skating supply stores and ice skating rinks. Although not
serious at the sport himself, Quatre often came to watch the skaters.
That was how he had met Trowa, and later, Duo.

Tilting his head towards Duo in the barest of acknowledgments, Trowa
elegantly pushed off with one skate and drifted towards the south end
of the rink. With a resigned sigh, Duo also moved again, building up
speed with a series of cross-overs until he reached where Trowa had
moved to and beyond. Curving along the edge of the rink, Duo turned
gently into jump position and set up another try at the combination.

Again, he failed the jump, but this time the error was in the very
set up of his Lutz. Duo cursed, picking himself off of the ice and
testing to make sure nothing was broken or twisted. Angry at himself
for missing a jump he knew he could land, Duo put more energy to his
third attempt and pulled a triple Lutz instead of just a double.
Through some miracle, he got up into the air for the combination loop
and pulled a single revolution before crashing back to earth.

Sliding across the rink, Duo came to a soft stop up against the
boards and stayed there, cheek to the ice, trying to remind himself
that it took several tries for even the best skaters to learn a new
trick. The fourth and fifth attempts were no better, and on the sixth
he fell before getting a chance at the loop.

Getting up from the sixth attempt, Duo found Trowa standing in the
center of the rink watching. The boy had his hands in the front
pockets of his jeans (and how Trowa managed to pull the moves he did
in those tight, restricting pants was a mystery to Duo, who wore
loose black slacks fastened beneath his skates by a strap) and looked
to have been observing Duo for some time. Without removing his hands
from the pockets, Trowa skated across the ice to gently come to a
stop beside Duo.

"Lutz-loop combination?" Trowa asked softly, making the inquiry seem
like a statement more than anything. "A new move for your routine?"

"Probably not. Zechs showed it to me and I want to learn it."

Trowa nodded slightly, gazing out at the ice. "Don't be afraid to
wait a bit longer before started the loop. Use your arms more to keep
balance and momentum for the second jump."

"Okay," Duo agreed sullenly, not mad at Trowa for the advice but mad
he had to actually get the advice. Duo had always been a better
jumper than Zechs, and it annoyed him to the point of fury that the
older man could do a move Duo hadn't even thought of trying. That
Zechs had four years more experience than Duo was not a factor. In
fact, if anything, it made Duo all the more determined to nail the
combination.

Reminding himself Trowa was the best skater bar-none, Duo asked in an
overly-polite manner, "Would you please show me what you mean?"

Without an actual response, Trowa removed his hands from his pockets
and started out across the ice. Duo followed for a short distance to
end up leaning up against the boards near where Quatre had seated
himself with a book. The blond looked up and set the book aside,
walking over so that he could talk to Duo.

Quatre rested his arms on the top of the boards, watching with
interest as Trowa flew past them both. "What's Trowa going to do?"

"Lutz-loop combo. I'm trying to learn it," Duo admitted.

Even though Quatre didn't understand, he nodded without removing his
eyes from Trowa as the boy set up the jump. "Trowa has such talent,"
Quatre said wistfully as the lean skater in question performed
flawlessly, using triples for each jump.

"Yeah," Duo agreed, awed. "Hey... Quatre, have you ever told Trowa he
should start doing contests? With his skill, he could easily go for
the Olympics or at least the Worlds."

Quatre shook his head slowly, a deeply pained look haunted his aqua
marine eyes. "I know what you mean, but... No. Trowa doesn't want to
compete. My father's offered to sponsor him several times, and I know
there have some scouting agencies show up at the rink. Trowa won't
even talk to them."

"No offense, but that's just crazy. He's so good!" Duo lowered his
voice when Trowa started over in their direction. "Every time I try
to talk about it he just shuts me out. Une'd piss herself if she ever
saw the stuff he can pull."

"Thanks, Trowa," Duo called, in a louder voice, when the boy got close
enough where further conversation with Quatre would seem rude. "Now I
think I see what you were trying to tell me."

Trowa's advice worked like a charm and, after on four more attempts,
Duo landed and stayed up, if a bit off-balance. Triumphant, he looked
over to see if Trowa had noticed, but the older boy was completely
engrossed in whatever Quatre was saying. Despite how cute they looked,
Duo was annoyed his jump had gone unnoticed. However, he was suddenly
surprised with Trowa turning his head and met Duo's eyes across the
ice, nodding in silent approval.

Convinced that, in addition to being absolutely perfection on the ice,
Trowa had eyes in the back of his head, Duo set off the practice the
jump once more. Secure that he knew the technique and could perform
the combination without falling, Duo started with a run-through of the
more basic moves.

The minutes flew by and Duo neglected to keep track of time and, not
until he nearly collided with a sleepy-looking young girl, the rink
was gradually gathering other skaters. A few pro's were running their
students through warm-ups, and it would only be a matter of time
before the rink filled up enough to prevent him from practicing.

With a defeated sigh, Duo abandoned the ice and gathered up his
things, narrowly saving his duffel from a precocious three-year-old.
Stuffing everything back inside, Duo paused as his hands closed over
the familiar, worn leather belonging to one of his very first pairs
of ice skates. Drawing them out from the bag, he smiled at the sight
of how battered and beaten the skates looked after years of hard
abuse.

Despite all Zechs' teasing for carrying the old skates around, Duo
was firmly convinced they brought him luck. And if he closed his eyes,
Duo could almost conjure the memory of receiving the skates.

------------------------12 years previously---------------------------

"Children, please don't knock the tree down!" Sister Helen cried,
hurrying across the room to rescue the dangerously-leaning Christmas
tree from the clutches of the orphans.

Shooing her charges away from the tree, the nun cast a desperate
glance to Father Maxwell, but he was in deep conversation with one of
the hosts for the Christmas party. A local charity, targeting the
inner-city children, had graciously set up the tree, which actually
held gifts beneath it, along with refreshments and games for the
children. Already, Sister Helen could see several of the orphans
smuggling the cookies and chocolates into their pockets for later.

It pained her to see the children resorting to such acts, but the
church orphanage, run by only herself and Father Maxwell, was
grievously under-funded. And they tried to never turn a child away,
even if it meant Sister Helen had to tighten her own belt and go
without so the children could eat. It nearly brought tears to her
eyes seeing the children able to celebrate Christ's birthday with
full stomach and, soon, a new toy.

"C'mon, Duo," came a young boy's whine, and Sister Helen turned to see
one of her newest charges trying to lure a younger boy out from under
the table. She smiled, walking over to kneel down beside the older boy
and peer under the tablecloth.

Large, wide violet eyes stared back at her from a heart-shaped face,
"Dun wanna," Duo replied stubbornly, "'cos there's food." Indeed,
stacked beside him were several cookies and a handful of chocolate
bars. "Solo!" the boy whined, tugging on the older child's arm.

The Sister smiled fondly and moved away, allowing them to settle the
dispute themselves. Father Maxwell had brought both children into the
orphanage in September, but neither fully trusted anyone beyond
themselves. From what little Sister Helen could glean off from
sporadic episodes of talking from Duo, who held promise to be a very
bright and energetic child, they were close, but not related.

"Duo," Solo whined in return, but with a smile on his face. He gave
up tugging on the younger boy's arm and crawled under the table to
join his friend among the food cache. "Don't you want presents?"

"Pres'ns?" Duo repeated, stumbling over the word as his eyes widened
even further, "I get pres'ns?"

"Yeah, silly, it's Christmas!"

Duo stared at his friend for a long time until, finally, Father
Maxwell's voice started calling for the children to gather around the
Christmas tree. "They're gonna give 'em all out 'less you go get one,"
Solo warned, crawling out from under the table.

"Wait! I want a pres'n!" Duo scrambled after the older boy,
abandoning his carefully gathered stock-pile of food in favor of the
brightly lit and decorated pine tree in the corner. Slipping his
hand inside Solo's, Duo joined the rest of the orphans to eye the
presents.

Sister Helen moved between the children and the tree, smiling
pleasantly at them all. "First, let us thank the Lord for all He has
provided us today, and in the year."

Obediently, all the children's heads bowed. Except Duo's. He could
never understand why everyone stared at the floor if God was suppose
to be up above. Solo's brown eyes darted over and gave him such a
chiding look that Duo immediately dropped his gaze to the threadbare
carpeting. Absently counting the different colored threads, Duo
tapped his fingers together while the Sister prayed.

His first memory, besides the horrible things he saw in flickered
nightmares, was of Solo. Dimly, Duo could recall sobbing among a
scattering of boxes and crates in an alley. He had been crying
because he was hungry, and tired, and alone... scared... And then,
Solo's face had appeared in the gap between two of the boxes, staring
down at him with a curious look.

He and Solo had just been on the streets together for less than a
year when Father Maxwell had rescued them from a vengeful shopkeeper,
who didn't appreciate Duo's "borrowing" of several cans of food. Solo
had explained to Duo that Father Maxwell was not an actual father,
just like Sister Helen wasn't really a sister at all. The entire
thing confused Duo, who didn't understand why he had to wear an
uncomfortable uniform. But Solo told him it was better than the
streets of Chicago, and whatever Solo said...

Sister Helen finished her prayer, which included thanks to the
sponsoring charity, and then clapped her hands to get everyone's
attention. "Now... who wants a present?" she asked with a wide smile,
and laughed when all the children's hands shot into the air with
cries of "Me! Me!"

Duo looked to Solo and then mimicked the boy, raising his hand up
high and calling, "Me!"

"Okay, okay," Sister Helen said with another laugh, waving them into
silence. "Let's see... how about the youngest goes first?"

There was silence among the orphans as they eyed another. Few had
actual ages and birthdays. Like Duo and Solo, who could not remember
a life beyond the streets, there all assigned approximate ages and
birthdays. Duo's was September 3rd, which was the day Father Maxwell
had found him, so he shared it with Solo. According to Sister Helen,
who had given the birthdays to them, Duo was five. Duo didn't
understand what that meant, but Solo seemed to agree.

And it also meant Duo was one of the youngest of the children.

In case Duo had forgotten his own age, Solo spoke up. "That means
you, kid," he said, poking Duo on the arm.

"Nuh-uh," said another child, roughly Duo's age, "you s'not younger
than me!"

Sister Helen blushed, realizing how insane it was to try and sort the
presents out using age, and amended her statement, "Or we'll just
start at the back. The back two rows can come get one present each."
It worked out to roughly the same thing, since the older children had
snagged the closer positions.

Solo stood and dragged Duo along with him, "Try to get somethin' big,
okay, Duo?"

"O.K!" Duo said eagerly looking over the festively wrapped gifts with
an eager eye. Hunting closer to the base of the tree, Duo found a
heavy, large bow wrapped in red paper with a large green bow atop it.
Solo nodded approvingly and they crossed back to where they had
previously been seated.

Ripping off the wrapping hurriedly, Duo paused, trying to take his
time relishing the moment, before prying apart the box lids.
Packaging peanuts flew out and were snatched up by those around him
with exclamations of surprise. Duo peered into the box and hunted
through the Styrofoam shapes to pull out a pair of very odd-looking
shoes.

They were made of a white leather an had pristine white laces, which
contrasted again the slightly-grubby look of the obviously used
leather. Attached to the bottom of each was a steel blade which
glinted against the light. Duo could hardly believe his eyes -- he'd
gotten a serious weapon!

Solo eyed the shoes with a look crossing into anger before standing
up and protesting, "Sister Helen! Someone gave Duo a girlie gift!"

The nun came over, leaving Father Maxwell to deal out presents. The
hosts had assured Sister Helen that all the gifts were gender neutral
and appropriate for the age group. Seeing what lay in Duo's box,
Sister Helen frowned, "Oh, Duo, I'm sorry... would you like to pick
out a different gift?"

"What's it?" he asked, poking the white leather, which felt soft to
the touch despite being so rigid.

"Ice skates," she replied, "but you don't..."

With a grin, Duo shook his head, sending the long auburn plait flying,
"I wanna keeps it!"

Solo scoffed, "What'd you do wit' 'em?"

"S'ate?" Duo asked, innocently looking between the two of them and
hugging the box to him. In truth, he had no idea what the shoes --
ice skates -- were for, but they were his very first Christmas gift.
And they looked dangerous. Maybe he could give then to Solo, and then
Solo would have a way to scare off bullies.

Sister Helen smiled, her eyes clouded with tears, "Okay, Duo. You can
keep them. Just be careful with them... And, Duo?"

"Yeah?"

"Would you like me to teach you how to use them?"

For a minute, Duo had an unnatural image of the demure nun wielding
ice skate blades in a rather complicated martial arts combination,
but since he knew that wasn't what she meant, Duo simply beamed up at
her.

Sister Helen smiled back and turned away, distracted by an adventurous
group of boys stealing ornaments off from the tree. On her way over
to help Father Maxwell pacify the situation, she was amazed that
young Duo had so eagerly accepted her offer. It looked like her two
newest charges would fit in just fine.

-

-

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Author's Notes: Long first chapter, I guess, but, whatever! Since I
didn't get this finished in time for the contest (weep!) I thought
I'd go ahead and offer it up. I might start working on it again, who
knows. I spent a lot of time researching and plotting the story.
What do you guys think? Should I continue?

I promise Duo and Heero really are the primary couple. And this going
to be a long 'fic (I planned it as a novella) So... patience!

That is, if you even want more ^_^()

Feedback/reviews are very much appreciated!
copyright 2003 - Gundam Wing and characters copyright other people.
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LSE - Violet Nyte (ManzokuBiscuit@aol.com)
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