A Crimson Christmas Companion
Fateful Encounters
(between chapters 2 and 3 of the original story)

Characters created by: FatelessWanderer
Concept and story by: PegasusAcc and
Disclaimer: Although there are no mentions of it in this story, this one shot is based off A Crimson Christmas, a Gundam Wing Fanfiction. Thus, both PegasusAcc and I wish to state that we do not, nor will ever own anything in relation to gundam wing.

Nikki gazed nostalgically out one of the massive windows that lined the hallway of the university. The sun had finally decided to creep from behind the clouds, shedding some light on the courtyard below. She sighed, running her fingers along the still chill glass. Couples snuggled beneath the trees in the cherry grove, a few even carving their names into the trunks like countless predecessors had done before them.

Her heart twitched causing her eyes to sting. Suddenly she missed Haru more than she could stand. Her fingers began to shake as she moved them to twirl her hair, and anxious habit she'd unfortunately picked up from Ami.

Nikki looked around restlessly. Ami was supposed to have met her at least half an hour ago so that they could both grab the afternoon shuttle back home, but she hadn't seen Ami anywhere all day . Nikki vaguely remembered seeing her that morning before they'd trudged off toward their separate classes, but the memory seemed faded, though it had only been a few hours before. She began twisting her hair more violently. She cast a nervous glance back at the courtyard. Where was she? It wasn't like Ami to be late, let alone suddenly disappear all together.

Worry began to set into her muscles. What if the same thing that had happened to Haru and Tarak had happened to Ami as well? Nikki tugged fiercely at a few more strands of hair. But what if Ami had left to find the two on her own instead?

Nikki shivered at the thought. Ami would never leave her alone like that, would she? Without telling her or giving her any type of notice? Fear began to cloud her eyes.

Ami had been acting rather strangely in the past few days. Bags had formed under her eyes, though Ami had been smart enough to conceal them with a swipe of cleverly applied makeup. But makeup couldn't hide the tired look in them. Nikki hadn't been completely unaware of the bruises reflected in her best friend's eyes; the longing and the fear were difficult to miss, no matter how often Ami had tried to hide them with a smile. Nikki was all to familiar with the feelings to be ignorant to that extent.

Nikki grabbed her bag and sprinted down the hallway, fear flooding her vision. She couldn't be alone. She wouldn't be able to handle that. With Haru gone, Ami was one of the few people she had left to turn to when plagued by her own demons from the past. She'd never told anyone about her family, no one except for Haru, but she knew that somehow Ami and the others had an uncanny ability to know things she never said out loud.

She rounded the corner at near full speed, almost colliding with one of the advisors. The man bristled with annoyance, bending to pick up the few papers he'd dropped in the near collision. "Watch where you are going, Miss," he said, pushing up his glasses and trying to force a smile onto his face. "An accident and mistake like that could get someone killed." Nikki's eyes widened.

"S-Sorry, Sir," she sputtered. She shoved the last of his papers toward him before turning heel and running again at full speed. She had to find Ami, and quickly. The knot in her stomach had begun to tighten and already the sun had begun to set. It was safe to say they had both missed the shuttle.

Nikki clamored down the hallways of the school. "Ami?" she called nervously, her voice quivering. "Ami!"

Everywhere she'd checked so far had been empty. All of their usual meeting places were already deserted, most everyone already having left for home. Nikki stopped to catch her breath, listening to the soft shrill of the air conditioner and the gentle ticking of her watch. Everything else was deathly silent. Even her footfalls had stopped echoing.

Nikki ran the layout of the building through her mind again. She'd already checked the north, south and east wings. The only portion of the school left was the west wing, but that portion of the school had been closed for renovations and wouldn't be open for classes for at least another month or so. Yet is was the only place she hadn't checked.

Nikki spun again, darting for the empty building and praying that she'd find Ami there. The chances were slim, but they were all she had left.

The wind seemed to whisper eerily through the wing, ruffling the numerous white sheets the janitorial staff had thrown over a few pieces of furniture that had proven too cumbersome to move through the doorways. Aside from the occasional birds next, the building was deserted.

Nikki climbed around a large desk, squeezing herself against the wall. "Ami?" she called again, hoping to hear her friend answer joyfully and devolve that this had all been a joke, a satanic version of hide-and-go-seek.

But all she heard was a muffle noise from within one of the adjacent classrooms. Carefully prying herself from between the jutting desk drawer and the wall, Nikki opened the sliding door as quietly as she could.

Ami sat silhouetted against the window. Orange light from the sunset spilled into the room, swathing the bulky, dust covered furnishings in a golden and almost ethereal light.

Nikki watched her best friend hunched next to the window, perched on the sill. Ami had drawn her knees up to her chest and was lightly resting her forehead on them as she rocked back and forth. Nikki noticed the all too familiar shake in her friend's shoulders along with the sob she was trying to muffle with her sleeve.

Torn, Nikki watched her friend a moment more. It was evident that Ami had wanted to be alone, but at the same time it wasn't right to watch her crying by herself.

"Ami?" she finally cooed softly.

Ami's head snapped forward, her face searching for the voice. Instantly her eyes fell on Nikki. Even in the mask of the shadows Nikki could see the surprised look on her face. Ami tried to wipe the tears away from her face viciously.

"Nikki!" Amy called back, attempting to inject a false happiness into her voice. "What are you doing here? How did you manage to find me all the way out here?" Ami went to twist the end of her hair. If anything, it would settle the trembling in her fingers. Secretly she slid the photograph back into her pocket.

Nikki's face fell. "Ami, we were supposed to meet in the hallway by Cherry Grove, remember? We were going to ride the shuttle home together today…" Ami's throat tightened.

"Oh, shit. I'm sorry, Nikki. I totally forgot." Ami forced a dramatic sigh. "Looks like we'll be walking home again. How about we stop off for ice cream? My treat! I heard that the slab came out with a new flavor recently. Brenna nearly threatened me with my life if I didn't try it…" Ami's fingers continued to shake. She was rambling. She always rambled when she was trying to hide something.

Nikki watched as Ami nervously shifted her weight from one foot to the next and tugged at the loose ponytail she had draped over her shoulder. "Ami, what's wrong? Why where you all alone out here?"

Ami swallowed hard, finding it hard since her tongue took up most of the room. "I-I-I just needed some time to think. This used to be my classroom, a-and I just thought it would be a good place to sit and be to myself, ya know?"

"Ami…you're stuttering… "

Ami turned away from her friend sharply. She couldn't stand the look she had in her eyes. "Look, Nikki…I…" Silence descended on both of them. Suddenly Nikki understood. Ami had been crying for Tarak.

"Ami, it's okay. I miss them too."

Ami's head turned slowly toward Nikki, fresh tears falling down her already moist cheeks. "Nikki…I…it…" Ami threw her arms around herself and fell to her knees, wracked with sobs. "I just can't stand this," she cried through hiccups. "I don't know where he is. He just…he just left with only that damned note behind him." She looked up towards Nikki, her eyes red and swollen. "Nikki I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry…"

Nikki fell to the floor next to Ami. She held her friend tightly. "What are you talking about? What could you possibly have to be sorry for?" But even as she said it, Nikki could feel tears coming to her own eyes. Suddenly the thought of Haru left her feeling cold.

Ami shook. "You've had it so much worse than I have. They…they shot you. You've…you've been through so much more in your life, and here I am, crying like I'm some little kid."Nikki suddenly understood; the tired looks, the forced smiles. Ami had been trying to help her while at the same time making sure to grieve for Tarak only when she was alone. Nikki was hurt.

"Ami! You don't have to hide in order to cry." Tears were falling down her own face now. "I'm here for you, just like you are for me. Do you understand that?" Ami nodded numbly into Nikki's shoulder. Nikki patted her back reassuringly.

"They'll be back," she said. "I know they will. I promise."

Nikki prayed that what she had just promised wouldn't turn out to be the biggest lie she'd ever told.

If you enjoyed this, check out the original fic: A Crimson Christmas. Thanks. Oh and click the little button that says review.