Disclaimer: Not mine. The end.

There were eleven names on that list (I went back and checked) two were accounted for in the series...one I already wrote and here's another one. Feel free to google jargon that doesn't make sense, as I raced in college.

Comments are always welcome.

All the Answers

By, Nicole Silverwolf

"If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow."
-Chinese Proverb

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for things we did not do that is inconsolable."
-Sydney J. Harris

The first thought I usually have on days like this, is that it's too damn early to be among the living. But that usually has to do with the fact that I'm cold, tired and it's five thirty in the morning. Pretty understandable.

But after about twenty minutes of struggling a few layers on and brushing teeth, I can appreciate the fact that I am luckier than a lot more people in this world. Very few people spend their summer training with their team in the Swiss Alps. It's sorta like Hood but for older kids. In any case I've never been happier. It's just that 5:42 in the AM is so early. I have to be on hill in a half-hour.

And yes I have that timed down to the minute to maximize my sleep.

I have about ten more real minutes before I need to start walking. This particular town is so small, and so environmentally conscientious that cars are not allowed within its confines. Only a few are parked at the entrance to the place for those who venture out of the village. Others take the buses that continually run up to this resort.

I fish in my bag, around the files, wax, tiny iron, and dig out my straps and wrap both my pairs, to keep the metal edges race sharp. Apparently we're gonna have time to race GS and slalom today.

One oversized backpack, filled with my pads, helmet gear, extra clothes and with my boots and a water bottle hanging off the back is strapped to my back after I slide my coat on to ward off the deadly pre-dawn chill. That is murder if you don't watch out for it. Hefting both of my pairs onto my shoulders and counter balancing them by holding my poles in between the two, with the hands acting as levers of sorts I'm out the door and onto the streets in seconds.

Trust me it worked.

This town is so safe, that even though it's the middle of a war, people don't lock their houses. It would have been a little hard to considering how much gear I had on.

So I started the trek to base lodge where the others would be waiting to suit up and go. It was gonna be a nice morning for training...cool but sunny and only a little windy and cloudy. A lone dog barked and it echoed through the streets.

Looking back on that morning, I still don't know if I would have been able to tell that there was someone tailing me. Actually two someones.

I do remember glancing at them when I stepped out the door. They looked like they were probably freezing; one of them only had on a sweater while the shorter one had on a windbreaker kinda thing. It was too dark to pick out anything else definitive about either of them. Definitely not warm enough. It probably should have been a tip off that something was weird but I didn't take notice of it. Some racers prefer to wear as little as possible to the hill to cut down on the time between wearing layers and the start gate.

I figured if they were up this early, they were probably from another team--there were several of us using the same facilities and coaching staff to cut down on costs--and I didn't know everyone yet. Maybe they had shown up at the last minute.

I mean I had to miss a week of camp about two months ago to go to my grandfather's funeral. It had been a pretty big shock after finishing a few free runs to be yanked over by the coach and told I had to go to Marseilles as soon as possible. I hadn't even known about the shuttle and what had happened.

Not that we're not connected here--we are--but when we ski, television tends to take a back seat to other things.

The funeral was weird. I hadn't been very close to my grandfather, not nearly as close as my cousin Sylvia had been. Me, I've always been the sort of black sheep of the family. I never had that much in common with my grandfather. But he was family. I remember playing with him when I was a little kid. It was so strange staring at a coffin. It almost didn't make sense. I can't remember whether I cried or not. It was kind of like a very fast motion blur.

After a week I was heading back to here and I had seen the Gundam that had destroyed a family member. I still don't know how to feel about that. It's been a few months but those thoughts just don't want to stay in any sort of order. I guess I'm still torn about it. I mean, yeah the pilot was probably just following orders...but maybe he wasn't. Maybe he was as horrible and evil as many made them out to be. I dunno, that hindsight is 20/20 thing is coming into play too.

I'm at the racks in a few seconds. It's so early that only the team's stuff is out--multicolored, high performance skis, tuned to perfection. It takes a few moments of careful balancing to get one pair off my shoulders and I grab fast and secure the other pair in the other hand. Stripping off the velcro straps and flipping the boards over so the edges don't get touched by the wood, I barely notice the two before the shorter one's only a rack away.

"Little underdressed for first tracks aren't you?" I comment.

His feet had been crunching on the snow. No matter how stealthy he had been trying to be, skiers can hear that stuff from a mile away. I think I took him by surprise a little. Maybe he was thinking I wasn't awake or something.

"Are you Dorian Noventa?"

"Depends on who's asking. Who are you? You better not be some reporter or something."

Though I've never really been in the spotlight like my grandfather, there have been reporters who from time to time have tried to dig up dirt on my family, sometimes through us kids. And with his death, they were just dying to find some human interest story to go along with the horrors of the war. Something personable and horrible to attach to those Gundam pilots to make people hate them even more. A "Great Earth Tragedy" (note the quotes...geez) to further destroy any support for the Gundams that might be fostered here.

Quite frankly I hate those kinds of reporters. But it comes with the territory of being related to a famous general of the Alliance.

"I am not a reporter." His voice sounds cold and quiet but in a kind of unpleasant way. At least he sounds sincere. I can't see any kind of camera or writing equipment with him. And it takes a bit to find this place...maybe he's just heard of me through the team or the league. I'm not first in my class now but in the J1 I was pretty high up there. Racers seem to just know who their chief competition is. Maybe he knew me from there.

"Then I am Dorian Noventa," I kick back at him nonchalantly. "What can I do for you?"

"My name is Heero Yuy. I was the pilot of the Gundam that destroyed the shuttle your grandfather was on. I come here to offer my life to you for my grave error."

I don't think my mind will ever be able to comprehend the full meaning behind those words.

A joke. This was some drunken team member's sick joke that's all. I try to keep telling myself that.

This kid's not even twenty. Maybe more around fifteen or sixteen. He's awkward in a way that doesn't fit the obvious well-built body. Kind of like he hasn't had time to grow into it. He's graceful in movement but there's this weird, almost hesitant quality to it. Shorter than me by about a foot and with messy chocolate brown hair.

But when I got up the nerve to look him in the eye, the pre-dawn seemed warm in comparison. And it's not that bullet like stare that gets to me. I mean not really what I remembered and what bothers me so much when I think about the war.

He had haunted eyes.

You could tell he was miserable, both from the cold and from something I don't understand and despite my morbid curiosity never want to. There's guilt, coming off of him in almost waves. I've only seen that suffering in a few other faces in my lifetime...when my parents would tour hospitals doing charity work with my aunt.

I saw a patient, and they had said he was a soldier from some war I had never heard of and hadn't even been alive for.

He had the same eyes.

I don't think you can act those eyes.

But I also don't think I want to believe that a person who's younger than me could do such a thing.

"Not funny asshole. Get lost before I decide to kick your ass back to Zurich."

He looks a little unfazed by that almost threat of mine. If he's really a soldier, I doubt I could take him down. I'm not stupid. Now he looks--if I was really stretching my imagination--almost like he's smirking at me. I guess he's calling my bluff.

"Okay. So what? You were following orders or something and you...you blew up my grandfather's shuttle. That's great. Well in a bad way but...you get the point. Why tell me?"

He doesn't answer, though I think he expected me to say that. Remember my not being able to fully comprehend what he said before, when he introduced himself? Did he rehearse this or something? The way he holds the gun out to me--muzzle trained back on himself--is thought out and almost mechanical in its simplicity.

I swear under my breath, and even though it's almost dawn, and there are over twenty five other people in there getting ready to come out and get going; I feel like the two of us are the only two human beings on the planet.

"With my death, I hope that I can relieve some of your burden. To atone for this mistake that I can never correct."

I almost forgot that I had asked him a question. I don't take the gun, even though I've been hunting before and know how to use one...even an automatic pistol like his.

"That's some pretty messed up logic," I comment, "Burdening me with your death to unburden myself of my grandfather's. I think there's a big catch-22 going on there."

I look at him, I mean really try to look at him. There's a lot of stuff in front of the real guy standing there. I don't quite know how to respond.

I guess I don't really approve of the war. I mean I respect all those people who have a lot more guts than me and are willing to put their life on the line for their beliefs. But at the same time, I've always been appalled by war. Guess some of the teachings of the Noventa family rubbed off on me after all. I mean there has to be a better way to handle this than going around killing other people. So that leaves me in the space in between.

Consequently I'm not sure what to do.

He was obviously fighting for something he believes in. And maybe that was peace. Or maybe it wasn't, I couldn't tell at the time. But he was tired. And upset--though he didn't show it. The windbreaker now that I looked at it, was almost three sizes too big. It swallowed him up and made him look like a ten year old.

And he had remorse in his eyes. I kept going back to that over and over. If he was really some cold blooded murder, he wouldn't look so guilt ridden...would he? He really thought that by letting me shoot him he was going to atone for something that was probably a mistake.

I thought I'd be more unsure when I responded to that messed up offer. I was sure my voice was gonna fail me or I was just going to find that I didn't have a voice at all. I was really scared I might actually just grab the gun and blow his brains out in a moment of righteous anger and retribution. But what exactly would killing him do? Wouldn't bring my grandfather back, that was for sure. Wouldn't stop this war either. It would be another pointless death no matter how right I might think it would be to pull that trigger and take a life for a life.

My voice was angry when I spoke to him.

"What do you think that letting me kill you would accomplish? You've gotta know that your dying isn't bringing him back from the dead. And that it probably won't really make me feel any better about his being dead. It's not gonna stop this war...you did a pretty good job of messing that up. You're a Gundam pilot...did you know my grandfather respected you? He was sure you were going to be the people who saved us all, even if your methods didn't match his."

He looks at me like I've lost it. He must not have known that about my grandfather. He respected people who could fight even though he promoted peace his whole life.

"It doesn't change the fact that I was the one who killed him. I made an error. It must be paid for."

His blatant disregard for his own life bothered me more than the gun he was holding out to me still. I ripped into him then, anger substituting for courage. "You think you've got all the answers? Well guess what? You don't. And neither the fuck do I! And killing you isn't gonna get either of us anywhere nearer to any of them."

All the fight drained out of me, like someone had broken the connection which had made me so mad before. "So take that thing and go find someone else to kill you. I won't. I don't understand what I'm even thinking or trying to say. I can't kill you. Get it?"

I surprised myself with that little tirade just as much as I probably surprised him. Prussian eyes were a bit larger than before. I guess he wasn't so used to being rebuked like that. I wasn't used to getting that upset about anything. I'm a pretty mellow guy.

His voice was quiet and unsure when he spoke, and I forced myself to loosen the white knuckled grip I had on my bag. It was so cold that it was truly difficult in more ways than one to do that.

He only mumbled a part of my little speech, the part about answers. I didn't think it was the most important part. But maybe it struck him somewhere that wasn't frozen or something. I'll never really know.

"I thought you would be the one for sure..."

That sounds creepy, wrong. I don't really know how to explain it more than that.

It's only been ten minutes since I met him. It only took ten minutes for the world and all the sensible things in it to turn upside down.

I got up the courage to look him in the eye again. I mean, during that brief little burst of anger I had a good chance to look him in the eye, but this was different.

He still has haunted eyes. I doubt anything I'd say to him could change them. There are things there that I don't know about and won't kid myself into playing armchair psychologist to.

Ever had one of those times when you've said all you're gonna be able to say, but no one knows what to do afterwards? And you're standing there waiting for something to happen that never will? I guess we kinda stood like that for a few seconds before I shifted my bag higher on my shoulder.

"You guys ever see a mountain sunrise before?"

The one who came with Heero looks a little surprised before he replies for his partner who is looking at me with an almost crestfallen expression. He had been hoping for my judgement to be different than someone else's. But whose? The rest of my family?

"We were born on the colonies. There aren't any mountains there," the tall one interrupts my thoughts.

Straight and to the point. Good for him.

"You'll probably never see a better one than here. You've got about twenty more minutes of false dawn. Hey, but I'm nothing but a regular ski bum. Don't take my word for it."

I wanted to have the courage to turn around and look Heero in the eye. I wanted to make sure he understood that I was trying to give him a second chance. I wanted him to understand why I couldn't kill him. I don't think it had come out all that well in my speech.

Turns out I wasn't as much of a coward as I thought. Managed to look over my shoulder as I crunched through the snow towards the lodge door. I caught his eyes for a few seconds and I tried to get it all out then.

I don't know if I ever did, or if he understood it or any of what I did.

The lodge we use is weirdly built. Usually it's hard not to notice what's going on outside unless your in one of several blind spots that face the hill. So even though I had been standing in plain sight of everything and we had been surrounded by nothing but wood pylons and snow, no one had probably seen a thing.

I swung in the door, for the first time realizing how cold I had gotten standing there for ten minutes during the absolute worst part of the day to do it.

A few people looked up when I entered, most shoving boots on and preparing to leave. A good pal of mine stopped me when I must have ignored their greetings.

I don't remember doing so.

"Hey, Dorian? You okay? You look like you just got the shit scared out of you...something happen last night or something?"

I waved him off and laughed a little. But I don't think they bought it. I don't think I did either.

Sylvia's probably still in Marseilles. I think we gotta talk about some stuff.

And about whether someone with haunted eyes came to visit her too.


Soooooo what did you think? Comments, criticisms, flames, reviews...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.

Thanks for reading.