I've been unusually dedicated today. I mean, I typed up an entire chapter in very little time, got some stuff done around the house, etcetera. And now look at me, starting up a whole new chapter. I'm so proud of myself. Of course, that could just be because I want to get to the chapter I REALLY want to write.

DISCLAIMER: Disclaimer, huh? Fuck that. You people had best know by now the extent of what I own. Come on, I'm a writer. Like I'm going to have a penny, let alone the rights to a world-renowned series, to my name.

"Okay, is every last Persephone here?" Une shouted at the top of her sizable lungs.

"Yes, ma'am," everyone replied, ignoring the slight on their gender.

Duo was sweating already. This was nothing short of terrifying. After all, just reflecting on some of Une's more drastic ideas for test grades had freaked out Hiro the Immovable. The Unflappable. The Hard Place. If Hiro was concerned, the by all means, Duo ought to be having a heart attack right now. Of course, with the way he was feeling just now, the idea didn't seem so out of Duo's way.

Duo surveyed the obstacle course. There wasn't much to observe. The entire area was smothered by thick vegetation, which made it infinitely harder to tell what you were up against in the first place. It was disconcerting. But there was Hiro, right nearby. And there were Quat and Tro and Wuffers, all off to the side. They must be here to cheer me on or something, Duo thought. How nice of them.

He was only half right.

"Okay, so is your part all in place?" asked Quatre, verifying the situation.

"Mine is. No faults. I checked and re-checked it a total of seven times, sir."

"Mine is as well. No obvious issues other than that of getting my hands on the necessary materials. Vegetation also proved to be a little difficult. However, all obstacles have been removed."

"Good," said Quatre. "Then all is in place. The students have been informed of the alternate route they will be taking. That is, all but the oblivious two…"

"Good," said Wufei.

"Fabulous," said Trowa.

"And thus, the mission commences."

"GO! And be at the finish line in no more than five minutes!"

All the students took off, knowing that these were going to be the worst five minutes of their lives.

"Hiro? Do you know what direction we're supposed to be heading? They're all going a different direction than we were told to go… are we supposed to follow them?"

"No," Hiro said in a surprisingly normal voice for someone running. "All of them got it wrong. We're the only ones who are doing it right, not the only ones screwing up."

"Oh… still, isn't it a little weird that ALL of them would be going the wrong direction?" asked Duo.

"Now that you mention it…"

"See?" Duo scanned the area in front of him. It seemed that right now they were going through a very easy portion of the test: the normal don't-trip-over-the-little-metal-wires thing. It was a bit harder with all of the plant life, but Duo had good eyes and saw every single one. It was far too early to think that he might live, though.

"The traps so far seem pretty low-scale…" muttered Hiro.

"I kn-" Duo never got the chance to finish. The forest floor gave out beneath them. Duo squeaked but didn't scream. Hiro had noticed the pit was there, of course, but had been trying to tell Duo of the danger. His plan did not go as planned, so –

-here they were, in a spike pit, with everyone else traveling down a completely different path. Thus, the chance of a saviour was pretty damn low.

"I'm really sorry, I didn't see it coming…" Duo said.

"It's fine. At least you lasted as long as you did. Few new kids actually last out to the more dangerous traps."

"But this one isn't even really that dangerous. Look how far apart the spikes are. We wouldn't have gotten hurt much even if we'd flailed around like morons."

"True," said Hiro. He looked around, a perplexed look on his face. "There's no way…"

"No way what?"

"It looks like an amateur set this trap."

"Care to tell me why you think that?"

Hiro scraped a spike with a fingernail. A little bit of some black colouring agent came off. "I say that because these spikes are not made from any kind of metal, as Une is wont to do."

"Then what are they made out of?"

"Sugar and boot black."

"…...wtf? How is that even possible?"

"Simple. They take sugar, stick it in a bowl, pour in boot black, mix it in a bowl before it dries, and then pour it into a mold or mold it manually as the boot black dries."

"…Why do I get the impression that you've done this sort of thing before?" Duo asked, face-palming.

"I… may've done something similar… but I'd had more spikes set up at the time…" Hiro blushed slightly. Duo looked a little disturbed.

"So you're saying that the one who set this trap is not Prof. Une?"


"So then, who did?"

"If I had to bet on one, I'd say someone who can get information out quickly and get people to listen with little or no effort… after all, we were only told about the test recently, and for absolutely everyone to avoid this place where a student-made trap was set up but us? We weren't told for a reason – you and I were obviously the targets. And around this place, the only way for someone to get information out amongst the masses is to be a good-looking person – if you're not the prettiest person or the strongest, people tend not to listen to you here. However, this pit had to be dug, the spikes made, the information spread, and accurately… this was no one-man job. As a matter of fact, I'd bet that it was a group of three or more people, one of whom was a very good-looking person…"

Duo stared at him.

"There's no way you figured all of that stuff out without actually figuring out who the culprits are."

"Oh, I know who is responsible for this, and are they going to get an earful when we get out of here. I can't believe that they would waste their time doing something as fruitless and foolish as this…"

"But why? I mean, even Tro' must've been in on it, according to what you're saying. Why would he want to trap me – okay, that was a stupid question, but why would he want to trap you with me, of all people?"

"We can ask as soon as we get out of here." Hiro righted himself and began patting the packed dirt around him.

"Any particular reason you're doing that?"

Any particular reason I'm not doing you? "I'm looking for Uneven places where roots may be. With any luck, there'll be a few for hand- and footholds."

"Oh, okay. I get it. I'll help; I've got this half of the hole." Duo stood up, too, running sensitive fingers over the higher sections of the dirt.

"I think I've found about four," Hiro said a few minutes later.

"There are maybe two on this side, but I probably missed a few along the way."

Hiro turned. "Where are these two?"

"Not over there, that's for sure. Over here, to the left."


Duo sighed. "No, your other left. I'm kind of getting the feeling that I need to show you." Acting on the threat, Duo grabbed Hiro's hand and brought it up to the root he had found. Hiro was so affected by the contact that he'd clean forgotten what he was supposed to be feeling around for. "Hiro?"


"So, is it firm enough? Would it hold your weight?"

Hiro tried to claw back his consciousness. It was proving harder than expected. "I think… it might. None of mine were particularly strong, nor were they anchored as this one is."

"Awesome. So there's a way out of here after all."

"Possibly. Where's the other root?"

"Down there." Duo motioned to it. "Or do you need me to show you again?"

Hiro flushed. "No, I'm fine; I see it." He reached down, tugging slightly on the root, pulling it up and down and side to side, trying to ignore the feeling of Duo's body just a bit behind him. Oh, yeah. Those three would definitely get an earful when they were out of there.

"It'll do fine. It's far more firmly set than the one higher up; there must be a tree on this side of the hole. We need it to be so because it's so low that we can only use it for a foothold."

"Okay, so are we leaving or not?"

"I think I should go first."


"Because I believe that I weigh more than you. If it holds me, it'll hold you with no problem."

"Either that, or it would've held me and not you, therefore, if you go first, then it would break, condemning someone else who could've been saved in the first place. On the other hand, if that situation is the case and I go first, then I can still find another way to get you out. All scenarios in mind, it's more sensible if I go fir- HEY! Wait Until I'm done talking, you shmuck!"

Hiro had already begun climbing the root, completely disregarding Duo's long, thought-out speech. Within three seconds, he was up and out of the hole.

"Care for a hand?"

Duo glared at the hand being offered, but decided that it was preferable to a pit of spikes. He grabbed on, blushing for reasons he didn't quite understand.

Hiro yanked upward, still as surprised as ever at how light Duo was. It was as if he didn't eat. But when the boy's face came into the light, Hiro's breath half-caught in his throat. Duo… was blushing. He was ridiculously cute, more so than Hiro had ever really seen him be before.

"Well… um, thanks for helping me up."

Hiro, on a whim, wrapped an arm around Duo's waist, pulling him up into a kiss.

Duo's eyes widened. He had never actually been kissed before. Sure, people had tried, but no one had ever actually succeeded. That being said, he really hadn't the slightest idea what a person was supposed to do whilst kissing. Wait…is that really my primary concern? Shouldn't I be more concerned that my roommate is currently licking the inside of my – hello! Oh my, so that's what you're supposed to do…I'm not sure I can do that. Oh, the hell with it.

Hiro was actually a little surprised that Duo hadn't pushed him away yet. No, he was actually completely surprised. He had been terrified, as people traditionally are when they just wing it and kiss their friends/roommates. He had thought for certain that either Duo would run away or push him anew into the pit, then run away. It wouldn't have been a big surprise. This was. And was Duo… pushing back?

They broke apart for air, staring at each other.

"Y'know, traditionally, people wait until they know each other really well before they… you know."

"I know. D'you think that we move too fast?"

"Eh. Not really. I mean, you started it, and I liked it, so I don't there's anything fast about that."

"You're unusually blunt, aren't you?"

"That's what people tell me."

"Want to get out of here?"

"Excellent plan."

"And you know something?"


"I don't think that I'll yell as much at the guys when we get back."

"Yui! Maxwell! You two finished at almost last! This in inexcusable, even for a new kid! And Mr. Top Student, you can almost consider that revoked – hey! You are supposed to listen intently when being yelled at by a superior!"

They were a bit busy trying to skootch the chairs as close together as possible.


"Huh? What?"

"I missed it."

Une slapped her own forehead. "Why do I even try?"

The door closed behind them quietly as they walked back into Block 23.


"Are they back?"


"Well, you know Yui…"

The whispering voices weren't as quiet as the whisperers would've liked to think. Duo chuckled a little and found a place to sit down.

"You think it's safe to talk to them just yet?"

Duo cleared his throat and whispered loudly, "Sure it is. I mean, how mad could they be?"

"Well, knowing Yui… I wouldn't expect Duo to be half so angry as… oh shit."

"Yeah," Duo said, no longer whispering.

"Don't worry too much," Hiro said, "I'll hold off on killing you until I know whose idea this was."

All three came out of hiding, two of them looking vaguely nervous and guilty.

"Wufei, at least try to look like a kicked puppy."

"But this is my kicked puppy face; can't you tell?"

Hiro and Duo exchanged looks. "Okay guys, let's all just sit down and figure out why exactly you three dug a pit, put spikes in it, and told everyone but us to avoid it."

Quatre sighed and began to speak. "It was all my idea – er, at least to an extent. See, we all sort of… got it into our heads that you two needed… bonding time. We figured that you guys could be good friends once we got you to open up to each other."

Trowa and Wufei smiled slightly at Quatre's revamp of the true story, attempting to look innocent as a summer sky. "So, we came up with ideas together. We eventually picked the one with the highest success possibility and went with it. I told everyone else that there was a shortcut around a different way. They all listened, of course. I told Wufei to dig the pit and got Trowa to shape the spikes, seeing as he's the… artistic one of the group." Quatre sent a pointed look to Trowa. Duo had a comprehensive look on his face that confused Hiro.

"So. Are you mad?"

Duo turned to look at Hiro. "You think we ought to forgive them?"

"Well, I don't hate you, so I suppose there are worse people to be stranded in a hole with," Hiro said seriously.

"I was thinking the same thing. And you know, at first I thought you were a total weirdo – seriously, who just randomly blows an island? – but now I think you're actually not half bad."

"Thank you for the compliment."

"You are most welcome."

They walked off to their room, leaving the other three with gaping jaws.

"Did... did you see what I did?" asked Trowa. "They were so friendly."

"But were they as friendly as we thought they would be?" Quatre muttered.

Wufei sighed. "Frankly, I think we've meddled in their lives enough. After all, it was just an experiment, and they are human. You can't force love on people."

"Are you mad?" Quatre said. "Of course you can! Just look at you and Sally!"

"Who – who told you about that?!"


"Damn woman."

"We know you love her, now stop being a prat."

"I take offense-"

"SHH! I hear something."

They crowded around the door to Duo and Hiro's room, which was firmly locked. Wufei's eyes grew wide. Trowa lowered his gaze and blushed. Quatre had the self-satisfied smile of a pimp with the knowledge of a job well done… or something like that.

My sister needs to stop putting things in her nose. She's 17, honestly…


Also, I lose.