The Valley

Chapter Three: Resilient Women vs. Calculating Men

Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon or Gundam Wing.


-Moribar-

Heero and Treize had been friends since before either of them could remember. Heero being the only one who could be patient enough to endure Treize's impermeable sarcasm and frequent temper, and Treize the only one able to endure Heero's quiet and cold nature. They fit together like fire and ice.

Treize was always the one to get them into trouble when they were younger; he was a curious boy and had numerous temptations to try things children of his age should not have tried to do. He was extremely protective of Heero, whether his charge liked it or not. Heero only liked Treize because he was interesting. Moribar was possibly one of the most boring regions he could think of on the entire planet. Its resources were dull, the people were scattered across the Desert Trail in poverty, and the old Shaman-ma was a miserable ruler.

So what did Heero do? He joined the Palace Guard.

At age twelve he joined in haste and competed with elder men for a high-ranking, difficult position. He was a battle prodigy. He was swift on his feet and had a mind that calculated like only the best mathematicians. He incorporated silence, agile movements, strength, and an uncanny ability to put his mission before anything else to create what all of the Palace Guard dubbed the perfect warrior.

And still, he pushed others away.

Treize, on the other hand, gained numerous friends with his outgoing demeanor and exuberant charisma. Some called him foolish, others a dunce, but those close to the good-looking boy knew better. His mind was unbelievable. He could decipher a code in a minute, create a battle strategy in a matter of seconds, calculate money faster than any market man, and tell any woman just the right words to woo them off to bed. His mind was levels above even Heero's.

Once he'd been walking through the halls of the palace looking for Heero in his normally secluded room when he'd come upon two nobles playing a game of chess. As with any genius he played out moves hundreds of times over in his head before strategically winning the game in minutes. So impressed by this the nobles brought him to the Shaman-ma immediately. After numerous mind, dedication, and loyalty tests Treize had become the Shaman-ma's adviser in the span of merely half a growing season. At the ripe age of fourteen Treize had become the smartest person in all of Moribar.

Only months after his inauguration into his position, Treize became witness to an even that bolstered his ego and placed a corrupt virus into his brain for the rest of his years. He'd witnessed her downfall, her blood, a disaster that brought around the end of her world and that of her family.

And within those restraints, he blackmailed her.

She was to do anything for him, everything for him, and not tell a soul or he would tip over the glass that was her life and spill the acidic secret that resided within. She was totally and completely his.

The only person he told her secret to had been Heero and Heero…did nothing about it. He did not tell Shaman-ma of her ignominy, he did not tell anyone of Treize's intolerable cruelty, and he did not tell anyone that she was a victim of continuous berating and embarrassment. Heero merely watched whenever Treize jabbed her with an unforgiving sneer or contemptuous words. He, for some reason, would not feel any hate or disappointment toward Treize, nor could he feel disgust or pity for his plaything. Heero merely observed.

She'd inserted herself into a traveling caravan, a group of what he would call miscreants who lollygagged around collecting rare artifacts for the Shaman-ma to put in his treasured Palace Museum. Recently she'd gone out on a job and had been out for nearly an entire moon cycle. She'd left at nearly full, the moon an odd, almost circle that made anyone want to draw just the smallest line around the outside to complete it. Now it hung in the air like a sliver to another world, the dark sky above a soup of blackness and the moon a gateway to a heavenly realm.

Her caravan arrived late, their excuse being that they'd found and taken care of a straggler unconscious on the path. Given that they'd come back with the relic he'd asked for they were pardoned and told to dress for a welcoming back feast.

Makoto and Rait were on their knees with their foreheads touching the cold marble floors in front of the gold encrusted throne that the Shaman-ma sat upon as he ordered them this. Treize stood next to him on his left in a bright yellow and orange robe that was covered with golden sewn stars. His personal guard, Heero, stood to his right garbed in his usual fighting attire, always ready for any attack. Minor guards flanked the walls of the throne room, the suns on the chest of their armor gleaming in the brightly lit room.

"Rait," Shaman-ma's voice bellowed, his voice reaching the highest point of the ceiling. "You are dismissed." His command echoed amongst his subjects and Rait stood, bowed with his hands clasped together, and with one last look and Makoto's kneeling form, he left the throne room. Once it was sure that he had left, Shaman-ma turned to Makoto.

"Makoto, I will give you the moments before dinner to spend with my two trusty men beside me." He gave a smile to both Treize and Heero, Treize the only one to return it. "I'm sure it's hard being away from best friends for so long. First, however, you must bathe," he said and his old, withering smile cause Makoto's lips to turn up in a brief moment of happiness. "No matter how beautiful you are, caravan trips leave everyone smelling like the market people."

He gave a small chuckle. "Treize and Heero, you bathed not long ago. Make sure the servants are preparing the dining hall correctly. You know how I like it."

"Of course Shaman-ma," Treize replied, not removing his eyes from Makoto's kneeled form the entire time. "Nothing less than magnificent for you," he said, grinning almost suspiciously as he left the throne room. A weight seemed to be lifted off of Makoto's shoulders and her kneeled stance became more relaxed.

Shaman-ma waved his gold drenched arms. "Now off the baths with you." He snapped his fingers and two warriors stepped away from the wall. "Accompany her," were his simple words.

Makoto stood, cautious of how her movements reverberated throughout the room. She bowed once more before walking on the tips of her tired toes to the high golden doors behind her. The two guards shuffled a customary three paces behind her, their unfortunately heavy attire irking Makoto's already short fuse. They followed her down the winding halls to the bathhouse and stood silently without a word as she gruffly mumbled her thanks over her shoulder, not breaking her stride, and stepped in to the women's section of the bathhouse. The two guards looked at each other at their silent dismissal and one of them shrugged his shoulders.

-In the Bath House, Women's side-

Makoto sighed as the bathhouse maidens disrobed her. They tugged at the intricate ties that held her garment up as another group pulled gently at the woven gold throughout her hair. When they were done they pulled her over to a stool, where they poured water over her body and washed it with sweet smelling soaps before they washed her long curls. When she was rinsed, shaven and clean they led her to the hot bath. The hot bath was a single tub within the intricately tiled floor that steamed up the entire room. It was almost purely to relax and loosen the tense muscles. Inside the women's hot bath was a bar of fresh scented soap for second washing in a dish that hung directly beside the swirling curls of moist steam that were emitted from its calm surface.

The bathhouse maidens shut the diaphanous curtains that led to the small room of solace as Makoto slid in to the bath leisurely, sighing heartily at the tingle that swept through her body at cleanliness. Almost a full moon cycle away from a clean water would make anyone putty at the sign of a warm bath. She let the water take in her buoyancy and her arms came to float beside her, legs propped precariously on the bath's slippery, tiled edge. Here is where she could remove her mask, here is where she could let the disappointment at return mar her usually stoic face, here, and only here, is where she would ever dream of letting even a single mark of anguish set in her features.

She'd seen the way Treize was looking at her in the throne room; his pleasure at her return was all too apparent. She'd seen the obvious negligence of Rait as well, when Shaman-ma dismissed him so suddenly. No bath for those who were born on the outside. Rait would not be at the return dinner, Makoto was sure of that, and there would be no sturdy pole for her to lean on when Treize extended his unrighteous hand on her dignity once again. Her eyes squeezed close as she pondered her unfortunate position. Self-pity was not really her thing but when your reputation, well-being, when your life was pitted in the palm of somebody else it was hard to not cringe or be angered by being locked in a cage of stringent possession and restrain.

Sitting for a few more moments of unlocked peace she placed her now water-withered fingers over her emotion-doused face. With a pitiful, small moan she anchored her feet to the ground and rid her body of its buoyancy but stepping from the warm waters. Steam clung to her wet flesh, curls swinging around her arms, branches unfurling from the crevice of her spine as if calling her body back to the depths of her bath, the potion of ease. Those beckoning feelings went unheeded and the steam dissipated into thin air as Makoto wrapped herself in a towel, stepping carefully and slowly beyond the curtains on the slick tile.

The bathhouse maidens scurried to her side and patted her down, continuing with the typical routine of lotions, perfumes, and face paint. The bath was what Makoto always came for, but the custom was to look proper for Shaman-ma, thus she did as custom would have her do. When the flighty hands of the bathhouse maidens ceased she picked herself up and walked slowly to another curtained off room, one where she knew there'd be laying a dress, her golden hair-weaving ornament, and a note. She pulled back the curtains hastily and strode past the dress, past the gold, and straight to the pink tinged envelope that sat daintily on the table. On the cover was his strangely elegant handwriting curving out the letters to her name. With careful hands she opened it and pulled out a small piece of paper.

Dear Makoto,

I hope your attempt to rid yourself of me for a whole moon cycle proves to be worthwhile. I hear you've brought a straggler into the midst of our borders, what a Good Samaritan you're turning out to be. Now, I know we both want this night to go smoothly so here's what you must do…


-Bookstore, Cantina-

Minako blinked suddenly. A confused twinge clouded her once bright, almost arrogantly so, eyes. "Both of us?" Her eyes crept slowly to her left where she witnessed the brown haired man next to her with a stone visage. His jade eyes were focused solely on the anxious looking shop keeper as he rummaged furiously behind the counter. Despite her immense curiosity in the entire jumbled situation, her inquisitiveness solely remained on the confusing specimen beside her.

He knew what she knew.

He'd eyed her books suspiciously when he'd trudged his way into the store. He'd grabbed her shoulders and manhandled her. He'd come to the store in search of the very same thing she'd come for. It was as if he could feel her eyes boring holes into his face as he turned and stared directly at her, a dark look on his face that held an emotion Minako couldn't quite put her finger on. The fact that he caught her staring at him never deterred Minako from her mission. Braving a new stance she turned so that her entire body faced him and her eyes searched him like a comb through hair.

His bangs were long and only one eye loomed out from beneath them to stare at her strange ministration. Minako placed her hands to her hips in a contrapposto stance, head cocked sassily to the right as she raised an eyebrow in question of his attire. Black. He wore all black.

Placing a finger to her chin Minako frowned. "All black. Hmm," her eyes rose to his and they matched each other in a momentary staring contest. "Either you're trying to stand out or you're trying to remain invisible."

Trowa had yet to reveal what he thought of her probing ways as he merely watched her carefully out of the corner of his eye. The single statement that came out of his lips however, was one that she wouldn't forget for a long time.

"And you're either very happy or very sad."

Her flighty eyes froze and rose to meet his harsh green ones. Minako's contrapposto stance eased so that she stood straight. She couldn't tell what emotion her face was giving to the strange and oddly perceptive man beside her but inside her stomach was a whirlwind of butterflies. Erasing whatever had been plastered to her face before Minako gave him a big smile and gave him a punch on the shoulder that was just a little too hard to be friendly. "You're unbelievable," she laughed.

Trowa couldn't tell if she was awestruck and surprised, or merely strange and joking. This Minako girl, though quite the looker, obviously had some loose screws in her head. Not that he didn't himself, but still.

Their strange and un-nameable battle was cut short when the shop keep heaved a huge book onto the counter. It was brown, a dusty old book with yellowing dog-eared pages. The binding was loose and though it wasn't long, it was thick. The cover was covered in black curvilinear writing that, from the distance they were standing at, was indiscernible. Minako felt as if she could smell the age wafting from the pages of the book as the shop keep wrapped it carefully in a soft black cloth.

The shop keep sighed. "You're probably wondering why I promised both of you this book." Their silence answered his question. The shop keep sighed again, heavier this time. "I've known both of you for a long time, and though it may only be through the transactions of books, and though both of you are… unique in your own way, needless to say I believe I've judged your character well."

Trowa could not even tear his eyes from the book that lay on the counter before him. He'd been waiting for a breakthrough like this for years. His ears were barely picking up Shopkeep's message but there was a part of his brain that kept listening to his string of words because, though he'd finally reached a breakthrough point, he had to share it with someone else.

"Neither of you are greedy, neither of you succumb to this miserable region's strange obsession with war and, though you two may not know it, you are the only ones who venture past the Border Pastures to the Sai River by yourself."

Minako, shocked, could not help a small intake of breath. She noticed even Trowa narrowed his eyes slightly at the shop keep's bold statement. So he was the one who made the other pathway…

Whenever Minako wanted to escape the Cantinan people or read a book she'd bought, the only place to go without being bothered or seen was past the Border Pastures near Amilee, and to the bank of the River Sai. When the level of the grass of the Border Pastures lowered Minako always went left, but over the years she noticed a worn path that led to the right. She'd always been curious of it, but had never built up the courage to follow it. It could have been a spy or a rogue soldier from Cantina itself sneaking into Amilee.

But now she knew that other path was his…

The shop keep sighed. "What you both seek is dangerous," his words turned grave as he placed a tentative hand to the book in front of him. "And yet, beside my better judgment, I'm giving it to you…" Shopkeep eyed them both carefully, "To share."

……………

Trowa stood outside of the bookstore, the weight of the book overtaking his hands as he began to walk down the high streets of Cantina. He hadn't gotten far, however, before a tug on the back of his shirt brought him to a stop. He turned to face Minako who stood sinisterly with her hands on her hips. Despite her bubbly looks, Trowa could firmly say she had an awfully good angry face.

"That book," she growled, barely opening her mouth to reveal her message, "is just as much mine as it is yours." She crossed her light arms over her chest. "Thus I would appreciate it if you would acknowledge me as an actual person and a… colleague of sorts if we are to pool our knowledge together and unlock the key to this mystery."

Trowa stared at her impassively before turning and walking away. Over his shoulder he threw back, "Frankly I don't need your help. Girls like you shouldn't bother sticking their noses where they don't belong." The curtness of his tone drove Minako off the edge. That last string had been drawn.

"That's it, jackass," Minako huffed as she grabbed a hair tie from her wrist and pulled her long locks back into a ponytail. Storming up to him she swung in front of him and stopped him with a hand to his chest. Ignoring the weird stares people were giving her, Minako lowered her voice to a level so that only he could hear her.

"Look, bitch," she said lowly, livid with how he could merely walk away with the book, her book, their book, after the shop keep had JUST proclaimed it under the possession of them both. "Frankly I understand how you wouldn't want to be seen with, linked with, or connected to me. This loner persona you deem to uphold is cool and all but frankly you're just acting like a little shit, you immature bastard."

Little did Trowa know, Minako had quite the dirty mouth.

He raised a brow. "Need some soap to clean out that mouth of yours?"

Minako pushed her finger harder into his chest. "Vulgar language is simply the easiest way I can express my anger," she explained, "and I don't appreciate your dry humor." Then as an afterthought she added, "…asshole." Minako shook her head to relieve herself of mental stress and continued her berating. "Honestly I'd rather not be equated with you myself, so here's how things are going to work." Minako stuck her finger in his face, the only gesture she could maintain to keep his attention. "Either we work together on this every day or we switch off every three days."

Trowa looked down at the book in his hands… the key to solving the mystery that he'd been breaking down for years. Somehow he couldn't part with such a valuable object, but he couldn't share the answer to such a personal discovery with someone else. Despite how he disliked his options Trowa had a choice to make. Wait longer to figure out the answer or share it with someone else.

Trowa looked down at Minako's cute yet angry face and knew what his answer would be.

Frankly, he'd waited long enough.

"Everyday when the sun is in the third quarter of the sky meet at the brink of the Border Pastures."

Minako's livid anger turned to bright jubilance as she pulled Trowa down into a hug. "Great!" she exclaimed, kissing her hand and touching the book lightly. "I will see you tomorrow my darling," she said softly to the book before crossing her arms and looking up to Trowa's raised eyebrow.

"Be there or be square…uh… what was your name again?"

"…"

Minako looked at him skeptically. "Right, well, see you tomorrow No-name." With a wave over her shoulder Minako walked down the high streets and disappeared into the crowd.


-Border of Moribar and Amilee-

The moment Ami heard furious bickering directly outside the official border crossing to Moribar she knew that she'd stumbled across something she shouldn't have. A disgruntled man stood his ground firmly and quarreled with the border guard in a language she didn't understand. The rolling tongue and the way that the words easily flowed from his lips was enough to convince her that they were speaking Cicerone.

Not daring to move from her perch behind the tree, Ami wondered if perhaps her mother had been slightly delusional when she'd fed her that strange story years ago. Maybe it was a joke. She couldn't help it when her throat began to tighten and her chest heaved with the need to release the salty remnants of insecurity. It pricked at her eyes and Ami clamped a hand over her mouth to stifle her incoming whimpers.

Ami's biggest weakness was that she was an easy crier. She'd been that way ever since she was a little kid; a scrape on the knee would mean wails upon end for hours, a careful jibe from a kid would mean going home from school for the rest of the day. Her eyes spewed tears like water works, sometimes not even when she was sad, for some reason tears felt the need to remain in Ami's eyes.

Braving a glance behind the tree she saw that the fight had calmed down and the man with black hair had calmly pulled out a small brown sack from the bag on his back. Taking out a few coins he held them out to the border guard and with a gruff nod was let it.

It was unfortunate but Ami had no Passage Book. The small brown book that was carried by most was an integral part of traveling from one region to another. With low funding and the fact that most people from her region did not journey much, Ami had no means of proper travel, or the documents. She'd acted as her mother had specified, however, and stood now waiting for the doors to Moribar to completely open.

Her plan was novice, average, and completely and utterly stupid. In the back of her mind Ami knew this. Her fingers trembled in spite of her wishes, and her heart beat like a drum beneath her breast. Ami knew she was quick on her feet and hard to spot, features she hoped would gain her access to the region she needed to be in.

Kissing her fingers and looking quickly to the sky to pray to her mother, Ami braced herself and dashed from the trees, hoping that the guard was in such a huff from his previous skirmish that he wouldn't notice her tiny form sneaking beyond the borders.

Ami should have known that such a feat was not possible with one of the most heavily guarded regions. She was caught in a matter of seconds.

"Look there!" she heard someone call. There were a few shouts of "stop!" and "halt, intruder!" but Ami didn't dare look behind her. She was fast, she knew her feet would carry her far before they caught up with her but it was much harder to run on sand than on grass. She stumbled a bit, weary legs still not used to sinking into the sand instead of rebounding like off of grass. She'd been too rash! All the hype and hope she'd felt before drained from her body like she'd been going to the bathroom. There was no more hope cradled in the bottom of her stomach as she heard their feet begin to patter behind her. Criminals couldn't even sneak in to Moribar, what in the world had made her think she'd be able to? Unfortunately there was no stopping now, and Ami urged her sinking feet to move faster.

Never in a million moons would she have believed that she would be running from the Moribari guard, intruding on the lands of the Desert Trail in search of a woman her mother had told her to seek in a night of cryptic messages. Ami shook her head furiously and willed the tears to stay down, there was no way she was going to let her damnable habit weaken her body. Her feet ached and unlike Ami had previously thought, the sand was not so smooth at the border of Moribar; it was rough and stones and random greens sprouted from the ground in tufts of unclean masses.

She could hear the guard gaining on her but the twinkling candlelight of the Moribar acropolis was far from Ami's current position. Mentally Ami was beating herself up; she absolutely should have known that something so brash would not have worked. How dumb could one get?! Stupid, stupid, stupid! She cursed to herself, wanting with all of her heart to bang her head against something hard. How could you Ami? How could you ruin your chances, how could you do this, how could you—"

Ami's mental chastising was cut short when a body barreled into her own, slamming her harshly into the sand below. A leafy substance snatched at her face after a rock struck her temple and Ami cried out in pain. Whoever had run into her clutched at her body fiercely as they slid across the sand. She could feel the scratches forming on her arms and legs and her head felt dizzy as it struck against another very solid, very hard rock. Turning over slowly she tried to gain her breath back as well as sneak a good look at her capturer.

The setting sun cast shadows off of his features but it was the black haired man who'd been fighting with the border guard. His face held an angry glare and piercing eyes that remained solely on her withering form. His eyes softened in a brief moment when he caught sight of her eyes but he blinked and the stony glare returned. Ami could feel the trickle of something warm from her temple and knew for certain that it had to be her blood. She'd sweat before but Ami had never really bled seriously from a wound. There was something so different from the light release of sweat and the seemingly heavy discharge of blood as it oozed from her newly formed wound.

Her mouth gaped in an empty question as her captor pinned her non-struggling arms to the sand. She wanted to ask why, why he had barreled so hard into her when she was sure enough that he could have merely grabbed her? Why had he deemed himself worthy to tackle a girl into the ground? These words however did not escape her mouth, the shock of the entire situation somehow inhibiting Ami's use of her vocal chords.

Her captor seemed to understand her unspoken question. His charcoal eyes bore deep into hers as if he felt that he was giving a naughty child a lesson. "The law is created for a reason," he huffed out quickly, before the guards reached their resting point. "What will happen to the structure if administrations created are not followed by the subordinates of the law?"

Her vision was beginning to blur and the colors of the sunset mixed into a swirl of oranges and pinks. Ami knew she was losing consciousness but there was one thing she really wanted to know before she never saw this man again.

"N…" her vocal chords strained to ask him her question and he leaned closer to hear the words she wanted to speak. As he leaned in Ami could see every contour of his face, every worry line and every clean and beautiful angle of his bone structure. The man was in essence beautiful and his eyes held a knowledge that seemed a bit more extensive than her own. He looked older than her, marginally but enough to be significant and he smiled as he peered down at her immovable body. The words finally came to her awed mouth.

"…n-name…?"

His chuckle was soft though the humor didn't quite reach his dark eyes. The world faded and Ami's eyes rolled into the back of her head just as he whispered lightly to her his name.

In unconsciousness she rolled the name over and over again, as if trying to make sense of the strange man who literally took her out.

"…Wufei."


-Bathhouse, Moribar Palace-

Treize stood with a satisfied smirk grasping his lips. He was patiently waiting outside of Makoto's bathhouse room in a smug bubble of satisfaction. He knew she'd just be a bundle of joy tonight, meaning her cat claws would be out. Such uncouth behavior was not usually permitted but frankly he knew the little bird would be frustrated at being locked in the cage once again. He gave a simply egotistical sigh.

He leaned against the wall and crossed his arms, that insufferable smirk still looming on his lips as Heero rounded the corner. The quiet man stood a good meter away from his pondering friend. "I'm to inform you and Makoto that the dinner will be beginning soon and you two are called to the feasting hall."

Treize nodded his understanding, keeping his arms crossed and pushing himself from he wall with his back. "And I'm assuming that you're assuming that I'll pass the message on to her?" he returned, keeping his eyes on the door as it opened. Makoto emerged from her room in a huff and a face full of rouge blush, most likely effects of the warmth of the bathhouse or perhaps the little letter he'd left her…

Heero glanced her way briefly before turning to leave. "Assuming…" was his only response as he began to walk away.

Makoto humphed as she walked up to them. "And so the lackey shuffles away," she taunted haughtily, crossing her eyes and raising her eyebrow in attitude at Heero's now stopped form. He looked over his shoulder at her without a readable expression.

"At least the blood stained on my hands is validated," he shot back almost casually.

Fury had reached critical level as Makoto's lips turned down in an unattractive sneer. "You bastard!" she called, aiming to launch herself at him before Treize caught her arm in a circulatory stopping grip. With a harsh tug she crashed into his sturdy body and he held her side, making sure that her struggling form couldn't escape. "I'll kill him, I swear!" she spat through grit teeth, working every muscle in her body to reach his relaxed and nonchalant person.

Treize sighed down at her and rolled his eyes. "Nobody can kill Heero, my dear. Haven't you heard? It's impossible…" he whispered into her ear. Heero was about to go on his way when all three heard a commotion stirring at near the opening doors to the palace. Four guards darted by, one of them stopping to address Treize and Heero.

"Sir!" he said to both of them, "there's been an intruder on Moribari grounds, she's been brought by a Cicerone for a reward from Shaman-ma. Your presence is requested at the front," was his simple command, eyeing Makoto strangely in Treize's grasp.

"A girl, you say?" she asked, pushing herself from his grip and brushing brusquely by Heero to follow the guards that had rushed past before— anything to rid herself of Treize and his stupid, stoic follower. She could hear the guard mumbling after her that she must remain behind Treize and Heero, but she didn't care, she could hear them following behind her anyway.

At the front of the palace there was a multitude of guards, Shaman-ma and wondering nobles flanking his shoulders. The spectacle to see was a small and scratched up girl in the grip of a tall, black haired man. Her mousy posture enticed a bent head and blue hair covering whatever might have lurked within her eyes as the black haired man shoved her toward Shaman-ma. The push was light, yet she somehow stumbled to the ground, the kneeling position she acquired almost seeming fitting for the occasion. Her body was small and her skin was pale, telltale characteristics of a person from Amilee.

"This," Shaman-ma bellowed, "is the intruder I've been summoned for?"

The black haired man folded his arms across his chest without an inkling of fright. "Those with big ideas may come in small packages, Shaman-ma," was his only response. His accent was obvious, he was from Cicerone, but what was he doing traveling to Moribar? Cicerone and Moribar had a difficult past and a…trouble relationship. But why had this mousy little girl tried to sneak in?

Makoto looked to her right and saw something mar Heero's face that she never thought she'd see. The introduction of the man named 'Wufei' went unnoticed to her ears as she stared in almost incredulity at Heero's, was it… confusion? His brows were creased and he stared at the girl on the floor with a mixture of almost surprise and what seemed like recognition.

Makoto's heart shuddered in her chest as she turned her eyes slowly from Heero to the small girl crumpled on the ground. Slowly the captive looked up, her blue hair parting to reveal a pretty heart shaped face and two of the kindest, saddest eyes Makoto felt she'd ever lain her own on. Heero went stiff beside her and Makoto's eyes shifted subliminally to him again. She watched his face carefully and tuned out all of the other commotion between the man Wufei and Shaman-ma. Heero's lips moved and Makoto barely caught the word that escaped.

"Ami?"


And the story is alive once again! Slowly I'm getting all of the characters in, a new one will be a big part of the next chapter. So I've left a lot of ups and downs for you, perhaps a little secret with each character: Makoto's 'hidden past', Minako's and Trowa's book, how Heero and Ami know each other...next chapter is going to be fun : )

TopazDragon: Thank you for your kind comments about my story, I really appreciate that. I've updated my stance on this whole section in my profile and yes, I still maintain a little bit of hope. The book is an integral part of the story but its true importance won't really show until way later on. I'll admit, I'm just like you, a romantic. Lovey dovey stuff will probably not show up, but that means no fluffy, cuddly, waffiness. Sexual tension, however, will definitely be unbearably apparent : ) I would encourage you not to assume anything quite yet about who it will be between but you will be satisfied, trust me. This chapter was devoid of the black sand but it will show up again. As for the man in Rei's dream...well, you'll see next chapter.

MomosaLoves: Thank you so much! I almost always try to write my best, sometimes I get lazy though : ) The story will be very long... that's one thing I can almost guarantee. The only drawback to this is that it may take time for some things to be revealed. We all have to try to get rid of these cobwebs! And don't worry, plenty more characters will show next chapter and more of the stories of ones that just showed up in this chapter will be divulged.

reina shirahime and Rena H.M.: Thanks for your reviews! Plenty more will be revealed in the next chapter, your reviews are much appreciated : ).