And here I am, uploading another new story. :D Should just be a few more uploads before I resume the updating-by-poll thing... Anyway, this would've been uploaded a little sooner, but I'm still not doing too good (I'm almost better, but not quite there yet), and there was a lot going on... That aside, though. :P The main concept of this story is this: Noi meets Shu before Tenkai no Shichi Ryuu, maybe a month or two before the original Season One would have started. Whether you've seen it or not, you may want to watch Noi's flashback scene in Episode 48 of Tenkai, since it gives a little backdrop to the story. So... I haven't had this idea for as long as some of my others, but I really, really like this one, and I'm very much looking forward to writing more of it. :) And... I think there was something else I needed to mention, but I forgot. XP There is one thing I do remember, and will make a quick, separate note of it:

NOTE: With the exception of possibly one or two chapters, the entire story will probably be in Noi's POV.

There's the note, and also another reason I'm looking forward to this so much. Though first person narrative will likely be a challenge, I love writing with Noi, since he's one of my favorite characters. :D Sadly, the only thing I've published on the site with Noi is a short scene in Fierruneru no Unmei (I have written a few things with him in it, but those were all future chapters of various stories). But, hopefully, I'll be able to write more about him now that Contingency is up and running. :) Now, that should be all for now, so after the disclaimer, read on! :)

Disclaimer: I don't own Blue Dragon, don't claim to... And don't want to keep saying it. XP

I don't really remember falling, but I remember waking up afterwards. I was surprised - Rudolf constantly feeds to us that we're mighty, powerful beings, so I hadn't expected it to hurt as much as it did.

I tried to move, and found that my left foot had been tangled in some brown, vine-like plant; it had wrapped itself around me up to just above my ankle.

I quickly started to try to pull it off and free myself. If someone should find me... No. That can't happen.

My mind flashes to what I observed earlier - a group of boys playing - and I quicken my attempts, though it's in vain. They weren't playing very far from here.

Speaking of which, it's exactly because I watched them that I'm in this situation. I let my curiosity get the better of me (again - it's not the first time I've seen them), and I stood on that cliff so I could get a good look without being seen. And then when I lost sight of them, and I turned to go, my foot slipped. And then there was the fall... But I don't really remember the fall.

And then I hear it - a voice echoing in the distance. I know the voice, because I heard it not too long ago. It's one of the boys.

I'm tugging frantically now, but the stupid plant still won't budge. His voice is getting closer, closer...

I freeze. He's too close. He's going to find me. He'll find me, and... Well, I don't know exactly what will happen then. But I do know that it will be awful.

I hear the boy sigh. "Man, they found some really good hiding places this time..." he mumbles, most likely to himself, since no one else is around. Except for me, and he doesn't know I'm here. Yet.

I still don't resume pulling the plant away - he'll hear me for sure, and even if I did manage to miraculously untangle myself silently, I still couldn't get away without him seeing me.

"I wonder..." He speaks again. "No... They wouldn't... would they?" Even though I can only hear him, I can still visualize him shrugging as he says, "Well, I've looked everywhere else - might as well check here, too."

He takes a few steps - towards the bush I'm hidden behind. Then he starts pushing away the bush, and I start yanking on the vine again, hoping I can get away and hide-

"Oh." His voice is surprised, but gentle.

I gasp quietly and look up. He's found me. It's all over.

He blinks at me for a few moments, then smiles softly and starts moving through the bush. "Hey, what are you doing in here?" His words hold no accusation - just that same gentleness, maybe even more than before.

He kneels down next to me, and starts unraveling the vine-plant. "You gotta be careful with a Bramble Bush - you can get tangled up pretty bad unless you know how to get out of it."

In only a matter of seconds, he's freed me from it. Instinctively, I push myself back with my hands, but not very far - even though it's an action that couldn't be helped, even instinctually I know that it will do me no good.

He notices that I moved away, but his smile returns after a moment. "What are you doing here? You're not from around here, otherwise you wouldn't have wandered into a Bramble Bush. So..." He waits for my reply, but I don't give him one. He then tries anyway, "Are you lost?"

I only blink at him.

"Do your parents know where you are?"

I think I surprise both him and myself when I answer, albeit quietly. "I don't have any parents."

His outstretched hand flinches, and I see something flicker in his eyes - a pain that has been buried for a very, very long time. "I understand." After a moment collecting himself, he manages a small smile again. "What about grandparents, or some person who watches out for you?"

"My grandfather is very far away from here. He doesn't know where I am. And I don't really have anyone who looks after me." I must truly be a fool. I'm supposed to be getting away from him, not telling him my life history! Oh, I'll be doomed for sure when I get back to the others...

His eyebrows furrow; he places his hands on his hips. "Well, you have to have someone who takes care of you."

I think of the others, either viciously teasing me or outright ignoring me, and Rudolf's punishments for misbehavior - it takes more effort than he'll probably ever know for me to not wince. "Not particularly."

"Well, that won't do..." He closes his eyes, thinking. When he opens them again, his smile is bright. "Tell you what - you can stay at my place for a while."

I start backing away again. "N-no, I really need to go - I have someone waiting for me-"

He tilts his head to the side. "I thought you didn't have anyone looking after you."

"I don't. But, but I- ugh!" I shake my head. "I have to go-" I move to stand, put pressure on my leg - and cry out, buckling towards the ground. Pain, foreign pain, shooting up my leg... Why is it hurting like that?...

"Hold still!" I hear him rush to my side - having my head down, I can't see him. I groan when he takes hold of my leg, and I roll myself onto my back. "I'm not good with injuries, but it's probably a sprain." He glances up, locking eyes with me. "But, even if that's not what it is, it doesn't seem broken, so that's at least some good news."

I can't help but fidget a little - I'm not that used to contact with someone else. At least... Not when it wasn't hostile.

He looks off to the side. "I need to get you to the village; they'll be able to help you more than I can." He surprises me by hooking his arms under my legs and neck, and lifting-

"What are you doing?!" I kick out with my good leg, but they're too short to reach him.

He shrugs. "I have to get you there somehow, and it's obvious that you can't stand."

"But- but-" I'm sputtering, trying to gather my thoughts to find an excuse, completely humiliated. "It makes me seem like a baby!" Ugh, I can't believe that's the best I came up with...

"Oh." He blinks, and oddly enough, I see a bit of understanding in his eyes. "Here, I've got a better idea." He sets me down on the forest floor, then turns around in a crouch, arms held out behind him. "Come on, get on."

"...What?" It's the only thing I can manage to get out.

He looks over his shoulder a little. "It's better to be carried like a kid than like a baby, right?"

Instinctively, as I always do when called a child, I yell out, "I'm not a kid!!" Still, I can find his logic - it's better... Well, a little better than being carried the other way. And he has a point - how else are we supposed to get there? I don't want to go - who knows how many more people will end up seeing me - but there's no way I can get back to the others if I don't do something to fix my leg.

With a reluctant sigh, I eventually oblige, and he hoists me up as he stands. My face feels hot from embarrassment, and I have to bury my head into his shirt to keep him from seeing.

A moment passes, then he says, "I know how you feel, actually. About being treated like a kid, I mean. My friend, she's always treating me like I'm a baby and like I can't do anything for myself... Most annoying thing in the world."

I don't say anything, but I feel a smile tugging at my lips. I'm not ducking my head into the fabric of his shirt anymore, and somehow, for the rest of the trek through the forest, I have a feeling that I won't.

After we've been going for a few more steps, he breaks the relative silence. "I'm Shu, by the way. What's your name?"

I swallow hard. I shouldn't tell him. We're not supposed to know each other.

But, I trust him for a reason I can't yet explain, and the name tumbles out of me before I have a chance for any regret. "Noi."

And the prologue is done! :D I know; it's going a bit slow... But, I promise that it will gradually pick up as the chapters go on. ;) The first few chapters of this story focus mostly on the developing friendship between Noi and Shu - though there's a good chance that the very beginning will be Shu trying to get Noi to come out of his figurative shell - and then there should end up being a bit more action and adventure later on, while still continuing the friendship theme... But I don't want to say too much else, because that would spoil it. :P So, if you get the chance, please review and let me know what you think! :) As always, I'll try to update after 10 hits, but I've got a lot of stories going right now, so when Contingency will next be updated is undeterminable. However, I'll try to update soon. :) See you later! :D