Disclaimer: Not Mine. The character Ray is a creation of Stormy and I'm using him with permission.

Comments are always welcome.

A New Day Has Come

By, Nicole Silverwolf

"Ray...you seen the kid anywhere?"

"Nah boss man...he's not in his room?" the young man replied from the railing he was leaning against. A beer bottle was balanced carefully between two fingers.

"Nope."

The glare from a single unadorned light bulb strung at uneven intervals around the hangar cast a weird shadow on the mechanic. It was hard to see anything more of his features. That didn't stop the head of the Sweepers, Howard, from picking out every single member of his rather motley crew.

"I know he didn't have a mission or anything...he's probably outside. There's a full moon tonight."

Howard smiled and nodded ruefully. "Shoulda known...can't keep that kid away from the sky for anything."

"It's that colony thing. Duo's crazy about the night sky...and come on...what better place to see it than the middle of the South Pacific?"

It was pleasantly humid out this night...not so much that even the thought of movement could cause you to sweat. But not bone dry like the desert. While Howard's rather abused knees and achy joints would probably prefer the dry heat of Taos, New Mexico his heart belonged out on the open ocean or in the heart of space. So when given the opportunity he had his Sweeper crew set up out over the Pacific.

Besides...while the desert was a remote location it was highly doubtful that a Gundam and her pilot would be located hundreds of miles offshore on an "inconspicuous trading barge" that took months to get anywhere.

Howard nodded to the young mechanic who turned back to his contemplation of a supply list and repair breakdown.

Most of the crew was asleep already; the dawn never came late enough for anyone, and they had been working almost non-stop to repair the stripped down Deathscythe along with keeping up with the many legitimate and not so legitimate repair work they did to make money. With the Gundam at least repaired, they could start on the large parts order they had received from a rebel faction in China.

Little of that mattered though as Howard picked up a light blanket that was draped on the clothesline. Why use a dryer when the natural air worked just as well? Besides, Howard was a notorious penny pincher as long as it didn't affect his precious machines or the operation of his crew.

Sure enough, as he emerged onto the starboard end of the barge he could see a tiny speck of black on top of the massive machine. Even lying down and covered in burlap tarps it was an imposing and impressive suit. G had outdone himself in almost every respect with the Gundam. But it was the pilot, who particularly impressed Howard.

Duo had always been something special.

It was always the pilot, Howard mused. Perhaps that was part of the reason he had allowed the boy to go. It was a lot of things...some of them not at all related to the child he still considered Duo to be.

For all that he had learned, for all the things he had seen Duo still saw the world the way a kid would. It was that pureness that made him such a good fighter and such a good person. Jeez that sounded metaphorical. It didn't mean shadows didn't cloud the fifteen year olds blue violet eyes. They were just part of what made Duo so very unique.

Was what he did for the best? Had he really helped the kid ultimately? Or had he just sentenced him to a harsher future than anyone could imagine? Sadly he didn't think he would be able to answer any of them.

But enough of that hard thinking...it was too beautiful a night to be thinking such dismal thoughts. Even in the middle of a war. These times of peace and quiet were rare and to be treasured.

"Hey Duo whatcha doin?"

The boy bounced up onto arms and rested his weight on them. He was still looking skyward. Howard wondered if he had actually managed to sneak up on the young terrorist. That was absurd though...he was sure he hadn't.

"Nothin...just thinkin' how beautiful the moon looks from earth."

I can hear that gentle smile in his voice. Calm and filled with a quiet purpose. His eyes are reflecting the stars I know...and they're probably enough to make a whole stadium of girls swoon. He'd certainly gotten enough invitations from the few times he'd helped out when they'd docked. Before the word Gundam meant anything.

The conversation drifted along for them. Duo mentioned his Gundam's thief and Howard stiffened a little. The kid had rubbed him the wrong way a lot more than most strangers did. Duo had brought him back with two gunshot wounds, treated him and helped retrieve his Gundam to have the upstart kid take-off with parts from his own machine.

Even though he had never seen the designs of Gundam 01 or known anything about its pilot, he could see J's training regiment in almost everything the young blue eyed man did. J may have created a 'Perfect Soldier' but Howard would wager his entire life's savings on the fact that it would take more than a perfect, emotionless, order-following machine to win the war. And he was sure the young pilot of 01 was going to have a harder time than most in the coming battles. While J liked to think in terms of ideal battles, Howard knew that no one played by the rules. Not in war.

"...it's not that simple...it's just human nature."

He could see the young man nod, sagely for a child of his age.

"I wonder if that guy even looks at the moon..."

Howard watched the kid for a minute longer before turning with the blanket and heading back inside. The faraway quality of his voice meant that Duo had returned to the thoughts that brewed in his own head. The conversation was over.

It was passing the one AM mark when Howard managed to scramble carefully onto the slippery Gundam's surface. He was not an adept Gundam climber, had never been really good at climbing mobile suits in the first place either. Part of the reason he designed the machines instead of flying them.

But his hard work was rewarded when he reached the object of his search. He had figured something like this was going to happen.

Flat out on his back, hands pillowing his head and eyes closed peacefully, Duo Maxwell was fast asleep on the leg of his Gundam. Typical, Howard snorted. The kid was known for simply dropping off wherever was most convenient.

The fact that he wasn't awake and ready to fight was a deep, true sign of the trust and comfort he had for this place and more importantly the ship's crew. Howard knew that anyone else would have been treated to a gun or a broken limb minutes earlier.

Well...perhaps not that Wing pilot. Duo seemed a bit taken with him...if he wasn't making things up and seeing things where nothing was.

In any case, the night was supposed to turn colder than usual and though Howard was sure Duo could handle it...he had always looked at Duo like one of his younger nieces and nephews. He wouldn't bring himself to say or even think son. That brought a heaviness to their relationship he wasn't sure Duo would appreciate or encourage.

The kid was curiously skittish about relationships like that.

He spread the light gray blanket over the kid, and Duo responded immediately, turning on his side and curling the material closer around his body. He murmured something, and if Howard were twenty years younger and his ears not damaged by constant engine noise he would have heard it.

He'd reprimand the kid for not sleeping in his room in the morning...later...whatever.

Owari

The rebel group is the one Sally joins up with...part of how I saw Sally getting to know and befriend Howard.

Soooo comments, criticisms, praise, flames...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.

Thanks for reading.