Authoress's notes: To those familiar with the fandom, I know how strange this is going to be, but I hope you like it anyway. It is in response to the Reviews Lounge Too's moose challenge. At first I wasn't going to bother, but then I had this idea after watching some of my favorite survival shows on The History and Discovery Channels. Being Preventers, I figured Heero and Duo would be perfect for the main characters. This being my first decent Gundam Wing fanfic ever, I think I'm pretty happy with it. I hope I've managed to keep 01 and 02 as in character as possible, although I confess I'm a little worried about Duo being on the snarky side.
Now for Rlt members, mainly those of you who aren't anime fans, I will provide a few quick notes and translations.
Shinigami – God of Death
Hn –basically a generic acknowledgment. In GW fanfiction, we use it a lot when writing Heero's dialogue. People unfamiliar with the fandom tend to want to correct it as "hm."
Disclaimer: Don't own, etc etc.
Warnings: Strangeness and language
Beta'd by the ever lovely awesome wonderful bbybear85
Stranded, with a Side of Moose Stew
Duo slowed the unmarked Preventer SUV to a stop, switching off the vehicle's obviously faulty GPS, and focused on the paper map that was unfolded in front of him. Even in an era of mobile suits and space colonies, technology had a habit of being unreliable at the most inopportune times. He glanced quickly at his partner who was sleeping in the passenger seat, hoping he could get his bearings before the Prussian-eyed Japanese man woke up. After nearly a week of conducting a surveillance mission in a remote corner of a wildlife refuge where it was rumored that an increasingly large secessionist group had been organizing, the former Gundam pilots were exhausted; the rumors turning out to be completely unfounded. Heero had watched the supposed base camp faithfully with little sleep, while Duo scouted the surrounding area for any sign of human interference. In the end, the former Shinigami was left feeling as if the whole thing was a wild goose chase.
Violet-blue eyes scanned the large, crinkled map, making 'x' and check marks that he was sure had been the original route leading into and out of, the park, a stark realization solidifying itself as he held the map away from himself, taking in the whole picture. Leaning back in his seat, Duo sighed just as Heero began to stir. "Damnit."
Heero reached under his seat and pressed a button, returning the seat to its upright position. "What's the matter?"
Duo rolled his eyes, exasperated. "Look around Einstein. Can't you see we're lost?" He ran his fingers through his bangs, and closed his very tired eyes briefly. "It clearly says there is a town nearby, so I figured we'd stop there for the night. I mean, it's not like the fuel gauge is signaling empty or anything, and I don't know about you, but I'm not sure how much more rabbit food and beef jerky I can eat."
"Both contain more than adequate nutrition for the purpose of the mission. Stop complaining."
Duo scoffed. "You would say something like that."
"Consider yourself lucky. MREs are a lot worse." Heero leaned over looking at the map briefly before pointing to the publish date in the lower left corner. "Here, look at this."
Duo glanced at the text, and then back at his friend. "Yeah, so?"
"This map is nearly thirty years old. The town was evacuated after Earth Sphere Geological Survey warned that the geysers in the area were creating unstable fault lines."
Duo blinked, and scratched his head. "Yeah...now that you mention it, I think I remember hearing about that." Just then the SUV's engine shut off. Duo checked the fuel gauge, hoping this didn't mean what he thought it did. Once again, he sighed, bewildered that his sense of direction had become flawed so badly in such a short time. "Empty."
With the realization that they were likely going to be forced into survival mode for an undetermined amount of time, both men exited the vehicle. Duo began taking stock of the environment, while Heero started gathering a few necessities from the back of the truck. Heero turned to the his braided companion, gesturing. "Let's go."
Duo regarded the other man, perplexed. "Go? Go where? You of all people should know the first rule of surviving after running out of fuel is to stay with your vehicle."
"By my calculations, that town isn't too far from here. If we start toward it now, we should be able to reach it before nightfall."
Admittedly, sheltering in an abandoned house was a lot better than trying to find refuge out in the open during a late Fall storm. Duo nodded, grabbed his backpack from the truck and proceed to catch up to his comrade, his mood somewhat lightened by the prospect of something resembling civilization.
After what seemed like several hours of walking, Duo's stomach began to protest – quietly at first and barely audible, but eventually its rumbling became loud enough for Heero to hear. The Japanese man stopped rather abruptly in front of his friend, and began digging at the base of a nearby tree.
Duo stopped short, once again oblivious to the reasoning for this. "What...are you doing?"
Heero stood and turned around, his hand outstretched. In his palm were a few moderately sized beetle grubs. "Here. These will tide you over until we reach the town."
Duo recoiled, wide-eyed. "No fucking way."
"If we had more time I'd prefer to sear them over a camp fire, but at present eating them raw will suffice. Just don't chew them too much."
Duo shook his head. "Forget it man. I've eaten a lot of things in my life; scrounged in dumpsters at the back of grocery stores and restaurants – even shoplifted my fair share of stuff from convenience stores and broke into houses where the owners left doors and windows unlocked just to raid the fridge, but I've never resorted to eating bugs, and I'm not about to start now."
Heero regarded the braided man with his usual matter of fact tone. "In situations like these, beggars cannot be choosers."
"I'd rather starve."
Heero quirked an eyebrow before popping the handful of still wriggling larvae into his mouth and swallowing quickly. "Suit yourself." The Prussian-eyed man then resumed walking.
Duo grimaced before starting to catch up to Heero. "Holy frickin' hell. And I thought it was gross when you set your own broken leg. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?"
Knowing that Duo was several steps behind him, Heero smirked. "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."
Duo raised an eyebrow at this as he hurried to catch up with the former Wing Zero pilot. With his comrade's quote, the subject had changed completely. "Was that an admission finally?"
Heero glanced over his shoulder sending his braided companion his trade marked death glare.
"I wouldn't say it, but other people might think that sounds hypocritical coming from you, Mister 'mainstream entertainment only serves to distract from the real problems facing humanity.'
"Relena likes classic cinema."
Duo chuckled. "Oh I see. Blame it on your better half and no one's the wiser, is that it?" He shook his head. "If she were here to hear you say that, I'm pretty sure you'd be in the dog house for quite a while. Weeks maybe. Or even months."
"I simply stated a fact."
"No, you blamed her for your love of John Wayne movies."
"I did no such thing. It just so happens I like his no nonsense approach to things."
"That's right. Keep making excuses. This is a new low for you, Zero One. First you steal parts from Deathscythe, and now this."
Heero stopped abruptly. "Duo."
Duo stopped as well. "Huh?"
"Get over it."
"Lena doesn't like westerns or action movies."
Heero grunted in annoyance. "I know that. Compromise is a very important part of our relationship."
"In other words, one week she gets a schmaltzy romance, and the next you get an action flick."
Heero began walking once again. "Hn."
Duo waved a hand, keeping pace with his friend. "Man, ten years and you still never cease to amaze me. Jumping out of skyscraper without opening your parachute doesn't scare you. Blowing up your Gundam without leaving it first doesn't scare you, but conflict with the little woman does." He shook his head. "You're too much, Heero."
A little more than an hour before sunset the two men had finally reached the town, and after making sure the area was secure, had picked a house that was relatively untouched by the ravages of weather and time. It was still furnished, and the windows and doors were no worse for wear. Duo mused at how eerie everything seemed. It felt as if the previous residents could return at any time. His focus had been on the walls for several seconds. Something seemed like it was missing, although at first glance he wasn't quite sure what. He blinked, suddenly realizing what it was. "There aren't any light switches."
Heero nodded while inspecting their weapons, loading them with the appropriate ammunition. "This town was established specifically for people who wanted to go off the grid."
Duo raised an eyebrow. "Like a hippie commune?"
"Yeah. At it's establishment Preventer HQ had it under surveillance to make sure it wasn't a cover for something else."
Duo nodded. "So what's the plan?"
Heero picked up his weapon of choice and released the safety. "You stay here and see if the previous residents left any provisions behind. I'm going to set some traps outside. If we're lucky we'll be having rabbit or squirrel for breakfast."
"You got it." Just as Heero closed the door behind him, Duo's stomach protested loudly once again, and he winced. "Hopefully sooner than breakfast." He retrieved a flashlight from his backpack, and started toward the kitchen. Upon opening the doors to the first set of cabinets he'd come to, the violet-eyed former Gundam pilot grinned. "And we have a winner!" The space was stocked full of canned goods. Duo started inspecting them, separating the obviously contaminated ones from the ones that seemed safe for consumption. As he did this, he took note of the labels.
"Cream of tomato soup, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken... Looks like everything here is cream of something." He took another can from the cabinet. It's shape was irregular, so he set it with the others set for disposal and grimaced. "On what planet do people willingly eat creamed asparagus?" After triple checking the two piles, he stepped back. "Well, at least these people weren't stockpiling weapons." He looked over at the pile of cans that were likely home to a healthy amount of botulism. "Probably should bury those just to be safe."
Satisfied with the discovery of the canned goods, Duo walked over to where Heero had put their weapons and retrieved his pistol before venturing outside. "Now to find some drinkable water." He spent quite sometime scouting the property. Rounding a corner, he found a small walkway that led to an underground structure. His sharp vision focused on the path ahead, Duo cautiously approached the room. It was small, and unoccupied. Relaxing just a bit, he entered. By all appearances it looked to be a root cellar. "This is too perfect!" He picked through a small amount of carrots and potatoes, quite pleased that they seemed edible. He took out the best looking among the lot, and placed them in a basket that was sitting nearby and went back inside.
No sooner had the former pilot of Gundam Zero Two entered the doorway, a gunshot rang out followed by an inhuman groan, followed yet again by a resounding thud. Quickly he set the basket down and hurried in the direction of the sound, instinctively readying his pistol in the event of a confrontation. The violet-blue eyed Preventer didn't have to travel very far before stopping at a truly unexpected sight. He lowered his weapon, momentarily struggling to find his voice. "Is that..."
Heero answered without looking up as he proceeded to truss the animal for transportation. "Alces alces."
"What happened to rabbits or squirrels?" Duo paused. "What in God's name are we supposed to do with this thing?!"
"Help me drag it back to the house. The faster we get it cleaned the better."
For a moment Duo continued to regard the sight in front of him, only being able to shake his head in response. "Alright alright. Just...hold on a second." He closed his eyes and stood over the animal. "Cineres cineribus, pulverem pulveri".
Several hours later, a pot sat inside the house's lit fireplace having been filled with moose meat, potatoes, carrots, and the contents of some of the canned goods for added substance. As Heero supervised the simmering stew, Duo patched up the broken dishes they had found with duct tape. Wrapping one final strip around the bottom of a bowl, the braided man nodded in satisfaction. "Not so bad if I do say so myself." He looked over to his friend who was placing an extra vessel over the fire. He walked to Heero's side and peered into the cast iron bowl. "What's this?"
Catching the smell of the coagulated moose fat, Duo wrinkled his nose and patted Heero on the back before going to check on their very late dinner. "Good luck with that, buddy. Have at it."
The moose stew was surprisingly good once finished, which was fortunate because it was the two Preventer's main food source for the next week and a half. The tougher cuts were made into jerky, while Heero carved manual weapons out of the larger, more sturdy bones. Everything that could be put to use was, with the remaining meat set aside for redistribution to local charities upon their rescue.
And finally, that rescue came in the form of a large, black Preventer helicopter. Heero and Duo made their way to the vehicle, carrying with them the moose remains. As the helicopter lifted off, Quatre peered into one of the bags raising a blond eyebrow. "What is this?"
Curious, Trowa peered into the bag as well, and then cast his green eyes toward Heero. "Quite the resourceful one, aren't we?"
Duo looked to Quatre. "Heero shot and killed a moose. That's what we've been eating for the last week and a half." He turned to look out the window. "I wonder if Hilde would be interested in becoming a vegetarian..."
Yes, Heero and Duo really did jump from the window of a very tall building, and Heero did not open his parachute until seconds before hitting the ground. He did in fact set his own broken leg afterward without the aid of a doctor or pain killers, and he did blow up Wing Gundam without flinching while standing on the open cockpit door. And lived thanks to Trowa and Heavyarms. Oh, and it is also canon that he stole parts from Deathscythe (Duo's Gundam) to repair Wing. Also, if you want visual references, you'll want pics from Endless Waltz or later manga art work as the guys in this are older – somewhere in their twenties rather than their teens.
Reviews are much appreciated! :D