Insane idea I had while watching Lord of the Rings.

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Chapter 1

Duo walked through the creepy forest. He heard the rustle of wind in the trees and, to him it sounded more like a whisper, like something laughing at him. The air was heavy and hard to breathe. When he looked behind him, it was as if the trees had moved, blocking any retreat. The braided boy was shaking violently because of the cold and a cloud mist formed every time he breathed. He tried to find his way through this crazy forest that seemed to be more than alive but failed.

''What am I supposed to do?'' he thought helplessly. When I hid Deathscythe in here before, there weren't so many trees. Where the hell did they come from? And it wasn't that cold! We're in summer damn it! Anyway, this place his creeping me out, I must find a way to get out of here before I go crazy.

He kept on walking, turning the same thoughts over and over again in his head when his foot hit a large root. He stumbled and fell face first on the soft ground.

It wasn't that dark either! I finished my mission well before night!

He climbed back to his feet and after cleaning off the dirt, looked up at the sky. It was completely hidden by the trees; their branches bent inwards to form a sort of roof. Duo swore that it could even have prevented rain from pouring in. He continued on advancing along the path the trees were making for him, his strength leaving him a little bit with each step. Suddenly, just when he was about to fall out of exhaustion, he entered a big clearing. Only small plants grew there. Even the tree branches were bent outwards, not leaning in the clearing. They stood along the side like a perfect wall, as if the place was sacred.

Duo, even though he longed for sleep, walked the peremeter in search of a path, in vain. The trees blocked any way out, except if you were ready to climb in them. The braided boy was secretly relieved. He searched the whole clearing for dry wood, he didn't dare cut off branches from the trees, and after finding a good deal of it, piled it up. The thought of a good fire warmed his heart but when he realised that he had absolutely nothing to start it, he felt desperate again. He searched frantically in his pockets and to his relief, found a lighter. Soon, he had a good fire going and as he stared into the red flames, thought raced through his tired mind.

How did I end up here? It clearly isn't the same place as before the mission. I hope I find a way out of here, this place is creepy. I'm more worried about the others though. By now, Trowa would have thought me dead or captured and left the destroyed base. Heavyarms wasn't hidden in the forest, like Deathscythe so he's probably not stuck here like I am. I wonder if they'll even try to search for me. Tch. Not a chance. Heero would think it unnecessary and a waste of time. I guess I have no choice but to find a way out on my own. It can't be too hard since there isn't a lot of very big forests anymore. Tomorrow, I'm outta here. And with that last thought, he fell asleep under a sky full of abnormal stars.

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Trowa, who had been waiting patiently for Duo to get in touch with him from Deathscythe, was getting worried. He had been waiting for an hour and, even if the braided baka had gotten lost, he should have reached his Gundam by now. He didn't know what to do. Go back to the safe house or search for him in the forest? Torn between those two choices, he decided to fly to Deathscythe and see if everything was fine. If Duo had been captured, Trowa couldn't risk to go on foot in the forest and returning to the safe house without at least going to see Deathscythe wasn't thinkable.

His decision made, Trowa activated Heavyarms's engines and ran towards his fellow pilot's gundam's location. He wasn't scared of an attack because they had completely destroyed the base. Not before long he was standing before the braided boy's Gundam who was still in his concealing net. Trowa frowned and turned in the direction of the safe house.

Once there, he was greeted by Quatre in mother mode because Duo wasn't with him. The Arabian asked tons of questions but Trowa only answered them when he was inside the house with Heero and Wufei. He first did his report on the mission and to the clown's secret relief, it cut off a great deal of Quatre's interrogations.

"Barton, are you sure you saw Maxwell go into the woods? Maybe it was a soldier." asked Wufei sceptically.

Trowa simply nodded.

"His braid is quite unmistakeable."

The acrobat waited silently for the next questions but none came. Everybody was deep in their own secret thoughts about this and that. Quatre was the first to break the silence.

"We have to think of a plan to find him. I propose we go and investigate the woods."

"I will go alone."

All heads turned towards Heero. As he looked at them one after another, a sort of unspoken understanding passed through the group. The three other pilots didn't exactly understand the Perfect Soldier's reasons but they trusted him, Heero being the most trustworthy of them all.

After some time the Japanese boy turned on his heels and went to his room. The others guessed that he would spend the night on his laptop. They weren't wrong. They found him the next morning already preparing to leave. Trowa followed him to the front door and, leaning against the doorframe, watched him prepare.

"Aren't you going to take Wing Zero?" he finally asked.

"No. I need to go in the most subtle way." he answered, grabbing the car keys.

Trowa said nothing else but waited until he couldn't see Heero's car anymore before going back in.

*******

Duo woke up to find his body aching everywhere. A night on the bare earth floor wasn't particularly comfortable. He rose up slowly. It took him some time before he remembered that he was completely lost. A shiver ran down his spine as the feeling of being watched and hated came back again. It was also helped by the fact that the fire had gone out quickly after he had fallen asleep so that he was freezing in the early morning chill. As soon as he was awake enough, Duo looked around the clearing where he stood and to his great amazement, found a path. He couldn't tell whether it went in the direction from which he came or the other way but he didn't care, he just wanted to get out of the accursed forest.

The American soon realised that he was dead hungry and thirsty. He knew that if he didn't get anything in his system, he'd never make it out alive. Still, he kept on walking, scanning every corner, every shadow, for anything edible. Lucky for him that it was early in the morning. He found a big leaf on the floor, dried in a cup that kept the water from the night. It wasn't much but it was enough to lighten the teen's mood. As he felt the cool liquid run down his throat, he regained his usual bounce when he walked, even though, contrarily to yesterday, it was already getting hot and stuffy.

Duo walked for so long he stopped counting the time. All he knew was that he was tired, lost, thirsty and hungry. He kept on dragging his feet painfully, breathing the impossibly hot air. If anybody had seen him while he walked, they would have thought he was a zombie.

Still, when the first ray of light appeared in front of him, he almost cried. He'd been so desperate to get out that he found hidden strength and broke into a fast run. He didn't care that his hair tie got stuck on a branch and snapped, loosening a flow of chestnut hair, he didn't care that twigs tore his flesh, he just wanted to get out.

When he did get out, he was greeted by a lot of noise. When his eyes accustomed to the sudden assault of light, he saw the most incredible thing in his life.

He was a behind a hedge that stood like a guardian around a small town. There were almost no houses, at least not above ground. There were all underground. There was no cars, only carts driven by ponies, there was not a single sign of technology. It was as if Duo had gone back in time. Although he could hear them, he couldn't see the inhabitants because of the hedge so he walked where he thought he saw a gate. There, another shock awaited him.

At first, he thought they were all kids. None of them were taller than about his waist, but he soon found out that those who worked in the fields were adults. Kids ran around in the streets barefoot.

He then noticed that some of the small people were different. They had small sturdy legs, longs beards tucked in their belts and axes tied to it. Duo suddenly remembered an old story that Sister Hellen had told him one time about dwarfs and elves.

''Only the elves missing.'' he thought.

As if answering his wishes, a party of them came round the corner. They had long gold and silver hair, striking blue eyes and beautiful faces. They sang merrily and it lightened Duo's heart.

" Elves." he rasped painfully through his parched throat.

Having the best hearing in the world, the elves heard him and went silent. They turned around and looked at him in amazement. They saw a young man, long, brown hair flowing around him in the wind. He was clutching the gate so hard that his knuckles were white. He was all battered and bruised and obviously tired. He smiled painfully.

"Don't stop."

They saw the boy fall to his knees, unconscious.

********

That's it for now! I'm warning you, I really don't know what's going to happen next so don't be surprised if it takes some time before the next chapter is up. (School's no helping ^^;) Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

For those who only watched the movie and didn't read the books:

The forest in which Duo got lost is called Old Forest. It stands around the Shire. The Hedge is there to protect the village from it because the trees are alive. Once, the trees 'attacked' the Hedge so the hobbits cut them down and burned them in the clearing in which Duo slept. Since then, not a single tree grew into the clearing. They DO move around, changing the paths and they DO inspire fear, hatred and desperation in the hearts of people who walk in the forest.

For those who read the books:

I know you may wonder why Duo fainted at the end but there is a reason. I know that the forest doesn't normally scare people that much and all but like I told you, there is a reason that now, they do. The gate is there for a purpose too. ^^

A-chan