Untitled GW/Escaflowne Xover

PROLOGUE

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Disclaimers:
People may not know who GW belongs to, but everybody knows it's not me. I only took them for a while, to have some fun (not *that* kind of fun, though), and this piece of work has no profit interests. If any part of this offends anyone's best interests, I'll humbly remove it from wherever needed to.

Warnings:
No warnings so far, and if anyone wants to comment anything about it, I'd be very grateful. Especially if my English is correct, the narrative is smooth enough and the context makes sense.

Author notes:
I still don't know what to make of this piece of my mind, perhaps a crossover of some sort. Please excuse me if this sounds a bit strange, all I ever know about GW is from the discussions in this list, some web page searching (although I can't figure out why I never managed to access the FAQ section of gundamwing.org), a fansubbed EW tape and the lots of fanfics I've read in the past few months.
Some of you may think the dream thing is a bit far-fetched, but believe me, it isn't. I experienced something similar in real life, and after having the same dream for almost a month, I was almost climbing the walls. The pills didn't work either. But don't ask me how I got rid of my dreams, it would be too embarrassing to tell.

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Maiki-hime
Apprentice Fic-writer
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April 15th, 2000
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After the briefing, all Duo could think of was his bed. Heero and Wufei seemed unaffected by his announcement of an early sleep, but when Quatre turned concerned eyes to him he just shrugged it off.

"Since I'm the one who'll do most of the work tomorrow might as well catch some sleep, ne?"

Quatre frowned at his friend's retreating back. Something was wrong. While Duo tried to act like his same cheerful and energetic self, Quatre could tell that deep inside his friend was very confused and somewhat hurt.

Oh, he knew each and every one of them had their own share of pain, but never before Duo seemed so puzzled... staring off into space then suddenly snapping back to attention before the other three pilots could realize it.

If Quatre hadn't ran across one of his bottles, he would have never known Duo took sleeping pills during the last weeks. That, on top of all, worried him. What could possibly be causing his friend this need for drugs?

Broaching the subject wasn't an easy task. At first Duo managed to convince Quatre that he was just imagining things, but when the latter decided it simply *wasn't* his imagination, Duo took the defensive. He said he didn't know what the matter was, but when he did he would tell Quatre. In the meantime, Quatre shouldn't worry about him, not tell the others about it; they already had too many things to worry about.

Hearing the door shut, Quatre sighed. Could the others be so blind? How could they *not* see Duo's mask was becoming more and more artificial?

 

 

Heero heard Quatre's sigh, but decided to ignore it. Sure enough, the blonde pilot noticed Duo's change as well.

Although he never showed it, Heero was the first one to notice something different in Duo. Some weeks before, the pilot of Shinigami returned from a solo mission; ever since that, his natural cheerfulness became more and more forced. The change was so subtle that, if Heero weren't paying close attention to the American, not even he would have been able to notice.

But Heero *was* paying close attention to Duo these days. More so than usual, and it bothered him to no end. Why was he doing it? Was it because of the weird dreams Duo was having lately?

Duo would now and then have some kind of nightmare. He would toss and moan in his sleep, making frightened sounds and mumbling incoherently. It normally wouldn't bother the stoic Wing pilot, being used to nightmares of his own, but somehow his partner's latest dreams made him curious and a bit unnerved. Not that he would ever admit that.

It was always the same. Tossing in the sheets, Duo would make whimpering sounds at first, then gradually he would calm down. Then, with a smile, he would start making little happy sounds, and even giggle some, just like a happy child in a playground. After a while, he would start trembling, sobbing and pleading, and finally he would snap into wakefulness, confusion plain written on his face. Then he would lie down again, and stare at the ceiling for the rest of the night.

That nightly routine started to grate on Heero's nerves. After all, how could someone rest efficiently when your roommate started giggling then sobbing every single night? He was almost taking drastic measures when the dreams stopped. At least for some nights.

Only after the second dreamless week Heero noticed the sleeping pills. He thought it would only be once or twice, but Duo took them every single night. His sleep was deep and undisturbed and, although a little dizzy in the morning, his performance would always be adequate.

But then Duo's dreams came again, even under the influence of drugs.

When Heero became fed up and went to talk to Duo, he found out Quatre had been faster. Duo's reaction to Quatre's worried inquiries gave Heero pause. He had never seen Duo so defensive about anything, and his determination to not let the others know was quite peculiar.

But then a new mission came in, and Heero decided to let the matter drop. After all, as long as the missions were successfully completed, Duo's dreams were unimportant... weren't they?

***

Duo shifted in bed once more. Although he claimed the need to sleep, he knew he would spend most of the night awake.

He even considered taking one of his pills, but decided against it. He couldn't risk being dazed by morning; besides, the pills no longer helped him sleep well like before. Might as well stop taking them before becoming addicted.

All because of those dreams. He couldn't remember exactly when was the last time he had one of those, but he knew it was sometime before Father Maxwell and Sister Helen took him in.

And it was the same dream, over and over, every single night. The Void. The Emptiness. The girl, and with her the feeling of safety and belonging. Peace. Then the lightning, soon overpowered by the darkness. Darkness. Emptiness. Loneliness.

Wakefulness.

And even during daylights the reminiscents of the dream would haunt him. Sometimes, if the closed his eyes, even just for a minute, he could see hers, tenderness and sadness clearly visible in those dark emerald pools.

Who was she? He didn't know. He was sure he had never seen her, yet she felt so familiar...

How come a harmless dream like that disturbed him so much? Not even his bloodiest nightmares had that much an effect on him. Perhaps it was because this was the only dream he had that repeated itself the same way, and oh so damn frequently? He couldn't tell.

The sound of footsteps brought him back to the present. He had spent three hours in bed without managing to even close his eyes! Heero silently entered the room and readied himself to sleep.

They had a mission to accomplish in the morning. The rest could wait.

Damn, sometimes life sucked!

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

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Disclaimers:
People may not know who GW belongs to, but everybody knows it's not me. The same goes for Visions of Escaflowne. I only took them for a while, to have some fun (not *that* kind of fun, though), and this piece of work has no profit interests. If any part of this offends anyone's best interests, I'll humbly remove it from wherever needed to.

Warnings:
If anyone wants to comment anything about it, I'd be very grateful. Especially if my English is correct, the narrative is smooth enough and the context makes sense.
This will be an AU for the GW characters, and a "continuation" to the VoE series. I took some of the things that happened in the GW storyline, twisted others and simply ignored the rest. The characters will probably seem OOC, but please bear with it (after all, I never watched the series, all I have to base myself are other people's opinions and fanfics).
Some things are a bit confusing, but I intend to fill the gaps as the story flows (I am a big fan of Agatha Christie's writing stile. The one where after you end the story and read it for the second time... you find every little hint someone said at the end - but you never caught. Unfortunately, it's the one stile more susceptible to errors and blank holes. If you find one, please tell me). If anyone has any doubts or suggestions, please contact me.

Author notes:
Okay, I give up. I'm turning a simple, somewhat bearable fic into a crossover! *Falls over*
Well, I hope you guys hadn't had many expectations... This part will sound a bit weird... I've never wrote even a semi-action piece, so I don't know how this will come out...
Perhaps Heero would never be deceiving enough to do what I made him do, but I think people are very complex, and have different reactions each time, even when faced with similar situations. (*ramble, ramble, ramble... blah! ^_^*) Anyway, I had to have an excuse to make him step out of his Gundam, so...
Oh, and one more thing... perhaps the wound treatment shouldn't be so... crude. I think there ought to be other options... after all, Millerna-hime is a doctor, she operated Allen when it was needed... but I don't think Van had *that* knowledge, despite the herbs thing Folken had taught him... and Millerna-hime *wasn't* there at the time. So... deal with it!
(OOOPS! Gomen! Didn't mean to sound rude! ^_^;;;;)

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Maiki-hime
Apprentice Fic-writer
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April 28th, 2000
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/'Damn, this was supposed to be a simple mission! What the hell happened here?'/. Duo stumbled again, trying desperately to not drop the unconscious form in his arms.

Only one word could describe it: trap. His guts had been right, after all. Slipping into the base had been too easy. Finding the office was a piece of cake. But the files Duo was supposed to steal (and that's why he was the chosen one to do the job) were nowhere to be found. And even with Heero making a mess outside to distract the enemy, there were far too many soldiers inside the base. More than was ever expected.

It was a good thing Quatre had been so worried about Duo's morning dizziness that he sent Wufei along to help him. Sure enough, if it wasn't for the Chinese pilot he would have been easily overpowered. Instead of one, they had two Gundam pilots breaking havoc in there, and it distracted the enemy, giving them time to escape.

But things didn't go too smooth. Duo and Wufei managed to loose most of his persecutors, and kill some, but in the process Wufei got shot several times and lost consciousness. The bullets hit mainly his chest and abdomen (thank God for bulletproof vests!) but the nasty ones that cut his left temple and right arm worried Duo to no end. Wufei was loosing too much blood, and too fast. If he didn't get medical attention *right now* he wouldn't resist. Duo was also shot, but the bullets only grazed his arms and legs. He could still run.

Duo's legs were almost like jelly, but he kept running. Stubbornness was one of his greatest qualities, and he was going to live up to his fame. But boy, was Wufei heavy or what!?

"Hey, Wu-man, I was the one supposed to be screwed up. *I* was the one supposed to be killed today. Not you. Don't die on me, ok? And then, when we get out of here... I think I'll put you on a diet!"

When they left the complex, things went downhill. It seemed like half of OZ soldiers were in that base! Running like a bat out of hell, Duo turned his head. Three things happened in rapid succession, but to Duo they were in slow motion: a bullet was coming straight to his head; not very far away, Heero self-destructed; and a strange blue light enveloped both him and Wufei.

His overloaded mind never realized that the anguished and violent scream of denial echoing in his ears had originated from his own throat.

 

 

Some moments before, a new troop of Mobile Suits charged at Heero. The Wing pilot had already defeated all the MS he had been informed about, but new troops kept coming. There was no way reinforcements could have come so quickly. It had to be a trap.

No other option. He had to do it. But he would make sure he took with him as many as he could. He stopped and announced his surrender. As expected, the soldiers ordered him to open the cockpit and step out. The fools had been ordered to capture them alive. Not a chance.

He stood there, watching the MS coming closer and closer. He smirked, and when the time came, he pushed the button.

He felt like he was floating. Light enveloped him and, although his flesh burned and metal cut his body, he felt absolutely no pain.

 

 

The book fell from his hands. With a sharp intake of air, Quatre got up and tried to run toward the hangar. 'Tried' being the operative word. After three or four steps he all but collapsed on the grass, hands clutching his chest.

Something went wrong, he could feel it. Sending Wufei along with Duo and Heero hadn't been enough, he should have gone with them; but how could he tell the others he had a bad feeling about it? They wouldn't have understood... except...

A name came to Quatre's mind, and with this name came understanding of what was happening to him.

/'Duo... what happened? Why are you projecting your feelings like this? I... I've never felt you this strongly before...'/

It hurt. Gods, how it hurt! A small cry reached his lips and, before loosing consciousness, he thought he saw a blue light above him and felt very, very light.

 

 

Trowa could not believe his eyes. What was that light?

His excellent hearing caught Quatre's small cry, and he ran to where the blonde was supposed to be, reading a book under a big tree just beside the house.

He could see his companion kneeled on the ground, hands on his chest, gasping for air. The exact moment he slumped to the ground that strange light appeared from above and... was Quatre *floating*?

He had to run faster. He had to reach Quatre and help him. He had to...

"Quatre!"

...jump!

And at the very moment Trowa managed to get a strong hold of Quatre's hand, the light enveloping both of them became unbearably bright. He closed his eyes.

***

Duo opened his eyes. It was very dark. He tried to get up, but a solid weight was on his chest.

Wufei.

The Chinese pilot was still unconscious. His temple was still bleeding, badly. Duo was still holding him, and could feel he was getting cold. Trying to move without compromising even more their predicament, Duo noticed he was also bleeding badly from an injury on his left forearm. An injury he couldn't feel.

What surprised him, however, was the sight of Heero Yuy sprawled less than two meters away, also in a pool of blood. What was he doing so near, didn't he just self-destructed?

Any additional thought was lost. Duo felt light-headed, and darkness came upon him again.

***

When he next opened his eyes, it was already morning. Looking around, he realized he was in a large room. Light came through the open window, as well as a warm but pleasant breeze. Turning his head, he saw Wufei on the bed next to him, and Heero on the one near the window. Both were asleep, their injuries heavily bandaged. Looking at himself, he noticed that he was shirtless and all his injuries were also bandaged, except his forearm.

He examined it closely. Blood was still seeping from the wound but, although nasty, it was still quite clean. It needed more cleaning first, and stitches would be a good idea; he could also use some antibiotics; the wound could easily become infected.

The sound of a door opening put him mentally on guard (of course, physically would have been impossible). He was quite surprised when a small and delicate old woman entered the room, carrying a jar and a bowl. She looked up, surprised as well, then smiled and approached him. Putting the objects on the bedside table, she said softly: "I'm relieved you are awake, my child. Please wait a moment while I tell Van-sama about your recovery."

Before Duo could find his voice, the woman was gone. Confused, Duo looked around himself again. For the first time, he noticed the room had stone walls and wooden floor. No bars, so it seemed they weren't in a cell, and by no means it looked like a hospital. If it were, why would that woman be wearing such strange clothes?

When the woman returned, a young man was with her. Or rather, the woman was following the man, reverently. Duo accessed him with just a look. Dark hair, brown eyes. Seemed just three of four years older than himself; but, exactly like himself, his eyes showed he was beyond his age. His clothes were simple: a sleeveless shirt, dark pants and boots. He was sweating, and his breathing seemed a bit irregular.

Something about him made Duo a bit uncomfortable: he felt somehow familiar...

Likewise, the man was accessing Duo. From what he could see (or rather, *not* see), he could tell he had been misinformed. No two boys and a braided girl were brought to his castle; he had three *male* 'guests'. But he could see why his men thought the braided one was a girl. His features were not female-delicate-like, but at the dim light of the two moons, one could be fooled.

But he quickly changed his opinion when he heard the boy's voice. It definitely *was* a male's.

"Where am I?" Duo's voice was husky and low.

The man approached him. "You are at Fanelia, and this is one of the Royal Castle's rooms. I know you may have questions but, first of all, you need to have your wound tended."

Duo looked warily at him, but relented. He felt he could trust him, so trust him he did. While the man examined his arm, Duo said somewhat painfully: "I think I'll need some stitches, and an antibiotic wouldn't be a bad idea either."

A puzzled look made him realize the man had no idea of what Duo could be possibly talking about. "What, you don't have any?"

"What is it?"

"Well, nevermind them. I guess I'll just have to rely on my luck to not have my arm infected or something." Duo made a graceful mock-pout, and the woman smiled at him.

Taking a side glance at his companions, Duo asked the woman: "What about them? Are they alright?"

The man rose and left the room, not saying anything. She replied softly, "Yes, they are. As you were in better condition, I was tending their injuries first. Although your friend near the window is much more injured than the other, both will recover very soon. They were moving too much during their sleep, so I gave them something to calm down. I believe they will be awake by tomorrow night."

The woman came closer and took a look at the wound herself. She made a worried face, but smiled to Duo again. "Don't worry, everything will be fine. Among all of us, Van-sama is still the one most knowledgeable about wounds and medicines. He'll treat you to the best of his abilities."

"He didn't seem too happy with the idea of tending to my wounds." Duo pointed out.

"He is just a little bit tired. I interrupted his sword training to tell him about your recovery."

"Sword training? Sounds like something Wufei would be doing." Duo seemed pensive for a moment. "That Van-guy said Fanelia. Where exactly is 'here'?"

She seemed a bit surprised. "You didn't know our kingdom? Fanelia is a very small kingdom, lying between the mountains. And please, don't call Van-sama rlike that. After all, he is our -"

The sound of the door interrupted the woman. Van entered the room carrying a bowl, a knife and a bottle. Behind him, a massive brown-haired man carried a torch and a piece of cloth.

Putting everything on the table, Van turned to the woman. "Molly, wait outside. Lian will help me and I'll call you back when it's finished."

Duo eyed the objects warily while Molly excused herself and left. Turning to Duo, Van's voice was low, and firm. "I have to reclean the wound and close it. I don't know how you do it where you came from, but here it's the most efficient and quick way of doing it to a wound like yours. Lian, hold him in place."

/'Geez, now the guy sounds like Heer-'/ "OOOOOUCH!" Duo screamed when Van dropped some of the bottle's contents on his arm. Alcohol! He was washing his arm with alcohol! And it hurt like hell! He tried to move, but Lian's strong grip on his arm made it impossible.

"Hold still! The more you move, the more it will take me to finish this!"

"It's easy for you to say! It's not your arm you're pouring this thing on!" Duo's voice came high-pitched. Then he remembered an old first-aid trainment he had... Oh-oh... wash with alcohol... a metal object... fire... "Don't tell me you're going to cauterize my arm with a hot knife..."

Van looked at him for a moment. Then: "No, I won't tell you. And I've been done this before. I know fully well how it feels."

Great! Just f***ing great!

Handing him the bottle, Van said simply: "Take a long sip. It'll help you with the pain."

"I don't drink alcohol."

At that, Van looked at him sharply. "Do it now, or don't complain later. I won't wait any longer."

Duo gulped. Looking at both the men, he silently said: "I can't drink alcohol. Please, make it quick." Turning to Lian, he added: "Gag me. If I scream I'll wake even the dead. And please hold me well. I tend to get a little stronger when the adrenaline rush strikes me."

Both Van and Lian seemed a bit surprised at Duo's words. While Van heated the blade, Lian did as was asked. And when the now red blade came near him, Duo turned his head. He almost threw up at the so near smell of burned flesh, and screamed. And although well gagged, his scream could still be heard throughout the castle.

Even after removing the blade, his flesh still throbbed. The sensation of something cool on his arm comforted him. Then Van pressed something against his lips. "Drink this. It will make your pain go away for a while, and make you sleep for some time." Duo complied, and soon darkness enveloped him once more.

 

 

Van finished the bandage, and looked one more time at the boy. He had to admit, the boy had courage. Although he screamed like there would be no tomorrow, he didn't try to pull away, like Van himself had tried when Vargas had done the same to him.

A boy. The three of them were nothing but boys. Yet the intensity of their wounds showed they hadn't been fighting a boy's fight. The black-haired one didn't have many injuries, despite the blood loss, but the other... Never before had Van seen such kind of injuries.

Shaking his head, he opened the door. He would have to wait for one of them to wake up, then he would be able to confirm his suspicions. Telling Molly what she would have to do and how to apply the salve and change the bandages, Van dismissed Lian and went back to his sword training.

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimers:
People may not know who GW belongs to, but everybody knows it's not me. The same goes for Visions of Escaflowne. I only took them for a while, to have some fun (not *that* kind of fun, though), and this piece of work has no profit interests. If any part of this offends anyone's best interests, I'll humbly remove it from wherever needed to.

Warnings:
If anyone wants to comment anything about it, I'd be very grateful. Especially if my English is correct, the narrative is smooth enough and the context makes sense.
This will be an AU for the GW characters, and a "continuation" to the VoE series. I took some of the things that happened in the GW storyline, twisted others and simply ignored the rest. The characters will probably seem OOC, but please bear with it (after all, I never watched the series, all I have to base myself are other people's opinions and fanfics).
Some things are a bit confusing, but I intend to fill the gaps as the story flows (I am a big fan of Agatha Christie's writing stile. The one where after you end the story and read it for the second time... you find every little hint someone said at the end - but you never caught Unfortunately, it's the one stile more susceptible to errors and blank holes. If you find one, please tell me). If anyone has any doubts or suggestions, please contact me.

Author notes:
Well, here we go again. It seems I'm not really *that* good with character's personalities... They don't sound very right to me... But what the &^$#@*! If you want to, just think that I took their names, backgrounds and physical attributes, and put a whole new personality in them.
And Duo's acting a bit foolishly because of the funny feelings he's been having... they make him a bit slow... Don't worry, I'll explain later! Enjoy yourself! (I hope...)

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Maiki-hime
Apprentice Fic-writer
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April 28th, 2000
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When Duo woke up again (/'Geez, do I see a pattern here?'/) it was already night. Surprisingly, his arm didn't hurt anymore, it just felt numb. He took a quick glance at his companions. Sure enough, both Wufei and Heero were drugged. No way they could have just slept through his screaming session earlier.

He sniffed. There was a sweet smell coming from the bandage on his arm. The same smell was coming from the bowl on the table, which contained a slimy green *something*. Perhaps a salve of sorts. Whatever it was, though, it was *good*. His burned arm wasn't aching as a burned arm should be, and for that he was grateful.

He was also hungry. Unfortunately, there was no sign of food. Standing up, Duo swayed a little. He noticed some clothes at the foot of his bed. Not exactly his choice of color, but what could he do? Wandering around half naked was *not* an option. Well, at least the pants were black, despite being a bit too *tight* for someone used to baggy ones. The shirt, though... those strings left almost half of his chest exposed, the sleeves were a bit too long and the cuffs... did they have to be so... so... *fluffy*? Well, they weren't *that* fluffy, but still too much for his taste.

He tried the door. Yep, they weren't exactly 'prisoners', otherwise the door would have been locked. Stepping outside, he quickly accessed his options: the corridor did a turn to the left, revealing nothing more, and to the right there was a stair leading down.

He went down. However, as soon as he took the next turn, a heavy hand grabbed his shoulder. Duo froze, and before he could do anything, Lian dragged him through the corridors.

"This is the way to the kitchen. Molly said you should eat something when you woke up. And after that, His Majesty will want to talk to you." After pulling Duo into said room and motioning for the young female cook to take care of him, Lian left.

Duo was still half-shocked. When that man touched his shoulder he felt... funny. A little afraid, he had to admit, but still... there was something that he couldn't exactly pinpoint. The voice of the cook took him away from his reverie, and he shrugged. Well, if he was expected to eat... eat he would!

After eating under the curious look of the girl, Duo felt a lot better. Ignoring her suggestion of waiting for Lian in the kitchen, Duo left through the other door. The first thing that caught his attention was a big fountain in the middle of the courtyard. But before he could go near it, Lian took him by the arm and, waving at the now giggling girl, dragged him out of the kitchen.

Duo was still confused. The man was now dragging him to the opposite way from the kitchen, face grim. Hesitantly, Duo asked: "Where to now?"

"His Majesty wants to talk to you."

"Who?"

"His Majesty. The King."

"King?" But before Duo could ask anything more, they stopped in front of a big wooden door. Opening it, Lian entered and knelt. Confused, Duo did the same. A figure had his back at them, looking outside the window. Hearing the door, the figure turned.

"Thank you, Lian. You may go now." Just before Lian left the room, Van added: "And I already told you to not do this, Lian. No need to kneel every time you come in here."

"Yes, Van-sama." And with that, he left.

Duo's mouth was open. *That* was the king? The Van-guy who burned his arm... well, to heal him, but burned him nonetheless?

Van looked amused by Duo's expression of disbelief. Motioning for him to get up and come closer, he sat on the throne. "Is your arm better?" Duo nodded. "Good. Now, I want you to answer some questions. Where are you from?"

Duo hesitated. What would he say? /'He runs, he hides, but he never lies...'/ And he felt he could trust this _king_ in front of him. "L2."

"Eh?"

"L2."

"Where is it?"

"Hey, what kind of question is that? L2, the colony, you know?"

"No."

"Well, you should. Where have you been these last two hundred years? In the moon?"

"No. We have always been here, in Gaea."

Duo looked suspicious. "Gaea? What is it?"

"Gaea is here, where we are. This planet."

"This WHAT!?" Now Duo was seriously confused.

"Take a look outside. See the moons."

Duo rose and went to the window. "Moons? You must be on something man, there is only one moo -" His jaw hit the windowsill when he looked outside. "How the... how can I see the Earth from here!?"

"The Maboroshi no Tsuki." Van added, also standing up. "Are you from there?"

"Ghost Moon?" Duo turned to look at Van. "No, I already said I was from L2. But I was on Earth before I woke up here. How did we get here, anyway? And how is this possible? I mean, there are the space colonies, but I never heard about a colonized planet, and it's obvious here is *not* a colony, otherwise I wouldn't be able to see the Earth and the moon, and -"

Van raised his hand, stopping him. "Space colonies? Explain."

Duo scratched his head. "Well, it's quite a long story... Basically, when people from Earth managed to control space travels and such, they started building colonies out on space, and living in them... But, a colonized planet... it's -"

"You're wrong. We don't have anything to do with the Maboroshi no Tsuki." At Duo's surprised look, Van continued: "We are descendants of the people from the Maboroshi no Tsuki, but we don't have anything to do with them. We don't know how to get there, and we never did. I didn't know they were capable of living outside their planet either, but I know they can't see our planet as we see theirs."

"You mean nobody on Earth knows about this planet? And you don't have any kind of space ship we could use to get back to Earth?"

"Not exactly *nobody*... You're not the first ones from the Maboroshi no Tsuki to come to Gaea..." Van looked sad for a moment, and Duo felt his chest very, very heavy. He missed what Van said next: "Eh?"

"I said, we have no ships that could take you back to the Maboroshi no Tsuki and... Are you feeling well?" Duo was horribly pale. "Go back to your room. Rest, and tomorrow we'll talk again."

"But -"

"Do it."

Duo nodded, and stumbled out of the room. Van followed him with his eyes, until the end of that chestnut colored braid disappeared through the door. Turning his eyes outside, Van studied the blue moon outside his window. A sad smile crossed his lips, and before turning away and heading for his rooms, a small thought crossed his mind. /'Hitomi... it's been four years already. I hope you are well, I... I still miss you.'/

***

The first thing Duo noticed when he woke up the next morning was Molly's presence. She was changing Heero's bandages and, although pretty nasty, his wounds weren't all that bad. Heero had worst ones before. Considering he was trying to self-destruct...

That gave Duo pause. Heero *did* self-destruct... how come he was in one piece? And how did they end up in that planet, if there were no space ships there? That Van-guy /'Iie, don't think about him like this Duo, he's a _king_ after all'/ said they were not the first ones who got there... He should ask him about it when he got the chance...

"Good morning, child." Molly's voice interrupted his thoughts. Looking up, he noticed she finished with Heero, and she had already taken care of Wufei. "Let's change your bandages? Your friends will remain asleep until later today. The concoction I gave them to sleep is quite strong."

Duo smiled. "Actually I can do it myself, thank you. But... I'd like to take a bath. Can I?"

"Of course, child. Come with me, I'll show you the way."

Molly showed him into a small washroom. After giving him the salve, fresh bandages and a new set of clothes (although, to Duo's dismay, exactly like the ones he was wearing), she left the room. Duo looked around and started to prepare his bath.

Warm water does wonders to relax tense muscles. After cleaning himself, Duo soaked in the tube until his skin wrinkled and the water started to get cold. After bandaging his wounds and wriggling into the pants, he sat down and started untangling his hair.

With his back turned, Duo didn't notice the door creaking open and a small head popping in. Nor the bulged eyes that inspected his wet hair. Nor the wriggling fingers approaching him. But when said fingers grabbed his hair and someone *sniffed* behind him, Duo jumped and turned around, just to come face to face with something he had never seen before. Or rather, *someone*.

Both screamed at the same time. Duo, because of the vision before him. And the... neko-girl? because she suddenly realized the half-naked person in front of her was *not* the girl people said was rescued the day before. Not at all. Despite that much hair, it was obvious it was a *boy*. And before Duo could think anything, the now blushing neko-girl took off, slamming the door behind her.

Moving out of his stupor, Duo blinked. /'What the...?'/ Then, chuckling, he resumed his task. /'I definitely have to talk with that Van-king again. Things are just getting weirder... And it sure was a good thing I put on these pants before I started to brush my hair!'/

 

 

"Van-sama! Van-sama!"

Van turned in time to see Merle charging in his direction, full force. The neko-girl started talking so fast he couldn't understand what she was saying.

"Merle! Calm down and tell me what the problem is!"

"Van-sama! I went to see the people from the Maboroshi no Tsuki and one of them was awake and Molly told me went to take a bath and I went to see and with all that hair turned from the door I went inside and -"

"Merle! You entered while he was taking a bath?"

Merle stopped, eyes huge. "You knew he was a boy?"

"Yes, I talked to him yesterday."

"But the soldiers said..."

"They probably saw his hair and thought it was a woman. Now you *know* it's a boy." Merle blushed and nodded.

Van smiled at her antics. Even after four years, Merle still behaved like a child. Even though she was no longer one. She had grown up a little, and was filling nicely her adolescent body. But even then, Van still thought of her as a little kid sister and, truth be told, she *acted* like that.

***

In the last four years, many things changed in Gaea. Zaibach was no longer a threat. On the contrary, with Dorknirk's death, Zaibach went through a great transformation. A new king was chosen, one who publicly apologized to Fanelia, Asturia, Freid and all the other kingdoms involved in the conflict. A peace treaty was signed among the four kingdoms and, in a gesture of good faith, Zaibach sent all the help possible to Fanelia, from engineers and material to rebuild the kingdom to Melefs and trainers to help reorganize the army. At first Van was reluctant in accepting what he considered charity from Zaibach's new king, but when the latter proposed it to be his part of an economic and political alliance between them, Van relented.

Rebuilding a kingdom from its ashes is not an easy task, even with the help of others. After four years, Fanelia still wasn't as complete as before. Zaibach's engineers and trainers no longer worked there (their presence wasn't needed anymore) but there was still work to be done. Work that Fanelia's inhabitants were eager to complete, and happy with the partial results obtained so far.

Van was also satisfied. During these four years the young king changed a lot, both physically and mentally. He was no longer the brash and impulsive teenager of before; instead, Fanelia's king showed a degree of maturity that many didn't expect coming from an eighteen-year old. He also grew up, and his constant sword training earned him stronger muscles and better skills with the sword; perhaps even as good as Allen's.

In the four years after the conflict, Van heard from Allen's whereabouts, but never actually met him again. Allen returned to the border, where they first met, but after some months Asturia's king accepted his request to return to the capital and stay by his sister's side. Besides, the king and his oldest daughter no longer considered him a 'threat', as Millerna dutifully married her betrothed, Dryden; so there was no more need to keep Allen at distance.

Dryden didn't spend those four years by his wife's side. Being a merchant, he was constantly traveling between kingdoms, and every now and then he would pass through Fanelia, where he was always welcome. Of all the people Van met during his adventurous days escaping from Dorknirk, Dryden was the only one he met again. Van knew he owned Dryden more than he could ever repay; not only for the money Dryden spent to save both him and Escaflowne (only recently Dryden managed to rebuild his fleet to its former size), but also for the knowledge and help he provided during that time.

From Freid, Van received good news: their capital was rebuilt and Sid, now at age of eight, was ruling wisely. Kaja kept his promise to Duke Freid and was constantly by Sid's side, advising him when necessary.

 

 

That was the situation in Gaea after a girl called Hitomi left the planet, carried by a column of light, and four years later two new columns brought not only one or two, but rather five young men, from the very same planet as the girl. Fate sent the two groups to different locations. What will happen whey they meet again?