"Some are like water, some are like the heat. Some are a melody, and some are the beat." - Alphaville, Forever Young
"Say you’re a teenage boy." Treize paused and looked thoughtful.
"I’m a teenage boy."
The ginger-haired man rolled his eyes. "Mil, be serious. If you were they, where would you have gone?"
The two men were standing beside the morning fire, coffee mugs in hand. Hilde had already gone in search of the two missing boys, and Relena and Dorothy had yet to put in an appearance.
Milliard frowned slightly, and took a drink of his steaming black coffee. "Well, the moon was out last night, and it wasn’t too cold."
Treize nodded. "Yes, so if it were we, where would we have gone?"
"I would have stayed in the tent. But then, I didn’t have to sleep with an extra person thrown in the middle. Did you hear her snoring?"
Treize looked grumpily at his lover. "I couldn’t quite make it out over your snoring love, sorry."
Milliard flushed faintly. "I don’t snore, I know I don’t."
Treize patted him consolingly. "Right. Well to get back to our dilemma. I think we might have gone either to the forest or the beach."
"The beach, the lamp is still here, and the flashlight is just no good for that forest. Do you remember the time when we got lost?"
Treize smiled in remembrance. "How can I forget? It rained, your mother nearly killed us, and we caught colds afterwards."
"But it was a good night, don’t you think?" Mil grinned over his mug and waggled his eyebrows. "Ok, so we know that they’ve most likely gone to the beach. Want to go look? Or wait for them?" He idly studied the sky, then stretched and took another sip of coffee.
"I don’t think we’ll have to go look for them. It seems as if they have decided to come back of their own free will." Treize said, pointing behind Milliard towards the path that led to the sand beach. The two boys were holding hands. Duo leaning his head against Heero’s shoulder as they walked. They were talking quietly together and didn’t appear to have noticed their audience.
"Have a nice night boys?" Milliard called, grinning at the two when they looked up. The blond took in his brother’s faint blush and Heero’s somewhat embarrassed expression. Then he silently retrieved two more mugs and filled them. "Coffee?" he offered, handing the mugs over to the grateful nods of the two boys.
"So, was it a nice night for a moonlit stroll?" Milliard grinned at his furiously blushing brother. "Oh," his grin broadened, "I suppose that means it was."
"Is there anymore coffee?" A plaintive voice called from across the camp. Relena was poking her head out of the tent, golden hair scattered around her shoulders. Her blue eyes squinted against the morning light as she gazed at them hopefully. Suddenly a slim hand reached out from behind her and yanked her back into the tent. A muffled yelp could be heard, then more silence.
Everyone looked at each other then back at the tent. They waited expectantly for a moment. A few minutes passed and then Dorothy crawled out of the tent and stood, brushing off her clothes. She looked up and smiled at everyone. "Good morning, there is more coffee isn’t there?" Her smile widened, showing her teeth in a feral grin. Then a hand reached out from behind her and dragged her back into the tent. Another few yelps could be heard. Everyone waited again, watching the tent avidly.
"There you are! I’ve been looking all over this island for you! Where have you been?" Hilde yelled from across the campsite, running over to them and flinging herself onto a startled Heero. Then she grinned at Treize. "Anymore coffee?"
Treize silently handed her a mug, his eyes never straying far from the tent across from them. Hilde noticed everyone seemed to be frozen watching Relena’s tent. She snuggled in between Heero and Duo, sliding her arm around Heero’s waist, and sipped her coffee, watching as well, convinced something interesting was going to happen. Suddenly a loud shriek erupted from the tent and everyone jumped.
In a strange slow motion action, the tent they were watching leisurely collapsed in on itself. Limbs flailed against the inside of the tent and a muffled shout could be heard. Eventually after much bulging of olive drab and more muted curses, two blond heads peeked out of the tent flap.
Both girls were red in the face and panting slightly. Then they noticed their audience. Relena hid her face and tried to crawl backwards into the tent, but was unable to move and wound up stuck half in and half out. She groaned and tried to bury herself under the tent cloth as best she could. Dorothy glared around at everyone as if daring them to say a word.
Milliard grabbed two more mugs, filled them, and walked over to the collapsed tent. He knelt down and silently placed the two cups of coffee in front of the girls. Then he stood up and grinned around at everyone. "Anyone up for breakfast?"
"Does everyone have a map?" Relena was standing next to the mess tent checking her watch.
After eating a breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and eggs, they had all discussed what to do for the day. Should they go to another island in the area? Or stay on Balalaika and explore it. It had been Relena who suggested the treasure hunt on Balalaika. Since she knew the island rather well, she’d drawn three maps. There was an X to mark the spot on each one, and whoever found their treasure first won a prize. Though Relena had not said what the prize would be, let alone the treasure, it didn’t seem to matter much.
It had taken roughly an hour to choose who would be on which team. Eventually they had decided each party would have one person who was familiar with the island, and one person who was not. The three teams consisted of Treize and Hilde, Duo and Dorothy, and Milliard and Heero.
Relena checked her watch again and glanced around at the teams. Hilde and Treize were whispering to each other, casting speculative looks at the others. Occasionally one or the other of them would snicker and then whisper some more. Duo was teasing his partner over the tent mishap earlier that morning. She still refused to tell him what they’d been doing in order to bring the tent down. Mil was trying to make Heero blush, and was actually succeeding. All it took was to mention how nice the evening was last night, or to ask if Heero enjoyed the beach on the island.
"All right, when I knock on the table that’s the signal to start. You all have a compass, map, and a watch. You will be given exactly three hours in which to decipher the map and find your treasure. Good luck!" She grinned around at them and patted Zero, whom she decided made an excellent mascot and had tied a pink ribbon around his neck as a sign of his new rank. Zero didn’t seem to mind very much, and instead rested heavily on one of the girl’s ankles, leaning into the scratches and pats she kept giving him.
With a bang of her fist on the table, she raised her other arm and clicked the timer on her watch. "Go!"
The three teams opened their maps and stood for a moment deciphering the first clue. Relena had made it so that there were ten clues on each map, and in order to find the next spot to be you had to figure out what the clue meant. A few moments passed, the first clue was relatively easy and merely got them all started.
Seconds later Relena sighed as the last of the teams left the campsite. She smiled to herself and went to get her book. Snuggling down in a lawn chair she idly scratched Zero’s ears and found her place. The sun glinted off her hair and she lost herself in the book.
"Ok, what’s the next clue?" Duo paused holding a branch out of the way while Dorothy checked the map.
"Going North you’ll come across a little brook and a lot of moss, take a left but don’t get lost your next move makes a southern cross." Dorothy frowned down at the map then glanced up and looked around.
"Do you know what the Southern Cross is?" Duo asked, carefully stepping over a mud puddle.
"Yes, but I don’t see how our next move can make it. We’d practically be dancing." She jumped over a branch and twisted to the side of a large rock.
"Well, we went left at that brook where the ground was covered in green moss." He frowned down at the ground and jumped over a small rock outcropping. Then he stopped and turned abruptly in place. "Dorothy?"
She deftly jumped onto a rock beside him, narrowly avoiding colliding with him. He blinked and looked up at her. "Turn around and look behind us." He started to chuckle as her eyes lit up with sudden understanding when she surveyed the area behind them. The rocks they’d been dodging and jumping over formed a crude Southern Cross.
"She’s tricky." Dorothy said softly, and then she grinned down at Duo. "Ready for the next clue?"
Treize looked at the large face shaped rock and smiled. Hilde stood beside him and glanced down at the map in her hands. "This must be it." He muttered, turning to her and gesturing at the map. "Next clue?"
She cleared her throat and read in a singsong voice. "Now the face is staring west, look around and take a guess, what view does he like best?" She ended it on a questioning note and furrowed her brow as she puzzled it over.
Treize leaned close to the rock in question and stared into its ‘eyes’. He tugged on Hilde’s arm and pointed. "That way." He said firmly, gesturing to the Southwest. He grinned at Hilde triumphantly.
"This is easy."
Milliard glared at the map, and then he turned it over and glared at it some more. "This makes no sense." He said in disgust, handing the map over the Heero.
"Sometimes clues are under rocks, so take a breath and take stalk." Heero frowned. "Why would she misspell the word stalk?"
"What?" Mil leaned over his shoulder and looked. "Why so she did." He looked around in bafflement. They were standing near the rock beach, their last clue having directed them to it. "This place is littered with rocks, how can a clue be hiding under one of them?"
Heero glanced at the map again, and then idly flipped over the nearest stone with the toe of his shoe. Not surprisingly, nothing was under it but dirt.
His head jerked up at the exclamation. Milliard stood near the edge of the forest, pointing down at a scattering of small flowering plants. "These are wild sea peas, and they grow on stalks." He beamed, and pointed at the rock resting near the small green tendrils. "They’re growing out from under this rock. Read the next clue."
"Last clue!" Duo said enthusiastically.
Dorothy grinned at him and they both bowed their heads over the map. Then they frowned as one and looked at each other. Duo looked down again and slowly read the last clue out loud. "As you know the first team to bring back the treasure they find wins the game, now take heed and read." He paused clearing his throat, and then went on. "Now you notice the sea is near, stop a minute and feel no fear. Step up to the edge and push your luck, the X is near it, so don’t get stuck."
He glanced up and looked at their surroundings. They were standing on a small cliff that overlooked the sea. Trees lined the edge of the cliff blocking the view a bit, but not enough so that you couldn’t get a nice look. He watched as a few seagulls spiraled over the rocks further out in the water.
"Duo, come look at this."
Duo turned, Dorothy was standing a few feet away and looking past him at the ocean view. She gestured for him to come stand beside her.
"Look." She said as he came to her side. He followed her pointing finger and stared for a moment. Then a slow smile crept over his face.
"Those two trees form an X, but…" He looked confused, "Where’s the treasure? She never did say what it was. Is it buried beneath them?"
"I don’t think so. If you think of the clues she’s given us to get us here. What kind of treasure do you think it would be?" She walked over and sat down directly between the two trees. "Duo, did you bring your sketchbook after Relena borrowed it to draw the maps?"
"Yeah, got it right here." He patted his backpack, slinging it off and unzipping it. Pulling out the sketchbook, he held it out to her.
"It’s not for me, draw me a picture. Draw this X." She pointed up at the trees over her head. "And draw this view behind it." She waved her hand at the ocean.
He grinned at her. "Now that’s smart! We’ll take her the X. Do you think that’s what the treasure really is?"
She settled against one of the tree trunks and stretched her legs out, crossing them at the ankles and resting her hands in her lap. Smiling she tilted her head to the side and looked at him. "You’ve known her longer. Isn’t it just the kind of thing she would consider a treasure?"
"Yeah," He had already begun to make a preliminary sketch and filled in a bit more detail before adding, "It’s just the kind of thing she would pick. I wonder what the treasure is for everyone else?"
"And will they be able to figure out how to take it back?" Dorothy grinned and turned to face the ocean, watching the waves break against the scattered rocks in the shallow inlet.
Duo began to sketch her into the picture.
"Hold out your hands Treize, I need a boost up." Hilde rolled up the map and stuck it into her back pocket. The last clue had told them to look for the tree with an X carved into it, and climb it to find the treasure. Treize hooked his hands together and held them low so she could step onto them. She gripped his shoulders then boosted herself up onto his hands. Within seconds, she had climbed up onto his shoulder and was reaching for the low branch.
She swung up onto it and pulled the map out of her pocket, then read the clue again. "Now squint your eyes and look real hard, I know I left it here, it should be in a jar." Hilde grimaced and peering below, grinned down at Treize. "I think she was running out of rhymes on this last clue."
She sat back up and looked around at the leafy branches of the tree. A glint shining from the center of the crowded limbs caught her eye. She dropped the map, letting Trieze catch it, and then carefully crawled across the branch towards the glittering object. Reaching out she eased the dirty jar from the little hollow it rested in and frowned at it. "Catch me." She said then pushed off the tree and fell into Treize’s outstretched arms. She grinned at him and twisted out of his hold, landing lightly on her feet. Brandishing the old jar triumphantly she started to twist it open. "Let’s see what this treasure is."
The lid made a harsh metallic sound then crumbled and fell off. Sparkling pebbles poured into Hilde’s open palm and she gasped. "They’re crystals. Wow, look at them all." The small rocks shimmered, rainbows dancing over Hilde’s face as she twisted her hand in the sunlight.
Milliard smiled over the map at Heero, and then read the last clue. "An X it makes, but not too well. Perhaps you should instead find me an in-season bell." He blinked and frowned for a moment as he contemplated the clue.
Heero shrugged and wandered around the shady little nook they were in. Tiny wildflowers littered the area, and there were more wild sea peas nestled among the rocks and greenery. He knelt down and picked a minuscule pea pod, slitting it open with a fingernail to see if there was anything in it. Small peas fell into his hand and he smiled at them, picking one of the tiny things up to taste it. He choked and spit the little thing back out, glaring at it. It had been like eating a tiny green pellet of salt. Standing up he brushed off his jeans, and looked around. A patch of bright purple flowers caught his eye and he went over to examine them more closely.
"These look like the color of Duo’s eyes." He said softly, idly picking one of the tiny bell shaped flowers.
"What?" Mil asked, glancing up from the map.
"These are probably brought back to bee hives." Heero said hastily, holding up the little flower for Mil to inspect.
"Nice, looks like the color of Duo’s eyes too." He grinned at Heero then blinked and looked back at the flower. "It’s a bell."
Heero glanced at the flower again and his eyes widened slightly, he’d been so absorbed with the color of the flower he hadn’t even noticed it’s shape. "The treasure." He stared at tiny flower, thinking of how dark Duo’s eyes had looked last night on the beach. Almost the same shade of the flower.
"Relena’s got a very strange sense of treasure." Milliard shook his head and bent down, picking a few more of the small bell shaped flowers.
"The prize was what?!" Milliard looked incredulously at Relena.
"They won, and for their prize they get to be king and queen for the night." She smiled at the winners.
"But Relena! We never promised to do this. You can’t make us, it’s unfair!" Dorothy scowled at her.
"You said you would play, that’s a binding pledge right there. You’re stuck, so suffer." Relena grinned. "Besides, it’s only for the night, and it’s not like you have to scrub floors or anything." She patted Milliard’s arm and glanced about at the other slaves for the night. "Anymore complaints?" No one said a word. "Good." She said brightly, standing up and climbing on top of the table.
"I now pronounce you king and queen! Let your slaves do your bidding!" She started to laugh.
While they had all been hunting, Relena had made two little flower circlets. When Hilde and Treize had entered the camp, she’d immediately crowned them and sat them inside the mess tent to wait for the others.
Heero and Milliard had been the next to enter the camp, thinking they’d won because only Relena was in sight. They’d handed her a tiny bouquet of little purple bellflowers and she’d smiled at them. It had been exactly what she’d had in mind for their treasure.
When Duo and Dorothy finally made it back to the camp they were already sure they hadn’t won. They silently gave Relena the sketch of the ‘treasure’ and had been surprised when she’d burst into tears. Then she’d carefully set the picture on the table and hugged both of them tight, whispering ‘thank you’ to them in a broken voice.
Now the losers of the hunt glared up at their king and queen for the night. Treize and Hilde struck a regal pose together and grinned. Then Treize whispered something into the shorthaired girl’s ear. She tilted her head, listening intently, and then nodded. Straightening up she thrust out her chest and shouted, "Since tomorrow is the 4th of July, we have decided to release our slaves so that they may be independent!" She laughed, jumping down from the table with Treize, and flung an arm around Heero. "What’s for dinner Mil?"