Disclaimer: I don't own GW nor profit from my rambling

Warnings: fluff

Synopsis: Quatre has a plan to give the other pilots a little bit of their lost childhoods back while teaching them more about friendship.

Quatre's List
Duo's Friendship Arc 5
by Dyna Dee

With his notebook tucked securely under his arm, Quatre Rababba Winner walked with a purposeful stride to his bedroom. Reaching it, he closed the door and went to his bed, kicked off his shoes, and sat cross legged on top of the pale blue feather comforter.

His mind had been going over thoughts of his fellow pilots, specifically, their pasts. Today he was a man with a mission. Well, he considered himself a man, though his father, sisters, and the entire Maguanac Corps would undoubtedly disagree. He thought piloting a gundam in a war for peace gave him the right to be called a man, even though he was just fifteen. The other pilots would wholeheartedly agree with him, he was sure. Others called them boys, but they had all experienced things that brought their maturity level up years. Well, some would argue Duo's part in that statement, he mused, and couldn't help but smile at the thought of the long-braided pilot. He had to admit that Duo could make any occasion a more lively and enjoyable one, if not a bit embarrassing.

Bringing his thoughts and eyes back to his notebook, Quatre scanned the notes he had written down. As he had gotten to know each of the pilots, he had jotted down on paper sketchy notes on what he had learned. He was surprised to note how different they were from each, and yet somehow similar. In listening and observing, he knew that Duo, Heero, and Trowa had Spartan and difficult childhoods. Trowa and Heero were brought up and trained to be soldiers. Duo was an orphan, like the other two, but with a heart breaking story of loneliness and of losing all those who had cared for him and having lived in abject poverty, stealing to survive.

The blonde boy sighed, feeling a bit guilty for the life of luxury he'd had. He and Wufei alone of the five, had reasonably normal childhoods with family, traditions, and having had their emotional and material needs met. He pressed his lips into a thin line of determination. He had the financial resources to carry out his idea and now, he needed to plan a course of action. His objective: To give each of the other pilots a bit of their childhood back. With pen in hand, he started making his list.

A slight, soft knock on the bedroom door caused Heero's fingers to pause on his keyboard. "Come in." he called out, softer than his usual bark.

Quatre's blonde head popped in. "Can I talk to you for a moment?" he asked in a low voice. Heero motioned for him to enter.

Quatre glanced over to the bed against the right wall of the room where Duo was sprawled face down on his bed, fully clothed, and sound asleep. He had stumbled into the current safe house just after eight that morning from a week long mission just as they were finishing up breakfast. Quatre had pushed a large glass of juice and some toast on the American before the exhausted boy made his way up the stairs to his room, too tired to eat any more.

The blonde turned to frown at Wing's pilot. "Why did you let him sleep in his clothes? Did you check him for any wounds?" he questioned in a hushed voice as to not wake the slumberer.

"He walked in the door on his own and isn't bleeding, he's fine." Heero replied dismissing the other's worry in his usual monotone, unemotional voice. "He's capable of undressing himself if he wants to." he added.

Quatre went to Duo's bedside, not pleased with Heero's lack of thoughtfulness for his roommate. He unfastened and took off Duo's boots, relieved that the tired boy's sleep wasn't disturbed. He moved next to the leather jacked that Duo prized as one of his favorite possessions. He apparently had unzipped his jacket before falling into his bed, so the Arabian teen found it was easily removed from off his back. Going to the closet, Quatre removed an extra blanket from the upper shelf and returning to the bed, covered his friend, carefully tucking it in under his stockinged feet.

Satisfied he had done all he could do to make Duo more comfortable, he turned back to the other boy in the room who had watched his every move with a hint of curiosity. "I really came here to talk to you, Heero." He kept his voice low in order to not disturb the slumberer.

The dark haired boy looked up at the approaching boy showing his mild irritation at the interruption his continued presence caused, but curious as to the reason for it. A raised eyebrow was Quatre's cue to continue.

"I've checked with Trowa and Wufei, and I wondered if you had any missions scheduled for the next few days?"

"No" Heero answered. "Unless J contacts me about an urgent matter, I don't have anything for at least five days. Why?"

Quatre gave a small smile. "I have some personal business to attend to and I thought it would be nice if you guys could accompany me. A little R & R."

"Where are you going?" Heero asked, always to the point.

"It's a surprise." Quatre's smile broadened.

The Japanese boy's eyebrows drew together, completing the frown that marred his face. "I don't like surprises." he stated flatly.

Quatre's face lit with mild amusement. "I would have thought that rooming with Duo was equivalent to living in a constant state of surprise." he smirked sweetly.

"Precisely why I don't like surprises." Heero answered turning his frown onto the unaware boy sleeping across the room. Heero admitted to himself, with a long suffering sigh, that there certainly was a lack of boredom in his life when the braided baka was in the same room

Quatre didn't like the stretch of silence as Heero glared at Duo's unsuspecting form. "Please, Heero. I promise everyone will be safe and the surprise will be fun.....please!"

Heero turned back to look at the blonde's pleading face. His stony resolve slowly dissolving.

"I'll see what I can do." he replied, somehow finding it hard to just come out and say yes to such practiced wiles as Quatre was used to using on him and the others.

The blonde's face transformed into beaming gratefulness, understanding the "yes" behind Heero's words. His aquamarine eyes sparkled with happiness. "Thank you, Heero. We'll leave tonight, right after dinner when Duo's a little more rested." Turning, the satisfied and happy boy left Heero to return to his laptop.

During dinner that evening, Quatre instructed the others to pack for several days and to bring their warmest clothes. The Deathscythe pilot could hardly contain his excitement. As much as he loved surprising the others, he enjoyed being surprised just as much. The other three pilots showed varying degrees of unease. None of the other three liked the unknown. They were use to planning in great detail their missions and even their safe houses.

"Ah, come on you guys. Put a little trust in His Blondness." Duo lightly scolded them as he observed their reactions to the impending trip.

Quatre smiled at he American, grateful for his confidence in him. Duo had joined them just before dinner looking a bit more refreshed, and Quatre could smell the herbal fragrance from his freshly washed hair. But the dark circles under his eyes showed his true state of being, that he needed more sleep and rest. The Arabian was determined that they all would be more rested by the time they returned.

As the meal was finished, Quatre looked up to Duo. "We have dishes tonight, Duo. We'll leave for the airport right after that's completed and you've packed." Duo nodded and stood, taking hold of several dishes and removed them to the sink to begin the chore of washing them. Quatre turned to urge the others to hurry. They nodded and stood, leaving the room to pack

Duo started running the hot water and adjusted it to the desired temperature. "Okay Quatre," he began with a conspiratorial smile as the blonde brought more dishes to the sink. "You are going to tell me where we're going, right?"

"No way!" Quatre laughed. "It wouldn't be a surprise if I told you, and I can tell you love surprises."

"It's gonna be good, isn't it?" Duo's eyes sparkled as he turned to plunge his hands into the sink now filled with suds.

"I hope so." the blond replied grabbing up a dish towel.

Quatre was already packed, and it took the braided boy only five minutes to get his things together and return to the living room, ready to go.

They spent the next two hours in the car arguing over radio stations. They settled on a classical station, four voting against one. Each of the four hoping the soothing Mozart melody currently playing would settle down the fidgeting, talkative, and becoming annoying American. Duo sat back with an unhappy "Humph!" at not getting to listen to what he wanted to, and crossing his arms across his chest, pouted as the car was filled with the lilting sounds of violins and cellos. Within moments a deep sigh was heard from the formerly protesting boy, and it wasn't long after that his body, positioned in the middle of the back seat between Heero and Wufei, slumped to his right. A light snort came from him as his head settled on Wufei's shoulder and his body leaned heavily against the Chinese boy's left side.

"Oh brother." Wufei groaned.

Quatre turned around from the front passenger side of the car just as Wufei was preparing to push the sleeping boy away.

"Oh, don't Wufei." The blonde pleaded. "He's so tired and needs his rest. Let him be."

"But he's heavy." the Chinese boy complained shifting to get comfortable.

"No he's not." Heero contradicted. "He weighs as little as Quatre."

Quatre surveyed the three in the back seat. "Why don't you make him more comfortable?" he asked.

"How?" Wufei asked, obviously feeling put upon that he wasn't doing enough already.

Quatre reached back and shifted Duo to what he deemed to be more comfortable. His braided head rested on Wufei's thigh, and his lower legs were bent and resting on Heero's lap. The two sitting up definitely didn't look all that pleased at the new arrangement, but Quatre was satisfied. "That's much better." he announced. He then turned and resettled himself into his seat, giving an amused smile to Trowa as he drove. The Heavyarm's pilot smirked, thinking how the smallest one of the group always seem to manipulate them into doing what he wanted. The mark of a true leader.

In the back seat, Heero and Wufei shared a common look of strained forbearance.

It was late when they reached the airport and the plane, a private Winner Corporation jet, was finally allowed to taxi onto the runway, preparing for take off.

Quatre spoke with the pilots of the jet as the others settled in, and on his re-entry into the passenger cabin, he was pleased to see everyone getting comfortable, a pillow and blanket for each being used.

Duo had been grouchy and groggy after being awakened in the car, but his complaining stopped as he flopped into a seat and promptly lowered the back and curled up and went back to sleep. Everyone was surprised when Heero, who had remembered Quatre's example that morning, removed a pillow and blanket from the upper storage bin. He carefully, with surprising gentleness, placed the pillow under the braided boy's head and a blanket on top of him. He even tucked it in around the slender pilot's body. As he straightened and turned, he was met with three startled faces. He gave them the "one-eye glare warning" that sent the message not to say a word, and took a seat across the isle from the Deathscythe pilot.

Quatre was altogether pleased. First, Heero had learned from his example that morning, and second, they would hopefully arrive at their destination before the cold northern front hit, and third, it would still be dark. Sitting down and strapping on his seat belt, Quatre felt the small jet's engines begin their steady and increasing thrum of power, and once reaching a high pitch, it shot off down the runway.

Four hours later, the jet lurched just slightly as it touched down on the runway, waking all the passengers, except Duo who merely turned over and pulled his slipping blanket closer.

Heero looked out the window and peered into the darkness, broken up only by red and blue lights outlining the air strip.

The moment the jet came to a stop, the click of release of Quatre's seat belt preceded his jumping to his feet. "Okay guys, we're here! Rashid will have a car waiting for us and it's just a short drive to the house." he announced.

The others rose quietly retrieved their duffel bags from above them. "Duo, get up." Heero's voice cut through the quiet.

There was a mumbling, a incoherent sound from the sleeping boy.

Quatre moved quickly to intercept Heero as he moved towards the American.

"Duo." Heero's tone was threatening.

"Wait!" Quatre cut in front of Wing's pilot. "Let me show you a better way."

Quatre bent towards the small body curled up on the seat and began to rub his back. "Duo, we're here." his voice was soothing. "It's time for the surprise."

The Deathscythe pilot rolled over and smiled, his eyes slowly blinked open. "We're here?" he asked rubbing his eyes and looking extremely young and innocent.

"Come on." Quatre urged, taking the blanket from him. "The car is near and the house isn't too far. You can sleep all day if you want."

Duo yawned. "And miss the surprise?" he asked waking up gradually. "Not bloody likely." He grinned as he took the hand up Quatre offered.

"Ohayo, Heero!" Duo cheerily greeted the Japanese boy as their eyes met.

The blonde gave Heero a knowing glance that basically communicated 'See how well that worked?'. "Honey instead of vinegar." he said quietly in passing, knowing Heero would ask him later what that meant. Wing's pilot had a lot to learn about interpersonal interaction and relationships, Quatre reminded himself. It was a good thing that Heero had both he and Duo to teach not only him, but the other two pilots as well who also seemed to be lacking in those areas. What better way to teach than by example, he thought.

The captain of the Winner jet stood at the hatch in a heavy jacket. Seeing all five boys gathered, and a "go ahead" nod from Master Quatre, he turned the latch releasing the door and slid it open.

A large burst of incredibly frozen air burst into the small space and all five boys gasped at the shock of it. Rashid, dressed in a fur lined jacket and hood, leapt into the doorway. "Master Quatre, Welcome!" His voice boomed. "Come, the car awaits you." he motioned them out of the door.

Heero and Wufei obediently and quickly followed the large Maguanac out of the jet. Trowa and Quatre moved to follow, but stopped as Quatre turned to the braided boy behind him. The American stood with his arms wrapped around his thin frame, his teeth chattered and his body trembled from the cold. He looked at the Arabian and shook his head. "Can't ...take.....the...cold." he chattered.

Quatre sympathized with the other boy. He wasn't use to the cold either, but to the heat of the desert, and the even temperature of his colony. His skin was tight with goose bumps and his own teeth began to chatter.

"Blankets" Trowa suggested and moved quickly back to their seats to retrieve the blankets. Returning, he wrapped two around both Duo and Quatre's shoulders. Taking both boys by their elbows, he propelled them out of the plane into the dark, icy night. The taller boy could feel both boys trembling violently from the bitter cold. He judged the temperature to be at least twenty degrees below zero.

"This way!" Rashid's voice called out. Trowa turned the two boys in the direction of the voice and the sound of a running car. It was only a short walk, but the violent shaking caused the Deathscythe pilot to stumble to his knees. "Come on Duo. Get up!" Trowa urged as his own teeth began to chatter and his body shake.

Duo struggled to get to his feet, but slipped down again. This time he stayed huddled down, throwing his blankets around his crouched body for warmth.

"Duo!" Trowa shouted. Unable to move the boy, he let go and moved woodenly towards the car pulling Quatre with him. He was passed by Rashid who, upon seeing them leave the other boy crouched on the ground, moved to help.

The door to the large suburban magically opened as they reached it. The warmth that hit Trowa was welcomed, and he picked up the small blonde, still bundled in his two blankets, and pushed him in and quickly followed, shutting the door behind them.

The heater in the car was on high, furiously trying to heat the now chilly interior.

"Ddddd... Duo?" Heero chattered from the back seat.

"R.. r... r.. ra..... shhhhh.... eeeee..... dddd. Trowa replied through chattering teeth. He pulled Quatre's trembling body against him and worked at the covers until they covered both of them.

The car door opened abruptly and once again the cold air won over the growing warmth and the four occupants groaned. Rashid pushed his large form into the car with his arms full of a trembling blanket. With effort, he lifted the armful over the middle seat and set it between the two boys in the back.

"Huddle together for warmth." he instructed them as he quickly removed himself and shut the door.

Heero and Wufei worked at freeing the tangled blankets from the tightly curled up American. They then pushed him up into a sitting position and threw the blankets over the three of them. The two boys on the sides pushed themselves up against the violently trembling body.

"YY.... y. yy. y your.... ppppathetic.... Dddddduo." Wufei stuttered.

The braided boy turned to pull himself closer to the Chinese boy and unable to form a coherent reply, retorted in the only way he could, he bit him on the shoulder.

Wufei yelled out just as Rashid entered the car. He turned to see the braided boy being pushed into the Japanese boy's side. "Settle down back there." he reprimanded them sternly, looking pointedly at the scowling Chinese boy. "We'll be at the house in ten minutes. Behave yourselves until then." Rashid then turned back, shut off the ceiling light, and put the car into gear.

"He b.. b.. bit me." Wufei complained as he rubbed his sore shoulder.

Heero looked down at the chestnut head huddled against him. "You better not bite me." he warned.

"Ttttthen... yyyyyou.... bbbbbetter bbbbe nice tttooo mee." Duo warned back, his voice shaking as violently as his thin body. Wing's pilot eyed him warily and jumped as Duo's cold hands sought warmth under his biceps. Even through his tee shirt and windbreaker he could feel how icy they were.

In the ten minutes it took to reach the house, most of them had warmed up enough to stop shivering and could speak without the chattering of their teeth interfering. A light shattering the seemingly unending darkness signaled the opening of the garage door. The large vehicle entered and shut off as the door closed firmly behind them.

"Everyone out." Rashid ordered.

Wufei was the first to move, eager to distance himself from "Jaws". He opened the car door and raced out, heading for the door that entered the house. Cold air entered the car, though it didn't seem as cold as at the airfield.

Trowa managed to guide Quatre out.

"Duo." Heero's voice called out. The Deathscythe pilot pulled himself up firmly against his roommate and showed no sign of moving. He began to shiver again.

"We can't stay here." Heero told him. "It's warm inside and it makes no sense staying here like this." Still no movement. With a grunt, Heero removed Duo's clasp of his arm and bounded over the seat. Turning back around, he lifted the quaking pilot and threw him over his shoulder. Rashid stood next to the passenger door, ready to lend a hand. He shut the car door behind them and followed the last two boys inside.

As promised, the house was pleasurably warm. Heero set Duo and his two precious blankets down in a over stuffed chair near the blazing fireplace. As he stood and turned, a mug of Hot Chocolate was placed in his hands by an older and taller woman with greying blond hair, a look of worry on her face. "I've never seen anyone as unprepared for a visit here as you five." she tisked with a heavy Scandinavian accent, and moved to the huddled, pathetic figure on the chair. It took a few moments for her to coax the American to uncurl himself and take a few sips from the cup before he could hold the cup steady himself.

"That's my fault." Quatre spoke up apologetically. "Sorry guys. I thought we would beat the cold front moving in. I guess it beat us here."

"Th.. this is our surprise?" Duo's cracked voice carried his disbelief.

"Not exactly, that comes tomorrow." Quatre answered looking a bit guilty.

"I hate the cold." Duo stated the obvious with a frown.

"I'm sorry Duo," Quatre began again apologetically. "I had no idea you were so sensitive to the cold. But I do have some presents for you in the morning. Rashid are the beds warmed?" He turned to speak to the large man who had now taken off his warm outer jacket and replaced it with a thick Nordic style sweater.

"It is prepared as you requested." he replied in his deep voice and good nature.

"Good, thank you Rashid." He beamed a brilliant smile at the man who seemed happy to receive the gesture.

Quatre turned back to the others. "We still have a few hours until dawn. If you'd like to sleep some more, the beds upstairs have been warmed for you."

Each of his friends nodded, or grunted their agreement and after they finished with their hot drink, Rashid brought in their duffel bags and led them to their rooms.

The house was large and each pilot was to have his own room. Heero, Trowa, and Wufei took the first three rooms. Turning a corner, Rashid opened the door for Duo who stumbled forward, still wrapped in his blankets. Rashid took his elbow and led him to the bed where he sat down. The tall Maguanac unzipped the boy's black boots and slipped them from his feet. Taking the blankets from his resisting grasp, the enormously tall man unzipped and removed his leather jacket, then pulled down the covers and put the still fully clothed boy into bed, covering him up. Duo moaned with pleasure as the heat from the electric blanket radiated its warmth into his chilled body.

"Is that better, Duo?" Quatre asked as he stood at the bottom of the bed.

"Ummmmm, much. All's forgiven." was the mumbled reply.

Quatre smiled. "Sleep well." he wished the other quietly as he and Rashid moved to leave the room.

"You too." Duo managed yawning deeply.

It was noon before the five met again. Duo was the last to join them which was not surprising as he was always the last one up. He entered the warm kitchen dressed in black jeans, a grey ribbed turtleneck, and a smile on his face. "Perfect timing again!" he exclaimed seeing food being placed on the table.

Sitting down together, they enjoyed the food that Inka, the woman they had met in the wee hours of the morning, had prepared and placed on the table for them. Between bites of tasty stew meat, carrots, onions, and potatoes, Duo looked up across the table to their host. "So, what's the surprise, Quatre?" he asked

"After lunch." Sandrock's pilot promised and inwardly smirked at the pout on Duo's face.

The American turned his attention back to his place and continued to eat until he felt his foot being kick soundly by the Chinese boy beside him. He turned to glare at him.

"Don't you ever bite me again." Wufei snarled.

"Did you ever hear the saying, 'Don't kick a man when he's down?" Duo asked with a raised eyebrow. "Let the memory of that little nip remind you next time."

Wufei's back went rigid as the American gave him a sickeningly sweet smile. Automatically, his hand formed a fist. An enormous hand suddenly clasped his shoulder and drew his gaze away from Duo upward to observe Rashid's stern look of disapproval high above him.

"No fighting at the table." he told Wufei firmly in his deep voice, and everyone at the table got the message.

"Rashid should live with us all the time." Trowa said aside to Quatre.

The blonde smiled and nodded in agreement.

The meal finished without further incident, and as Inka did the dishes, Quatre led the others into the living room. Large boxes were placed on each boy's lap, their names neatly printed on top. While the others carefully opened them, Duo plunged into his like a kid opening a Christmas present. He pulled out insulated, waterproof black pants and a matching jacket, thick insulated boots, a bright multicolored woven cotton scarf and matching stocking cap, and fur lined gloves designed for extreme cold.

"Ah,..... thanks Quatre." Duo looked up as he spoke, his face a mixture of curiosity and sarcasm. "But aren't you a little late? We could have used these when we landed. And by the way, where are we?"

"Iceland." Heero answered.

"How did you know?" Quatre asked obviously surprised.

Heero just shrugged. "I have my ways." he answered.

"O..... kay." Quatre said, then turned to the others. "Everyone get dressed, were going out."

"This will keep me warm?" Duo asked looking skeptically at the outerwear.

"I promise." Quatre replied. "And if you get cold, you can always come back in."

Seeming satisfied at his friend's response, Duo started to dress, pulling the pants over his jeans. The others followed his example.

The entire house had been shuttered and curtained, blocking any view of their current position. The four pilots had supposed it was done to keep out the cold drafts of icy air they'd experienced last night. It was only a few moments before the five stood before the front door, bundled against the piercing cold going outside promised. As Rashid opened it, a look of shock and surprise was written on each of the four faces. Before them stood a white wonderland with snow falling like sifted powder sugar from the sky.

"Surprise!" the blonde teen crowed happily, completely pleased with the expression on his friends' faces.

Rashid helped Quatre push the four outside and shut the door behind them.

The initial shock wearing off, Duo took the lead and ran out from the entry, his boots scrunching and squeaking into the untarnished white snow. Pulling the scarf off from around his nose and mouth, he tried to catch snowflakes on his tongue. His breaths of laughter came out in the form of puffs of steam, delighting him further. Stretching his arms out from his shoulders, he twirled in the falling snow.

Quatre stood back and watched his friends. A feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment filled him as he saw the look of wonderment on the other's faces. Even Heero's normally placid expression had changed to one of curiosity. He pulled the glove off his right hand and let the snow fall and melt on his warm skin.

Wufei turned his face upwards as did Trowa to look at the white cascading down in drifts from the clouds above.

"Quatre!" Duo called out, his voice reflecting his awe, his face was beaming with joy. He was quite a picture as snow dusted his eyelashes and shoulders. "Thank you." He beamed, seeming to be at a loss for any other words. A rare moment indeed.

"Your welcome." the Arabian smiled back, his heart warmer than it had been in a while.

"What do we do now, besides appreciating the whiteness?" Wufei, the ever practical one, asked.

"We build two walls and have a snowball fight." Quatre answered just as Rashid came out of the house dressed properly for the frigid weather.

Duo ran past the others to clasp the Maguanac's arm. "I'm on his team!" he announced.

The next hour was spent building two snow barricades, roughly thirty five feet apart and facing each other. The ten minutes after that were used to build up a supply of snowballs.

Wufei, Heero and Trowa squared off against the other three.

"Ready?" Quatre asked, shouting across the distance. At a nod of the Heero's head, the next order was issued. "Attack!"

Thus began the snowball fight. The first supply of snowballs were quickly used up. Rashid made large, tightly compacted snowballs and handed them to the two boys who hefted them with amazing precision towards the other wall. Duo's hi-lobbed toss was timed perfectly as Heero's head popped up behind the wall. It landed squarely on top of his head. Duo fell back on the ground crowing hysterically from the stupefied look on Heero's face, only to be stopped short a moment later as a rude ball of packed snow landed on his upturned face. He sputtered and coughed as he wiped the snow from his face. Rashid and Quatre were bent over with laughter at the sight. He smiled in good humor at them, blinking through a white mask, his eyes looking owlish.

"You look like a demented snowman." Quatre laughed grabbing his aching sides.

"I think they are out of ammunition." Rashid spoke softly from his crouched position behind the wall as he continued to chuckle, his eyes ever watchful the other wall of snow. "Now would be a good time for our offensive move."

"Come on, Duo. Grab as many snow balls as you can carry. Rashid will be our shield." Quatre helped give his friend a hand up who smiled wickedly at the new plan. Rashid led the way around their own protective barrier to rush towards the other snow wall. The two smaller pilots, with arms full of snowballs, were sheltered behind him.

Trowa's head popped up, eyes widening at the new tactic. "Attack!" he yelled and threw several snowballs hitting the tall man rushing towards them and acting as a shield. Duo and Quatre peeked out from behind their moving human wall to throw precise hits at the Heavyarm's pilot. Heero and Wufei popped up to deliver several more volleys, scoring direct hit on the Maguanac who stoically kept advancing.

The three retreated behind the wall to quickly prepare more snowballs, their supply exhausted. Yet as they did, their three attacking opponents rounded the wall of snow protecting them and flung their snowballs at the half-prepared defenders.

Laughter and snowballs filled the air at close range, and when the snowballs were gone, they threw arm fulls of snow at each other. Duo threw himself on top of Wing's pilot, knocking him to the ground. Heero turned around and grabbed hold of his attacker. He and Duo rolled over and over each other in the snow, both laughing. Heero finally overpowered the lighter boy, coming to rest on top of the Deathscythe pilot. Duo was gasping for air as he laughed, his face was red from the cold and his body trembled beneath him. It was obvious from his uncovered face that he was happy beyond words. Heero smiled down at the nearly exhausted boy.

"I win." Heero stated with a satisfied leer.

"Like hell you did!" Duo shot back with a laugh and using his arms and hips, bucked the other pilot from off of the top of his stomach. Heero flopped down in the snow next to him. Both boys lay still in the snow, content to watch the gentle flakes of peaceful snow fall from above them as they caught their breath.

Duo turned his head and looked at his normally silent friend. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" he asked in a tone of reverence.

Heero nodded and the American closed his eyes as he continued. "I tried to imagine what snow was like, but I never dreamed it was so soft....nor so cold, or that it would crunch under your feet. They say no two snowflakes are alike. Seems impossible doesn't it?" he asked, more to himself then to his friend. Now that he had stopped moving, the cold began to seep through his insulated suit, and he began to shiver. His pounding heart began to slow and his breathing became easier. In the quiet, he could hear the soft laughter from the others to his left. It sounded like the snowball fight had come to an end. It was peaceful and quiet here, a world and a moment in time where they were far away from the battles and struggle to survive. Duo let the silence around him and the serenity of the blanket of white falling snow lull him into a peaceful, reflective state of mind.

"I swear you could fall asleep anywhere, Maxwell." Wufei's voice sounded above him. Duo was surprised to note that he was indeed, about to fall asleep and smiled a lazy smile as he opened his eyes to see the Chinese pilot standing above him with his hands on his hips wearing a sardonic grin on his face.

"You're probably right." he muttered and turned on his side to get more comfortable.

"Oh, no you don't." Wufei growled and abruptly pulled the resting boy to his feet. "Don't you know you can't go to sleep in the snow, or you may never wake up?"

"Nope." Duo answered as he looked up into the others onyx eyes. "Besides, that would never happen with you around, would it Wu-man?" He teased as he brushed the clinging snow from off of his red face.

"Time to go in!" Rashid's voice boomed the order. The boys offered only a weak protest, but in the end, the frigid cold won out.

Leaving their snow covered clothing and boots in the garage, the five sat in the kitchen with hot mugs of sweetened tea, warming them inside and out while they recounted their snowball battle to Inka as she baked them cinnamon rolls.

Duo put his mug down and turned to press his damp braid with a towel. "That was great Quatre. What else can we do in the snow?" He was already thinking of their next adventure.

The Arabian's eyes lit up. "Well, I've got skis for cross-country skiing, and in the garage are several snow mobiles.

Four pairs of eyes lit up with anticipation.

"We'll have to wait until our snow suits dry, and if we pair up, we can all go out together.

"I get to drive first!" Duo waved his hand as if in a class.

Wufei raised an eyebrow. "I nominate Heero to be partnered with Duo. All in favor, signal with your right hand."

Four right hands rose-Duo voted for Heero also. The pilot in question sighed deeply.

"You guys hate me, don't you?" he asked sullenly.

"Naw," Duo slapped his partner on the shoulder and chuckled. "it's just that you're Mr. Indestructible, the perfect partner for Shinigami."

"Fine." the Japanese boy replied. "But I get to drive back."

"Wait a minute," Duo's eyes widened. "you don't ever drive, you're worse than I am!" His facial features had changed from amusement to alarm. Then suddenly, his mouth turned up and beamed a brilliant smile. "Man, this is gonna be great, like a roller coaster ride." He then turned to look at the blonde. "You do have emergency kits handy, don't you, Quatre?"

The other four pilots groaned as the Deathscythe pilot jabbered on about the upcoming snowmobile ride.

Quatre smiled contentedly. His friends were happy and they would have two more days filled with snow fun before they would need to head back to the safehouse. He hoped they would all survive it. Mentally, he checked off the first of many ideas on his list for future activities he had planned for his friends. Yes, fun times would balance the battles and pain. Somehow, and he would see to it, they would all come through the war having good memories to balance the bad.

Gotta have a little fluff once in a while to survive the angst.


on to dfa 6: 'a little time off - quatre's list 2'

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