"This is all we've got between us." Duo displayed the cereal bar and the single portion of rations, their only food. "I figured you'd need it more, so I waited."
"You need food too."
Duo shrugged. "You're in worse shape than I am."
"Not really. Look at yourself." Heero pointed to the wound on Duo's side, which was again crusted with dried blood. "Lets just eat what we have, and then figure out what to do."
That issue settled, Duo grabbed his cereal bar and Heero the rations, and the sat before the fire and ate. Slowly. They made the morsels last, because neither one of them could say when the next time they would eat was going to be. Heero hadn't gotten to the point of hunger yet, but he realized that eating would help his body return to normal. Duo, on the other hand, was famished, and the cereal bar merely awakened the monster in his stomach, leaving him grumbling and growling for more. When he sighed after finishing the bar, Heero offered him some of his ration, since there was considerably more in the foil packet than what Duo had consumed in his cereal bar.
Their grand meal now a thing of the past, Heero sat putting his socks and boots back on. He was still weak, still chilled, but thankfully his body seemed to be no worse for wear. Rising slowly to his feet, he stretched different parts of him, satisfied that there didn't seem to be any lasting damage. They had now been stranded for over twenty-four hours, and there hadn't been any sign of rescue, so Heero was anxious to begin doing whatever he could to get them back to Peacemillion, or to civilization, at least.
"We need to try to figure out a few things," the Japanese boy said, matter-of-factly.
"We need to get some more wood for this fire, too, or risk wasting another flare," the second boy answered, standing as well. He slid his pants on, and his socks and boots, making sure to shake all the sand out of them, or risk getting some nasty blisters on his feet.
The two boys eventually made their way back to the stand of trees to gather more branches for their flame. Carrying armloads back to the little campsite, they made a big pile of surplus, and then tossed a couple of loads on the flame itself so they could wander without worrying that the fire would die out. Estimating they had a good two hours of burn piled on, Duo checked his watch, and they headed out, making their way back into the wood to see if they could locate anything - people, food, water, shelter - whatever there was to find.
They walked deep into the wood, climbing over and through and under things; there were lots of thin trees and low brush, and not much else. No trails to indicate wildlife, no tree markings, not much of anything, really. Just trees and brush. And birds. Lots of birds, all chirping and calling in the bright rays of the sun that poked through the thin forest canopy. Duo hadn't really noticed anything else alive the few times he'd come into the woods to gather sticks and branches, but this little wood, as sparse as it was, was alive with the heavenly sound of tropical music. That struck the boy as odd - the fact that it looked sort-of like a rainforest in the woods yet the water was so cold, but then again, he never claimed to be the world's greatest geographer, especially when it came to the Earth. Born and raised on the L2 Colony, all he knew was only what he'd been told about the earth - he was experiencing it all for the first time.
Heero estimated that based on the longitude and latitude they were flying when the crash occurred, they were somewhere in the far south pacific, which could explain the cool waters and partially tropical environment. When the two pilots left on their mission, they departed from one of their more remote hiding spots on the Asian continent and flew south, because Peacemillion was somewhere over the southern hemisphere of the earth. They'd already flown past Australia, putting them flying over the Pacific Ocean, when they were shot down. Unfortunately though, there was no way for the boy to guess more than that - an approximation of where he "thought" they could be, but nothing more.
"Heero, do you know if that shuttle had an armed location device in it?"
After a few minutes and climbing over a few felled trees, he answered. "No. Remember, we were going under cover, so even if there was, it would have been disengaged."
"So... who knows that we're missing?"
"I guess they all will when we don't show up."
Duo sighed. "Great."
The two boys ventured further into the forest, hoping to find anything that would aid their existence, and were met with disappointment.
"This isn't looking very good," Duo said.
The other boy was silent as he kept going.
For another thirty minutes by Duo's watch they traipsed all over the wood, finding nothing of much use for them, so they decided it was time to turn back. They arduously made their way back the way they came, noting the funny shaped trees and bushes that they'd picked as landmarks. Once they could see the beach ahead of them, Duo began to gather more fallen branches to bring back to the fire, until he had another armload. Heero did the same, and they added to their pile once they were back at the little campsite. Duo tended the fire for a few minutes, getting the blaze going full tilt, and then sat down next to his friend.
"This is bad." The longhaired boy said as he inspected his sore side. "What the hell are we gonna do?"
Heero thought for a moment. "The birds."
"What about them? Think we can catch one?"
"You saw the type of trees in there." Heero lay back on the sand, using his balled-up space suit as a pillow.
"Those birds aren't eating those trees. There's got to be something else that they're eating."
Duo contemplated that idea for a bit. "But where?"
"I guess we follow the birds." Heero concluded. "If they are living here, there has to be a way that they are eating and drinking, so we have to watch the birds."
"We could just try to catch one of them, too." Duo added, but Heero never said anything else after that before he fell asleep.
When Duo awoke next, it was sundown and his side was aching terribly. Heero was awake, sitting up and watching the surf. He looked down at himself and there was fresh blood oozing again, down his side and over the waistband of his pants, and the wound was full of sand again.
Heero turned. "What."
"I have to go clean this out again," Duo said as he stood, turning toward the other boy so he could see the wound.
"Pretty bad." Heero said, emotionlessly. He might have been concerned, but who knew? It was so hard to try to guess what was going on in his mind most of the time, Duo usually didn't bother anymore.
"Hurts like a son-of-a-bitch, too."
That said, Duo took off his boots and socks, and head out toward the raging waters. Just before he reached the ocean, he took off his pants, but then waded in with them in his hands. From where Heero was sitting, it looked like he was cleaning all the blood off the garment first, before he came out of the water and laid them on the beach. Then the longhaired boy went back into the shallow surf and tended to his injury before returning to the campsite, pants in hand, legs pink from the cold. There was a stream of watered-down blood trailing from his side from where the wound had been disturbed once more by the cleansing.
"I saw shadows in the water. Fish or something."
"Hn?" Heero looked up at the prospect of catching some fish.
"Lets build a trap... like a crab trap. Maybe we can catch something?" Duo stood hovering over the pile of twigs for the fire.
"We need something to tie it all together with," Heero pointed out.
They both thought.
"There were vines around a lot of those trees, weren't there?" Heero asked.
"I think so."
"We can try that. Young vines that will stay together." Grabbing his knife and taking it out of its protective cover, Heero stood. "We need to get some vines."
"It's almost dark, Heero."
"You start making a trap and keep the fire going. I'll get some vines." Then, in an instant, he was headed back to the wood.
During the time that Heero was gathering vines, Duo diligently began to pull out all of the straightest pieces of twig from the big pile of firewood. With his pocketknife he trimmed them to almost-uniform size, and cut off any shoots or leaves, leaving a clean, straight stick.
Heero returned carrying a bunch of young, supple vines over his shoulder, and tossed them down beside Duo. Then he dropped something else at the boy's pile of twigs.
"Eww! What the hell is that?" Duo exclaimed, looking at the disgusting thing that Heero had deposited in the sand.
"Dead bird," the quiet boy responded. It had already been dead for a little while, as was evidenced by its partly decomposed state.
"Gee, thanks. I never knew you thought so highly of me, Heero."
Heero glared at Duo. "We need to put something IN the trap, moron!"
"I know, I know! Just kidding, Geez!" Duo then ignored the other boy and continued his work on the trap, which was slowly taking shape before him.
Sitting in the sand, Heero joined Duo in finishing the trap, winding pieces of vine and tying knots as the other boy held the sticks in place. Before too long, they had converted the pile of sticks into a tightly spaced twig box that had an opening in the middle of one side for the fish to swim into. Then, as Duo watched, making wry comments the whole time, Heero plucked the dead bird, and tossed its carcass into the opening in the trap.
"It's ready," he said, and they both stood to take it to the water. It was nearly pitch black by this time, but there was a brilliant, full moon to aid in their work.
When they got to water's edge, Heero waded in this time, bringing the trap with him. He'd fashioned a length of "rope" to tie to the trap from a much longer, thicker vine that he'd found, and used that as a makeshift leash for the box, so they could find it again in the morning. Walking out waist deep, to the point where the waves wouldn't push the trap back onto the shoreline, the boy submerged it, but it was moving too much. Not until securing the trap with some beach rocks in the bottom did the trap stay mostly put, and he waded back out of the water, trailing the length of rope behind him. Then tying the rope around a large, jagged shore rock, Duo blew a kiss in the direction of the water, and they trudged their way back to the campsite.
Duo woke once more to the terrible complaining of the wound in his side. It was early morning and the sun was only just beginning to peek over the horizon. They'd been stranded now for two nights. Pushing himself into a sitting position, the boy remembered the trap, and quickly forgot about his pain as he jumped to his feet and took off at a trot to see if they'd caught anything. Reaching the shoreline, he followed the rope into the surf, pants and all, until he reached the trap, and pulled it out of the water, ecstatic.
They'd actually caught something.