The next few days passed slowly and uneventfully. The boys occupied most of the day now with what had become a routine for them. Upon waking, they checked the trap and cooked up whatever they were lucky enough to have caught. After eating, they would forage in the wood for more kindling, then pile the fire high with branches and twigs to keep it going strong. Then once the "chores" were done and the trap was re-submerged, they went back to the stream for a nice long drink. Returning to the campsite a while later they napped by the fire, getting up to check on the trap as dusk was nearing, then went to sleep and did it all over again.
The weather held out for them, luckily, and the temperature stayed mild, although it was by no means hot, and there was no more rain. That alone was a Godsend, since it meant that they didn't have to scramble to keep the fire lit. However, when the inevitability happened that it did rain again, as they knew it would, Heero suggested that they keep a careful eye on the skies and winds. If they suspected another storm, they would take some of their fire, via flaming torches, and ignite the pile of kindling they'd left ready and waiting just inside the mouth of the little cavern. Satisfied that they'd planned out their best options, Duo and Heero spent a lot of time just resting and of all things, talking.
"So Heero," Duo said, reclined back against his rolled up spacesuit, watching fluffy clouds float by. "You never did tell me how you came to be a Gundam pilot. What, did you volunteer or something?"
"I didn't have any choice." Heero was lying back as well, his eyes closed, his eyes folded behind his head.
"What do you mean? Hell, I thought it would be a whole lot better than the way I was living at the time, so when I was asked if I wanted to do that, I figured why the hell not? Heh... show's how much we really know when we're only twelve."
"I got picked to do this. Nobody asked me if I wanted to. I had to."
There was a pause, then Duo answered "Well, that sure sucks."
"I was raised by J specifically to do this," Heero added, and his monotone was back. He'd really begun to loosen up around the other boy, but talking about his past seemed to reinforce the rigidity that had always been a part of him.
"What about your parents?" Duo asked.
"I don't remember them. I was taken away from them too young, I guess. Because they knew then that they wanted to turn me into what I am now."
"And just what are you, Heero? No different than any of the rest of us, really."
Heero sighed. "You got to live. Maybe not the best of lives, but you at least got to know what it's all about. Being a kid. Being our age. I got to learn combat training and seven types of martial arts, and how to hack computer systems, and..." he paused for a second. "...how to kill the most people at one time to complete my mission."
Duo blinked. "If you didn't want to do it, why didn't you just say so?"
"Who listens to an eleven year old kid who has the ability to blow up buildings and be his own militia? They knew what they were doing, and trained me carefully and thoroughly. If I protested, they punished me." Heero's voice seemed to get weak at the end of his statement.
"Punished you? What do you mean punished you?" There was no reply, and Duo decided to just let it die.
Surprisingly, Heero was the one who kept the conversation going.
"What about you?" he asked the other boy.
"Weeeelll...," Duo began, "Lets just say that while piloting 'ol Deathscythe has its ups and its downs, the lifestyle is a walk in the park compared to what I'm used to. Heh...one bona-fide homeless street kid, is what you're lookin' at. Folks killed by the rebellion before I can remember anything, and spent most of my life living with a pack of kids just like myself - all war orphans."
Heero listened attentively, but did not utter a sound.
"So anyway, I never really had anybody either, but the group of us, we were kind of a family. We had to be. The older kids took care of the younger kids, and we all did our part for the group. Wasn't until I wound up with the Sister that I got to know what having a home was, and even then, it was an orphanage...but that's a story for another day." Duo turned his head to face the other boy then. "Honestly...what do you think our chances are, getting back to the others?"
"We should check the trap." Heero started to get up, noting that the skies were dimming, and his stomach was growling again.
Their sixth day since crashing was an eventful one, with many ups and downs. The winds had whipped violently overnight, and it was all Heero and Duo could do to keep the fire lit and debris from scattering all over the beach. Heero's hand was burned slightly from his continued attempts to grab pieces of branches that tried to blow away without him heeding the fact that they were aflame - his main concern was keeping the fire going, no matter what. The other annoyance that night being the fact that with the biting winds, the boys were back to shivering again, but this time couldn't go back to the shelter of the cave, for risk of losing the fire.
"Fuck!" Duo had shouted into the wind, being easily drowned out. "If this is what being on a tropical island is like, remind me to take a vacation at the North Pole next time. Can't be much worse!"
By the time morning came, bringing with it warming sunlight and calmer skies, both boys were exhausted. Heero forced himself to go down to the shoreline to check on the trap, and he was met with two things. First, the disappointment that not only had nothing been caught in the trap, but the trap was washed onto the beach, destroyed. The second thing he found gave him a glimmer of hope, though. It was a section of the shuttle cockpit, miraculously the section housing the location device, and it had washed into shallow water overnight. The box containing the first aid kit was fitted onto the same panel of fuselage, but the box was crushed and all its contents were gone.
"Duo... part of the ship," Heero said, catching his breath after having sprinted back to the campsite. "Part of the shuttle's washed up in the surf. The location device is still with it."
Eyes wide with disbelief, Duo jumped to his feet. "Do you think it will work? Maybe it will work, and we can get out of here!
"I dunno... I have to get it out of the water first, and see if it survived the crash."
"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go do it!"
Heero stopped the other boy, who was already headed toward the shoreline. "I can do it. You stay here. I'll be back with the box. Just give me your knife with the gadgets built in."
"You can't pull a piece of shuttle onto the sand yourself. How big is this thing anyway?"
"I can do it." Heero was insistent in not letting the other boy strain himself by helping him.
Duo, flustered, put his hands on his hips and said, "I'm helping you. You're not superman, you know!"
"Neither are you!" Came the abrupt reply. For a few moments the two exchanged harsh glares until Heero simply turned and left, on his way to take care of getting that location device secured, and right behind him followed Duo, determined to keep up with his friend.
Collectively the boys heaved and pulled the section of fuselage, a piece about six feet by four feet and probably weighing a few hundred pounds at the least, until it rested on the sand. That was no easy task for the two of them, let alone if Heero had tried to do it himself. They wound up using Mother Nature to their best advantage, and waited for the waves to roll in, each time pushing the piece of metal and fiberglass as water flowed under it, each time getting it a few inches further out of the water. When finally it was far enough out of the surf that Heero could dismantle the casing on the location device, they both fell back in the sand, completely spent, to rest and catch their breath. It was then that Duo first complained about not feeling well.
"I told you that I didn't want you exerting yourself!" Heero said to him, annoyed. Duo shook his head.
"There's NO way in hell you could have done that yourself."
"Regardless, nothing," the longhaired boy added. "I want both of us to get off this damn island alive."
Heero shot Duo an icy glare. "Don't you think that's why I wanted you to let me do it myself?"
Duo didn't answer that comment, instead letting his attention be occupied by the throbbing pain that was radiating through his body at that moment, trying unsuccessfully to hide his grimaces from the other boy.
By that evening, Heero had stripped the fuselage section of the box containing the tracking device and carried it back to the campsite, where Duo was working on rebuilding what was left of the trap. For quite a while they both worked in silence, until the trap was complete and Duo got up to take it back to the water. He sauntered off slowly, mindful of his sore body, and Heero shook his head as he watched him go. After twenty minutes or so Duo returned, having tied and set the trap, and he lay down at his makeshift bedroll without saying a word.
"It seems to be in good shape," Heero said, commenting on the condition of the device. He was still meddling with its internals, making sure that anything that could be broken was still intact. Not that he had a way to fix it if it wasn't, but it calmed him to do that.
"Good," was all Duo said as he closed his eyes and rested. He was still exhausted from earlier in the day, and his normally fair, pink coloration was looking a bit yellow and pasty.
"I switched it on. No way, really, to know if its working or not, other than to just wait and see what happens."
"I'll be here," the longhaired boy gave a halfhearted attempt at sarcasm, conveying instead that, as Heero had feared, his condition was finally starting to slip.