Reality Storm: Chapter 4
by K.Huntsman
released 25th July 2000

 

Shin was at one with the universe. He floated in the lake and looked up at the sky where, as Touma had promised, silver streaks of light had begun painting the heavens. The worst of the day's heat had faded, which had perked up several individuals, and on the shore there was a party going, complete with a small bonfire on which to roast hotdogs and marshmallows. Shin spared a prayer that Shuu wouldn't repeat his experiment of cooking both at the same time.

The water surrounded him, caressed him, bouyed him up and left him weightless. His hair floated around him and life was good.

He wondered if there would ever be another summer this perfect.

 

Trowa watched silently as the others laughed and joked and cooked and ate. It was strange to see a scene like this when all he'd known his entire life was war. But here there had been no war.

No, that wasn't right. These strangers had known war of some type. Something in the backs of their eyes said so. He wondered if his fellow Gundam pilots had seen that, the faint, hollow echoes of soul-scarring battle and the way these others moved like trained warriors.

He couldn't think of a full-scale war which had happened during the lifetime of these others.

But... they had accepted the arrival of five war machines from the future without the blink of an eye.

The white tiger stretched from where he lay beside his master, then stood and padded over to Trowa.

Tigers didn't have brown eyes, did they?

Byakuen stretched again and laid down beside Trowa, placing a heavy head in the pilot's lap. Trowa scratched under the tiger's chin.

"Hey, Trowa, are tigers usually that tame?" Duo asked from where he sat near the fire, pointing a straightened coat hanger into the fire, a hot dog cooking on the far end of it.

"No," Trowa answered, feeling the tiger stretch his neck further to get more scratches. "I've never seen one so calm around people. Even at the circus they're not allowed to wander around freely."

"Byakuen is a special case," Nasuti said, reaching over to scratch at the large cat's stomach.

The tiger started purring and Trowa tensed up.

"What is it, Trowa?" Quatre asked, blue eyes large and worried.

Through his surprise, Trowa managed to reply, "Tigers... can't purr."

 

They're catching on, Ryou, Shuu warned.

It's not like I can keep Byakuen from purring! Ryou replied.

Don't worry about it, Touma advised with a quick glance into each of the others' eyes. If they find out, they find out. I think they're unlikely to tell anyone.

Shuu stood up. "Hey, Shin!" he bellowed out at the darkened lake, "do you want any hot dogs or should we finish them off without you?"

"Be there in a second," a distant reply came back across the water. I agree with Touma.

Trowa already knows we're not normal, Seiji commented. I think Heero does as well, and Duo also wouldn't surprise me.

How so? Touma asked.

They're warriors with clear eyes and pure hearts.

 

Quatre shook his head. There it was again, that low buzzing in his head that almost sounded like whispers.

/Maybe I'm going crazy,/ he thought. /Or is my space heart trying to tell me something?/ If it was, the message wasn't very clear.

 

Heero looked up at the stars, counting their patterns.

If he had possessed any doubts, the night sky alleviated them.

There were no colonies glittering among the stars.

Was the war proceeding at the same rate on the other side of the time rift? Or, once they crossed it again, would they find themselves at the moment of their departure?

What was happening while he was here?

 

"Heero, we can't go to town!" Quatre insisted. "What if one of us bumps into our ancestors or something and mess things up so that we're never born?"

"What if we bump into Khushrenada's and the entire war is eliminated?" Trowa rebutted, leaning against the side of the jeep.

Wufei stiffened in the shade of the porch. "Dishonorable," he growled.

"Chill, chill, Wufei," Duo placated. "Trowa was just kidding. I think."

"One of us needs to go to ensure that the parts are satisfactory," Heero said, glaring at random. "None of them would know that by looking."

Quatre started as Touma flipped down nonchalantly from the second balcony and landed next to him. He still wasn't used to the way that their new friends had of casually using such advanced athletic skills. "You do realize," the blue-haired teenager said, "that whether or not you five are capable of changing the timeline is an inapplicable argument."

The five of them looked expectantly (and quizzically) at Touma. He sighed. "If the five of you do change the past in any way," he clarified, "that will already have been reflected in your present."

"Translation?" asked Duo.

"What you will do has already been done. Your past is already shaped by the effects of your being in our time," Shin answered, stepping out onto the porch. He threw a glittering silver something towards Touma, who caught it without looking. It turned out to be a set of keys. "Nasuti says be sure to fill up the jeep before you come back, Touma, and I say get the groceries last so that they don't spend all day in the car and spoil." His glare was pointed.

Touma colored slightly.

"Any arguments?" Heero asked for the last time.

Quatre sighed and shook his head. He still thought it was a bad idea--there were too many unknowns--but he appeared to be outvoted, and Heero was right. They did need someone to check the parts.

"Unless something goes wrong, we'll be back before dark," Touma told Shin before slipping into the driver's side of the jeep.

"Don't say things like that!" Shin cried. "You're tempting fate!"

Heero got in the passenger side, and the pilots adjourned as the red Samurai roared to life and spun down the gravel driveway. Duo cast a final look after the disappearing shape of the vehicle and sighed. Then the braided pilot turned to Shin and asked brightly, "I was told you're the one I should ask about swimming lessons?" Quatre eeped as Duo, with a manic expression, latched onto his arm. "Neither one of us is real hot in the water."

"Duo...!"

Shinigami turned innocent eyes onto Quatre. "Yes?"

Quatre cursed mentally. Duo would remember that he couldn't swim either. "Nothing," he said.

"Right, then," Duo said, turning back to Shin. "Now, what do a couple of Gundam pilots have bribe you with to get taught?"

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