Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

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Dinky
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Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by Dinky » July 16th, 2008, 12:02 am

Mystic Moon Vacation

AN: I do not own Escaflowne or its characters. This is just a stupid lil fic idea that's been rattling around my head forever. So today I decided to finally write chapter one. This is my first fanfic with an OC, because in general I don't like main character OC, but whatever. This is meant to be a humorous, non-serious fanfic about Van visiting Hitomi for Christmas and New Years, and I just hope it will end up being somewhat amusing.. Anyway, Hitomi (and OC Annie) are 21, living in MN, United States, and they invite Van to visit for the holidays. So, we know how Hitomi dealt with suddenly being on Gaea. I've always wondered how Van would act visiting the Mystic Moon. Oh, and Allen. Yeah, he comes along...and sorry Allen fans, but I like to make life misereable for him! Please feel free to read and review and flame. I'm just hoping this doesn't suck too bad! If so, I'll stop updating!

PS: This chapter is somewhat boring. I promise to try to up the action with the next chapter!
PPS: Oldwrench is making me post this---I'm so embarrassed!!!!!

Chapter One: The Uneventful Arrival

Hitomi leaned against the hood of her car, her breath coming out in little white puffs of air. She was parked in the middle of nowhere, empty, snow-covered fields stretching out on all sides. There was no sign of human activity for miles. Which, because of the reason she stood there waiting, was perfect.

The butterflies in Hitomi’s stomach felt more like trapped parakeets trying to escape. No matter what she tried, she couldn’t calm them. She was nervous, excited, terrified, and elated all at the same time. No wonder she felt like she was going to explode.

Van was coming today, this afternoon, to spend the Christmas holidays with her. It was so unbelievable and unexpected, she still more than half expected that he wouldn’t appear. So as she stared at the leaden, grey winter skies, she was torn between hope and fear. Hope that he would show up just as planned, and afraid that she was just dreaming after all.

Huddling farther into her coat for warmth, Hitomi silently cursed, and blessed, the one who had started this whole thing in the first place. Sometimes, Hitomi wished she’d never breathed a word of Gaea or Van to Annie, her psychotic roommate and firm best friend. But Annie had a way of weaseling every stinking secret out of each person she met. And poor Hitomi had been no match for her; basically just off the plane from Japan to the United States, a college freshman in her new dorm room with her intense, insane, new college roommate, Annie Goettenberg. Hitomi spilled the beans in less than a month. And Annie, crazy, unpredictable Annie, had believed every word of it. The two became tighter than sisters.

Annie had decided, seeing as it was the first year that the two of them lived in the small, somewhat run-down house she had inherited from her grandmother, that Van must be their guest for Christmas. And when Annie decided something, it was final. Hitomi was stubborn, but Annie was an unstoppable force. And besides, Hitomi desperately wanted to see Van again.

Oh, they saw each other- in a dreamlike way. In those moments between waking and sleeping, sometimes they would meet, and it was almost like being together. They couldn’t touch, and their images were blurry and transparent, but they could talk, and see each other’s faces, just for a brief while. Every night, Hitomi prayed that he would appear, and when he did, she’d memorize every blurry line of him, to cherish until the next time they met. And they’d always talk about someday, someday when they’d meet again in person.

“Invite Van for Christmas!” Annie had demanded. And Hitomi had asked him, nervously, expecting him to immediately dismiss the idea as impossible.

“Van,” she’d said quietly, wishing as always that she could touch him, “you know how we talk about seeing each other for real again someday?”

Van scrutinized her silently and nodded. She gathered up her courage.

“Well, Annie would like to invite you to stay with us over the holiday season,” Hitomi let out in a rush. She chewed her bottom lip nervously as Van just stared at her and didn’t say anything immediately.

“It’s just…well, Christmas is a big deal here, and it’ll be the first Christmas without her grandma, and she’d really like you to come and share it with us,” Hitomi explained, wanting Van to stop staring at her with that look and say something.

“I know you’re busy, and you probably can’t, but, well, we both would like it if you could. I—I would like it if you could…” Hitomi trailed off and wondered if her face was glowing from the hot blush on her cheeks.

“When is this Christmas?” Van asked quietly. Hitomi nearly squealed with delight. He hadn’t rejected the idea outright!

“A month. Annie—I mean we—we were hoping you could come a few days before Christmas and stay until after New Year’s, which is a week after Christmas. I told her you probably couldn’t come for that long, though,” Hitomi said, trying to keep her soaring hope out of her voice.

Van studied his feet, thinking, calculating. Hitomi tried not to fidget.

“I think I could manage that,” he said, looking up with a slight smile. Hitomi stared a moment in shock, then jumped up and down a few times, laughing. Van just smiled wider.

“Do you really mean it, Van? You’ll come to Earth?” Hitomi exclaimed. She silently cursed the fact that she couldn’t hug him until his ribs cracked.

Van, if she only knew, was cursing the same fact. “Don’t get too excited yet. I have to talk it over with my council first.”

“Oh,” Hitomi said, her smile falling slightly. “But you’re the king, so you can just tell them what you’re going to do, right?”

“Sort of,” Van said, shaking his head but smiling. “There’ll be some details to work out, though. I’ll discuss it with them tomorrow, I promise.”

And true to his word, he worked out the details, and the planned arrival was set. For today. This freezing cold December afternoon, in the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere. And Hitomi was going crazy waiting for him. Oh, and Allen Shezar. She kept forgetting that somewhat irksome little detail.

Somehow, some way, Van’s council decided it wasn’t safe for Van to go to the Mystic Moon alone. When Van had argued that Hitomi had invited him, that it would be awkward and rude to send someone whom Hitomi didn’t know with him, the council had turned around and asked Allen Shezar, of all people, to accompany him. Van was furious, and Hitomi, though annoyed, had laughed when he told her. It would make for a very interesting visit. Annie and Allen would mix like oil and water.

Hitomi glanced at her watch again, though the action was pointless. There wasn’t any way they could set a specific time, just mid afternoon. And it was mid afternoon, and she was cold, and he wasn’t here.

The iron-grey clouds above her swirled, sparkling with energy. Hitomi jerked herself upright expectantly. The brilliant blue pillar of light burst out of the clouds, so bright Hitomi had to shade her eyes. She could see two forms descending in the light, and her breath caught raggedly in her throat. She was actually going to see him again, touch him, feel him, smell him!

The figures touched ground, and Hitomi hurtled herself forward, impatient to prove to herself that Van was solid, real. Before the light had fully dissipated, before Van had gotten his bearings, Hitomi reached him, nearly knocking both of them over as she tackled him in a tight hug.

The smell of him, of rain, of green fields, filled her senses, and she could feel his strong, strong arms wrap around her to crush her to him in response through her thick winter coat. Damn those layers of clothes! She wanted to feel his heartbeat. They pulled back to look at each other’s faces, smiling. Both reached up and touched the other’s face; she forgetting that she was wearing thick gloves and he oblivious to the biting cold. They could’ve stayed like that for hours.

A discreet cough behind them broke the magic, and blushing, they pulled away and came back to reality. Hitomi looked around Van to the tall blond behind him. Allen Shezar looked exactly the same as the last time she had seen him, standing with Celena in the Asturian Palace gardens. His long blond hair looked bright against the drab surroundings, and his crisp blue uniform gleamed in the weak light.

“Hi, Allen! It’s so good to see you again!” she said brightly, smiling. She wanted to hug him too, but she felt awkward and killed the impulse. Besides, she didn’t really want to dispel the feeling of Van’s touch just yet.

“I am happy to see you, too, Hitomi,” Allen said, smiling and bowing slightly. Hitomi quelled a giggle. His proper, chivalrous mannerisms were not going to sit well with Annie, always unpredictable and informal. Hitomi turned back to grin at Van, and noticed he was dressed in the traditional thin Fanelian clothing.

“Eep! I forgot! You’re freezing!” she cried. Van just smiled at her. “Your coats are in the car, over here.”

“Is it always this cold on the Mystic Moon?” Allen queried as she led the way to her small blue vehicle. Hitomi laughed.

“Nope, although living here it seems like it,” Hitomi replied. “Minnesota winters are long and cold, way colder than any place in Japan. Actually, today’s not too bad.”

Van and Allen gave her incredulous looks as they pulled on the layers of long sleeved sweaters, thick coats, hats, gloves, and scarves she handed them. Van looked a little like a skater punk in a coat a little to big for him and the cap pulled down over his eyes. Annie had sent along a ridiculous tasseled hat for Allen, and Hitomi had to bite her lips hard to keep herself from laughing.

“Where’s your friend, Hitomi?” Van asked after he’d struggled into all the layers Hitomi had handed him. They seemed a bit excessive, but it was unbelievably cold!
“What? Oh, Annie. Well, she was planning on coming to meet you, but then she got distracted,” Hitomi replied as she closed the trunk of her little car.

Van, who knew something of Annie from Hitomi, just shook his head, but Allen looked a little confused.

“Distracted by what?” he asked. It was clear that he would never have let something distract him from what he believed were good manners, namely, meeting the guests that you had invited.

“I think it was Christmas cookie baking,” Hitomi said, shrugging, “but I’m not really sure. She said ‘there won’t be any dancing sugar plum fairies unless I catch that damn gingerbread man’. I just hope she doesn’t end up baking only gingerbread men this year.”

Now Van and Allen both looked confused, but Hitomi didn’t elaborate further. Instead she showed them how to work the seatbelts, Van sitting next to her in the front, and Allen squeezed into the back. Hitomi knew that Van, being slightly shorter than Allen, should have been sitting in the back, but she didn’t care.

She saw Allen jump slightly in the rearview mirror as her car roared to life. It may have been a tiny car, but it made up for size in noise. Even Van looked mildly uneasy as she swung out onto the road and took off towards home. Hitomi smiled and stepped harder on the gas.

“A bit faster than horses, huh?” she asked as they hurtled down the road. She could see Van surreptitiously gripping on to the car door, and she smiled wider.

“You’re sure you can handle this, uh, …car safely, Hitomi?” Allen asked, his eyes glued to the road ahead of them.

“Of course! Annie taught me how to drive, you know,” Hitomi answered. Van gripped the handle harder and tried not to look nervous. Hitomi laughed.

“You can relax. Annie drives like a maniac, but I’m pretty safe. I promise I’ll get us there in one piece.”

Allen didn’t reply, or at least he couldn’t be heard over the roar of the engine. Van just smiled and nodded, but didn’t relax his grip and seemed absorbed in staring out the windows. Hitomi turned up the volume on the radio and sped down the road towards home.
.....sometimes you have to lose your mind to find it......

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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by Sakura » July 16th, 2008, 3:20 pm

Dinky wrote:PPS: Oldwrench is making me post this---I'm so embarrassed!!!!!
Well, I made him to make you post this. He's not to blame. Who can resist cute cat girls with ears?
*hug* Welcome home! :kiss:
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » July 17th, 2008, 2:09 am

Since Dinky is all red faced and hiding under a box, I stole her story file for the second chapter. I'll post it quidk before she notices. Hope you enjoy this. Oh! I see she has 15 chapters...... I may need to sneak away with a few more soon, if I can't get her to post them.

Chapter Two

So, here we are finally meeting my OC Annie. I hope you like her!! This is kind of a longer chapter...hope it doesn't drag too much. Maybe it'll even be a little bit funny! So, I'm thinking this story will eventually be lime-flavored. How can you avoid it when Van and Hitomi meet again for the first time in years?! Raging hormones and all!! Yay! No microwave adventures yet...but we'll get there. Enjoy!

Laughter and Gingerbread Legs

Hitomi slowed the car to a halt and switched off the engine. The silence felt thick after the heavy roar of the engine, and both Allen and Van turned towards Hitomi expectantly. Grinning from ear to ear, Hitomi pointed directly out the passenger side window to a little brown house standing squished between identical blue and white houses. There were barely five feet between houses, and the snow was piled up almost to the bottom of the windows.

“That’s it! That’s my house. Well, actually it’s Annie’s house, but you know what I mean,” Hitomi said happily. Both men turned to scrutinize it, and their silence made Hitomi nervous. After all, the two of them lived in palaces and estates. Well, to hell with that! She loved their little house!

“Who cleans the snow off your walks?” Van suddenly asked. He liked the brown house. Maybe it was a weird thing to think about a house, but it looked friendly to him. But there was a lot of snow piled up, and it looked heavy.

Hitomi blinked, surprised. “Well, we do, mostly. There’s this old guy down the street that shovels everyone’s sidewalks, but Annie totally freaks out when he does ours.”

“Why? Isn’t it easier to have a man do it for you?” Van asked, turning back to look at her.

“He’s about 90 years old, and Annie’s convinced he’s going to keel over and die on our front steps one day. Anyway, let’s get inside,” Hitomi replied, unbuckling her seatbelt and opening her door.

Van and Allen made simultaneous movements to copy her actions. The seatbelts didn’t move. Van tried to pull the clasp out of the buckle first, then stopped and looked down to examine it. Allen managed to push the release button the first time, but didn’t push it down far enough and got his glove stuck. Hitomi stopped climbing out of the car to look at them; Van kept his head bent and studied the buckle, feeling like an idiot.

How did it work-? Ah! There was the clasp! Van pressed it down firmly and the seatbelt whipped off of him.

“That buckle catches sometimes,” Hitomi said kindly, and Van sincerely hoped she really believed it had just stuck and didn’t realize he hadn’t known what to do. He grabbed the silver handle in the car door and swung it open as Hitomi turned back to Allen.

“Do you need some help?” she asked the blond knight.

“No, no thank you. A little difficulty with these gloves, that’s all,” Allen replied, finally freeing his glove and successfully unbuckling himself.

Hitomi thought it highly unlikely that Allen, whom she had rarely ever seen without his trademark white gloves, had had difficulty with the ones she had given him, but she let it slide. Now, excited, she led the way up to the front door and ushered her two guests inside.

The inside of the house was blissfully warm, almost hot, after the biting cold outside, and the three peeled off their layers gratefully.

“This is the living room,” Hitomi said as she unwound her scarf. The two men were already eyeing the room, and she bent to gather up all their gear.

It was a nice room, with wood floors, a big comfortable looking couch under the windows along one wall, and a large, low, wooden table littered with books in front of it. Stairs led up to the left of the front door, and a piano sat along another wall. A large, arching doorway led into what Van assumed was a dining room, judging by the long wooden table dominating it. There was a perfusion of plants on every flat surface and trailing long vines down to the floor. The place looked cozy, inviting, just how he’d imagined Hitomi’s house would look.

Suddenly, sound blared out from a room beyond the dining room. Both Allen and Van jumped and reached for the handles of their swords. Music, loud, angry, clashing music, echoed off the walls and ceilings, beating against their eardrums. Van and Allen pulled their swords from their sheaths as a man’s voice shouted something in the noise, the words lost in the horrible grinding of the instruments.

Hitomi emerged from the little closet on the stair landing to see Van and Allen, swords at the ready, looking about to charge.

“Whoa, whoa, what are you doing? Put the swords away!” she shouted over the noise. She really had to tell Annie to keep the volume set to pleasantly painful instead of eardrum exploding while Van was here. Her shouts got their attention, and they turned to look at her.

“Who is that man?” Van shouted back, gesturing to where the music was coming from.

“It’s not a who! It’s a CD, just a recording. There’s no men here except you! So put the swords away!” Hitomi said, torn between being annoyed or amused at their knee-jerk defensive reaction.

“Seriously,” she continued as they obeyed her. “You can’t go whipping those things out while you’re here. Actually, you should probably just give them to me now until you go back to Gaea.”

“What?” Van and Allen said together, obviously unhappy about this turn of events.

“You can’t carry swords around here,” Hitomi explained. “You could get arrested or something for carrying a dangerous weapon. The swords are going to have to come off.”

“You mean it’s not legal to carry a weapon here?” Van asked, confused but unbuckling his sword belt and handing it to Hitomi. “How do people protect themselves?”

“I guess we figure it would cause more problems if everyone was walking around with a weapon,” Hitomi replied, taking their swords and storing them carefully in the closet. She motioned for them to follow her, and they walked through the small dining room and into a small room to the left.

The music here was even louder, and Hitomi stalked through the doorway to a small black rectangle sitting on the counter and pushed a button. Ah, silence.

Van and Allen followed her into the room and stared. The white cabinets had smears of frosting and cookie dough on them, dishes were piled up precariously high in the sink, and flour dust covered the floor. The countertops were covered in rows of little gingerbread men, every one perfectly decorated down to the last gumdrop button. And every one of them was missing its legs.

In the middle of this sea of chaos, sitting crosslegged on the floor, was a girl who looked as disheveled as the kitchen. A fine layer of flour dust covered her from the top of her red-bandana covered head to the tips of her bare, multi-colored toenails. Smears of frosting and dough decorated her face and the front of her tanktop and jean overalls. She looked up as Hitomi switched off the music.

“Oh, hey Tomi!” she said cheerfully, not moving to get up from her position on the floor. “I didn’t hear you come in!”
“No kidding,” Hitomi muttered under her breath. She turned back to Van. “This is Van Fanel, Annie.”

Annie grinned enthusiastically at him. “I’d say ‘nice to meet you’ but I feel like I already know you. You’re way hotter than I thought you’d be! I like your hair.”

Van blinked, a little taken back, but feeling complimented all the same. “Uh, thanks,” he replied, a little red in the cheeks.

“And this is Allen Shezar,” Hitomi continued. Allen bowed slightly, good manners covering up any thoughts he might have about the strange girl sitting on the floor.

Annie stared open mouthed at him for a moment. A long, painfully silent moment.

Don’t tell me she’s going to fall for him, too, Van thought irritably as Annie stared at the blond knight.

And then she started laughing. A full, all-out, side-splitting, belly laugh. She laughed so hard the tears made tracks down her flour covered cheeks, so uncontrollably she was gasping for breath. Allen just stood there uncomfortably, uncertain of what he had done to cause the outburst, and certain that Hitomi’s friend was completely and utterly insane. Van’s eyes widened in disbelief, and deep inside he could feel his ego doing a wild victory dance. Hitomi, poor Hitomi, looked torn between joining in the laughter and melting into a little puddle of embarrassment.

“Oh, Tomi, Tomi, why didn’t you warn me?” Annie wheezed out finally. She shook her head, wiped her cheeks, looked up at Allen and started giggling again. Allen frowned heavily. He was used to girls giggling flirtatiously around him, but this was definitely different. It was like she was actually laughing at him.

A loud buzzing erupted in the room, making everyone jump. Annie clambered to her feet and dived towards the sound.

“Stand back!” she shouted. “It’s the last batch!”

The three watched in astonishment as she snatched up two baking mitts and pressed a button, silencing the buzz. She hesitated for a moment, then quickly swung open the oven door. Van and Allen stepped back in surprise at the blast of hot air coming from the large, white box. Van stared in confusion. He couldn’t smell, see, or hear a fire. Where was the heat coming from?

Annie snatched the tray of golden brown gingerbread men and threw it on the only open space on the counter. She tossed the protective mitt off her right hand and seized a large and wicked looking butcher knife.

WHACK!

The freshly baked gingerbread men lost their legs, just like all their brothers before them. Allen took a discrete step away from the small but scary girl.

Hitomi sighed heavily. “Annie, you know they can’t get up and run away, right?”

“Damn straight they can’t!” Annie retorted, sweeping the neatly severed appendages into a bowl filled with gingerbread legs. She waved a leg in front of a gingerbread man. “Oh, yeah, mister! Where are you going? NO where!”

Hitomi shook her head as Annie turned back to grin at all of them. Van looked around the kitchen, then back at Annie.

“Did you bake all these just to cut their legs off?” he asked.

Annie nodded. “Uh huh, I’ve got to. Gingerbread men are creepy. I have to cut their legs off, otherwise I just can’t get over the thought of them running all over the house.”

“Then why do you bake them?” Allen asked, hoping he wouldn’t start off another laughing fit.

“I can’t just not bake them,” Annie said in a ‘well, duh!’ voice. “It’s tradition! So, who’s hungry for some tasty legs?”

Somehow, even knowing they were just cookies, the thought of eating the legs killed their appetites. But Annie dusted some of the flour off her small person, plopped the bowl of cookie legs in the middle of the table and ordered them to sit.

“So, first order of business is to get you some clothes,” Annie said as she bustled around the kitchen making them all hot drinks.

Hitomi nodded. “Yeah, you both need a few outfits.”

“I don’t understand why you didn’t have us bring our own clothes, Hitomi,” Allen said seriously. There was a loud crash and smothered laughing from the kitchen. Allen did his best to ignore it.

“It would have saved you the trouble of finding us suitable clothes,” he continued. The smothered laughter got louder.

Hitomi shot a dirty look in the direction of the kitchen. “Um, well, your clothes wouldn’t really, I mean, they’re just so different from our styles that…”

“You’d look like a Halloween reject,” Annie finished, walking towards the table with four steaming mugs on a tray. Allen’s instinctual good manners took over, and he jumped up to take the tray from her. She took a step back, clutching the tray and glaring at him. Hitomi groaned, and Van watched, his mouth twitching suspiciously.

“What in the sam-hell are you doing?” she asked.

“I was only going to help you with the tray,” Allen replied, annoyed and confused.

“I think I can make it to the table” she retorted. Allen stared at her. “Sit your poofy-sleeved butt down until I ask for your help, okay? Chivalry’s dead, you know.”

“It’s not dead where I come from,” Allen shot back. “And neither are manners.”

Annie grinned at him, unperturbed. “Good manners are usually just a cover for backstabbing and deceit. I’d rather people were honest.”

“Just like oil and water,” Hitomi muttered as Annie passed out the mugs and plopped herself down in the last chair.

Van overheard her and whispered back, “I think Annie’s very interesting.”

“You just like her because she laughed at Allen,” Hitomi whispered back. Van grinned wickedly.

“So, as we were saying,” Annie said, taking a bite out of a leg, “we need to get you some clothes. Normal clothes,” she stressed, looking at Allen with twinkling, laughing eyes. He frowned and straightened his sleeves. Hitomi and Van hid their smiles behind the rims of their mugs.

“Okay, then. Van, stand up.” Annie commanded. Van’s smile died, and he looked uncertainly at Hitomi. She didn’t look concerned, so he stood up. Both girls scrutinized him until he felt like a specimen under a glass dish. He shifted uncomfortably.

“Hm. What do you think about Jordan?” Annie asked Hitomi finally. Hitomi tipped her head to the side and pursed her lips, thinking.

“Yeah, I guess that would work.”

“What’s Jordan?” Van asked nervously, but Annie was already pulling out a small device from her pocket. She flipped the top of it open and it made a strange beeping noise. Van eyed this “Jordan” warily, ready to protest, when she put the thing to her ear and began talking to it.

“Hey, man, whatcha doing?...oh, same o’ same o’ here….Say, you know that favor you owe me?...Yes you do. You totally do….whatever, you did not already pay me back…well, yeah, but that didn’t count…”

Van and Allen exchanged looks. What was going on? Did this “Jordan” have magical powers? Van couldn’t quite see how that tiny little thing was going to give him some clothes. Hitomi didn’t seem interested in it, in any case. She was just toying with her mug, chewing on her bottom lip like she was thinking about something. Van forgot all about the magical Jordan and just watched her. How long had he waited just to watch her, not a blurry dream-image. And not just watch her. He wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity, not when they could actually touch and…

“Oh, thanks so much, Jordy! You’ll really save our butts with this one! So, how soon can you bring them over?...No, today will be good, anytime. You work today?...Okay, just swing by then…Thanks! Love you!” Annie flipped the device closed again as she jumped up and did a little dance. Van dragged his eyes away from Hitomi’s lips.

“He agreed to bring some clothes over?” Hitomi asked.

“Oh, yeah. Just a little begging and he caved right in!” Annie replied happily. She waggled her finger at Allen. “So now it’s your turn, Mr. Manners.”

Poor Allen shot her an annoyed glare, but stood up to be scrutinized as well. Annie tapped her lips with her pointer finger, a wicked grin on her face. Allen eyed her nervously.

“Devine would be perfect!” she exclaimed.

“NO,” Hitomi said firmly. “What about Derrick?”

Annie sighed heavily. “Aw, Tomi, you ruin all my fun. Fine. Derrick it is.”

Once again, she flipped open “Jordan”, made some beeping noise, and began talking to it.

“Hey Derrick! How much do you love me?” she asked. Now Van was thoroughly confused. Wasn’t that thing called Jordan? Did it change from being Jordan to being Derrick? And how was it going to give him some clothes?

Allen didn’t care if that thing was called Jordan or junk. Honestly, he was starting to wish he had turned down the request to accompany Van to the Mystic Moon. Why he ever thought it might be interesting to see Hitomi in her own world escaped him. And just seeing the way she looked at Van opened up old wounds all over again.

But that was survivable. It was worth it to see her face again. Only no one had warned him that she lived with a mannerless, insane little wretch of a girl! He hadn’t been on the Mystic Moon for more than a few hours and he already could tell she was going to get under his skin. And most definitely NOT in a pleasant way.

“Yay! You’re the best ever, Derrick!! Toodles!” Annie flipped the Jordan-Derrick shut and wrinkled up her nose at him. “Well, you’ve got some clothes on the way, too. Only I hope the shirts fit, because I can’t really tell how wide your shoulders are with those poofy sleeves.”

Oh, lord help him. He had to endure almost two full weeks of this.
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by Zeratul2k » July 17th, 2008, 6:10 pm

I haven't seen Escaflowne (don't kill me!) but I'm liking this so far. Keep 'em coming!
So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph... because good is DUMB!

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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » July 19th, 2008, 12:33 am

Another stolen chapter.

DVDs and Clothes


Okay, so this chappie is EXTREMELY boring, but I wrote it in like 15 min. I meant for it to keep going..but I think it'll be better if I start a new chapter. Next chap will be very VxH centric...yay! So I apologize for this poor, poor chapter, and I promise to work MUCH harder on humor and some romance in the next one. Please don't give up on me!!

Hitomi took pity on Allen, who looked more flustered than she’d ever seen him, and dragged both he and Van on a “tour” of the rest of the house while Annie cleaned up her gingerbread mess. Seeing as how the rest of the house consisted of the basement—which was just a big open room with a futon, a few big squishy chairs, some aquariums, and a projector complete with an 8 foot pull down screen, and the two bedrooms and bathroom upstairs, it didn’t take long. The two men barely glanced into the bedrooms, and Hitomi supposed it was considered improper or something. She wasn’t actually too sure of Gaean protocol. Well, they were on earth now, they could just deal with it!

“So, this is the fun room where everyone hangs out,” Hitomi said as the tour concluded in the basement.

“What does the screen do?” Van asked as he pulled it down. It looked like a thick, stiff cloth to him. Not very exciting.

“It’s just what the projector reflects the picture from,” Hitomi said. “Here, let me show you!”

She bounded up the steps and turned off the main lights, plunging the basement into darkness. The sun had long since set, so there was no light filtering in through the windows, even if they hadn’t been curtained off. Van heard, rather than saw, Hitomi go past him and push a button.

The projector hummed to life and shot out a bright blue light right at Van and the screen. He quickly stepped out of the path of the light and stared dumbfounded at the screen.

“See? That’s what the screen’s for,” Hitomi said. “We can play movies on it, video games, everything. I’ll never go back to a TV again!”

Allen looked thoughtful. “It does more than just this blue light?”

“Yeah, this is just the start up screen,” Hitomi replied. “Oh, I keep forgetting you don’t know what movies are... Well, what do you want to see?”

She flung open a cabinet full to capacity with what appeared to be thin books. Van and Allen came up behind her to examine them.

“These are all movies that your projector can show?” Van asked, amazed. There must have been several hundred crowded into the large cabinet.

“Yeah! Pick one out and I’ll show you,” Hitomi said cheerfully. Van hesitated. How to pick one from the multitude? Finally he reached out, grabbed one from the mess, and shoved it at Hitomi. She looked it and laughed.

“What?” Van asked, self-conscious. Hitomi shook her head, opened the book, pulled out a small, flat disc and inserted it into another of the strange Mystic Moon machines.

“Nothing. Just that you would go and pick the one movie with giant fighting robots,” she replied, still chuckling. Van and Allen jumped, wheeling around to the screen as sound flooded the room. Flashing, moving pictures replaced the blue. Van relaxed, irritated to realize that his hand had automatically gone for his missing sword hilt. He really did need this “vacation”.

Hitomi rummaged through a basket and pulled out a thin, flat rectangle covered with buttons. She pointed it at the machine with the disc and pushed some buttons, her eyes on the screen.

“What’s that?” Allen asked. His head was aching from all the strange devices Hitomi operated with uncaring ease.

“It’s the controller. It’s how I tell the DVD player what to do,” Hitomi replied.

“You can communicate with machines?” Van asked incredulously.

“Yes. And no. I mean, I can’t talk to them. I can just give it commands. Like this button tells it to go to the menu. Okay? Now I can go to chapter selection and….there. Now I can tell the movie to play,” Hitomi explained, still watching the screen. Giant robots, seemingly fighting each other, but doing more damage to a city than to themselves, erupted on the screen. Van and Allen stared, openmouthed. Allen actually went and touched the screen.

Hitomi settled herself comfortably on the futon, studying Van’s back. She was so excited and nervous to have him here, in her house, but honestly, she didn’t know what to do with him. She kept forgetting all the things he wouldn’t understand that she took for granted, like watching movies. All her silly daydreams about snuggling with him and watching a movie, or dancing to her favorite music, even just wasting time in the mall—she had to rethink them all.

Van turned around to look at her. She smiled and patted the spot next to her. He smiled back and sat down, so close their shoulders brushed. Hitomi grinned and scooted just a little bit closer. It was chilly down in the basement, after all, and it was dark…maybe she should snuggle in even more…

BRIIINNNNG

Hitomi and Van jumped away from each other as the doorbell rang, cursing mentally.

“Hey! Annie? Hitomi?” a man’s voice shouted from the entryway. Before Hitomi could even move off the futon, there was a muffled crash followed by what sounded like several bowling balls being rolled down the upstairs stairs. Van and Hitomi exchanged looks as they heard Annie greeting the newcomer enthusiastically.

“I guess she’s handling it,” Hitomi said, settling back onto the futon.

“Shouldn’t we go upstairs and greet your guest?” Allen asked, frowning. Hitomi gave him a quick look.

“Uh, no. No, Annie can handle it,” she replied quickly. She was not going to try to come up with some excuse about Allen’s outfit to Derrick. On the other hand, they could possibly pass Van off as just a strange dresser. Why hadn’t she ever realized before how ridiculous Allen’s uniform truly was? No wonder Annie had laughed when she met him.

The front door slammed, and Annie charged into the basement.

“We got clothes!” she exclaimed as Hitomi paused the movie. “Well, Allen’s clothes at least. Jordan won’t stop by until later.” Annie stopped, apparently noticing Van and Hitomi sitting on the futon together. She grabbed Allen by the arm.

“C’mon Blondie. Let’s go get you dressed,” she said, dragging Allen up the stairs at a record pace.

“What are you doing?” Allen hissed as Annie pulled him through the main floor towards the upstairs.

“Can’t you see those two needs some ‘alone time’?” Annie retorted, looking at him as though his brain was made of soft, spongy cheese. She grabbed a bag lying by the front door and motioned him up the stairs. She smiled, looking remarkably like a shark eying a meal. “They need to get reacquainted, if you know what I mean. And you need to get out of that before someone sees you.”

The look on Allen’s face showed that he knew exactly what she meant, and that he didn’t exactly approve. The dig to his uniform didn’t go unnoticed, either.

“This uniform is only worn by the knights who have earned the title of Knight Caeli. It is a high honor to wear this,” Allen informed her, firmly keeping his annoyance and anger in check.

Annie stopped rummaging through the bag and studied him. “Hm. If I had to wear that to be a Knight Cello, I’d pass on the honor.”

“Knight Caeli. A Heavenly Knight,” Allen ground out between clenched teeth.

“Whatever. Here, put these on,” she answered uncaringly, shoving several articles of clothes at him and pushing into the bathroom.

Slowly, Allen undressed, folding his uniform with his usual care and respect. He turned to examine the strange garments he’d been given. The pants appeared to be of the same thick, blue material of Hitomi’s pants, and they appeared to be of a similar style. He slid those on without difficulty. The short-sleeve shirt was another issue. There were some words on one side of the material, but not the other. Did the words go in the front or the back? He just stood there, trying to figure out some way to tell, until he heard Annie knocking on the door.

“Hey, what’s going on in there? Don’t tell me you’ve never dressed yourself before!” she called.

Allen swung open the door. “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s just this shirt…”

Annie took it from him and read the front. “What, the words? It’s just a dumb pop-culture quote, it’s nothing bad. I don’t see why you have a problem with it.” She held the shirt out to him, studying him again. Frowning, he took it back.

Realization dawned on her suddenly. “…Oohh. I see. The words go on the front. See the little tag thingie on the collar? That’s how you can tell front and back.”

Embarrassed, Allen nodded and pulled the shirt over his head. Annie just leaned back and scrutinized him. He raised a questioning eyebrow at her.

“Who’d have thought that uniform hid that torso,” she said thoughtfully. She grinned at him and handed him a small, elastic band. “Just tie your hair back and you’ll look authentically computer geekish.”

Obediently, Allen pulled his long hair into a ponytail at the base of his neck. Annie looked him over and nodded.

“Yep. Perfectly camouflaged,” she declared. “You know, you look better this way. Anyway, lets just go tell the lovebirds that we’re going to get the tree and skedaddle.”

“Get what tree?” Allen questioned as he bounded down the stairs after her, wondering when she’d had time to clean up and change. Her long brown hair was tied sloppily into a bun, and she wore plain jeans and a heavy sweater. There were no traces of the flour or frosting smears.

“The Christmas tree! We can’t have Christmas without the tree, can we?” she replied over her shoulder.

Allen had barely started down the basement stairs after her when she came running back up, pulling him back towards the front door.

“Okay, all set! Bundle up and let’s go. Before one of them thinks up an excuse to come along,” she whispered to him as she yanked outdoor gear from the closet. “Man, I’ve never seen two more awkward people in my life. You’d think they’d be all over each other, but noooo. They’re sitting like five feet apart, stiff as dead people. I swear, if they blow this…”

Allen barely had his coat on before she pulled him out the door, still muttering under her breath. It appeared to him that Annie was trying to play matchmaker, and he was supposed to be her willing partner in crime. Something deep down in his gut squirmed painfully at the very idea. He knew exactly what he would be doing if he had the chance to be in Van’s shoes, and he didn’t cherish the thought of the younger man being the one to do it instead of him.

“What did you expect from them? Exclamations of undying love?” Allen asked, irritated, as they climbed into the car.

“No!” Annie replied, just as irritated. “But I did expect pent-up emotions and raging hormones to play a little stronger role.”

She jerked the car around and stepped, hard, on the gas. Allen scrambled to get his seatbelt securely fastened. Annie drove with reckless abandon and a lead foot; Allen thought he might die before they ever found this all-important Christmas Tree.

Annie sighed. “Look, Allen, we’ve got less than two weeks to get them to figure this out. So, it looks like you and I are going to be getting to know each other really well. Oh, joy.”

Allen began to hope he might die. And soon.
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » July 19th, 2008, 1:40 am

Ok, one more while I'm at it.

Decorations and Desire

AN:Okay, I've been naughty and forgetting this: I DO NOT OWN ESCAFLOWNE. But I own the original stuff of this story, for whatever that's worth. Anyway, YAY chapter 4! An entirely VxH chapter! I hope it's not too mushy...but I do like mushy...So, let's get this hormone party started!!



Hitomi had turned off the movie and the projector after Annie had dragged Allen upstairs. She got up and switched on a lamp and the aquarium lights, feeling awkward sitting there in the hushed dark with Van. Not wishing to show him how nervous she felt, Hitomi sat back down on the futon next to him, although farther away this time. After several moments of uneasy silence, she cleared her throat.

“Uh, I hope it isn’t going to cause problems for you to be here. I mean, for Fanelia,” she said.

Van shook his head, his eyes on the brightly colored fish in the tank. “No, it’s fine. I have to go on trips to other countries for political reasons sometimes. This is just like that.”

“Oh,” Hitomi said, quietly. Political reasons? He’d better not be here just for political reasons!

“I didn’t mean this is a political visit,” Van corrected, realizing how that sounded and mentally kicking himself. “More like a…a”

“Friendly visit?” Hitomi supplied. Van nodded. It wasn’t quite what he meant, but friendly was good. Better than political anyway. This conversation wasn’t going too well. Van wished she’d turn out the lights and put the moving pictures back on so they could go back to what they were doing before. Now he just felt awkward as they both searched for something to talk about.

The silence was broken by what sounded like several large animals charging through the house, and Annie bounded down the stairs.

“Hey guys, we’re going out to find the tree, so you two just stay here and wait for Jordan, okay? And if we’re not back by six or so, turn the oven to 350 and put the chicken in. I got it all ready in the fridge. Oh, and start the rice. But we should be back by then. Okay? See ya!” she started back up the stairs, then turned and looked at Van. “Oh, and the tags go in the back. Bye!”

Then she ran up the stairs, and the front door slammed moments later. Hitomi and Van just looked at each other, the wall clock ticking off the seconds loudly.

“So,” Hitomi said, licking her lips nervously. “I guess it’s just you and me, huh?"

“What tree are they going to find?” Van asked, scratching his head. What tags go in what back? And why had she told him that specifically?

“The Christmas tree. It’s a traditional part of Christmas. You get a pine tree, decorate it with lights and ornaments, and then you put all the presents under it until you open them on Christmas Day.”

Van nodded. It sounded like an extremely odd thing to do, but then, this was the Mystic Moon. Things were bound to be strange.

More awkward silence…

“Hey, I know!” Hitomi said suddenly, jumping to her feet. “We could get out all the decorations and have them all ready to go. That’ll save some time after Annie and Allen get the tree home.”

Van got to his feet as well, glad to have something to do other than sit there and make small talk. He hated small talk. Hitomi opened a small door in the corner of the basement and pulled a cord. Light flooded a tiny, low-ceilinged room that was packed full of boxes and miscellaneous things. It looked like an impossible challenge to get anything out of that room.

“Where are these decorations?” Van asked, eyeing the stacks and piles teetering up to his head level.

“Back there,” Hitomi said, pointing to the back corner of the room, accessible only by squeezing one’s body very carefully through a maze of haphazardly piled boxes.

“Of course,” Van muttered darkly. Hitomi was already wiggling herself through the piles towards the back corner. Van couldn’t help but to kind of enjoy watching her maneuver her lithe body around the difficult boxes. He followed her in partway through the maze.

“Okay,” she panted as she finally reached the back of the room. “I think it’ll be easiest if I hand you the boxes and you take them out.”

She passed him boxes and bags, and he dutifully carried them out into the main room and placed them in the growing pile.

“How many more decorations are there?” He asked after the sixth trip. Hitomi was bent over, giving him an excellent view of her nicely proportioned backside.

She straightened up, rubbing her forehead. “There’s just this one. But it’s pretty heavy. I don’t think I can lift it over to you.”

Van squeezed and maneuvered his way through the rest of the maze until he could look over her shoulder at the offending box. Hitomi put her hands on her hips, which was no easy thing considering the tight confines.

“Let’s switch places, and I can try to carry it out,” Van suggested. Hitomi nodded, and turned to try to squeeze past him. There was no room, and they were forced to press their bodies tightly together. Blushing furiously, Hitomi wiggled against him, trying to move past him so he could get to the box. Van tried to help by putting his hands on her waist and attempting to push.

“I don’t think this is going to work,” Van said at last, his voice sounding deeper than normal, his hands still on her waist.

Hitomi giggled breathlessly. His scent filled her nose, and the warmth from his hands seeped through her thin sweater. She looked up into his eyes, and his quick breaths tickled her cheeks. Her own breathing was coming much faster than usual, and his eyes, inches from her own, mesmerized her. She’d forgotten what intense, deep, chocolate brown eyes he had. They were beautiful. Her hands came to rest on his hard, muscled chest. She could feel his heart pounding furiously under her palms, matching the pounding of her own heart.

Van struggled for breath. She felt so good pressed up against him, her body heat seeping into him through his thin Fanelian shirt. His hands slid a little farther around her waist, drawing her even tighter to him. Her green, green eyes stared up at him, questioning, wanting. He watched as her pink lips parted as if to invite him to taste their sweetness. He leaned down towards her.

BRRIINNNNGGG!!

“Anybody home? I gotta get to work!” A male voice echoed through the house, muffled by the boxes surrounding them.

Shocked, Hitomi and Van pulled away from each other as much as their tight confines would allow. This time, Hitomi was able to wiggle past him, and she scrambled out of the storage room.

“It’s Jordan. He’s brought your clothes,” Hitomi said to Van over her shoulder. Damn damn damn! She thought angrily. If it had been just one minute later! I’m going to rip that damn doorbell out of the wall!!

Van, left standing in the closet, swore violently under his breath. He had been this close, this close, to finally feeling her lips against his, and fate just had to intervene. He cursed his luck as he picked up the heavy box, the box that had almost given him a taste of heaven, and struggled his way out of the storage room. He could hear Hitomi talking to a man upstairs, and he took a few deep breaths to steady his pulse.

The front door slammed, and Van heard Hitomi call his name. Leaving the boxes and bags where they were, he trudged up the stairs and met her in the dining room. She had a large duffle bag slung over her shoulder.

“Jordan brought some clothes for you,” Hitomi said unnecessarily, showing him the bag. Van just nodded, and she shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, contemplating their ridiculous situation. Just minutes ago they were practically plastered to each other, and now they were so awkward together that they could barely look each other in the face!

“I guess you should try some on to make sure they’ll work,” Hitomi said after a pause. Van agreed, and she led the way upstairs. He hesitated outside her bedroom door when she went in and dropped the bag on her bed. Hitomi rolled her eyes.

“Look, Van, I don’t care if it’s improper on Gaea to come into a girl’s room. Here it’s perfectly fine. Really. It’s just a room.”

Hesitantly, looking more awkward than ever, Van took two steps inside the door and stopped. Hitomi sighed but decided she’d give him some time to adjust to the idea. She unzipped the large duffle bag and began to rummage through it for something to give Van to wear.

Van stood uncomfortably inside her bedroom doorway, part of him wishing to be anywhere but there, and another, larger, part of him very curious about what she kept in her most private room. The room itself was small, like the rest of the house, but cozy. The walls were painted a deep crimson red, almost the exact shade of his trademark red shirts, with a white ceiling and white trim. The furniture was all white, a small bed tucked against one wall, a bedside stand, a white dresser, and a small white desk. There were a lot of what he took to be miniature drawings or paintings placed in frames all about the room. Unable to resist his curiosity, he reached out and picked one up from the bedside table. There were four people in it, including Hitomi. And judging by the resemblance to Hitomi between the older woman and the younger boy, Van guessed it must be her family. But it was strange. It was too perfect and life-like to be a painting. It was like a moment frozen in time, all of them happy and smiling.

“How did the artist get it like this?” Van asked. Hitomi glanced up at him, saw him staring at her family photo, and came to stand at his side.

“It’s a picture, Van. A camera captures an image and prints it on film so you can see it. I’m not really sure how it works. There’s some science behind it.”

Van looked confused, and Hitomi smiled. She rummaged through her backpack lying on the floor and triumphantly pulled out her small, silver camera.

“Here, let me show you,” she said, turning it on and pointing it at Van. “Okay, say cheese!”

“What?”

“Just smile!”

Confused, Van gave a half-hearted attempt at a smile. Hitomi pressed a tiny button; there was a click and a bright flash, and Van was left blinking rapidly at the spots on the inside of his eyelids.

“Come and look, Van. Your first photograph!” Hitomi said, showing him a tiny display on the back of the small silver device. Amazed, Van stared at an exact, unmoving copy of himself giving a rather pathetic smile.

“That’s a really bad smile, Van. We’ve gotta try it again!” Hitomi looped her arm through Van’s and pulled him close to her. She held the camera out as far as her arm could stretch.

“Okay, now smile nice!” she commanded, and the tiny machine blinded Van again. Hitomi eagerly looked at the image on the display and grinned happily.

“Oh, that’s a good one. I’ll have to print them before you leave so you can take one back with you to show Merle.”

Hitomi still had her arm looped around Van’s, their heads nearly touching as they both examined the image. Now she pulled away again, a light pink blush staining her cheeks.

“She’d like that,” Van said quietly as he put Hitomi’s family photo back in its place. “She really misses you. I think she cried for a full day when I told her she couldn’t come with me.”

Hitomi turned back to the duffle bag. “I really miss her, too. I miss everyone,” she whispered sadly. Finding what she was looking for, she straightened and turned back to Van. “Here! I think you’ll look good in these. I mean, uh, I think they’ll fit you.”

Van accepted the pants and shirts from her and headed into the bathroom to change. The pants were the same thick material as Hitomi’s blue pants, but where hers were form fitting, his were loose and baggy with lots of extra pockets. The waist was too big and wanted to sit half way down his rear end, and the cuffs dragged on the floor. The two shirts she’d given him were also big and baggy. The long sleeved shirt was a plain black, and Van surmised that he should put that one on first, and then the red, short sleeved one with designs on over it. But which side was the front? Frowning, he examined it for some clue, and came across some small white tags on the neckline of each.

“The tags go in the back. Thanks Annie,” he said fervently under his breath. Quickly, he finished getting dressed and headed back into Hitomi’s room.

She was sitting cross-legged on her bed when he emerged from the bathroom, staring at the picture she’d taken of the both of them. Now, at least, she’d have a picture of him. No matter what happened, after he’d gone back to Fanelia, she’d have this picture of the two of them together forever. She looked up as Van hesitatingly knocked on her door to get her attention.

Hitomi couldn’t help staring at him, hoping she wasn’t actually drooling. Dear lord, but he looked hot!! With his wild black hair and his borrowed baggy clothes, he looked a little like a skater punk. Van hitched up the pants again self-consciously.

“I think the pants are too big,” he finally said as Hitomi just sat motionless, looking at him.

Hitomi gave herself a mental shake. “They’re supposed to be big. Let me check if Jordan sent a belt along, though.”

Tearing her eyes off the incredibly tasty hunk standing in front of her, she rummaged through the bag again. After several moments of searching, she pulled out a black belt and handed it to Van.

“Thanks,” he said, and started pulling it through the belt loops. He felt a little less self-conscious when his pants were securely anchored in place around his hips.

“Better?” Hitomi asked. He nodded and she grinned, holding the camera up and snapping another picture of him. That one was definitely getting framed and put next to her bed. Smiling, she held the camera out to Van.

“Here. Do you want to try taking some pictures? It’s really easy. Just look at the display on the back, and when you’ve got what you want on the screen, push that button on top.”

Van took the small, strange device from her and examined it. The display on the back was like a window that showed a miniature version of whatever he pointed it at. He pointed it in the direction of Hitomi, still sitting cross-legged on her bed. She smiled, tipping her head to the side, and he pressed the little button down, capturing the moment.

“Did it turn out?” Hitomi asked as Van stared at the image. He swallowed. Did it turn out? She looked beautiful, smiling at him like that, her head tilted like she was sharing a private joke with him. He wanted to remember her like that forever.

“When you get this…printed,” he said, his voice husky, “can I keep it?”

The look on his face made Hitomi feel strangely warm inside. “Of course you can keep it. We just have to get them printed before you leave.” She swung herself off the bed, feeling an intense need to move. “Let’s go finish bringing those decorations up to the living room. Annie and Allen should be back with the tree soon.”

Without looking at Van, she hurried past him and down the stairs. Van set the camera down carefully on Hitomi’s desk and followed her slowly down the stairs. Whatever else may happen while he was on the Mystic Moon, he would always cherish that frozen moment in time.

AN: Yeah, me again. Haha! Did you really think I'd let them kiss? Van's hardly been there for half a day! We've got to give them some time to be awkward and uncomfortable (VAN: "That's just mean! Let me get some action, already!")
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » July 20th, 2008, 1:20 am

And on to chapter five.

Trees and Dishes

AN: Hey ya'll! I'm back again with chapter five!! Can you believe it? I'm on a roll!! Anyway... still no microwave adventures, but I promise they're coming. I hope this chapter's somewhat amusing anyway. I hope you enjoy it!!


Allen glared at Annie as he stood the fifteenth million tree upright for her inspection. What was so damned important about finding the most absolutely perfect one, anyway? If she made him hold up one more tree…

“Okay, that’s the one!” Annie exclaimed. What made this tree so much better than the last few hundred, Allen would never be able to figure out. At least she was finally satisfied. Together, they hoisted the tree over to the salesman, purchased it, and carried it over to the waiting car.

“And just how do you propose we get this thing home?” Allen asked, an edge of irritation coloring his voice. The tree was bigger than the car, for God’s sake. Annie opened the trunk and pulled out a length of rope.

“I hope you’re better at tying knots than I am,” she said as she threw the rope to Allen. “Last year, Hitomi had to hang out the window and grab on to the trunk to keep the tree from flying off the car.”

“I doubt any knots will hold given the way you drive,” Allen said as they hoisted the tree onto the roof of the car. She didn’t reply as she helped him tie the it down.

With a mocking, sideways glance at Allen, Annie pulled out of the parking lot and joined the traffic flow at a pace that rivaled a snail. Allen gritted his teeth, determined not to comment. A few more sideways glances, and he snapped.

“Alright, I get it! You’re driving safely. Just get us back to your house so we can get out of each other’s company!”

Annie laughed and sped up, although she kept the speed noticeably slower than before. “Allen, you really need to take a joke!”

“Are you like this to everyone you meet?” Allen demanded.

Annie sighed. “Just people like you that don’t know how to relax. And is this how you are to everyone you meet?”

“No,” Allen stated firmly. “You seem to bring out the worst in me.”

“Let’s compromise. You try to be less stiff, and I’ll try to be less annoying. Agreed?”

Allen glared straight ahead at the oncoming road. He didn’t want to compromise. To be honest, he had no idea how to be “less stiff”. But if it would make her back off, he’d agree.

“Alright. Agreed.”

They were silent the rest of the drive home, which in Allen’s mind was an improvement. The little car pulled up in front of the brown house, and Annie pulled the keys from the admission. She turned to look at him with the most serious look he’d seen on her face yet.

“Allen, you’re not too thrilled with the idea of Hitomi and Van getting together, are you?” she asked.

Allen looked away, wanting to avoid the question. “They’re already together.”

“You know what I mean. You don’t really want it to happen, do you?”

Allen gritted his teeth. He clenched and unclenched his fists several times. “No,” he finally admitted-- to Annie, and to himself.

Annie regarded him for a few long moments, and he braced himself for an angry tirade. Finally she nodded and patted him on the shoulder.

“I see,” she said, and he was surprised at how gentle her voice sounded. “I’m sorry.”

Allen turned towards her in surprise, but she was already climbing out of the car. It took them several minutes, and a few muttered swear words, to get the tree freed from the rope and off the car. Annie brushed some pine needles off herself and grinned at him.

“I’ll go get Van to help you get the tree inside,” she said, and disappeared inside. Allen rubbed his gloved hands over his face and sighed heavily. This trip was turning out to be way more complicated than he had planned, and he had only been on the Mystic Moon for a few short hours. Annie was right- he didn’t want to see Van and Hitomi together, really together like she suggested. He’d thought he’d be fine with it, but apparently, the possibility of seeing it happen before his eyes was something more painful than he wanted to endure.

The front door opened, and Van and Hitomi came towards him. The shy smiles they gave each other were enough to make Allen want to turn away, but he plastered a smile on his face and greeted them calmly.

“Annie sent us out here to get the tree set up and brought in,” Hitomi told him. The relief he felt must have been a little too evident on his face, because Hitomi grimaced at him. “Honestly, Allen, she’s not that bad when you get used to her. You just met her at a bad time.”

“You mean when she was busy mutilating gingerbread men?” Allen asked, more sarcastic than he meant to be. Van snickered.

“Yes!” Hitomi answered, obviously wanting them to understand. “She’s terrified of gingerbread men. Don’t you have anything you’re irrationally scared of? Like spiders? Or clowns?”

“If she’s so afraid of them, why did she make them?” Van asked as he and Allen carried the tree up to the front door.

Hitomi sighed. “Her grandma. She always insisted on making gingerbread men at Christmas because she said it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them. But she always made them when Annie wasn’t around, and she always cut their legs off. I didn’t even think about it until this morning when Annie mentioned them. I should’ve realized how important it was and made them for her.”

Allen frowned heavily. That explained the bizarre behavior to an extent, but still…“Honestly, who can possibly be that terrified of a cookie?” he demanded.

Hitomi just shrugged and handed Van a sharp saw. “My mom is terrified of butterflies. Some people just have weird fears. Saw off the bottom of the trunk.”

They dropped the conversation as Hitomi instructed them in the proper way to get a Christmas tree into the stand. The two men grunted and strained, and readjusted the tree several hundred times before Hitomi was satisfied.

“Who did this for you before?” Van asked as he pushed his hair out his eyes. Hitomi rolled her eyes.

“We managed it all by ourselves last year. It’s not that hard.” She held the door open as they trudged past her with the tree. Thanks to Van and Hitomi’s efforts, everything was ready, and the tree was placed, rather unceremoniously, in front of the living room windows. Annie came in to inspect their handiwork.

“Perfect! Oh, wait…don’t you think it tilts a little to the left?” she said. Van and Allen groaned audibly. Hitomi stepped back, the two girls examining the tree.

“I think it looks perfectly fine,” Allen said through clenched teeth. Van nodded fervently.

“Okay, it’ll be fine,” Annie sighed. “Anyway, dinner’s ready, so let’s eat! Then we can decorate!”

Allen gave a mental shudder. If decorating this tree would be anything like finding it or setting it up, it would take hours. He pulled off his coat and found Hitomi and Van staring at him.

“Wow, Allen. You look really different in those clothes,” Hitomi said. Van nodded, and Allen looked him over in the same way.

“So does Van,” he replied. “Hopefully, we can pass as inhabitants of your world now, Hitomi.”

Hitomi looked over at Van and grinned. “Oh yeah. You guys fit right in. Anyway, let’s eat!”

The table was immaculately set, with fine china, wine glasses, and lit candles. The food smelled absolutely delicious, reminding them how long it had been since they had nibbled on gingerbread legs.

“To celebrate the official start of your vacation to Earth,” Annie said as she set down the last dish of food.

“Thanks, Annie! This is really nice,” Hitomi said as they sat down. Annie wrinkled her nose and passed the food around.

“Just don’t expect this every night,” she said laughingly. The food was devoured in record time, and they all sat back, patting their stomachs with a contented sigh.

“So, who wants to clean up, and who wants to help me with the tree lights?” Annie asked lazily. Hitomi jumped up fast.

“I’ll clean up,” she said quickly as she carried some dishes into the kitchen.

“I’ll help you,” Van added, grabbing his plate and following her.

“Looks like you’re stuck with me again,” Annie remarked with a smirk as she looked across the table at Allen. He silently groaned, wanting to smack his head against the table. Hard.

Hitomi hummed quietly to herself as she rinsed and stacked plates, happy to have escaped the horrors of stringing the lights. The wine from supper made everything seem fuzzy and wonderful, and she smiled at Van as he carried the rest of the dishes in from the dining room.

“Thanks. You know, you don’t actually have to help with this. You’re a guest,” Hitomi remarked as he carefully placed the dishes on the counter.

“I don’t mind helping,” he replied. “Why were you so eager to do the cleaning?”

Hitomi shuddered. “You have no idea how horrible doing the lights is. I’d rather wash a mountain of dirty dishes than help with the lights.”

She smiled as she watched Van looking around the kitchen, obviously at a loss as to what to do next. She flicked some water off her fingers at him to get his attention.

“Have you ever helped clean a kitchen before, Van?” she asked laughingly.

Van considered for a moment. “Not really, but I spent a lot of time in the kitchens when I was younger.”

“I’m guessing you weren’t washing dishes,” Hitomi said, her grin growing wider as she leaned back against the counter. Van grinned sheepishly back at her.

“More like sneaking food from the larders,” he said with a shrug. Hitomi laughed, imagining a young Van sneaking food while the kitchen staff pretended not to see him.

“Well, if you still want to help, you can load the dishwasher,” she said after she caught her breath. Van just gave her a blank look, and Hitomi pulled open the appliance’s door.

“This is the dishwasher. You just put the dirty dishes in it, and when it’s full, you put soap in the soap thingie here, turn it on, and it washes the dishes for you.”

Van shook his head in amazement. The people on the Mystic Moon had machines for everything. Hitomi handed him a stack of plates, and he began to place them in the dishwasher as best he could. The logic behind how the racks were designed eluded him, and he ended up putting the dishes wherever he could make them fit. Hitomi was still humming happily as she started washing the few pots and pans, and Van spent more time watching her back as she worked than attending to his own job. Her humming was slightly off key, but it was happy, and he found himself smiling at the sound of it. This moment, right now, was perfect. No demands, no pressures, and no worries. Just the two of them.

Oh yeah. And Allen and Annie. Their heated voices grew louder, drifting into the kitchen from the living room. Hitomi turned to look at Van, pinching her lips together in a vain attempt to hide a smile.

“Well, which way did you want me to tilt it?” Allen snapped, annoyed and angry.

“To the left. Your left,” Annie replied, sounding as irritated as Allen. “How did you get to be a Cello Knight from Heaven without knowing your left from your right?”

Hitomi smothered a giggle behind a soapy hand. “Maybe we should rescue Allen.”

Van sighed. Of course, she would want to rescue the blond knight. Hitomi was too soft hearted for her own good. Van was willing to leave Allen with Annie for the rest of the trip. That would give him more time alone with Hitomi, and it just might put a few dents in Allen’s ego. In his mind’s eye, Van could see the incredulous look on Allen’s face when Annie laughed at him, and his own laughter bubbled up from his chest. He couldn’t stop it from escaping his lips, and Hitomi watched him with surprise and elation.

“Hey, you’re actually laughing, Van!” she cried, grinning madly at him. “What’s funny enough to make you actually laugh out loud?”

Van shook his head and nearly choked as he tried to compose himself. The harder he tried to stop, the harder he laughed. “Allen’s face…when she laughed at him…”

Hitomi’s lips wiggled. They twitched. Then she gave in and laughed with him, so hard she had to hang on to the counter for support. The arguing drifting in from the living room just made them laugh harder. Finally, their mirth died down to chuckles and gasps for air, and Hitomi wiped the tears from her cheeks. Signaling Van to be quiet, she snuck into the dining room to get a peek at the angry decorators.

Van followed her silently, and they both had to smother laughter behind their hands again. Allen had strings of lit lights draped over his arms and neck, their white glow illuminating his angry face. He had apparently been relegated to the task of handing the lights to Annie as she wrapped them around the tree. The glare of death that he had aimed at her small back would have been enough to melt diamonds. Annie, for her part, matched the glare whenever she glanced back at him if he wasn’t giving her enough slack in the string.

“I’ve got to get my camera,” Hitomi whispered to Van. He nodded, and she snuck through the living room to the stairs. Allen and Annie were too engrossed with their glaring to notice her creeping by, and she was able to escape unnoticed. Hitomi grabbed her camera and went back to the living room as quietly as she could. It would ruin everything if they noticed her before she had a chance to snap the picture. She lined up the shot with the perfect angle to see Allen’s death glaring, light stringed front, and quickly pressed the button.

FLASH!

The light from the camera was momentarily dazzling, and Allen reeled back in shock. There was a distinct crunching sound from under his foot, and the string that Annie had halfway coiled around the tree went dark. Everyone froze.

“You…you…JELLY HEAD!” Annie shouted. Allen backed away from her, mumbling apologies. Hitomi took advantage of the distraction and shot back into the kitchen, dragging Van with her. For the second time that day, she and Van were laughing helplessly out loud, trying vainly to smother the sound behind their hands. Hitomi thought it must be some kind of record.

“Jelly head?” Van said when they’d caught their breath, causing Hitomi to giggle again.

“She comes up with the worst insults. This picture is priceless. If I ever need a good laugh, I’ll pull this one out,” she said, showing the display to Van.

“Priceless,” Van agreed, chuckling. Hitomi was still giggling under her breath, and she leaned her shoulder into his. Van got the feeling that maybe he should put his arm around her, or maybe…

“Hitomi! You’re part responsible for this, so get in here and help fix it!” Annie shouted from the living room. Sighing, rolling her eyes, Hitomi moved away from Van to set her camera down on the counter. Van cursed his bad luck and his own hesitation, and followed her out into the living room. He had eleven days. Some how, some way, he’d get his chance again.

AN: So...what's up next for our poor love-struck but way too slow to do something about it characters? A snowball fight...a party...trip to the mall...and hopefully a few "close encounters" winkwink Until next time!
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » July 20th, 2008, 4:45 pm

A short chapter six, Dinky must have been tired.

Eggs and Showers

AN:Hi again to everyone!! Well,this chapter is way shorter than I had anticipated, but it's way past my bedtime.This was just supposed to be the beginning of chapter six, so that's why not a whole lot happens. So, I guess I'll just have to work harder to make up for this not so great chapter next time!!

Once again, gigantic THANK YOUS to everyone who has read this story so far. I lovelovelove you guys! And I promise to work much harder to make this story interesting!

Okay! On with the show!

Van woke, momentarily disorientated, in the cool darkness of Hitomi's basement. As far as he could tell, Allen was still asleep on the air mattress on the other side of the room. Van rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. He was reluctant to climb out of his warm blankets, and besides, the house was silent; he doubted anyone else was awake yet. They had all stayed up faiirly late into the night finishing the tree. Van smiled to himself as he thought about it.

Once the lights were finished, decorating the tree had actually been enjoyable, at least for him. He'd spent the majority of the time sitting on the floor, unwrapping ornaments to hand to Hitomi, and then watching her find places to hang them on the tree. He spent so much time watching her, stretching to reach a high branch, or bending to place an ornament near the bottom, that she'd frequently run out of ornaments to hang before he'd unwrapped new ones for her. Gods, she was beautiful.

Van hadn't believed that he could feel this carefree or relaxed before he'd come to the Mystic Moon. His life had always revolved around his responsibilities, and though he knew they were all waiting for him back in Fanelia, he had nothing but freedom and possibility stretching out before him for the next ten days.

That thought was energizing, and Van slid silently off the futon. Allen didn't stir as he headed past him into the little bathroom at the back of the basement. Last night, Hitomi had given him towels and told him he could shower anytime he felt like it. Van wasn't exactly sure what she meant by “shower”, but judging by the towels, he guessed it was some form of bathing.

Van closed the bathroom door gently behind him and slowly surveyed the small room. There was nothing resembling a wash basin as far as he could tell. The sink and toilet he could identify, and Hitomi had said that the two machines tucked against the wall were for washing clothes. So that only left the small cube-like enclosure in the corner. Pulling aside the curtains, one cloth and one a flexible, unknown material, Van examined the inside of the cube.

It was tall enough for him to stand up, but it was only a few feet in width. Several bottles and what Van guessed was a bar of soap sat on a ledge. There was also a silver handle in the middle of the wall. Frowning, Van grabbed the handle and turned it slightly. Water shot out above his head, and Van jumped back in shock. His hair and shirt had gotten soaked in the blast, and he shivered at the coldness of the water. Surely people on the Mystic Moon didn't stand under freezing cold water to bathe! Tentatively, Van turned the handle a bit farther, and to his incredible relief, the water began to warm up.

Swiftly, Van stripped off his wet clothes and stepped under the spraying water. It still wasn't warm enough to keep him from shivering, so he turned the handle as far as it would go. A moment later, he flattened himself against the wall , cursing as the water scalded his skin. A few minutes of fiddling later, and he managed to get the perfect temperature.

This, Van thought, was awesome. Better than any bath he'd ever had. When he got back to Fanelia, he'd have to talk to the chief architects about designing something like this. The hot water was relaxing, and Van's thoughts drifted back to Hitomi. Gods, it felt so good to touch her again after the long years apart. Van suddenly realized the cost of these precious days spent together. The mere thought of enduring seeing her only as a blurry dream image that he couldn't touch seemed unbearable. When the time came for him to leave, and that was all that was left to them, how painful would it become? Well, painful for him, he meant. He really didn't know if Hitomi would mind at all. He didn't know if she wanted to touch him like he needed to touch her.

Van shut off the water with a snap. Grabbing his towel, he dried himself with more force than was necessary, scowling. Somehow, he had to make Hitomi need him as much as he needed her. And if he was ever going to convince her, the next ten days were his best shot. Now he just wished he had some idea of how to go about it.

Dressed once again in his borrowed clothes, Van stole through the baement and up the stairs, careful not to wake Allen. He needed some time alone, to think up some kind of plan.

The kitchen lights flashed on, and Van jumped back, his hand automatically going for his non-existent swordhilt

“Good morning,” Annie whispered, smirking at his shocked face. Van took a few deep breaths to steady his pounding heart.

“I didn't think anyone else was awake,” he whispered back. Annie shrugged and walked over to the counter where she began fiddling with a small black appliance.

“I heard you showering. I'm a light sleeper. So, you want some coffee?” she asked genially. She measured out some black powder and poured it into a white filter.

“Uh, sure,” Van said uncertainly. “What time is it?”

Annie pointed to some lighted markings on the stove. Van couldn't decipher them, and he looked back questioningly at Annie.

“It's 6:40,” she said, noticing his confused look. “Way too early, but I figured you or the blond freak would be up at the butt-crack of dawn. You hungry?”

Van didn't know whether to be amused or shocked at the way she talked. He decided to be amused; shocked was more Allen's style.

“Why don't you like Allen?” Van asked, the words out before he stopped to think. Annie just laughed.

“Oh, I like Allen, I like him a lot,” she replied. “He's like my own personal walking, talking joke. I love it!”

Now it was Van's turn to laugh. He reflected that he seemed to be doing that a lot more here on the Mystic Moon than he ever had before in his life. It must be an effect of feeling so relaxed. Annie just smiled and opened the fridge.

“What do you want for breakfast?” she asked. “I'm going to have me some eggs!”

Van settled for eggs as well, and Annie gave him a lesson on how to make what she called “perfect” scrambled eggs. Van had to admit that he'd never had better tasting eggs in his entire life. He could just imagine how the palace cooks would react if he sauntered down to the kitchens to make some for himself after he was back in Fanelia. Although, he pondered, these eggs might be worth it.

“So, Van,” Annie asked as they sat at the table enjoying their eggs. “You're going to put the moves on Tomi while you're here, right?”

“I'm going to do what?” Van asked, geniunely confused. Annie rolled her eyes.

“You know. A little hanky panky, some lip action...”

Van suddenly caught on and nearly choked on his eggs. He could feel his face burning a bright crimson red. Holy gods, was he that obvious? And how could Annie just bring it up so casually, like it was no big deal?

“You do know about the birds and the bees, don't you, Van?” Annie asked, frowning at him. Van had never been more embarrassed or confused in his life.

“What the hell do birds and bees have to do with it?” he mumbled, mashing his eggs into pulp with his fork.

“Nevermind,” Annie said cheerfully. She reached across the table and patted Van's hand reassuringly. “I just wanted you to know that I'm rooting for you.”

“Uh, thanks,” Van answered uncertainly. This was one of the oddest conversations he could ever remember having. Annie smiled and went back to eating her eggs like they had just been discussing the weather.

Allen stumbled into the kitchen at that point, and Annie sent him down to shower while she made some more of her delicious scrambled eggs. Van debated explaining how the shower-cubicle worked, but decided it might be more interesting to let Allen figure it out on his own. A few minutes later, he was rewarded by a few muffled curses drifting up from the basement bathroom. Ah, life was good.

Deep in her warm blankets, Hitomi drifted in the world between waking and dreaming. For a few lazy moments, she wondered if Van be there, too, waiting to see her. Suddenly, she bolted awake. Van wasn't in the dream world. He was here, in her house.

The muffled sounds of voices talking and dishes clinking reached her ears, and Hitomi jumped out of bed. Yanking some clothes out of her dresser, she practically ran into the bathroom and hopped into the shower. Good lord, it was barely 7:30! How long had everyone been up? How long had Van been up? Oh, God, she hoped Annie hadn't told him anything too embarrassing.

She could smell something delicious when she went downstairs, and she wasn't surprised to find Allen and Van eating some of Annie's cooking. Allen started to get to his feet when he saw Hitomi entering the dining room, but Annie's death glare stopped him half-way. Meekly, he sat back down and mumbled a good morning.

Van turned to smile at her, and Hitomi felt her heart doing about eight flip flops before settling back into it's normal place. It was just so unbelievable to see him sitting there, eating eggs and toast like he didn't have a care in the world and smiling a good morning at her. She could get used to this.

Van was pretty sure the tips of his ears were turning crimson as he watched Hitomi sit down and start eating. He couldn't help remembering the conversation he'd had with Annie less than a hour before. But she was right. Somehow, some way, he was going to “put the moves” on Hitomi. He just hoped she'd be open to them. He sighed, and Annie glanced over at him and winked. Oh well. At least he knew she was cheering him on. Somehow he doubted Allen would be. He cleared his throat.

“So, what are we going to do today?” he asked the group. Hitomi's eyes twinkled.

“Well, seeing as it's Christmas, we thought we'd introduce you to the real holiday spirit and take you to the mall,” she said, her smile growing. “And not just any mall. We're going to take you to the biggest mall in the entire country.”

Van and Allen exchanged looks. What the hell was a mall? Annie grinned the shark grin that made a shiver run up Allen's spine.

“Ohhh, yeah. You guys are going to the center of commercialism. The Mall of America.”
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » July 20th, 2008, 10:51 pm

Ok, that was a short chapter, so here's another chapter 7, enjoy.

Malls and Mayhem

AN: Okay, disclaimer: I don't own Escaflowne or any of its characters. And I don't have a beta reader or anything, so please forgive any grammatical or spelling errors. I do try to proofread.

Okay, so Van and Allen are finally out of the house! Hopefully this is amusing, though I don't think I spent enough time on all the wierd things they'd see. Oh well. Can't fit everything in!

Van climbed gratefully out of the car and surveyed the seemingly endless rows of Mystic Moon vehicles. The drive had been uneventful, if you didn't count a few near-death experiences, and Hitomi grinned at him as she came up to his side. Allen slammed his door shut and glared at Annie, clearly still angry about being told he “squealed like a girl”. Annie blithely ignored him and led the way towards the distant entrance.

“Okay, somebody remember where we parked, because God knows I won't,” she said cheerfully. Van and Allen looked worried. How could anyone remember where they parked in this sea of cars? Hitomi smiled and pointed at some marks painted on a post nearby

“Don't worry, I can get us back here,” she said reassuringly to Van. He nodded and silently hoped she was right. They hadn't even entered this “mall”, and he was already overwhelmed. Groups of people streamed constantly in and out of the entrance, and their small group joined the throng.

The air inside was warm, and Van was glad he'd taken Annie's suggestion and left his coat in the car. Hundreds of people strolled the long corridor, and their voices echoed and ran together to create an almost deafening throb of sound. There were many other unidentifiable sounds mixing in and above the noise of people, and Van's head ached trying to sort it all out. It was somehow dimmer inside than he'd expected, but the shops on either side of the hallway were brightly lit and full of strange clothes and even stranger Mystic Moon objects. Van and Allen slowed to a stop a few feet inside the doorway and just stared, dumbfounded. Hitomi looked back and saw that the two men had come to a halt.

“Are you guys alright?” she asked, coming back to stand in front of Van.

“It's just...very different,” Van finally answered slowly. Allen didn't seem capable of speech at the moment. He just stared wide-eyed at a group of teenagers dressed head to toe in goth attire. Annie turned around to see what the hold-up was, hands on her hips.

“What's going on? We haven't even gotten into the main part of the mall yet!”

That got Van and Allen's attention. This wasn't the main part of the mall? How big was this building? Annie headed down the corridor again, and Allen followed close at her heels, as if he was nervous of getting left behind and lost.

“What is in this mall?” Van asked Hitomi, still looking around him and making no move to start walking.

“A couple hundred stores, some restaurants and bars, an amusement park, lots of things,” she answered brightly. Smiling, she took Van's hand and started to pull him along. Startled out of his confusion by the feel of Hitomi's cool fingers gripping his own, Van picked up the pace to walk beside her.

“What's an amusement park?” he asked, intertwining his fingers with hers. It felt right, natural, to be walking along like that.

“Uhm, well...it's a place you go to have fun. There's rides and games and stuff-- You'll understand better when you see it,” Hitomi said, making a face at her bad discription. She wanted to sing, to skip down the hallway, maybe do a victory dance. This was one of her daydreams come true! Van, holding her hand and wasting time with her in the mall, just like normal people. Instead of skipping, she settled for swinging their hands a little more than was necessary as they walked, grinning like a mad fool. Van could practically feel the waves of joy radiating off her and grinned himself. He wasn't exactly sure what she was happy about, but he hoped it had something to do with him and his hand in hers.

Allen was not enjoying himself nearly as much as Van. For one thing, Annie had given him a mini-lecture on judging people by their appearances, and for another, he'd noticed the two behind him: Hitomi practically glowing and Van silently ecstatic merely because they were holding hands. Gods, it was painful to see.

“Well, would you look at that?” Annie asked, now walking backwards and watching Van and Hitomi. Allen grabbed her arm and whipped her around after she nearly ran into an elderly couple.

“Can you please just act normal?” he hissed out between clenched teeth. The last thing he wanted to listen to was Annie rhapsodizing about how perfect Van and Hitomi were together. Annie pulled her arm out of his grip and glared ferociously at him.

“I was just getting a better look at them! God, I thought we agreed that you'd loosen up!”

“Only if you stopped being so annoying. And what do you think they'll do if they notice you staring at them?”

Annie stopped for a moment, considering. “Oh...yeah. Okay, I'll give you this one.”

Allen just managed not to roll his eyes. “Thank you. Now where the hell are we going in this maze?”

“Uh...” Annie stopped and turned around again. “Hey, Tomi, where're we going?”

“Let's go to the middle first,” Hitomi suggested as she and Van caught up with them. Allen looked away from their intertwined fingers and Annie gave him a shrewd glance. Their group started moving again, and Allen found himself on the far side of Annie; he had to look around her to see Hitomi or Van.

“Is this place always this crowded?” Van asked Hitomi as they fought their way through the crowds. Annie and Allen kept getting separated from them as they weaved their way through the hall.

“It's Christmas in three days,” Hitomi answered, as if that explained everything. “Everyone's out getting their last minute Christmas gifts, so it's kind of mayhem all over the place. Oh, look! There's the park!”

Hitomi dragged Van over to a railing and leaned over. Van leaned over as well and stared, open-mouthed. Below them sprawled an indoor park crowded with people and bizarre machines. The noise emanating from it was incredible. People were shrieking, music was blaring, and the machines were all roaring and clanking. Van could see no real point to any of the machines. They all seemed designed to spin people around, throw them up in the air, or whip them around at high speeds. And people stood in lines to get on them for a few brief minutes, and then get off and run to the next machine. It was the strangest thing he'd ever seen.

“Hitomi, what are those machines? Why are all those people getting on and off them?” he finally asked, genuinely at a loss. He had known the Mystic Moon would be strange, but...

Hitomi laughed at his confusion. “They're rides, Van. People just get on them for the fun of it.”

“Why would that possibly be fun?” Allen asked, just as dumbfounded as Van.

“It's the thrill of it,” Annie said, standing on tiptoe and hanging as much of herself as possible over the railing. “You know. People want to feel like they're in danger, just a little bit. Except they want to be perfectly safe while they're doing it. It's an oxymoron.”

Van and Allen frowned, clearly not understanding the idea of pointless fun. Hitomi gave Van's hand a squeeze and smiled brightly at him.

“We'll go on a few of them later and maybe it'll make more sense,” she told him. Van smiled back. Whatever she wanted to do, he'd do, even if he didn't really get the point.

Allen clenched his jaw tightly. He concentrated on the whirling machines below him, trying to ignore Hitomi giving Van those beautiful smiles. She'd never smiled like that at him, not even when he'd kissed her. No, especially not when he'd kissed her. She'd seen Van, and he knew that she'd wanted to run after him. Gods, even then she had belonged to Van.

“Hey, Tomi. Let's split up for a while,” Annie said suddenly. “You and Van can go do what you want, and I'll go with Allen to finish my Christmas shopping, okay?”

Hitomi looked confused. “Sure, if you want to. But we could come along with you, too.”

“No, you can't. Unless you want to pick out your own present,” Annie replied firmly. Allen felt like jumping over the railing. Another match-making attempt by Annie, meaning he was stuck with her again. Life just wasn't fair. He listened half-heartedly as the two girls picked a meeting place and time, then followed Annie resignedly back into the crush of people.

They picked their way through the crowds silently for a long time, and Allen slowly came to realize that Annie didn't seem at all inclined to do any actual shopping. It didn't surprise him, but it annoyed him, and he wished they were five years old so he could pull her hair.

“You don't have any shopping to do, do you?” he spat out. Annie doged a very large and scary-looking woman and smirked at him.

“Of course not. I finished it weeks ago.”

“So now I have to wander around with you just to give Van and Hitomi some time alone together. Brilliant plan,” he said acidly. Annie whipped around to face him, and he was surprised at the angry glare on her face.

“That's nice. That's really nice,” she hissed. “I go out of my way to try to help you out, and all you can do is bitch at me. God, I should've just let you sit there sulking.”

Allen gave her a skeptical look. “You had us split up to help me?”

“Did you want to keep watching them being all cute together?” Annie demanded. “We can meet back up with them right now if you want. Lord knows I don't really want your company, either.”

She started to stalk back the direction they'd just came, and Allen reached out and stopped her.

“I'm sorry. I didn't realize...Thank you,” he said quietly as she scowled at him.

“Well, you're welcome,” she mumbled, still scowling. “Just stop moping and try to have some fun. If I've got to put up with you for the next few hours, then you've got to smile, Mr. Crankypants.”

“Agreed,” Allen replied, forcing a small smile. “What are we going to do for the next few hours?”

Annie tapped her chin. “Hmm... wanna get a tattoo?”

“What? No!”

“Blech. You're so boring. You have a sister, right?” she asked.

“Yes...” Allen answered warily. Annie grabbed him by the sleeve, grinning.

“Let's find her a Christmas present. Oh! And let's get some coffee. And...” and she was off, dragging Allen helplessly behind in her wake.

Hitomi watched Allen and Annie disappear into the crowd and turned to smile at Van. He still had her hand in his, and he had leaned back against the railing, the perfect picture of lazy nonchalance. He looked so happy, so relaxed, and so damn hot, that Hitomi unconsciously leaned close to him.

“So, Van, what do you want to do?” she asked, a little breathlessly. Oh, he smelled sooo good.

“I don't even know what there is to do,” he answered honestly. Their hands were loosely intertwined now, and he moved his thumb in lazy circles, enjoying the feel of her silky skin.

Hitomi felt a delicious shiver of goosebumps run up her arm at the way his calloused thumb moved across her hand. Lord, they could just stay here like this for the next few hours as far as she was concerned. But Van was here to see the Mystic Moon, not just to hold her hand and give her goosebumps.

“We could...just walk around and look at the stores for a while. I'd like to get something to send back for Merle. And we could get something to eat, check out the rides...whatever you want.”

“What kind of thing did you want to get for Merle?” Van asked, standing straight again. Hitomi took that as a sign to start moving again, and they plunged back into the crowds.

“I don't know. I want to get her something she's never seen before. You know, something that's obviously from the Mystic Moon,” she replied. “So you tell me if anything like that jumps out at you, and I'll get it.”

Van laughed. “Hitomi, everything here is like that. Merle will never believe me when I tell her about this mall-building. Even the Great Market in Palas can't begin to compare. Are there more like this?”

“Sort of. There's hundreds of thousands of malls all over the world. But this is one of the biggest. Most of them just have some stores, a few restaurants, maybe a movie theater. But no amusement park.”

Van frowned, considering. Most of the stores they'd passed seemed to sell clothing. Some sold kitchenware, and the rest appeared to sell frivolous things. This mall did not seem like the markets he was used to that were used primarily to sell necessary things.

“Do people in this country buy all their clothing in these places?” he asked. Hitomi looked surprised.

“Yeah, of course. Why?”

“There are just so many clothing stores,” Van said, gesturing. “And so many stores selling trinkets. Where is the food market?”

Hitomi looked really puzzled now. “The food...? Oh! We buy food in a grocery store. There isn't one in the mall. At least, I don't think there is.”

Van still looked confused, but Hitomi was too busy pulling him over to a vendor to notice.

“Look, Van! Ice cream! You've got to have an ice cream cone while you're here!” she cried excitedly. Smiling, Van let her drag him to the counter and pick out a flavor for him. She let go of his hand to pay, then handed him his cone, her eyes sparkling. Van looked the treat over uncertainly. A dripping, melting, white glob sat on top of a cone-shaped cookie. He eyed the black chunks in the white goo, wondering how he was supposed to eat this mess.

“Like this, Van,” Hitomi giggled, apparently reading his mind. Van watched as she licked a few drips off her cone and took a small bite out of her mutli-colored blob. Hesitantly, Van took a bite as well. Immediately, his eyes watered, and he pressed a hand to his skull. Hitomi watched him, concern and laughter in her eyes.

“Are you alright?” she asked as he squeezed his eyes shut.

“Yeah...yeah. What happened?”

Hitomi tried to stop her giggles, but failed. “You got an ice cream headache. You have to take smaller bites. Or just lick it.”

Tentatively, Van tried again. This time he only licked at the drips making their way down the cone. The stuff actually tasted pretty good when it wasn't causing excrutiating pain. Grinning, Hitomi took his hand again, and they sauntered on their way through the giant mall.

The time passed quickly as Hitomi took Van into one store after another searching for Merle's gift. It was difficult, because Hitomi didn't want to get her something that needed batteries, and because they spent a lot of time just looking at things that Van had never seen before. She loved the way his eyes lit up whenever they came across something new and astonishing.

“Whoa,” Hitomi said eventually as Van watched a mechanical dog doing flips, “We've got to meet up with Allen and Annie in a few minutes.”

Van let her pull him out of the store. “Where are we supposed to meet them?”

“The Lego store, which is all the way back by the park. And we're supposed to be meeting them there in five minutes!”

When they finally reached the designated store, they found Annie bouncing up and down and Allen looking like he was fighting a massive headache.

“Dear God, did you have an espresso?” Hitomi demanded as Annie nearly knocked over half the store waving at them.

“Is that what did it?” Allen asked wearily. Annie looked apologetic.

“It was just a little one,” she said with a sheepish grin at Hitomi. “Sooooo, where do you want to eat?”

The guys didn't have a preference, and Annie couldn't stand still, so Hitomi decided they'd go to the food court.

“Mmm, yummy! Fast food!” Annie chirped as she hopped down the hallway ahead of them.

“How long is this going to last?” Allen demanded. Annie turned around and made a face at him.

“Not too long,” Hitomi told him reassuringly. “Caffeine makes her crazy for about two hours, and then she goes back to normal. Normal for her, anyway.”

Van looked from Annie to Allen, frowning. “I thought she had shopping to do.”

Allen opened his mouth nervously, at a loss for what explanation to give. Luckily, they reached the food court before he had to formulate an answer. Hitomi listed off each restaurant as they passed it and gave a brief description of the available food. Stumped by the sheer number of choices, Van and Allen both decided to eat whatever Hitomi was eating. A stomachful of hamburgers and french fries later, and they headed back towards the amusement park.

Annie ran ahead to get their ride passes. Allen rubbed his temples and swore that for the rest of this trip, he wouldn't let her near coffee, let alone an espresso. Thank the gods it was starting to wear off. Hitomi and Van were still holding hands wherever they walked, and Allen felt like an awkward third wheel. Not awkward enough to feel a whole lot of relief when Annie came back with their wristbands, though.

“What do you want to go on?” Hitomi asked Van after they'd snapped their bands on. Van just looked around and shook his head, not really certain he wanted to go on any of these machines.

“I vote we go on that one,” Annie said, pointing to the rollercoaster. No one objected, and they lined up and got into the cars. Hitomi showed Van how to work the safety harnesses,and they were off.

Van gripped the handlebar as the cart whipped around the track. His stomach dropped to the bottom of his feet and then back up into his throat as the cart twisted and plunged. Hitomi and Annie had been right. The thrill of rushing along uncontrollably gave him a pleasant rush of andrenaline pumping through his system and he found himself grinning. Next to him, he could hear Hitomi's gasps as the cart careened around the track, and he could hear Annie laughing hysterically in the seats ahead of them. Unfortunately, the ride was over and they all tumbled out of their seats before Van really started to enjoy himself.

“Well, what did you think?” Hitomi asked him, a grin spread from ear to ear.

“I think I get the point of it,” Van answered laughingly as they walked away from the ride. Annie was having a difficult time standing upright, she was laughing so hard. Allen glared at her, his fists clenched.

“You did it again!” she wheezed out, wiping tears from her eyes.

“I did NOT “squeal like a girl”!” Allen gritted out. Van and Hitomi smothered their laughter and stayed out of the argument.

“Hey, let's go on that one!” Hitomi cried, grabbing Van's hand and dragging him over to the next ride. Van found himself laughing and enjoying himself immensely on the strange Mystic Moon machines, whether from the pure fun of it or because Hitomi was obviously loving every minute of it, he wasn't sure. Sometimes the group split up, hopping on different rides, and sometimes one or more of them would just stand and watch the others.

Hitomi refused to go on the circling swings with Annie, so Van stayed on the sidelines with her while Allen and Annie got on the ride. He didn't mind sitting that one out, since it looked pretty boring. The swings just spun in a circle, but Annie said it made her feel like she was flying. Van and Hitomi leaned on the rail, watching as their two friends were spun around and around. Hitomi turned to smile at him, and Van was mesmerized by the happy sparkle in her eyes. He reached out and brushed a strand of hair off her cheek, and watched as the pink color spread across her skin. Gods, he wished they were somewhere more private than here, with hundreds of people jostling around them.

“Hey guys! What next?” Annie chirped from behind them. They turned to see her grinning at them and a decidedly green Allen holding on to the rail.

“That's why I never go on those things,” Hitomi told him seriously as she led him to a bench. The poor man really looked like he was going to be sick.

“What a wuss,” Annie said, rolling her eyes at Van as they stayed standing at the rail. “So, what do you think of the mall, Van?”

“It's overwhelming,” Van answered honestly. “There's nothing like this on Gaea. It's too crowded for my tastes.”

Annie wrinkled her nose. “Yeah. Four floors of materialistic decadence. It's overwhelming for us and we're used to over-the-top commercialism.”

They watched Hitomi giving Allen something cold to drink and attempting to fan him with a napkin. Annie shook her head disbelievingly.

“Good Lord, she's too nice. I can't believe he got sick on the swings. Oh well, we'd better go help before he blows chunks all over.”

They went over to help Hitomi, but after two minutes, Van decided Allen would probably get better faster if Annie was far, far away from him. He dragged her away to the next ride, leaving Hitomi with the knight.

“Feeling better?” she asked after a few more minutes. Allen took a few deep breaths and nodded.

“How do you people stand all this?” he groaned, gesturing to the crowds, the noise, the general mayhem.

“Just used to it, I guess,” Hitomi said with a smile. “Although I wouldn't want to do this every day. I'm sorry about Annie picking at you. She really is a nice person.”

“I know,” Allen sighed. He stood up and Hitomi jumped to her feet eagerly.

“Are you ready for more rides?”

Allen pulled a face. “Just not those damn swings.”

They left the mall as the stores were beginning to close down for the night. True to her word, Hitomi found their car without too much difficulty, and Annie revved the little vehicle up for the ride home. Allen still felt queasy and prayed that she would drive with a little more restraint than she had that morning.

Van leaned back in his seat, his ears still ringing from the constant noise of the mall. He had to try to remember everything: the weird gadgets, the weirder people, the crazy rides, the way the ice cream tasted. Merle would want to know every detail. But besides that, he wanted to remember for himself. He wanted to remember what it was like to be overwhelmed by something, and what it was like to just have wild fun with no expectations.

Across from him, Hitomi had leaned back in her seat as well. It looked like she was falling asleep, despite the fact that Annie was behind the wheel. More than anything, Van wanted to remember how perfect it had been to be with her today. He reached across the seat and took her hand again, and she smiled, her eyes closed. Yeah...perfection. Van closed his eyes and drifted into sleep.

Annie looked back at them in the rearveiw mirror and smiled.

“Aw. Looks like we wore the kids completely out today, honey,” she joked to Allen. He groaned as she swerved through traffic.

“Just get us home alive.”
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » July 22nd, 2008, 2:06 am

Ok, finally half way through, darn my little girl is long winded. *Laughs* Well, on with the story.

Dancing and Groceries

AN:Well, hello, dear readers! Welcome to chapter eight! Once again, just a lighthearted chappie wiith not much going on...but there is a little bit of Van/Hitomi schmoopiness at the end.





Two pairs of shocked eyes stared at Hitomi over the tattered remains of a waffle breakfast. She bit her bottom lip nervously.

“Oh, did I forget to tell you we'd be going to Annie's family Christmas?” she asked. Both men nodded, frowning uncertainly.

“Are you sure that we should be going?” Allen asked. “If it's a family affair...”

“Don't be ridiculous. Everybody's family to my family. Tell them, Tomi,” Annie called from where she was waging war against the morning dishes. Hitomi nodded eagerly.

“The Goettenbergs won't mind you coming. There's so many of them they probably won't even notice you're there. And I've gone for the last three years. I'd like you to meet them. They're my American family.” She looked at Van hopefully and he swallowed his nervousness to smile at her. She wanted him to meet her adopted family. Well, then he'd meet them. He just hoped they liked him.

“I still don't think...” Allen began, but Annie cut him off with a sharp snap from her dishtowel,

“What's wrong with meeting my family?” she demanded as he rubbed the stinging red spot on the back of his neck. “Anyway, you don't have a choice. I've already told them all about you, and they're expecting us. You want to be rude and not go? Peh. Some Mr. Manners.”

“I just don't want to impose!”Allen said, still rubbing his neck. Damn, that snap hurt! Annie rolled her eyes, and Hitomi jumped in and changed the subject.

“Like I said, we'll leave for Aunt Vera's tomorrow, so today is totally free. I've just got some presents to wrap. You have any plans, Annie?”

“Hmm, yeah. I've gotta bake some Christmas cookies, which means a grocery run,” Annie said absentmindedly. Allen glanced at her worriedly, and she snapped the dishtowel at him again, scowling.

“Oh, quit it. I only have a problem with gingerbread men.”

Allen looked doubtful, but kept his mouth shut and rubbed his reddened neck. That piece of cloth doubled as a lethal weapon in the small girl's hands.

“I'd like to see your food market,” Van volunteered. “That is, if you're okay with bringing me along.”

Annie grinned at him. “Of course. It'll be boring, but we can all go. I was planning on leaving after the kitchen was cleaned.”

“I'll help,” Van said, picking up his plate and getting to his feet. Annie looked at him quizzically.

“Are you the one that packed the dishwasher last time?” she asked. He nodded, and she took the plate from him. “Ah. Well, no thanks. I can finish this myself.”

Hitomi giggled as Van sat back down sheepishly. Smiling, she yawned and stretched lazily in her chair. It was almost noon already, since no one had gotten up until late morning. Who knew shopping could be so exhausting?

The dishes done, everyone once again bundled up and piled into the little car. The drive to the store was short, for which Allen fervently thanked every god he could think of, individually and by name. Annie led the way through the cars and people to the glass doors of a large, sprawling building. Before she touched them, the doors swung open, and she and Hitomi walked through them. Van and Allen stopped, watching the doors uncertainly. Hitomi turned to see them standing just outside the doors as Annie pulled out a cart. Allen kept backing up and walking forward, making the doors swing open and shut.

“What kind of magic is this?” he asked after the tenth time of opening the doors. Hitomi bit down hard on her lips to keep from laughing out loud. Annie had no such hesitations and doubled over laughing.

“It's an automatic door, you fish-brain!” she laughed. “It opens when you trigger the sensors. 'Magic'! Oh, lord, I love it!”

Van and Allen looked sheepish as they finally walked through the doors and into the store. Hitomi rapped Annie lightly on the head to get her to stop laughing.

“They don't have automatic doors on Gaea, Annie,” she reminded her tightly, although she still felt like laughing a little bit herself. Annie sobered up and looked apologetically at Van and Allen.

“Right, yeah. Sorry. But it was really funny to watch,” she said, still grinning widely. Van shrugged good-naturedly, remembering times Hitomi had been surprised by what he considered mundane things. Allen merely gave a tight nod, frowning. Annie rolled her eyes and poked him.

“Allen, you take yourself way too seriously. You should try pulling the stick out of your ass and laughing a little,” she said earnestly. Allen spluttered, outraged, but she ignored him and pulled out a shopping list. Pushing the cart ahead of her with one hand, she led the way into the store.

Van could hear her muttering things like “dozen eggs” and “green sprinkles” under her breath, but he was too busy gaping at the strange things around him to pay attention. Rows upon rows of strangely packaged foods filled the store. It looked like there was enough to feed the entire capital of Fanelia, with some left over. People swarmed the shelves, their identical metal carts full of a mind-boggling array of boxes, bags, and cans of food. But the thing that shocked Van the most was the gigantic fresh produce section.

“How can you get fresh foods in the winter?” he asked as he picked up an apple and examined it for signs of aging. It looked perfectly ripe and fresh.

Hitomi shrugged nonchalantly. “All this stuff gets shipped here from wherever it's grown. During the summer we can go to farmer's markets, which are kind of like your markets on Gaea.”

“Everyone in this city must come here to buy food,”Allen said as his eyes scanned the massive amounts of food and crowds of people. Annie looked up from her list long enough to give him a mocking smile.

“There's probably over two hundred grocery stores in the metro. It's just busy because it's Christmas Eve tomorrow,” she said before returning to her shopping. “Let's finish this fast, people. I hate grocery shopping during the day!”

“You can come here at night?” Van asked incredulously as they trotted after the cart.

“Oh yeah. I usually shop at two or three in the morning. No lines, no rude people--” Annie stopped abprutly as a chubby woman pushed her cart forcefully past, nearly running over Allen in the process. “Bah, humbug to you, too, lady! I hope you get coal this year!” she called angrily after her. She threw a few more items in her cart, scanned her list, and led the way to the check out lines.

“Why do you hope she gets coal?” Allen asked, still rubbing his sore elbow.

Annie looked at the long line ahead of them and sighed. “Because she was rude.You know, Santa brings toys to good boys and girls, and bad ones get a lump of coal. So she should get coal instead of presents this year.”

“Santa?” Van and Allen asked together. Annie stopped impatiently drumming her fingers and Hitomi turned back from perusing the magazines. Both girls stared at them open-mouthed.

“Yeah, Santa. The jolly fat man in the red suit? With the sleigh and the reindeer? You've never heard of Santa Claus?” Annie asked incredulously. Van and Allen looked at each other, perplexed. Should they know who this Santa Claus was?

Hitomi slowly shook her head. “No, they wouldn't have heard of him, Annie. Santa isn't universal, you know.”

Annie still looked shocked, scandalized even. “You don't know anything about Santa...man, that's terrible! Okay, listen up. Santa is a little, fat, jolly man with a big belly that jiggles when he laughs, and red cheeks with a big white beard. He wears a red suit with white fur trim, and he lives at the North Pole. And he's got a list of all the good and bad kids. All year long his elves make toys for Santa to deliver on Christmas Eve to good kids all over the world. So, on Christmas Eve, his reindeer fly his sleigh all to deliver the toys. They land on the rooftops and Santa jumps down the chimney and puts the presents under the tree while everyone's asleep. Get it?”

Van and Allen stared at her for several long seconds.

“That's the most deranged thing I've ever heard. Who would actually believe something like that?” Allen finally said bluntly. Annie actually started to turn red, and Allen grinned, a wicked gleam in his eye. “You believe in this ridiculous Santa Claus story?” he demanded mockingly. Annie blushed harder and smacked him on the arm.

“NO I do not. I did when I was a kid. Everybody believes in Santa when they're little!” she exclaimed. Allen snickered, and she glared daggers at him. “You're gonna get a big lump of coal in your stocking this year, you dirty unbelieving, ...unbeliever!”

Van and Hitomi valiantly bit back their chuckles as they helped to bag the groceries. Allen was still grinning, savoring his moment. As they walked back out to the car, he could hear Annie singing something under her breath.

“Allen got run over by a reindeer, coming home from our house Christmas Eve...You can say you don't believe in Santa, but as for me and...and...me, we believe!”

Then Allen laughed for the first time since he'd arrived on the Mystic Moon. Annie stopped singing and looked up at him, surprised. She did her trademark nose-wrinkle and grinned at him over the top of her grocery bag.

“Maybe you DO have a little sense of humor hidden in there somewhere,” she said happily. “A really little one. Teeny-weeny. But you've got one!”

Allen bit back a retort and let that one slide. Maybe Annie was right and he needed to learn to laugh at himself more often. Perhaps he should try harder to be more relaxed while he was here. It might help him get through the next few days. His smile faded as he observed Van and Hitomi together.They didn't say much to each other, and they hardly touched, but it was the way they looked at each other when they thought no one was looking. Yeah, it was definitely harder to have a sense of humor watching that.

Once home, Annie corralled them into helping her with the cookies. It was an experience that Van and Allen had certainly never had before, and probably wouldn't ever have again once they returned to their lives on Gaea. Hitomi couldn't help but to laugh good-naturedly at Van's clumsy attempts at decorating. His cookies looked like they had been caught in the crossfire of a frosting and sprinkle war. God, it was so strange and wonderful to see him happy and doing something as mundane as frosting cookies. And the dap of icing on his nose really made him look undeniably cute. Hitomi vowed to thank every star in the sky for cameras as she snapped a few pictures of him.

Later that evening, Hitomi sat on the floor with her present wrapping supplies spread out in front of the Christmas tree. Van had stretched out on his back on the floor next to her, his arms behind his head and his eyes closed. The twinkling Christmas tree lights cast a soft glow over his chiseled form, and Hitomi, assuming he was asleep, paused often to study him lovingly. Annie had dragged Allen downstairs after supper to teach him how to play darts, and the sound of the music Annie turned on drifted up from the basement.

It's gonna take a lot to take me away from you

There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do...

Hitomi sang along quietly to the parts of the song she knew as she finished wrapping her last present. She looked up to find Van watching her with a small, gentle smile, the smile he reserved only for her. The song changed, and Hitomi held her hand out to Van.

“Dance with me,” she said softly. One daydream had come true wandering around the mall. Why not this one?

Van looked uncertain. “I don't really...dance.”

“C'mon, Van, it's easy,” Hitomi said, pulling him to his feet with her. She put his arms around her waist and her arms around his shoulders. “See? Now we just sway to the music. Nothing to it.”

I don't get many things right the first time, in fact, I am told that a lot

Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls, brought me here

And where was I before the day that I first saw your lovely face?

Now I see it every day. And I know...

That I am, I am, I am the luckiest

The lights twinkled, the music played, and Hitomi rested her head on Van's shoulder. His arms drew her gently closer to him as they swayed to the soft music from the basement.

And in a wide sea of eyes, I see one pair that I recognize

And I know...that I am, I am, I am the luckiest

Van closed his eyes, his heart thudding painfully against his chest. Hitomi's warm breaths tickled his neck, raising delicious goose pimples on his skin. Her curves fit perfectly, naturally, against him. Oh, gods, she was perfect.

I love you more than I have ever found a way to say to you...

Hitomi could hear Van's heartbeat under his shirt as she rested her head against him. His hands were warm against her back, and she found herself wishing he'd let his hands drift a little further down. Slowly, she lifted her head to gaze up into Van's dimly illuminated face as the song flowed towards the end.

I'm sorry, I know that's a strange way to tell you that I know we belong

That I know that I am, I am, I am...the luckiest...

Van couldn't take his eyes off hers as she stared up at him. The twinkling lights of the tree were reflected like stars in the beautiful green pools of her irises, Suddenly, Van couldn't breath or think. Hitomi leaned in closer to him, pressing up against him. He instinctively leaned down towards her, one hand coming up to gently draw her head back as her eyes fluttered closed.

I like big butts and I cannot lie! You other brothers can't deny...

“Whoohoo! Allen! Here's a song for you! Wait, we've gotta get Van and Hitomi down here for this one!” Annie shouted from the basement.

Startled, Van and Hitomi pulled away from each other. They could hear Annie coming up the basement stairs calling for them to come join the party. Hitomi started to laugh. If Annie only knew what she'd interrupted, she'd probably beat herself silly. The look on Van's face at the song now blasting from the downstairs speakers was priceless.

My homeboys tried to warn me, but that butt you got makes me so horny!...

“What the hell?...” he gasped. Hitomi grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the basement, still laughing. Fate seemed perversely determined to keep Van's lips away from her own. Well, they still had a little over a week. If need be, Hitomi would find Fate, beat it up and hog-tie it to a stake. And then she would tackle Van and molest him.

Tomorrow they'd all be going to Annie's family Christmas, and Hitomi doubted there'd be any chance for romance while they were there. The house would be so crowded, there would hardly be breathing room, let alone someplace for a quiet, intimate moment. Oh well. Sometime in the near future she'd get her chance again. For now, she was going to whup his ass in darts.

AN: In case you care, the three songs were: "Africa" by Toto, "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds Five, and "Big Butts" by Sir Mixalot. Until next time, ja ne!
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Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

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