Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » September 1st, 2008, 5:20 pm

Truth is, Sakura, that's the way people over here say those things. I suppose the German that came over with our great-great grandparents changed over the years. It's was very interesting seeing your corrections in your post. Even in the German classes I had, I don't remember it being that way. Is it possible we learned from a different dialect of german?
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » September 1st, 2008, 5:30 pm

On to chapter 18. Dinky has written a couple more chapters, so I have more to post yet. Bet you didn't think you'd be reading a novel when you started this.

Truth and Karma

Warning!! This is an entirely AxA chapter, so if that bores you, you've been warned! I'm actually really nervous about posting this chapter, since there isn't any VxH in it at all...I apologize to all of you who are looking for that. I promise more fluff with them next chapter. Anyway, it is what it is. Feel free to lambaste me with flames if you wish.



On with the story!

Allen's head throbbed with the reverberating bass of the strange Mystic Moon music as he edged around the crowded dance floor. Hitomi and Van had disappeared back to the hotel almost an hour ago, from what he overheard at the table, and he only caught random glimpses of Annie as he circled the dance floor restlessly. He felt agitated and unsettled, such totally foreign emotions to his natural calm that he found himself pacing relentlessly. He couldn't even put his finger on why he was feeling that way, and that only made it worse. Part of it stemmed from guilt about his conversation with Annie, but it went deeper than that. Something he just couldn't define...

A slender, perfectly manicured hand curled around his arm and brought his pacing to an abrupt halt. Allen turned slightly to see a pair of brilliant aquamarine eyes just inches away from his own.

“Hi there, Allen. Remember me?” the tall, blond girl questioned with a wide smile. Allen had the fleeting thought that two weeks ago, he might have found her beautiful. Now, he just noticed that she looked slightly drunk.

“Um, yeah. Miranda, right?” he replied politely. He wished she'd unhook her arm from his and stop leaning on him so much.

“That's right,” Miranda giggled. She started to pull him onto the floor. “C'mon and dance with me. You haven't been dancing all night.”

“Oh, I really don't dance,” Allen began, searching for a polite way to get her to let go of him.Miranda laughed and tightened her grip.

“I'm not gonna give up that easy. You're one of the best looking guys in here.”

There wasn't much room out on the floor, and Allen found himself wedged up tightly to Miranda as she moved to the beat. He felt awkward and uncomfortable as she pulled his hands across her waist and pressed her back against his chest. But he couldn't deny she'd given his ego a little boost, and dancing with her felt a lot better than pacing aimlessly. Besides, Annie had been the one to tell him it was just meaningless fun. He grooved along in time with the blond girl in his arms, living in the moment. Tomorrow, maybe, he'd regret this, but he supposed he could chalk it up to the alcohol flowing through his veins.

Miranda was a bit too tall, and not as good a dancer, but if he just closed his eyes, he could pretend she was...NO!

Allen snapped his eyes open resolutely. He was not going to think of her like that. Not Annie. Not the girl with the loud mouth, mischievous eyes, and a penchant for laughing at him. Never mind that she was honest and sweet, that she sang like an angel and danced like a vixen. She was just too...crazy. And she was Hitomi's closest friend.

The crowd around them shuffled as two people pushed their way through the throng of dancers. Jason moved people out of the way as he led Annie, one arm wrapped protectively around her shoulders, off the dance floor. Her face looked white and pinched, and she was struggling to breath.

For a moment, Allen stood still, shocked, before plunging into the crowd after them. Miranda gave an indignant squawk, but he ignored it as he worked his way through the seething mass of people. Jason was moving fast and had Annie off the dance floor and over to the coat check before Allen could fight his way over to them. He could pick out Jason's bull-moose voice as he got closer.

“...happens every time. You're scaring the shit outta me, Annie,” Jason was ranting at her. Annie just nodded as she put a small device up to her mouth and inhaled. Her face was still deathly pale, but she seemed to be breathing easier. Jason held up a syringe, and she pulled a face as he plunged it into her upper arm.

“What's going on? Are you alright?” Allen demanded as he reached them. Annie looked over at him, surprised, then waved a hand airily.

“Oh, it's nothing. I'm fine,” she wheezed out.

Jason looked ready to explode. “Fine my ass! You have a full-blown asthma attack in the middle of a crowded dance floor, and you say you're fine?”

Annie rolled her eyes, but took another puff from her inhaler before speaking. “If it was a full-blown one, we'd be heading to the hospital right now. Stop being so dramatic!”
“Maybe you should go back to the hotel,” Allen suggested. He had no idea what an asthma attack was, or how serious it could be, but Annie looked pale and he could see that she was still working hard at breathing. It looked almost painful, and Allen had to resist the urge to pick her up and carry her outside to the cleaner, fresher air.

“What? No way!” she exclaimed through her wheezing.

Jason scowled and shoved her coat at her. “Quit whining and put your coat on. I'm taking you back. You can't dance anymore, anyway, and you need to get out of the smoke in here.”

“But you said you were going to hang out with your bouncer friend after closing,” Annie protested. She paused to catch her breath. “I can get back to the hotel by myself.”

“I'll tell Brendan shit came up and we can catch up some other time,” Jason said firmly. Annie set her mouth into a stubborn line and refused to put her coat on.

“Nuh-uh. I'm not gonna screw up your plans, J. I'll be fine.”

Allen listened to them argue for a few minutes before he decided to step in.

“Look, I'll go back to the hotel with her,” he said to Jason, ignoring Annie's dark glare. “Van and Hitomi already went back, so we'll just go meet up with them in our rooms. Alright, Annie?”

Annie glared at him a moment longer before agreeing that he had a good plan.

“I still think I should go back with you. What if you have another attack?” Jason argued. Annie flung her coat on with a growl.

“You're going to give me one if you don't shut up,” she wheezed angrily. “Hitomi'll be there if anything happens, so just stop worrying and go party. This is supposed to be for your birthday, too, you know.”

The matter seemed settled, even though Jason didn't look very happy about it, so Allen grabbed his coat and made his way outside with Annie. She stopped for a moment out on the pavement and took a few shallow breaths. Allen frowned as he looked her over. Her brown eyes looked huge and dark in her pale face, and she was still wheezing slightly.

“Are you sure you're alright?” he asked quietly, concerned.

“Yes, dammit. Jason always overreacts like this. Like he thinks I'm inches away from death or something,” Annie muttered with a scowl. “C'mon, let's get moving. Cold air isn't so great for me to be breathing right now.”

Allen watched her take a few wobbly steps, then glanced up the street towards their hotel. It wasn't a very long walk, but still...He stopped in front of her, turning around and gesturing for her to climb onto his back.

Annie eyed him with suspicion. “What do you think you're doing?”

“I'm going to carry you back to the hotel,” Allen explained slowly, like he would to a child. “It'll be faster and easier for you this way.”

“You've got to be kidding. How drunk are you?” Annie asked incredulously. She made no move to get onto his back, and Allen sighed in exasperation.

“I'm not drunk! Just get on and quit wasting time!”

“No way. I don't need your help, Allen,” Annie wheezed as she crossed her arms defiantly.

Allen turned his head to look her squarely in the eye. “You don't have to pretend to be so independent all the time. It won't hurt to let me help you.”

Annie puffed out her cheeks, scowling heavily. She tapped her foot and looked pointedly away. Allen remained patiently still, waiting. Annie glanced back at him, and he raised his eyebrows mockingly. Finally, she threw her hands up with an exasperated sigh.

“Alright, fine. You win,” she exclaimed as she walked over to him. “Don't you dare drop me. I know you're about as sober as I am.”

Allen grinned as he set off with her securely attached to his back. He was content to celebrate his small victories as he weaved his way down the sidewalk towards their hotel. And he was even more relieved to hear Annie's breathing returning to near-normal by the time they reached the doors.

“See? That wasn't so bad,” he pointed out as he walked them inside and let her slide to the floor. Annie whacked his arm lightly, and he was glad to see a slight blush creep over her pale cheeks.

“Shut up. If anyone saw that, I'll beat you until you look like a bowl of pudding. Were you weaving on purpose?”

Allen had the grace to look sheepish. “Ah, no. Sorry.”

“S'kay. I just thought you might be trying to make me motion-sick or something,” Annie replied easily, grinning as she pulled out her room key. She swiped it through and pushed her door open.

“So, what do y- Allen! What are you doing?!”

Moving faster than most ninjas, Annie snatched his room key out of his hand just as he was about to swipe it. Before he had time to react, she'd grabbed his arm, yanked him into her room, and shut the door with a snap.

“What the hell-?” Allen stuttered, blinking at her in surprise. He was dismayed to hear her wheezing slightly again.

“Holy crap, Al! Do you have any idea what you almost walked in on?” Annie exploded in a whispered shriek. “For the love of all that's holy, what part of 'Hitomi and Van went back to the hotel together' did you not understand?”

Allen was slightly miffed. “Yes, but Annie, they've been here for almost two hours...”

“And they've got a lot of lost time to make up for. Lemme spell it out for you: Do Not Disturb. You and I are just gonna have to be best friends tonight.”

“That's ridiculous. I'll just- wait, what?” Allen choked as her meaning soaked in. He looked around the room with it's solitary bed. “No. Absolutely not. No.”

Annie rolled her eyes and pushed past him into the room. “Oh, relax, Al. I'm not going to violate you in your sleep. But I will knock your front teeth out if you even think about disturbing you-know-who.”

“It's still not pro- GAH! Annie! What are you doing?!” Allen slapped both hands over his eyes and wheeled around. Annie, her back to him, had started to untie her halter top.

“I'm putting my pj's on. What does it look like I'm doing?” she snapped in a muffled voice as she pulled her shirt over her head.

“Shouldn't you be doing that in the bathroom? Or at least told me to turn around first?” Allen demanded, both hands still firmly clamped over his eyes as he kept his back to her.

“Why? You're not gonna look. Nothing attractive enough to get past your prissy manners. Where the hell's my shirt?”

Allen winced visibly, like he'd just bitten through his tongue. “About that...I apologize for what I said. It wasn't true, and I had no right to say it.”

“No kidding,” Annie replied from somewhere at ground level. “It's bad kharma to insult a girl on her birthday.”

“Bad what?”

“Karma. Like, you have good karma for being a nice person, or vice versa. And good karma means you get to come back as something better in your next life. Ah ha! Here it is! Thought I was gonna have to go topless tonight!”

Allen's imagination kicked into overdrive at her frivolous statement, and he swallowed a groan. Sharing a room with Annie, especially a somewhat drunk Annie, presented more complications than he cared to think about.

“You gonna push your eyeballs out the back of your head or what?” she asked. Frowning, Allen turned around to find her watching him, one hand on her hip and the other holding the partially-full giant wine bottle. Apparently, her idea of pajamas was a tight, spagetti strap tank top that stopped just above her belly button and a pair of very short shorts. Allen gulped nervously. Complications? This was going to be way more difficult to handle than he thought.

“We've got to finish this up tonight. It's gonna get skunky by morning,” she informed him as she plopped herself down on the bed.

“Should you be drinking more after your attack? I thought you were supposed to rest,” Allen said, desperately seeking a way out of his dangerous situation. If he could just convince her to go to sleep, then he could try to make himself comfortable on the floor...

“Can't sleep now. My meds are stimulants, so I'm gonna be pretty wired for a couple hours.”

Allen said a few magnificent curses under his breath as she eyed the remainder of the deep red wine in the bottle.

“You're probably right about the wine, though. Which means now you've got an obligation to drink, because the more you drink, the less I will.” She patted the bedspread next to her and held the bottle out to him. “Bottoms up, Al!”

For several long, uncomfortable moments, Allen stood frozen as she jiggled the wine at him. When he didn't take it, she rolled her eyes and took a long drink straight from the bottle. Growling, he crossed the short distance between them and snatched it out of her hands.

“Great Jichia, don't you have any common sense?” he demanded harshly.

“Again with the bad kharma! You're gonna get reincarnated as a cockroach.”

Allen gave up. What was the use of fighting when she was more stubborn than him and determined to get her way? He drained half the wine in one swig and flung himself down on the bed next to Annie's cross legged form.

“By the way, thanks for coming back with me. Sorry you had to ditch Miranda,” she said lightly. “I'm sure you could hook up with her again tomorrow if you wanted.”

“S'alright. I wasn't really enjoying it, anyway,” he answered honestly. He took another long drink and lay back on the mattress, his eyes closed.

Annie propped her chin on her hand with a mischievous smirk. “Oh really? Because it looked to me like you were having a great time.”

Allen opened one eye a crack to look at the smile on her face. He was disturbed to realize how much it rankled him that she didn't care that he'd been dancing this close to one of her friends. She waggled her eyebrows laughingly at him, and he decided to change the subject.

“Why didn't you tell me about your...asthma?” he asked, dredging the name up from his somewhat foggy brain. Annie frowned, but answered readily.

“Didn't see the point. I don't get attacks very often, but when I do, they're usually bad. I only get them when I'm over-emotional, or I'm being way too active, or weird stuff like that.”

Allen frowned. “So what brought it on tonight?”

“Geez, what is this? Are we playing Truth?” Annie muttered, grabbing the bottle from him. He grabbed it back before she could take a drink.

“What do you mean, playing truth?”

“Truth or Dare, without the Dare. We take turns asking questions and we have to answer honestly, no matter what,” Annie replied, making another dive for the bottle. He held it out of her reach easily, and she crossed her arms and pouted.

“Fine, Mr. Greedy. It's my turn, then. What's your deepest, darkest secret?”

Allen choked on his mouthful of wine. “What? That's not a fair question.”

“How would you know? So c'mon. Spill!” she demanded.

Allen eyed her silently, uncertain. His darkest, most shameful secret was one he'd only willingly shared with one other person, Hitomi. It had almost been like he had to tell her, to give her the chance to turn tail and run. But he didn't want Annie to know, he didn't want to see how she'd look at him after she knew what he had done. But another part of him wanted her to know, and he couldn't explain why.

Telling the truth was the rule in this crazy game. It may have been a lame excuse, but it gave the part of him that wanted to be honest the edge to gain dominance. Annie watched him intently, and he fiddled with the long neck of the wine bottle. Finally, he heaved a deep sigh and began to speak.

“When I was younger, just making a name for myself in the Asturian army, I met the eldest daughter of my king. Her name was Marlene...”

Annie listened silently, wide-eyed, to his long, painful story. Allen's voice filled with self-loathing and regret as he came to the bitter conclusion of his ill-fated love affair. He studied the pattern of the bedspread intently, unwilling to look into Annie's eyes and see how she felt now that she knew everything.

“So then...Chid's your kid, huh?” Annie finally said, her voice gentle. “God, that must be really hard to know and never be able to tell him.”

“No more than I deserve,” Allen gritted out, his voice hoarse.

Annie rolled her eyes. “There you go again, carrying around cart-loads of guilt.”

Allen angrily pushed himself up into a sitting position and glared at her. “Yes, I'm guilty! I had no right to touch her! And then I just left her to face the consequences of my actions alone. The Duke could have sent her back to Asturia in disgrace! He could have exiled her, even killed her and her child for it! And I did nothing. Nothing!”

“Alright, Drama Queen, that's enough,” Annie snapped. Allen glared at her, and she glared just as fiercely back. “You know what my grandma always said? It takes two to tango, so unless you were forcing her, she's half responsible.”

Allen refused to back down. “Even so, I still let her face the consequences alone!”

“Did you know she was pregnant before she left for Fried?” Annie demanded. “Did she tell you before she'd worked things out for herself? Did she ask for your help?”

Allen's face looked slightly ashen. “...no. I didn't know until later, after Chid was born. I got a short letter from her explaining what had happened, telling me not to say or do anything, because the Duke had claimed Chid as his son. The Duke...the Duke loved her enough to cover up her indiscretion.”

“And what would you have done if she had told you? If she'd asked for your help?”

Allen's spine stiffened and his eyes flashed. “I would have done anything, everything, to save her honor. I would have said I raped her, if necessary, to spare her and the child.”

“In other words, if you'd known, you wouldn't have let her face it alone,” Annie concluded. “I think it's time to let go of the guilt, Al. Everybody makes mistakes, and you can't change the past, and all those other annoying cliches. Marlene wouldn't like you beating yourself up over it, either.”

“You make it sound so simple,” Allen grumbled.

“It is simple, Al. It's pretty black and white,” Annie retorted, poking him hard in the chest. “You both screwed up. It happens. Not to sound harsh, but get over it already! You've milked that guilt train for long enough.”

Allen rubbed the spot she'd poked and grimaced. “I don't like to feel guilty, you know.”

“Yeah. Sure. Except that you feel guilty about Marlene and Chid, you feel guilty about your sister, you feel guilty about your father...”

“What do you know about my father?” Allen demanded, surprised. Annie just looked at him with wide, innocent eyes.

“Just the little bit Hitomi told me,” she answered readily. “What a waste of a question.”

“A question-?”

Annie rolled her eyes and poked him again. “Truth, remember? You asked, I answered, so now it's my turn!”

“That question didn't count-” Allen began, but Annie cut him off.

“Did too. So...hmm...what's your wickedest looking scar? And you gotta show me, too!”

“Showings not part of the game,” Allen grumbled. She made grab for the wine bottle again, this time successfully, and took a long drink.

“Just quit whining and do it, Al. It's good karma!” she said in a sing-song voice. Allen sighed, gave her a dirty look, and pulled his shirt off. The logical part of his brain reminded him that he could've just pulled it up to show his scar, but it was warm in the room. And Annie wouldn't mind. He certainly didn't mind the way his nerves tingled with goosebumps when she ran her fingers over the rough, scarred skin on his abdomen.

“So that's where you got hurt saving Hitomi, huh?” she asked in an awed voice. “Damn, that must've hurt. Okay, your turn!”

“Uhm...”

Over the next hour, Allen found out her favorite color was green (“no, wait! Pink!”), she wanted to see a dragon, she always wished she'd learned ballet, she'd pierced her own belly-button, and her favorite thing to do was run around in the rain and jump in puddles. They'd also finished off the wine and a beer or two each. Annie giggled at him as they relaxed side by side on the bed.

“I can't believe you fell off the bed like that,” she said, kicking her legs up and examining her multi-colored toenails.

“That was your fault. How was I supposed to know if I was ticklish or not? I'd never been tickled before,” Allen muttered half-heartedly. He was too busy watching her bare legs to retort as strongly as he normally would to her comment. She flopped her legs back onto the bed and turned her head to look at him with a frown.

“That's sad, Al. Really, really sad.”

He shrugged and returned his gaze to the ceiling. Was he spinning or was the room? Beside him, Annie pulled the covers back to snuggle under them, curling into a ball on her side. Part of him was grateful for that, because now she'd stop showing so much skin. He might actually have some success getting his brain off the other thing people did in beds.

“It's your turn,” Annie said sleepily, her voice muffled by her pillow. Allen racked his foggy brain for a good question. He supposed he could ask her why he was just sitting there in his boxers, since he couldn't remember what question had necessitated him taking his pants off. That would be kind of a waste, though. Hmmm...

“What's your type?”

“You mean in guys?” she asked. “Guys like Jason, I guess.”

Allen frowned, thinking how very, very different he was from Jason. “So, you like guys with tattoos and lots of muscles?”

“Mmm, muscles...” came the sleepy reply as she snuggled deeper into the blankets. Allen put his arms under his head and closed his eyes, supremely comfortable.

“And is the bull ring in the nose a requirement, too?” he teased.

Annie rolled over and shut off the light. “Hey, I like the bull ring. Whenever I'm torked off at him, I can grab it and get him to do anything I want. That thing's great.”

Allen cracked an eye open to look over at her small, curled-up form. “You're kind of sadistic, you know that?”

“Mm. My turn. Why're you sleeping on top of the covers? And if you say anything about being “proper”, I'll hurt you.”

Allen opened his mouth, thought about it, and shut it again. He hesitated, searching for a plausible reason that didn't involve the word “proper” and didn't make him look like a hormone-driven pervert.

“You're gonna be cold, so just give it up and use the covers. I'm not gonna bite you,” Annie stated. He hesitated for a long minute before giving in and sliding between the sheets.

“That's better. G'night, Al,” she said, satisfaction in her sleepy voice. She rolled over and turned her back to him, sighing with contentment.

“Good night,” he replied, resolutely turning his back as well. It wasn't long before Annie's regular breathing assured him that she was fast asleep, and he congratulated himself on his spectacular self-control. He contemplated following his original plan to sleep on the floor, but he was too warm and comfortable to move. Allen ignored the logical voice in his head telling him he'd regret it in the morning and drifted off to sleep.

How awkward could waking up in the same bed with Annie be?
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by Sakura » September 1st, 2008, 6:15 pm

oldwrench wrote:Is it possible we learned from a different dialect of german?
This is not possible. I know quite a few dialects, including swiss and bavarian. The "german" you use there is wrong by the core it's simply not existing. It's completely nonsenical. For the sake of my language I ask for permission to correct it.
What do you call a dinosaur with an extended vocabulary? A thesaurus.

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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by Sakura » September 1st, 2008, 6:17 pm

oldwrench wrote:On to chapter 18. Dinky has written a couple more chapters, so I have more to post yet. Bet you didn't think you'd be reading a novel when you started this.
She's the Stephen King of Escaflowne :kiss: :kiss:
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » September 1st, 2008, 6:20 pm

Yea,we are quite nonsensical....... just check out our "English". I'll try to check with Dinky, see what she thinks. I don't see why you couldn't change the German, or at least add the corrections in parentheses. I really don't like messing up someones language.
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by JHawkNH » September 4th, 2008, 9:45 pm

I love it so far. Keep them coming.
I actually like long stories with depth better then short stories.
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by Sakura » September 5th, 2008, 8:03 pm

Your're using "American English" which is quite different. Please ask it's impossible to bear
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by Dinky » September 6th, 2008, 6:03 am

Correct it, Sakura! Please do!! I don't like butchering someone's language. And you know, I was just going by what my Grandparents say, so it's really not my fault *hides behind some furniture*. I never took German in school-- just spanish, and I won't even attempt to write/say anything in that!!
And that goes for any other corrections- just go ahead and make them! I'm just writing this story on the fly, so I know there's plenty! Thanks, you guys, for reading this!!
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » September 10th, 2008, 4:45 am

Yea..... go for it Sakura!
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Re: Mystic Moon Vacation (An Escaflowne Story!)

Post by oldwrench » September 10th, 2008, 4:50 am

Chapter 19, we're getting close to all she has written........ so far. I don't think Dinky is done storytelling yet. Well, hope you enjoy.


Mornings and Musings

AN: Alrighty, then! VxH fluff is back, and I hope you all will enjoy! I swear, this story is writing itself without my consent or approval. Stupid thing. Anyway, this felt like a difficult chapter to write for me, but it's done and here it is! It's not quite as fluffy as I originally planned, but I think it turned out okay, anyway. I'm going to try harder to get more VxH moments in the next one, though. I promise!



Hitomi snuggled closer to Van as she slowly drifted away from her dreams into the waking world. The rhythmic rise and fall of his chest told her that he was still sleeping, and she was careful not to move and disturb him.

Van's arm felt heavy but incredibly comforting wrapped across her stomach. She sighed as she snuggled just a tiny bit closer, the heat from his bare chest seeping into her back through her shirt. It was like a little slice of heaven, lying there, although she wished she dared turning over so she could see his face. She wanted to watch him wake up.

Oh, she'd seen him wake up before. But all those times, sleeping on the ground, paranoid of attacks or just worn out from being on the run, those times just didn't count. This would be the first time they'd wake up like this, just the two of them, no worries and no regrets.

Well, no regrets on her part, since there wasn't much to regret in the first place. Oh, they'd spent plenty of time doing all sorts of things that would make Annie cheer and pat them on the back, but that was as far as they'd gone. Hitomi simultaneously blushed and squashed a breathless giggle as memories from last night paraded through her mind and made her skin tingle. She may not have experiences to judge it against, but she was willing to bet her breakfast that last night was incredible.

She was also willing to bet her breakfast, and her lunch, too, that they'd gone as far as Van would or should go. Hitomi could sense the restraint in him, the line he wasn't willing to cross. It had probably been ground into him the moment he hit puberty. Honestly, she didn't really mind. Not having any experience herself, things already felt confusingly too slow and too fast at the same time.

Besides, came the nagging little voice in the back of her head, he was going back to Gaea on the day after New Year's. It might be another five years before they could touch each other again. If ever.

A sickeningly heavy feeling settled in the bottom of Hitomi's throat at the the thought. Her hands curled over Van's arm and pulled it tighter against her body, willing herself to stop thinking about the future and just live in the moment. Van was here, now, lying so close to her she could feel the steady thud of his heartbeat through her shirt. She wasn't going to waste a second of it.

Van shifted slightly behind her, and she seized her chance to roll over and face him. Sleep-fuzzed chocolate brown eyes blinked sleepily at her.

“Good morning,” Hitomi whispered, so happy and content she was physically weak. A lazy smile quirked up the corners of Van's mouth, and his eyes drifted shut again. His arm tightened around her, and Hitomi lay her head on his chest with a small, content sigh. She loved to see him like this, lazily drifting between sleep and awareness. Five years ago, during the war, he'd always snapped instantaneously awake, as if he'd hardly been asleep at all. Which, she thought with a rueful smile, had most likely been the case. She had never seen him as relaxed as he was now. She knew in her heart that most of it had to do with her, and the thought made her tingle all over.

Or maybe the tingling was coming from that wandering hand...

“Hey, Van,” she began, laughingly protesting as his other hand joined the first. His eyes were still closed, but his lazy smile had grown broader. Hitomi opened her mouth to mock-protest farther, but burst into a fit of giggles instead as he found her most ticklish spots. Before she could find her voice again or even catch her breath, his warm lips had covered her own, and all her protests had turned to tiny sighs.

If he always says good morning like this, she thought muzzily as his mouth trailed down her neck, I could wake up next to him forever...

Allen came awake slowly, completely disconcerted. He had been dreaming about Marlene and Chid, only there had been Annie's voice in the background, laughing at him and telling him to let it go, let it go.

Waking up wasn't any better than his dreams. His legs were tangled up with someone else's, and it felt like he his hand was resting on--

Allen's eyes snapped open and he froze as he stared at Annie's sleeping face. Dear gods, his leg was trapped between the smooth skin of her thighs, dangerously close to areas he had no business touching. And his hand- great Jichia! His hand was resting a little too far down to be her lower back. How the hell had they wound up like that?!

Slowly, slowly, so as not to disturb her, Allen started to pull away to put some distance between their bodies. He froze again as Annie grumbled in her sleep and snuggled in even closer to him. Good gods, now what was he supposed to do? He was terrified to imagine what Annie might do if she woke up!

At least he could safely move his hand. Gently, he pulled his hand away and watched, bemused, as it seemed to take on a life of it's own and carefully brushed a few stray hairs off of her face. It was surprising how peaceful she looked while she slept.

Allen jumped in surprise as someone pounded on their door. Annie groaned and rolled onto her other side, freeing his legs. The knocking came again, loud and insistent, and Annie curled into a tight ball with the covers up over her ears.

Sighing, Allen swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up. A vicious headache stabbed through his brain and a wave of nausea crashed over him so hard he nearly sat back down. The persistent knocking came again, and he staggered across the room to fling open the door, forgetting for the moment that he was only wearing his strange Mystic Moon undergarment.

“Oh. Sorry, Allen. I thought this was Annie's room.”

Allen squinted hard into the horribly bright light, trying to make out who the intruder was. It was Jason, smiling his easy, friendly smile.

“This is Annie's room,” Allen replied without thinking. Damn, his head really hurt. Jason looked past him into the room where Annie made a small lump under the covers, then back over to him again. For a very brief second, Jason's friendly smile faltered.

“Ah. Uh, hey, sorry to interrupt, man,” he said, taking a step backwards. His usual grin was back in place, but Allen could see that it didn't quite reach his eyes. He blinked, confused, before realization poured through his aching, hung-over head. There was Annie, dead asleep in a heap on the bed, the bed he had so obviously just crawled out of, wearing only his boxers. This did not look good!

“Wait. This isn't what it looks like-” he began, but Jason cut him off before he could explain.

“Whoa. It ain't none of my business what you're doing,” he laughed. A rustling noise made them both look back towards the bed. Annie blinked owlishly at them as she sat up and pushed the covers away. Allen could have groaned out loud. Now things looked worse than ever, with her in her so-called pajamas showing off way too much skin and looking deliciously disheveled.

“Jason, what the hell are you doing waking me up at the butt-crack of dawn?” she demanded.

“Just checking to see how you're doing,” Jason replied, genuine concern in his voice.

“I'm fine. I feel great,” Annie replied with a scowl. She stood up, looking prepared to charge forward and give the bull-ring a good hard tug, but her face went pale and she sat back down.

“Oooh. I feel like hell,” she moaned.”How come you never get hang-overs, J?”

Jason shrugged, smirked, and turned to leave. “I'll be back with some coffee.”

Allen winced as the door slammed shut behind him, and Annie flopped back onto the bed. He resisted the urge to go lay back down next to her and took a few deep breaths to calm his nausea. He couldn't ever remember feeling this horrible after a night of drinking in his life. Annie looked like she felt as terrible as he did.

“Are you alright?” he finally asked after he got his stomach under control.

“Oh, fine. Peachy. You and your damn wine. Can't just drink beer like normal people. I hate you.”

“You can't blame me for this. If you had any sense of moderation, neither one of us would be this hung over.” Allen retorted quickly.

Annie cracked one eye open just far enough to glare ferociously at him. “I see your ass-stick is firmly shoved back into place. Fun.”

He ignored her and staggered into the bathroom. This wasn't his fault. She'd been the one who insisted that they finish off that enormous bottle of wine last night. And did she really need to be so vulgar? Allen splashed cold water on his face and flung his wet hair back from his forehead. He was starting to feel marginally better, but really all he wanted to do was lie back down and go to sleep. Preferably next to Annie.

Wait. No. He had not just thought that. The girl couldn't even keep a civil tongue in her head. Scowling, Allen snatched up a small object from the sink and marched back to the bed. He tossed it at her, and it landed with a small thump next to her startled face.

“What the hell? Soap? What's this for?” she demanded, picking it up and examining it.

“So you can wash out your mouth,” Allen retorted, crossing his arms. “It's not proper for a lady to swear, you know.”

Annie stared at him, the packaged hotel soap dangling between her thumb and forefinger like a piece of tissue. Suddenly, she burst out laughing and rolled onto her back.

“Ouch! Shit, Al! Stop making me laugh!” she finally gasped out. Allen still had his arms crossed over his chest, but he was losing the battle of keeping his face serious. Really, Annie had the most infectious laughter he'd ever heard.

“I wasn't really joking,” he replied. Annie's hysterics settled down into sporadic giggle-fits, and she chucked the soap back at him. He caught it and frowned as he watched her sprawl out on the bed.

“I think Jason believes we were, erm, that we, ah...” Allen began, his usual eloquence deserting him as he attempted to explain their situation to her.

“What? That we got a little 'busy' last night? Ha! We weren't that drunk,” she replied indifferently.

Allen frowned deeper, stung. “Doesn't it bother you that he thinks so, though?”

“Nope, not at all. What do you care? It's not like you're some blushing virgin, anyway,” Annie retorted, dragging herself to her feet and glaring at him.

“And I suppose you're not either, so it hardly matters. Is that right?” Allen returned nastily.

“Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. That's none of your damn business!” she nearly shouted at him. They both winced from their headaches and she lowered her voice. “God, Al. Can you be any more of an arrogant bastard? Does it bother you that much that Jason might think we did something together?”

“Maybe it wouldn't, if you weren't such a foul-mouthed, annoying-”

“Whatever. Forget it,” Annie cut him off and brushed past him to the connecting door.She pounded on it, hard. “HEY! Tomi, Van! Quit making out and get moving! We've got to check out in less than an hour!”

There was a thump suspiciously like someone falling out of bed, and Annie smirked.

“Okay! Yeah! We're awake!” came Hitomi's flustered voice floating through the door. Without another word, Annie marched into the bathroom and slammed the door firmly behind herself. Moments later, the sound of the shower being turned on to full-blast reached Allen's ears, and he rubbed his hands over his face, sighing. What the hell was that fight all about, anyway?

Hitomi opened the connected door, and they slid past each other into their rightful rooms. She blushed a bright beet red and muttered an incomprehensible good morning to him before shutting the door in his face. Van was already rummaging through his duffel bag, and he paused long enough on his way to the bathroom to give Allen an uncharacteristically cheerful greeting. Allen merely groaned and flopped himself back down on the bed. Gods, he prayed that Van wasn't going to start singing in the shower or anything. The morning had already been weird enough.

Hitomi hummed to herself as she and Annie finished getting ready and packed up their few things. Or rather, she packed up their bags while Annie lay on the bed, nursing her hangover.

“Tell me you used protection,” Annie finally piped up as Hitomi did a goofy, happy twirl in the middle of the room.

Hitomi stopped and blushed scarlet. “No, we didn't. And I don't think we'll be going far enough to need it, either.”

“Your choice or his?” Annie asked after studying her carefully for a few moments. Hitomi shrugged.

“Both, I think. Van would feel guilty about it, I just know it, unless we were married. And I... well I'm not sure I'm ready for that, either. It would just feel like such a...a...”

“Commitment?” Annie supplied, and Hitomi nodded eagerly.

“Exactly. I think. I mean, he's leaving again in just a few days. I think it would just make it so much harder to let him go. Not knowing when or if we'll ever be together again,” Hitomi ended, sadness creeping into her voice. She sat down on the edge of the bed next to Annie, all of her previous bubbly spirits gone.

“Hm,” was all Annie replied, looking up towards the ceiling. Hitomi took a deep breath and forced a giant smile onto her face.

“But that doesn't really matter, right? I've just got to enjoy what I've got while I've got it. And thanks for taking care of Allen last night, Annie. How'd that go, anyway?”

“Blergh. What the hell's taking Jason so long with the coffee?” she whined as she buried her head under a pillow.

“That bad, huh?” Hitomi asked sympathetically.

“He's a self-centered prick,” came the muffled reply. Hitomi squashed a laugh, and Annie pulled the pillow off her face and grinned. “Hey, did you know he's ticklish?”

“Seriously?”

Annie's smile morphed into her trademark shark-grin, and she tucked her arms behind her head with a very satisfied air. “Yep. You should've seen his legs go up over his head when he fell off the bed.”

Hitomi suddenly got a very bizarre mental picture of Allen tumbling backwards off the bed. She giggled, then gave in and laughed so helplessly that tears ran down her face.

“What's going on?” Van asked from their connecting doorway. Hitomi whirled around to face him, wiping the tears off her face and choking back the last bit of her laughter.

“I just told her how ticklish Allen is,” Annie chirped, her shark-grin still firmly in place as Hitomi burst into a fresh fit of giggles. Van turned around to look questioningly at Allen, who glared over his head at the girls on the bed. He couldn't tell if he was turning several interesting shades of red from embarrassment or fury.

“So... what were you doing last night?” Van asked under his breath, loving the chance to make a jab at Allen.

“A lot less than you, I expect,” Allen muttered back through clenched teeth.

Van felt the tips of his ears go red at the other man's insinuations. Not that he had anything to be ashamed about, he thought glancing over at Hitomi. While perhaps their behavior hadn't been exactly...proper last night, he hadn't done anything that could dishonor her in anyone's eyes. He had a feeling that things on the Mystic Moon were much more relaxed, that even Hitomi might have no problem with doing everything before marriage, but he just didn't work that way. It would just feel...wrong. And he didn't want anything to feel wrong with Hitomi. Ever. Because she deserved so much more than that.

Van watched her try to smother her laughter and soothe the irritated Allen and longed to have her to himself again. They had such a short time together that every minute spent in someone else's company felt wasted. Jichia above, how was he going to be able to say goodbye and leave her behind on the Mystic Moon? After all they'd done, how could the insubstantial dream world, a world in which they couldn't even touch, possibly be enough?

Jason arrived then bearing cups of steaming coffee. Van watched, amused, as Annie simultaneously treated him like a hero who'd just saved her life and berated him for taking so long to do it. Hitomi handed him a cup, their fingers brushing in the exchange. Her eyes smiled so warmly at him that it melted the frozen knot of worry in his chest, and he smiled back. He'd figure something out later. For now, it was enough that he was here, with her.

But they only had five days left.

AN: Five days?! EEK! Can they really only have five days left to be together?!
Dogs have owners, Cats have staff

Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.

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