Oil on Water by Dinky

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Re: Oil on Water by Dinky

Post by Sakura » March 29th, 2009, 4:04 pm

Dinky wrote:"Terrifyingly CUTE!"
Drop the last episode. It was very close to being illegal I had to use some US military grade security software shredding the file in 35 passes. :pif:

Oh and I'm sure it was never released in the US.
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Re: Oil on Water by Dinky

Post by JHawkNH » March 30th, 2009, 7:52 pm

Sakura wrote:
Dinky wrote:"Terrifyingly CUTE!"
Drop the last episode. It was very close to being illegal I had to use some US military grade security software shredding the file in 35 passes. :pif:

Oh and I'm sure it was never released in the US.
Actually it was released. I don't know if it was edited or not, but it was released.
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Re: Oil on Water by Dinky

Post by Dinky » April 9th, 2009, 3:18 pm

That's What Friends Are For!

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for
In good times, in bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
Oh, that's what friends are for
(That's What Friends Are For: Dionne Warwick)[/i


Annie wrinkled up her nose glumly and gave a half-hearted wave at Van and Hitomi's frozen figures.

“Hey. Uh, surprise?” she said into the dead silence surrounding their little group. Her eyes widened as Hitomi suddenly darted forward and nearly knocked them both to the ground as she flung her arms around the smaller girl.

Oh, Annie!” Hitomi sobbed as she hugged her tightly. The lonliness she'd felt when she'd caught sight of Allen was nothing to the crashing waves of homesickness that were now dragging her under unexpectedly. Until that moment, she hadn't even realized just how much she was beginning to miss everything she'd left behind on Earth. Now, she couldn't stop the tears from streaming down her face as she held on to her best friend even if it would cost her her life.

“Whoa. Hey, Tomi. I know you weren't expecting me and all, but is it really that bad to see me?” Annie asked lightheartedly, even as she flashed Van a look that clearly shouted, 'what the hell did you do to her??'.

“That's not... how could you even think that?” Hitomi choked out between sobs, oblivious to Van shrugging helplessly at Annie's dark glare.

Annie patted her soothingly on the back. “Oh, I see. They're strapping you into a corset, too, huh? Damn things'll kill ya.”

Allen and Eries exchanged a lightening quick, sheepish look at that, both secretly glad the tips of their burning red ears weren't visible.

“A corset?” asked Hitomi with confusion as she pushed herself away and wiped her cheeks. “No, that's not- I'm just so happy to see you... You're here! You're really- Wait. How'd you get here?”

“In a leviship. And I even got to fly it for a little bit! Until Captain Crankypants made me stop.” Annie shot Allen an evil glare, which he returned with a stony one of his own. Van had to bite back an uncharacteristic grin at how very little their relationship seemed to have changed.

“No, no. I meant how you got here. On Gaea,” Hitomi clarified, even though she knew that Annie understood perfectly well what she'd meant.

“Oh, that,” Annie replied with a grin. “Actually, I was kind of hoping you could tell me.”

Hitomi paled. “What? This wasn't planned... you didn't... Oh, my god! How long have you been on Gaea?”

“Uh... about thirty seconds less than you?”

“You've... been on Gaea... this whole time?” Hitomi squeaked. “I'm so sorry, I didn't know-” she turned to look helplessly at Van, “How did this happen?”

He looked as dumbfounded as her, but she whipped back around to face Annie before he could come up with any kind of plausible answer.

“My god, where did you land? Did anything happen- how did you find Allen?”

“Jeez! Breathe, Tomi,” replied Annie with a laughing grin. “I didn't have to find Allen at all. He was right there where I ended up. And I've been having a great time, actually. Everyone in Asturia was really nice. A little uptight and all, but after dealing with Allen over Christmas, it wasn't too bad. Well, except that almost getting killed by my dress thing.”

“The what thing?” Van asked, looking at Allen and Eries' slightly red faces with confusion. Annie wrinkled up her nose and grimaced.

“I'll tell you a story sometime. But right now, isn't the more important question something like how the hell I'm getting home?”

Hitomi felt a bit of herself curl up and die at the very thought, now that she had Annie here with her. She forced a shaky smile onto her face, though, for her friend's benefit.

“Home. Of course. How soon do you want to go back?” she asked in a voice she was happy only shook a very little.

“Now would be good,” Annie replied with a shrug and a hopeful smile. She ignored the twanging pain under her ribcage and forced herself, yet again, to remember all the reasons that gave her no real choice in the matter. She'd just have to pretend she didn't see the disappointed confusion on Celena's face, making it look like the girl somehow hadn't realized that she wouldn't be staying on Gaea forever. And that fleeting spasm on Allen's face must've been a product of her overactive, hopeful imagination.

The crestfallen disappointment on Hitomi's was not, however. Neither was the sheen of tears in her eyes that she was attempting to hide. Combined with Celena's puppy-dog eyes, there was nothing for it but to stay. But only a tiny bit longer... Annie sighed inwardly and gave her best friend a half-hearted smile.

“Well, tonight would work just as good, too,” she amended, and sighed again when Hitomi blinked rapidly to keep the teardrops from falling. “Or tomorrow morning, I guess. What's one more day, huh?”

Hitomi nodded quickly and swallowed against the lump in her throat. “Tomorrow morning. I promise. Right, Van?”

“Absolutely,” he agreed, giving Annie a tiny, grateful smile.

Annie contemplated both of them hard for a few minutes. “And you're sure it'll work? You can send me back? No problem?”

“It should. It's always worked for us before,” Van answered confidently.

“But why are you leaving? Don't you like us?” Celena suddenly burst out, startling everyone who'd come to know the rather silent, child-like woman. Annie squirmed guiltily and gave Allen a swift glare of death. Obviously somebody's older brother hadn't filled her in on that crucial little detail.

“'Course I like you, Celena. But I like a lot of people back on Earth, too, you know,” Annie told her cheerfully, linking their arms. “My groszmama would be really sad if I just up and disappeared.”

“Oh. Right. Because you're her favorite,” Celena replied with a knowledgeable nod. Hitomi stared at the two of them for a moment before bursting into gales of laughter.

Annie! What in god's name have you been telling her? Celena, don't believe a word she says.”

Celena looked crestfallen. “So... my brother didn't throw a snowman's head at you? Or get sick on the swing ride?”

“No. No, that all happened,” Van couldn't resist throwing in, an amused sparkle in his mahogany eyes at the annoyed look on Allen's face. Celena looked immensely relieved, Millerna stifled a giggle behind her hand, and the glare Allen directed at Annie turned slightly murderous. Van bit back a laugh as he turned in relief at the rumble of hooves and wheels on the cobblestones behind them.

“Ah, the carriages... I thought you all might enjoy seeing the city, especially the marketplace, after being couped up in your leviships,” he said politely, gesturing towards the two waiting carriages. The princesses murmured their agreement just as politely, and Allen hid his horror behind a bland, stoic mask. Good gods, he was somehow going to have to keep track of not only Millerna and Eries, but Celena and Annie as well! He doubted Van was planning to stick to a carriage-only tour...

Naturally, Hitomi wanted to ride with Annie, and Celena was stuck to her like glue. Van hid any disappointment at no chance of repeating his earlier carriage ride with Hitomi, and followed them dutifully into the dim interior. That gave Allen little choice but to accompany the princesses.

At least, Van thought ruefully, Annie had the exact opposite idea about what was proper between an almost-married couple than Merle did. He thought she might be contemplating physical harm if he didn't at least take Hitomi's hand. He did better than that; he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and tucked her tightly against his side. Annie beamed at him.

The marketplace was large and bustling, and right now filled with foriegners who had come to the city for the wedding. Celebratory decorations were already in place all over the shops, and the general air of the place was cheerful and festive. Van was recognized immediately as he stepped out of the carriage, and a resounding cheer from everyone in the vacinity who realized what was happening went up as Hitomi took his hand and jumped lightly to the ground. Her face burned crimson, and she held Van's fingers in a fierce death-grip, completely panicked by all the excited stares directed at her. Still, she held her head high and did her best to smile cheerfully back at them. After all, they were happy to see her, right?

Besides, people were staring nearly as much as Millerna and Eries- particularily all the men- and they didn't seem fazed in the slightest. They both acknowledged the attention with politely friendly nods and followed nonchalantly after Van as he led them off through the shops. Celena cowered and clung to Annie's arm like a lifeline, which Allen considered a good thing. At least it hampered the wild brunette from disappearing into the crowds willy-nilly. He still wished he had a leash on her, though.

From all sides, they could all catch snatches of what people were saying about them as they moved down the crowded street. Hitomi turned even redder when she heard people shout things like “heroes of the Great War” and even, more ridiculously, calling her the “Wing Goddess”. Whatever that was.

Van stopped them at a little stand that sold the best something-or-others in all of Gaea. Neither Hitomi nor Annie could seem to pronounce the name right; the closest they got was la-pan-a-cucko. The jumbled mess in the paper-coated cone was sticky and sweet and melted wonderfully on the tongue, and Hitomi thought it might make up for the lack of chocolate on Gaea.

“So, what do you think?” Van asked Hitomi with a quietly proud smile, nodding at the passing crowds to indicate he meant the marketplace as a whole.

“I think it's wonderful, Van. Better than anything I'd imagined,” Hitomi answered seriously, and her eyes shone beautifully. The pride in his chest swelled at the honesty in her answer. She smiled at him, and the noisy, crowded marketplace suddenly dimmed into a colorful buzzing in the background. She loved his country! He could see it in her eyes as she looked around them at the bustling streets. But then why, why, had she burst into tears and clung to Annie like her life had depended on it? His euphoria faded away as he remembered how she'd looked, hugging her best friend desperately...

“So...Van,” Annie suddenly said, and Van turned his head slightly to look down at her. She stared out at the Fanelian men's shirtless, toned abs gleaming in the sun as they went through their daily activities with wide eyes and a growing smile.

“These men. They're all yours, right?”

His brow furrowed in confusion. “Well, they're all Fanelians.”

“Right. And you're the Fanelian king, which would make them all your men.”

“Uh... I guess so. Why?” he returned, completely confused at where she was headed with this line of reasoning. She turned towards him with a positively frightening shark grin stretching across her face.

“Can I have one?” she asked enthusiastically.

“Annie!” Allen and Hitomi chastised in unison as Van merely blinked at her in astonishment. She pouted dramatically.

“Please? I'll be really nice to him!”

Van fought hard against a laugh, whether from the absurdness of Annie's request, or the befuddled looks of shock on Millerna and Eries' faces, he wasn't quite sure. Allen pinched the bridge of his nose between his forefinger and thumb, looking pained, as Hitomi struggled to hide her giggles and failed miserably. Celena looked a little confused, and she puckered up her mouth in thought.

“You can have Allen, Annie,” she suddenly said, shocking everyone. Allen felt his face begin to glow an alarming shade of red as everyone's eyes flickered between he and Annie, sparkling with mirth. Van felt near to exploding with pent-up laughter over the combined hilarity of Allen's reaction and Eries' obvious attempt to maintain her icy composure. Celena's mouth turned down into a slight frown as she watched everyone with wary eyes.

“Aw, that's so nice, Celena! But, you know, I don't think your brother'd be too thrilled about that,” Annie said cheerfully, patting her on the shoulder reassuringly. Her eyes positively twinkled with surpressed amusement as her gaze met Allen's glare.

“Yes, he would. He likes you,” Celena replied stubbornly. A weird sort of snorting cough broke free from Van, and it took him a minute before he could compose himself enough to force his face back into a nuetral mask. Hitomi elbowed him sharply in the ribs, but she was biting her lips together so hard they'd disappeared into a thin, white line.

Annie's eyebrows twitched and wiggled as she looked over at Allen. He was suddenly very, very interested in the fruitstand across the dusty road. Good gods, his sister was going to kill him. If Annie didn't first.

A sudden commotion in the marketplace distracted all of them, and Allen silently blessed whoever was responsible for causing it. Somebody- a small group of somebodies, actually- was striding up the dusty road towards them. The tall, dark haired man in loosely flowing brown robes at the front of the little procession called out to them loudly.

“Ah, there you are! The famous lovebirds! Jichia above, it only took you six years to figure things out. Although with the way you two are, I guess it's a miracle you figured it out at all,” he boomed as he reached them and gave Van a hearty slap on the back.

Allen surpressed a groan and quickly retracted his previous blessing. Why in the name of all the gods was Dryden here, in the market place, today? Even Eries' icy composure cracked slightly with surprise at his sudden appearance, but Allen was more worried about Millerna.

Asturia's third princess had paled to a frightening shade of white as soon as the man had gotten close enough to be recognized, and now she stood rigid, seemingly incapable of even moving her lips to form a word. Her pansy-colored eyes were locked on to Dryden's form with an intensity that Allen had never witnessed from the princess before as her husband-in-name bent and kissed Hitomi's hand with an exaggerated flourish. He never once glanced in the princess's direction.

“I always knew you'd be coming back, my dear,” he announced, winking at her. “Are you sure you came back for Van and not me?”

Hitomi grinned at him, a pink-tinged blush on her cheeks, but Dryden straightened and clapped his hands gleefully before she could answer him.

“So, where is your wonderful little friend, Hitomi?” His eyes scanned their group quickly, without touching on Millerna, and landed on Annie's shark grin. “Ah, there she is! The lovely lady who scandalized the entire Asturian court in just under two days!”

“You what?” Van and Hitomi gasped together as Annie literally beamed from ear to ear.

“I didn't do it all by myself, you know. Al helped out a bit.”

Dryden smirked hugely and shot a mocking look at Allen. “Oh, yes. I heard all about how much he 'helped'.”

Allen took a deep, calming breath, and willed himself not to turn a spectacular shade of maroon under Dryden and Annie's laughing gazes. It was vaguely frightening how their expressions of gleeful mockery were so identical, especially given the fact that the two of them had just met moments ago.

“Annie, what did you do?” asked Van with trepidation coloring his voice. In all honesty, he really didn't want to know what kind of scandal she'd caused in Asturia, in particular any bits that involved the blond playboy knight, but if it was something of a political nature...

“Stop stressing, Van. I didn't start a war or anything,” Annie replied cheerfully. “Honestly, man. You better watch your blood pressure if you wanna live to see your grandbabies.”

“Blood pressure?” Van repeated, all of the Gaeans looking at each other in confusion.

“Stress, dude. It's a killer,” she replied seriously. “Take Al here, for example. The man's so uptight he's going to die by the time he's forty.”

Celena gasped and clutched at Allen's arm in panic. Annie's wide, laughing grin shrank a little at the girl's reaction.

“Joking, Celena, joking! Your brother's going to live to be a crotchety old man. Honest!”

“Crotchety? What a spectacular word! Crotchety! I must remember to call my old man that next time I see him!” Dryden exclaimed gleefully. He held out his hand to Annie. “Dryden Fassa, by the way. Very pleased to meet you.”

“Annie Goettenberg, and man am I glad to meet someone with a half-decent sense of humor on this rock.”

The two of them beamed at each other like a pair of cheshire cats. Allen and Van exchanged a nervous look, a sick feeling settling into their stomachs.

“Lord Dryden, I apologize that I was not there to meet you when you arrived. I guess we all lost track of time...” Van began in a weak attempt to separate the two of them. He could practically smell the trouble brewing in the air around them as it was.

“Nevermind, nevermind,” Dryden replied with a casual flap of his hand. “And just Dryden, if you please. Never did like that “Lord” crap.” He turned back to Annie with an eager twinkle in his eye. “So! I'm dying to hear what really happened in the palace gardens!”

“Me, too, actually,” said Hitomi, arching an eyebrow. “Vino doesn't play a part in the scandalizing, does it?”

Annie sighed tragically. “Sadly, no. Somebody cut me off at two glasses.”

Eries looked grimly smug at that, and Van silently congratulated her for her foresight. Although, after Hitomi's incident all those years ago, it wasn't all that surprising. One less drunken maiden to be carried to bed by an overly chivalrious Allen.

“Let's finish this conversation in the carriages. Merle is expecting us soon,” he commented casually, and once again led the small procession through the crowds.

Dryden's presence had shifted the dramatic of the group enormously. He walked along jovially, one arm linked through Annie's as they laughed loudly at each other's remarks. Celena clung to Annie's other arm, as if she was afraid the brown-haired girl was going to disappear any moment. Walking side by side like that, it was hard to believe that the three of them hadn't been friends for their entire lives.

Merle rushed out to the courtyard to meet them as their carriages pulled to a stop. Amazingly, she managed to restrain herself from her usual pounce the moment Van came into view, but she still squealed out “Lord Van!” in her typical fashion. She greeted the princesses with the proper respect their positions commanded, but Millerna ignored protocol and hugged the now much taller cat girl.

“And you are...?” Merle asked with an questioning look when she finally noticed Annie.

“Oh! Sorry, Merle. This is Annie,” Hitomi broke in. “Annie, this is Merle.”

“Obviously,” replied Annie with a smile. She held out her hand to the cat-girl, looking her up and down with a smirk. “Wow. I know a few fan-boys who'd kill to met you.”

Merle took her hand limply with a confused expression blooming across her face. “Annie? As in, the Annie from the Mystic Moon?”

“Seriously, call it Earth, please. 'Mystic Moon' sounds like something a seriously geeked-out gamer boy came up with,” Annie insisted with a grimace.

“I kind of like 'Mystic Moon',” Hitomi said thoughtfully. “I think it sounds more... more mysterious or something.”

“Please. I'd much rather be an Earthling than a Mystic Mooner.”

Merle broke into their conversation with a wild expression. “But- what's she doing here?

“Merle...” Van began warningly, but Annie cut him off.

“Hey, no worries. I'm leaving tomorrow morning, so I won't be here long enough to mess anything up. How's the wedding planning coming, by the way?”

“Miserably. I've got the most uncooperative bride and groom known to man,” Merle stated, giving the sheepish couple a deadly glare. “Honestly, they're always trying to sneak off together when they should be preparing for the ceremonies!”

“Awesome. That's what I like to hear!” Annie replied enthusiastically, beaming at Van. He turned scarlet and cleared his throat.

“Perhaps our guests would like to be shown to their rooms, Merle?” he said pointedly. She caught on quickly.

“Of course. Right this way, please,” she said, bowing slightly before hurriedly escorting the small group into the castle where a retinue of servants were waiting to assist them.

Van snatched Hitomi's hand and pulled her back from the others, tugging her into a convieneintly shadowed alcove in the wall. She turned to look at him, and he wished to all the gods that he could think of an excuse to take another private carriage ride with her. At least the hall was quiet and semi-private now that the hordes of maids and servants waiting to help their guests had dispersed.

“What's up, Van?” Hitomi asked him quietly, surprise in her brilliant, green eyes at his odd behavior. He had to tear his eyes away from her lips so he could remember what he wanted to ask her.

“I, uh- Are you alright?” he managed to get out, and mentally smacked himself for sounding so stupid when she frowned in confusion.

“What do you mean? I'm fine, Van.”

“You were upset when you first saw Annie, and I know you aren't happy she's leaving so soon...” he trailed off as her eyes slid away from him and her shoulders drooped. His stomach twisted up anxiously; was she having second thoughts about staying here with him? He couldn't blame her if she was, but the very thought sent a shot of pure, terrified dread pouring through him.

“Hitomi... if you-”

She cut him off, still without looking at him. “Annie was right for refusing to come here with me for the wedding. Now that I've got her here, I don't want to let her go. I feel like... like I need her here, so I'm not so alone,” she whispered. “It hurts to know I've got to send her away.”

She sighed and leaned her forehead against Van's chest, and he instinctively wrapped his arms around her. What was he supposed to say to that? They'd both known it was going to be hard, having her give up everything to be together, and it killed him to know there was nothing he could do or say to make it easier on her. The fact that he was terrified she might demand to be sent back with Annie tomorrow morning certainly wasn't helping him, either.

“I'm sorry, Hitomi. I'm so sorry,” he murmured into her hair as he stroked her back in what he hoped was a comforting manner. Comforting someone really wasn't his forte.

Her hands came up to grip the front of his shirt, and she sighed heavily. “It's not your fault, Van. I'm being a baby about it. I know I should just try to enjoy the little time that Annie'll be here...”

“Would it help if you spent the rest of the day with her, just the two of you?” Van asked her quietly, desperately trying to think of anything that would make things easier for her. She pulled back to look up at him with shining eyes and a tentative smile, and his heart leapt to think he might have actually said something right for once.

“That would be awesome, Van! But...” her face fell and she chewed on her bottom lip. “Merle'll never allow it. And wouldn't it be breaking some kind of protocol or something?”

“Damn the protocol. Besides, everyone will understand,” he assured her confidently, determined to let her have her day with her best friend no matter what. “And don't worry about Merle. I'll talk to her; she won't give you any trouble about it.”

Hitomi wrapped her arms around him and abruptly pressed her lips against his in a searing kiss. Van returned it eagerly, and a little smugly, thinking that he really was getting better at this sort of thing. Knowing that they'd only have a few minutes at best, he deepened the kiss and pressed her as close to his body as possible. Who knew when someone would-

There you two are!” Merle hissed suddenly, causing the skin to nearly jump off of their bones. “Every time I turn my back... Hitomi! You've got those dance lessons right now, and-”

“No dance lessons,” Van interupted firmly in the authoritative voice even Merle knew better than to question. “No anything at all, Merle. Hitomi and Annie will be having supper in her rooms, privately. And they're not to be disturbed, understand?”

“But... but, Lord Van!” Merle protested, surprised despair in her voice.

“Merle, honestly, we appreciate everything you're doing for us. Really, we do,” he told her in a much gentler tone. “But Annie's only here until tomorrow, and she and Hitomi need some time together.”

“Please, Merle,” Hitomi put in earnestly. The cat-girl stared at the two of them, her face the picture of frustration, before pinching her mouth shut and turning away.

“Alright. I'll see that Annie's sent directly to your rooms, Hitomi,” she announced as she hurried off down the hallway.

“Thank you, Merle! I promise I'll do anything you ask me to do tomorrow!” Hitomi called after her. The cat just waved over her shoulder and disappeared around a corner. Hitomi turned back to Van, grinning, and wished she could push him back into the alcove and show him just how grateful she was. Instead, she took his hand and let him escort her to her rooms to wait for Annie.

Once in front of her doors, Hitomi turned to look at him, her fingers still entwined with his. The look of pure gratitude on her face made him wish he could wrap his arms around her and bury her under kisses so badly that he had a hard time restraining himself.

“Thank you so much, Van. For doing this for me,” she murmured quietly to him, and he gave her the small, sweet smile that he reserved especially for her.

“I'd do anything for you,” he told her seriously, and he meant it. Even sending her back to the Mystic Moon, if that's what she wanted, though it would destroy him.

He could see Annie being led up the hallway by a maid, and he gave Hitomi's hand one last squeeze before letting go. It wrenched at his worried heart to turn and walk away, but he did it for her sake. Now he just had to pray she didn't change her mind about staying with him while she spent her last few hours with her best friend.

That, and survive a formal supper with the Austurian princesses and Dryden. Yeah, that was going to be a barrel of laughs.

Good gods, why couldn't things just be simple for once??
.....sometimes you have to lose your mind to find it......

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Re: Oil on Water by Dinky

Post by Dinky » April 29th, 2009, 6:39 am


There must be an Angel with a smile on her face
When she thought up that I should be with you...

“For the love of- Hitomi! Are you telling me that you and Van do even less now than you did on Earth?”

Hitomi winced and prayed that the walls were sound-proofed enough that Annie's irate shriek wouldn't have been heard halfway across the castle.

“Thanks, Annie. I wanted that broadcast to every maid within hearing distance,” she grumbled, chucking a pillow off the bed they were both sprawled on at her livid best friend.

Annie caught it and rolled her eyes. “Please. The maids know exactly how much you and Van are- or in your case aren't doing. If there's one thing I learned in Austuria, it's that the servants know everything.”


“Hell, yeah. Worse than any Valley girl for gossip, believe me. But Hitomi-” she gave her an earnest, pained look- “Tell me you were kidding. The only times you've gotten to make out with Van were when you fell in a pond and then in the carriage? Which, eeew, by the way. You could've warned me before I climbed into your rockin' 'Carriage of Love' today.”

Hitomi blushed scarlet. “We didn't have time to get far enough for there to be any Ew Factor. It was only like a ten minute ride.”

“So, altogether, you've had about fifteen minutes of hands-on goodness since you've been here?” Annie asked incredulously.

“Yeah. That's about it.”

“But.... Why?” demanded Annie, confused and dumbfounded.

Hitomi sighed and flopped onto her back on the bed. “Simple. Protocol and straight-laced morals. That, and Merle's keeping me prisoner in fitting rooms and wedding preparations all day long. We hardly even see each other.”

“Well, that's just plain ridiculous. I mean, next week you're getting married, what the hell difference can it make now? Are they gonna be checking the sheets the morning after for some blood, too?”

Hitomi paled. “I hadn't thought of that. Oh, god, they probably will, too! What if- what if I don't bleed? Then they'll all think... oh no!”

“Hey, hey, calm down!” Annie implored her quickly. “First of all, I really hope nobody's disturbed enough to do that, and second of all, you can always poke your finger and smear some blood on the sheets if you need to. See? No problem!”

“I can't believe I'm even talking about this!”

“What? Planning how to make sure there's proof of your virginity?” Annie asked innocently. “Hey, what are friends for, right?”

“You're sure you have to leave tomorrow?” Hitomi asked in a small, timid voice. She didn't want to put pressure on Annie, honestly she didn't, but she couldn't help the tremble in her words.

“Yeah, I'm sure,” Annie replied with a heavy sigh. “Believe me, Tomi, I'd love to stay here with you, at least until you're happily married. But I just can't. There's too many worried people waiting for me back home, and I don't want your family getting into trouble because I disappeared. And waiting would just make it harder for both of us...”

“Yeah, I know. I understand, I do. It's just... it's so hard. Harder than leaving you behind on Earth. I've been so lonely,” Hitomi admitted in a painful, raw voice, then buried her face in her pillow. She felt a small hand smooth down her hair gently.

“It'll be alright, Tomi. It'll get better. I know it will. In a few days, you'll be married, and then Van'll wear you out so much you won't have the energy to feel lonely,” Annie reassured her in a low, quiet voice. “And then you'll have eight babies to run after because the two of you will breed like rabbits, and you'll wish like everything you could feel lonely again.”

“Ha ha ha.”

“Well, they did give you guys the Fertility Blessing, didn't they? I'd say you're screwed, babe.”

Hitomi rolled over then, a huge grin pulling at her mouth. “Oh, you should've been there, Annie! Van's face... if I hadn't been so embarrassed myself, I would've died laughing!”

“Yeah, I miss everything good, don't I? But you should've been there to see the ridiculous prom dress Eries shoved me into the first night. Oh! And their faces when I showed them my bare feet... Glorious!”

Annie's face took on a dreamy expression, obviously reliving the dubious joys of scandalizing the Asturian court, and Hitomi giggled.

“I would've loved to see Allen's reaction to all that,” she admitted cheerfully, and Annie suddenly smirked.

“Oh, he was way too busy staring at my cleavage to pay attention to much else,” she said airily. Hitomi gawked at her, and she rolled over onto her back and looked up at the ceiling nonchalantly. “I wonder how supper's going...”


As a matter of fact, supper was not going well. At least, not from Van's perspective, anyway. Hitomi and Annie's absence seemed to have been expected, though Dryden expressed disappointment at not being able to see his newly minted 'favorite person in the world' again that evening. The tension level in the room had ratcheted up a notch at that, with Millerna's ramrod straight back stiffening up to the point that Van was seriously concerned about a spinal injury. And he wasn't altogether sure the narrowed, icy glares Allen shot at the merchant were only due to worries over the princess's well-being. Celena sat listlessly silent in her seat, making no move to touch the food placed in front of her, and Van wondered if it made him a bad person for being grateful that her obvious unhappiness was a distraction for her brother.

“It's absolutely decided that Annie will return to the Mystic Moon tomorrow morning, then?” Dryden asked conversationally, helping himself to another slice of warm bread and buttering it generously. Celena gave a tiny, involuntary whimper, and Allen turned towards her in concern. Which, Van considered, was a good thing, since it disrupted the narrowed glare he'd focused on the merchant.

“Yes. She's anxious to get home,” Van replied carefully, and Dryden heaved a sigh.

“What a pity. It's so very rare that I meet someone so very amusing. And pretty, too.”

The table lapsed into an awkward silence, which the merchant seemed cheerfully oblivious to, and Van wondered idly if Millerna's food was about to burst into flames. The glare she was directing at it should've melted a whole right through the table, at the very least.

“So, your business has been going well, Lord Dryden?” Eries finally spoke up into the loud stillness. Millerna looked like she had an intense desire to throw her plate at her sister's head.

“Oh, certainly. There was an incredible need for good, honest merchants in the aftermath of the War-”

“Honest merchants? Isn't that an oxymoron?” Millerna cut in, her teasing voice laced with acid. For the first time since he'd joined them in the market place, their eyes met- and clashed. Dryden's blandly cheerful face seemed at odds with the calculating look he was giving the princess, and he steepled his hands under his chin in an almost identical manner as his father.

“An oxymoron? I must disagree. A rarity, for sure, but not unheard-of,” he replied with a perfectly polite smile.

“Hm. I'm sure I've never met one,” Millerna informed him sweetly. Van wasn't sure whether he should be horrified or relieved when Dryden burst into a loud fit of laughter. On the one hand, the unpredictable merchant didn't seem to have taken any offense at the princess's thinly veiled insult, but if Millerna sat up any straighter, her spine would surely snap from the strain.

Van gave Eries a pleading look, but she gave dainty shrug. Clearly, she was just as much at a loss at thinking up a safe discussion topic as he was. Allen, the original smooth-talker, was no help, either. He was too busy trying to convince his listless sister to take a bite of something. Apparently, his considerable talent of persuasion was ineffective on Celena.

“No! I don't want anything,” she burst out abruptly in a loud, angry voice, startling everyone at the table as she knocked the piece of bread Allen was holding out of his hand with a wild swipe of her arm. Her wine goblet toppled over, sending a crimson stain seeping across the pale linen tablecloth. Allen sat back in his chair, pursing his lips and obviously at a loss on how to deal with the situation.

Eries grabbed at the excuse to leave and rose swiftly to her feet. “It's been a very tiring day. Perhaps you'd care to retire with me, Celena?” she asked as she held her hand out to the girl.

Millerna stood swiftly as well, and her goodnights were stiffly polite in the extreme. Her gaze skimmed over Dryden like he was nothing more than an irritating insect before she followed her sister and Celena out of the room.

Van slumped down in his seat with an audible sigh, wondering to himself whether things would've gone better or worse with Hitomi there that evening. Better, definitely, if Hitomi had been there- at least as far as he was concerned. But infinitely worse if Annie had been there. And thank the gods Merle had been too busy to join them...

“So, Van! How does it feel to be on the edge of losing your bachelorhood?” Dryden suddenly asked, peering at him with a wide grin.

“Uh...” Van wasn't sure what to make of the question, much less formulate an answer. Dryden seemed to think this was a very bad response, judging by the way his eyebrows nearly shot off his forehead.

“Oh, heavens! Don't tell me you've yet to 'become a man', too!”

Van knew the scarlet burn flushing his skin from hairline to collarbone was a dead giveaway, and he hunched down in his seat with a dark glower. “It takes more than that to 'become a man',” he grumbled lamely in his defense.

“Great Jichia, the boy's an innocent,” Dryden muttered, rubbing his temples and squeezing his eyes shut with a pained grimace. “Do we need to educate you on the finer points of-”

“No! Good gods, no!” Van interrupted wildly. He shuddered violently at the memory of the 'education' he'd already been forced to sit through with his council.

“What makes you think you'd be qualified to do such a thing, anyway?” asked Allen, torn between embarrassment that this conversation was happening at all and annoyance at the fact that he was fairly sure this was all a joke on Dryden's part.

“Well, I am the only married man here,” the merchant stated blandly, and Allen snorted.

“Oh, yes. And you're just swimming in domestic bliss.”

“Hm. You do have a point,” Dryden replied thoughtfully. “Perhaps you could give Van better advice than I, considering all the practice you recently had in the gardens... Did you really rip Annie's corset, by the way?”

“It wasn't like that. She has a breathing disorder,” Allen hissed back through clenched teeth.

“Ah, is that what they're calling it these days?” Dryden asked idly, a smug grin on his face. “I must be getting old. It used to be called just plain old se-”

Allen cut him off abruptly as he rose swiftly to his feet. “Excuse me. I really must check on my sister.”

Dryden didn't even bother to hide his amused grin as the blond knight gave a perfunctory bow and hastily left, his polished boots clomping angrily away in a decidedly un-Allen-like fashion.

“Well, now. Isn't that interesting?” the merchant murmured to himself after the sound had died away. Van appeared lost in unpleasant thoughts, his brow scrunched up in consternation.

“Wait- Allen ripped Annie's corset?”


The Fanelian palace seemed eerily quiet and still in the darkness of the middle of the night. Annie tried not to notice it as she stole silently through the moonlit hallways toward Allen's room, the thin silk of her nightdress billowing around her calves as she moved. She was fairly certain that he'd have something close to an apopoleptic fit when he saw her standing at his door in the white silk nightie, but other than that, she wasn't altogether sure how he'd react. Would he slam the door in her face? Would he stand in the doorway and make it politely obvious how thrilled he was that she would be disappearing from his world forever tomorrow morning? Or would he actually listen to what she had to say?

What did she have to say, anyway? Annie paused for a moment in uncertainty. Something was driving her through the Fanelian castle, forgetting even to stop and put a robe on, but she just couldn't put her finger on what it was. She was leaving tomorrow morning, for good as far as she knew, so maybe... maybe she just felt the need to tell the pompous (and irritatingly sexy) man goodbye.

Yeah. That had to be it.

Allen paced the spacious confines of his room, feeling like a restless, caged animal. His normally perfect coif of hair was completely disheveled from the number of times he'd ran his hands through it, though he couldn't really figure out why he felt so frustrated. For the first time in his life, he'd merely flung his blue overcoat, shirt, and tie into a crumpled heap on the floor instead of carefully folding and hanging them with reverence, and his boots and socks were removed with equal force.

What the hell was wrong with him? He'd never felt so out of sorts in his entire life, and he wasn't so oblivious to not realize that it was due to the inescapable fact that Annie would be leaving Gaea tomorrow. Leaving him. No, he fully realized this was why he was pacing around the room like a man possessed, but it only served to thoroughly confuse and piss him off.

She wasn't anything to him. Not a damn thing. How many times had she made that clear? How many times did she make it obvious just how anxious she was to get back to the Mystic Moon and forget all about Gaea? And he certainly wouldn't miss all the trouble that followed her around like a haze. He wouldn't miss her. He didn't want her to stay!

A firm knock on his door interupted his angry pacing, and he marched over to it, bare feet slapping hard against the smooth wooden floor. Irritated, he flung the door wide to reveal a small figure clad only in diaphanous white silk.

Oh, gods.

Allen sucked in a breath and tried desperately to frame a coherent thought as most of the blood in his brain was divereted.... lower. And there he stood, wearing nothing but the tight pants of his uniform and no long overcoat to cover it up with.

“Annie... what-?” he began, but abruptly stopped as he didn't trust his voice to say much more than that. What in Jichia's name wasshe doing there, with her tousled, mahogany hair, pale, smooth skin, and a nightdress that was practically see-through in the moonlight streaming through the window behind her??

She was trying to kill him, that's what.

Her eyes seemed glued to his naked chest as she bit her soft lips to hide a smirk. Yep, definitely trying to kill him.

“I like it, Al. It's a new look for you. But hey- anything's an improvement over that uniform,” she told him casually, arching an eyebrow without looking up from his lean, toned chest.

A muscle in his jaw twitched in irritation even as he noticed with disturbing elation that their proximity and his height gave him an unparalleled view of her enticing cleavage. And since she appeared to be oogling his chest, it was only fair that he- oh, shit again.

Annie had suddenly tilted her head to look up at his face, and Allen knew he was blushing crimson from being caught looking down her nightdress.

“You liking the view, too?” she asked him in the same tone a stranger might use to ask someone if they liked the scenery, but it was completely at odds with the amused quirk twisting her mouth into a grin.

“I- well, I... that is-” spluttered Allen, making her grin all the wider at his flustered attempts to graciously get out of his embarrassing predicament. He swiped a hand through his messy hair and sucked in a deep breath.

“Is there something I can help you with, Annie?” he finally asked, defaulting to his standard formal stiffness.

The grin on Annie's face abruptly faltered, replaced swiftly by a slight frown as she wrinkled up her forehead in confusion.

“I don't know.”

“You... don't know,” Allen echoed in disbelief. “You mean to tell me that you knocked on my door in the middle of the night, without so much as a robe-” he did his utmost not to look away from her face as he said that, “- and you don't even know why?”

Annie scrunched her face up, thinking. “Yep. I guess so.”

Allen leaned his shoulder heavily against the door-frame, pinching the bridge of his nose between his forefinger and thumb and squeezing his eyes shut tightly in exasperation. “Annie. How much vino did you drink tonight?”

“Ha ha. Two glasses. Which would hardly be enough to put me under. Weak-assed shit,” she grumbled under her breath. Allen cracked an eye open to glare at her for her foul mouth, but he had to admit that she didn't sound drunk. No, whatever zaniness she was up to now was being done completely sober.

“I have no idea why I'm here. I thought, maybe...” she trailed off quietly, her brown eyes sliding away from him to stare blankly at the wall. “I'm going home tomorrow. I doubt I'll ever come back here, and I just...” Her brown eyes swiveled back, pinning him, as he did his best to ignore the mystifying stab of pain that shot through him with her words. They stared at each other silently before she shrugged and looked away again.

“I don't know why, but I just wanted to... talk to you again. Before I leave for good.”

Allen couldn't frame a suitable reply. It was all he could do to keep his mouth shut tightly and not beg her to stay another day, another week, another hour. He wouldn't try to deny how badly he wanted to bury his hands in her hair and kiss her until she was a senseless pile of goo- dammit, that nightdress was practically see-through, for Jichia's sake! No, the frightening part was how badly he wanted to just hold her, keep her locked in his arms with no chance of leaving...

Annie turned back to look at him, and suddenly he realized he was going to do one or the other, whether to kiss her or hold her. Maybe both. There really wasn't any other choice, because... dammit! He didn't want her to leave!

She took a tiny step forward, her eyes locked on his, and his right hand reached out to brush her thick, silky hair away from her cheek. Some crazy part of his brain that was still trying to think logically was telling him to kiss her first, then hold on for dear life. He leaned slowly in to her, watching as her big doe-eyes fluttered shut.


The anguished wail abruptly rose and fell, echoing through the hallway. Annie's eyes snapped open, and she jumped away from Allen like someone had poked her with a cattle prod. His eyes were wide and filled with worry as the wailing intensified, punctuated by several loud crashes.

“Al, what the hell-?” Annie breathed out in shock, but he was already striding towards the door slightly down the hall from his own.

“Celena- one of her fits. I knew this would happen!”

He flung the door open hastily and darted inside, calling his sister's name, begging her to calm down. Annie could hear his attempts to soothe her as her wails turned into a long, drawn out screech. She shivered in the moonlight of the hallway at the inhuman sound, wondering whether she should follow Allen or not. He most certainly wouldn't want her help.

But Celena! Poor, sweet, childish Celena screaming and fighting with her demons all alone inside her head...

To hell with it! She was going to help Celena whether Allen wanted her to or not. She skidded to a stop at the doorway, and anxiety twisted her stomach into painful knots as she took in the scene in front of her.

Celena's room was completely disheveled; bedclothes were strewn across the room, broken shards of glass littered the floor from the shattered mirror, and at least one chair had been reduced to a twisted heap of firewood. Celena herself was slumped on the floor with her back to the doorway, ripping wildly at her head while Allen knelt in front of her. He was frantically trying to keep her from tearing out great chunks of her silvery-blond hair but was only getting mauled himself in the process.

Annie hesitated on the threshold for a long moment, oblivious to the two servants who came up behind her to look into the room before hurrying away again. What could she, little, weirdo Annie, do to help? It broke her heart to see them struggling like that on the hard, wooden floor.

A flash of white caught Allen's eye, and he looked up in horror to see Annie approaching them slowly across the room. Panic of a different sort gripped him as she came closer.

“No. Don't. It's not safe,” he implored, his eyes pleading with her to back away from his dangerous sister before she got within arm's reach. If Annie heard him, she chose to ignore him, and he could only watch in anxious trepidation as the small girl knelt behind his sister and wrapped her arms around her.

Celena bucked and thrashed, but Annie held on with determination, all the while murmuring soothing reassurances to her. Allen caught his sister's hands before she could reach up and rip at her new captor. It took him several minutes before he realized Annie was singing softly into her ear.

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there

Celena stopped fighting so viciously, though her eyes stared blindly, wildly, at something no one else could see. Her screams subsided into shuddering moans as Annie loosened her hold and shifted her tenderly into a better position. Allen barely acknowledged Gaddes and several of his crew sliding to a halt in the doorway. Their sharp eyes took in the scene with apprehensive wariness, assessing the need to restrain the girl now leaning against Annie's small frame. They'd all witnessed her violent fits, and they stared now in disbelief as Celena allowed herself to be rocked back and forth gently. Annie smoothed the sweat-soaked hair away from the blue-violet eyes as she continued to sing softly.

So tired of the straight line
And everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back
And the storm keeps on twisting
You keep on building the lie
That you make up for all that you lack
It don't make no difference
Escaping one last time
It's easier to believe in this sweet madness, oh
This glorious sadness that brings me to my knees

Celena was silent now, and limp, laying helplessly in Annie's arms. Her eyes were shut, but tears flowed freely down her ivory face. Allen held her hands tightly, fighting his own tears at the pain on her face while Annie rocked her gently, like a mother would. Millerna and Eries flew through the doorway then, but stopped abruptly when Allen gave a curt shake of his head. The sedatives in Millerna's hands wasn't necessary- for now. Whatever magic Annie's voice was creating seemed more potent than any drug any of the multitude of doctors had tried on his sister before.

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
You're in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here...

From the shadows just outside the doorway, Dryden watched the entire scene with sharp, hooded eyes. He didn't miss the way the agonizing pain in Allen's eyes lifted slightly when he looked at Annie, nor the echoing pain on Annie's face when she saw the suffering etched on his features. He certainly didn't miss the way the outside world had disappeared for them at the moment. All they could see clearly was Celena and each other, whether or not they realized it.

What he couldn't tell was what Millerna was thinking as she watched the trio huddled on the floor. Helpless? Jealous? Glad? Was she upset that Annie had been able to soothe Allen's sister in a way that she had never been able to, despite all her medical training and plethora of drugs? Did the gratitude in Allen's eyes, directed at someone else, rankle her?

What was she feeling?

Dryden sighed heavily as he silently eased himself down the shadows of the hallway toward his private rooms. He found himself wishing, not for the first time, that Allen Shezar's bachelorhood (and therefore availability) would die a swift and permanent death. If only Annie wasn't leaving tomorrow! He might've been able to use her odd relationship with Allen to his advantage...

Ah, well. Life was full of what-ifs and if-only's. Millerna clearly thought of him as less than a speck of dust on her shoe; she'd made that abundantly clear at supper. Nothing left for it but to burn those letters overflowing the chest in his office and forget about her.

Ha. Yeah, right.

But it's time to face the truth
I will never be with you...

AN: Two songs are: "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt, and "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan
.....sometimes you have to lose your mind to find it......

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Re: Oil on Water by Dinky

Post by oldwrench » April 29th, 2009, 4:01 pm

Ah, another "short" chapter.......... and a very good on too. I've been waiting to see what will happen. Hope you get another chapter done soon, the suspense is killing me. How will Allan and the others convince Annie to stay, at least for a few days?? Will Millerna and Dryden come to a bad end, or is there still a chance for them somehow? Will Hitomi and Van ever shake off Merle long enough for a little cuddle time?? Will Merle have a nervous break down if they do? Will Alan finally admit to himself that he needs Annie? And what of Celena, can even Annie save the poor girl from her own demons?

Stay tuned for the next episode of ........
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Re: Oil on Water by Dinky

Post by JHawkNH » May 4th, 2009, 3:27 pm

I love it. The story just keeps getting better and better. :love:
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Re: Oil on Water by Dinky

Post by oldwrench » May 5th, 2009, 2:23 am

It's easy to see that Dinky is my girl. Her choice of song lyrics fit well with my choices for Escaflowne. I've thought of making amv's using Escaflowne and the song, Angel, and also with the music and lyrics from the Emerson Lake and Palmer version of Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky.

Lead me from tortured dreams
Childhood themes of nights alone.
Wipe away endless years,
Childhood tears as dry as stone.

From seeds of confusion,
Illusions dark blossoms have grown.
Even now in furrows of sorrow
The dark still is sown.

My life's course is guided
Decided by limits drawn
On charts of my past ways
And pathways since I was born

I carry the dust of a journey
That cannot be shaken away
It lives deep within me
For I breathed it every day

You and I are yesterday's answers
The earth of the past turned to flesh
Eroded by time's rivers
To the shapes we now possess

Come share of my breath and my substance
And mingle our streams and our times
In that infinite moment
Our reasons are lost in our rhymes
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Re: Oil on Water by Dinky

Post by Sakura » May 5th, 2009, 10:16 am

Very VERY sadly she uses song lyrics. I would have printed more than 2 books if she could resist using them :sob:
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Re: Oil on Water by Dinky

Post by Dinky » May 11th, 2009, 1:48 am

So sorry, Sakura-chan!!! I can't seem to help myself... Blame Oldwrench! :swt:
.....sometimes you have to lose your mind to find it......

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Re: Oil on Water by Dinky

Post by Sakura » May 11th, 2009, 5:33 pm

Holy goddess of all that's cute one ISBN number is around $300
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