Please Note: This story starts off at eps 8-9 just after Van saves Hitomi when she falls into the rift at the mining camp.
This is a rewrite and repost of my original story of Moonlight Change.
For those looking, I have taken down the original chapters of the story and will be reposting them as I edit the chapters
Chapter 1 - Moonlight to Change
He stood in the moonlight, keeping a silent vigil over the two sleeping figures before him as the light night breeze ghosted across his bare chest and through his long dark locks. Sad amber eyes moved from the curled form of the young cat girl to fell upon the girl resting at his feet. The sight of her peaceful expression was almost painful compared to the storm in his heart. He wanted to wake her, see her bright eyes upon him and let her know his secrets but he could not bring himself to move, and so he continued to watch the rise and fall of her even breathing as she slept.
A sharp noise cut through the quiet night as the small object beside the girl came to life, its small display lighting up as it continued its beeping. The sound caused Hitomi to stir from her slumber, her hand reaching out in search of the offending item. Her mind still foggy from her sleep and dreams, she slowly sat up on the hard dirt and silencing the beeping before looking down at the pager's small screen. "Amano…" She read the name aloud, blinking away the last traces of drowsiness as she felt the ping of homesickness cut through her. "It's from Amano." She whispered, hugging her pager to her chest as the first tears fell from her eyes. Amano was trying to find her. What of her mom or brother? They must be worried, she had been gone for so long and wished there was some way she could see then. At least tell them that she was alright. That she loved them.
Van watched as her back shook with her sobs. Wanting nothing more then to comfort her and have her comfort him in return, he stepped forward willing to show her the truth of what had saved her. Even if it meant that he might lose her, as he had others. She had to know.
The cool evening breeze ruffled through the snowy white feathers upon his wings, causing some to rain gently down across the ground. Van's heart was pounding in his chest as he drew closer. How would Hitomi react to his curse, to his wings? Would she run and spit at him like so many others before her? There were few who would want to be in the company of a cursed Draconian, a destroyer of Atlantis, however his heart was demanding that he show her the truth about himself, praying that she would accept him.
She wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand. She had cried enough in the last weeks and little good it had done her. 'Forget about it for now. You'll get back home one day.' She told herself sternly and that brought her thoughts back around to her current situation. Where was she now? Last thing she remembered was falling down into the darkness and a bright flash of light... and then there had been this shadow before her. Racing down upon her.
Something soft caressed her cheek, like the softest of kisses. Opening her eyes, she found a long pale feather at her feet and Hitomi felt, more then heard, the presence behind her. Slowly she turned around to meet it.
Van watched her turn to him, saw her bright green eyes grow wide as she took in the sight of him. Her gaze drifted from one wing to another before meeting his eyes.
His normally guarded gaze was bare to her now in the moonlight. His eyes swirled with a deep lonely sadness, edged with the slightest touches of fear and hope. He was frightened of her she realized. Worried of what, she wondered but was lost in the awe. "Van, you have wings, like… like an angel." She whispered, her eyes staying on his face as she watched the emotions past through his eyes.
"Angel?" Van's eyes seemed to darken further. 'Some sort of demon?' But even as he thought it, it didn't seem right. He saw no fear in her eyes. What he did see, he wasn't sure he understood. Did he dare to hope? No, she was only in shock he decided, turning his face away from her piercing gaze.
"There's something very sad about this feather…" Hitomi's voice had him turning back to her as she stared down at one of his feathers now cupped lightly in her hands. 'Van is so sad... all the pain. Losing his kingdom, his family and friends. Vargas and the other knights.' But under it all, she could felt his warmth. "Angel," She whispered so softly that he had to strain to catch it on the wind. "My angel." She decided with a soft smile looking up from the feather back to man before her, his wings spread out behind him like a glowing white shadow. She let her eyes take in the sight as she rose from the ground, brushing the dirt and dust from her tattered dress before taking a step towards her savior.
"You... You saved me, Van. " He had been the shadow, the one racing to catch her as she fell. He had pulled her up from the depths of the earth. "Van, I'm..." Her voice faltered at the sight of the many dark and mottled bruises scattered across his chest and arms. 'That's right... we were captured by those Zaibach soldier and he was beaten… because of me…' If they hadn't found her, used her against him... She took another step forward, closing the distance between them.
Van stiffened as her gentle hand began to reach across the distance between them. He fought against his sudden urge to step back, to put the distance back between them. His heart felt raw as he awaited her judgment.
"I'm..." Her throat tightened as she fought back more tear but he could still see them building in the moonlight. "It's all my fault!" She sobbed, throwing herself into his arms. "I'm sorry, Van." She wept. "It's my fault, all my fault…" She murmured into his bare chest, hugging him tightly.
Despite the pain in his ribs, he slowly returned the embrace. "Hitomi…" He whispered into her hair like a sigh suddenly feeling lighter. Arms around her waist, he could feeling his cheeks growing flushed from the intimate contact even as his thoughts whirled. She had accepted him, accepted his wings and his curse. Most important, she was in his arms and he didn't want to let her go.
Under the moonlight and the stars above, Van wrapped them both in his wings.
"Thank you, Van." Hitomi said from her seat behind Van on the back of Escaflowne as they flew through the night. "Thank you for telling me." Her arms were wrapped loosely around his waist as he piloted the large metal dragon, Merle still sleeping soundly at her feet.
Van had just spent the last half hour telling her about his past. He told her how his father, King Goau, had met his mother, Varie, and how the council hadn't approved of their marriage because she was a Draconian. They argued that she would cause Fanelia's downfall the same way her people had destroyed the great kingdom of Atlantis but the King wouldn't have it. He had fallen in love with Varie and wasn't going to allow anyone to take her away from him.
So his parents had married despite the wishes of the council and lived happily till then day Van's father fell deathly ill and passed away. Not long after the death of his father, Van's older brother had failed in the Rite of Dragon Slaying in his quest to take his father's place as king and never returned home. His mother's heart had been broken by the dual loss and it had pained Van greatly to watch her slowly wither away. One day she left the castle to venture into the Dragon's Nest in search for lost son but Varie never returned, leaving the young prince alone. Though he felt the sting of tears in the backs of his eyes he had continued with the tale. He wanted to tell her, despite the pain and his heart felt lighter in doing so.
"And Van, about your wings…" He looked over his shoulder and into Hitomi's green eyes.
She blushed under his curious gaze. Dropping her eyes from his, she looked at some unknown point in the distance. "D-don't worry Van, I won't tell anyone about your wings."
Van slowly let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding. No one knew about his wings beside Merle and now Hitomi. It was to be their secret, no one could know. Even if he was a king, it wouldn't stop people from trying to kill him for simply being a Draconian and he already had enough people after his blood to want to add to it.
"Anyways, I think your wings are really beautiful," She continued. Then very softly, feeling her cheeks burn, Hitomi added, "My Angel." and smiled to herself at her new title for him. Van was her guardian angel, her snowy white angel. He had saved her time and time again. He caught her and made her feel safe.
Van had smiled when she told him she liked his wings. He still couldn't get over the fact that she hadn't ran away and had accepted him so easily. "Hitomi?" Van called over his shoulder. Maybe he wasn't supposed to have heard her call him an 'angel', but he wanted to know more about the term since Hitomi had spoken so fondly of it. He wondered what it meant.
"When you, ah… saw my wings," He paused, feeling slightly unsure. "you called me an Angel."
Hitomi stiffened nervously. He had heard her. She felt the blood rush to her face.
Van continued unaware of her reaction behind him. "I just wanted to ask you what it meant. Or is... I guess."
"Oh," Surprised by his question, her flush recessed. Maybe he hadn't hear her then. She let go of the small breath she hadn't been aware she had been holding. "Well you see… back on Earth, the ah... Mystic Moon," She corrected herself. "we call people with wings, Angels." She answered simply.
"So there are others like… me on the Mystic Moon?" He asked carefully. Was that the reason she hadn't run away, she had seen others of his kind before?
"Well, no." She replied simply, causing him to frown in confusion.
She continued when she felt his puzzlement. "You see…" She closed her eyes as she looked for the right words. How could she explain it? "Well, they aren't real. They're made-up… Creatures of myths and fairy-tales." She looked to Van to see if he understood. "Angels, well... they represent everything that's good in the world and they are seen as protectors. They watch over people, protect them from harm." She could feel her cheeks grow warmer even before the next words left her lips. "They also are a... symbol of love."
He felt his world tip as he took in her words. Had she really called him all that? Not a demon, but a protector, a creature of good and of... love. For a moment he dared to hope that she felt more for him then just friendship but quickly quelled those thoughts. 'Stop kidding yourself, Van.' He thought dryly. 'She's in love with Allen, remember?' He turned his face forward once again, keeping his eyes to the path ahead of them.
"Back home," She continued. "People say that there are always angels watching over us, guiding us. They say that everyone has a guardian angel protecting them… I just never really thought that I'd find mine." She covered her mouth quickly. That last part had just slipped out unthinking. She really hadn't meant to say it out loud.
Van smirked slightly to himself at hearing her slipped confession. Maybe, just maybe, she did like him as more than a friend. He dared to hope. "So, that's why you called me your angel?" Van asked softly, the smirk still on his lips as he cast a quick glance at her over his shoulder to see her stunned reaction.
"Uh…" She stumbled for a reply as she blushed so hard she thought for a moment she might catch flame. Dropping her eyes from his, Hitomi began to play with the hem of her tattered dress, trying to think of an answer.
Was it possible that she had feelings for Van, she thought over the pounding of her heart. Did she like Van as more then a friend, but then what about Allen? The thought of his name brought a stab of pain to her heart. What did it matter anyways... Allen was in love with Millerna. The Knight and the Princess. They were perfect for each other... She had seen them on the roof together, holding each other and Van had warned her not to go up there… he had known it would hurt her to see them together. He knew of her feelings for Allen and even still had tried to protect her.
Mentally shaking herself free of thoughts of Allen, Hitomi turned her thoughts back to Van's question. The wings aside, Van had been watching out of her from the very beginning. Even if at times they clashed or he was cold towards her, he was always keeping an eye on her and she knew she could rely on him to be there for her.
"... Yes." She answered simply, watching his wind tug at his black hair. "You are my Angel." She smiling softly at the nickname, even as her blush still threatened to consume her.
Keeping his face forward to hide the glowing of his own cheeks, he smiled, liking the idea of having this private thing between them.
Merle mumbled in her sleep, her small paws twitching in dream.
"Van, wait!" Hitomi warned from her seat on Escaflowne's shoulder, her grip on the giants helmet tightening as it rocked to a stop. They had been working their way through the thick forest on the outskirts of Freid for the last hour. Van thought it safer to travel hidden through the woods then risk being spotted in the open air. They had not wanted to risk being seen by any boarder patrols that might have been in the area. Now she had a feeling that maybe they should have risked the open air. Something was coming their way, something they needed to get away from.
Opening the visor, Van looked over to Hitomi. "What is it?" he asked, slowing piloting Escaflowne in a cautious circle, scanning the forests around them for danger.
"I have a bad feeling about this." She looked around at the surrounding shadows, wishing for more light. They had been traveling throughout the night and already the darkness of the night's sky was starting to fade, but it would still be some time yet till the sun rose on the horizon. "I don't know what it is, but…" The feeling just wouldn't leave but she couldn't pin point it either.
"Oh no, is something there?" Merle worried, her clawed grip on Escaflowne's armour scratching with a high pitched sound as she looked about frantically.
A shimmer of metal in the moonlight grabbed Dilandau's attention from his position above the trees. "What's that?" He purred, leaning forward within his guymelef to get a better view.
He had been told that the Dragon had headed towards the boarders of Freid after it's little visit to the energist mines. The damned beast had destroyed the place and had set back Lord Folken's plans. He had spent the entire night scouting their area with his men with no clue as to where the Dragon had gone and he was starting to get very bored. Dilandau grind his teeth at the thought of the Dragon. He was going to make him pay for his little crimes but first he had to find him.
His smirk grew when he spotted the metal glint again from the forest below. Maybe tonight wasn't going to be as boring as he had originally thought. This might even be fun. He ordered his men into the trees.
The sound of cracking tree limbs and bending branches echoed through the air. "It's coming!" Merle cried out, tucking her small form tighter into Escaflowne's armour.
"Van, something's out there." Hitomi warned as she continued to look around for the source of the sounds but it seemed to be all coming from all around them.
Van growled deep in his throat, frustrated. "Those invisible guys from Zaibach." He was sure, they must have been tracking them since they had escaped Asturia. He turned Escaflowne back and forth, scanning the woods for any signs of the enemy but if they were using their cloaks he had little hope.
"They're here." Van looked over at Hitomi sharply at the sound of her distant voice, the same voice she used when she was seeing her visions. 'I know they're here.' She thought as she closed her eyes and concentrated. 'Where are they?' Within her mind, the image of her pink pendant began to form. There is swayed from side to side before snapping forward like a magnate on a sting. "Van, straight ahead!" She cried, pointing into the thick gloom of the trees ahead of them.
Escaflowne's visor snapped shut as Van moved to dodged the sudden flamethrower blast that burst from the trees. "Let's go!" Reaching back, Van drew Escaflowne's sword in a single quick motion. "Hitomi, Merle, hold on!" He warned before charging forward at the unseen enemy hidden before him.
Hitomi on his shoulder, shouted directions, become his eyes. "To the right!" She warned and Van quickly jumped back avoiding the liquid metal crima-claws that tore by them and into a near by tree. "The rear!" Again Van dodged on her command.
Dilandau screamed in fury at his men. "What are you doing? You're missing him!" He sneered angrily, his blood red eyes blazing as he watched another of his men's attack fail to land a hit against the Dragon.
"I-I'm doing my best, but..." Stumbled one the Zaibach pilots through his intercom.
"It's almost as if he can see us somehow." Muttered another as they worked on regrouping around Van and his companions.
"Stop spouting nonsense!" Dilandau snapped. "Just hit him, will you! But try not to kill him, ok?" He added quickly even as his eyes raged with the desire for revenge. 'I still need to pay him back for what he did to my beautiful face.' He sneered.
Hitomi continued to yell warnings from her perch on Escaflowne's shoulder. "Careful, Van! In front!" She held on tightly as another set of claws were shot their way. Raising his sword, Van deflected the blast causing Merle and Hitomi to scream in astonishment and surprise at the near miss.
They weren't going to get anywhere like this. "We're getting out of here." Van quickly turned Escaflowne from the fight and into the shadowy forest. He had to get somewhere safer.
"Come back here!" Seethed Dilandau as he and his men switched their melefs into flight mode to follow, crashing through the trees. He wasn't going to let the Dragon escape that easily. Not when he was so close.
Hitomi and Merle clung tightly to Escaflowne's shoulders as they raced out of the forest. Van needed to find a better place to fight. He needed somewhere where their invisibility cloaks would be useless and someplace for the girls to hide. Breaking through the treeline Van smiled. "A river, that's perfect! Hitomi, Merle, jump down." Van ordered and he knelt his guymelef down enough for the girls to climb down. Merle quickly leaped down to the grass below.
Hitomi hesitated as she moved to get down, a little unsure of what he was planning to do. "What are you going to do?" She asked, worried he was going to do something rash.
"Just do it!" He snapped, lowering Escaflowne down further for her to dismount.
Seeing the determined look on his face she nodded and slipped down from Escaflowne to stand beside a shivering Merle. 'She must be worried for Van.' Together they watched with troubled faces as Escaflowne walked into the water. 'Just what is he up to?' She wondered as she watched him wade out into the center of the river.
Turning, Hitomi shot a quick glance into the tree where they had just came from. She could hear the enemies coming closer through the forest. "Merle, this way!" Hitomi shouted as she grabbed the not-so-willing cat girl by the arm and dragged her to the side as the Zaibach guymelefs finally caught up with them, bursting from the trees in a spray of leaves and branches. Quickly they moved to surround Van in the shallow canal.
Van smiled smugly to himself. 'They fell for it… Turning invisible won't do them any good here. And if I can see them, I can fight them.' Now he didn't have to worry about injuring the girls and he could see them with no problem. He was going to show them that they were messing with the wrong king.
"Very clever." Dilandau muttered, reading right into Van's plan but it didn't matter, they had him now. He was out numbered and surrounded. He smirked, this would be too easy.
Screaming, Van charged at the nearest guymelef not waiting for them to make the first move. Raising his sword, he quickly slashed off the giants firing arm. At the sound of splashing water behind him, Van spun and blocked an attack directed at his back.
"Come on, get him!" Urged Dilandau as one of his men fell under Van's sword with the screaming sound of tearing metal and a mighty splash of water.
From the river bank, Merle watched with wide eyes. "Oh no, Lord Van." Merle cried as another guymelef came up from behind, moving into the newly vacated position.
Thrusting his sword back under Escaflowne's arm, Van made short work of the enemy melef at his back. Spinning about, he skewered another melef on the end of his steel blade, throw the disabled guymelef onto the riverbank as if it were a nothing more then a old discarded toy.
His Dragonslayers! Escaflowne was just kicking them aside as if they were nothing. Dilandau could feel the pulsing in his cheek strengthen, it wanted revenge and his men were proving to be useless.
Seeing his opening for attack, Dilandau took a shot at the Dragon, aiming a spray of crima-claws at him. "Vaaannnnn!"
Surprised by the attack, Van quickly raised his sword to deflect the blow, but to his dismay it headed towards the girls on the river side instead.
Seeing the winding claws turn towards them, Hitomi pushed the shocked younger girl next to her out of the way, but with no time to move Hitomi braced herself as the world seemed to slow down. 'Good bye.' She thought as she closed her eyes, unable to watch as the blades drew closer still.
"HITOMI!" Van screamed in sheer desperation as the attack headed directly for her as she stood unmoving on the shore. He wasn't going to be fast enough, he wasn't going to make it and even as he drove Escaflowne forward, he watched in horror as a single thin metal crima-claw tore right into Hitomi, her eyes opening wide in shock as it ripped through her.
To Be Continued. - Review Please!