Notes: Thanks to everyone who's been following this story! I was considering extending it, but since its purpose was only to reunite the bikers, I decided that extending it would be anti-climatic. XD; But maybe there will be a sequel in the future that will tell what happened to them immediately after this fic ends and contain flashbacks to how their searches went before the opening of this fic. We shall see!
He wandered down an uninhabited street, frowning at the darkness and the absence of most light. He was back home in France, but everything looked different now. It didn't feel like home. The manor that had belonged to his family had long ago been sold and now belonged to someone else, perhaps someone more like Hilda. Perhaps Hilda herself. Everything was ritzy and high-class. And, just as he had when he had been at the restaurant, Raphael felt out of place.
Before he quite realized it, he found himself at the cemetery, kneeling in front of his family's graves. First was his father's, then his mother's, then little Sonia's and Julien's. They were all just as he had left them years before, save for the weeds that had grown up and the light dusting of snow covering each lonely headstone. With a frown Raphael reached out, ripping the weeds away and clearing off the snow.
The crunching of snow behind him caused him to whirl around, his eyes narrowed coldly. Dartz was standing before him, looking the way Raphael had always remembered him—only now he no longer saw an enigmatic leader. He saw Dartz now as a cruel hypocrite, willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to bring forth Leviathan.
"Well, I see you're visiting your family," the unwelcome spectre remarked, crossing his arms. "Do you still blame yourself, Raphael? Do you still believe that if you had only been able to grab hold of Sonia's hand, you could have at least saved her and perhaps Julien as well?" The mint-haired man took several steps forward, but Raphael rose and prevented him from coming closer by grabbing the front of his robe.
"Leave me alone," he growled. "You're not real. You're just a figment of my imagination." He glared furiously into Dartz's turquoise and gold eyes with his own blue orbs, aflame with righteous indignation and outrage.
Dartz smirked at him, the dagger again appearing in his hand. "If I'm not real, how can this be really happening to you?" He shoved it into Raphael's chest. "I already killed both of your families. And since you are no longer useful to me, you will die now as well."
The blonde man let go of Dartz to rip the weapon away. "I'm not going to let you get to me any more," he said coldly. "You haven't killed my second family and you'll never get the chance." He threw the knife into the snow.
Raphael started awake, looking around the small trailer where he had somehow dozed off. Valon was asleep on a bed that came out from the wall, his arm hanging over the edge. He mumbled in his sleep, clutching at the pillow. Alister was stretched out on the couch, silent, Miruko's action figure held in his hand as he slept. Raphael himself had somehow fallen asleep on the normal bed. Valon had given his friends the more comfortable places to sleep, Raphael knew. The bed in the wall barely had any cushioning at all and probably felt like a wooden board, though Valon insisted that it was enjoyable to lay on.
Raphael shifted position, being careful not to disturb the wound on his back. The police interviews, which had taken place here in the trailer, had seemed to have taken eons to complete. The officer had agreed that they could wait till tomorrow for the trio to come into the station and make a statement, however. There was enough against Michael and the others to keep them in jail for the time being, and it was likely that they would eventually end up in prison for their actions.
After the police had left, Valon had demanded to know Raphael's and Alister's stories. They already knew most of his now, due to his having to relay it to the policeman. But the three friends talked into the night, telling of the various things that had happened to each of them and finally all falling into their peaceful slumbers. Or relatively peaceful. . . .
Raphael frowned, thinking back on his dream. It had been very strange and disconcerting, but not horrifying and alarming as many of his others had been. It seemed more like a dream symbolizing closure. He had found the other two now and they were alive and safe. Any hidden fears about their deaths could be put away. He still despised Dartz and felt betrayed by him—and was certain that he would always feel that way—but he knew that the man could trouble him no more in his dreams and thoughts if he refused to allow it.
Before he quite knew what had happened, he had drifted back to sleep. This time his dreams were quite calm and pleasant.
The three former Doom soldiers slept peacefully the rest of the night, eventually each one dreaming of the loved ones whom Dartz had taken away from them. All of them reassured the bikers that they were still loved and cared about and that they had all played their parts in bringing the three of them together again. Alister, Valon, and Raphael all awoke quite refreshed and ready to face whatever was thrown at them.
The day was already off to a good start, but a phone call for Valon made it that much better. Sandy had regained consciousness and was asking for him! He was able to speak to her on the telephone for several moments, in the end promising to come right up and visit her and that he would bring Alister and Raphael along with him to meet her. Sandy was ecstatic. And as Valon hung up the phone, he felt as if the last great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Sandy was going to recover. Valon would be able to go off wherever he and the other two wished, knowing that Sandy would be alright. She had a home she could return to, she had told him, and she was happy to know that he did as well. Though she was alarmed and saddened to hear of what Michael and the other stunt artists had done (she had learned it from the news), she wasn't surprised.
Valon's thoughts began to wander now. He had experienced many strange dreams during the night, but one particularly stood out at this point.
As before, he was being beaten by Alister and Raphael while Mary stood by and made her harsh, cruel comments. And as before, he was not able to defend himself. But this time, as Raphael was about to deliver the final blow, he suddenly fell to the floor. Alister soon followed suit. Stunned, Valon slowly looked up for the source of this oddness.
Before him stood one more Alister and one more Raphael. His mouth dropped open in complete disbelief.
Alister lowered his shades. "Imposters are so irritating," he muttered, reaching out a hand to help Valon up. Raphael followed suit. Obviously they had rendered the others unconscious.
Valon stared at them both and then at the ones on the floor. "'Imposters'?!" he repeated. "They were fakes?!" He looked over at Mary and found her being frowned at sternly by a second Mary.
"Of course," Raphael said, raising an eyebrow.
"You didn't really think we hated you, did you?" Alister asked.
Valon continued to stare, feeling a bit ashamed and foolish now. "Well. . . . I kinda wondered," he admitted softly. "I mean . . . they looked like you . . . and sounded like you. . . ." But they offered no condemnation. At last Valon told hold of their hands and was helped to his feet.
The second—the true—Mary came over to him now, smiling gently. Though she spoke not a word, her eyes were kind and told Valon that she was immensely grateful that he had loyal friends.
Valon smiled slightly. It was true—Alister and Raphael had not denounced him. On the contrary, they had come to rescue him the previous night. He wasn't even sure he would be alive if they hadn't intervened. He had gotten himself into quite the disaster, he knew. But his friends had come through for him.
After fixing a new tire on Valon's motorcycle, the trio had breakfast at a café that was just up the road and then were on their way to see Sandy, who was in very good spirits when they arrived. She found that Alister and Raphael were exactly the way she had pictured that they would be—perhaps a bit outwardly rough, but the most loyal friends that Valon could hope for.
"I'm so happy for you, Valon," she whispered sincerely, reaching out to give him a goodbye hug when they were going to leave. "They're truly wonderful people."
Valon returned it, smiling slightly himself. "Yeah, well," he murmured low, "they're not bad." And they're family. I belong with them.
They stayed for several moments longer, until Sandy's family arrived—having just flown in from Europe, finally having been found after a long and discouraging search. They were pleasant people, reminding Raphael a bit of Paulette and her husband, and Valon felt at ease leaving Sandy in their care.
"Well, fellas," Valon spoke as they walked out into the softly falling snow after making their reports at the police station, "it's been over a month." Of course he meant it was over a month since they had been returned to their bodies after Doom was disbanded. The others realized this instantly. "Kinda odd to think about, isn't it."
"What is?" Raphael asked flatly. "Doom?"
Valon shrugged. "Yeah . . . all of it. I mean, who'd have thought that we'd end up still being together when it was all over?" I didn't even know if you'd still want me. "I sure as heck didn't."
The other two were silent, as was customary, but they pondered over Valon's words. It was true that none of them had really thought that they would be able to continue staying together. Over the month that they had been searching, they had wound up encountering endless strange and odd things and rarely finding any clues to the others' whereabouts. They had gone through bouts where they didn't know if the others were even alive or if they would even still be wanted if they were. But in the end, they had all been brought together again.
"So. . . ." Valon's Australian voice broke the silence again. "Where do we go from here?"
The trio exchanged looks. It was true that they actually had no idea where they would wind up settling down to start their new lives. They could stay somewhere on the continent where they currently were or else go overseas, though that was unlikely to happen.
"We'll figure it out," Raphael replied at last as they climbed on their motorcycles.
Valon glanced over at Alister, who was still quiet and seemed lost in thought. "You never change, do you?" the brunette remarked.
Alister grunted. "No," he replied. But something about him had changed—he had allowed himself to care about some of humanity again. He had opened his heart, almost without his realizing it, and had accepted Valon and Raphael as his family. This was what he was pondering on now—and a strange dream he remembered having the previous night.
He had gone home. Oh, it wasn't much of a home anymore. They were still picking up the pieces from the war and things weren't stable even yet. It wasn't a safe place to live and no one was moving in. Alister seemed to be the only one walking down the lonely streets. He remembered how it had once been. He remembered how the town had been before the fighting had torn it apart. And he remembered his own dear family and how they had died.
The buildings were just skeletons now, shadows of their former selves. Alister approached the one that he was certain had once been his home, placing a hand on the crumbling wood and being careful not to get a splinter in his flesh. It was so lonely now, and desolate. . . . But yet he could still hear the sounds of the past—his parents dancing to big band music after dinner . . . Miruko's innocent laughter. . . . The bombs . . . the screams of terror and death. . . . Alister clenched his fist, turning away.
He turned at the sound of the voice. Valon was approaching, with Raphael in tow, and the Australian looked confused.
"So . . . what is this place, anyway?"
Alister looked away, studying the broken structure. "It used to be home," he replied emotionlessly, though many emotions were going through his heart and soul at the moment.
"Not much of a home now," Valon remarked, stepping carefully over a plethora of scattered debris. Raphael frowned, giving Valon a warning look in regards to his comment.
But Alister didn't seem upset. "No," he agreed, "not now. But once. . . ." He trailed off, deciding not to finish his thought. Slowly he walked inside what was left of his home. He was standing in the living room, he supposed, though it could hardly be recognized now. The last day of Miruko's life, the brothers had been in this very room as the ceiling had caved in around them. And Alister almost fancied that he saw his brother run across the floor, his innocent laugh echoing throughout the room.
"Hey, Alister. . . ." The redhead started as a rough hand was laid on his shoulder, then another. Both Valon and Raphael had ventured in to offer some sort of comfort. "You've got a home again now, you know," Valon announced.
"Well said," Raphael said gruffly.
Alister looked down at him, then over at Raphael. Slowly he smiled.
Now the redhead slowly removed his sunglasses, reaching for his helmet. He gave Valon a thoughtful look as he adjusted the strap. Maybe someday he actually would tell the brunette how he had saved his life. Someday . . . but not now. This, Alister felt, was not the time or place.
"We could try Domino City," Valon spoke up, pulling his goggles down over his eyes.
Raphael looked over at him. "That's where the nameless Pharaoh lives," he remarked. There would be so many memories in Domino and doubtless, those they knew there would not be pleased at their arrival. But . . . Domino wasn't that far from their current location. Perhaps within a few days they would arrive there. Maybe it would be worth a try. There was no reason why they had to associate with their former enemies. Certainly that would be better for all concerned.
"And Wheeler," Alister put in.
"And Kaiba," Valon added.
They looked at each other and shrugged. They had no reason to fight against those individuals. Surely they could all co-exist peacefully in the same city. Most likely no one would even realize that they had moved in.
"Let's try it and see what happens," Raphael said finally.
And so the three bikers rode off, preparing to begin the next chapters in the books of their lives. Their heartaches and pain weren't completely erased, nor indeed, perhaps never could entirely be. But if they pressed forward as a family, they would be able to support and help each other, no matter the disagreements they might have. And they would persevere and triumph.