Disclaimer: Once again, the chapter title comes from a Switchfoot song. This time it's from the song "Dare You To Move". FYI, the full lyric is "Maybe redemption has stories to tell/maybe forgiveness is right where you fell/where can you go to escape from yourself?"

Authoress notes: A word on Valon... They have not yet gotten to his past yet in the dub, and I dun have his past on imported DVD. Sooo... I haven't seen it. I learned the basics from a friend of mine – Valon was an orphan raised by some nuns in a church, and he was a wild child, getting into fights and such all the time. That night, Valon found the church aflame and saw these three punks who'd he'd met earlier, laughing about the fire. He got all pissed, thinking they'd done it, and started beating the crap out of 'em. Valon ended up getting sent to jail, and the reason why is not exactly clear. Possibly he killed the three guys he thought were responsible, but the more probable situation is that the four of them were sent to jail for supposedly setting the fire. 'Cause apparently, you could see the other three guys in jail in a few scenes.

Later on, Dartz ended up manipulating Valon into joining Doma, after he watched Valon win a bunch of duels using Orichalkos.

So...yeah. Like I said, we only know the basics. n.n; A lot of things were unanswered and not-gone-into, sooo... I took the liberty of answering and going into them myself! XD

Anyway...

I am kinda frustrated with people and a lot of things, and it's all being channeled into my writing. In other words, Valon's gonna end up more emotionally screwed up than was originally intentioned. And – ooh! – there's a shower scene in here. (wink) XD

Tis dedicated to everybody who's ever felt unloved or unwanted, or like you can't do anything right. Don't worry! We're all fumbling through the same dark tunnel!

...Okay, that was lame. I shut up now.

&&&&

It was late when the three finally arrived in Tokyo, so, rather than making the fairly long drive to Domino, the former soldiers opted instead to spend the night in a nearby hotel.

"I call the bathroom," Valon proclaimed quickly, as soon as they'd set foot in their room for the night. He went in, bag and all, and shut the door.

"I told him not to get that huge soda..."

"Shut it, Amelda!" came the muffled reply.

A moment later, they heard the shower running. Valon stood under the spray, cranking up the hot water. He was stiff and sore from all those hours on the plane and waiting in hard plastic chairs. The water eased his aching muscles, but it stung sharply the various cuts and bruises along his arms and torso. He hissed in pain, glad that no one could hear him.

Amelda, lying on one of the beds in the room, had the remote control in his hand. Not that he was really watching the television; it was simply something he was keeping his eyes on. He listened as the shower continued to run. "Is he trying to drown himself?" he muttered. He was inclined to be more sarcastic when he felt tired or otherwise found himself in a bad mood.

As if on cue, the shower shut off, and a moment later Valon emerged from the bathroom, shirt in hand, running a towel through his hair. "Hey, where's Raph?" he asked, looking around, as though expecting the other man to suddenly jump out of the closet or something.

Amelda turned to him, noting the slight tone of panic in the brunette's voice. "He's just looking for something to...eat...around here..." He trailed off, staring at Valon's bare torso.

Valon blinked, startled. "Oi, what're you staring at!?" But then he froze. Valon dropped the fluffy white towel on the floor and threw on his t-shirt, but Amelda had already seen the abrasions.

"Where did you get those?" Amelda said slowly.

"Nowhere," Valon shrugged, sitting on the edge of the other bed.

Amelda clicked off the television and rolled over on his side to face Valon, propping his elbow on the bed and resting his cheek in his hand. "Valon... What happened to you in Australia? You've been avoiding it, and Raphael's been letting you avoid it, but you can't run from it forever."

"I know that, alright!?" Valon snapped, staring at his hands. He sighed.

"Going to Sydney was another of those stupid, unplanned things I do," he began suddenly. "I was all pissed off my first day there, because I realized I didn't have much money, and nowhere to go. Then I saw this gang, um, ganging up on this skinny runt of a kid. Unfair fights piss me off, and I was already pissed off enough already. I wanted a fight, so I jumped in and helped the kid out. His name was Johnny, and upon learning I didn't have anywhere else to go he invited me to his pad to meet his gang. Who, he assured me, didn't pick unfair fights.

"I don't remember all their names... There was Mickey, and Kevin, and a bunch of others... Most of them were built like Raph. They looked like a gang you didn't wanna mess with. But they acted pretty decent towards me. We went out, and..." He sighed. "I'd never seen anybody do a tag-team fight like those guys. I... I thought you could only fight like that on TV, Amelda... See, Johnny was such a small kid, so people would underestimate him. He didn't have much in the way of sheer brute strength, but he was fast and agile. He'd be distracting you and you'd be trying to land a punch on him, and then Kevin or somebody would jump in and – boom – you were out." He sighed again. "I was happy with them... I thought I'd finally found some people who were like me, people I could be myself with... I thought I'd found some real friends."

"But, something happened..." Amelda offered. By now he was sitting cross-legged on the bed, watching the brunette. Valon nodded.

"It was late at night, two or three in the morning, I think. They shook me awake, and told me to get dressed and come on. Something about their tones were different... They sounded...mocking, I guess. I was just too groggy to figure out something was probably up. I said, 'Hey, guys, where are we going?' They just turned at me and smirked. So were walking along... And I never saw it coming... but somebody kicked me in the stomach, hard, and I fell over... And they laughed." By now, Valon spoke in a complete monotone.

"Then somebody else crouched next to me and ran their hands through my hair. That same somebody said 'Ohh, did that hurt your tummy?' like he was talking to a little kid, and he reached out and put his hand up my shirt... Without warning, he grabbed my shoulders and shoved me to the ground, crouching over me. He licked his lips, and his hand strayed over to my hip..."

Amelda's eyes were huge. Valon would've laughed, if he could've. "Did they... Did he...?" Amelda couldn't quite finish.

"No, they didn't rape me, if that's what you're getting to," Valon offered. A smirk twisted his features. "'Cause then Johnny goes, 'Wait, we're not done with him yet. Wait a little longer, and then you can have him.' T-that hurt the most," Valon said suddenly, the monotone dissipating from his voice as it cracked. "He... couldn't care less. And he just said it... They just said it like I wasn't even there...

"The rest was kind of a blur. They just dragged me along after that, beating on me when they wanted to. We got to some building after a little while; it was some kind of store, I guess. They pointed to his window and told me I was supposed to go in there – Johnny didn't have enough force to break in, and the other guys were too big to fit through the window. Me, I was perfect. They broke the window, and there was glass showering everywhere... I guess that's how I got cut the most. I was halfway through, I guess, when we heard the sirens."

Flashback

The gang was long gone. Valon tried to shout, or run, but he couldn't. He was too tired. He heard a car door slam and sharp footfalls echo behind him. A hand was placed on his back, grabbing a bunch of the fabric of his shirt and pulling him sharply backwards. He landed on his back on the pavement, gasping as the impact sent a shock through his battered body.

A policeman stood over him.

Valon's eyes widened and he tried to scream, but everything was going black, and the blackness was so inviting...

Whenhe came too, he was lying on a small bed, in a plain white room. At first he thought possibly he was in the hospital, but the orange jumpsuit he was wearing told him otherwise.

"Oh, you're awake."

Next thing Valon knew, he was being led roughly down a bunch of hallways. He watched the rows of metal bars pass him for a while, until that made him too dizzy. So he simply stared at the floor.

The guard pushed him into a cell, locking it securely behind Valon. He stood for a moment, still staring at the floor.

He had a cellmate – a man lying on the top bunk. Valon tried not to tremble. He couldn't show his fear...

Valon slowly shuffled to the bottom bunk and sat on it. He scooted to the very corner and curled up as tight as he could, leaning against the wall.

"Ya scared, kid?" came the growl from above him, and he could practically see the poison smirk on the man's face. "Don't be... We're all friends here, you know?"

Valon said nothing, beginning to shake.

Somebody cursed. "It's the cops... come on, move it! ... Just leave him there. Yeah, that's right... Thanks, Valon, for all your help. You're a great friend." Laughter.

"You're going to die. You almost killed us... We'll kill you, and call it even... What, are you going to run crying for your mommy? Not so tough here, are ya, kid..."

Valon clapped his hands over his ears; at the same time biting his lip so hard he nearly drew blood.

The prisoner on the top bunk grew bored with his unresponsive prey, and fell silent.

Valon took a shaky breath and buried his head in his arms. He wanted to cry, or scream, or beat someone up, or maybe a combination of all three.

'I want to go home,' he thought desperately.

'But...' interrupted a voice in the back of his head. 'You don't have a home. That's right... I know you remember. Your parents... They couldn't stand you. Nor could the nuns at the church. Not even Amelda and Raphael cared about you. The gang hated you from the beginning.'

'I...I could never do anything right...'

'And you still can't...'

'Why...why did they abandon me?'

It was a question he'd asked himself many times as a child – why had his parents abandoned him? Why was he an orphan? He came up with many different stories; they varied depending on his mood. For example, if someone was reprimanding him, his parents had abandoned him because they didn't want him.

Valon didn't know why, but he'd never been able to get used to being scolded so often. The nuns were never particularly harsh, but every time he'd feel unwanted and alone, and he'd go sulk until dinnertime.

Possibly he was like that because he had no parents, and no clue why he had no parents.

Sometimes, if his mood was good, the stories had a happier note to them. He smiled to himself remembering his favorite reason why his parents were gone.

His parents were spies – masters of the art of espionage. They had many enemies, but never allowed themselves to be caught. However, when they'd had their son, they knew their enemies must never know of him, lest he be exploited as his parents' weakness. So, they'd left him on the church's doorstep, until one day when things were safe. Then they would return and pluck their son from the church, and the three of them would have lovely adventures as spies.

Of course, things had never happened like that.

He remembered the last time he'd been in prison, the arsonists locked in the cell next to his, whispering graphic threats.

Well, so they weren't arsonists. It had all been Dartz's doing, he knew that.

Dartz...he hated that man, and everything he'd done.

But most of all, right now, he hated Amelda and Raphael, because they, like all the others, had abandoned him.

&&&&

Raphael stalked through the streets of Sydney, looking for someone who could possibly know where Valon was.

"Hey, excuse me," he paused, noticing a man in black wearing sunglasses.

The man looked up at Raphael, surprised. "You talkin' to me?"

"Yeah... I'm looking for someone."

The man reached up and perched his sunglasses on the top of his head. "Mmkay... What's this bloke look like?"

Raphael paused. "He's about in his twenties... He's a little small, and he's got brown hair and blue eyes... You seen him?"

The man thought for a minute. "Yeah... I think I've seen him. Walking around with his hands in his pockets, all hunched over. Sort-of a sad lookin' guy."

"D-do you know where he was going?" Raphael asked slowly.

The man shook his head. "But, ya know... I saw this police car go by, in the same direction your friend went in. And I've been hearing rumors about this kid with a weird accent getting arrested... From what I can tell, it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong t-"

But Raphael was already long gone.

&&&&

Valon wasn't sure how long he'd been sitting there in the corner like that, head buried in his arms.

But suddenly there was the loud chink of the door being opened, and he felt someone pulling at his arm. "C'mon, kid. Somebody's bailed you out."

Valon stared up at the guard currently attempting to rouse him from his catatonic state. Someone... had come for him?

He went through another maze of hallways, and then he saw, signing some papers of some sort...

"Raphael..." The name came out in a hoarse whisper. Then someone shoved his bag at him, and he was following Raphael out in a daze.

The door opened, and there was sunlight, glorious sunlight, embracing him and kissing his face. He stood there a moment, his mind beginning to clear, when Raphael's sharp voice echoed behind him.

"You were trying to rob a store, huh?"

Valon turned in surprise, noting with discomfort the way Raphael's arms were folded to his chest. He shook his head. "Raph, it's not like that..."

"We needed that money, you know," Raphael continued sternly, "in order to find Amelda."

Valon's jaw dropped. "Oh... I see how it is." He closed his mouth again. "You've always got along better with him than with me, so I guess it makes sense." His head snapped up, and he stared at Raphael. "Don't help me because you feel obligated to! If I don't matter to you, then fine, but don't come here and freakin' rub it in my face!" He whirled around and began to run. If he'd looked back, he would've seen a stunned Raphael watching him go.

&&&&

'Wait a minute...' a voice in Raphael's head spoke up. 'That's not right... You're not supposed to watch him go...'

Raphael broke into a run after Valon almost as soon as the brunette had disappeared from sight.

'What were you thinking!?' he continued to berate himself. 'You remember how he acted when you all got your souls stolen – he was practically hysterical! Did it ever occur to you that maybe he didn't want to go to jail? That he's grateful to you for buying his freedom? But then you had to go and mix up your words and now he thinks you hate him. Valon isn't the idiot this time...It's you.'

It wasn't very long before he found Valon sitting at a dock, his knees drawn to his chest, head buried in his arms. Raphael slowed to a stop and took a deep breath. He'd been running almost nonstop. The blond settled himself on the dock next to Valon, who didn't acknowledge the other's presence.

"Valon, I... I'm sorry..." Raphael couldn't remember the last time he'd been so insecure. He sighed. "I suppose... When I found you... I was relieved, that you weren't harmed... And I was surprised, that I'd found you so quickly... I-I know it doesn't excuse what I said to you, but please try to understand..."

Valon turned slowly to him, and Raphael was shocked at the pain he wasn't even trying to hide. "I thought I was going to die in there," he burst out suddenly, leaning over and burying his head in Raphael's shoulder.

Raphael was even more shocked at the contact, but he didn't pull away.

"If you hated me too," Valon mumbled into Raphael's arm, "I dunno what I'd do..."

"What do you mean?" Raphael asked. "What really happened, Valon?"

Valon sat up and looked at Raphael. He sighed, and told the story.

End flashback

"So, I told him about what happened, and then we went to find you. I think you know the rest," Valon finished. Amelda was silent.

"That gang..." he said in a dangerously low tone, staring intensely at the bedspread. "What they did is unforgivable..."

Valon was taken aback. Amelda was this angry... on his behalf? The brunette was at a loss for words. But then he smiled. "Oh, I dunno about that. People do a lot of stupid things... What goes around, comes around," he said sagely. "I'm not saying I hope they get raped or beat up or anything, but maybe someday they'll know what it's like to be the one who's at the bottom." He looked up at Amelda and grinned. "Hey, maybe they'll repent, too. Like we did."

Now it was Amelda's turn to be at a loss for words.

A moment later Raphael entered the room, a pizza box in hand, and the other two suspected the blond had been standing outside for a while, listening in on the conversation.

Two hours and a large pepperoni later, the three were still awake. They'd been talking about nothing and everything, despite the fact that their minds were screaming for sleep. There was a lull in the conversation, and the three bikers began to drift into blissful unconsciousness.

'I... I'm glad I went to find them...'

'Maybe... what happened wasn't all my fault...'

'Yup... I got friends now...'

'It's good to be home.'

&&&&

Closing notes: Hahah... Done. The ending is weird. Oh well. Man...I had a whole can of Dr. Pepper this afternoon. Why am I so sleepy!? The caffeine has betrayed me...

Alrighties... Yes, I like how this one came out. Only now Amelda and Raphael are out for my head after what I did to Valon. (whistles innocently)

Now that I got this done, what should I write next? Hmm...

Weird thing I learned today - there's a real-live actual biker gang whose 'territory' is my town. o.o;

Now then...review, onegai?