Travelin' Soldier

Winx Club Version

Summary: One shot based on the song Travelin' Soldier by the Dixie Chicks. Riven gets to play the soldier. It's a little darker than some of my stuff. But I hope everyone likes it even if it is non canon and AU.

Dedication: The service men and woman of all countries. Past, present, and future. And those KIA or MIA

Disclaimer: Never more to be alone when the letter said: A soldier's coming home

Riven was feeling depressed. He'd spent his eighteenth birthday filling out paper work at the local Army recruiting office so he could get shipped out to who knows where. The violet eyed young man sighed, who was he kidding? He knew where he'd probably get sent, Vietnam. But he couldn't complain, anything was better than how he'd been living the past eighteen years of his life.

His stomach rumbled. Realizing that he was hungry and probably had more than two hours until the next bus came by, Riven decided to go into the restaurant across the street.

Nervous in his newly acquired uniform Riven couldn't help fidgeting with the cuffs and collar while sitting in a small corner booth near the window. After staring at the menu for a good ten minutes, Riven had his thought process interrupted by the soft sound of someone clearing her throat.

He looked up into the eyes of a girl with bright green eyes and a pale green bow holding up her medium brunette hair and gave her a nervous smile.

"May I take your order?" The waitress asked smiling back.

"Yes, just a grilled cheese sandwich and a root beer please." Riven choked out.

"Okay anything else?"

"Yes, could you sit with me for a while?" Noticing the apprehension in the young woman's face, Riven quickly added. "Just to talk. You see I just enlisted and I'm feeling a bit… I guess depressed."

The waitress gave the clock on the wall a quick glance. "I have an hour left. Then we can go somewhere a bit more quiet than here." Turning on her heel, the brunette started to head back to the kitchen with the young soldier's order, then she looked back as an after thought and added. "I'll even bring some cherry pie."

Riven nodded in thanks then went back to staring out the window.

When the brunette's shift ended, she quickly rushed into the locker room to change out of her waitress uniform then picked Riven up where he was still sitting, poking at the remains of his grilled cheese. Riven followed the waitress down to the pier. They sat in silence throwing stones into the river until the brunette finally spoke up.

"What's your name?"

"Riven. What about you?"

"Flora Di Fiore. It's on my name tag." She added gesturing to her chest and realizing that she was wearing a t-shirt and not her uniform. "Well, it was."

Throwing another stone into the water, Riven looked up at Flora. "I know you probably already have a guy, but that doesn't matter to me."

Flora blushed at this assumption, but didn't bother to correct the young soldier to be. The truth was that between school, band and work the emerald eyed girl had never gotten a chance to hang out with too many of her friends, let alone date. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, I don't have anyone here to send any letters to. Would you mind if I wrote to you while I'm away?"

"Not at all. Write your heart out."

The letters from Riven came every day at the start of their correspondence and were usually filled with the mundane world of becoming a new recruit.

'They cut my hair all off.' Riven had wrote in one letter. 'And we've been having some fun with the guys in the other companies playing tricks on one another.'

Flora had grinned at that one and quickly sent a reply and filled him in about the senior thesis she was writing about botany.

Those were the letters from California. The letters from Vietnam were slightly more serious.

There were some humorous things thrown in to the letters from Vietnam, but mostly Riven wrote about how scared he was of dying and how it was hard trying not to get too close to the new guys because everyone you get close to either winds up wounded or dead.

As the months wore on the letters grew longer and the feelings between them grew stronger. Both Flora and Riven eagerly awaited the mail's arrival. One night while writing a response to Riven's latest letter, Flora allowed her eyes to scan one line over again on Riven's most recent letter. She could hardly believe her eyes; Riven had written that he loved her. And that's when it hit her, despite everyone saying she was too young Flora was falling in love with him as well.

In Riven's letters he admitted that he thought about Flora a lot. Even in the midst of death and dying over in the war zone he could still remember their first and last day together before he left for basic training. And every night when he closed his eyes, Riven could see Flora smiling up at him, he smiled and began to write down the dream he'd had of her last night. Then he told her that he might not be able to write for a while since the commanders were talking about some kind of offensive to get back at the Viet Cong.

"Don't worry but I won't be able to write for a while?" Layla read aloud over Flora's shoulder. The gray eyed girl had come over to drag her best friend to the Friday night football game at their Catholic high school(1) and find out about the mysterious soldier she'd been writing to for eight months straight.

"Layla! Stop, it's a private letter." Flora scolded playfully.

"Then you shouldn't have left it on your desk in plain sight." The grey eyed girl replied. Layla was happy to see Flora in a cheerful mood; it was almost like old times before Riven had stopped at that café where she was a waitress. "Are you almost ready?"

"Just a sec." Flora replied as she tied a dark violet ribbon around her long chestnut ponytail. Then she followed her best friend out the door to the football game.

Layla and Flora sat together on the hard bleachers waiting for the game to start. It was still mild out for fall so the girls didn't have to huddle under the stadium blanket they'd brought. After the Lord's Prayer and the National Anthem Flora leaned over to suggest they sit on the blanket to take some of the edge off the metal bleachers when an elderly man in a VFW (2) hat stood up and asked for a moment of silence for the local Vietnam dead.

The man walked into the center of the football field where a microphone had been set up and began to read from a list of names he was holding in his hands.

Not knowing what to do with herself Flora looked around the stadium while she held Layla's hand in a death grip. Looking down under her seat, to avoid seeing the many faces with tears openly streaming down their cheeks, Flora spotted one of the members of the marching band hunched down, sobs racking his small frame.

About five minutes into the list the elderly man stumbled over a name that was unfamiliar to the rest of the small town, but very close to Flora. "PFC(3) Riven Grimassi."

Layla watched as her friend's face paled under her tan skin and her mouth tried to form words. Then, she wrapped her arms around Flora's shoulders and let the other girl sob, glaring daggers at anyone who stared too long at them.

After the KIA (4) and MIA(5) list at the football game, Flora was nearly inconsolable. She wouldn't eat, she wouldn't get out and go to school and she refused to speak to anyone.

Two months after the incident Layla finally decided that she'd had enough of her friend moping about and decided to do something about it. After school the grey eyed teen grabbed her belongings and walked over to Flora's house. Much to her surprise, the chestnut haired girl was the one to answer the door wearing a huge smile on her face.

"Riven sent me a letter." She explained still smiling.

"From the grave?" Layla asked, taken aback.

"No, from somewhere in Germany. Apparently he wasn't killed, just so badly injured that they thought he was dead. And since he didn't have any immediate family the army messed up and declared him dead. But he's not! He's coming home."

Sending a silent thank you heavenward, Layla hugged her friend and hoped that for once Flora was right and this soldier was finally coming home.

Let's bring them all home safe.

Well, that's finally over. I meant to have it out last week but I got sidetracked and then I needed to do altering with the story line. But I hope you all like it.

1.) Well, I needed something to explain why the Lord's Prayer was being said at a school function and Catholic school seemed like the best reasoning.

2.) VFW stands for Veterans of Foreign Wars. Or in this case Veteran.

3.) PFC is Private first class in the US Army

4.) KIA Killed in Action

5.) MIA Missing in Action