AUTHOR'S NOTES: I did not intend this to be a romantic fic – platonic, maybe. Though if you squint, you can see a few signs of Van/Wendy. And some out-of-character-ness solely intended for comedic purposes.

IF you squint. I mean, the V/W part. The OOC-ness is pretty easy to spot.

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The rain was coming down steadily in sheets so thick that if you stuck your hand through the cascade, you probably wouldn't be able to see it anymore. Leaves of trees sagged, dripping streams onto the already damp ground. Grass did not glisten with tiny water droplets; the blades were drowning in a surplus of the stuff. Every animal had run for cover, seeking any kind of shelter, so long as it was dry.

Lightning briefly lit up the overcast area, and a couple of seconds later, thunder crashed like an armor bringing its foot down onto the ground. Kameo the turtle squeaked and withdrew itself into its pink shell, shuddering against its mistress's chest. But at least it was dry, like the two people it shared shelter with in a roofed bench thrust into the heart of a thick wood.

Wendy Garret sighed, tapping Kameo's shell. She gazed up into the sky as though searching for a sign that the rain would stop. But judging from the second long, low sigh that escaped her lips, she found nothing.

"I don't think it's going to stop for a while," she muttered, her voice cracking from disuse. She and her traveling companion had been hanging around under the shed for a long while, and she was getting even more restless with every bolt of lightning and thunderclap. In a bid to lighten the mood, she said, "You know, that lightning reminded me of your sword when you swing it to create a V, and how fast Dann's sword moves whenever you fight with your armor."

The man clad all in black sitting at the other end of the bench barely moved, his scrawny elbow propped up on the armrest. But then he turned weary, dark eyes towards Wendy's wide green ones.

Her attempt to brighten things up was futile.

"I'm hungry," he muttered, staring into space again. "If this rain doesn't stop…"

"I know, Van," said Wendy, glancing at the huge suitcase beside her that held all her belongings. "But we can't just get out in this rain…and we don't even know where we are. We could get lost…"

Van said something under his breath. Wendy was pretty sure that it was a curse. Then both of them were silent again. Thunder filled the silent void, on the heels of lightning. Kameo cautiously peeked out of its shell and squeaked again. Wendy leaned back on the bench, frowning. She reached over her shoulders and undid the straps that held her brother's gun to her back, placing the weapon on her lap instead.

"What do we do now?" the girl asked anxiously, for the umpteenth time.

Shoulders moving in a lazy shrug, Van told her, "Let's just try to sleep. There's nothing better to do."

And before Wendy could reply, he placed his feet onto the bench and stretched out his lanky frame so that she had to scoot all the way to the end to make room as he lay down, his hat over his eyes and his legs dangling over the other side. Even if Wendy took her chances in the rain, Van was still taller than the bench was long.

"Wouldn't you rather…sleep sitting up?" she asked curiously. Lightning blazed past her eyes, tailed by the all-too-familiar boom of thunder. But Van simply turned over, fast asleep and not even moving after several more cracks rang in their ears. Wendy had to wonder how he could doze off in such an uncomfortable position.

Eventually, her eyes began to droop as well as she focused skyward. When will this rain stop? When? When…

All was still, except for the ongoing storm.

---

It felt like a day later when Wendy finally woke up, stretching out her arms and blinking several times to get used to the bright afternoon sunlight streaming down from the already dissipating gray clouds. Puddles were everywhere, and water droplets glinted on leaves and blades of grass. What she thought was more rain was simply the rainwater dripping from the trees over them. Kameo stuck its head out of its shell, checking out the outside world.

"Hey, Van, it stopped raining," said Wendy. "Van – hey, get off me!"

Possibly in a vain, involuntary attempt to fit as much of himself as possible on the bench, he had ended up using Wendy's lap as a pillow. The gun had slid off and was at her feet instead.

"We can find somewhere to get food and a nice place to settle in before it gets dark." As much as she wanted to just stand up and get moving, she didn't exactly want to wake Van up that way, being no stranger to his unpredictable mood swings.

She thought she heard him say something in reply.

"Huh?"

"Helena…"

"What – oh." He's dreaming. "Wake up," she said, as loudly as she could without actually shouting.

"Oh, Helena…" The armor pilot stirred, and continued to sleep.

For a moment, Wendy thought of Van and Helena's tragic love story. She knew that Helena was long dead, dead before they could reach the altar. Van now pursued that man with dogged determination, and his sole goal in life was to avenge his bride by killing the clawed murderer. He's dreaming of her…Helena. What was she like?

I mean, what did she see in Van that made her fall in love with him and want to marry him? Though it wasn't a humorous topic, the girl couldn't help but laugh slightly. She glanced down at him and wondered if her giggle woke him up.

It didn't.

As a last resort and with a dramatic flourish, Wendy took Kameo off her neck and placed the pink turtle on his chest.

"Wake up, darn it!" she cried, all courtesy out the window. "The rain already stopped awhile ago! How long do you plan to sleep, anyway? And get off my lap! I can't stand up if you sleep like that!"

That worked. Van reached up and pushed his hat away from his face. "What?" he whispered hoarsely.

The first thing he saw upon waking up was Kameo's staring, inquisitive face. He gasped in surprise, instantly sat up, lost his balance, and fell onto the ground, taking the turtle with him. "What was that for?" he demanded, jumping to his feet and brushing the mud and dirt off his clothes, while Wendy bent down to pick up Kameo and the gun.

"Plan B, in case you still didn't wake up," she answered simply. "And if you don't get up, I can't get up! The rain's gone, now we can head off to the next town."

"Sorry," he grumbled, adjusting his hat. For a fleeting moment, Wendy almost thought that he was going to summon Dann of Thursday in retaliation. "Finally, we can find something to eat."

"Before it gets dark, or rains again," Wendy added. "About time you woke up."

"All right, all right," said Van, stomping on ahead, with Wendy behind him, lugging her suitcase.

/end