A/N: This story is dedicated to my very good friend Shannon! ^_^ God bless, girlie!
Brad Hunter stood up and sighed tiredly. He hated taking the graveyard shift, sitting alone in the command room of the hovercargo with nothing but his coffee cup and the twin glow of Zi's two moons to keep him company. Refilling his mug, he sat back down, propping his feet on the console. Atleast they'd be back home in a few days, four days of vacation time that he fully intended to enjoy to the fullest. "Brad!" exclaimed Leon, appearing suddenly in the doorway, startling his old team mate. He'd expected to find his father at the controls, not the ex-mercenary who didn't do favors. "Hey, Leon. When did you get here?" The sandy-haired warrior asked, holding up a cup in silent question, though he did not drop his feet or show any signs of a desire to get up. Leon nodded and took a seat beside Brad at the controls. "I hopped on about four hours ago. Dad let me crash in his room for awhile. I was really wiped out," Leon replied. "Someone attacked me, and I need time to do repairs on the Liger." Sipping his dark decaf, the Blitz warrior just nodded. Neither of them said anything for awhile, lounging in comfortable silence. Their thoughts drifted to their own lives. Naomi, of course, surfaced first in Brad's mind. This both annoyed and pleased him. Why couldn't he get the gunsniper out of his head? The Fluegel Team leader was so determined, calm and, damn pretty. The incident with the Sand Sting Ray Gang rose up to the front of his mind. It had felt so good to hold Naomi in his arms like that. Oh, how good it had felt. A smile drifted across his normally impassive face, and he couldn't help but wonder if she'd come around the base if Leon was out of commission. Leon thought of his red blade liger and Naomi as well, though not in the same delighted light that Brad Hunter did. Leon had barely been able to limp his zoid into town and it had been a stroke of pure luck that the Blitz team had been there when he'd arrived. The young Toros didn't have any clue as to who had attacked him. One moment he'd been practically falling asleep in the cockpit of his zoid, and the next thing he knew, a plasma particle beam had slammed into the zoid's leg. The cost for repairs would drain all of recent winnings and atleast half of the credits he'd saved up over the past two years. Naomi was not going to be pleased, and would probably find some way to make the attack his fault. "Leon!" a woman's voice squealed, drawing his attention. Leena launched herself at her brother, throwing her arms around him from behind. Her sibling choked, his face turning red as he tried to draw breath. Brad sniggered, similarly interupted by the outburst. Sitting up, he typed some commands into the hover cargo, and it turned slightly to the west, stirring up more dust. "I was certain you'd forgotten, Leon!" Leena said, releasing him to cough and gasp for breath. A genuine smile lit her face. Brad was surprised; she didn't get this excited any other time when Leon showed up. Was this why she'd been moping around the past few days? "What did I forget?" wheezed the warrior, the mystery of his attacker pushed aside for the moment. Leena rolled her eyes and smiled, as though he was kidding with her. Leon suddenly got the feeling he was going to be in trouble. "My birthday, of course," Leena said happily. There was a moment of silence. Brad coughed, seeing Leon's discomfort. The smile slid off of Leena's face, but instead of the anger that Brad expected, a hurt look clouded his teammate's face, and she stood quickly, knocking over a china cup as she hurried out of the room, her fist pressed to her mouth.
In the dim quiet of her zoid, Naomi Fluegel watch her opponents move around restlessly, searching for her. A grin crossed her face. The seat in the gunsniper folded back until it was straight, then flipped over. Taking the framiliar controls in her hands, Naomi scanned the skies for the air borne zoid she'd noticed. There it was, still circling above it's transporter, instead of out looking for her as it should have been. This would make it alot easier. Her aim presise, the gunsniper fired, easily taking down her only threat. The ptera striker crashed to the ground with a grinding crunch of metal. A yellow sabretiger roared, pacing with more pronounced agitation. She could imagine how they were cursing in their cockpits, unable to fight an enemy they could not see. Taking aim again, Naomi brought the hellcat, the team's best zoid, into her targeter. She wanted the sabretiger, who appeared to be the leader, to go down last. Pressing her thumbs, she fired. The hellcat took the missiles in it's hind leg, crippling it instantly. Managing to stay up only a few moments, the zoid fell heavily onto it's side. Now the sabretiger was obviously enraged. Having a general idea of what direction she was in, the pilot urged his zoid forward at a dead, weaving run. Naomi laughed quietly to herself. These amatuers had so much to learn about zoid battles. She considered it her duty to show them just how tough it really was to be a warrior. Once more, for the last time during this battle, Naomi Fluegel aimed her weapon, took in the zig-zagging pattern, and let the missile fly. The sabretiger didn't know what hit him. His machine took a shuddering blow to the midsection, parts flying off as a command system freeze blink on his screen. Brad walked down the street, his hands tucked into his back pockets. His attention was elsewhere as he mentally reviewed what parts he'd gotten and what he needed to pick up. The young warrior wondered suddenly if there was a coffee shop around; he could use a cup. All night he'd been awake, listening to Leena cry across the hall. "Well, hey Brad," the husky voice halted him in his tracks. Was he hearing her voice now, as well as day dreaming incessantly? Turning, the Blitz Team warrior spotted Naomi walking towards him. The only thing he could think was how pretty she was. She wore her long traditionally red jacket, looking cool and composed despite the sweltering heat. He was suddenly consious of the warmth, feeling as uneasy as a teenager. "Hi, Naomi," Brad greeted, relieved that he sounded normal despite the way his heart had started to pound when he'd seen her. He knew that he was staring like an idiot, and she must be wondering what had gotten to him. Brad struggled to come up with something ordinary to say. This was difficult, because his mind wasn't working right, and his tounge was tied in knots. Why did she have to be so perfect? "Great win the other day," Naomi said in her quiet, beautiful voice. Pleased beyond reason, Brad felt a blush creeping up his neck. He smiled at her in a worshiping sort of way. The Fluegel Team leader did not seem to notice. She just reached up with her hand to brush back a strand of red hair that had fallen across her eyes. "Thanks. You...wanna get something to eat?" he asked, gesturing to the bar across the street. It was one of his favorites. Her answering smile took his breath away. They crossed together, Brad's hand brushing hers but not daring to hold it. Once they were inside the cooler, dimly lighted bar, Brad found he could relax, and they talked about annoying new comers, idolized S-Class warriors, and laughed together.
"You should have seen Bit," gasped Brad, trying to contain his laughter long enough to tell the story. Naomi was laughing so hard that she had to cover her mouth. Tears ran down her face. "He was stuck outside, in the rain, wearing nothing. I mean nothing." "What was he doing?" Naomi choked, trying to block out the image she was getting of Bit Cloud naked. "Leena came into the bathroom holding a kitchen knife. She didn't know he was in there," Brad bent his head, shoulders shaking as he continued. "He was in the bath tub. Bit thought that Leena had gone pyscho, and flew out of there faster then I've ever seen him move." Naomi ordered another basket of french fries and told Brad about her younger brother slipping a frog into their nearly-blind grandmother's soup. This time Brad was reduced to tears as well. When they went their seperate ways, neither could explain why they felt like they were leaving behind something they never wanted to loose.