"Huh?"

Wendy stared- dumbfounded to a point where she could not find the will to speak- at the familiar face in front of hers. Or above. She had grown significantly, but Van was still a giant and that was that.

Her eyes lingered in his for a moment, before falling to the ground—she knew instantly what it was, for she'd awoken to the very same photograph every morning since the day she and Van said goodbye, as well as the others. Kameo made a pleased sound, and Wendy reached across his overgrown shell to retrieve it. She was almost surprised he had kept the thing, after all. Van of the Dawn.

"Hey, uh," She starts rather nervously, her innocent blush creeping into the tone of her cheeks, "Long time no see, huh, Van?"

"Wendy?" He asks, although he knows no one else in their right mind would own a turtle like Kameo, and be wearing those same impossible-looking pigtails.

His back straightens, undecided if he should close the door.

Wendy pauses for a short moment before giggling, more freely than she had in a long time, and Van shoves the photograph into the inner flap of his tuxedo.

"I'm surprised you still remember my name, Nice-Guy Van. You know, I've… really missed seeing you guys." She says, even though her heart is screaming you, and she's kept in contact with the rest of the gang anyways.

"Nope, just Van" His voice sounds tired, or bored, or both, "Why don't we catch up over a meal or something—"
"VAN, YOU CAN'T HIDE FROM ME THIS TIME! YOUR ARMOR IS ALL MINE!" A low voice booms into Wendy Garret's once peaceful home, and she sighs, smiling as she grabs a plate for Van.

"Aw, crap."

The door slams. He collapses onto her couch. Wendy's interviewer can't believe his eyes.

"I'd like that."

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O

"Hey, Wendy. Do you have…. any more condiments?" He drawls, smothering her steak with the ketchup lying on the table already. If it had been all those many years ago, she might have scolded him, but today she was elated to see him, if only for a moment.

"Yeah! I can't believe I forgot, Van. I'm sorry."

She'd bought nearly every kind of sauce in the market for him, in any case. Somehow, she knew he'd find her no matter what. And the man in black. She just knew it wasn't him. Van couldn't die.

"DAMN, THIS IS GOOD!"

Wendy blushes. Some things never change.

"So, what are you doing here anyways? I thought you were going back to Evergreen." He drops his fork on the plate with a 'clank'. Wendy begins to feel uncomfortable under his gaze.

"I, uh, decided not to go," She explains half-heartedly. But something changes in her eyes as she speaks again.

"You know, Van…Evergreen isn't my home anymore. It was in another life. I'm a new Wendy, now."

She smiles at the memory of her and Michael at Evergreen, living together. It doesn't hurt anymore.

Van's grinning, too, under the length of his hat.

"You've really grown up since I last saw you, huh, kid?" He murmurs, almost to himself.

Part of him loves it. The other half is wishing she had stayed a child forever.

He does not know why. He doesn't want to.

Van pours himself a tall glass of milk and touches it to Wendy's, quickly.

"Well, to a new beginning for us both, then." He voice is gruff; he downs the glass easily. Somehow he wishes it were wine.

"Yeah!" She nods shortly, enthusiastically. "Van of the dawn!"

"No, just plain Van."

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O

Van had fallen asleep on her couch—she had secretly hoped he would. If he hadn't, she knew he would have insisted finding another place in town, even if she had protested.

Wendy pulled a blanket to the floor, next to the couch-side. He was quiet tonight.

He would always call out Helena's name in his sleep, with that same, wounded, troubled look. He used to, anyways, back when they were travelling together. For Van's sake, she hoped the dead man and woman that plagued his sleep would disappear. Just for now.

"W-Wendy. Wendy. Hey." He groaned, his right hand twitching as it did when he was ready to draw his sword. Her breath had stopped but her heart starting running like horses. Mad horses. After all those years, and still you….

"Sheesh. Don't you know better than to take candy from strangers?" He says, sounding somewhat annoyed. Then he starts snoring.

"I should have known, you jerk!" She huffs, pulling her blanket tighter around her figure, and falling into a slumber. But, she knew, even if she were still a child in his eyes, Wendy Garret had felt more at ease than she had since she'd started living on her own.

Besides, he really did look beautiful in his sleep.

o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O

"So, who was that guy yesterday, anyways, Van? That guy who wanted Dann." She asks as she watches him pour hot sauce over the buttermilk pancakes she made for him [cue sweatdrop lol].

"Hell if I know. Him and his little buddies have been chasin' me all over town. They swear they'll be the next hero and—WOOH THAT'S SPICY!"

Wendy laughs; Van stops shoveling food into his mouth for a moment as he stares at her neck.

"W-What?" She mumbles feeling self-conscious, blushing.

"Nothing. Well, I forgot about that thing. Isn't it heavy?"

He reaches for the 3D puzzle that was chained around her neck, pulling closer to her. Somehow it felt all wrong. But he wished he were even closer. She laughs shakily.

"Oh, yeah. You did tell me to wear it after all. Kameo was heavier, besides." [Note from me :D—he DID say he wanted her to put it around her neck, right? When we see her in the end she isn't wearing it. D:]

There is a long silence before he speaks again, and his words are one of the few that she would not like to hear.

"I guess I should be leaving. Sorry for taking your couch last night." He says plainly, straightening the rim of his hat as he stands.

"Where are you going to, Van?" She asks, unsure if she could hug him goodbye even if they were, by chance, still friends.

"I don't know. Anywhere." He pauses for a moment, looking into her eyes. "Goodbye, Wendy."

"Wait!" She shouts as he begins to leave. She doesn't want him to go. She realizes it's just the same as last time, and that she'll always feel the same, when Van would say goodbye to her.

He waits.

She doesn't want him to go.

This time, she doesn't let him.

"Can I come with you?" She says, feeling scared suddenly even behind her fierce look.

He doesn't move, only stands as he did before, back turned to her. Neither does she.

Wendy almost sits back down, almost decides he didn't want her along after all.

"What, don't you need to get anything?" He asks slowly, confused. Didn't she used to bring along a suitcase too?

Her face changes from disappointment to shock, to happiness, and realization that she would have to pack .

"Don't leave!" And with that he rushes upstairs.

He shuts the door and leans against it, his hat over his eyes.

I wasn't planning on it.