This was written on about three hours of sleep, a pot of coffee and two snickers bars, so it's probably long, rambling and confusing. The characters are probably OOC, but this is just my view of things and not meant to slight any of the characters in the show. And I really do like Leena, I think she's wonderful...it's just she's fun to pick on too. ^_^

Ummm...it contains hints (almost not there) of shounen ai (I think Bit and Brad would be good together, but that's just me. If you don't like shounen ai, just pretend it's not what you think it is and convince yourself it's just a male bonding moment. Just don't flame me if you do think it's what you think it is.) >_


Disclaimer: I don't own Zoids or any other Zoids characters, much to my sorrow. ^^;;

Anyhow, feedback is greatly appreciated!

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Wolf Pack

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It looked like it was turning out to be 'one of those days' that Brad's mother had warned him about a long time ago. The kind where nothing seemed to go right, and everything was against you.

Things had started when he'd been woken by his alarm clock blaring in his ear at an ungodly hour, only to realize he'd forgotten to turn it off the night before. Showering had provided him with not one, but two dilemmas.

First had been the search for clean clothes, which lasted far too long and allowed the others to use all the hot water before him. Then had come the question of how to deal with the cast on his arm. And then there'd been breakfast. The less said about that, the better, in Brad's opinion.

At least in the hangar with only the zoids for company the worst thing that could happen to him would be something heavy falling on him. Far safer than incurring Leena's wrath.

Sighing inwardly, Brad stared up at the battered Command Wolf and felt...nothing.

He should, he knew, feel some kind of frustration that he'd been taken out so early in that last battle. Or maybe even anger, that he'd been beaten so thoroughly.

But he didn't.

What he did feel was a dull ache in his arm, legacy of his humiliating defeat at the hands of an amateur. Barely five minutes into the battle and he'd gone down. It had to be a new record for him.

Brad's combat style relied more on maneuverability and cunning than firepower or brute strength. It was why the Command Wolf was so lightly armed, it kept the weight down and allowed him a greater range of movement. And he'd use that both to his, and his team's advantage in the past.

It had been said, that he was perfectly suited to piloting a Command Wolf. There were some who were afraid of going up against him in battle because they said he thought differently than most people. That he fought like the animal his zoid was modeled after. That he was the embodiment of a wolf - he had the elegant grace, the cunning, and viciousness of a wolf on the hunt.

Except that this wolf had no pack.

Smiling bitterly, Brad rubbed absently at the cast weighing his left arm down.

"Hey, Brad!"

Looking up at the sound of his name, Brad's smile lost some of the bitterness. There was just something about Bit that made him feel that maybe the world wasn't such a bad place after all.

"What's up?"

Bit held his right hand up in answer, something flashing silver in the light. His glass green eyes were gleaming with excitement. It was the same look he got just before going into a zoid battle.

"I'm going out to look for parts up north, you want to go with me?" Bit asked, moving to stand next to Brad.

Blinking slowly at the younger man's question, Brad regarded him thoughtfully.

"I don't know, Bit. The way things are going I wouldn't want to press my luck."

Bit smiled, and Brad felt some of the stress he'd been feeling melt away.

"Everyone has a bad day once in a while, Brad."

Brad snorted, looking back up at the Command Wolf. Trust Bit to be the optimistic one of them all.

"Not everyone has a bad week, Bit."

Bit made a frustrated sound in the back of his throat, green eyes narrowing.

"Brad, the guy got lucky. It was just a fluke, you'll get him next time."

Brad had to marvel at the fact that Bit Cloud, of all people, was talking about fluke chances. Sometimes it seemed that Bit thrived on fluke occurrences. He certainly didn't seem to be suffering because of them.

"You're one to talk about flukes, Bit."

Bit's eyes darkened, and for a moment Brad was sure he was about to get decked, and then Bit smiled.

"Maybe, maybe not. So are you going to come or not? It's got to be better than sitting around here feeling sorry for yourself. And it'll get you out of Leena's clutches for the day. That has to count for something, doesn't it?"

Brad smiled to himself. It did sound a lot better than mooning around Toros base, and Leena was probably still angry at him about that morning...

"What's in it for me?"

Brad almost smirked at the surprised look that flitted over Bit's face. It was worth it sometimes to play up his reputation as a money-grubbing mercenary just to see the look on Bit's face.

"What, getting a safe distance away from Leena's not enough for you?"

Brad smiled, blue eyes narrowing.

"She's not that bad, Bit. And no, it's not."

"All right then...how about I give you a percentage of the profits on whatever we find? And you can keep anything you want, too."

Brad smiled this time, something sharp and predatory. He could always trust Bit to keep his word on something like that, and knowing Bit, they'd find some quality salvage. He seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to things like that.

"Deal."

**********

"You know Bit, this isn't exactly what I had in mind when you invited me to come along on this little venture."

Giving Brad an amused look, Bit held out a hand to help the older man up. Accepting it, Brad grunted softly as he was pulled bodily to his feet.

"It never is, is it?"

Scowling, Brad dusted himself off, wincing as the movement jarred his arm. Glaring at Bit's back, Brad trudged after him. He had to admit that he'd never realized just how much Bit went through to salvage old zoid parts. Though he probably should have guessed, considering the circumstances under which they'd met.

"So why," Brad had to stop to get his breath back, "do you still do this? You're making enough money with the battles we win, don't you?"

Stepping over an exposed tree root, Bit glanced over his shoulder at Brad, green eyes laughing silently.

"Oh I don't do this for the money, Brad. I do it because...well, it's fun."

Brad stopped dead in his tracks, staring at Bit like he'd just claimed the world was flat.

"What?"

Bit stopped as well, turning to face Brad.

"Don't get me wrong, Brad. The money's nice and all, but the reason I still go out and scrounge for parts is because I like going over old battlefields. I love going over the same ground that other zoid warriors have fought and won, or lost on. I love trying to figure out what happened in the battle by looking at the terrain."

Brad gave him an odd look, blue eyes skeptical.

"Are you serious?"

Bit grinned, lifting his arm to point at something far below then in the valley. If Brad squinted just so he could make out the jeep parked in the shade of a rocky outcrop.

Far, far below them.

"See there? You can see the crater from where the judge capsule came down. And over there is..."

Brad tuned out what Bit was saying; paying more attention to the way Bit's expression had changed when he'd begun talking about old zoid battles. It was...endearing, in a way.

Bit had a way of looking at things from a different angle than Brad. As a mercenary, Brad had been more places and done ore things than most people ever dreamt about, but he was jaded towards all of it. To him it had been just another place, another battle. Another paycheck.

To Bit...

"Brad? Are you all right? You looked kind of out of it for a minute there."

Snorting, Brad shook his head to clear it.

"I'm fine. Let's keep going. We should reach that crash sight in an hour or so if we keep moving."

Bit grinned, and turned to lead the way through he badly marked mountain path.

"Sure thing. Maybe we can find something for Jamie's Raynos up there. Oh, and watch your step, the ground's kind of unstable here."

Sighing, Brad decided not to tempt Fate and did as Bit had suggested. The last thing he needed at the moment was to fall flat on his butt again because he tripped over a rock or an exposed tree root.

"So how'd you hear about this crash sight, Bit?"

Bit glanced back, holding a tree branch out of the way for Brad as they squeezed through a thick clump of trees beside the path.

"A friend of mine told me about it a while back. He said no one ever salvaged the wreck because it was so hard to get to. Not enough profit in it for them to go to so much trouble, I guess."

Brad snorted at that, rubbing at the small cut on his shoulder from a nasty fall he'd taken earlier in the climb.

"No kidding."

Either Bit didn't hear him, or he chose to ignore Brad because he didn't reply.

*********

Brad stared at the clearing before them in something very much like shock. Slowly, he turned to face Bit, who was watching him almost nervously.

"Bit."

The other man shuffled his feet.

"Yes, Brad?"

Brad's eyes narrowed at the too innocent tone of voice Bit had used.

"There's nothing here, Bit."

The younger man made a show of looking around the grassy clearing.

"Why yes, Brad. You're absolutely right. There is nothing here."

Reminding himself that grinding his teeth was a bad thing, Brad unclenched his jaw.

"Bit."

"Yes, Brad?"

"Why did we climb this mountain?"

Bit smiled, glass green eyes sliding to meet Brad's gaze.

"Because it was there?"

Brad glared.

Bit sighed, running a hand through his hair. Tugging on his bangs, he shot an apologetic look at Brad.

"Look, I'm sorry I tricked you into climbing up here with me, but you looked like you needed it."

Brad was having a hard time trying to understand what Bit could possibly have mean by that remark.

"Excuse me?" He asked, his voice sliding into a near-snarl.

Bit threw his hands up in frustration and started pacing, hands balled into fists at his side. Brad watched him silently, blue eyes narrowed as he waited for Bit's answer.

"You've been moping around since that last battle, and even before then it felt like you were trying to draw away from all of us. I was worried about you, Brad."

Brad's eyes widened.

"You've always been kind of aloof, Brad. I know you're a mercenary, and I know you're used to having to do things on your own, but things have changed, haven't' they? You've been with the Blitz team longer than I have, don't you trust them? Me?"

Brad sighed, his expression softening.

"It's not that I don't trust the rest of you, Bit. It's just that...well, like you said I'm not used to having other people I can rely on. I was always just the hired help. An outsider. And now..."

"Now it's different, right? It's like they're family."

Brad's head snapped up surprised to see understanding in Bit's eyes. And then realization hit him.

"You feel it too, then."

Bit smiled, something sad and fragile.

"Yeah. I never really had anywhere I wanted to be before. I was just content going from place to place, town to town looking for zoid parts. I never thought I'd ever find a home. It always seemed so out of reach."

"And now it's not."

"Exactly."

Brad snorted, glancing around the clearing again.

"Family, huh?"

Bit grimaced, looking a little uncomfortable.

"A dysfunctional one, but yeah, I'd like to think of us as a family."

Brad smiled.

"And you had to drag me all the way up here to tell me that?"

"Well, you really looked like you needed something to get you moving again. You haven't done anything for a week other than walking the halls like a zombie."

"Bit..."

"I know how Leena and Jamie have been making you feel like an invalid fussing over you the way they've been, so I thought - "

"You thought that if you made me hike up a mountain I'd feel better about myself?"

Bit nodded a little sheepishly, shifting his weight nervously as Brad continued to stare at him.

"Yeah. Did it work?"

Brad stared, caught by the earnest look in Bit's eyes. He'd planned this whole trip out just to make Brad feel better? He'd tricked him into climbing up the side of a mountain, luring him on with the mention of choice zoid parts they could sell for profit, just for his sake?

Brad opened his mouth for a scathing retort, and snapped it shut just as fast. Tipping his head to the side, he regarded Bit closely, blue eyes narrowed.

Bit had done all of that, just for him. Because he was worried about Brad. Bit had given up a free afternoon, one he could have spent any way he wanted, for Brad.

It was a nice feeling, to know that anyone cared that much about him. To know that Bit cared that much.

"Yeah. Yeah it did."

Brad remembered something he'd read a long time ago...or maybe it was something someone had once told him. It didn't matter the source, just the words:

Sometimes lone wolves band together and form a pack of their own.

Maybe the day hadn't been a complete loss after all.