AN: Final chapter guys~ please enjoy! Check the author note at the end for some special updates and big shout out to Jamies hoping she enjoys the finale.

Chapter 7: In which Raven sets the record straight and Van totally ignores him…

The bed that used to hold Van's sister smelt like dried flowers and when Raven kicked he could feel dust, sand and the odd flake of foliage in the sheets. The blankets were thick and heavy and felt too much like woven rugs than actual bedding. Still it was quiet, warm, and oddly homey in a strange yet very comforting way. It was definitely better than a sleeping bag in the middle of nowhere. Raven practically borrowed down, arms between the pillows, hair over his ears and slept so deeply he barely heard Shadow slip into the house, with a hiss like a rattle snake, and plant himself on the floor.

At dawn he was painfully groggy and his eyes burnt when he tried to part his lids. He and Van hadn't spoken last night so much as watch the news and gone to bed early so it wasn't as if he was exhausted. Still every limb in his body had apparently sunk into the gooey mattress and had no interest in moving. The house was still cool from the night but the light reflecting off the walls was starting to intensify and it was with supreme effort he managed his limp body out of bed.

He showered quickly. He knew from experience if he didn't do it now he wouldn't feel dry all day with the intense heat this region generated during the body of the day. By the time he crept out it was nearing eight and he could've sworn the sun rose at four am given how listless he felt. He slipped back into his pants and rifled through the bag Shadow had thought to drag with him. He made sure to give the Organoid a scratch under the jaw, right along the coils that tightened for biting, for his consideration in that regard.

He didn't usually sleep the whole night through so finding somebody else awake in the house was peculiar and disconcerting but Van with his legs stretched over the coffee table and a mug in hand was hardly frightening.

"Sleep okay?"

"Good." Raven glided by slipping into his boots. He was good at putting them on without stopping by now. Prozen used to be able to put his on going down the stairs but just the thought made the dog tags, emblazoned with G. Prozen, burn round Raven's neck.

"Where ya off to?" Van asked lazily but there was some tightness forming.

"Need a walk," he retorted honesty being the best policy here, "I'm getting jumpy."

"Right," at least the Republican seemed to comprehend that, "I'll save you breakfast."


Being casual with Van, skirting over importance, was surprisingly easy and deceptively comfortable but it didn't erase everything else the pair of them well knew was going on unsaid. Van was paranoid he'd run off, Raven was paranoid Van would start a conversation he couldn't participate in and both of them were apparently unsure about where this should or would go.

Raven couldn't deny the village was well worn, loved, and rather beautiful if glanced at from exactly the right angle while all the same he couldn't really deny that Van wasn't too bad on the eyes either these days. That had never been an issue though had it? He'd kissed Van in unmentionable places when the Republican had baby fat and limited access to a shower. No there were bigger issues here and, annoyingly, the ones Raven had used as an excuse to cut their time together short last time no longer applied. There was no war to run off to, he didn't have any titles to win, he had no guardian to fight for, Van wasn't a nobody, they had plenty of shared history, plenty in common and the whole fucking world knew Van's last name by now.

He really didn't want to talk about the things he'd neglected mentioning when they were fourteen. He didn't really think he could. Their relationship since had altered things, morphed Raven's perceptions of Van, and had certainly crystallised details he'd only half suspected then. Truth was the closer Van's original, apparently ridiculous idea, got to solid reality the more Raven thought about it. Running off with some farm boy definitely didn't seem so bad now and the older he got the more he lingered on the suggestion.

He was up the hill under the lemon tree before he realized he was weaving through tombstones. When he planted himself by Dan's grave he was somehow unsurprised he'd been able to find it. He'd wanted to visit this spot for three years, even when he hated Van, Raven had wanted to run his fingers over the lettering in Dan's tombstone and apologise. That was an awkward proposition to summarise: Hey Dan you were a real nice guy, sorry about your death, I tried to avenge you but the guy who killed you was a really good Dad to me for yonks so I sort of forgot all about it. By the way I started a life-long rivalry with your son but don't worry it's all cool now!

Yeah, great work on that one, Raven rued shoulders slumping and his mind wandered stubbornly back over to a familiar patch of territory. When he'd abandoned that dank little cave and left Van to his own devices, expecting never to see the boy again, he'd… some part of him was relieved and the rest was rather mournful. Those moments with Van that had been good had been incredibly good. He'd been peaceful for a smidgen and the Republican was so hard not to like Raven had walked out of there more to convince himself of his own stupidity than Van of his. He'd gotten teary in the Zabre, he'd thought about going back, he'd spent the night tossing and turning and ruing every little thought and though he'd told Van the truth about how impossible it was and meant it going had hurt.

It had hurt in a very weak way then. Actually Raven had been over it, forgetful of it, by the time he reached New Helics. Tossing it away, letting it go, had proved to be easier than he'd expected and all the pain had vanished, along with the guilty feeling in his gut, as quickly as it had arrived. He'd felt nothing for Van, he'd felt disgusting for rocking his body up against the other's, he'd had no interest in him at all. That little wound festered though and every day since then it got bigger and bigger and bigger. Every time shit got worse for Raven he'd thought about Van's wrecked face and his naïve suggestion that Raven join the crew. Every goddamn time things turned sour he'd remembered that, every time Van amazed him, every time he discovered someone he loved was either insane or nasty or just plain not there anymore. Now it felt like he was carrying around a rotting limb where he'd lost most of the feeling. When Van nudged it Raven almost screamed.

"Pardon me," Raven lurched and cursed himself, he should've heard the man approaching from well away but he'd missed it. "Are you lost?"

When he caught a good glimpse at Father Leon he was back on his feet and almost around to face him. The old man nearly had a heart attack.

Raven didn't like churches. Aside from the fact he was fairly sure he was going to burn in hell (or at the very least the gods had done some serious finger waggling and face palming at him since he turned thirteen) he hadn't had much to do with them. Why he'd consented to plant himself in one of the front pews beside the old priest gazing doggedly at the altar was a mystery for the ages. Call it pity.

"I can't believe it's you." The old man was so chuffed with himself Raven hadn't had to say a thing since being shuffled in here. "When I couldn't find you I thought you'd died in the desert from dehydration. You were such a little thing."

Raven remembered Father Leon but not as well as he did Dan. The doctor who'd spent those few weeks border hoping with the Republican scouting unit tending to Raven's decimated head trying to asses if he had permanent brain damage. He'd spent a lot of time stuck with him but Raven had been a little too traumatised to pay much attention. That first bout of amnesia hadn't wiped Ambient or the murder from his mind after all. All in all Raven wasn't quite sure what to say to him.

"What on Zi happened to you?"

Oh here they went…

"The Imperial division found me," Raven tried to be remain vague hopefully Leon was enough of an isolated hick not to remember faces well but he gasped so loudly Raven wasn't sure if it was just sympathy or horrible realization, "one of the commanders adopted me."

"You poor boy, sounds like you've been dragged over the planet, it must've been quite a transition. Did they take good care of you?"

"Raised me like their own flesh and blood," matter of fact that was Raven's big problem, Prozen had said a lot of terrible things when the Death Surer had squatted like a parasite inside his mind and ripped it up.

In the end Raven wasn't sure how often or how conscious Prozen was of his actions or reality. What was him and what was monster was infinitely blurred at the end but likewise he hadn't settled wether Prozen was a monster when they meet or not. In the middle of that Prozen had been a much better father than the birth father he remembered. Prozen had made him eat his greens, tucked him in, answered to 'Dad', made him feel loved... He wasn't always dreadful but he was a good liar, Raven knew that, how much Raven had been lied to was the grey area now looming over his memories.

"Well at least we can be comforted by that much," Leon sighed and Raven let him have his comfort untroubled while he rubbed his palms into his own knees, "what are you doing here after such a long time?"

"Seeing Van."

"You know him?"

"Met in the military."

"Does he know?" Leon pressed avidly.

"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" He blinked.

"You see," the old man heaved, "after their father died I couldn't bear to tell them about you too. It just seemed unnecessarily cruel while they were grieving. Van's mother passed when he was very small, I can't say he remembers her, but when he was young he always wanted younger siblings. I think it was because he missed her but he didn't quite remember her. Poor boy used to cry. I doubt if he even remembers that now but when his father died too I couldn't imagine telling him he'd almost had a little brother."

"Well don't tell him now." That probably sounded harsh. "If anyone mentions it I want it to be my choice."

"Yes I should think that's your right if I haven't mentioned it myself all these years. Still I'm sure Van and Maria would love to know. They're very good people. They'd treat you like family."

"I bet they would." He scoffed. "Van treats everyone like family."

"He's always been part of a big community. We all closed in to help raise those kids so they never much fathomed the idea that family had to be blood related."

"He turned out great," Raven shrugged, "can't have hurt."

"What about you?" The old man was getting quite merry in his reminiscence by now with all these happy endings he was seeing. "Was the Empire good to you?"

"Can't complain with what I got. I had an extended family, a nice childhood, everything I needed and I'm good at what I do." He could afford to be flippant about the whole 'then we made global domination the family business' detail. He didn't think it was appropriate for the audience.

"I'm so glad. I'm sure Dan's glad to know you two are friends where ever he is."

"I bet he is," especially after Raven tried to skewer his son with a charged particle canon.

"What did they call you?" Leon appeared to realize he hadn't asked. "When we found you you couldn't remember a thing and we couldn't find anything in the house that gave us much of a clue."

"My foster dad named me Rae." Not a total lie. Frankly he probably could've told Leon the truth but he was so good at lying at this point and too tired to deal with all the extra questions he let the white lie fall.

"It's good to see you again," was the old man crying?

"I better get back to Van."

"Don't be a stranger."

Gods above was there something in the water at the Wind Colony that just breddoe-eyed sods? Was he just a terrible human being?

"You're kidding me." Raven sighed in exasperation. Van actually thought it was pretty cute. "You're fucking kidding me."

"Nope." He teased shaking the plate in demonstration under the Imperial's nose.

"That is a goddamn apple pie."

"Not just any Apple Pie at that: a homemade, farm grown, three generation recipe, Republican Apple-fucking-Pie."

"Oh sweet lord," Raven heaved, "if this gets any more clichéd I am going to cry. Where did you even get that? I was gone for an hour!"

"My sister loves me."

"So she just makes pie? You people have nothing better to do but bake?"

"And bred and weed." Van shrugged. "You know what they say about farming and prostitution."

"I'm going to pretend you didn't say that." Raven pressed the bridge of his nose between his index finger and thumb as he collected himself. Van was really living up to the stereotype here.

"Want some though?" He offered. "It's just like-"

"If you say 'just like Ma used to make' I just might die from confirmed racial profiling." Raven warned. "I feel like I'm in a fifties sitcom. Like Pleasantville."

Van cackled. He was having way too much fun tormenting Raven with this but there was something charming about the exasperated expression that crossed his face when he tried to restrain his racial slurs and his laughter at the same time.

"I love pie." Van explained jovially as an aside. "I could eat it every day it's like my favourite food group."

"Pie is not!-" Raven buried his face in his hands, groaning, while Van let out another peal of laughter. Eventually though Van did get a chuckle from him in return. "You stupid mother fucker you are just making it worse for country folk everywhere. How do you not live in a trailer?"

"Couldn't afford it," He smirked and earned himself another cackle for the effort, "it's a shame you missed my Sister you know. It would've been great. She thought Fiona was questionable company! Faints every time she sees Zeke! You and Shadow would make her wet her pants!"

"You're a terrible person," they both chose to ignore the irony in that one for the sake of more senseless giggling, "what would you have told her?"

"I don't know," Van shrugged, "if you were wearing your combat suit I could've told her you're a full time bondage slave I'm eloping with to open a sex dungeon, would've been hilarious, I still might sell her that one."

"You keep that up and I'll tell her I'm a vegan pacifist from Mount Iselina with a pet shop." Raven grinned.

Van cackled.

"I'm telling everyone that!" He declared. "Every goddamn person!"

"I should play along just for the hell of it." Raven grinned tipping back the glass of juice to drain the last dregs. Everything here was fresh or dehydrated space food. It was delicious.

"See," Van tossed his boots one over the other and leant back far in his chair like a cowboy, "this is why you need to laugh and smile more often. You're absolutely terrifying when you're in a bad mood and irresistible when you're in a good one."

"Offering to be my wing man and get me laid huh?" He scoffed but let it roll on playfully. The pie fiasco Van had forced upon him since returning from the church had lulled him into a false sense of security.

"Tried it with Thomas and failed pathetically." The Republican sighed. "Thomas is a nice guy but he's so shy and I am way too loud to be anyone's wingman by the end of the night I had numbers from a crazy Porto stripper called Cinnamon and a quickie in the tool shed with two cadets."

"Sweet lord!" Raven moaned into his palm. "I don't know if I should call you a liar or just sad."

"I'm a friendly guy," Van defended before he could fight the upturn of his lips, "a really friendly guy."

"So was that how you lost your virginity?" He was ridiculously curious.

"Oh no," Van waved his hand distantly, "it was way before that. At the academy after Rudolf's coronation I…I was pretty popular, none of the guy's around, lots of hormones…just sort of happened once, then twice, it was real casual and apparently I was good at it so I had plenty of takers."

"With the other guys at the academy?" Raven reeled lightly. Van knew he was lucky to have gotten this far into forbidden territory without Raven pulling them out of it but the Imperial seemed to have difficulty picturing that.

"Yeah, first one was this really great joker called Ferris," he retorted honestly.

"Didn't date?"

"No it was too awkward with Ferris," he teetered cringing a little, "I messed up the morning after and it soured the whole thing."


"I…" Van shrugged. "When I woke up I thought it was you for a second but you were deadat that point. So ruined the mood and I just felt weird."

"Why me?" Raven attempted to fathom.

"Cause last time I slept naked with anyone was that time I broke my arm," Van tested gently, "ya remember?"

"No," Raven spat weakly, "I don't remember that one time I made out with my arch nemesis."

"Was more than once," he joked lightly and Raven almost grinned, "sorry, anyway, what about you if we're on the subject?"

"I…" the Imperial sighed. "I lied. I did it with Reese once."

"What was that like?"

"We were having a bad night, one of those I-hate-everythingmoments, so we made some mixers and eventually decided that if we had sex with each other we couldn't ruin our first time." Raven muttered. "She's family. If it was between us we figured it would always at least be special somehow and we wouldn't regret it ten years later like we would if we had another bad night and knocked up a stripper or got knocked up by a stripper in her case."

"Was it any good?"

"Was messy," he cringed, "felt like crap in the morning but we laughed a lot. Neither of us were very good. No idea what we were doing. She told me off, I told her off, we made a neighbourhood watch joke and then there was something about drapes and carpets and what you call a Zoidian lesbian."

Van chortled.

"Could've been worse the," he consoled, "least it was special in a really retarded way."

"That's usually how we do things." Raven conceded. "I was dreadful."

"Apparently I'm amazing."

"Good for you." He was dripping with sarcasm at Van's grin by now rolling his eyes.

"How about dinner out tonight?"

"Out where?" Raven blinked. "There's nothing here."

"Out in the fields."

"Oh," he snorted, "you meant literally."

"Yep." Van beamed because, hey, that wasn't a 'no'.

"What till then?"

"You ever seen Republican day time TV?"

"Educate me." Raven ordered keenly.

Raven was going to get a lot of new material out of this Van guessed but an excuse to have some fun with the other young man, to make him laugh a little more, was definitely worth it. He didn't resent Raven after all this time for ditching him. He sort of got it. The Imperial had issues but he'd gotten better, or he was trying, and Van liked him too much still to be bitter. If Raven wasn't going to hold murder attempts against him Van wasn't going to use Raven's as gospel either. He was a little tired of the big hero thing actually. He was more than content to just wipe the slate clean and move on. God, Van just wanted them to move on…

"All you people talk about is corn." Raven snapped eventually. "Corn and who the baby's father is. Corn, fucking, corn, fucking, rinse, lather and repeat! It's no wonder you're broke."

"All the Imperial news covers is stocks." Van cringed sticking his tongue out in a gag motion.

"Cause we had money."


"No so much anymore," Raven reported with a private kind of smirk, "Prozen was skimming from the treasury since the day Zeppelin died. Rudolf's lost a billion dollars in taxes."

"Holy shit! Where'd he put it all?"

"Probably into buying all the stuff he used for Hiltz' army and the Ultimate Death Surer. Setting up city size laboratories and a Head Quarters, in secret, in the Valley of the Rare Hertz isn't cheap."

"You really have no idea where it is?" Van prodded cheekily.

"If I did I'd give it back." Raven swore. "I seriously have no idea but I'd bet it's under a mattress somewhere or buried in a back yard. Prozen didn't trust banks. Apparently accountants and lawyers were the only people on Zi he considered more diabolical than himself at any given moment."

"Oh man," Van fell back further in the couch clutching his head, "I should have known."

They'd managed to make it through most of the day without incident but Van knew eventually he'd have to gather up his balls and push his luck. He was painfully aware of time because in a situation like this you only really had so much before opportunity either passed into nothingness or eventuated. So he let his laugh fall off and strayed his eyes out the window. It was getting dark already. Across the field Maria would be making her hubby dinner, rocking a niece on her hip, probably helping her sister-in-law with some kind of menial chore. Good for her. Even Moonbay and Irvine would be settling down eventually and Van admitted he was feeling the itch.

He worked his heel into the rug and tried not to stare at Raven any longer than necessary. This definitely wasn't the clearest way to a nuclear family but Van wanted it. Things had been complicated enough in his love life just with Raven's memory let alone when the Imperial turned coat to the good guys and erased all of Van's immediate guilt for his unreciprocated feelings. It was probably just residual puppy-love from his first real crush lingering on into adulthood. Raven had plenty of pluses but if this idea of wanting to be with him was just part of a silly urge to fulfil an old fantasy Van would feel like shit if he lead the Imperial on.

Nothing was ever easy eh? Oh well, down in the nitty gritty of it? Van still had a thing for him, big time, and it had gotten worse with age rather than better. Hell, if he still wanted Raven after he'd killed the Shield Liger was he ever really going to stop running after this band wagon? Probably not, so why not shot for gold? He'd always been good at running head first into dumb ideas and coming out trumps.

"Want to go eat?"

"Eat the pie you mean?" Raven glanced away from the screen fleetingly, fingers worrying the dog tags round his neck distantly and Van didn't pay much attention to them. Van had his own set somewhere, in a box by the bed with his GF badge, pendant and some of Rudolf's medals.

"Yep," he winked, "curl up somewhere and eat under the stars, back to basics, and all that camping stuff."

"Sounds disgustingly romantic," yeah he was definitely onto Van but he'd kind of expected that, Raven wasn't an idiot. He'd only let himself be pushed as much as he wanted and then he'd throw down the brakes and Van would hear all about it.

"It's good pie." Van shrugged. He figured playing it casual couldn't hurt.

"You want to talk about it."

"Pie's a great topic." He grinned choosing to ignore the accusation there.

"Don't be stupid," Raven snapped, "you know what I mean."

"Yeah I do," he sighed, "come on, you know I won't give up till you let me crash and burn."

"Just don't come crying to me when things go tits up."

"Why not? You're so cute and cuddly."

"Ha. Ha. Go get the damn pie."

It was a good time slot for a picnic but Shadow and Zeke were having trouble finding comfortable positions to glare at each other from in the grass. The heat wasn't unbearable but it was definitely still warm enough for Van to kick off his boots. The whole horizon was still water colours but the setting sun had gone back to hide behind the ruins outside the village. Van dug through the apples with a tarnished spoon and Raven propped the dish in his lap to scrape out the last of the gooey pastry from the bottom exposing the milk maid blue-china design that was definitely older than both of them.

"Okay," Raven sounded suddenly with this prim finality that made the skin on the back of Van's neck prickle, "let's stop bullshitting and get to it."

He almost cringed but he when he sighed to put his spoon down he spotted the tiniest quaking in Raven's stubborn fingers.

"You're not good at this whole going with the flow angle are you?" Van laughed.


"I can tell," he inhaled thickly through his nose to compose himself, "look-"

"No!" Raven's hands came up. "Wait. I get to go first."

"Why do you get to go first?"

"Cause I say so." He snorted in exasperation as Van held up his fist in challenge to settle this with a traditional game of rock-paper-scissors. "No. Grow up. My turn."

"Fine," he heaved uncurling his fingers, "you go then."

"I knew your dad."

Oka-ay… Van didn't expect that one and Raven looked a little surprised he was saying it himself. He fumbled for a second, Van was pretty sure he tilted his head so far to the right he must've looked like an owl, before the Imperial attempted to elaborate with a deep breath.

"My parents worked on Organoids. One ripped them apart-"

"That's why you hate Zoids?"

"No, hated them before that," Raven dismissed his mouth working very fast to get this all out without having to stop for long enough to lose his nerve. "I lost my memory. The Republic found me. Dan Flyheight's unit were scouting ruins along the border. They took me with them. Your father said he'd adopt me. Then they found Shadow, Prozen showed up and you know the rest."

"So you ended up with Prozen?" This was all coming together very slowly in Van's head. Raven had been talking way too fast but settled for nodding curtly now. "Dad was going to adopt you? How come Leon ne-"

"Didn't think it'd help the whole grieving thing," Raven snorted, "and yeah."

"So you don't remember anythi-"

"Not at damn thing. Prozen forged my birth certificate and luckily he did a pretty good job."

"Did…" Van almost felt himself turn pink. "When we…did you know…?"

"No idea." Raven swore firmly. "I forgot Dan too till after the Geno Breaker evolved."


"Reese, how else?"



"My turn?" Van supposed.

"That's it?" Raven's voice rose an octave and in the mild hysteria. Van suspected he either didn't seem to get it or Raven was a little insulted.

"Nope but I'm going to need a good ten years to digest that little nugget. I expect you to be here for all of them cause; wow.But moving right along!" Van choked. "Look I think about when we..." he struggled over the word, "a lot. If I'm going to put all my cards down I still want you, more than ever really, and you can't give me an obvious no anymore I don't think. I want to try. I compared everyone to you. I'm sick of trying to find a substitute for no good reason cause I think I love you."

Raven buried his face in his hands and groaned pitifully but at the very least Van didn't feel humiliated. He wasn't being laughed at. He knew Raven well enough to know the Imperial took this seriously.

"I…" Raven considered it carefully when his head came back up and the words dragged thinly. "I worry."

"What's the worst that could happen?"

"First degree murder?"

"Aside from that," Van grinned trying very hard to maintain his straight face while Raven's shoulders remained taunt. "Don't want me?"

"That's not the problem." He admitted and Van's gut did a greedy little fist pump. "I'm not the nicest person. This could be a really big mistake. I'm not going to be easy to get rid of peacefully if I…I don't know, fall in love with you anymore because being halfway there already is dangerous."

"You think I'm letting you go anywhere before I figure out the stuff with my Dad? Cause that's stupid."

"Really Van." He snapped. "I can't deal with making another person I love hate me."

"If I don't hate you now I never will."


"I've seen all the bad parts," Van spread his hands out generously, "there's just all the good you haven't shown me yet."

"Oh the bad is many and varied. I've still got more."

"So do I." He insisted. "I'm not a saint- no don't look at me like that! Seriously! We balance out pretty well. I love you and at the very least I think you're pretty content here. I think you feel safe. Fair guess? You can just be you and I'll just be me, we'll be honest, stuff will be good and shit will be bad but the world won't end."

"I chewed you up last time."

"I can take it." Van declared finally and when Raven struggled for something else to say he decided to put all this nonsense to a stop. "No. Give it a rest. You haven't got a good reason. So I'm taking you home and I'm kissing you and I'm not going to stop till I feel like it or you break some of my bones. Whichever comes first."

"No one is ever going to believe this…"

"Come on," Van dismissed stubbornly over Raven's breathless snort, "I'm taking you home if I've got to throw you over my shoulder again."

"I've created a monster," Raven sighed but to Van's silent amazement stood and hung his shoulders, "why do I have this inane feeling that you'll track me down if I take off?"

"I will." He swore, pie dish in one hand, grabbing Raven's with the other.

"You sound like you're twelve."

"Better get used to it." He tugged firmly, abandoning his boots (screw whatever snake had the balls to bite Van Flyheight right now), squeezing Raven's bare hand between his fingers.

Van hadn't been lying about the morning after with Ferris. He woken, sickly sweaty, arms secure around a smaller body and nose digging into the thick hair been quite convinced for a moment he had Raven back in his arms. He'd been so embarrassed he'd snuck out of there without his underwear for a walk of shame certain members of the dormitory had never let him live down. When he woke in the Wind Colony two years later, arms tight around the actual Raven, he checked himself groggily for a moment and then buried his face against the warm neck.

Raven twisted against Van's arms to roll onto his opposing side, pulling himself closer, a moment later and giving up Van sprawled onto his back to make the whole thing easier. Raven rose then, giving up any ruse of being asleep to tug the blankets higher, slumped back down hook his leg over Van's hip, pressed tight to him, and hid his face in the nook where Van's neck, shoulder and jaw held summit.

"You okay?" Van murmured in hushed tones. He was very aware of the two Organoids sleeping exiled in the lounge unaware of their consciousness. "I didn't mean to go all Commander on you last night."

"I needed it." Raven whispered. He sounded close, real, to Van and his thumb worked up and down the opposing side of Van's jaw as he made himself very small in the firmer arms. "I'm glad you did."

Van's muscles eased back to butter. Raven was warm, present, gooey and he couldn't find a single good reason to be worried about anything. He had that sense people get when they know everyone in a room is on the same page. If Van had any real comprehension of how pleased with the world Raven was at that moment he would've proclaimed himself 'King Awesome Forever' for achieving the impossible.

"Love you," it was very quiet and when Raven kissed his earlobe like that it was hard to hear but Van got it and he tucked it away somewhere safe as he squeezed the imperial tighter.

"Love you too."


Yakov and Borris were really lovers of the summer season. The amount of pansy ass family traffic that came through the back road near their hideout meant that they lived off relatively easy money for a few months. Most of the soccer mums who came out their way were lost and had just as much trouble finding the highway again as they did telling the police where exactly they'd been robbed. All they had to do was wave a few rifles around the place like drunken deer hunters and pocket any cash.

The sagging pale blue van they encountered on Sunday was of such pathetic posture they didn't have great expectations for their haul but the whole process of circling a motor vehicle and shouting 'get out of the car!' waving your gun around made it a little hard to back down. Yes highway robbery was one of those professions you had to see through to the end once you started. So Borris stood in front of the car waving the rifle and Yakov stood by the door waiting for the driver to roll down their window.

"Get the fuck out or we'll-" the window lowered, one of those old plastic roll downs, and the driver rested his arm on the carriage patiently. "-blow you a…"

"No, please, go on." Van urged with a flick of his fingers and a warm grin. "I was really digging the passion there. Weren't you honey?"

Over his shoulder the passenger grunted, head buried in a well-worn novel, without giving Yavok any show of concern or Van any interest in the proceedings.

"So," Van grinned, "you'll do what?"

"I… um…" Yakov might've been a despicable little nobody but he read the papers, he listened to the radio, he stole cable from the elderly couple higher up the mountain and he hadn't been living under a rock these past ten years. "Nothing. Nothing at all."

"Darn," he sighed casually, "that's an anti-climax. So you guy's lost?"

"Just heading home." He decided wisely as the cargo on the top of the sagging blue van moved. "Borris get ya fat ass off the road!"

"What for?" The ruffian hollered back bemusedly.

"Just do it!" He screeched tossing his big, bulldog, head back to Van politely. "Sorry to hold ya up."

"Don't worry about it," he smiled, waving them off. "You boys have a nice day now!"

"You're terrible." Raven muttered quietly as Van rolled up the window and revved the despondent engine. "Little bitches are going to piss themselves."

"Couldn't resist." He snickered. "Pass me the radio?"

Raven fumbled in the glove box deftly, bookmarking the pages of his book with the fingers of his opposing hand as he did so, fumbling the little contraption and slouching back as Van's fingers secured round the receiver.

"Hey Thomas," he announced, "we've got a pair of noble prize winners in section 16."

"At least this will be a productive vacation I suppose." Raven murmured leafing through his pages again.

"Last good deed for the month, I swear," Van promised raising his pinkie finger from the steering wheel running his nearest hand over the other's knee consolingly. "I'll just do bad things to you from now on."

"I'll hold you to that."

"Rather hold you to-"

"That's your last pun." Raven warned tartly thrusting the corner of his book at him. "Last one. Savour it."

Van chuckled.

AN: And so we're all done here folks. Thanks to those of you who alerted or fav'd whether you reviewed or not. I just like knowing you're out there reading this so you got my love. Much thanks though to whoever did actually review though (massively thanks).

Anyway, three things:

1. I've got a new Van/Raven fic that will be updating weekly from now on till my next dreadful bout of exams.

2. This finishes my request for Jamies but it was definitely good for nerves so if anyone out there has a request for a Zoids V/R fic please feel free to throw it at me. (I'm looking at you Rein Hitomi cause I know you've got to have some kind of idea up in that head~)

3. Multi-chapter or not is just fine, PWP is just fine, I'm a sucker so I'll try anything and write you most nasty things you dirty sods can picture. Shot me a couple of ideas if you want! Anything will be fascinating and I'll just be happy to hear from you. PM me if you don't want to leave it in the reviews.

Ps. Ferris came from watching too much Ferris Buller. Somehow I think he and Van would gel just wonderfully.