Hello, fellow Escaflowne fans! Got this random story idea in my head and couldn't shake it, so here it is!


Chapter 1

A camera shifts into focus as a red-faced infant, bundled in white and yellow blankets, is placed into a very young woman's arms. Despite the messy strands of sandy blonde hair that cling to her damp, pale and fatigue-ridden face, she emits a smiling glow as she holds the small bundle. The newborn slows its squalling as the exhausted new mother strokes its thin, dark hair. Someone behind the camera giggles before squealing, "Oh, he's so cute, Hitomi! What's his name?" Exhausted Hitomi turns her dark green eyes toward the camera before shifting them back to her son. She smiles fondly as she gently holds one of his tiny little hands, "Van. His name is Van Kanzaki."

"Van! Van Kanzaki, get up or we'll be late!" twenty-two year old Hitomi Kanzaki calls from the small kitchen of her tiny two bedroom apartment. A pair of earth-colored eyes blink mischeviously as a tiny body latches itself on to the taller woman's leg. "Morning, Mama!" the five-year-old boy greets eagerly, grinning up at his mother. His long raven bangs fall across his face as Hitomi ruffles his hair affectionately.

She sets a bowl of cereal at the table, saying with a smile, "Morning, sweetheart. Ready to eat? You have a big day ahead of you." Yukari has volunteered to take Van and her two-year-old daughter, Shio, to the park while Hitomi works this afternoon. "Yeah!" the small child exclaims excitedly, "I can't wait to show Shio how to build sand castles."

The young mother beams proudly as she watches her son scarf down his breakfast. Stepping away from the table, she chuckles, "Vani, honey, slow down before you choke again. Mommy'll be right back. I have to get ready for work." "Okay, Mama." Van replies with a mouth full of cereal, an all-too-like-his-father grin breaks across his face..

"So much like your father..." Hitomi thinks sadly, tears blurring her vision as she travels down the small hallway to her bedroom. Her and Van Fanel's final moments together flash through her thoughts. "If he were here, he'd love you as much as I do..." she thinks again as the tears stream down her pale cheeks. Then, a bittersweet smile graces her lips, "Only, he doesn't know that you exist."

Hitomi has always had irregular periods, so she didn't give it a second thought when she was thirteen weeks late. Thirteen weeks - three months - after she had returned from Gaea. She'd had morning sickness, but brushed it off as the flu, until it continued for a week and a half.

When her doctor had told her she was pregnant, she'd almost fallen apart. Her child's father was another universe away, leaving her a sixteen-year-old single mother. Deciding immediately to keep Van Fanel's child, she went home and told her parents about her impending motherhood. They demanded an abortion, but Hitomi stood fast and refused. So, they kicked their pregnant sixteen-year-old daughter out into the street with nowhere to go.

She immediately got a job as a waitress, and lived in a women's shelter for the next five months. When she was eight months pregnant, she moved in with Yukari. Yukari and her family were very kind, and helped Hitomi get everything she needed for the baby. They lived together, until little Van was two-years-old and his eighteen-year-old mother saved up enough money for their own place. And now, Yukari is married to Amano, and they have two-year-old Shio.

Hitomi leans into the heavy flow of water from the showerhead, letting nostalgic tears cascade down her face. "Van, I miss you. I wish there was some way we could be together again..." "Hitooomi," the familiar voice of Yukari sounds from outside the bathroom door, "lets go! You're going to be late!" "Okay, be right out!" she says, quickly cutting off the shower. She hurriedly throws on her work uniform, quickly puts her mid-back length hair up in a low ponytail, and flies out of the bathroom.

Just as she sat on the couch to put on her shoes, young Van walks up to her with something in his hands. "Now, Van, while Mommy's at work, you listen to whatever Aunt Yukari tells you to do, got it?" "Okay, Mommy." he says, sitting next to her on the couch. She looks up to give her son a good bye hug and kiss, and freezes when she sees what he's holding. Her old Tarot deck.

She shakily snatches the deck from his hands in horror. As her fingertips gently graze the top of the worn cards, she's thrown into the familiar light of a vision.

A much taller, older version of Van Fanel stands infront of her, holding their five-year-old son tightly in his arms. They're smiling and laughing happily. Hitomi's eyes instantly tear up as she whispers, "Oh, Van." Both king and prince turn to her with large grins on their faces. "Come on, Mama!" little Van calls to her, "Daddy's gonna take us home!" Older Van nods, outstretching his hand toward her, "Yes, lets go home. Together."

"Mommy? Mama!" Hitomi's child's worried cry brings her back from the heartwrenching vision. She looks into her son's horrified face, her voice trembling, "What is it, sweetheart?" "Why are you crying, Mama?" he whispers, eyes wide. She touches her cheek, feeling moisture, she smiles reassuringly at the small child, "Its nothing, baby, Mommy's okay." She, again, looks at the cards in her hand, and whispers, "Where did you get this?" He looks toward the kitchen with a reply, "From Aunt Yukari."

On cue, twenty-three-year-old Yukari emerges from the kitchen with Shio in her arms. "You gave them to me when you quit fortune telling, remember?" the young brunette explains, "I was cleaning the attic yesterday when I stumbled upon them. Thought they'd bring back good memories, you know?" She frowns upon seeing her friend's tear-stained face, "I didn't think it'd upset you."

Hitomi flips the first card in the deck over to see the dragon card. She cautiously runs her fingertips over the dragon's face, tears well in her eyes again. "Thinking of him again, Hitomi." Yukari states quietly. The young blonde's head snaps up in surprise. Van lightly tugs on his mother's blouse, "Who, Mama?" he asks innocently. Yukari looks at her friend, eyes full of doubt. Ignoring her, the young mother smiles sadly at her son, "Your daddy."

He nods in understanding, eyes glistening with excitement. Hitomi refused to deprive her son of knowledge of his father, so she had then naturally told him as much as you could tell a young child. Since he had asked at age four, she told him tales of his father and their adventures in Gaia. She had told him to keep it a secret, or someone may try to take him away from his mother. And being a smart child, he had kept quiet about it.

Yukari clears her throat to catch their attention, then says, "Hurry up, missy, or you're really going to be late for work." Hitomi's eyes widen in a panic as she hurriedly grabs her purse off the table, kisses her son good bye and flies out of the apartment.

The brunette smiles uncertainly at her nephew. Still not knowing the story behind Van's father, she strongly disagrees with Hitomi putting stories of dragons, swords and giant suits of armor into the young boy's head. Nonetheless, she stands by the young, aching mother, and helps her as best as she could.

Yukari grabs her diaper bag and gently guides the two children out the door.

Hitomi exhales loudly as she shuts her apartment door behind her. She glances at the large clock hanging in the small kitchen: 2:30pm. How could five hours possibly be so long? She huffs quietly as she pulls her long hair out of its ponytail, and heads for the bathroom for another shower. You'd want one too if children threw food, spilt coffee or miscellaneous things and been groped by older men.

Thirty minutes later, she peeks at the alarm clock in her bedroom: 3:00pm. "Well, time to pick up Van." she thinks as she brushes back her wet hair, "I just hope he's had a nap." She slips on a calf-length white sundress and black flats, and she heads out to the park. She's agreed to meet Yukari and the kids there.

And little did she know, she was in for a big surprise.

Yukari smiles from her seat in the grass when she sees her life-long friend approaching. "Hey, Van, Shio!" she calls to the young children in the sandbox, "Look here's here." Both Van's and Shio's heads shoot up, eyes focusing on Hitomi. They're faces split into a grin, eyes twinkling excitedly. They spring up and run for her as fast as their little legs will go.

"Tomi! Tomi!"

The young woman chuckles lightly, kneeling to scoop up her niece and her son. Planting kisses on both foreheads she asks about their day as she heads over to her slightly older friend.

Yukari takes her daughter, relaying their day. Playing at the house, snack, nap, lunch, then park. Hitomi thanks the older brunette before she leaves to fix dinner for her family.

"Mama," Van tugs lightly at the hem of her skirt with a tiny pout, "can I play longer? Please?" She nods, brushing her long sandy blonde hair behind her ear, "Okay, honey, just stay close." He quickly runs for the swings, calling, "Okay!" She smiles after her son as he hops onto a small swing, pushing himself high in the air.

But her smile quickly turns to a frown when she feels like she's being watched.

About ten feet away is a man, roughly around her age. He's about six feet and three inches tall, wearing brown work boots, dirty blue jeans, and a red sleeveless shirt. But what makes Hitomi's heart beat heavily in her chest is his unruly raven hair and very familiar gentle earthy eyes.


So, what do you guys think? :)