Okay, so this story was inspired by Casa Circe's story Beyond Fanelia's Borders. In no way is the story taken from her works just the idea I had after reading her lovely short story. I too like Merle more the older I get. I see the strength of her character instead of the immaturity that gives her a bad rap. She is only 13 when everything happens and though the majority of the bad things happen to the people around her and not to her personally it's in those times that her willpower inserts itself. She is allowed to act like a child because she is one. I wanted to write a story drawing Hitomi and Merle closer together. This will be my first story where Van is not central.

I promised the continuation of Last Person on Earth and that may also have to wait. Forgotten words has ended… for real this time. Also I have an M-rated one shot called Late One Night I just posted. This story will range from 3 to 5 chapters so bear with me.

Last note-

Italics and Bold are items that are written

Just Italics are mental communication or memories the difference will be made clear in the story itself

Bold is Yelling

Sisters in Heart

Chapter One- Broken

Some days I can't believe it has already been two years, and other days it feels like a lifetime ago. Gaia: the invisible world of magic, curses, fate, destiny, and dragons. I've tried to convince myself it was all an elaborate dream. A fantasy story of life and death, but my heart knows the truth.

I was swept away with a strange boy who killed that awful dragon. A boy not yet a man that had been forced by circumstances to grow up far too fast, he fought with the weight of his people bearing down on his thin shoulders. What stress and sorrow did he have even before his country and people were mercilessly attacked? War a bloody, brutal, senseless thing that constantly consumes like a raging fire… no control only destruction.

Everything I saw and felt, all the people I saved and those I was unable to help, it is all branded on my soul. On the day I meet my maker I hope the good I have done in this life and any others will outweigh everything else. Could I have done more? What if I had done things differently? Should I have used 'powers' not quite in my control to farther the war in one favor or another?

No. I may not have always done the right thing, but I stayed true to myself and that had to be a good enough reason. I regret nothing. I've learned to accept the things I can't control, because no one should have to carry that burden. I wouldn't expect Van to change himself to fit into a certain mold so how is it fair to wish the same thing on myself?

Once I finally sorted out my feelings it was time for me to go. What other choice did I have?

Yes I loved Van. I still do and probably always will, but staying there wasn't an option even if he had asked… which he did. No I couldn't do that to my family. I have to set things right if I am every to return to Gaia and Van without any regrets weighing me down.

I still have a lot of growing up to do and it is better I do it here. If and when I return there won't be any running away, and Van deserves that at the very least.

For now I am just Hitomi Kanzaki High School Senior, Captain of the girl's track team. That won't always be the case. You know when you like a boy and you doodle your name and his all over your note books because you love the look of it and the way it makes you feel to think of being with him together, forever? Yeah, try hiding pages of Hitomi Fanel, Queen of Fanelia from your nosy best friend. It sounds more fun than it is. Honestly the Queen part is something I still have to come to terms with.

I do intend on going back, I love my family, but I love Fanelia and Van even more. I can't really picture staying here on earth forever. Going to College, getting a normal job, meeting someone… ordinary; none of that is for me. Spending a ton of money on a degree I won't ever need seems pointless, though explaining that to my father was a lot less enjoyable. I take some community classes when my schedule allows it. Things like first aid, public speaking, even sewing. Yeah, I know I won't exactly be expected to make my own clothes, but it'd be nice to know I can fix something with my own hands, and the rate Van used to go through shirts it might be a useful skill to have.

It's kind of surprising how supportive my mother has been about all this. She knew that my return home would just be temporary without me saying anything. Her one stipulation was that I wait until after I graduate at the least. Here in japan the age of majority is twenty so I won't technically be a legal adult for a few more years, but I refuse to wait that long. There really isn't much of a point for me to be old enough to do 'adult' things here when the rules and situation will be completely different for me once I make my move permeant.

As I reflect my fingers absently caress the pendent hanging around my neck. Unlike the necklace I gave to Van this one holds a different kind of power for me. I've incased about an inch of the tip of Van's feather in a clear resin oval and had it set into a silver mounted bracket. I don't know if it helps our connection, but I feel closer to him as I have something physical to hold on to.

Yukari motions me forward and I nod silently stepping into place at the blocks on the red paved track. I bring the skin warmed pendent to my lips for a good luck kiss before tucking it under the collar of my track uniform. The rest fades away as I situate my feet and bend low in the classic starting position. Eyes forward, breathe in, hold, the loud blare of the horn signals, breathe out. Power surges through me as I lunge off the blocks smoothly.

Time slows and the only thing that matters is the rhythmic pounding of my feet, the pump of my toned legs, and the strong calm pound of my heart. Surging over the finish line I don't care where I placed or who is close to me. Winning isn't why I run, even though I often do. Running centers me; it always has and probably always will.

Even though I have barely broken a sweat in the 100yard dash the pounding in my ears feels almost too loud. Placing a shaky hand over my heart I am surprised to find the beat not unusual, it is then I realize it is not my heart roaring in my ears but something else. A sick feeling rises up as the world appears to shatter around me like a dropped mirror. The shards fall sharp and heavy from all directions, crushing and pinning me, unable to move and even to breathe. Blackness consumes everything but the terrible pain.

As suddenly as it starts the pressure is gone and I can breathe again. Gasping for air my eyes shoot open to find myself surrounded by worried faces some I recognize and some I don't. Yukari pushes through the throng.

"Hitomi! Are you okay?" Turning on the crowd she takes a defensive stance, barking off orders like a general. "Back off! Give her some air. Someone get a medic."

"I'm okay Yukari." Though I say the words I'm not exactly sure how true they are. My mouth tastes metallic like it was filled with thick sticky blood only moments before, even though I know it was not.

"What happened?" Her eyes are narrowed with worry and suspicion.

"Light headed all the sudden. It can happen when the adrenalin drops off too quick." It's a possible explanation, but I know she doesn't believe me.

I let her and the medic fuss over me and know they will find nothing wrong. Nothing is every physically wrong even after such a strong vision. All I really want is to get somewhere quiet and try and contact Van. It's him I'm worried about now; by the strength and suddenness I feel my worry is not miss placed.

Once left alone to rest in the nurse's office I sit up carefully. I fell hard when the vision took over and I know there will be bruises to show for it come tomorrow. None of that really concerns me at the moment; my worry is centered solely on Van. I close my eyes and reach out with my heart and mind searching for him.

Van was right about our connection, it has stayed strong and will continue to do so as long as we think of each other. It's not like we can see each other all the time or hold long conversations, if Van were really the talk all night kind of guy, which he's not. Mostly it's a sharing of feelings. Sometimes we can communicate briefly or see each other, but doing both at the same time is pretty much impossible. Normally I get an image of him only I can see, while I talk, either in my mind or out-loud doesn't seem to matter he hears me regardless. Today I need to hear his voice, so I reach out strongly with my mind.

"Van?" Though I don't say the name outright there is a strength behind my words regardless.

"Hitomi? What's wrong?" His reply is instant and filled with concern.

"I had a vision. Are you alright?" I put as many feelings as possible into the short words.

"I'm fine." Calm flows back to me. "Are you okay?"

"The vision wasn't about me." I state kind of put off that he is dismissing my concern so quickly.

"Are you sure it was about me?" His question makes me a little mad. Since when did he start to doubt me, but I falter none the less. I didn't exactly see that it was him… but who else would make my heart ache so strongly with loss.

"It's never perfectly accurate, but you should know not to doubt me by now." I can't help but get a little defensive even thought it feels like a childish response.

"Okay." I can almost see the slight smile and know he is humoring me. "I would promise to be careful, but aren't I always?"

"Careful?" I don't know if my snort of disbelief carries all the way to him, but I sort of hope it does. "I seem to remember things differently then. The Van I know was stubborn, brash, and reckless."

"That was a long time ago. I think I've proven I can be patient." His voice is warm and though I am enjoying our conversation a massive headache is forming right through my temples. When we try to push things like this it drains me, but today it's worth the pain.

"It will only be a few more months, if you can wait that long." Though I intended only to check to see that he was safe and alert him of a possible mishap I don't want to let him go.

"Hitomi." The sound of his voice saying my name almost makes me forget the dreadful vision altogether. "Thank you for the warning, but don't worry I will be fine. I have to be."

"Van, I have to go." I sigh as the strain of holding the connection is getting to be too much for me. "Please be careful."

"I will as long as you keep your own advice as well." With that he's gone, and thought the pain too ends the loss of his presence hurts almost as much if not more.

After the nurse clears me to go home with a warning to drink plenty of fluids and get some rest, the fainting spell has been attributed to dehydration; I let Yukari drag me to a café in celebration of winning the race. It seems that I completely missed out on my victory due to that terrible vision, and the blackout that followed.

There is a storm brewing in Yukari's eyes but she keeps her temper until our lattes and cheesecake slices have been served and the waitress leaves us alone.

Before I can even take a bite she opens her mouth for a completely other reason. "So, are you going to tell me the truth about that whole episode or are you going to continue to lie to my face?"

Her words are harsh, but it's ultimately concern that causes them so I let her attitude roll past me. "What do you want to know?"

"The full truth." My friend responds quickly, her face earnest.

Yukari and Amano don't remember the first time I was taken to Gaia since I relived that day. No one on the other planet was effected by that little time loop I caused, but everyone here completely forgot three whole months. Well not completely… people like my mother experienced a really strong sense of Déjà vu. She swears that she told someone of my grandmother's disappearance and stories from another world, but she couldn't remember who or why. I put the pieces together and when I was thinking of home they were also thinking of me. It's one of the reasons I need to have at least some closure here before I can really start my life with Van.

When I returned home for good Yukari only remembered me running into a bright light and very brief glimpses of a boy on a giant flying metal 'thing'. It seems only I remember that same boy killing the dragon when it appeared on the track, and honestly it was for the best. I would have been gone for maybe a total of four months, but since I started that day over the people here lost all but the last month of my disappearance. It still alarms me the scope and effect my will had over the flow of time. Right now time is moving the same on both worlds, I know that wasn't always the case. It gets pretty confusing if you try to map it out, but all that really matters is that I only had to tell Yukari the short version of events.

I explained that my grandmother had traveled there at my age, and that I had started getting visions. I left because I was needed. The people there had been good friends and protected me during a terrible time. Yukari is smart enough to realize that it is not the whole story, but she is also shrewd enough to not badger me into telling things I want… need to keep to myself.

She suspects that I fell in love and that much I will agree on though I haven't told her much about Van. I've learned that my feelings are personal and no one's business but mine.

Staring down into the steaming foam of my drink I chose my words carefully. "You remember the boy the day I disappeared?"

I may not see it but I can almost feel the roll of her expressive eyes. "Of course I remember the guy who kidnapped my friend."

"I left with him willingly." I correct with a little more heat than needed. "Anyways I had a vision something bad was going to happen to him."

"Are you going back?" Her question is not unfounded, as I've thought of just going back to be on the safe side, but this will most likely be a one way trip. If I don't have to break the promise to my mom I won't.

"Not unless something really bad happens, and even then I don't know if I can get back without his help. I gave him my pendent after all."

She swirls her drink around for a moment before her next question. "It's been two years do you still love him?"

"I do." I can't help but smile a little when I think of the stubborn king. It took me too long to sort my feelings out back then but looking at everything it was always Van I could really count on and in some ways despite our differences somehow we are perfectly matched. "I believe that soulmates are not the person out there that has a soul exactly like yours, because if two people are too alike things will never work out. A true soulmate is the person who despite everything completes you, they make you want to be a better person and you in turn know they feel the same exact way."

"So you think this guy is your soulmate?" Yukari asks in the direct manner I love her for. I know most people would think I've gone completely batty by now but as my best friend it means a lot for her to take me seriously even on things completely out of this world.

"Yeah, I know he is. I spent too long chasing the wrong relationships I almost didn't see the right one even though he was in front of me the whole time." I can't help but smile as a weight lifts from me just to be able to say it out loud.

She props both elbows on the table, setting her chin to rest on her hands and looks at me with something almost like envy. "When did you start sounding so grown up?"

I laughed, the tension easing between us. "It happens sometimes, but don't worry I don't think it will last." After that we talked only of normal unimportant everyday girl things; including our plans to spend our day off from school shopping together. We really didn't need anything particular, so it was more planed as an easy hang out day were we might buy something. We finished our sweets and Yukari paid. I think she was relieved that I had been honest with her. Well, it's not like I've told her 'everything' but most of the important points were hit.

Yukari is still my very best friend, but I have changed since that first vision turned into an adventure where war and intrigue were an everyday affair. I haven't really told anyone 'everything'. There really isn't much of a point. Mother knows somethings Yukari doesn't and vice versa, but neither of them knows anything about Atlantis or the Draconians. I think it'd just confuse them, and Van being Draconian really isn't any of their business. So in reality only I know the true meaning of my necklace and I'm happy to keep it that way.

The next morning dawns bright and clear. I send a quick thought to Van as I do most days and am rewarding with an instant image of him already dressed and ready for the day. Not exactly sure if I just sent a greeting or an image since my hair is sleep mussed and I'm still wearing pajamas. That happens sometimes, but from the light blush on his face and the slight smirk Van knows I didn't intend for him to see that. Oh well I think I've made his day, so at the very least maybe when he thinks of that image he will also remember my warning and stay safe today.

I dress for the day in a simple pair of jean shorts and layer a teal tank top over a longer lace trimmed cream colored one. Comb my hair quickly, the magic of short hair, and lace up my white tennis shoes. Even on hot days like today I don't really want to wear flimsy strappy sandals like Yukari is fond of. I don't wear any make up, and the only jewelry I ever wear is my feather necklace. It's not like I really have to impress anyone. I just wear what I think is comfortable, that might change in a few months but I doubt it.

Yukari it already waiting at the bus station when I arrive and the differences between us are evident. Her hair is expertly curled, lips are glossy and the cheery yellow sundress she is wearing is adorable. You'd think she was going on a date, but I know better, Amano may be back from England but his college isn't quite that close. No today it's just us girls.

It seems other people our age had the same idea for their free day, as a group of three boys smile as I join my friend. I can feel their eyes on us and can't wait for the bus to arrive. "Geez, why did you have to dress up so much Yukari? There are people staring."

Flipping her hair in a saucy manner she smirks at me just as the public transit pulls to a stop at our station. "Oh it's not me they are looking at. That guy of yours better watch out before some earthling steels you away."

I glare at her back as she leads the way up the narrow bus stairs. "Don't joke about that. I don't really want to have to hide any bodies."

This makes Yukari laugh because she thinks I'm joking, I'm not since I know it could be true. Van's not violent by nature I know that now, but he does have a temper and a quick fuse when pushed. He'd never hurt someone without reason, though I'm sure he'd quickly find a reason if he needed to.

Thankfully the guys got off a few stops before us, but their attention still set my already fragile nerves on edge. With the vision yesterday it's hard not to think about Van and wish that I could be on Gaia making sure he stays safe. I know he's able to watch out for himself, but it's difficult being so far away and feeling powerless. I closed my eyes, clutched the pendent and breathed deeply until the tension passed.

Today was just about hanging out and spending quality time with my best friend. Someone I will dearly miss when I leave, but she has college goals and a life all planned out. It's just sad to think the two completely opposite directions our lives have taken. I let her take lead following from one store to the next; looking at clothes, jewelry, purses, and even make up I never intend to wear. We stop in one last store before grabbing some lunch and that is when I saw it. The perfect dress.

It is sage green and made of two different fabric layers. The outer dress is lace, a couple shades darker and just a touch longer then the silky knee length underdress. With the sweetheart neckline and capped sleeves it looks pretty yet comfortable and I'd love to see the expression on Van's face the moment he sees me in it.

"Buy it." Yukari whispers in my ear making me jump.

"What was that for?!" I exclaim batting at the prankster.

"Seriously Hitomi you better get that dress. It would look amazing on you." He voice has that knowing lilt to it and I know that no matter the price that dress is now mine. Giving into her urging I try it on and in that moment perfect is an understatement. It was made for me.

We leave the store relatively poorer but in great spirits. The bag in my hand almost makes me giddy with excitement. Without much arguing we decide to eat lunch at a small yet cute café across the street. As we talk of what we might want to order the crosswalk light illuminates giving us the signal to start across the intersection. For some reason Yukari's words seem faint to me as she chatters about the pair of shoes she want to go back and get with her next allowance. I mark it off as the noise of the crowd around us, but even that seems muffled.

Incredibly I see the blue metal hand of Escaflowne reaching for me and filling my vision, suddenly I can't breathe. My chest feels impossibly tight as if it were being squeezed by a great weight. Clutching the pendent over my heart I pray for Van even though I am drowning, drowning in broad daylight. I see Yukari's shocked face from the street curb as she starts for me, but an older man stops her. Frozen in the middle of the street my lungs burning and begging for air; I hear the loud horn of an oncoming truck. I can't move pinned in place as I am, I am going to die. Something has happened to Van and I am going to die.

A strong hand roughly pulls me backwards, the force knocking me onto my butt on the pavement painfully. The impact clears the vision if you could even call it that. I can breathe, gasping and coughing into the shoulder of my rescuer, as they use their body to shield me from the truck that passes extremely close.

At first all I see is the dark blue uniform with white letters in English embroidered over each pocket. Once the danger has passed they pull back and I can make out the concerned face of a woman, her brown hair up in a tight bun, hazel eyes checking me for injury.

"I'm okay now." I say though my throat is painfully tight.

"Can you stand?" She asks in the strange halting way of one not familiar with speaking the language.

I nod and the lady begins to help me stand. The light shifts and we are suddenly surrounded by people all talking at once. Asking if I'm okay. Wanting to know what happened. Calling the uniformed woman a hero even though she looks even more uncomfortable than I am. Yukari pushes through everyone throwing her thin arms around me in relief.

"Hitomi!" She sobs into my shoulder as I watch the woman turn and begin to pick up bruised produce and dented cans, which were scattered across the sidewalk where she must have dropped her groceries.

I try to pull Yukari closer to the shop window and away from the curious crowd. Luckily now that the excitement is over they quickly begin losing interest and wander off to their perspective destinations. This will just be an interesting story to tell their family over dinner tonight. It's a good thing too since I still feel really weak and probably couldn't go very far anyways.

"What happened?!" Yukari demands her eyes red rimmed look like she was trying really hard not to cry. "One second you were there next to me, and the next thing I know is that I'm across the street but you aren't. If not for that person you'd be gone Hitomi. That truck wasn't stopping for anything."

"I know." My voice sounds stronger now but I'm still trembling. "The vision yesterday came true."

I would say more but the woman from earlier had returned. Her arms full of bags some worse for wear then others.

"Will you be Okay?" Her wording and accent are rough but the kindness in her eyes is endearing.

"Yes, thanks to you." I try to give her an earnest smile, but there is so much on my mind.

"No thanks needed." She returns my smile, and somehow holds out a folded piece of paper between the fingers of her right hand, even though the grocery bags are laced heavily up her arms. "If you ever need anything."

With a slight awkward bow she leaves carrying what must be seventy five pounds of groceries. No wonder I felt the strength as I was pulled quickly to safety. A name and phone number is written hastily on the paper, but I won't ever call and I'm sure she knows it.

"Did you see what she was wearing?" Yukari asks watching the foreigner in combat boots leave. "Must be from one of the American Ships here to resupply. Kind of lucky someone like that was there to help."

Lucky? My mind starts spinning finally catching up with everything that has happened. There was nothing 'lucky' about the whole incident! What happened to Van? I saw the Escaflowne clearly, it was reaching for him. Something terrible just like my vision yesterday. Under the rising dread there simmered a good deal of anger. I warned him! I told Van that something would happen and he brushed off my concern! Why did he have to be so stubborn?

The anger quickly turned to sorrow. It didn't matter how it happen just that I wasn't there when Van needed me the most. Is he injured? Could he still be alive after being crushed somehow? If I had been there could I have even changed anything? Oh Van, that poor obstinate unlucky man.

I close my eyes even though Yukari is still talking to me, and focus everything into my connection with Van. Cold sweat beads on my skin, but I hardly notice. Nothing. It's not even like the connection is severed its just gone, as if it was never there to begin with. I feel the loss like a gaping hole ripped right through me.

"Hey you okay?" Yukari askes concern in her voice and a gentle hand on my shoulder steadying me. "You don't look so good Hitomi. We should get you home to rest."

"I don't know what happen." I mumble letting her start to steer me back towards the bus station and ultimately home.

"Are you going to leave now?" She asks with a sadness in her voice. "You're going to go to him aren't you Hitomi?"

"I don't think I can." I would fight the tears welling in my eyes if not for the numbness that has spread through everything. "I have no way back. He's just gone… I don't even know if he's alive."

She wraps her arm around my shoulders supporting me as we walk, even though we are starting to get strange looks. It's not just the looks that start to unnerve me but the hushed comments and steady attention. The strangest thing is it doesn't seem to be directed at Yukari and me but behind us. Whatever is going on doesn't matter as dark hopeless emotions threaten to take over.

Someone grabs the back of my shirt roughly and unlike earlier I just barely keep my balance. The force does spin me around to look directly into the face of my aggressor, and suddenly I know why everyone is drawn to the spectacle. The bright blue eyes I stare into are filled with so many emotions; sadness, terror, anger, and a spark of hope.

"Merle?" I gape for a moment before I can form the words the shock of this encounter pulls me out of the spiraling pit I was being sucked into. Like the rescue from earlier it clears my head. "What are you doing here?"

The whispered comments are clear now and they are all directed at the livid cat-girl standing very close to me.

"Wow, look at that Cosplay!"

"What a freak!"

"What show do you think she's from?"

"Kids these days will do anything for attention."

Oblivious to the stares her stripped tail puffs out in aggravation eliciting a new wave of exclamation from the gawkers. "Why else would I be here you stupid girl?! Lord Van needs you."

Hope flares through me. If the pink haired girl can get to me just maybe I can get to Van. "What happened Merle? I couldn't breathe or move, and when it passed Van was gone…. The connection between us had vanished."

Her large ears drooped and a darkness clouded her large eyes obviously replaying the horrible event in her mind. "There's been an accident."

Something about that faraway hunted look brought everything back; the first vision with the world shattering, the immense pressure, and Escaflowne the metal giant had to be involved somehow. "What can I do? I've tried to go back… but can't"

Her ears perked slightly catching the emotion in my voice. The desire to go to Van and do whatever I can to save him.

"Would it help if you had this?" The Neko held out her arm and cupped in the palm of her clawed hand was a very familiar pink pendent. Though the stone looked completely undamaged the chain lay knotted and broken; a sign of the horrible fate the fell on the King of Fanelia.

To Be continued…

A/N- So what do you think? Good? Rubbish? Keep my promises and work on my AU again?

That last one was a joke… all be it a bad one. I will get back to Last Person on Earth but after finishing Forgotten Words where Van was telling the story I wanted to tell a completely different story but this time through Hitomi's eyes. I might switch to Merle's perspective in the next chapter so you can find out what actually happened to Van from her point of view and not as someone telling Hitomi or her seeing a vision. Though the second one is an option if I don't like how Merle comes across. I've never written for her aside from side supporting parts before so it's a new challenge.

One more note. My cameo came early in this story and instead of it being my made up character or even my male character this time it was just me. Actually me. That's why I never fully introduced myself. It wasn't needed. She is not central to the story at all but helped when she was needed and won't be back in this story. I wanted to do something a little different, and it was a logical place to put myself. The Polar Icebreakers and some of the other Larger Coast Guard Cutters have been known to stop in cool places to refuel and gather more supplies… produce and perishables being a big goal for cooks like me. I've been known to go do the shopping by myself and come back loaded down and never ask for help. Some of the cool places being Austrilia, New Zealand, pretty much anywhere along the coast of South America, and yes even Japan. Lucky jerks the only other country I've been to with the CG was Canada… Pretty but it's no Japan.

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