I know its been too long... well not like this story hasn't survived a break before. Count yourself lucky that it has only been a few months and not years like last time. I wrote this chapter in decent time and was fairly happy with it, but I sent it to my beta reader right before Otakon in August and it is the last thing my computer ever did. It died a tragic death. So I told my beta reader to work on it when she could but I nothing to edit or post with. Using a work computer wasn't an option as I had recently transferred to a land unit where I didn't have quite the time or access as I did before.

It wasn't until October that I got a new computer, and by that time my beta reader had become too busy and I think I lost her. We even stopped chatting which makes me sad because I consider her a good friend.

This chapter has not been edited so the quality will have dropped and I'm sorry for that but my editing skills are lacking and if I put this off anymore I won't start it back up at this rate.

That whole long story was just to say that I'm sorry for the wait and I hope that it is worth it. If anything consider this my Thanksgiving gift to you.

Chapter 18- Whisky Tango Foxtrot

Silence can be a very tangible thing, it presses in like an unbearable weight. The silence inside the back of the luxury town car was uncomfortable at best. Even with the spacious interior Van felt suffocated. Hitomi was sitting as far away from the man she just called 'grandfather' while still being stuck in the center seat.

No one spoke after Van tried a few initial questions. All of which were met with awkward half answers or stretching silence. The one time Hitomi actually looked at him her eyes said "I'll tell you later" or was it "I wish you hadn't insisted on coming." Either way the result was the same, the two teens sat inches apart though it felt like miles, diving minutes that's felt like years.

Some unknown time later the driver wordlessly turned into a gated driveway bracketed with wrought iron gates both elegant and forbidding. The 'estate' was huge and looked to be something built at the turn of the century with railroad money or some other vast long forgotten fortune.

Hitomi who lived in a single bedroom apartment small enough to walk the whole space in less than two minutes, was from a family richer then rock stars. The building looming ahead looked large enough to comfortably house a professional football team, and all their mistresses.

As the car eased to a smooth stop the old man turned to his young 'guests'. "Please do me a favor and hand any mobile phones and weapons to my driver Jajuka upon exiting the vehicle." His voice was warm, but his calculating eyes were cold as an artic wind.

Surprised the couple shares a look of disbelief. "I though you just wanted to 'talk' why do we have to hand over our phones." Sparks flying Hitomi spoke directly to Dornkirk for the first time since agreeing to get in the car.

"I dislike interruptions, and there is no need to cut our visit short." The door opened from the outside as if on cue. "Oh good Jajuka, please have my guests escorted somewhere they can rest and freshen up. It has been a tiring day."

Tall and tan the driver wore his shoulder length wavy light brown hair loose. Nodding in wordless agreement he deftly lifted the old man out of the car and smoothly into a sleek wheelchair. Once his employer was comfortable and progressing up a ramp built seamlessly into the large entry way, the man turned to the teens with apologetic look holding out his hand for their possessions.

"I'm not handing over my phone or going anywhere else." Hitomi stated unmoving and determined.

Jajuka looked as uncomfortable as Van felt, standing there with his hand hovering in the air and his boss watching from the door.

Reaching in his pocket the raven haired boy placed his phone and pocket knife on the outstretched palm with a shrug. "If this will get everything over quicker."

"I'm telling you this is a trap. Nothing is ever what it seems with the old man." With a heavy sigh Hitomi held out her own phone. "You know exactly what I'm going to say when he has us trapped in giant bird cadges or something equally as ridiculous?"

Stepping out of the car Van couldn't help stretching out the kinks that he acquired on the tense car ride. "I told you so." He ventured trying to suppress the smile that grew from his girlfriend's disgruntled expression.

"No, and here I thought you knew me so well. I'll tell you 'get me out of this damn thing'." Hitomi tried to joke but there was still a nervous serious note to her voice.

"All joking aside, how much do I really know you?" Van's mahogany eyes were as direct as his words. He held up one hand silencing the girl's stunned response. "It doesn't change how I feel about you, but you've told me almost nothing. I know your favorite food, bands, and movies. Orange juice makes you feel sick when you drink it, and you hate when people use the word 'moist', but until now I knew little to nothing about your family or past. Hitomi Dornkirk, I don't know this girl at all."

Though he wasn't trying to be cruel the words stuck true, and tears began welling up in her eyes. "Van-" She began but didn't get to finish as the tall driver began herding them towards the massive building. Quickening her steps slightly to meet his longer stride she grabbed the edge of his shirt tugging lightly. "When we are together I never wanted to think about it. I'll tell you as soon a we have a chance, okay?"

He reached back loosening her fingers from the fabric only to squeeze them reassuringly. The small smiles, hand holding, and closeness the couple shared were observed and noted with grim determination by cold eyes. "That boy can ruin everything." Dornkirk set his sights on a new target with determination and cunning.

Who knew that when the old man said 'rest and freshen up' he really meant 'be escorted by security like prisoners'. Then again that seems to be exactly what they were, prisoners. Well if your prison consists of frescos and gold leaf on the walls, and silver veined marble floors so polished they reflect the light in blinding patterns.

After several turns down different hallways and a few flights of elegant sweeping stairs the odd entourage stopped in from of a row of elaborately carved yet identical doors. The tall driver stepped forward motioning to two side by side doors.

Jakuka's eyes were apologetic but his stance was firm. "Master Dornkirk has graciously chosen these rooms for you to rest until he is available to continue any dissuasions."

"We would rather stay together if we have to wait." Van tried to step closer to Hitomi, but found his way blocked by a massive stony faced guard.

"That is not an option." Jakuka shook his head slowly. "The directions were clear. If you would." He motioned to the guards to 'direct' the teens into the separate rooms. As Van grudgingly passed the taller man he heard a distinct whisper of one word. "Balconies."

Van shot a look to Hitomi who nodded to show that she had also heard. Once inside the large lavishly decorated rooms the door was firmly shut and the lock clicked distinctly in place. Without stopping to inspect the room itself the boy moved with purpose towards a set of glass paneled doors built into the far wall. Stepping out into a strong brisk breeze Van found not only a space large enough to lay down and not touch the sides with waist high wrought iron railing, but Hitomi was already waiting for him on her identical balcony. Any thought of climbing from one to the other was quickly dismissed as the gap was about six foot wide with no ledges or good handholds set into the smooth stone exterior. The drop was about four stories down onto dangerously carved decorative stone fixtures.

Van gripped the railing so hard his knuckles turned white and the edges dung into his calloused hands roughly. "Do you know the best way out of here?"

"There isn't one." Hitomi sighed. "He has to let us go eventually, but it won't be until he's gotten what he wants." She pressed her back against the stone wall and let herself slide down into a sitting position knees bent up to her chest.

Following her example Van tried to find a comfortable sitting position as close to Hitomi as the bars would allow. Turning his head he watched her silently through the decorative gaps in the bars.

"An elegant cadge is still a prison no matter how pretty it looks." She spoke sadly avoiding Van's gaze. "I'm sorry you're caught up in this mess with me."

"I'm not." He stated making her look at him in surprise before continuing. "I'd rather be here beside you then not know what happened to you. I'd go crazy with worry."

"Oh Van, but you are right... that you barely know me." Tears began welling up in her wide green eyes.

"Well it seems we have plenty of time now. I'm up for a long story." He gave her a small crooked smile.

The girl couldn't help a laugh as she wiped the tears away with the back of her hand. "I do owe you my back-story for getting you into this mess. Thank you Van."

He shrugged. "Don't thank me yet I haven't figured out a way out of this yet."

Hitomi closed her eyes, took a deep steadying breath and began her tale. "I don't know how well you know Director Dornkirk, but he always has his interests in mind first and last. As you now know he is my grandfather. My dad is his only child and I don't think there are any other living relatives. Dornkirk is strict and controlling, a very hard person to be around. That might be why my father joined the Navy. It was the choice he made to escape and make a life for himself outside his father's reach."

"Is he still in the military? Is that why you moved here so suddenly?" Van asked curiously.

She shook her head. "No he got out shortly after my little brother was born I don't really remember the life of a Navy brat, but if joining the military was to get away from my grandfather marrying my mother... when he was stationed in Japan really pissed the old man off."

"Your mother is Japanese?" Van asked searching his girlfriend's face for signs of her Asian heritage.

She laughed again surprised how light telling someone all this was making her feel. "Kanzaki is my mother's maiden name. Didn't you ever wonder about green eyes and a very Japanese name?"

"I never really thought about it too hard, just that you're beautiful." He shrugged pleased by her reddening cheeks. "So what does your dad do now, and why does your grandfather care so much."

"He worked in construction and maintenance mostly. We did alright, never wanted for anything… then over a year ago my brother got sick. Leukemia, we almost lost him, but he beat it. The downside is that the medical bills put too much stress on my parents."

"So you left home?" Van asked concern in his voice.

She shook her head slowly almost wishing it was as simple as just leaving home. "I went to my grandfather, but nothing is ever free. We made a bargain, I must prove that I don't need anyone's help to survive as my father did years ago. The terms were almost too simple I just need to graduate without any help or financial support, if I can do that he will give me access to a trust fund. All I wanted was to help my family." Hitomi's voice told of how much she missed her family even if she never said the words out loud.

"So why did he want you to get kicked out of school?"

"It means Dornkirk will win the bet." She spoke bitterly "If I quit or get expelled for any reason then I have to live here and do as he says. He gets the cooperative, obedient heir my father wasn't."

"He can't do that!" Van stated fiercely, running his hands roughly though his wild hair. "He can't buy you no matter how much money he has."

"That's nice that you believe that, but the world revolves around money and the people that have it have all the power." Hitomi's words were strong but it didn't hide the slight quiver of her bottom lip. "This is the least I can do to help my family."

"There has to be another way." He stated determined to help. To find the last piece to this puzzle

"Even if there was another way, this is how things are." She sighed heavily before continuing. "He wasn't supposed to have any reach within Escaflowne Academy, but I was wrong the old man has been manipulating things from the start. Playing people like puppets on a stage for his amusement."

"What will keeping us locked up here do?"

Hitomi paused working out the strange logic that led the pair into this situation. "Miss enough school and I might be disenrolled. With the principle as your brother I'm sure Folken will find an excuse for your absence."

Van's jaw tightened as he saw the pieces click into place. "Folken has been a part of this from the start hasn't he?"

"It seems that way, but I'm not sure what Dornkirk has over him." She shrugged. "It seems like we will be here for a while unless I can be convinced to dropout so he frees you."

Van's eyes locked with hers narrowing. "Don't even think about sacrificing yourself for me. I'll never forgive you." Stretching his hands out in front of him, Van had a determined look on his angular face. "Anyways he won't let me go. The old man has to be smart enough to know I won't go quietly and if he sets me free I'll do everything I can to make things hard for him. I won't leave you behind and I won't go down without a fight."

Watching this amazing boy Hitomi's eyes softened and she couldn't help the small smile despite their predicament. "Not that I ever wanted anyone else caught up in my insane life, but thank you Van. I'm glad you're with me."

His mahogany eyes were warm as he turned to study the girl fully. "I will always be by your side Hitomi."

Something about coming entirely clean had a freeing effect on the green eyed girl, even if it was far from literal. She had never felt closer to Van at least emotionally. Hard to be physically close with a six foot gap and a set of very solid bards separating the couple.

Truth is, freedom seemed so far away as the days passed unchanging in their gilded cadges. Hitomi's prediction seemed to be coming entirely true. The old man made absolutely zero effort to talk, as his original lure suggested, also he didn't seem inclined to free his unwilling guests any time soon.

Making the best of the unusual situation the pair stripped their lavish unused beds and made nests of pillows and blankets on their neighboring balconies. Talking through the long eventless days, or sharing companionable silence under the bright stars Van and Hitomi spent the moments together. They hoped for a way out of the situation without being separated, which would be Dornkirk's first order if Hitomi lost the bet and was forced to follow his rules.

The pair only made use of the large imposing rooms to change into clean clothes provided each morning, retrieve food left just inside the locked doors, or of course make use of the facilities. Every other moment was spent together, silently praying it would never rain during their captivity.

The sixth morning in captivity seemed just like all the others. Woken by the bright light cresting the horizon Hitomi stirred first. She untangled herself from the cocoon of blankets wrapped around her long legs. Standing up and stretching she glance over at Van's unmoving form. Normally he was already awake and active by the time Hitomi got up but the last few days he seemed to be sleeping later and later. Not that anyone could be surprised that there wasn't much of a point to get up when your day was spent in what amounted as a very pretty cadge, it was still a prison regardless of the decorations or location.

"Morning sleepy head." Hitomi greeted cheerfully despite her large yawn. "Time to see what is on the menu today." After a quick bath in the sink and change of clothes the girl felt much better. Inspecting her newly arrived food tray as she walked back to her outside haven, Hitomi deftly popped a chunk of sliced melon in to her mouth without missing a step.

Noting that Van still hadn't moved she set down the tray hoping she had something worth getting up for. "Look what they sent up!" Hitomi raised a sealed craft into the air trying to get his attention. "It's coffee! I'll give you mine too, since I know one won't be enough for you." Nothing, not getting the response she was expecting the girl was starting to get worried, but tried to hide it behind a smile.

Van finally stirred even if it was only a reaction to the grapes and other small pieces of fruit Hitomi had begun to toss trying to get his attention. "Come on Van, you're starting to scare me. What is wrong? Are you getting sick being out here so much?"

With a low groan the boy tried to sit up with a wince. Upon seeing his pale clammy face Hitomi knew something bad was really happening. He was so weak that sitting up was a chore, and even his breathing seamed labored.

"Van, tell me what is wrong!" Hitomi demanded forgetting all about the tray at her feet she kicked it roughly to the side so she could grip the railing tightly, as if it would bring her closer to the very sick boy she loved.

Van tried to shrug but it came across more like a shudder. "Been getting worse." Was all he said though the sweat beading his brow told the rest of the story.

"How long have you felt sick?" Hitomi questioned trying to put the pieces together, she prayed it was only a cold.

Van slumped forward onto the pile of coves, finally giving up on being able to get up. His body shuddered weakly. "Started feeling weak… Tuesday it think. I hopped it would pass, but each day it got worse and harder to hide."

"Van! Why would you hide this from me?!" Confused and angry Hitomi didn't know what she wanted to do more hug Van or strangle him. She did a quick count in her head fitting the clues together. "Have you been taking your medication every day we've been in here?"

She knew the answer before Van weakly shook his head. "Left them in my car."

"You idiot!" She shouted startling the sick boy. "Van, you are going into acute rejection. Without the immune suppression pills your body still thinks the liver is foreign and has started attacking it. We have to get you to a hospital right now! You could lose the liver or even die!"

Hitomi started for the door intending to call for help even if it meant losing the bet. "Don't!" Van's shout made the girl freeze in place. "I'd rather die then have you forced to be his puppet. If you give up now I'll never forgive you." His face was ashen but determined.

Torn Hitomi gripped the door frame hard trying to force her body to do something, anything to fix this somehow. Then something clicked. "Van you remember how you hate me reminding you to take your pills?"

The boy laughed weakly. "Yeah, though it seems like you were right to nag me."

Hitomi ran into the room suddenly. Dropping to the floor in front of the massive bed so hard pain shot through her knees, she barely noticed the sting. Shoving her arm all the way into the shadows Hitomi felt around until her fingers made contact with fabric. Triumphantly she dashed back outside with the soft bundle cradled protectively in her arms.

Though confused by the suddenness of the change Van could only raise an eyebrow to ask what Hitomi was thinking.

Somehow she knew what he meant as the explanation followed quickly. "I hid my clothes so they couldn't take them while I was sleeping." Still confused Van just stared until she continued exasperated. "I always carry some of your pills in my pocket just in case you forget them."

To prove her point Hitomi roughly unfolded the clothes digging into the front pocket of her jeans. Victoriously she pulled out a tiny jewelry sized plastic back with six small pills sealed inside.

"How did you…." Van trailed of in awe.

"You never noticed they were missing, but I felt I needed a back up for the nagging." Hitomi grinned brightly. "This isn't a permanent fix but should hold the symptoms off until we can get you actual help."

Van sighed heavily. "That is if we ever get out of here."

"We have to." Hitomi stated. "Waiting around isn't and option anymore. We have to make a break for it, but to do that I need you to be stronger."

Meeting the determined emerald gaze Van pulled himself upright. "Okay, but how do get those over here without risking dropping them?"

"We just have to reach across." Hitomi stated simply

Van shook his head slowly. "Its too far."

"We have to try." Hitomi roughly pushed everything away from the railing to give herself space to crouch down and reach through the railing. Following her lead Van labored to pull himself up to the railing, his arm trembled with the effort to close the gap. "Just a bit farther." Hitomi coaxed leaning into the bars hard enough to dig into the soft flesh of her shoulder.

Van's more muscular arm barely fit into the gap, yet he ignored the pain of the biting metal stretching towards her extended hand. After what felt like ages his calloused fingers finely made contact gripping tightly to Hitomi's slender hand. He felt a small light item drop into his cupped palm, reluctantly the girl broke contact pulling back onto her side of the gap.

Massaging the tender flesh of her shoulder Hitomi couldn't help grinning. "You've got it?"

Van nodded rolling onto his back with a wheezing breath though some of the worry seemed to have passed. "How many should I take?"

The girl thought for a moment trying to remember everything she had read about transplants and rejection. "Well, the stronger the dose the better, but I think you should take four now and try and get some rest. When you wake back up take the other two." She instructed.

"Okay." Van agreed separating four out of the small plastic bag. Without hesitating he dry swallowed the pills.

"You should probably eat something." Hitomi tossed a muffin which he caught with quick reflexes.

Making a face Van wrinkled his nose at the baked good. "Blueberry, I'd rather eat the fruit you pegged me with earlier."

Hitomi laughed. "I think you are sitting on those, so its not an option. Just eat the muffin."

Shaking his head Van couldn't help the small smile. "Yes ma'am."

During the silent hours Van slept, Hitomi watched as his breathing became less labored. Feeling a bit embarrassed watching him sleep the girl decided it was up to her to try and figure out their escape route. She inspected everything from the distance to the ground, to the entirety of her mostly ignored room. The latch on the door looked solid, but in the other hand the door itself was old with two well oiled hinges, constructed with a pin that slid into the loops of metal from the top. If the tension and weight of the door could be taken off then she thought it would be simple to slide the pins out and then just remove the door itself. If they did it right there would be little to no noise, as would be the opposite if she let Van kick the lock until the latch broke.

She pressed her ear to the solid wood straining to hear any movement that would clue to if they had guards posted outside the door. Nothing except the occasional pass of some servant, but they never lingered as if they had no interest is what or who was locked inside.

Shortly after sunset Van stirred, in the waning light Hitomi saw that some color had returned to his face and though no longer clammy and sickly, he still appeared slightly weak. The improvement was a huge relief, as it seemed they caught it in time. With proper treatment Van would make a full recovery.

"So, you have a plan for our great escape?" He asked stretching.

She nodded, busying herself with straightening up on her side. "Yeah, the hinges on the door seem to be the weak point. If someone puts leverage on the bottom of the door, the other person can take the hinges apart pretty easily."

Noting the look on her face Van knew something was up. "It seems pretty simple but there is a catch I'm not going to like."

"Well… it requires us to be on the same side, so one of us will have to make the jump."

"I will." He stated quickly.

"See that's the part you won't like. Van, you can't. If you don't jump far enough I don't think you have enough strength to pull your self up, and I don't think I can pull you over the railing." Halting the argument he was forming she held up one hand. "Let me finish. I've done jumps farther then this for track, but with out a running start I may need you to pull me over the rest of the way."

"I don't like this." Van stated running his fingers roughly though his already wild hair.

"I know, the sooner we do this the better it will be." Hitomi soothed gently before continuing. "The servant traffic outside our doors slows down after dinner has been delivered, and that was an hour ago. We've got to do this tonight since once you take those last two pills we can't get anymore."

"I could wait and take them tomorrow." Holding the small almost empty bag in the palm of his hand, Van stared at the last of the medication as if they would magically multiply if he was focusing on them.

"No." Hitomi shook her head. "We need to go while you are at your strongest. Honestly we should have broken out of here days ago, but I was too afraid to take a risk… and right now staying any longer is a risk to your health I won't take. Be ready to catch me because I'm going to jump weather you want me to or not."

Knowing this was a battle Van would lose he took the last two pills before he could second guess the decision. "Okay, I'm here to catch you. Lets do this."

Taking a deep breath the girl pushed a chair she had found in the room over to the railing turning it so the back was pressed against the metal almost matching it in height. With the chair there not only could Hitomi step up easier, but it also almost doubled the width of the banister giving more stability to balance for the jump. Climbing up was the simple part.

Van stood preparing to reach out and grab the girl from the air if needed. He tried to school his face into a neutral mask as to not betray the uneasy tension he felt. Showing Hitomi how worried he was right now wouldn't help either of them.

Standing up Hitomi suddenly felt the distance widen and grow, though she knew it was only her mind playing tricks from her higher vantage point. "Okay Van, ready?"

Not trusting himself to speak the dark haired boy just nodded.

Without a second glance the girl crouched down almost as if she were preparing to take off from the blocks in a race. Her toned muscles bunched in preparation, focusing everything she had Hitomi burst forward into the air.

Though it only took a few seconds Van saw everything as if time had slowed. The perfect arch of the jump, the soar of her lithe body coming closer, and the joy on her face. Hitomi felt no fear or regret at the danger, just the wind through her hair, and the impending success. Van took a step back quickly as the girl easily cleared the railing on his side. With the overestimation of her need to be caught he lost his strong stance, but wrapped his arms around her form regardless of the continuing momentum causing him to lose footing. Falling over backwards the pair ended in a tangle of limbs and blankets that Van had thankfully neglected to straighten up.

Laughing and elated the couple lay where they landed for a moment happy to finally close the gap placed between them. Van's hands gently gripped either side of Hitomi's face as if checking that she was real. Leaning in quickly he closed the distance capturing her lips with his own.

Blushing Hitomi was the first to pull away. "We should go… I don't know if the noise will draw any attention."

"Noise?" Van asked confused until the girl pointed to the fallen chair on her abandoned balcony. When she made the jump the chair must have gotten knocked over, but Van had been so focused on her soaring through the air towards him that he hadn't noticed anything else happening.

Conceding that it would be better to leave before someone came to investigate the couple separated, but continued to stay connected by clasped hands as if afraid to be separated again. Leading the boy inside Hitomi pointed to the weak points she had noted earlier which were the same as the door in her room.

Nodding Van grabbed his untouched food tray dumping the contents on the bed as to not make too much noise. Bending down he carefully wedged the tray onto the gap under the door. Hitomi seeing what he intended to do grabbed a chair and carried it over quietly. Pressing down on the tray the door moved up slightly taking the weight off the hinges.

Hitomi climbed the chair and began prying the top pin out with her nails and finger tips. At first it didn't move, but she tried twisting it the same time as pulling up and it started to inch upwards. Once the first once was clear she hopped down and motioned to Van to put one hand on the flat of the door to keep it from moving as she worked.

When the second pin was halfway out footsteps echoed down the hall heading their direction. The pair froze not daring to move as the person came ever closer. They had to pray that whoever it was wouldn't look down at the edge of a food tray sticking under the door. Luckily the steps didn't even hesitate as the continued on their route. Once the hallway was completely silent again Hitomi pulled the pin out entirely. Helping Van brace the door they eased it inward slightly with a small groan of wood.

As soon as there was enough room to place her fingers in the gap that was once the hinged side Hitomi started pulling inward and towards the wall. Van helped guide the door free of the latch that had been locked into the other wall. Bearing most of the weight once the door was entirely free he nodded to the side motioning Hitomi where they should place the door out of the way.

With free hands and lighter hearts the pair checked the hallway before starting the long walk out. If they ran it would attract too much attention, but a normal pace and pretending they belonged there would be less likely to attract attention.

No one paid them any notice until a shout went up from the top floor. Someone must have seen the missing door, but by then the couple was insight of the ornate front entrance. Breaking into a run they charged for the exit.

One of the large me that had escorted them in almost a week ago came around the corner spotting Van and Hitomi nearing the doors. "Keep running Hitomi!" The boy ordered letting go of her hand to block the large man from coming any closer. The guard swung a thick fist at Van's head intending to stun him in the very least.

Ducking quickly the man hit only air as Van dodged close into his side ramming an elbow into his unprotected gut knocking the breath from his lungs. Before the man could recover the boy grabbed the back of his head smashing it into his upward thrusting knee. The man dropped knocked out cold by a teen half his size.

Hitomi had listened for once and had the doors thrown open by the time Van finished with the guard and met her just outside. Hand in hand they ran for the edge of the large property despite the shouts following in their wake.

The gates were firmly closed, but here they were in luck; though a code was required to open the gates from the outside, there was only a single button on the inside to activate it. It seems they were normally more worried about people getting in and not out.

As soon as the gate was open enough for the teens to squeeze through they were free. Glancing both ways down the darkened street Hitomi had to ask. "Where do we go now?"

Just then a pair of head lights flashed on blinding the couple. The car had been silently parked just down the darkened street. At the sight of the pair it started and began heading straight for them.

Van stepped in front blocking Hitomi from the oncoming vehicle, which stopped right in front of them. The window rolled down to reveal a very relieved face of a handsome man with long blond hair.

"Allen?" Van questioned surprised by the unexpected help.

"Glad I finally found you two." Allen unlocked the door motioning them to get in. "We should leave before they try to drag you back inside."

"How did you find us?" Hitomi questioned climbing in the back seat first and scooting over to let Van in.

"I had to ask a favor, but that Dryden guy had connections and we tracked your phone to this address when you disappeared." Allen glanced back at them with the rear view mirror as he accelerated the car. "Seems like there is a story here."

Hitomi sighed letting her head drop tiredly onto Van's comforting shoulder. "One we promise to tell you later, but right now let's just get far away from here."

"Sounds like a plan to me." Allen smiled for the first time in what felt like a very long time.

To Be Continued…

Well that's it I had to do the cage scene as it is one of my favorites. If you notice I also threw in the leap Hitomi did from the Crusade to the Vione which got left out of earlier chapters. Van sickening from the possible organ rejection was the best way I could think to have the sudden chance he could die as the scientists started taking Escaflowne apart... Bonus is that it gave me a reason for Hitomi to reach across the gap.

I don't know if I will get another chapter posted before I have a tiny child to take care of. I am due in two weeks but my family tends to go for the long game and keep the babies in for up to two weeks past due date.

Anyways I haven't given up on my promise to finish what I started. It will end some day and I hope that the journey will be worth the wait.