A Change of Fate
Title: A Change of Fate
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Allen/Van, Van/Hitomi, others mentioned
Summary: Years later, Allen and Celena visit Van. This leads to Van and Hitomi making a lot of very long-distance calls.
Notes: One of the oldest lingering things on the list... ^_^ A bit left-of-center of canon and a bit rambly, but it all ends well enough. *grins*
"How is Hitomi?"
"Good," Van replied. "She's doing well as an author, you know. She just had her third book published - she writes stories about girls who travel to a magic land..."
"Here," Allen surmised, chuckling.
"Here," Van confirmed, smiling. "How is Celena?"
He glanced around, surprised not to see her. Allen's vow to keep her close had been literal, after all. Their few quick visits - in either direction - had featured Celena as Allen's near-literal shadow.
"She's had some bad days, lately," Allen admitted. They were in a small, private reception room near Van's own quarters. Someone had brought wine. Van hadn't touched his, but Allen was drinking. "Though currently she is -- she is resting due to more natural problems with--"
Van chuckled. He understood.
"That's a good sign, isn't it? That her body--"
Van wasn't really sure what else to say.
"Almost finished," Van interrupted.
"I'm impressed," Allen added. "Which is not an insult to the people of Fanelia - merely a compliment to their king."
"It should have been faster," Van noted. "I did all I could. But every now and then someone would pick me up and drag me back here and stuff me in--"
Van gestured down to his clothing. While he'd managed to sneak on a pair of rougher pants, his shirt had far too many ruffles for his own liking and the colors were a bit odd.
Allen chuckled. "Not a bad look, over all. Your hair is getting long."
"I'll have to cut it." Until that second, Van really hadn't noticed. But it was long - down over his shoulders and only semi-tamed. It was nowhere near as elegant as Allen's hair - Allen who actually looked the part of a noble while choosing to continue wandering about most of the time.
"Let it grow."
Van wasn't entirely sure when Allen had gotten close enough to tug at the black mess.
"Maybe. How are Milerna and Dryden?"
Allen paused to choose his words carefully - not the biggest surprise.
They talked for half of the night.
In the morning, Van meditated. Since Hitomi had returned home the last time, he'd studied all he could about her magic -- she'd told him some, as well, once he'd gotten better at visiting her and actually talking to her.
'It helps you focus on what's already there,' she'd reminded him. 'Anyone can do it.'
He wasn't sure what he was looking for, though. Celena, perhaps? He and Allen had talked more about Celena as the night drew on - her continuing recovery...
Van had talked about Fanelia. Perhaps they hadn't really spoken about unrelated subjects.
There was nothing-- Some mornings were like that, though, and unworried, Van headed down to the kitchens to see if he could take breakfast early.
"I apologize for my absence yesterday, your highness," Celena said, smiling as she curtsied carefully in front of Van. While he didn't think it had been that long since the last time Allen and Celena had visited, Celena had definitely... changed. Her hair was longer, and her body had filled out far more than Van recalled.
"You can just call me 'Van'," Van said quickly. The less Celena looked like Dilandau, the easier it was to distance her from Dilandau's crimes. Though he couldn't help wondering if the monster still slept within her.
"I was dreaming of Fanelia," Celena continued. "I... I know they weren't really my dreams. But I think I need to be here in order to... keep moving forward."
Van could tell she was choosing her words carefully, unwilling to admit to too much while still trying to sound genuine. He didn't disbelieve her. He just... she didn't quite seem to have accepted what had happened to her.
Then again, he asked himself, how would he handle it?
"You're welcome here," Van said, giving her the best smile that he could. "You, and Allen and his men are always welcome."
He looked back to where Allen was lingering in the back of the room. No one had really said anything when Van announced that he'd be spending a few days with his visitors.
"Thank you," Celena said, echoing his smile.
"Would you like a guided tour?" Van questioned.
He hadn't quite expected Celena to latch firmly onto his arm for most of the day and he certainly hadn't expected to repeatedly catch Allen giving him strange, strange looks.
Van knew he'd have to explain later that Celena's reaction was wholly unexpected and maybe she just felt...
Van didn't know.
"Celena? Hm..." Hitomi closed her eyes and clutched at the edge of her padded desk chair and swung her feet. "No... I don't really think I can get her right now. Maybe not at all."
She sighed and looked back over at him.
"Maybe if I can get there -- at least mentally," she said as she opened her eyes.
Van had been surprised to find Hitomi working so early in the morning - but she was at her brilliantly glowing computer, typing away when he settled into her presence. He never really got tired of looking at all of the things in Hitomi's apartment - the familiar, the unknown, all the colors... Now it was easy for him to understand how Hitomi felt while on Gaea.
"I was just curious," Van replied. Technically, he could sit anywhere - not necessarily needing to be on anything. He really wasn't corporeal at the moment. But Hitomi insisted it just was better if he found something to position himself against or on. So he was on a sofa that looked old and hard and like Hitomi had probably slept on it instead of going to her bedroom. Possibly she hadn't slept--
"Do you like her?" Hitomi questioned, grinning mischievously. "You know--"
"What? I thought you said there weren't any rules about having to find a Fanelian or--"
"I meant that in regards to you," Van muttered. Oh, they'd half-sorted their relationship more times. And basically decided that relationships on their own worlds were okay as long as there were no secrets.
Which was not why Van was there.
"I already imagine myself as the queen," Hitomi said softly. She gestured back to her computer. "A small role, don't worry."
Van chuckled. "Someday you'll read your books to me."
He had copies - she'd managed to pass them to Gaea. But the language barrier made things close to impossible. Van was always grateful he could speak with Hitomi, especially since anyone else he heard in her general perimeter sounded unintelligible.
Hitomi smiled. "There might be a better way-- there's talk about making OVAs of them."
"Ohveeyays?" Van questioned, confused. That didn't seem like a word.
"A video!" Hitomi corrected. "Oh--" She looked about the room quickly and jumped to her feet, lunging for a pile of boxes. Her speed hadn't decreased at all, Van noted, amused. Though he had found her jogging in the mornings more than once.
She pulled out a book-sized box with elaborate art on it. "It's moving pictures. Sort of like a play, I suppose, but drawn."
"Of your stories?" Van questioned. That seemed really complex.
"Maybe," Hitomi replied, blushing a bit. "But I'll let you know as soon as I know - I promise."
"I'll let Allen know about the ohveeyay, too," Van noted. More people had to be moving around the castle - it was getting harder to focus. "Is there anything else you wanted to tell him?"
Hitomi shook her head. "Just say 'hi' for me, okay? Is it time for you to go already?"
"I'm afraid so." Van got to his feet, already feeling half-gone. But he felt enough of the soft kiss Hitomi gave him that when he snapped back into his body, he really and truly missed her.
"A play?" Merle squnched up her face, thinking, before quickly turning back around to grab her toddler daughter from her tail and spin her once through the room before handing her over to Van. "I can see... Have you even been to a--"
"With mother and Folken," Van replied quickly, spinning Merle's daughter around and then flipping her and making soft dragon noises. The resulting squeals of glee meant he was doing a good job, at least.
"I'll see what I can do--"
"Thanks, Merle." Van grinned and then loped through the room one more time, laughing, before handing Merle her daughter back. "If I ask anyone else, we'll get stuck going to see something dull and stuffy."
Merle smiled and leaned close. "Up to no good, are you?"
"I just... I want to be a good host."
"Uncle Van!" Merle's daughter waved her arms in Van's direction.
"Gotta go be king, little one," Van replied, chuckling and ruffling her hair. "But I promise we'll play another day."
Merle just smiled, though Van was sure she'd fuss once he left. He'd been happy for her when she'd fallen completely in love with the new groundskeeper and he was more than happy to find her a high-status job in the castle... And like with Hitomi, he knew they'd always be connected...
"A play," Van noted as Celena slowly spooned her soup at lunch.
"A play?" Allen questioned, from Celena's far side.
"Merle has had it highly recommended as not boring," Van added. Suddenly, it felt like a very stupid idea. But in the wake of Hitomi's potential ohveeyay, well, he'd also wanted to see if he could still sit through a play.
"That would be lovely," Celena said, smiling. "Hopefully it'll be a bit bawdy."
Celena giggled and looked at her brother. "Just the sort of thing for you."
Van nearly choked on his soup.
And then he explained his reasoning and about Hitomi's ohveeyay, which did make Allen smile.
"Your Highness? Er, Van..."
Van looked up from a bit of paperwork he hadn't been able to escape. Luckily, it was finished.
Allen was not with her.
"I... You're... not angry at me, are you?"
Van sighed and beckoned Celena closer. She hesitated at first but then swept over to him, elegant and, Van realized, terrified.
"Not at you," Van finally said. "At what happened to you, yes. That Fanelia was so badly damaged, yes. But... I'm not angry at you."
"I'm glad," Celena said softly, smiling. She hesitated again and Van wasn't sure what she was waiting for. While she was pretty, he just wasn't interested in her in that way.
"Celena--" He stood and tried to pick his words. After all, he was still more of a warrior. He knew how to fight, but how to politely tell his comrade's little sister that she was very lovely but not at all what he was interested in.
He wasn't even sure what his type was, aside from Hitomi. Perhaps just someone who knew that while they'd be loved, they'd have to share that love.
"Thank you, Van." Celena slipped up on to her toes and gave Van a quick kiss on the cheek.
Van was not at all surprised to hear the distinct sound of Allen clearing his throat.
"I hear you got yourself in trouble," Merle sang as she danced past Van, daughter on her hip and infant son tucked in a sling on her back.
"She kissed me," Van mumbled. He didn't want to hear it. Not from Merle, not from...
He wondered if he could find a place quiet enough to go talk to Hitomi.
"I'll tell Hitomi..."
"I'll tell Hitomi," Van said quickly before turning abruptly and leaving Merle in the hall.
He made his way into the depths of the castle, past storehouses and unused dungeons until finally he found somewhere truly quiet.
"I need to know what's going on," Van said to himself. He settled cross-legged, closed his eyes, and began to look.
Instead of Celena, though, his mind kept jumping to Allen. Allen, who had looked far more annoyed than he should have been. Celena had even offered a quick explanation, though why she'd slipped away from him--
Celena. Not Allen.
Allen's hand tugging on his hair, Allen watching him at meals, Allen--
Van exhaled, inhaled, and tried to find Hitomi.
She was walking near her apartment as a beautiful sunset blossomed across the horizon.
"Van?" she questioned out loud before quickly reaching into a small cross-body satchel and pulling out her sellfown. If she was pretending to talk on it, she could talk to him without anyone thinking she was crazy.
"What's wrong?" she questioned, holding the sellfown up to her ear.
Van fell into step beside her and gave her the quick explanation. Hitomi nodded and made a series of little affirmative noises before pausing.
"Have you talked to Allen?"
"About Celena," Hitomi said flatly. "If you're not interested in her as a love-interest, tell him. Maybe he thinks if you fall for Celena, he'll get me back."
"Oh, Van, it was just a joke." Hitomi jumped up on a little stone wall and walked the length of it before jumping down. "You know, maybe I'll see if I can drop in tomorrow. But I'll have to get a lot of sleep--"
She slipped over close to him and held the sellfown just right so that she could kiss his cheek but it still possibly seemed like she was making the noise to the sellfown--
"What?" Van questioned. There wasn't really anyone around, after all. No one should have been able to see him or--
"Wow, I just got hit with all sorts of things," Hitomi said quickly. "You obviously didn't wash your cheek!"
"Why would I? And what did you get?"
"Both Celena and Allen," Hitomi said, winking. "Celena is jealous that Allen has talked about you so much. And Allen... I think you should talk to Allen."
"That's all you'll give me?"
Hitomi nodded. "I need to end this call if I'm going to get enough rest for tomorrow. I still need to talk to my editor and send a couple of new chapters over, after all."
Van let himself fall back into his body, not feeling anything other than more frustrated. Even though Hitomi had scheduled a visit didn't mean she'd make it, after all. For some reason - likely due to the pendant pressed tight under his shirt - Van had a much easier time dropping in on her.
Merle had done well. Very well. The play was interesting and just bawdy enough to make Celena giggle. On Allen's far side. Somehow, though, it didn't seem too awkward to be close to him. Allen's presence was comfortable and they'd need to talk afterward anyway.
Van actually enjoyed himself and he couldn't wait to tell Hitomi about the play - he'd completely forgotten to mention it to her.
"Join me for a nightcap?" Allen questioned once Celena was back to her guest chambers for the evening. Van nodded. He hadn't initially realized that Merle had gotten floor seats for all of Allen's men as well, though it wasn't a big surprise. They'd all spent quite a bit of time together, after all.
"I think I need one," Van admitted. "It was a good play, though."
"I hope Hitomi's... Ohveeyay, right? ...I hope hers is even better," Allen said. He chuckled and held the door for Van. Allen had settled right into his room, Van noted. He sat at the small table and watched while Allen pulled out a bottle and two small glasses.
"I'm sure it will be," Van said almost absently. He'd been far too invested in watching the sway of Allen's hair. Maybe he'd just spent a little too much time out of his body for a single day.
Allen poured and handed Van a glass before sitting.
"To Hitomi, then?" he suggested.
Van drank, liquid fire shooting down his throat and making him feel warm. He hoped he hadn't winced. Allen's expression didn't change as he swallowed.
"Celena is lovely," Van said quickly, looking everywhere but at Allen. "She's welcome here to do whatever healing she needs to do. But... I'm not... interested in her like that."
"Because of Hitomi?" Allen questioned.
"No," Van replied. "Hitomi and I decided that we'll always love each other but it's okay to love other people as well until we're free to be together. We're both happy with our lives." He knew he was smiling, possibly a little more than intended.
"If she finds a boyfriend there, then?" Allen questioned, tugging his chair a bit closer.
"She's had a couple already," Van said. It was something he hadn't admitted to anyone, but Hitomi had confided in him and... asked him to watch the timing of his visits. "It's okay. She tells them all she's the queen of a faraway land and that someday she'll have to return to it."
Van was expecting Allen to say something rude, but nothing came. Instead, there was just a soft chuckle.
"Well, then," he finally said. "Are you under the same lack of restrictions?"
"I haven't exercised them as fully," Van mumbled. He reached for the bottle and Allen quickly poured him another glass. "Been busy with Fanelia."
Leave it to the ultimate ladies-man to make him feel kind of inexperienced.
"I honestly would have been surprised if you'd said otherwise," Allen said. Van didn't flinch at Allen's hand on his shoulder. He did momentarily tense when Allen slid it up to tangle in his hair, but Allen had touched his hair before - it was okay. Probably just going to comment on the length again.
But Allen didn't say anything - no comments, no advice... he just poured himself another glass as well.
"Good morning, sleepyhead."
Hitomi's voice lured Van out of his slumber. He honestly couldn't remember getting to bed, let alone-- oh, he'd been talking to Allen. They'd ended up talking about old things and magic...
He opened his eyes and smiled, looking straight up into hers. Without hesitation, Van reached to pull her close.
"I'm not that solid," she reminded him, before leaning on her own and kissing him. Her lips were soft against his and produced an exceptionally curious tingle.
"What were you up to last night?" she questioned. She giggled as she sat back. "Wow."
"I was just talking with Allen," Van said as he sat up and raked his fingers through his hair. Allen was right - it was long. He'd have to cut-- "Do you like my hair this long?"
Hitomi smiled and nodded. "It's nice. It brings out your resemblance to Folken, though I see that more in your face now, too."
"Mmmnn..." Van nodded, wondering if he'd see it now that Hitomi had said something. He didn't mind looking like Folken.
"Do you think Allen and Celena will be awake?"
No sooner were they out of Van's chambers than Merle appeared--
Before slipping back to Earth, Hitomi promised to try again.
"I can't believe I missed Hitomi," Allen said for at least the third time.
"She'll try to be back," Van replied. He wasn't sure why there was always a soup course with lunch, but he stirred his idly as he watched Allen. "She does want to see you, after all."
"It'll be nice to see her."
"But she did say, if she didn't get to see you, that if you have something you were considering but unsure of, you should really go for it," Van said. He frowned. Hitomi had mostly shouted that part at him at the end, before fading completely, exhausted. "I'm not sure if I was supposed to tell you that or not, but..."
He shrugged. The message was the important part, after all, not who delivered it.
Allen dropped his spoon and caught it again in mid-air, blinking.
Van shook his head. "I don't know. That's what she said. Ask Merle if you have to."
"Perhaps once she's done letting Celena run around with her children," Allen said. He smiled. "I think they all decided to go on a picnic for lunch. She seems to have really found peace here."
Van smiled. He couldn't help feeling good about that.
"Maybe after lunch, you'll do me the honor of proving I haven't gotten too rusty with a sword?"
"My pleasure," Allen replied. He watched Van for a long moment in which Van was sure there was something he should be figuring out but it just wasn't quite there.
Hot, sweaty and desperately in need of less clothing, Van pulled off his ruffly shirt and used it to wipe sweat from his forehead. While he was a bit less-practiced than Allen, he wasn't rusty. But Allen very much had been putting him through his paces. And somehow, Allen looked perfect, long hair unruffled and seemingly--
"You should tie your hair back," Allen noted, sword sheathed and taking Van's hair in his hands.
"I like it down," Van replied. Allen smiled at him. Van couldn't help returning the smile. There was just something about Allen this visit that--
Allen's clothing was a surprise against his bare skin but at least he'd gotten used to Allen's hands in his hair. The kiss, however...
If this is what Hitomi had told him to go for-- if this was what she'd been hinting at that he'd somehow been missing. He'd... Van would... figure something out once he'd finished kissing Allen back.
Somewhere in there, Van was fairly sure he had other questions to ask, but... well...
Van nudged Allen enough to untangle himself and consider being awake. He certainly didn't regret anything, but even if Hitomi had--
"Good morning, sleepyheads. You know, now I think I understand why Yukari said these types of stories have gotten really popular."
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