Okay guys, this is technically the final part, but I very well could end up writing more, or writing another three-parter that's something of a sequel, just because I can't help myself haha. We'll just see how I go. Thank you very much for reading and for leaving kind comments, and please please let me know your thoughts on this part as well!
I've loved reading all your feedback so far, and if you have any ideas for this to be continued or for a new H20 story please feel free to let me know in the reviews (or your welcome to PM if you'd like). Thanks again for the support! Hope everyone has a lovely Christmas!
Zane's heart was thudding, sending vibrations through his ears, as he trekked the final part of the Mako Island hike to the moon pool. When he reached the part of the rock where the ground gives way to gaping, black abyss, he sat down, his legs dangling over the edge, and pushed himself forward. Rocks and twigs clawed as his back as he clumsily tumbled down, and was deposited in the dirt. He never quite got used to that drop.
He was back on his feet in an instant, and scurrying towards the stepping stones carved into the wall from rock.
''Rikki?'' He called as he climbed. ''Are you here? Rikki?''
He pulled himself through the gap and into the hidden cave. Instantly, sweat prickled on his skin as he was met with a rush of steamy air. The temperature in the moon pool was well above the outside temperature, with heat radiating off one particular person, who stood with her bear feet planted in the sand and her eyes fixated on the bubbling water.
Rikki's head snapped to the right and her lips formed a knowing smile at Zane's approach.
''Took your time.'' She said. ''I was wondering when you were going to arrive.'
Rikki had yanked her hair out of it's braids, and it now fell it sweet blonde waves around her shoulders. Zane had always believed there was no sight more breathtakingly beautiful than Rikki with her hair down.
''You wanna come for a swim?'' Rikki threw her head to one side and looked up at him, daring him to refuse her offer.
''No.'' Zane replied firmly, fending off every part of him that wanted to say yes. ''I want you to come back with me. Where I know you're safe.''
''I'm safe here.'' Rikki chuckled and shook her head, like Zane was being silly. ''This is my home, Zane. It's where I belong.''
Zane debated his options, watching Rikki pace blissfully around the edge of the moon pool. She did seem very content here, and although he knew water worsened the effects of the full moon, she'd already swum to Mako Island, so they'd crossed that bridge. Maybe the best thing was just to ride it out with her here. At least she'd be cooperative.
''Fine, we'll stay here.'' Zane settled down in the sand, getting ready for a long night in.
Rikki dropped to her hands and knees, and began crawling on all fours over to Zane. Once she'd reached him, she sat back on her heels, lowered her eyelids and purred ''so, about that swim?''
''Nope.'' Zane shook his head. ''Not going to happen. We're both staying on dry land.''
''It's okay if you don't have a bathing suit.'' Rikki began to trace her fingers along the hem of Zane's shirt. He sucked in his breathe at her touch. ''I don't have one either.''
Zane let out a laugh.
''Yes, but the difference is, you grow a tail in the water.'' He flicked the edge of his shirt, forcing Rikki to let go.
''True.'' Rikki was hardly disheartened by his rejection, and simply turned her attention to fiddling with the buckle on his pants. ''But I'll still strip, to keep things even. I'm fair like that.''
Zane's eyes shot open, as her implications finally beckoned on him.
''Hang on, you want to skinny dip?''
''Oh, Bennett.'' She giggled, bringing her head to rest on his shoulder as her fingers continued toying with his shorts. ''Don't act so innocent. I know exactly what you get up to.''
Zane knew she was referring to the intimacy that had been present in their relationship, but he wasn't going to take the bait. Not tonight. He wanted to, god only knew how badly he wanted too, but he wouldn't take advantage of Rikki. Not like this.
''Not tonight.'' He said gently, attempting to ease her off of him.
''Fine.'' Rikki's face turned sour. She sprung off the ground and moved a few paces from him, before turning back, so she was facing him head on. ''I'll go swimming on my own.''
Zane didn't bother trying to intervene. As long as Rikki stuck to splashing around the moon pool, he didn't see how getting wet could do any more harm than it already had. He waited for Rikki's typical elegant swan dive, but when she stayed rooted to the spot, he glanced back up at her to see what she was doing.
A sharp gasp escaped him as he watched as she began to roll up the edge of her baby pink tank top. She was still going to undress, despite the fact that he'd resisted going swimming with her, despite the fact that she'd be naked for all ten seconds before she transformed, despite the fact that it was entirely pointless. Entirely pointless other than to drive him completely wild, which, Zane realised made it hardly pointless at all. That was exactly what Rikki was trying to do.
He watched as she removed her tank top and dropped it beside her. He willed himself to be a gentleman and look away, but his body had taken a mind of it's own. His neck wouldn't turn, his eyes wouldn't shift.
It wasn't like he hadn't seen Rikki naked before. They'd been together for two years, and sexual intimacy had been a valued part of their relationship. This felt different, though. This wasn't clothes roughly pulled off and tongues battling for dominance in an entanglement of sweaty sheets. This was sensual and slow, utterly captivating. It was also heart-pumping, fuelled with the kind of adrenaline that graces you when you know you're doing the wrong thing. Rikki wasn't his girlfriend. She shouldn't be taking her clothes off for him. But yet, here she was, unclipping her lacy white push up bra, and finding far too much enjoyment in his slack jaw as she tossed it aside.
Zane felt his tongue start to go numb in his mouth as Rikki popped the button on her torn shorts. She was moving so slowly, and he knew it was intentional. She dragged the shorts down her slender legs and kicked them aside. Her thumbs hooked on the inside of her black underwear, taunting, teasing before those were lost too, and Rikki stood completely bare.
She allowed only a torturous few seconds for Zane to take in the sight he hadn't seen in almost two months – their relationship hit such a rocky patch towards the end, that hadn't had sex for a good month prior to their break up – before she jogged to the water's edge and leapt in. The blue water bubbled around her, stealing the sight of her skin, and by the time Zane had leant forward to get a better look, an orange, glistening tail was in the place of her legs.
''You're so obvious.'' Rikki said, taunting him. ''Just give up and get in the water with me, already.''
Zane looked over his head, and began counting the hundreds of tiny pebbles he could see lining the volcano, moving all the way up to the opening overhead. He was desperate for a distraction.
''I know you want to kiss me.''
Out of his peripheral vision, Zane could see Rikki propping herself up on her elbows on the pool's edge.
Thirty-one pebbles, thirty-two pebbles, thirty-three pebbles…
''You'll have to come over here, though.'' Rikki carried on. ''Come, get in the water with me, and I'll give you that kiss.''
It was taking every miniscule sliver of will power, every ounce of restraint, for Zane not to go plummeting into the moon pool.
There was an air of silence, heavy and charged, before Rikki sighed and dipped back into the water, more than intentionally splashing Zane with her tail as she went.
A moment later, Zane heard rather than saw Rikki drag herself ashore, as he was still doing his best o look anywhere but at her.
''That was a short swim.'' He couldn't resist. Rikki had been stringing him along all evening – he wasn't going to miss his once chance to call her out on it.
''Sometimes the best ones are.'' Rikki said, shrugging, unbothered. Zane finally dared to look at her, as she curled her fingers in over her tail, causing waves of frothy steam to seep out of her scales. Zane had witnessed Rikki using her pyrokinesis to dry herself off numerous times before, but since losing her, he was seeing so many things about with fresh eyes. He'd never before realised how mesmerising and incredible it was to watch.
It took Zane a few seconds to realise what was going to happen once Rikki's tail disappeared. His eyes found the pile of her discarded clothes, still in the sand. This would be the optimal time to stop looking, to return to pointlessly counting pebbles and ignoring his ex-girlfriend's antics. He didn't stop looking, though. His mouth began to dry up in anticipation, and as Rikki steamed herself, she snuck several glances at him to make sure she still had his attention.
It took no more than twenty seconds before Rikki was bone dry. Magical sparks wrapped around her body and then vanished, transforming her back into a human. A very naked human.
Zane hated that he couldn't stop starring, but he was helpless against it. She had him entranced, and he wasn't sure how much longer he was going to be able to fend off her advances, especially if she refused to put her clothes back on.
''Rikki, you should… uh… you should probably… maybe you sh-should, like… uh…'' Zane cleared his throat, awkwardly. ''Maybe you should get dressed.''
Rikki raised an eyebrow.
''Why?'' She trilled, running her tongue over her teeth. ''Am I distracting you?''
''Little bit.'' He barked out a laugh.
Rikki didn't make a move for her clothes, but instead collapsed down in the sand. Zane managed to tear his eyes away for long enough to take a few deep breathes and collect himself, before he turned back to her, forcing himself to look at nothing but her piercing blue eyes.
Her tangles of blonde hair were sprawled out around her as she laid in the sand, looking back up at him. Her expression had changed, from seductive and mischievous to exhausted but content.
''I'm tired.'' She said, with heavy, long-winded blinks. ''I'm going to go to sleep.''
Zane exhaled a sigh of blissful relief.
''That's a great idea.'' He smiled.
Rikki retuned his smile and closed her eyes fully. After a few seconds, she opened them again.
''Will you play with my hair?'' She yawned. ''Until I fall asleep.''
Zane felt his stomach knot. Once again, he knew this was probably a bad idea, but the way Rikki was looking at him, eyes wide and full of innocence, all manners of flirtatious cheekiness gone, made it impossible to say no.
He laid down beside her and his fingers found her hair. He massaged the top of her scalp, and finger-combed her curls. She made little noises of content, that eventually gave way to the lulls of heavy breathing.
''Rikki?'' Zane whispered. When she didn't respond, he tried again, a little louder. ''Rikki?'' He gave a gentle nudge of her shoulder, but still she didn't flinch.
Satisfied that she was asleep, Zane sat back up. He looked over at her tossed aside clothes, and dared one final peek at her bare body. Should he attempt to dress her? He knew from what Rikki had told him about previous full moon experiences that she would most likely forget all of this in the morning. It was already going to be hard enough to explain to her why she was waking up on Mako Island with him – he didn't want her to be humiliated as well.
On the other hand, Rikki sleeping this off was the best case scenario, and he didn't want to risk waking her. He stripped off his T-shirt and settled for pulling that over her, to protect at least some of her modesty. He very carefully raised her shoulders just enough to pull the neck of the T-shirt over her head, then slipped her arms through it, one by one. On her petite body, his shirt looked like a nightgown, falling mid-way down her thighs. Thankfully, she didn't stir.
Exhausted from the nights events himself, Zane collapsed down beside her. It didn't take long for sleep to grab him and pull him under, and just as he was drifting off, his arm subconsciously reached out for Rikki and pulled her closer.
The first thing that Rikki registered the following morning was the sound of her phone ringing, dragging her to consciousness. She fumbled around blindly, trying to locate her phone on her bedside table. Her hands found fistfuls of sand and she frowned, confused. She opened her eyes and immediately had to shield them with her palm, to block out unwelcome early morning sunlight pouring in from overhead.
Sitting up, she took in her surroundings. Her phone had by now given out, sending the caller to voicemail. Bit by bit, certain realisations drifted upon her. Number one; she was at Mako Island. Number two; she remembered nothing from the previous night beyond giving Will a makeover. Number three; Zane was asleep beside her, and number four; she was wearing his t-shirt... and nothing else.
Her cheeks highlighted in crimson as she attempted to stretch the shirt down as far as it would go, and pressed her knees together. She spied her clothes in a heap a few metres from her, and was hoping to at least scramble into her underwear before Zane woke up.
It became apparent there'd be no such luck as Zane began to stir, and then his eyes shot open rather suddenly, like the second he was conscious, he was on alert. He sat upright and looked from left to right frantically before his eyes settled on Rikki. His tense muscles relaxed and he looked relieved.
''You wanna tell what the hell's going on here?'' She spat. ''Why am I naked?''
Zane appeared to be stifling a laugh, which only added fuel to the fire of rage in the pit of Rikki's stomach.
''Technically, you're not naked.'' He pointed out. ''You're in my shirt. You were naked.''
''Of all the times you can be a smart ass, let me tell you right now, this is not one of them.'' Rikki warned. She wanted so badly to jump up, to put distance between her and him, but she wasn't sure she could do that without the shirt hiking up, and she wasn't keen on showing Zane anymore then he'd already gotten to see. ''How could you? You bastard. This is low, even for you.''
Zane's expression suddenly changed.
''Wait, how could I what? Look after you while you were stumbling around like a sexualised zombie and being a right pain in the ass? You're welcome, by the way.''
''Oh, you're mad because I haven't said thank you?'' Rikki's voice was steadily rising. ''And exactly what do I have to thank you for, Zane? Screwing me? Taking advantage of me?''
''Wait, what?!'' Zane cried.
''Zane, being moonstruck is like being drunk! It's worse, actually, because it's no fault of my own. I couldn't consent! You took advantage of me!''
''No, Rikki, you've got it completely wrong. We didn't have sex last night.''
''Right.'' She scoffed, shaking her head in disgust. ''So I'm wearing your shirt without underwear why, exactly? For shits and gigs?''
''You're wearing my shirt because I was trying to protect some of your dignity after you took all your clothes off and tried to force yourself on me!'' Zane couldn't help but become frustrated. After all he'd done for Rikki the previous night, he'd expected at the very least a little gratitude.
Rikki paused for a moment. She pursed her lips in thought, considering Zane's words, trying to decide whether or not she believed him.
''So, what did happen last night, then?'' Rikki's tone was still suspicious, but she didn't sound as angry, which Zane took as a good sign.
Zane took a deep breathe in, and then spilt out all of the previous night's details, starting with Bella's phone call and ending with Zane partially dressing Rikki before falling asleep beside her. When he was finished, Rikki's face was flushed with embarrassment.
''Oh…I…uh…'' She stammered, looking down. ''I…I'm sorry about that. And, uh… thanks. For taking care of me.''
''You're welcome.'' Zane said again, though this time it was completely genuine. ''Any time. You know I'm always here for you.''
Rikki gave an uncomfortable, tight smile, and looked as though she was going to say something. She opened her mouth, then, thinking better, closed it again. A moment later, when she did speak, all she said was ''I need to get dressed. Look the other way.''
Zane bit his tongue to resist making a comment about how it was a little late to start looking away now and did as he was told.
Rikki dressed hastily, then tossed Zane's shirt at the back of his head. He turned it back in the right way and pulled it on. When he turned around, Rikki was scrolling through her phone, looking distressed.
''Shit.'' She muttered. ''That was Bella calling before. That's the fifth time she's called me. I also have four missed calls from Cleo and three from Will. And, oh my god, I don't even know how many text messages. Shit, they must have been worried sick.''
Zane threw his palm to his forehead.
''Damn it, I was supposed to call Bella back last night. I completely forgot.''
''I think she'll forgive you. Sounds like I was a bit of a handful.'' Rikki half-laughed, looking sheepish.
''Wait, you get phone reception out here?''
''It drops in and out.'' Rikki said with a shrug. She tapped her screen a few times, waved her phone above her head, then groaned. ''See, it's gone again. I can't reply to any of their texts. I'll just have to go see them.''
Rikki made a move to dive into the moon pool, then stepped back.
''Thank you, again.'' She said. ''You didn't have to do what you did last night.''
''Yeah, I did.'' Zane moved closer to her. ''I kinda owe it to you. I was a total douche for the last few weeks we were dating.''
''You were.'' Rikki agreed. ''But it's history. You've redeemed yourself with this, at least a little bit. I think we can still be friends.''
Zane tried not to look disappointed, but he was sure it showed on his face.
''Rikki, I'm really not sure we can be.'' He said. ''Don't get me wrong, the thought of having you out of my life completely is awful, but I can't go around having casual conversations with you about what you did on the weekend and acting like I'm not in love with you.''
The impact of Zane's words took a few seconds to fully sink in. Likewise, it took Zane a moment to totally comprehend what he'd just said, and then he had an overwhelming urge to kick himself.
''You're… in love with me?'' She echoed.
Zane considered giving some lame excuse, or some brash attempt at an apology, and letting Rikki take off in the water, but now he'd dipped his toe in, he might as well go all the way.
''I am.'' He nodded. ''And that's not something I can just turn off.''
Rikki folded her arms across her chest.
''You never once said you were in love with me the whole time we were dating.''
That had been something Zane had thought about again and again since their break up, similar to how he'd been nit-picking at every other aspect of their relationship, hating himself for all he did wrong and torturing himself with all he could have done better.
''And I should have. I'm just, I'm bad at that kind of stuff, Rikki. Nobody has ever made me feel the way you do, and to be honest, it kind of scared me. I didn't know how to tell you. But I do, I love you. I still love you. I don't think I'm going to stop loving you any time soon. You're all I think about, day and night. Every second of the day I think ''I wonder what Rikki's doing right now'', and I just wish that whatever it is you're doing, you were doing it next to me. I messed up, so badly, and I hate myself for it. I don't expect you to just throw yourself back in my arms, but I can't just go back to being friends. It's too painful.''
Zane had never spoken so honestly to anyone, and Rikki looked as though she wasn't sure how to take it. Then, in an impulsive move, she pushed her weight up on to her tiptoes and pressed her lips to his.
The kiss was short lived, a mere peck on the mouth before she pulled away again, but it left Zane's lips tingling.
''I'm not saying all has been forgiven.'' Rikki clarified quickly. ''But maybe… maybe we can work on it.''
Zane swallowed, and decided to risk it.
''So, did you want to go see a movie tonight? My shout?''
''You just said you weren't interested in being friends.''
''And you just said we could work on it.'' Zane retaliated. ''So, having said that, I didn't mean as friends. I meant like… like on a date?''
He held his breathe as Rikki debated her answer.
''I want jumbo popcorn and coke.'' She demanded, and Zane's entire face lit up. ''And I'm choosing the movie.''
''Whatever you want.'' He readily agreed. ''So, I'll see you tonight, then?''
Rikki brushed a stray piece of hair out of her eyes, and smiled.
''Yeah, I'll see you tonight.''
And with that, she bounded off the sand and disappeared into the water.
Alright, remember to review and to let me know if you want to see any kind of continuation of this, or if you want to see any other H20 stories. Thankyou!