A/N: This is my very first public fanfiction, yeah! Uh, please R&R, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
I'd like to preface this by giving an enormous, Apus-sized thank you to olcon, Bettergiraffe, evad4009, MajesticKnight28, Darliolin1221, Ambient_Riot, and KingPolar. You guys really made me feel better after some… interesting episodes (14, especially) and I think that you tried your best with what you were given. Please don't be too hard on yourself, and keep writing! Mastermind, Alt. Romance, and KingPolar's oneshots (I need a better name for these) are wonderful - I can't wait to see where they're going.
So then, let's take the ending we don't like, and rewrite it. I'm sure it's what Hiro and Zero Two want.
(rated M because there might be mentioning of dinobaby-making)
True Apus accelerated through VIRM's ranks, with Hringhorni in hand, intent on one thing: freeing those poor souls, trapped by Papa, once and for all.
Its pilots remained singularly determined; they'd resolved on coming this far, this last push would be nothing. Through their love, for each other and their friends, they could do it.
Apus neared the planet that VIRM was using as its home, and prepared her delivery.
The mech-woman shouted as she cut open a space for the Grand Klaxosaur Fleet's flagship, now turned bomb, inside of VIRM's home planet. She thrust her hand into the explosive device, as her darling began priming it.
A copy of Hringhorni shot past her, barely missing her exposed arm. In response, Zero Two shielded the tear and bomb with her body, whilst focusing all her remaining energy into rear shields. VIRM's ships and spears pounded against their shields, to no avail - the burst of energy she'd received after their final confession coming in handy.
Hiro didn't quite understand the mechanism that the bomb worked around, but he figured he'd manage. He always had, and he always would, thanks to Zero Two. Finding the right connections, he exclaimed his success.
Her darling yelled that he'd finished setting the bomb up; it would explode thirty seconds after Apus' connection was terminated. Smirking, Zero Two removed her arm from the port, but found it stuck. Hiro noticed almost immediately, and began concocting various ways of resolving the issue. Only one stuck out to him, though: eject Strelizia.
He knew that doing so would most definitely shut Apus down, and thus activate the explosive, but that Zero Two might not be able to escape the mech. His distraught thoughts flowed into Zero Two's mind as well, and after a bit of deliberation, she'd decided what to do.
She sent one last burst of love and joy through the mental link. Hiro, realizing what she was about to do, began to protest, "Zero Tw-!"
Darling, I'm sorry.
A golden, screaming bolt of light shot out of Apus' nape.
"Did it work?" Goro asked. Ai had noticed Zero Two's petrified body was transmitting information to wherever she was, so Squad 13 and the remaining parasites congregated around the statue, giving the klaxo-human and her darling the encouragement they needed to finish their fight.
"I think so," Ichigo replied, looking up at the clouds. They'd begun to form around their makeshift group, and they were… dark, but somehow welcoming, she'd realized. "Looks like it's gonna rain."
Zorome looked up, eyes widening. "Yeah, we'd better get inside. Really isn't looking good out here right now. Miku?"
The person in question started, still entranced in the sort-of ritual they'd just conducted. "Huh? Oh! Um, yeah, those clouds look pretty bad."
Zorome grabbed her hand. "Well, let us know when those idiots get back. See ya!" He took off, dragging the former pistil behind him - surprising him with the lack of resistance she had in doing this.
Kokoro picked up Ai, before turning to Mitsuru, asking, "Papa, should we go in? I'm not sure Ai would take well to a thunderstorm just now."
Mitsuru looked over at his wife and daughter, before looking back up at the sky, transfixed. "You can go in with her. I've got to see my friends home."
Kokoro nodded and walked off to the Bird Nest with Ai, who was, much like her father, looking up at the clouds.
Ikuno and Naomi were next, citing 'unfinished business' that they needed to attend to, followed by Futoshi, who needed to check on his baked goods.
After a while, Ichigo, Goro, and Mitsuru were the only people surrounding Zero Two's body.
"Do you really think they'll be back this soon?" Ichigo asked Mitsuru. She couldn't see how defeating VIRM, and then returning from god-knows-where in the universe to Earth would take less than a year, but… Hiro and Zero Two have pulled off stranger things before.
"Yes. If there's one thing I know about those two, it's them and promises. They've got several needing to be attended to, back here. I doubt they'd waste any time in returning home," Mitsuru explained, smiling at the thought of seeing the two again.
Goro chimed in. "I agree. If there's two things that idiot Hiro wants to do, it's to see us again, and get married to Zero Two, preferably in that order."
About two years ago, Ichigo would've thrown a fit about hearing Hiro wanting to marry someone other than her, but now?
Now, she'd love to be Zero Two's maid of honor. Oh, how things have changed. That thought brought a smile to her face - Zero Two in a wonderful white dress, carrying Strelizias, walking to Hiro in a matching blazer. Hachi performing the ceremony, plenty of tears to go around, and maybe, just maybe, she'd get the bouquet. After all, she was waiting for a certain blonde-haired man to ask her that one big question.
Said blonde-haired man raised his head up, wind blowing through his hair. "It's coming," he said, before the downpour began.
Zero Two had to finish this.
For her darling, for her Hiro. It was ironic, then, that she'd be the one saving him and the rest of humanity through her sacrifice. She was her Hiro's hero.
Apus stopped protecting its arm, and Papa got his second shot in - it hit, this time - and the bomb started to go off. Zero Two laid the mech back, and closed her eyes, waiting for death to take her away from all she loved.
Minutes passed, and she felt nothing. Surprised, she opened her eyes to an endless sea of white. Off in the distance, she spotted three figures: a dark haired man, a blonde haired woman, and in between the two, a dark haired girl. Zero Two started off towards them, intent on finding out what this place was.
As she approached, the trio took notice of her and went towards her, too.
The man spoke up first. "You shouldn't be here yet, 002," he said, "There is more to be done in the physical realm."
The girl continued, "You've performed admirably, daughter. But your king, and your family, await you on Earth. You will find no solace here."
The woman hummed her agreement, joking that Zero Two had her own black-haired guy at home, and that he was missing her.
Zero Two was stunned at the words. Was she really dead? Was this the afterlife? It felt empty without Hiro. She felt empty without Hiro. Did he feel the same? The three souls in front of her though so.
"So, how do I go back?" Zero Two asked.
The three chuckled, the man speaking up. "We'll send you back, don't worry. We just need to confirm something." The girl knelt in front of Zero Two and placed her hand on the stunned klaxo-human's belly, pulling away after a moment.
"She'll be good, though it's good we checked - I'm not sure if it would've worked otherwise. I fixed everything she needs," the girl stated, smiling. "Make sure you put that to good use. We klaxo sapiens aren't doing so well in numbers at the moment."
Zero Two was confused. "'We?' You're a klaxo sapiens?"
The girl smiled, responding, "Yes, although I much prefer looking human. Mr. Frank and his wife have took me in as their own here."
Mr. Frank grabbed his wife and the girl's hand, before thanking Zero Two for giving the universe, and humanity, another chance.
Zero Two was enveloped in light, and found herself soaking wet.
Goro shielded Ichigo from the incredibly heavy rain while Mitsuru pulled out a fairly large umbrella. Goro was thankful for his resourcefulness, but also surprised that he'd brought one at all. "W-why did you bring that?"
Mitsuru simply said, "I had a feeling I'd need one," before letting Ichigo and Goro under the umbrella.
Bolts of lightning penetrated the air, and the trio were glad for once that they'd spent so much time setting up lightning rods, despite the lack of inclement weather. The bolts merely hit the surrounding rods, not the umbrella, or worse, Zero Two.
Goro wasn't quite sure if the lightning would actually harm the statue at all, but better to be safe than sorry, eh? He grinned, then started laughing as Ichigo started pouting over her… lack of being dry.
"Goro, it's really not funny!" she admonished, playfully hitting Goro on the shoulder, merely causing him to laugh more.
"I'm sorry, you just look like a recently-washed strawberry!" he chuckled, earning a blush and further bashfulness from his blue-haired companion.
Mitsuru smiled a little at his friends' rapport. "Get a room, you two," he snarked, getting the taller man to blush and nearly making Ichigo overheat, despite the wetness.
"Oi, oi, we're not quite there yet… " Goro teased, causing Ichigo to start bleeding from her nose a little.
"Goro, you do not know the start of the things you do to me," Ichigo said, causing the man in question to be confused.
Ichigo realized what she said and attempted to divert the conversation while they waited, almost stubbornly, for their friends' return. "So, Mitsuru, how are things with Ai and Kokoro?"
Mitsuru smiled at the mentioning of his family. "They're good. Ai is learning to speak slowly, and Kokoro is excited that she's been relatively calm lately."
Ichigo felt a twang of something in her, at the prospect of children, maybe? She'd never really considered it, but -
A huge, golden bolt of lightning hit the ground some distance away from where they were standing. Wait, that wasn't a bolt, it was -
"Strelizia?" Three voices asked at once.
The mech was shining, literally glowing like the sun, and Mitsuru was enraptured by its beauty. He'd heard tell of what Apus looked like, but this was something else entirely. He pushed those thoughts aside and wondered who was inside.
The mech collapsed into the crater it made, shutting down after delivering its cargo. The glow eventually faded, leaving the mech its trademark white and red, although Ichigo noticed a little bit of blue in there now, too.
Its hatch opened, and out crawled a tall, raven-haired man with long blue horns. As he came closer, they saw rainwater - maybe tears - on his face. The man stumbled towards where the three were standing, with them fully recognizing him.
"Hiro?!" Ichigo asked. He looked… different. If she had to say, Zero Two would be elated to see him like this, like her. Or so she thought, anyways.
"Hey," he replied, smiling at the thought that he'd made it back soon. That smile turned into a frown as he realized that he'd made it back alone. Goro could clearly tell that the water on his face wasn't rain. He got under the umbrella, and Goro was taken aback at just how tall Hiro was now. Hiro stood over even him. "How have things been? How long were we gone?" Hiro asked, shakily.
Mitsuru frowned. "Not the best. We've been having difficulties getting the crops to grow, even with Mistilteinn's soil." Mitsuru checked his calendar, replying to the second question, "You've been gone for 783 days."
Hiro smiled, revealing his elongated canines to his friends, smiling further at their lack of reaction. "Two years. Good, so we didn't miss all that much…" Hiro said, eyes downcast. "Where's Zero Two?"
Goro pointed to Hiro's left. "Over there." Hiro walked over to her petrified body, and touched their horns together. When no response came, Hiro tried again and again, hoping against all hope that he'd see where his Zero Two - no, she was now his honey, like he was her darling - was.
After a few minutes of trying, Hiro sank to his knees, grabbing onto Zero Two's legs. "Please, honey, please just come back. This world needs you. Squad 13 needs you. I need you," he sniffled, before letting the tears come back. "We promised. We promised to get back to our family, to finish the picture book, to get married, and to never let each other go again. Please, please, please! Uphold your end of those promises!" Hiro waited a moment, and after no response, looked up at his love's petrified body. "Please, honey. I can't live without you."
For a brief moment, blinding light shone around the two klaxo-humans. Ichigo, Goro, and Mitsuru would later describe it as calming, less agitated than Strelizia's had been.
When Hiro regained his vision, he found himself staring up at regular, horn-y Zero Two. He stood up fully, and embraced her, savoring all the senses she stirred in him.
Zero Two wasn't surprised at all when, after literally dying, she was greeted upon her return to the real world by her darling.
She returned his embrace eagerly, pressing him against her fully. The two hybrids stood there for what felt like an eternity, before breaking off and giggling at their reunion.
Zero Two then realized she was looking up at him. "You're… tall, darling," she stated.
He laughed more, and leaned down to kiss her again.
The witnesses of the Rain King and Queen's fated reunion smiled, as water poured down all around them.