She was sitting at the edge of the dock, her legs dangling from the side, swinging half heartedly. The sun, just rising over the flat horizon of the sea, touched her with rosy light and put color on her pale skin and clothes, and made her almost ethereal. The wind caught at her short hair, danced in it, pulling it from civilized constraints into a passionate wildness. She smiled under the assault of the morning, she laughed and it her voice was an echo of childhood.
He watched her, leaning against an extinguished streetlight, enjoying a sight that had been strange to his eyes for so long it hurt his reality. He gasped, and the air smelt like salt and sand, and he remembered her long ago, dancing with him along the line between land and ocean.
The quiet, dreaded yearning plaguing his mind suddenly became too much, and he moved toward her. The boards of the dock creaked beneath his weight, and she looked up, and her smile diminished, but she did not turn away.
He settled himself beside her. His legs, longer than hers, brushed the tips of the lapping waves. Spray from the sea touched his shins, and the water shone, and he was conscious of her beside him, alive and breathing.
He lay back and tucked his arms behind his head. "Ami."
"What brings you here? I thought you and the others were still recovering from your sudden reincarnation."
She glanced at him, almost sharply, and he saw understanding and pity in her eyes. "I see."
He hated her pity with a strength that surprised him, he could not remember a feeling like it since...well, since...
He sighed. "It seems all my passions have to do with you, Ami."
"Hm?" She was surprised, she looked at him again, her eyes reflected the morning by the sea, at once the waves and the sun and, in some small part, her eyes reflected the smothered tempest of his mind.
"Do you know how apathetic these past few months have been for me?"
She shook her head, and her wind tossed hair shook, and he could not restrain himself; he reached up and touched it, her eyes closed and she bit her lip.
"Without you, I've never been able to get involved." The feel of her was intoxicating, the words were out off his mouth before he considered them.
She sighed, and pulled his hand away from her head. "You're moping, Zoicite."
He raised his eyebrows. "I think I have a right to. I know as well as you do that you're going to send me away after this little encounter."
She frowned, annoyed and puzzled. "Why shouldn't I? You killed me, if I might remind you, last time I let you close to me. Beryl tempted you to leave me, she pulled you away and you let her. That's what I never understood. You and Mal and Neph and Jade were all incredibly strong, capable men. Why would you leave us, I know you loved us, for someone like her? What could she possibly have offered you?"
He felt anger building in his chest as if he was far away from his emotions, he felt the intelligent apathy that cursed his existence settle in. "It was enough to draw me away, apparently, you've decided."
She smiled, and he saw that her annoyance was half at herself. "I'm being selfish, I know, not taking you back. I can't really explain, as well as I'd like. The others have strong reasons they'll give. They love Usagi and are dedicated to her. They have a new lives. Of course, I also love her, and I do have a life here, too. But I won't tell you that's it, I won't lie to you. I respect you too much to lie to you."
His eyebrows quirked. "Thanks."
She laughed softly, sadly, and looked out at the sun. "I haven't forgiven you, yet. I loved you" her voice broke, and he was startled by it; he saw that she was crying. "I loved you so much it hurt, and then you ripped it away from me. I've been empty since you left, Zoi." She squeezed her eyes tightly together, a tear running down her cheek caught the light and sparkled. "'Sorry' doesn't fill a void that encompasses my soul."
She shook, then, with a repressed sob. She tried to laugh it off, and sounded terribly forced. "Look? I'm crying. Isn't that silly?"
He reached for her, pulled her to him, and she buried herself into his body, until she was in his lap and his hands were around her, and she cried into his shirt, her tears saline and horribly real on his skin.
When he felt her sobs beginning to give way, he held her tighter, because he knew then that it would be the last time he would touch her.
She looked up at him, and her eyes were bright with tears.
"Hey," he said, his voice odd to his ears. "Hey. I know how you feel, now, like the sun will never be warm again and like...like shadow spiders wove webs of nothing in your chest. But it gets better, I promise. It has to get better, right? If it didn't get better, what would life be but a slow decline into sorrow?"
She leaned into him, clung to him, hid from what he was saying. He knew that neither of them wanted to hear it, that for all her talk of emptiness, the part of them that lingered in the past wanted happy, secure romance to return.
"Here's what we'll do, Ami. I'll leave, so you don't have to make an awkward choice and so I don't have to face rejection. You'll go on. I'll survive. Win-win situation, right?"
She laughed bitterly, and felt the arms behind her back release. Without them, she felt naked and very young.
He pulled away from her and his whole body screamed in protest of the movement. But then they were separated again, and her tears were gone, and her shoulders were squared and strong.
He smiled and stood up. His legs were unaccustomed to his weight and his nerves shivered. "Ami?"
She looked up. "Yes?"
"I'll see you again, right?"
She heard the vulnerability in his voice, and knew that if she had asked that question, it would be in hers as well. We depend on one another a bit too much, I think. Even after centuries apart, we still cling so...
"Yes." She grinned as memory recalled something to her, "you owe me a game of chess, you know."
"Do I?" He turned, his last words to her were called over his shoulder. "I'll repay my debt, don't worry." He began to walk towards the city, slender body moving farther and father away from her.
She could not help herself, and she stood, and ran towards him. "Zoi!"
He looked back. "Yes?"
She stopped, and realized she could say nothing. Embarrassed color rose to her cheeks. "You were very...eloquent...back there..."
He smiled, and understood what she could not convey, knowing he still had to leave. "Cherish it, love, I don't do it very often."
Ami stared at him as he walked away, unable to stop him now, her excuses run out. She knew what Minako would say, seeing her thus–some quip about love that would hurt her even as it was ridiculous and superfluous.
She turned back to the dock to collect her things, thinking I do cherish it. I cherish everything.
When she had picked up her bag, and had turned in his direction, he was gone.
A.N. Twisted companion to Embers and Ghosts. Official song for this fic is 'River' by Joni Mitchell, more for the piano than the lyrics. I know I haven't written much lately. Hope you like this. I'm not sure how I feel, but I think it might be okay. Merry Christmas, everybody.