Wash my sins away with your tears…
Many curious spectators stopped and frowned in wonder at the slight figure standing alone in the downpour of the rain. Kids these days, they muttered, and, turning up their collars against the chilly winds, they rushed back to the warmth of their home.
If the girl had heard the comments, she paid them no heed. She was used to being stared at.
She stood there on the street, her clothes becoming heavy and saturated with the water, her hair—a shade so black it was often mistaken for blue—plastered to her pale skin. Her face was upturned, her delicate features exposed to the elements. The wind howled, and a passerby cursed colorfully as his umbrella was turned inside out.
She didn't notice. She had always loved the rain.
Mizuno Ami laughed, the sound muffled by the roar of thunder. Her shoulders were shaking. She was shaking. But it didn't matter.
No one could see tears in the rain.
Emerald eyes narrowed vainly against the wind, and he couldn't decide if the moisture that built up in them was due to the weather or to the intense pressure that was threatening to burst in his chest.
Goddess, she was beautiful. She had always been. She would probably always be.
His hands clenched because he longed to hold her. To brush her hair away from her face like he used to. Back when they were happy. Back when she had loved him. Before he had died. Before his Prince had brought him back from the slumber he sometimes wished to return to.
Zoicite smiled ruefully, his impossibly handsome features etched in pained self loathing. His fingers were now digging mercilessly into his flesh.
Before he had killed her.
She remembered the day she had met him. She had been late to the Terran Prince's welcoming ceremony, having been caught up in the library with her nose in a book, and had rushed in, winded and flushed and contrite. Ami could still remember Serenity's wide-eyed shock as the Princess of Mercury rushed through the palace doors and straight into the back of a man she had never seen before, knocking them both—most inelegantly—to the floor. Scarlet to the roots of her hair, she had curtsied deeply, words of apology stumbling off of her tongue. He had laughed at her. She had fallen in love.
Ami felt a building pressure in her chest, and she let out another harsh, unnoticed sob. It still hurt to remember the afternoons cuddled on her couch, the days laughing over a chess game, the countless nights spent in his arms. It still hurt to remember the way that he whispered her name, the way he ran his fingers through her hair…the way he had touched her, had made her feel. It still hurt to remember that they had ever been happy. The last of the four Shitennou, sacred guardians of the Earth. By Selene, he had been handsome, more godlike than even Apollo himself, with a wit to rival Hermes'. And she had loved him.
Her laughter, bitter now, was masked by the pounding of the rain on the concrete.
Heavens help her, she still did.
He remembered the day he had met her. He had been accompanying his comrades and his Prince to the Moon, where they were granted an audience with the Moon Princess and her guardians. He had been sharing worried glances with the other Shitennou, speculating about the possibility of an affair between Endymion and Serenity when he suddenly was knocked to the floor by a red faced little sprite. She had curtsied gracefully, mumbling and blushing and fidgeting. He had fallen in love.
As the most flirtatious of the Shitennou, he had had a difficult time convincing the most introverted of the senshi of the verity of his feelings. His smile turned mischievous as he remembered exactly how he had trapped her in a corner of her sacred library, how he had pushed her against the wall and tasted her for the first time, how she had responded. He had told her that he was tired of playing games with her. She had laughed, her fathomless eyes filled not with fear, but with sly challenge.
My Lord, who said that I was letting you?
By the Earth, he had never loved anyone more. He smirked again, this one filled with pain and regret. He never would.
And then she turned.
Ami could still remember the day he had proposed to her, the happiness that had engulfed her as she flung herself into his waiting arms, her momentum making him stumble back a few steps, the warm rumble of his laughter as she rained kisses upon his face. The absolute, tear-jerking joy that had shone in both of their eyes as he slid the ring on her finger.
The next day he had disappeared.
She closed her sapphire eyes as she thought she saw a flash of deep gold, the pain lashing mercilessly through her. Time to go home, she mused, the storm was abating. Plus, she had homework to do.
She knew better than to believe her excuses. Ami laughed dully.
She still didn't have the strength to remember beyond that. How she had found him. How he had changed.
She turned and started to walk away.
He clutched a long fingered hand to his chest, his heart humping wildly at the thought of her seeing him. Of her finding out that he was alive. That they all were alive. Of her discovering that he had come out in the storm of the season, despite Kunzite's threats of dire punishment, because he had just known that she would be there. What would she say to him? He closed his eyes and cried out-- the haunted sound drowned out by the last lash of thunder.
He screamed because, no matter what, he still remembered. No matter how much he had tried to forget, he still remembered the day he had killed her.
He had stayed back that day, watching her strike down youma after youma, her attacks gaining more momentum as the numbers grew. He remembered feeling a warped sense of pride at her strength. His little sprite would be no easy opponent to defeat.
Her eyes had lit up with joy at his presence, only to be replaced with absolute confusion at his attire. The confusion was replaced by betrayal and sorrowful acceptance as her eyes lit upon the sword that he had lazily let dangle from his pale fingers.
You can't. Zoicite, you can't. Please.
He had laughed and shrugged, surveying the tears that had begun to gather at the corner of her large eyes.
Who's going to stop me, my little sprite? You?
And then, laughing, he had struck.
It had been a furious battle, him lashing out with his sword, her parrying with her spear of ice. They had always fought the same way, calculating, measuring. They were too evenly matched for there to be an easy victor.
Then Serenity had died.
He could still remember the way Ami's spear clattered to the ground as every drop of blood drained from her face. Her gloved hands clutched at her head as if to keep the sanity from pouring out. She had moaned with anguish, the sound raw and heartbreaking.
He still remembered how, the little part of him that was still him, had yearned to reach out and comfort her, how that part had cried out in pain as he felt his own Prince's life slip away. His hand had actually been in the process of reaching out to soothe when he had felt the twisting of his lips. He had stabbed her then, through the heart, with the grief of her Princess' death and her lover's betrayal still fresh in her gaze. Her blood had stained the gray of his uniform, had splattered his hands, splashed across his face. Her tears had seared his soul. He had kissed her then, a bruising kiss. He remembered watching as her eyes slowly fluttered shut.
Poor little angel.
Then he had dragged her body to her Princess', the part of him that protested at the heartless action easily ignored, and had draped her almost tenderly on the cold steps at the feet of her liege. He had stepped back as if to survey his work, and saw her eyes open, slowly, painfully. She had looked at her fallen Princess, then at the ring he had given her, her wounded gaze finally landing on him.
He still remembered the pressure that had built up behind his eyes as he watched her lips move. The part of him that had fought had shrieked in grief, and he had suddenly fallen to his knees and moaned, harsh sobs that tore at the soul.
Then he realized that what she was mouthing were the words for her attack, and he closed his eyes, waiting for the welcome rush of death. It came quickly and painlessly, an end that he didn't deserve. Her final gift for him, he supposed.
I'm sorry, my love.
Zoicite was still not sure who had spoken those last, pained words.
He felt a tap on his shoulder and whirled, his eyes ablaze with regret and anger. Then he stiffened in shock. She simply stared back at him, an odd little smile on her coral lips.
Ami briefly wondered if she was going insane. If she was actually only hallucinating the specter that stood in front of her, the man who's achingly familiar emerald gaze was now widened in total and complete shock.
But she had touched him. He had been warm.
Tears burned at the back of her eyes, and she blinked them back.
"Athena," he breathed, and nearly smacked himself for his stupidity. She was not Athena anymore. "I…"
"Hi, Zoi," she murmured, her smirk widening as she saw him speechless for the first time. "Fancy meeting you here."
His smile was tender and unsure. She flushed. It was a smile that he only showed her. "I knew you could never resist a storm."
She laughed, and the sound was light. It was almost as if nothing had happened between them, as if nothing had changed.
But he knew better. No matter what he did, he would always know better.
"Don't you want to know?" he blurted out, watching the mirth slowly leak away from her eyes. The rain still came down in sheets, but the thunder had abated. The only sound besides the wind was the thumping of his heart. He shoved his trembling hands into his pockets.
"Yes. I want you to tell me."
"I was weak and insecure."
"I was going to marry you. I loved you."
"Hell, Ami, I was a Shitennou. You were the goddess of Mercury. How could you have stayed with me?"
Her eyes blazed. "Do you honestly believe that any of that mattered to me?"
"It mattered to me!" he yelled. He pulled his hands out of his pockets, shoved them back in. He didn't know what to do. "Don't you understand? What could I have given you? There was nothing that I could have offered."
She was silent for only a moment before turning away. It shot a spear of agony through his body. "I've never known you to be a coward, Zoicite. Or a fool. It seems to me that you were both."
Desperate, he reached out and gripped her shoulder.
"Don't go. By the Goddess, Ami. Please, just don't leave."
And then she was in his arms.
She could feel him, warm and wet and alive, his strong arm wrapped around her waist, his hand entangled in her hair. He was shaking. Or was it her? She wasn't sure. It didn't matter.
"I thought that I would never see you again," she cried out, her voice catching and breaking. "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you tell me sooner? Did you not want to see me?"
He smiled ruefully into her hair, his chin resting gently upon her crown. "I was afraid that you would never want to speak to me again."
Sobbing harder, she buried her face against his neck, bathing his flesh with her hot tears. "I forgave you then. I forgive you now. Don't you understand? I loved you. I love you. I always have. I always will."
Stunned, he could do nothing but hold her closer. "Ami, I…"
She shook her head violently and hugged him closer. "How could you have ever doubted me? Even for a second?"
His sprite humbled him. In a way, he supposed, she always had. "I have dreamed of this for countless nights. Countless lifetimes. I scarcely dared hope…"
"I would have always forgiven you. I will always forgive you," she murmured, still trembling against him. "Did you think that I was going to hit you, scream at you? Damn it, I'm not Rei."
He wondered how it was that he still had the ability to chuckle. "No, and thank the Goddess for that. I had seen what she had done to Jadeite."
She didn't know how she had survived without him. "You won't leave this time, Zoicite." It was more of a question than a statement.
He placed his fingers under her chin and tilted her face up, adoring the way her breath caught at what she saw in his jade orbs.
"Never again, I swear to you. Ami, I swear to you. I shall never fail you again."
Ami smiled under his lips, glorying in the way she always seemed to fit perfectly in his arms.
She had always loved the rain.
He was reluctant to loosen his hold, but did so anyway. She stared at him for a long moment, her eyes unreadable, her lips quirked in an odd smile. The rain hadn't stopped, and her hair was in her face. He reached out and brushed it tenderly away.
"What?" he asked.
She reached out, hesitated, and opened her hand, palm up. It was the first time that he noticed the sparkle. His breath caught.
It was his ring.
"You kept it." He looked up and nearly cried at the look of absolute love in her eyes.
"It is my most precious possession,' she whispered. "But…"
She offered it to him, a small smile tugging at her coral lips.
"I would very much like it if you asked me again."
He hugged her in his joy, spinning her around and around, somehow managing to slip the band onto her slim finger. Her giggles echoed into the night.
Tsukino Usagi dimly felt her mouth drop open. Her blue eyes widened comically and she pointed weakly, her pink lips moving but no sound coming out. It couldn't be…
Her eyes suddenly narrowed into slits. It had damn well better not be.
It seemed as if the person who was sharing herumbrella had some explaining to do.
Chiba Mamoru, on the other hand, knew that he had to do some quick talking to his little Usako if he wanted to keep his head—and all other vital body parts—connected to his body. He reminded himself to chew out Kunzite later (damn lazy, negligent bastard, can't even keep track of one bloody person), and planted a well timed kiss on his tiny girlfriend's forehead.
"Well, Usako," he stammered out, missing the way her suspicious eyes gradually grew soft. "Some weather, ne?"
The girl turned to him and smiled, a small crescent moon shining on her forehead. Her eyes were filled with happy tears, and she leaned against him, feeling his strong arms encircle her. Her heart felt light as she listened to her best friend's light laughter, felt her smile grow wider as she heard the familiar chuckle that had joined it.
"Aa, Mamo-chan," she whispered. "It was a hell of a storm."
Come sit by me and mend my heart.
Listen to the rain song and smile at me again.
I SWEAR, A NEW CHAPTER OF FOREVER IS COMING OUT IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS.