Never and Forever
Summary: The bride dresses in white, and the groom in... pink of course. The rest of the congregation dresses in similar colors to celebrate eternal happiness. Behind the crowd though, a man stands in black, forewarning tragedy. Mainstream to Forever Strong.
Spoilers: If I had a nickel for all the spoilers in this story, I'd probably be somewhere in Vegas...
A/N: Well, here it be! The latest—perhaps even final?—installment in my little Sheelos chronicles. Though, I'm fairly sure there's a little post, bliss, bottle-cap-fic somewhere in the back of my head.
...Now, as the story takes way, I beg of you please to remove any and all sharp and or pain-causing objects—including bazookas—from your possession, for I will have fled to a foreign country by the time you finish reading this so they won't be necessary anyway...
Post note: I finished this story in a stupor-ish state, and though I hate to admit it, eyes burning from tear-lets provoked by songs like 'Far Away' and 'Wake me up when September Ends'. The ending may be a bit off, but I'll look this whole thing over when I have a full night's sleep. So technically, this is a version 1.0 of the story.
The night after the proposal, the two had decided to begin planning this 'hitching' for the near future, neither of them being one to stay in a place for long. Once all the details had been sorted out, approximately two weeks later, Sheena made a roll call of the Summon Spirits.
"Please, I need you all to do me a great favor."
"What is it you ask of us, Pact Maker?" Luna questioned in her melodic voice.
Gnome bounced around with his usual carefree disposition. "Yeah, what's up?"
"I know it's kinda degrading, but do you think you could deliver these for me?" she handed each of them an envelope, "One to Lloyd and Colette, one to Raine and Genis, one to Regal, and one to Presea."
They nodded, some happily, some not as much, but all left with the same little jingle and ball of light.
She watched them leave, a bit giddy, she'd never admit it though. Turning the corner from that room, Zelos appeared leaning against the door. Everything about him, given the moment, screamed tomfoolery.
The situation was sure to untangle itself sooner or later, she figured; leaving loose ends hang. "You 'bout ready to head on out?"
"Yeaah..." he responded distantly, "...Uuh, what did I do this time?" he posed on her, taking note of her odd stare his way. Whether it was the 'I-know-you've-done-something-but-I'll-play-dumb look' or 'I-think-I-wanna-pet-your-hair look', he couldn't decipher.
She blinked a few times. "I would tell you there's a leaf in your hair, but I've given up on questioning your... abnormal ways. Still..." she sighed happily; pulling the leaf from his red locks, her alibi to mess with his hair. A newfound quirk of hers.
He smiled, 'Definitely the 'I-think-I-wanna-pet-your-hair' look.' He thought; willingly surrendering his hair to an outside force, something no 'hunny' could ever hope to achieve.
Sheena, somewhat lost in her happy place (which Zelos had guessed was located somewhere in his hair), mumbled a random, "I'm hungry,"
"Oh, that reminds me..." he pulled out yet another envelope, "Mizuho said they'd be glad to cater. For free, too!"
"Huh. That's weird, I didn't even ask... Wait." She looked up from his hair to his questioning eyes, "Did you read my mail?"
He laughed nervously as he handed her the letter, "Lucky guess?"
She snatched the envelope from him, noting the flap wasn't as adhesive as it should've been. "Of course,"
Once they had gathered their belongings, checked everything twice, and readied the Rheairds outside, they approached the counter to pay the bill. The young woman behind it, normally a flirt, immediately straightened. A couple days ago, she had been harshly reprimanded by the manager for flirting with the former Chosen, after he had spotted the engagement band on Sheena.
She forced a smile and cheery manners, "Hello, sir; ma'am. Checking out?"
"Yup." He replied as he slid the keys to the room onto the counter.
"Okaay, room three?" After receiving a nod from the couple she set to work with a paper and pencil behind the desk. "Soo, that's sixteen nights, at the rate of a hundred-sixty gald per night... plus the additional fee of fifty gald for the lost key..." (On their seventh night, Sheena had used the key as a knife for cutting vegetables when no kitchen knives could be found. She suspected it was somewhere between the salad and the soup, and where that was, well...)
"The total comes to 2,475 gald. Will that be upfront or in a playment pla...ah, I-I mean, payment plan! Payment!" Sheena couldn't help but laugh as the embarrassed clerk hid her face in her hands. Surprisingly, Zelos didn't catch on to her little hint, as he was busying figuring out the amount for himself.
"The total be 2,610, you mean." He corrected her.
Still a slight shade of pink, she looked up, then back down to her calculations, spotting her mistake. "Oh...yes. Ms. Raine would surely lecture me if she were here..."
"Valedictorian show-off," Sheena teased as she gave him a small, lighthearted hit on the arm. "Could've saved us a hundred forty-five..."
"One-hundred thirty-five, love."
"Shuut uup..." She half laughed, half whined, smiling even so. "Not all of us grow up with millions at their disposal."
He paid the bill upfront, much to the young woman's great astonishment. "Not all of us were burdened with the title of 'Chosen'." He countered as they left for the exit.
Sheena, of course, managed some witty comment to put the ball back into Zelos' court. Whatever it was although went unheard by the young lady. She couldn't get his last words out of her head, 'Not all of us were burdened with the title of 'Chosen'.'
'Colette was always so bright and cheerful and... girly. I never thought she, of all people, would someday become a...he. No, no,' she shook that horrifying image from her head, 'I'm just imagining things. I need a vacation...'
The days since then on seemed to glide past in a blur. Their wedding ceremony however was a case in the entire opposite. Though still made interesting by the various twists Zelos had insisted on making, such as his pink tuxedo, the husband and wife-to-be were more than overjoyed when they heard the all time-honored phrase:
"Zelos, do you take Sheena as your lawfully wedded wife, through thick and thin, through health and through ill?"
"I do." He smirked at his traditional answer; then looked optimistically to Sheena beside him.
The pastor nodded, continuing, "And do you, Sheena, take Zelos to be your lawfully wedded husband, through thick and thin, through health and through ill?"
She, too, smiled as she answered: "I do."
He nodded again, "Then by the powers invested in me by the Goddess Martel, I now pronounce you husband and wife. ...Zelos, would you like to kiss your bride, now?"
If at all possible, his grin grew ever wider. "I thought you'd never ask," he said, as he slowly lifted the veil from his new wife's face.
Far behind the crowd captured in the drama of the moment, a figure cloaked in shadows drew from his quiver an arrow, the tip laden with a deadly toxin. Softly, the arrow was shifted into position, and the string pulled taut. Without another moment's hesitation, the arrow was launched inaudibly through the air, striking the target head-on.
Shaken by a hasty and unexpected ending to their kiss, Sheena opened her eyes hurriedly. Zelos had subsided, a single, blue-feathered rod protruding from his chest. "Zelos!" she cried in a whisper as she knelt at his side.
He struggled to open his eyes, his hands resting over the wound, "Good Goddess, you've gotta be ki—" he begun, but was interrupted as he felt the poison set in. The entirety hushed; their gasps of dismay caught in their throat, waiting for something to happen.
Zelos is a good actor, he said he'd make sure something would go on to set this out of the ordinary. Any moment now, he'll jump up, exclaiming it was all a joke, we'll laugh, and everything will be okay... She thought in desperation, watching in horror as Raine stumbled over from her spot as a bridesmaid and began administering recover spells and Pancea Bottles without success.
Zelos did start to laugh, but his chuckles were weak, almost forced, and were filled with a deeply buried agony. "Thanks, Raine. But I don't think even you could counter any of Mizuho's poisons."
"Don't talk like that, stupid." Sheena hissed, trying to cover her sorrow with any other emotion that dared to show. "And what are you talking about? This can't be Mizuho's doing..."
He took a deep breath, clutching his wound tighter. "No... no, no, you were right... remember? Nelibium, Cruxis, the King, Summon Spirits, Mana Lineage, connections with the Eternal Sword? You said that sounded suspicious or something..."
"But, I didn't think it would actually..." she whimpered, tears forming in her chocolate eyes. She fiercely blinked them back; she wouldn't allow anyone to see her cry. However he already spotted the pools of water before she could appear otherwise.
"Sheena..." his voice was drastically softer, out of both pain and sincerity. "Sheena, I'm... so sorry. I never thought, in all my life I'd truly be as happy... as I am now. Well... not at this exact moment anyway," He coughed, continuing, "Things... weren't supposed to be this way. ...But what will be..."
A corner of her mouth lifted into a sad smile as she finished for him, "...will be."
He nodded, reflecting her smile. "Yeah..." His breathing slowed, and he closed his eyes. Fearing this was truly the time, she cradled him, feeling every ounce of his soul gradually drifting from his body. "When you get there... tell me what it's like... in heaven." She whispered to him, as if a lullaby.
With great effort, he placed his hand on hers, holding it with all his remaining strength. "I'm in it right now..." he said faintly, caressing her hand.
Sheena held him close, even as his breathing ceased. To let go, she would have to accept that the love of her life had been killed by her own kinsman, all in the name of saving the world from a greater power and threat?
She just couldn't concede to that.
Longingly, she looked down at him, at his peaceful expression. Others could say he was 'at rest' now, not her. It's a pretense, you're restless beyond that, she thought, her tears staining his pink tuxedo. You were taken too early, and not content about it. But I know you, Zelos. You'll find someway to overcome this, as will I.
Of almost free will, she released him from her arms with a hopeful gaze to the impending twilight. Dashed with spurts of orange, pink and red, the clouds formed wings on which his soul rode on the pathway to the true heaven. Though she knew she'd never see that devious glint found only in his eyes or wake up in his arms anymore, she knew that he'd forever be with her.
One way or another.