He was really beginning to like this spot. It had a nice view of the valley the temple sat in and the surrounding mountains. And on a day like this when there was a thin cloud cover it gave the sensation that a person was looking down on the world from heaven. It was the spot he and his friends, and surprisingly Spicer, had sat after he'd locked Wuya away. He'd sat there thinking in the same instance that things were going to be ok as well as wondering if his friends would ever really forgive or trust him again. Specifically Kimiko. He wondered if he knew then, the position he was in now, if he would ever have believed it.
"Hey," he asked breaking into the sleepy silence that had settled on the two. "Would it be totally corny if I carved out names into this tree?" he asked glancing back at the wood he was leaning against. The girl he had his arms wrapped around, and who was leaning so comfortably against his chest stirred slightly and for a moment Raimundo was worried that he really had woken her from a light sleep. They'd been sitting in the afternoon sun for quite some time now, Raimundo sitting up against the tree and Kimiko nestled between his bent legs, her back to his chest and Raimundo's arms wrapped securely around her. He liked the way her head fit so nicely beneath his chin and he could catch the scent of her shampoo.
"Hmm," Kimiko considered as she shifted slightly in his hold. "Yes, I believe it would be," she told him. "But at the same time," she glanced over her shoulder at him with a slight blush on her cheeks, "it's kinda sweet." Raimundo grinned at her blush and resisted the urge to pull her even closer, if it was even possible. Even though a few weeks had past since the end of their ordeal with the Key of Aphrodite Kimiko was still prone to blush whenever he was so openly affectionate with her. They were both still getting used to being more then friends but Raimundo seemed to be more comfortable then she was. Surprisingly everyone at the temple seemed to be adjusting to the new development in their relationship as well and for that Raimundo was grateful.
'It wasn't as if they didn't have a chance to get used to it while Kimiko was under the power of the Key,' Raimundo thought. It was funny though because now that things were back to 'normal' there was a sort of role reversal between the two. Raimundo was certainly the more aggressive one now, not feeling any need to hide his affection for Kimiko, but also understanding that there was a time and place for it. While Kimiko, though an extremely confident girl in nearly everything she did was a bit more shy and reserved when it came to being more public in her affections. It had almost turned into a game for Raimundo to see how profusely he could make her blush. Surprisingly it seemed to be the littlest of things, like a kiss on the cheek or handholding that got the biggest reaction from Kimiko.
Life at the temple had been quiet and uneventful for the most part since the Key of Aphrodite went inactive and had been locked away in the depths of the vault. There had been a few new Shen Gong Wu but aside from Jack none of the Heylin had been seen. That was a bit disconcerting for Raimundo but he tried not to read too much into it and Master Fung didn't seem to be very bothered by it. Kimiko brought him back to the present by starting to play with his fingers that were locked in front of her.
"Hey Rai?" she questioned.
"I was just thinking about Aphrodite," she trailed off.
"As in the Key?" he tried to clarify.
"No," she shook her head slightly unknowingly brushing her hair against his face and making Raimundo smile as a result. "I was thinking about the actual goddess."
"Can I ask why?" Raimundo wondered curious.
"Its something Dojo said a little while ago. He was talking about the origin of the Shen Gong Wu and how interconnected the ancient world was. He said it might even had been more connected then the modern world."
"Then why do we know so little about it?" Raimundo asked. "Why did it take so long for the world to connect like it is now? If Dojo's right then the ancient world as we know it must have been a stall in human development."
"I've been thinking about that and I've honestly go no real clue." Raimundo chuckled at this.
"Ok, so what about Aphrodite?"
"Well," Kimiko started again, "you know that Shen Gong Wu means tools of the Gods or something like that right?" When she felt Raimundo nod behind her she continued on. "Well Aphrodite was a Greek goddess and the Greek mythology is probably the best known mythology in the world." Raimundo considered it and agreed.
"You're right," he agreed, "but I'm sorry to say that I don't really follow."
"I'm getting there, I'm getting there," Kimiko laughed slightly. "You're a little impatient."
"Eager," he corrected, "the sooner you're done talking the sooner we can make out." Kimiko elbowed him as best she could and was able to untangle herself from his arms. He stayed sitting where he was and watched Kimiko climbed to her feet and glare down at him. "What?" he asked innocently. Kimiko shook her head in an annoyed manner.
"You're a hand full Pedrosa," she blew out.
"And you're not?" Raimundo shot back immediately before cowering under her glare. "Sorry," he apologized and gave her a wink. "Now you were saying?" Kimiko rolled her eyes and sighed.
"You're hopeless," she breathed and Raimundo held back his initial response. He wanted to saying 'hopelessly in love' but knew it wouldn't help. He'd initially wanted to say 'I love you' to her from day one but had held off because of Kimiko and her comfort level. He was not as certain anymore that he was ready to say it, but at moments like this, it seemed so natural it sometimes scared him.
"You were saying about Aphrodite?" he asked bringing her back to the subject that she'd raised. Kimiko still looked slightly miffed but sank back down to the ground none the less, her body facing him but her head turned away.
"I was just thinking about what Dojo said about the world being interconnected and about mythology," she turned her head to face him. "You can find similarities in pretty much every mythology in the world. Some of the stories are so similar it's undeniable that civilizations were linked. Did you know," she asked looking slightly eager, "that there are flood stories from every part of the world?"
"Like Noah's ark?" Raimundo asked leaning a bit closer to her. Kimiko nodded.
"I doubted Dojo at first but I just can't believe that similarities like this exist without people interacting and being connected." Raimundo inched slowly closer to her as she spoke.
"So?" Rai prodded when she paused, sensing she had more to say.
"It makes me wonder," she looked slightly sad as she spoke, "what happened in the past that broke the world up so much. I feel like we're all missing very big pieces here. Aphrodite was a Greek goddess, but Shen Gong Wu are Chinese. What if all the Gods were the same? Just transposed from civilization to civilization? But I feel like I'm missing something else."
"It's a good point and a good theory," Rai admitted and then noticed her change in demeanor. "Why are you so sad?" he asked concerned. Kimiko sighed heavily before continuing on, eyes downcast.
"Because it is sad," she said softly, "that the past can be forgotten so quickly." Rai pulled her close and Kimiko didn't protest, just leaned against his chest. "I'm sad for Aphrodite too," she said seemingly at random.
"You're loosing me here girl," Rai told her truthfully. One minute she was talking like she was some sort of academic, throwing out theories and facts that were over his head. Now she was sad for a goddess of a long extinct religion.
"It's just in all the stories I've read or heard about Aphrodite," Kimiko sighed, "she was never in love. She was married but to another God she didn't love and basically jumped around having affairs. Was she ever happy? Is that why the Key is named after her?" Raimundo stroke her back soothingly, marveling that a girl could have such a big heart to even consider something like that.
"Well," Raimundo said slowly still considering his answer, "Gods are immortal right?"
"In most societies that's the norm," Kimiko agreed.
"Then there is still hope for her," Rai said, "if she hasn't found true love already."
"You believe in true love them?" she asked. When he didn't answer Kimiko sat up and looked at him, receiving a look that clearly asked how she could even ask a question like that. Kimiko blushed and broke their gaze, still taken off guard sometimes by the depth he seemed to feel for her. Smiling Kimiko moved close to Raimundo again and Raimundo gladly accepted her.
"Hey Rai?" Kimiko questioned sometime later. Raimundo had taken to looking back over the valley and almost lazily shifted his attention back to her.
"Hmm?" he replied.
"Do you," she paused as if reconsidering, "do you regret that we got together this way? That it took a Shen Gong Wu for us to both own up?" Raimundo was silent as he considered it. It was a perfectly good question, one he hadn't really considered before.
"No," he told her after really thinking about it. "In fact," he continued on letting go of her and leaning back on his hands. Kimiko remained sitting up and watched him curiously. "I'm kinda grateful," he told her with a smug little smile.
"Yeah," he told her, "I honestly don't know when I would have gotten the courage to do more if it hadn't been for the Key."
"Really?" Kimiko said surprised surprising Raimundo.
"You're surprised?" he asked her.
"Kind of," she grinned slyly. "You were kind of obvious sometimes."
"You knew I liked you and didn't do anything about?" Raimundo asked surprised. Kimiko shrugged.
"I wasn't sure how I felt about you. Why would I bring it up and risk our friendship if I wasn't sure?" Raimundo frowned at this.
"You weren't sure?" he repeated.
"No," she said slowly and looked at him seriously. "You really, really hurt me when you went to Wuya. I was really starting to like you back then but after that I convinced myself that I didn't."
"And now?" Raimundo had to ask, hating himself for ever hurting her at all. To answer him Kimiko leaned forward over his reclined body, pressing their lips together. She pulled away all too soon for Raimundo's liking and smiled back at him.
"Does that answer your question?" she asked.
"If I said no would you try to explain it again?" Raimundo grinned. Kimiko giggled softly and leaned in again. All thoughts left the two's minds as they continued to kiss unaware of the schemes of the Heylin that brewed around them, not knowing the trails they'd have to face, or the choices they'd have to make. All that mattered was that moment, that's all they cared to know. Foolishly wishing that things could remain that way forever.
Ever the Same…
So that's it, that's the end. Wow, sappy and totally corny. Kinda disgusts me cause it borders on 'purple prose'. And that shameless plug of my title at the end? Yup, I'm pretty damn bad but it makes me happy so what the hell? So, like I said before this is the end of "Ever the Same" and a sorta preview for the sequel. Yes, I hate to say this but there will be a sequel. I had absolutely no plans for a sequel when I first imagined this story. And while writing it I had no real desire to do one. I just wanted a simple happy ending and to leave it at that. But the other night I couldn't sleep and suddenly the concept for a sequel came to me. I'd been playing around with one since about the eleventh chapter so I left certain things open. I kind of decided that I'd need at least a short sequel to tie up loose ends. But then this idea came out of nowhere and I thought 'damn, that's going to be really involved'.
So while working hard on my AU I am also planning out the currently unnamed sequel to this story. Any suggestions for a name with will gladly be taken. If anyone hasn't noticed by now a lot of my titles end up as song titles or lines from songs that may have nothing to do with a story but I like them anyways. I'm horrible at names so I usually cop out on that and just scroll through my itunes and find something. Ever the Same is proof of that.
So again, thank you so much to all of my readers and especially my reviewers. Reviewers are what kept this story going. Without them, who knows? I might not have finished.
Special thanks go to:
These guys were constant and very supportive. But prncessGrl1881 gets a huge, wonderful, special thanks for reviewing every single chapter and for understanding the woes of trying to write while dealing with the woes of college. Thanks so much!
That's about it I guess, I need to start focusing on "Into the Rush" and to figure out the sequel to this story! I hope that story will be out this summer, sometime this month or next. Either way lots of love! And again thanks so much to all of my readers and reviewers! I'm tearing up! Wah! I've got to finish this up. One more time! Love you all for reading and reviewing and thanks again!