A/N: AND NOW! THE MOMENT YOU HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!!! THE "LAST CHAPTER"
Or is it!? O.o
I couldn't tell you how long it was before his lips finally left mine. Moments, hours, days, months, I was so stunned. I couldn't understand where it had come from. Had the hints and signs simply flown right over my head? Or was it that I simply denied them vehemently because I didn't want to love him back? But then, did I love him back? If I was honest with myself, did I love him?
Yes, I think I did, but not in that way.
When he broke off, he got down on one knee, taking my hand into his, he kissed the black tattoo upon the back of it, and said, "Kaida, the question I've been wanting to ask you, since before I found the mask, before we faced Kaileena the first time for me is…Will you marry me?"
I couldn't speak. How could I? This was the last thing I had expected from him! Marry him!? I wouldn't even date him! Well, perhaps, maybe I would. But it'd be just out of curiosity, and the goodnight kiss would be out of the question. It'd be more like an outing as friends, nothing more.
Don't get me wrong, there was nothing the matter with the prince. He was hot, no getting around that, but…
"You don't have to answer right away." He told me, pulling me back to reality. He was standing up now, and my hands were still in his own, and there was an affectionate look in his eyes. He bent down to kiss my other hand, but I took it back suddenly and slipped around him so that I could put some distance between the two of us.
"No," I said, and at first he didn't seem to understand, there was confusion in his face, "No, are you insane, no!" I exclaimed.
"What? Why—I don't understand, why not?" He asked, his eyes wide, and his expression turning into one of…hurt.
"Why not? You have to ask?!" I exclaimed.
"Kaida, if this has anything to do with your 'inner demons'—" He began, but I cut him off.
"Of course this has something to do with my inner demons, this has everything to do with my inner demons!" I said, grabbing at my bangs and pulling on them. "Look, I want you to stop and just think about this, think about what you're setting yourself up for!" I said.
"Are you saying that you don't love me back?" He asked in a dead sort of voice, "After everything we've been through? After all of that…"
"Prince, I care about you, you are the first person I've ever cared about, whom I've ever even been able to allow myself to care about. I've been alone, all of my life. Alone with only my own demons for company. I have experienced terror beyond anything you can imagine, I have experienced hatred, anger, anguish, and agony. I've seen things that would turn your hair white and got to the point to where I could stand my ground. I know all about every negative emotion a person can possibly feel, and more. But that's all. Prince, I'm not whole! How am I even suppose to know if what I do feel for you is love of any sort? I don't want to see you hurt, I don't, but if this is love, it isn't the kind of love that you want from me. That kind of love…I don't know if I even have the ability to love you, or anyone that way.
"Aside from that, have you thought about this? I mean, really though about what this could mean for your country? You have the greatest city on earth to rule over! You need to make a good, respectable, marriage to a woman who would know what she's doing! I am not that woman! I am the last person your city needs as queen! Or any city, country, or kingdom for that matter! Empress of Time, yes, ruling over time, I can do that, I will learn, but not people! I have no diplomatic skills, period! I would neither be a good wife, nor a good queen!"
"You could learn!" He said, and there was pleading in his eyes, "I have thought about this, I've thought a lot about this! I'm not going to ask a great deal of you, I knew you wouldn't have any experience in the matter, but all I'm hearing from you are the reasons why it won't work, but I've thought about it, and I believe that we could make it work!" He put his hands on my shoulders, but I shrugged them off, shaking my head.
"There's one more thing, Prince. I can't have children." I told him.
His face fell and his eyes widened, "W-what?"
"Or rather, I won't have children." I looked him in the eye, "And a king needs offspring, right? Well, that's another reason. I'll die a virgin if I have to, but I'm not having children." I told him.
"But, but why?!" He stammered, completely thrown by this.
"Why? Why? Do you have to ask!?" I exclaimed, throwing my hands in the air. "Remember when Kaileena told us that most people who have my kind of 'sickness' die of young ages? How many exceptions do you think there could possibly be? And of those exceptions, how many of them are able to take control of their inner demons in order to even think of having a relationship. What if…what if this 'disease' can be transferred by blood? What if it's a genetic thing? As in, what if my children are cursed with it as well?"
"You don't know if that—"
"No, that's the problem, I don't know. Who could tell me? Who would know? Sacrosanct won't tell me either way, I don't think she knows either. So what if it does happen? What if my children are born with inner demons just like I was? Prince, I wanted to die when I was 5 years old, 5 years old! I feel like I've been through enough, do you even realize how it would be if my children came to me, crying, and begging me to kill them? Can you even imagine how that would feel? And it would be my fault, Prince, my fault for bringing them into this world. I am not going to be responsible for that. I'll have an abortion if I have to! It would be far kinder to kill them before they even take a breath of air than to let them live a single day, haunted and plagued by their own inner demons, before they're even able to understand anything, to understand what's going on, and why the world hurts so much." I felt tears falling down my face, and the prince reached out to wipe them away, but I wouldn't let him, and he looked both hurt, and helpless. "No, prince. I love you, but not enough to risk it, not enough that I recognize it as anything other than sisterly affection, not enough to marry you.
"I'll be your friend, I'll be the little sister you never had, I'll be your companion through thick and thin, but don't ask me to be your lover, or your wife. Don't ask me to love you when I don't even know if I can."
"Alright…" He said, and his voice was shaking as he stared at me, "Alright, your brother, okay, I'll be content with that. Just, just let me hold you, let me at least attempt to comfort you. Let me wipe away your tears, just don't alienate me again, don't push me away." He placed his hands on my shoulders, and this time I didn't knock them away. He drew me into his arms, and I didn't fight. I wrapped my arms around him myself, and buried my face in his chest. Allowing the faint scent of incense and some dark herb to fill me, and remind me of those purple beaches once more.
I let myself sob into his chest, the twisting and writhing emotions that had been turning my stomach into a pretzel came out of me in the form of those female water-works that have always turned men into putty.
Rather than actually building a boat, we found Kaileena's little fleet in the present, and, being the new Empress of Time, I was able to reverse the flow of time upon one of them, making it more than seaworthy once again. It was already stocked with some supplies, as well as some straw beds and maps. There were two rooms below deck, one was full of crates whose food stuffs were now whole and preserved, and the other had the beds, maps, and other equipment for travel. We found Persia on the maps, and we set off into the night.
I was able to use the sands in order to avoid the rough waters as we got through the rocks that jutted up from the ocean bottom. But after that there was no need. The prince seemed to know everything under the sun about sailing, including how to work the fishing nets, and though the wind wasn't blowing in exactly the right direction, the rudder kept us going where the compass and maps told us we should.
He showed me how to work the boat, how to raise the sails, and, when we found a telescope, showed me how to estimate and measure the distance in which I saw objects. There was a lot to learn about sailing that I had never known, and a lot of it required the upper body strength that, before all of this, was only a fleeting dream. But now which I had a considerable amount of.
A little late we realized that our water supply wasn't going to get us through the journey, and the prince began desperately searching for an island. But I suddenly remembered that Sullian use to drink water all the time, even though he never needed to, and he was very meticulous about purifying it. He would bring the water he collected to boil, and then he would collect the water's gas-form before it could evaporate, creating pure, distilled water. So I had him take the sea water and do just that.
The prince had never before had such pure, fresh water, and he marveled at it as we drank it over a meal of stale bread and cheese, or at least, we attempted to eat it, Sullian saw what we were eating and took our food. And only then did I remember his weird fascination with cooking.
Don't get me wrong, he could whip up a meal fit for a table of kings out of nothing, literally. The thing is, he always pretends to have either poisoned it, or peed on it. Not something you want to have the cook joke about while you're eating his food. The prince nearly died choking on his bowel of fried rice when Sullian tried to tell him that the soy sauce was actually his pee.
I sent Sullian back to the Manor for that, and heard him crying and moaning about this until I shut the door on him.
"He does it all the time." I told the prince, "Cooking me something absolutely delicious, and then pretending to have done something unpleasant to it, while I'm eating. But I guess that's the price I have to pay." I said, rolling my eyes and sighing.
"What sort of powers do your other demons have? Or do I want to know?" He asked.
"Maybe. Next to Monigan and Sacrosanct, Kagero's one of the most powerful, and there are a number of things that he can do which you would much rather not be privy to, trust me. Not all of them have 'useful' abilities like Sullian. Kroich has power over ice, Taskol can manipulate fire, Aggle can manipulate humans, their bodies anyway, and has attempted to make me her version of 'beautiful' on several occasions. Which, for her, would involve turning my skin blue, giving me poisonous snakes for hair, and sewing up my mouth into a perpetual smile like hers."
The prince pushed his fried rice away, "I'm not sure I want to eat anymore." He said, and I laughed.
"You better, I'm not going to let Sullian out like this all the time, even if he does cook like a dream." I said, pushing the bowl back to him. "Wemlast, you've never met her, she's probably one of the most frightening, and maybe more or less as powerful as Kagero. I won't tell you what she can do. Kukarkin can make anything she touches decay, erode, deoxidize, you name it, and can turn the men she kisses into dust. Gorra can turn things into stone temporarily if she changes her eye color to black, and permanently if they become gold. Deskor is one of the weaker ones, doesn't have much of a power, but he can control wind so that's something." I explained. "There are others, a lot of others, but, thankfully, most of them have been sleeping for a few years and only wake up when I want them to, which I practically never do."
"What about that giant lion-shaped man?" Asked the prince.
"Phirus? He's nothing special, and he's not really a man, or a woman. A lot of them are genderless, Sullian is another that doesn't have a gender. Phirus is fast, can fly, graceful, and can tell you riddles that will turn your head." I told him. "Most of which don't even have answers, he just likes to watch you squirm trying to figure it out."
"I hate it when someone asks you a riddle that has no answer." Said the prince, scowling. "There is one riddle that has no answer which I know. 'What creature walks on four legs in the morning, on two in the afternoon, and on three in the evening?' There is no such creature, and I actually attempted to answer…what are you laughing about?" He asked, frowning at me.
"It's just that, there is an answer to that one." I told him.
"Oh? What is it?" He asked.
"It's human." I answered.
"Human! In the morning, or when we are children, we crawl on all fours. In the afternoon, when we have grown up, we walk on both our legs. And in the noon, when we are old, we walk with a cane." I explained.
He stared at me, and then hit himself in the head, making me laugh. "Riddles like these always have an extra meaning to them. Sometimes some things about them are metaphoric." I told him, finishing off my teriyaki chicken.
We discussed more riddles, I told him some of the ones that Phirus had once told me, and he tried to solve them even though there was no answer, until he finally gave up and relented that, yes, they had to be unanswerable. But there were some riddles that he'd heard which I was able to figure out, and laugh at him for hitting himself in the head over.
Our boat sped across the sea, and we met very little turbulence so far. My dreams? They always started out as nightmares in the beginning, and then they would fade away to be replaced with those purple beaches. In the mornings I would be awakened gently by movement, feeling the warm body that accompanied me to those beaches leave, and then straighten the blanket over me up, which I would only use for a few more minutes before getting up myself.
We didn't talk about it, I pretended not to be aware that the prince wasn't using his own bed, but he knew, he knew that I was aware. How could I not be? I wasn't having nightmares anymore, and the only thing that drove them away…was him.
One day I was looking out at the wide ocean, just watching it, feeling the wind in my face and hair, when the prince came up behind me, and wrapped his arms around me, resting his chin on my shoulder, "I'm not giving up on you, you know." He told me, and I felt his scent envelop me like a cloud.
"Then you're an idiot." I muttered, turning my head and looking away from him.
"I don't care about the consequences, Kaida, I don't care. I love you. I'll be content with companion, with friend, for the time being. But I'm not going to stop until you're my wife." He said.
"Since when did you learn such pretty words?" I asked, shrugging out of his grip. He let me go, but reluctantly, and he tried not to let me see the hurt in his eyes, but I knew it was there. "You'll find someone else, Prince, someone better for you. Someone who will make you happy." Yes, like, say, FARAH!!!
"You make me happy." He insisted, stepping forward, but he didn't touch me, like it seemed he was about to.
"Happy?" I snorted and looked away, leaning with my back against the rail this time, "Prince, how in the world can I possibly make you happy when I don't even know how to be happy myself?" I asked.
"By just being you, by being Kaida." He insisted, spreading his hands out.
"Okay, prince? Just stop it, stop it. Stop being romantic, stop trying to convince me, just stop loving me like that. No matter how many times you ask me to marry you, the answer is going to be no, and it'll be on your head if you ever manage to get me drunk enough to say yes." I told him.
He gave me a wry smile, "Fine by me if it works." He said with dry humor.
"It would be an empty marriage and you know it." I told him as he came over to lean against the railing with me.
"Yes…it would…" He murmured. "And I wouldn't count it if you were drunk. But I'm not going to give up on you, never." He said.
"Never is a very long time, prince. And you don't have the luxury of waiting that long. When your father dies pressure will be put on you to get married so that your blood line will continue." I told him.
"Perhaps by that time I will be able to convince you." He said.
"You're more stubborn than a mule and just as selfish." I huffed, staring up at the cloudless skies. "No, drop it." I told him before he could open his mouth again. "No more today, Prince. Just let it go."
"I can't, Kaida, I can't just see you as a friend. I want you so much it hurts, don't you understand?" He asked, trying to take my hand, but I drew away from him.
"No, I don't, and that's the problem, isn't it? I don't understand how you're feeling, how can I possibly understand how your feeling when I never even loved my own parents?" I looked him in the face, "I don't want to hurt you, I don't, but I can't be any more than your friend. Once you realize that, once you get that through your thick skull, once we reach Babylon, there will be plenty of other woman for you to choose from. Whole, willing women, princesses or duchesses, which were born knowing how to be a wife, how to raise children, how to rule alongside their husbands. That's the sort of woman you need." I told him.
"But that's not the sort of woman I want! I want you!" he practically yelled, pulling on his growing hair in frustration.
"I know!" I yelled back at him, "But wanting me, loving me, that doesn't change anything! You can't have everything you want!"
"I understand that." He said, his vehemence melting away, "I know, but to me, the reasons why I can't have you just don't seem good enough. How do you expect to learn to love, if you don't even give it the chance?" He asked.
"I don't know how, okay? Haven't I told you this already? I don't know how to love! I don't know if I can!" I exclaimed, throwing my hands in the air.
"Then why don't you let me show you?" He asked, "Let me show you, let me love you." He took my hands in his, and I couldn't find the will to pull them away as he kissed my fingers.
"Are you telling me that you're an expert now?" I asked, my voice shaky.
"No." He answered, "But I have loved before, in another time. I know how it feels, and, trust me, the love I felt then, is nothing to what I feel now." He placed my arms around his neck and snaked his own around my middle. "Please." He said.
"If I let you kiss me now, it'll only be that much harder for you to let me go." I told him, pulling back just a bit so that our faces weren't so close.
"I don't care, I don't intend to let you go." He said.
"This is…stupid." I said, feeling both my breath and my will weakening as he drew closer.
"I don't care." He repeated and, once again, his lips were upon mine.
My heart beat loudly in my ears, what was going on? I could hardly breath, much less struggle out of his grip. My body moved of its own accord, and I found myself kissing him back. Encouraged, he tilted his head in order to more fully possess my lips, my mouth opened slightly, and his tongue entered it, flicking over my teeth and then drawing back, then diving back in to taste me again. Every time he did this I felt tingling rushes shoot throughout my body, I could feel it in my fingers and toes, my hairs felt as though they were standing on end as goose bumps appeared on my skin.
I'd only read, only watched, only ever imagined being kissed like this, or even kissed at all, and none of that could have prepared me for the experience itself. It was like flying across the ocean, flying to those purple beaches with the white trees and gold grasses. My heart was beating fast in my chest, I felt almost light-headed, like it was a narcotic rather than the prince's lips. Something like fire was burning in my chest, and was spreading to parts of me that I didn't want to acknowledge.
His hands were moving, stroking my middle gently, down over my hip and then up my back to my neck. My fingers laced through his hair, and I pushed my own tongue into his mouth, no longer satisfied with taking his taste from the entrance of his, wanting to taste him myself, to experience it. My brain was screaming at me, my common sense was telling me to stop now, to get away, but that voice was fading away. I had no idea what I was doing, everything I knew from books or television seemed to have all jumped out the window without even leaving me so much as a note. But gods, it felt so good.
He drew me down so that we were lying on the deck, and his lips moved from my mouth down to my neck. Kissing those markings, the eye-shaped mark on my chest, the one that snaked along my right neck down my arm. I was breathing heavily, in small gasps, I had no more fight left in me, I don't think I even had the ability to fight anymore.
"You're so beautiful." He whispered to me, the breath and the feel of his voice sent shivers down my spine. He kissed those markings, trailing them down my arm.
"I'm not…that beautiful…" I murmured.
"Oh yes you are." He told me in a breathy, but firm voice, "You're skin is beautiful." He kissed my hand, "These markings, they're beautiful." He kissed my palm. "Your swords," He fingered the gash-like mark across my wrist where my sword came out of, "Are beautiful." He kissed it. "The way you fight, the way you move, your voice, your scent, your hair, your eyes, your body, your face, everything, everything about you!" He kissed me on the lips, "Even your sand form possesses a dark beauty that intoxicates me. In my eyes, you are the most beautiful woman in this world, or any world for that matter. Yes, other men may not agree with me, may find other woman who are, to their eyes, more attractive, but not me, not ever. Please," He murmured, kissing me on the neck again, "Say you'll be mine. I've never begged for anything before in my life, but I will swallow my pride and beg for you if I have to." It was so sappy, so cheesy, so corny, so utterly like a bad love story, one of those where everything turns out right in the end, even though you know that doesn't happen in real life.
But I was drinking in every word. I was so weak.
"I…" I murmured. So easy, it would be so easy to just say 'yes' to him, and I wanted to, I realized, I wanted to say yes so much. But I couldn't. "I can't…" I whispered, and I felt tears rolling down my eyes, "I can't, you can't, we can't. Try to understand."
"For tonight, then." He whispered, "For tonight, be mine, just for tonight, please. Please. For a while, let's pretend that the rest of the world doesn't exist anymore, let's pretend that you are whole, let's pretend that the problems don't exist. For tonight."
For a while sunlight has faded
For a while the liveboats have passed
For a while children corroded
And all we see is utopian grasp
I knew, I knew I was setting myself up for more misery, setting him up for a world of pain. Just for tonight. I told myself, Haven't I suffered enough? Just tonight, just this once let me feel what it's like to be in love, to be loved by someone so much.
"You wanted a new life." Sacrosanct said in my mind, "And you've wanted to be loved for longer than you know, and more than you realize. If you're worried about a child, don't. I will make sure that doesn't happen. For once in your life, trust me. Let yourself have this bit of happiness, take it, and live for it."
"Okay." I murmured, not sure if I was talking to Sacrosanct or the prince, but they both heard me, "Okay, for tonight."
For tonight I feel not sorry
For tonight a cigarette for god
For tonight don't dare to call me
'Cause I'm not here. I'm out for a walk.
(A/N: Warning! We're about to get into the reason why this fic is rated T. If you care, skip down to the end of the next part of the song. But I doubt you do so I'll just shut up)
The prince took me down below deck and laid me upon my straw bed. He shed his clothing and took off mine. He seemed to be drinking in the sight of me and I, though I wouldn't admit it, was doing the same. He kissed me everywhere.
He was slow and careful, I winced at first, but the pain wasn't much, and it was gone as swiftly as it had come, replaced by the narcotic that was the Prince of Persia.
I wasn't sure if what I was feeling was lust, passion, love, or a combination of the three. But I was feeling something, and even though that something hurt like hell, I wanted more of it. More, more! I was becoming addicted.
For a life, for god and the nation
For a life forget how to love
For a life walking courageous
And all we fear is the heaven above
Why, why him of all people? Why? Why couldn't he have been some noble, and not a prince, not the prince? It might have worked then, he might have been able to get away with having a childless wife, to have no real duty to his throne.
Tears were in my eyes, I was wishing so hard, I was sobbing, holding onto him, and sobbing after the most wonderful thing I'd ever experienced in my life. He kissed me, he kissed my tears and his tongue gently wiped them away. "It doesn't have to end here, with this night. It doesn't have to end." He told me.
"Yes it does." I whispered, "Yes it does."
And for now I drink to the faithless
To the weak, the crippled, the tall
And for now, tomorrow and anon
Don't you know I don't care at all?
The dream I had of those purple beaches, with him, him always near me, always holding me, they became dark, with no sun, no moon, and no stars. The island was filled with a dangerous beauty, peaceful, but morbid.
And I knew that no matter how much he loved me, no matter how much I loved him. I would never truly escape from these dark dreams.
It simply was not meant to be.
For a while sunlight has faded
For a while the life boats have passed
For a while children corroded
And all we see is utopian grasp
That is not true. You simply insist upon letting yourself suffer. Listen to me, Kaida, you wanted a new life, I gave it to you, you wanted love, and here it is, staring you in the face. This is your one chance for even a semblance of happiness. Take it! Haven't you suffered enough? TAKE IT!!!
You're not listening to me, are you? Fine, suffer if you want to, it's all you've ever known. You're more secure in your suffering, because you understand it better. You are a coward.
I want you to live, Kaida, you have no idea how much I want you to stay alive. I may have my own ulterior motives, but I know better than to allow you to stay at the breaking point. Your own resolve, your own will to live is far too weak. That's why I want you to be happy, to be with the prince. He will be able to fix that for me, and you? You will get what you've wanted, though you never realized it.
This isn't finished, Kaida. I know you can't hear me now, I know you're not even bothering to listen, but this is far from over.
I still need you, and I may need you till the end of time if it takes that long. You are not going to die, and I am going to make sure of it if I have to force you to marry the prince myself! You don't think I'll do it? I will, just wait and see.
Just wait and see.
Rhea: Nope!!! There's a sequel! So fear not my loyal minio-er, I mean, readers! More shall be on its way!!!
Kioko: More? Gods, I'm already choking on sappy, you're going to try and drown us aren't you?
Rhea: Hey! Believe it or not, most of my readers love sappy love stories as much as I do, so BACK OFF!!!
Kioko: Fine, fine, whatever. Oh, by the way, I thought you might like to know that Kaida and the Prince are no longer with us.
Rhea!.! (looks around) DANGIT!!! THEY'VE ESCAPED!!! Monigan!
Monigan: I'm on it! (Dissappears) (Reappears with Kaida and the Prince)
Kaida: FOUL FOUL, NO FAIR, FOUL!!! YOU CAN'T USE MY OWN INNER DEMONS AGAINST ME!!!
Rhea: I can when they're willing to do what I say! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Kaida: I am so not doing a sequel!
Prince: I quit too! You're turning me into one of those overly romantic men which women love and which make other men puke. I'm not doing it!
Rhea: Sorry to say that neither of you have a choice in the matter!
Kaida: You don't look sorry.
Rhea: Okay, I'm not. MUAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!111ONE
Kioko: You should see what she does to her other characters, and then decide whether you're going to complain or not.
Kaida: I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT SHE'S PLANNING!!!
Rhea: Oh, don't worry, compared to what I've got in store for Dark Dreams 2, this whole thing is going to seem like one elaborate prologue!
Prince: I'm scared!
Kaida: How do you think I feel!? I'm the main character! I am directly being manipulated by this b(beep)!!!
Rhea: We're not gonna do an FAQ for this chapter just 'cause I'm lazy and don't feel like it. So, see you in Dark Dreams 2!!!
Kioko: Can I go home now?
Rhea: Awwwwwww but, but, but…T.T