Since Matau/Nokama is my favorite pairing of all time, I sat down and wrote a story about them, but threw in some of my own experiences in. That made this easy: All I had to do was fix a few events, install a new ending, and make the whole thing Bionicle.

Disclaimer: Story belongs to me, characters/places belong to Lego.

Absence

The Toa of Water sat on the shore of Naho Bay, watching as the western sunset painted the sky brilliant colors. She'd named this body of water after a Toa that had shared the same element she had controlled in her turn. But Naho hadn't been any ordinary Toa though; she had been one of the original 10 companions of the legendary Toa Lhikan. She had gone missing, not long before she, Nokama, had become a Toa, hunted down by one of Naho's former companions: the exiled Toa of Air Nidhiki, mutated almost beyond recognition.

Thinking about missing Toa reminded Nokama about the member of her team absent from their new home. The rest of the team had arrived with their comatose charges three days before, and the last they'd seen of Vakama had been when he'd plunged into the silver sea to look for the Mask of Time. She was starting to seriously worry for her team leader, and she knew her brothers were probably just as concerned.

Only Matau hadn't seemed as worried as his friends were for the Toa of Fire, or was better at hiding it then the others. Either way, it was a rather immpressive feat, for someone who had risked his life to save Vakama such a short while ago.

What had been his exact words on the airship? ''He will be fine, sister. Mata Nui loves ever-brave fools, that's why he made so many of us.''

And there it was again, that still-unfamiliar twinge in her heart when she thought about the Toa of Air. Ever since he'd headed south post unloading, Nokama had felt these pangs everytime he crossed her mind, though she couldn't imagine why.

Could it be that . . . no, impossible. How could she be falling in love with someone she thought wasn't right for her?

And yet...yet everytime she closed her eyes, she kept seeing herself with Matau. Her dreams were of all those times he'd hinted that he wanted a different sort of relationship: subtle and not-so-subtle.

Those subtle hints had been difficult to spot; it seemed that even the straight-forward Toa of Air knew how to tread lightly and lead others off.

The more direct ones - his flirting in the ''Fikou Web'' and that Vahki transport, his protectiveness in the tunnels where she had been mortally wounded, his comment by the Great Temple arch - she'd either ignored him or pushed him away.

But Nokama had to admit that Matau was persistent: he'd always come back and try again. And there was no doubt that he truly loved her. Nokama was fairly certain that when the Toa Metru were about their definite (at the time) demise, he'd tried to tell her that he always had.

Reflecting, the Toa of Water realized that she had indeed fallen for Matau.

What was that saying? ''Absence makes the heart grow fonder?'' It defiantly seemed to be the case here.

She wished she could tell him...tell him of her change of heart. But he'd probably wouldn't believe her. She'd turned him away too many times before. He'd probably see it as a cruel joke at his expense.

Instantly she cursed herself for thinking that. She had to have some faith, some hope that he still liked her. And if anyone could take and appreciate a joke, it was Matau.

Nokama rose and started toward the surf.

* * *

She made good time and made it to the Le-Wahi shore in a quarter of an hour. Nokama wasn't relishing the search she'd probably have to make through the jungle: Matau's descriptions of the forest floor alone sounded like a nightmare straight out of Karzanhi to travel through.

Luck, though, was on her side. He was squatting on the sandy beach, frowning absentmindedly. Why the Toa of Air was wearing that expression became clear when she saw his companion and what he was doing: he was fitting a makeshift splint to a Gukko's clearly broken leg. Everytime the bird tried to move or rip the splint, he stroked its wings, murmuring something to it. And it was obvious it could understand him.

Matau glanced up briefly and spotted Nokama. He grinned at her, and gestured for her to stay where she was, before refocusing on his work. Not long after, he stepped backward and made a quick hand motion to the Gukko, which flew away into the jungle. Rising, and brushing the sand from his armor, he strolled down the beach toward the Toa of Water.

As he moved toward her, she found herself realizing that something about Matau had changed. It wasn't the mischievous glint in his jasper eyes or his easy, casual stride - the Toa of Air had always been like that. No, it was something else, something that worried Nokama. In the past, he would've leaped at the chance to talk to her. Now, he seemed hesitant, like she was a mirage that would fade away in an instant. She wondered if that meant he had taken her past hints to heart and had lost interest in her.

Take it slow; make it causal, she ordered herself. If he had lost interest, there was no point in rushing into it and getting disappointed. Hiding her emotions with a friendly smile, she raised her fist, and he met it with his own.

''What were you saying?'' asked Nokama.

''Kualus quick-taught me part of the wind-flier's language before we left Metru Nui,'' the Toa of Air replied softly, face halfway turned toward the sunset. ''I was speak-saying that it was alright, but it had to rest-leave the splint alone if it's leg would quick-heal.''

''Oh.'' Desperately, she cast her mind about; trying to find a subject that would stick and break the ice that seemed to be forming between them faster than a Tarakava could swim. ''So what's new?''

Mata tore his eyes away from the sunset so he could look the Toa of Water in the eye. ''I finally discover-found a place for me and the Le-Maturin to build our new lives on. Other than that, nothing more daring-exciting then swatting Rama-bugs. You?''

''No, but...''she trailed off, not sure how to approach the subject.

''What is it?'' he asked, instantly concerned if the bright, chatty ex-teacher was unable to speak.

''I'm worried about Vakama,'' she finally burst out, wondering if this was the way to go. She supposed not, since the Toa of Air and Fire hadn't been on the best of terms up until recently, but she was sure Matau would brush off the subject and reassure her he was alright.

So she was surprised when he responded with a simple, ''So am I.'' She snapped her head up so she could look him in the eye again. ''Did I hear you correctly?''

''Quick-think about it - without 1,000 Matoran in deep-sleep in tow, I'd guess that it would take only about a day or so to find the Vahi, and another to make it out of the tunnels.'' He held her gaze, his gaze filled with slight concern. ''And it's been longer than that.''

''But he's probably alright.'' Nokama couldn't remember the last time she had to reassure her optimistic friend about anything, other that intital time post Hordika-trasformation, where they all had been horrified at their new reflections.

''Yeah. He probably just got lost-gone in the tunnels on the way up,'' he said, a smile appearing on his face again. ''He wouldn't have been first.''

''But that isn't the only thing on my mind recently,'' Nokama added, determined to get this right now. ''There's...something else.''

''What?'' he asked, suddenly wary again.

''Someone. . . has been on my mind a lot lately,'' she started carefully. ''I can't get him out of my mind, and . . . now I realize that I love him, that I can't live without him.''

''Who is it?'' Nokama was slightly nervous when she heard Matau's normally vivacious voice suddenly go dull, but some instinct urged her on, telling her it was a good sign.

''If I said it wasn't you,'' she said slowly, watching for a reaction - any reaction - to her words, ''would you be upset?''

The Toa of Air closed his eyes and looked away from her, but Nokama could hear the pain he was trying to hide in his voice as he answered. ''I won't false-speak by saying I would be pleased. But, if you were deep-happy-'' he added, turning back to her with his eyes still shut. ''-the heart-pain would be bearable.''

The Toa of Water gave a smile she knew he couldn't see. Her misgivings about him giving up were unfounded, it seemed.

''Then it's all right,'' she said as she took a hold of his shoulders and gently pulled him closer to her. She barely had time to register his eyes flying open in shock before she whispered ''Because it's you,'' and pressed her lips to his.

Matau remained frozen for a good ten seconds before he managed to fully realize what was going on. Once he did, the Toa of Air responded enthusiastically, strengthening their kiss and holding the Toa of Water in his arms, his expression bewildered but content.

''You really deep-mean it?'' he said hoarsely when they broke apart, standing at arms length.

''I really do,'' Nokama replied, sincerity in every word.

''But I thought-''

She didn't allow him to finish his sentence.

''Am I not allowed to change my mind?'' she asked playfully as she removed her mouth from his again.

He simply smiled and held her close as the sun went down behind them.

* * *

Author's Note: Yeah, yeah, it's unlikely to happen, I know. But a girl can dream, can't she?

Anyway, now Nokama's walked in my shoes a bit (or should I say armor? ). A guy flirted with me a lot at one time, but I mainly ignored him. Then when winter break rolled around, I couldn't stop thinking about him. We never got together for some reason...

Oh well. At least the experience helped me write a story about my all time favorite pairing!

Reviews would be mucho appreciated!