She sat in her hut, bent over the letter in her hands. The sounds of villagers milling around outside did not penetrate her ears as she read his words, for what seemed the thousandth time, and it very well may have been. It was his last letter to her, sent so long ago. Age had not been kind to the piece of parchment, its edges tattered and its ink smudged. But the words on the page still spoke to her soul, all these years later.
"First know that I am well. I have a few wounds, but nothing substantial. I am far better off than Pohatu, who is at this moment bedridden. The Toa Mata and I are now on an island east of the Northern Continent called Hiilin. When we arrived, we found the island under the rule of a ruthless tyrant. But we were able to contact the underground resistance and have freed the island.
"But even as the thrill of victory runs in my veins, I cannot enjoy it fully, for you are not here with me. Every passing glimpse of the ocean causes my heart to yearn for you, and my arms ache to hold again. The memory of your voice is like the call of a songbird in my mind. I miss you terribly, but the knowledge that I will see you soon brings me comfort. As soon as the situation here has settled down, I promise to visit you.
"I love you, with all my heart.
A tear slid down the Toa's cheek, but before it could land on the old parchment, she caught it with her power over water.
"And I've waited for you," she thought, "for 1,070 years."
As she carefully placed the parchment back into its glass case, she thought of all that had happened since his last letter came. The Great Cataclysm, the Reign of Darkness, and Mata Nui's subsequent reinstitution, along with the realization that her entire world was inside Mata Nui himself, had caused her to put Kopaka out of her mind at times, but she had never stopped waiting for him to return.
A knock came at her door.
"Come in," she said.
The door opened to reveal Turaga Nerah. Her Kualsi drew in concern at the sight of the Toa's face. As she saw the parchment in her hands, realization dawned on her.
"It's today, isn't it?" asked the Turaga. "The day his letter came."
Atuuh could only nod.
The Turaga placed a comforting hand on the Toa's knee. "I can't know what you're feeling, but know that I sympathize with you." She paused. "This may be a bad time," she said, "but we need you at the trading post. There's a ship coming in."
The Toa of Water merely nodded, and the Turaga teleported away. She got up and grabbed her trident from the wall, making her way out into Ga-Huna. As she approached the pipes that fed fresh air into the underwater village, she activated her Kakama and rushed into the pipe, her momentum carrying her to the top.
As she rushed towards the small cluster of buildings down the coast, she thought, "I remember when Kopaka and I would race. Me with my mask, him on his ice slide. Mata Nui, why does everything remind me of him?"
As she arrived at the trading post, she saw the ship coming in. Its sleek metallic hull gleamed in the sunlight, as it sliced through the water. It was apparent from its robust design that this was no merchant making an unexpected visit. Someone was here on official business. As the ship stopped at the dock and dropped anchor, a pair of Matoran lowered a gangplank, and a gold and white armored Toa walked down onto the pier.
"Greetings," he said, "Metru Nui bids you peace."
"And Huna Nui gladly welcomes our brethren," replied Atuuh. "What brings you so far from your home?"
The Toa replied, "In the wake of Mata Nui's reinstitution, we have tried to reestablish ties with the rest of the world. We are on our way to Artakha and wish to resupply."
Not so long ago, Atuuh would have scoffed at his statement, but it was widely known that the ancient being had come out of hiding and helped in the war against the Makuta.
"Well, we have an inn," she said. "We may be a secretive people, but we are not inhospitable. Please, stay the night."
"I'll talk to my brothers about it," he said. "Thank you for the offer."
As he went back to the ship, Atuuh made her way to the trading post's inn. The post consisted of less than a dozen buildings: the inn, a record office, and a few shops. She entered the inn and walked up to the attendant.
"The ship's passengers may be spending the night," she said. "I'm not sure how many there will be."
As the sun set later that evening, the ship's crew entered the inn.
"I'll need your names please," said the attendant.
"There are seven Matoran: Brander, Vhisola, Tamaru, Tanma, Onepu, Amaya, and Taipu," said the gold and white Toa. "I am Takanuva. The Toa of Air here is Lewa Nuva, and my frosty friend is Kopaka Nuva."
Atuuh stepped back in shock, and her eyes grew wide as the name landed on her ears. She turned to look at the Toa of Ice. A moment later, he looked her way, and their eyes met. They looked at each other for a brief moment, before he looked away. Atuuh's gaze fell to the ground as reality sunk in.
"He doesn't remember me," she thought.
* * *
As she lay awake in the inn, Atuuh found she could not sleep. As she tossed and turned on her bed, her mind kept going back to Kopaka.
"Why doesn't he remember me?" she thought. "How could he forget me?"
Sitting up, she rested her head in her hands and thought, "I need to clear my mind. Maybe a walk will help."
As she left her room, she tried to be a quiet as possible and made her way down the hall. When she arrived at the door, she quietly opened it and stepped outside. She turned around and jumped as she saw another form there, leaning against the fence, staring up at the stars. He turned towards her.
"Can't sleep either?" he said.
Atuuh swallowed as she recognized Kopaka. "Yes, I've…had a lot on my mind lately. And you?"
Kopaka grinned wryly. "I'm sharing a room with Lewa. He snores."
Atuuh giggled. He still had the wry sense of humor.
As she moved beside him, she asked, "So, you came from Metru Nui?"
"I'll try small talk first, maybe he'll recognize me if we get talking," she thought.
"Yes, I am," he replied.
"What's it like? I've heard it's a wonderful place."
"Well, they say home is always the best place in the world, but I will say my home is one of the grandest places I've ever been. The soaring Knowledge Towers, the Archives, the Coliseum, they're all wonderful."
"Are you native to Metru Nui?"
Kopaka then went on to explain the adventures he had had just before the Reign of Darkness. Before long, the two were sitting on the fence, chatting like they had known each other for a long time.
"You know," Kopaka said, "I'm not normally this open with people. Did I know you at some point? I mean, before our launch. My team and I lost most of our memories after floating for so long, so we've run into some people who knew us before. So, did I know you?"
Atuuh took a deep breath, trying to suppress the emotions inside her.
"Yes," she said, "you did know me. Your whole team did, but I knew you best."
"Were we good friends?" asked Kopaka. "I've met people I was friends with and it's so…awkward meeting them again."
"Yes, we were good friends."
"Here goes nothing," she thought.
"But we were more. I loved you, and you…you loved me."
A grin crossed Kopaka's face, as a faint giggle escaped his lips. "What?" he exclaimed. "I'm sorry, you must have me confused with someone else. I mean, if anyone was going to fall in love, it'd be Lewa or Pohatu even."
"No, it was you," she said, as tears began to form in her eyes. "I still have the last letter you wrote me, over a thousand years ago."
A sob escaped her lips as her head fell. "I've waited for you for all these years, and now you're back."
Before he could react, she had thrown her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder. "Please," she pleaded, "don't leave me again. I can't bear this any longer."
Grunting with exertion, Kopaka pushed the Toa of Water off of him.
"Look Atuuh," he sighed, holding her at arm's length, "whether or not what you're saying is true, the Kopaka you knew is gone. Even if I wanted to stay, I have a duty to my home and my brothers."
"Duty," said Atuuh, as she leaned on the handrail.
A ball of water formed around her fist as she slammed it on the wooden rail.
"To Karzahni with duty," she sobbed. "It took you away from me once, and now again."
Her sobs racked her body as she laid her head on her arms.
A hand rested on her shoulder, and she looked up.
"I'm sorry, Atuuh," Kopaka said from behind her. "I truly am."
As she turned once more and watched him walk away, she was again reduced to tears. She lost track of how long she stood there, her tears staining the wood and ground beneath her, but finally, she made her way back to her room, where her tears took to staining her pillows and mattress.
* * *
She must have fallen asleep, because she jolted awake as something jostled her bed. She looked up and saw a figure standing over her, but in the darkness of the room, he was unrecognizable. Her first instinct was to strike out, but something held her back. She scooted back as the figure sat next to her. Now she could see his eyes, and in them, she could see a love as deep as the ocean.
"Kopaka?" she whispered. "What –"
She was silenced as he suddenly kissed her. At first, she was shocked, and her body went rigid. But soon, she gave in and returned his kiss. Her arms draped around his neck as his wrapped around her, pulling her closer. One hand stayed against her shoulder blade as the other traced down her spine. His head tilted, and hers followed suit, even as one of her hands moved up and stroked his cheek.
Finally, their lips separated, and they just sat there, staring into each others' eyes. At last, Kopaka spoke.
"Atuuh," he said, "I had a dream. I dreamed of when I first met you, then of when I first told you I loved you. And when I woke up, I remembered it like it was yesterday. Atuuh, I'm so sorry of what I've put you through. I –"
Atuuh laid a finger to his lips. "You don't have to apologize," she said, as tears glistened in her eyes. "All that matters is I have you back."
She cupped his face in her hands and planted another kiss on his lips.
"I love you," she whispered.
"I love you, too."
Another short story of my fan pairing, Kopaka and Atuuh.
I hope no one finds this cheesy or anything. This whole thing was kind of inspired when I watched Titanic for the first time a few days ago.
Anyway, hope you liked it.