Author's Note: This one took me a bit longer to finish. I wanted the finale to be special. For all those of you who have been waiting, the end is finally here, and I'm sorry I made you wait so long! Special thanks to reviewers: She who must not be named, Pascy, and Dancing-with-the-devil 1995. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own the Storm Hawks.
Ace of Hearts
The folk tradition of "ace high" existed in some games as of the late 1400s, but may have been accelerated to more widespread acceptance as a result of the French Revolution. The lowest number card was changed to the highest card in the deck ostensibly to represent the victory of the common man over King Louis XVI. –Wikipedia, the Free Online Encyclopedia
It took her a little while to realize that he was kissing her.
This wasn't what she wanted, was it? It meant that she had grown attached to him. Attachment was a sign of weakness. Weakness mean losing.
Love was a sentimental lie for those bored with their lives and nothing better to do. Like all lies, it fell apart. It was only a matter of time.
Yet while her mind was pondering, confused, her lips were kissing him back.
She was losing this battle. She felt the bitter defeat.
At the same time, his lips tasted sweet. He tasted like victory.
------Five Minutes Ago-------
For a long time, he pondered how he wanted to do it, until he finally decided just to tell her the truth. In his hands, he clutched a single card: the Ace of Hearts. He wasn't sure why he brought it, but maybe it would be easier than speaking. After all, he wasn't used to dealing with…feelings of this depth.
When he got to her door, he was surprised to see no light streaming from underneath. He had been sure that Ravess mentioned spotting the queen making her way to her chambers. Where else would she be?
He cracked open the door, slid in, and silently shut the door. Now the room was pitch black. He felt himself relaxing in the darkness. He could just wait here until she returned…
The sound of a switch being flipped echoed across the silent room, followed by the slow powering up of the crystal lamps around the room. The room was filled with a soft golden glow, which bitterly contrasted to the anger and confusion on his Master's face.
Caught, red-handed. He was going to tell her, but he didn't exactly imagine it being this way. She did not look very happy that he had been sneaking into her rooms.
"Care to explain what you're doing here, Ace?" she sneered.
"I—" he began, but suddenly realized that words would not be enough. Stepping forward, he gently placed the Ace of Hearts in her hands, before brushing the tips of her fingers to his lips.
He didn't need to speak; the symbolism was apparent. He was offering her his heart.
Instantly, the anger was gone, replaced by sadness and confusion.
"Ace, we shouldn't," she whispered. "We have duties."
He stepped back respectfully, bowing, placing his fist once again over his heart. "I'm sorry, Master. It was rude and presumptuous of me."
He turned as if to leave, but her question caught him. "Then why did you do it?" He paused. "If it was 'rude and presumptuous,' then why did you do it anyway?"
"I was in too deep. I couldn't go on knowing you didn't know. Better to know I have been rejected than to wonder for years if I may not have been." Again, he turned to leave, but this time, he was stopped by her hand on his shoulder.
"I never said I was rejecting you."
He froze, then wheeled around. There was a mixture of confusion, fear, and mischievous glee on Cyclonis's face. "Dark Ace, I am going to ask you a question. I need you to answer completely truthfully. Why? Is this just some sort of power game to you?"
"Lark, I don't want you power," he said softly.
Her violet eyes flashed. "Then why? Tell me!" she commanded.
"I love you, Lark Cyclonis, to the Far Side of Atmos and back. I love you so much that it's tearing me apart inside, and I can no longer distinguish reality from fantasy. All I know is that my feelings for you will never change."
She relaxed a bit. "You know, you're the only person I've ever trusted, Ace. And I trust you enough to tell you this: perhaps you love for me is not as unrequited as you believe."
Dark Ace stood completely still.
It took him three seconds to extract the meaning of her words from the fancy language to cover it up. It took him another four seconds to recover the movement of his limbs from the complete shock.
After cursing internally for a second about wasting seven precious seconds, he moved forward, hypnotized by her beautiful violet eyes, until their lips were touching.
She tasted sweet, like cinnamon and spice. He had meant to start slowly, but everything about her, her softness, her smooth skin, her sweet smell, was driving him insane. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and they kissed for a long, long time.
"It took you a while," she admitted. "I was worried that you would never come to me."
"My problem now is staying away from you," he teased.
"I could live with that," she replied.
They kissed again—defeat and victory in the same heart-wrenching touch of lips.
Hours later, she sat on his lap, playing with his hair, her head resting on his shoulders.
"So, what are we going to do?" she asked. She seemed uncharacteristically nervous.
"What do you mean?" he replied.
"About…us. Do we tell the Talons?"
"Since when do we tell the Talons anything? We barely even tell them what their missions are."
"That still leaves me with my question. What do we do?"
"The same thing we've always done: keep conquering Terras until we control the entire Atmos. Then we can do whatever we want."
She sighed, but she didn't question him any more. She didn't want to ruin the moment with worries about the future. Plenty of time later on to worry, enjoy the good things that life sends your way.
She would have to trust him, which was something that was extremely hard for her. Still, he was the only one she trusted.
Lark Cyclonis did not believe in fate.
Believing in fate would mean believing that someone other than her controlled her life. Believing in fate would mean admitting a lack of control.
There were so many possibilities for the future.
They could end up together, ruling side by side over a conquered Atmos.
They could end up together, facing the Sky Knight Council, facing public execution.
They could end up together, on the run, hunted like animals for the rest of their days.
One of them could end up dead.
She could kill him.
He could kill her.
Victory, defeat, tragedy—the possibilities were endless. The future was uncertain. She didn't like uncertainty.
She didn't have any Tarot cards, but she still had a deck of regular cards. She laid them all out, face down, four rows of thirteen.
She felt a shiver of foreboding run down her spine. Did she really want to know the future? Who said these cards meant anything in the first place?
Slowly, she picked one, flipped it up. It was the Ace of Hearts.
Her lips curled up into a slow smile.
I'm not really sure how that turned out.
It was fun to write, though.