*Okay last chapter *sighs* thank you to everyone who reviewed/read or even glanced at any piece of this writing! Well I guess this is it for now! Last chance, sequel, yes, no? I have some characters developed and a rough sketch of the first chapter if you think it's a good idea. Either way thank you for all the support ^.^*

Chapter 23 Forever

"Fuu, Umi," Persea snapped her fingers, and their armor appeared, "If you still want to fight for Cephiro."

"Of course!" they both shouted and closed their eyes, gaining their armor.

"So…" Umi looked around, "Who wants to try and fight me? Any volunteers?"

"I'll take that challenge," Hikaru stood, and they all followed them outside and into the gardens.

Umi summoned her sword, and Hikaru hers, and both bowed to each other as they began pacing. The fight was long, and Umi was strained. She looked at the girl with new respect, and when she flung the sword from her hands she walked over to Hikaru and asked how she had gotten so good.

"I've been practicing Kendo a lot more at home," Hikaru admitted and blushed, "But I'm still not as good as you it seems."

"Well…" Umi grinned, "I don't know if you'll ever be as good as me, but you're really good. I mean you've gotten so much better."

"Arigato."

Umi turned to look at the Magic Knight of Wind, "And of you Fuu? Have you gotten any better?"

Fuu smiled, "I practice with sticks and stuff at home, or I did," she told her, and Umi called her out, and Fuu drew her sword. It was huge, and everyone gasped. Umi tried to cover the gulp.

"When…when did it do that?" she demanded, and Fuu shook her head. Umi sighed and closed her eyes, bowed and they began to fight. She found that though the sword was much more powerful than her own, it was slow and soon the sword was out of Fuu's hands. She grinned, "You've gotten a lot better too," she commented, and Fuu smiled.

"Arigato, but like you said to Hikaru it goes for me too, I'll never be as good as you," this made them all laugh, but it was cut short when the Master Mage of Cephiro walked in on their practice.

"Good with sword yes, but is she still good with magic?" he challenged, and she scowled.

"Willing to take you on," everyone looked at her, startled at her sudden coldness, "If you feel like losing."

He laughed slightly and raised his staff.

Umi raised her hands, "Mizu no Ryuu!" his attack spiraled back at him, causing him to have to protect himself. His next attack was stronger, but she deflected it again.

Suddenly, in a rush of anger she raised her hands, "Koori no Yaiba!"

His shield was shattered, but he wasn't harmed; his eyes were wide though.

"Umi, you could have killed him," Persea told her softly, and she turned.

"Would it have been a loss?" she said dryly and walked away, leaving everyone staring after her.

"Someone has a lot of issues," Kakeru muttered, and they all agreed.

"So she hasn't forgotten," Clef was deep in thought.

"And you thought she would?" Zagato asked, and he shook his head.

"No, but I would've thought she would have gotten over it, moved on," he admitted, and Fuu glared.

"You expect her to forget him just like that? She loved him!"

He grimaced and looked toward where she had just disappeared, "I don't think there's a person in Cephiro that doesn't know that."

"Well then why are you fighting with her? Why did she just try a move like that on you?" Hikaru questioned, "Just what is it you're hiding?"

"Nothing," he dismissed it.

They all glared and muttered, but wouldn't go against it.

§§§~~~

Later that night when she didn't come to dinner they all knew something was deathly wrong.

"I think you should go apologize," Umi's mother told Clef curtly.

"What?" he was taken back.

"I think you should say you're sorry."

"She was the one who tried to kill me," he protested.

She gave him a look that said 'I know more about this than you think,' and he muttered and walked from the table.

§§§~~~

There was a knock on her door, and she muttered hoarsely, "Go away."

The door opened anyway, and she looked at who it was and glared, turning away from his eyes.

"What don't you understand about go away?" she demanded cruelly, "It's only two words both containing four or less letters. It's really not that hard."

"Why did you attack me?" he tried to look away from her sickly body and into her eyes, but still, she wouldn't let him.

"As if you need an answer, aren't you supposed to be smart?"

"Aren't you supposed to be?" he countered.

"What?" she looked up but wouldn't meet his eyes.

"If you're honestly that blind…" he turned.

"Blind to what?" she caught him before he walked out.

"Umi listen to me," he caught her hands, and her eyes darted as her pulse quickened, "I know what you're thinking, because I'm thinking it too."

"No, you have no idea," she began, but he silenced her.

"Don't say I don't know, don't say that you can't feel it. Yukito came to me," he said it quietly, and her eyes widened, suddenly with the mention of the name she felt very guilty. She tried to force her pulse down, but her breath caught, and it only got faster, "He told me," his voice was so soft, and she dared to look up and into his eyes. She looked into deep blue and felt safe, "He told me that he wanted me to take care of you, and I know I haven't done a very good job of it."

"What are you talking about?" she managed to choke and find her breath as she desperately tried to stop her pounding heart.

"I shouldn't have told you to be strong, I shouldn't have forced that on you for one thing, because I don't want you to have to do anything you don't want to. I want you to feel like you can tell me anything; I want to be close to you."

There was no stopping her pulse now, "I do," she whispered and tried to turn her eyes, but her heart wanted otherwise.

"You're able to look in my eyes," he said softly, and she nodded, "Why?"

"Because…" she choked on her words, "Because I see what I want to see, what I've needed to see, for three years."

"What's that?" he was afraid of what he was betraying through his eyes.

"I'm afraid if I tell you I'll be wrong, it's wrong, I shouldn't be…" she stopped and pulled away, "You can't possibly…"

He grabbed her wrist and pulled her close to him, not hesitating, he reached in and kissed her. She was startled at first, but she kissed him back and pulled herself close to him. When they broke away she was shaking.

"How can this be?" she asked.

"I don't know, it just feels right," he answered, showing her how vulnerable he really was; he didn't need to be strong around her.

"Please don't ever leave me," she whispered and wrapped her arms around his neck, "I couldn't ever take that."

He held her close, "I would never do that to you."

§§§~~~

He came to her in dream, and she cried out in her sleep, "Yukito!" but there was no response. She reached out to him, but he wouldn't reach back, "Please," she begged.

"Umi," he smiled at her and touched her hands, "Don't do this to yourself, I know that you love him, I don't care that you do. I want you to be happy."

"I'll never love him like I loved you," she vowed and closed her eyes as he caressed her cheek with his hand.

"Oh but I already know that Umi," he didn't sound arrogant, "You know as well as I that Clef and I are two completely different people. You'll never love him like me because we're not the same, but I know that you'll love him as much if not more. I just want to see you happy, that's all I've ever wanted."

"Ashiteru," she whispered, and tears streamed down her cheeks, "Arigato."

"Ashiteru," he responded and faded, "Now and forever."

She opened her eyes and didn't realize she had screamed in anger and frustration until there was a knock at her door, "Umi…"

She slowly stood and opened the door, "Hi," she muttered and let him. She slowly walked onto her veranda and looked into the moon. He followed her and put his arms around her waist.

"What's wrong? Why did you scream? Are you okay?" he questioned and turned her around, so he could look at her.

"Hai," she nodded and looked back at the moon, "I had a dream…"

"A dream," he frowned, and she continued.

"About Yukito, he told me that he wanted me to be happy and then he disappeared," she admitted, and her tears sparkled in the moonlight.

"Sh…" he wiped them away and kissed her softly, "It's true, he wants you to be happy, everyone does, I've told you that before. Everyone around you loves you."

She smiled up at him, then looked down again, "Loosing him was one of the hardest things I've ever been through, promise me that I'll never have to have that repeated."

"You will never have to have that repeated," he kissed her.

"Stay with me until I fall asleep," she begged, and he agreed. He stayed with her until she fell asleep and long after, watching her sleep, until he knew it was time to go and left, kissing closed eyelids and slipping from the room.

§§§~~~

And so the weeks passed, and everyone was happy in Cephiro. There was no thought of their home, until late one night when Clef came out of his study, panting.

Umi frowned deeply and looked at him, wondering what he was up to.

"What's wrong Guru?" Persea asked as he fell into a nearby chair.

He looked directly at Umi as he spoke, "The war in America and Japan has ended."

Everyone in the room broke into cheers, and Umi, Fuu and Hikaru hugged.

"I knew it'd happen," Fuu whispered, tears in her eyes.

"I have seen your home," he said quietly, and they all turned back to him, "And it is not something to celebrate about. The place Fuu is from, Japan, Hiroshima, it was obliterated, there is nothing left. Everyone in the city was killed, there's a disease caused by the bomb they used, those who escaped it will die from the disease. Fuu, your father has it."

"What?" Fuu choked, but she wasn't exactly sad, "What do you mean? What's it called?"

"It is called Leukemia, it's caused by something called radiation I think," he tried to understand, there was horror in the earthlings eyes.

"Oh," Fuu said softly.

"That's the price he paid," Kuu said gently.

"Gomen nasai," Umi took Fuu's arm, and Fuu looked at her; she could relate.

Fuu nodded and smiled, "But the war is finally over."

"It is," Hikaru sighed and looked at her brother's, "You died for something."

They nodded and smiled.

"But those are images I'll never forget," Satoru looked down at the other two, loosing them was awful, but it only made getting them back even sweeter.

"None of us will ever forget our experiences," Umi's mother said, and she and Umi looked down.

"But we will persevere," Kuu was optimistic, "Because we have something special here, and we have to protect it and make sure what happened there never happens to our new home."

"You're right," everyone agreed.

§§§~~~

Fuu and Ferio were married at a young age, and all of Cephiro rejoiced as they gained a new princess. Umi and Fuu beamed at their friend and congratulated her all the while teasing her. She blushed a million times during the night, but she looked gorgeous. She was so beautiful that Ferio almost fell dead at the alter because he couldn't breathe. He only regained himself long enough to listen to the vows and kiss his new wife.

The celebration afterwards was beautiful and overdone, there were decorations all through the palace and about everyone in all of Cephiro was there to see their Prince and the Magic Knight of Wind be married.

"I bet you never thought this'd happen to you," Umi teased, and Fuu blushed again.

"Not exactly, you know the whole marrying someone from a different world thing, that kinda caught me off-guard," she admitted, and they laughed.

"And I never expected to fall in love with a Knight from another world either, but it happened," Ferio teased behind them, and she turned and blushed.

They all laughed at the two and there was much rejoicing all through Cephiro for many days and nights. When finally all the celebration had died down they were met with a coronation and so there was more celebrating.

Finally, a few months later, everything had finished, and they were able to see about the monster problem in the Forest of Silence, and so the rebuilding of Cephiro began and the monsters were chased out or killed.

"Well it looks like our work is finished," Umi looked over the forest, now free of monsters.

"And a fine job you've done," her mother commented, and she smiled.

"So what next?" Hikaru asked, and they all groaned.

"What about a little R&R?" Umi demanded, and Hikaru looked at her, confused.

"R&R…?"

"Rest and Relaxation!" Umi screamed, and Hikaru laughed.

"Oh!"

Umi muttered under her breath, but an arm around her waist and a quick kiss ended the complaining, "Never mind," she smiled at him, and he smiled back.

"So really what next?" Fuu looked around.

"I guess there's really nothing left except to be ourselves and enjoy life until Cephiro creates a new little problem for us to fix," Persea sighed, "And I'm going to enjoy every bit of life until that happens because I don't know about you, but I'm glad to have a break."

They all agreed and so they went on with their lives, living peaceful and content for all their years.

Tori:

This Garbage quote just fits so well I had to put it in:

"Boys get discovered as winter MELTS                                   "My lover's charms are in a box beneath my bed

Flowers competing for the sun                                                 And piece by piece I'll cherish them until the end

Years go by and I'm here still waiting                                      Send me an angel to love

Withering where some snowman was                                      I need to feel a little piece of heaven

Mirror mirror where's the crystal palace                                  Send me an angel to love

But I can only see myself SKATING around the truth             I'm afraid I'll never get to heaven"

Who I am but I know…                                                           ~Garbage, My Lovers Box, Garbage

The ice is getting thin

Hair is gray and the fires are burning

So many dreams on the shelf

You say I wanted you to be PROUD of me

I always wanted myself

He says when you gonna make up your mind

When you gonna love you as much as I do?

'cause things are gonna change so fast

all the WHITE HORSES have gone ahead…"

~Tori Amos, Winter, Little Earthquakes

*So I guess that's a wrap. Until next time ja ne! ^.^*