A/N: Well, guys, this is it. The day has arrived. This is the final chapter of Only Time! Thanks Luna Rei for BETAing my stuffs. I luh you, girl! :3 And a super thank you to all who have stuck with this story throughout the months that it took me to get it finished.
Now, I don't know about you, but I've grown quite fond of this pair, Mika and Raizo. What would you say to a sequel? Be sure to drop me a review saying that you'd like to see this story continued or if you think it ended just fine where it did! You guys have been a great audience to write to.
When we're apart whatever are you thinking of?
If this is what I call home, why does it feel so alone?
So tell me, darling, do you wish we'd fall in love?
All the time, all the time.
Chapter 10: In Pieces
Raizo couldn't pull his eyes away. The rain continued to pelt them and the empty courtyard. He was on his knees and looking down at her. A few minutes earlier, when he had seen her close her eyes, he quickly untied her and laid her down on the ground. She was still bleeding, but if the blood flow was anything to go by, she was probably dead.
Sadness consumed him. Why hadn't it worked? He had planned so well…
He reached out and gingerly brushed his fingers over her hand. Her skin was cold to the touch. He closed his eyes. No. She…she couldn't be. She couldn't be gone.
He had been so meticulous! He thought his back-up plan would have been fool-proof. So, not only had he failed twice, but he had broken a promise. His promise to Mika. He brought his hands up and closed them around tufts of his hair—squeezing and pulling until it hurt. Why?
His heart ached.
Not Mika. Anyone but her.
God, I'm such a fool. It should have been me. Not her.
Still gripping his hair at the roots, he bowed his head in misery and shame. Raizo had made a plan in the slim chance that he would lose the fight. And that plan had been to switch places with Kenji and impale Mika himself. And, even though it was the hardest thing he had ever done in his life, he did it.
But what he did was special. She was special. He had imbedded the blade in the left side of her chest. Now, this blow would have killed any normal person within seconds. But Mika was different. You see, her heart lay in the right side of her chest. Whether Kenji had known that or not, Raizo wasn't sure. But, he opted to deliver the blow anyway. Besides, that way he could stay with the body after everyone had left.
But he had failed. Mika wasn't sitting up and cursing him and calling him crazy and kissing him and hugging him. She was lying on the floor, cold and flaccid. He doubted she was even breathing.
But…he still had to try. He had to try the last and final step of his harebrained plan. Raizo inhaled deeply and pressed both hands onto the blood-drenched hole in her chest. He closed his eyes and willed energy into his palms. He was attempting a technique that he had learned back when he was with Ozunu. It was a technique that channeled a decent amount of chakra to the user's wounds and caused them to heal. It worked on the most annoying of paper cuts to the most severe injuries. The first time he had ever used it on someone other than himself was on Mika. And back then, she had also had a sword plunged through her chest. Oh, the irony.
He opened his eyes and removed his hands. Nothing. Now, his hands slick with her blood, he turned his face skywards and bit back a scream. Furious, wrathful thoughts flooded his mind. Why was he so incompetent? Why had he been such a fool? Why was he so worthless?
Then, he froze. Raizo went stock-still; completely rigid. He slowly raised a trembling hand up to his face. Then, he gingerly touched his cheek with his index finger. He felt moisture. And it wasn't the rain, it wasn't the blood.
It was a tear.
For the first time in twenty-three years, Raizo had allowed a tear to fall.
It was after he felt this little drop of water which signified his failure that he also allowed his resolve to fall. He broke down and cried. Sobbed and wept into his bloody hands. "M-Mika…," he whispered as countless tears rolled down his cheeks and joined the rain on the floor.
He felt empty and cold.
He wanted to die. He wanted to take the same katana that he had used to kill his dear Mika and thrust it right through his own chest. He wanted this pain to go away. He wanted to go to a place where the sight of Mika laying there, lifeless and betrayed, would cease to haunt him.
But he had to try again, had to do everything in his power to bring her back. He pressed his hands over her wound once more. He stared wild-eyed at her face, waiting for the slightest movement, the shallowest of breaths.
Raizo moaned, the sound constantly stopping and starting up again as his chest heaved and his voice hiccupped. He fell down upon her and tangled his hands in her hair, pressing his damp face against hers.
"Oh, Mika," he cried, "I'm so sorry. I…I didn't mean…I didn't mean for this to happen. Please forgive me. Please forgive me..." He whispered those last words. Then, he lifted his head and pressed his lips against her cheek—a gentle kiss.
He clenched his eyes shut and lowered his head onto her neck. He wrapped his right arm around her and stroked her hair with his left hand.
His lips were mere inches from her ear. He took in a deep breath.
"I love you."
One minute had ticked by since he had spoken those words. Words he could never take back. Words he would never want to take back. He felt a mixture of happiness and heart-crushing sorrow.
Happiness, because he had finally said that he loved her. Sadness, because she would never hear him. She had been bold. She had told him that she loved him. She had cared.
He had been afraid. He had denied his feelings for her and wouldn't speak what he felt. He was too late.
And now she was gone. It was such a shame that it took the death of his one and only to make him realize that he did, in fact, love her. He supposed that the saying was true: you don't know what you have until it's gone. And he had had it all. Someone who was always there for him, ready to come to his side at the drop of a hat. Someone who loved him unconditionally, even though he thought he would never feel the same. Someone who gave her life for him. Someone who never doubted him.
Someone who was gone forever.
Raizo opened his eyes. There was nothing more he could do. He had tried to revive her, twice, but with no avail. It was time for him to go. And he knew just the place where he would lay her to rest. The lake in Paris. Though it held some bitter memories (it was the place that he reunited with Kenji, after all), it was a place that brought back fond memories.
Raizo heaved a long-suffered sigh and began to sit up.
"…I love you too."
Raizo froze. His eyes went wide. He looked down to see a weak smile on Mika's beautiful face.
"M-Mika…?" He could hardly believe his eyes. Could it be? No…no. It must be his imagination.
"I always knew you loved me, you tease."
"Mika!" He collapsed upon her and held her tight. "Oh, Mika, thank God! I thought I lost you."
She coughed due to his sudden weight. "Raizo, please."
"Oh! Sorry." He sat up and she was able to breathe again. His smile was absolutely golden. "I'm so glad you're back."
Mika tried to laugh, but all that came out was a pained cough. "Heh. You and me both. But Raizo…?"
"Did you mean what you said?"
He blinked. Of course he did. But did he have the guts to say it to her face? Did he have the strength to break his promise to himself that he would never love again?
He reached out and stroked her cheek. "Every word."
"Then say it. Look me in the eyes and say it."
Without hesitation, Raizo leaned forward and cupped Mika's face in his hands. "Mika Corretti…I love you." He closed his eyes and kissed those soft lips of hers. When he pulled away, Mika was beaming. And if it wasn't for the puffy, red rim around her eyes, the rain would have hid the fact that she was crying.
"What's wrong?" he inquired, concern obvious in his voice.
"I'm happy, that's all."
Raizo returned her smile. "Good. Do you think you can stand?"
"Well, I was just stabbed with a sword, but I'll see what I can do."
Raizo gave her a cold stare.
"What? Too soon?"
He rolled his eyes. "Ah, same old Mika." He slid his hand under her head and pushed up, helping her into a sitting position.
"Well what did you expect? Was I supposed to come out a changed person or something?"
"Isn't that how these things usually work?"
"This isn't a Disney movie, Rai."
The brunet winced at the nickname.
Mika quirked a brow, a playful smile on her lips. "Something wrong, Rai?"
Raizo clenched his jaws. "You sure know how to kill a mood, don't you?" Mika put an arm around Raizo's shoulder. He stood slowly, taking her with him. Half away up, she moaned and pressed her hand to her chest. Her eyes soon after widened in astonishment.
"Raizo! The wound! I-It's…it's gone!"
"You did this?"
"You act like this was the first time."
Mika blinked and took a moment to think it over. "Oh."
After a few minutes, Mika was fully on her feet, propped up against Raizo.
"Thanks. For everything."
"Anything for you," he replied.
"So…what now? Won't the Master notice that my body mysteriously disappeared?"
"Just leave the details to me. I'll handle it."
Mika cast him a suspicious glance. "And, by 'handle it', you mean…?"
"No, I'm not going to kill anyone."
"Good." She smiled.
The two walked on like that for a bit, carefully avoiding any windows of the dojo and heading for the garage. Once they arrived, Raizo typed in a code and the door slid up. It was quite modern for such an old-fashioned clan. It was long and spacious—easily accommodating three motorcycles, two SUVs, and four exotic cars. Raizo helped Mika over to a canary-yellow Ferrari before running over to the key ring and snagging the keys for their new ride.
He unlocked the doors before he even reached the car. Mika gingerly lowered herself inside as he went around and climbed into the driver's seat. He jammed the key into the ignition, turned it back, and cranked the engine. He looked down. Stick shift. Just the way he liked it. He shifted into first and took off. A few seconds later, he pressed his foot down on the clutch and switched to second gear.
"Press that button up there for me."
Mika obliged and pressed a big blue button on the visor just above her head. The door to the garage closed behind them. "Don't you think they'll miss the car?"
"No. The Master knows I have to leave somehow."
"So…you're not going back?"
He shot her an incredulous look. "No. Never. Not after what we went through."
"No more ninja clan business?"
"No. Well, at least not for a while. I left for exactly this reason, and it happened again. I think I'm done with ninjas for now."
"Wait, happened again?"
"It's a long story."
"I've got time."
Raizo smiled. "Maybe some other time."
"Oh, come on, Rai. It's not like you're going anywhere."
He didn't reply. And, if his body language was anything to go by, he was hiding something.
"You aren't going anywhere, are you?"
He remained silent.
He kept his eyes focused on the road.
"I am going somewhere."
"Do you want the truth?"
"No, I want you to lie to me. Yes I want the truth!" she snapped.
"I'm going somewhere very far away."
"Well, okay, I don't see what the big deal is. We can—"
The brunette's jaw went slack. "You're kidding me." When he didn't make a reply, anger swept over her. "Are you serious? Raizo, you killed me, then saved my life, and now you're leaving me?"
"Please tell me this is some sick, cruel joke."
"I thought you loved me! Isn't that what you told me? That you love me?"
That cut him deep. Raizo turned his head for a moment and looked her in the eyes.
Mika just shook her head and then slammed it against the back of the seat. "Unbelievable," she muttered under her breath.
"Are you done?" When he didn't get an answer, he took the silence as a yes. "I'm only doing this for your safety. I know you may not understand now, but—"
"Stop the car."
"Stop. The. Car."
He hesitated, but reluctantly pulled over. The rain had diminished into a quiet sprinkle and the sun was beginning to rise. Mika threw open the door and stumbled out of the car. Raizo was there instantly to help her.
"No! Get your hands off me."
Obviously wounded, Raizo stepped back.
"We're done, Raizo."
His brows furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, this thing we had? You and I? It's over. So, just go. Go as far away as you can go," she mocked, tone biting.
"Mika, please, let me explain."
"Just save it. I really don't want to hear it."
"But you don't understand."
"Oh, I understand perfectly. You're too rough and too tough to love anyone. You probably lost someone near and dear to your heart in the past and promised yourself that you'd never get that close to anyone ever again. But, wait! Then I came along. And you stuck by me, and you helped me through some really tough situations. But! You still couldn't love me, could you?"
He didn't speak.
"Then, after I nearly get killed the first time, you run off and leave. You know, something tells me that's not uncommon with you. Anyway, you leave me alone for a good three months. Completely isolate yourself from the world, it seems. Then, we meet again, because, well, I just can't keep my nosy self out of your damn business. Next, we fly to France where we meet your dear old pal Kenji. He's a doll, isn't he? Then, long story short, I nearly die a second time, you save me a second time, and here we are again. You sensing a pattern here? Every time you rescue me, the damsel in distress, you vanish. Why?"
"Because you want what's best for me, because you 'love' me. So you say. But if you 'love' me so much, why don't you just stay! Who do you think this is making it easier for? Me? You are the only one I want to be with. The only one I ever wanted to be with. You really want to rip my heart out again?" The pain in her voice was not hard to miss.
"I would never want to hurt you."
"Well you are!" she screamed. "You're tearing down all that we had. I was willing to give up everything for you, Raizo. Because that's what love is. Love is when you give up some things that you really like. Love is when you go the extra mile. Love is when you can pour out your heart and know that your partner will never betray you. Love is when you hit a rough patch, but together, you get through it. Love is when you can sit together for hours on end, barely speaking a word, but still have the time of your life. Love is when your partner enters a room and time seems to stop. Love is when the only person you can see is him. And that's barely scratching the surface. Now, I know that you probably have a dark past and all, but you have to let it go. I know that you probably experienced some terrible things—things that I could only experience in my most horrible of nightmares—but that's all in the past. How do you expect to heal if you don't move forward?"
"That's what I'm trying to do. All of this, with Ozunu and Tanjao, I'm trying to leave it in the past."
"Even if that includes me, huh?" It was more of a statement than a question.
Mika scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Fine. Leave."
"But you're so angry with me."
"What the hell did you expect? That I was just going to kiss you goodbye and pray to someday see you again five years down the road?"
Well, yes, but I'm guessing that's not the answer she's looking for.
Mika turned her back to him. "Goodbye, Raizo."
"Is this the way you want things to end? In anger?"
"Of course not. But it can't really be helped, can it?"
He sighed. "I guess not." He stepped forward and hugged her from behind. He bent his head forward and kissed her cheek. "I do love you, Mika. With all of my heart. And though you probably don't believe me right now, please remember it."
She tried to wiggle free of his grasp, but he held her tight. "There are seven clans still out there. And if they come looking for me and see us together, then word will spread to Tanjao. Do you really want this whole ordeal to happen again?"
"That is why it would be best if we separated. It doesn't mean that I love you any less or that I never want to see you again. It just means that I should stay away until things cool down a little."
He was being reasonable. He was being sensible. If anything, he was even being wise! But Mika was still frustrated and didn't feel like listening to reason.
Jaw set and nose in the air, Mika remained silent.
Raizo hugged her close one last time and released her. She took a few steps away from him.
"At least let me give you a ride to the airport."
"I can make it on my own."
"Are you sure?"
"Just leave the details to me. I'll handle it," she mocked.
"…Okay, then. Well…see you later."
Mika used the back of her hand to wipe angry tears from her face. "Sure."
He lingered there, gazing at the back of her head for a moment. Then he got back into the car and drove away. Right on out of her life.
It took her a while, but Mika eventually made it to a gas station farther down the road. The clerk at the register gave her a wide-eyed, confounded look. She wasn't sure if it was her blood-shot, puffy eyes or the pints of blood absorbed in her dress. He offered to call the paramedics, but she politely declined and asked if she could use the phone instead. He gave it to her, wary expression on his face.
The phone rang twice.
"Hey, Ryan. It's me, Mika. I need a favor."
She needed only wait an hour before a helicopter landed a few hundred feet away from the gas station and Europol agents along with Ryan stormed the place searching for her. She was given a change of clothes and was flown back to Berlin shortly after. On the ride there, she was informed that, in her absence, her job had been given to someone else. Ryan explained that he simply couldn't cover up for her for two months. Mika seemed indifferent to it all. Losing her job? That was nothing. Nothing compared to the pain that she had experienced just hours before. Being impaled with a sword, having her heart ripped out and stomped on. Now that was pain.
Ryan had tried to get some information out of her, but Mika remained silent. She remained silent the entire way back to Germany. She remained silent when the medics marveled at the amounts of blood on her person and nothing to prove that she had been injured but a scar just to the right of where her other one had been. She remained silent when Ryan gave her a ride home. She remained silent the entire while she was home. But when the sun fell and the moon rose, when she sullenly climbed into bed, she cried.
Raizo had broken her heart. Broken it into a million pieces. And though she knew she still loved him, she was done. She would no longer listen for news that might pertain to ninjas; she would no longer go snooping around in his files. She was going to completely forget about him. Forget him and all that they had been through. She was going to take her own advice.
She was going to leave him in the past.