*Okay, so here's the scoop on my next fanfiction, and before you read this I have to tell you something! I'm urging everyone who ever laid eyes on this story to at least read this little blurb and tell me about my new idea. No, no exceptions, I don't care if you hate it, like it, tell me never to write again etc. etc. etc. but see I'm not just saying that so you'll feel bad for me and say you like it, I genuinely want to know! So just let me know.

Okay, now that my plea for reviews is over, something I swore to myself I'd never do, beg for reviews, anyway, a lot of my writing has themes, or a purpose, an idea I believe in. My next story would be like this, but the subject would be a touchy one. So if you don't want to read it, turn back now (its still Pg-13, nothing too explicit, and nothing that any 13 year old couldn't handle) The idea would cover the aspects of rape and how it traumatizes and wounds for a lifetime. It also gets to the point that if you have been raped you can still learn to love again.

That concept isn't introduced until way later in the story though, a little bit of action, angst, drama. It would, of course, focus on Umi, but also on Umi and Fuu's relationship, because my dear friend, who I will call Fuu, has helped me through a lot of bad stuff in my life, not rape, but stuff that hasn't been easy to get through all the same. The main thing in the story though is Clef and Umi. It's kind of to those who asked me to do a quick Clef/Umi fic, one that didn't have them apart for so long, voila. Of course it had to have its share of angst and depression, so I threw this in as the idea began to emerge. This is a very sensitive, serious subject, and I hope that nobody is offended by the idea.

Ps. This is the last chapter*

Chapter 16 Nothing is Forever Except Love

She was quiet for a long time.

"Please say something," he looked deep into her eyes for answers.

"It's forbidden," she whispered, and he shook his head.

"I didn't understand Hiroji and Misao because I was trying to hide my own feelings, for you," he held out his hands, trying to show his passion, trying to get it out but not knowing how. He had no idea how to express feelings like this, "I don't care about tradition or forbidden."

She closed her eyes, and a few tears fell from her cheeks, "Takeru I can't…"

His heart crushed, and he nodded, "I understand.

"Stop," she instructed, and he turned; hope building in his chest, "I can't even begin to explain how this happened because I don't know. See," she didn't know where to begin, "It's always been you."

"What?"

"When, that night, when you kissed me, I wanted you to stay. When you left I thought it was because you didn't want me. And then when you touched me I thought you were just playing with me. I had no idea that you left because you thought there was someone else. This whole time it's always been you. You never were second-best," she told him, and his heart leapt into his throat.

"Run that by me again," he choked, and she sighed and tried to explain better, but he shook his head, "Never mind, don't," he touched her arms, and she watched as his hands slid down to her waist, and she found herself getting close to him, feeling his warmth, really feeling it.

She put her head against his chest, and he held her. He felt the warmth of her tears as they hit his shoulder and fell down his body, "I love you."

"I love you too."

She held him tight, and he kissed her neck and worked his way up her body until she raised her head, and he found her lips. At first he was hesitant, afraid this was a dream and she was going to be gone when he woke. When he felt the fire in her body, the way she pushed herself forward, he knew it wasn't and kissed her harder.

She was the one who broke the kiss, blushing, and pushed her head into his chest again, nuzzling close to him.

He stroked her hair and wrapped a strand around his finger, "Tell me you didn't feel that," he challenged.

"I can't," she shook her head and laughed, "I can't…"

§§§~~~

They walked from the forest, hand in hand, and Fuuchou smirked as she saw them. Mizuuma's eyes warned her to say one word, but she took that dare and muttered.

"Predictable."

"Wish it had been for me," Takeru muttered, and Kojishi laughed.

"Well now that we're done being depressed and all that can we please do what we said and spend the day with the people?" Kojishi demanded, and they laughed and nodded.

Takeru kept her near him constantly, barely ever letting go of her, and she didn't care at all. She went with him everywhere, and he smiled triumphantly when he saw a hidden glare from the boy Mizuuma had turned away.

§§§~~~~

"So our children are gone what are we going to do?" Umi asked, and Hikaru grinned.

"Let's have a picnic," she told them, and they agreed.

Umi made the sweets and Fuu cooked the food, Hikaru made sandwiches and before they knew it they had a decent sized picnic basket.

Umi put the basket on the back of her stallion, and his ears pricked up with the smell of food. She grinned when he whickered and tried to get to the basket. He turned around and around in circles trying to reach the thing on his back to no avail.

Everyone started laughing, and he had a slight glare. Umi smiled and pulled an apple from her saddlebags.

He whinnied happily as he ate in two bites. This, of course, had all the other horses demanding food.

When they were all satisfied they set off, laughing and talking.

They found a good spot in the Forest of Silence and set down to lunch.

They talked like they had never grown a day past the last battle, and it was like so many years ago all over again.

"You know what the problem with the world today is?" Hikaru asked as she finished off a brownie that Umi had expertly crafted.

"War," Umi told her, and she nodded.

"Well yeah…but…" she began.

"Are we talking about Cephiro?" Fuu asked, and Hikaru looked exasperated.

"Oh well then!" Umi shouted, "It's definitely the fact that everyone in Cephiro doesn't have a horse as good as my baby," she patted the stallion who whickered and nudged her. She knew that he had a name, Yukito had named him, but she had been calling him baby for so long she didn't remember his real name.

"Well yeah…but…" Hikaru was about to tell them when Lantis interrupted.

"No the answer is most obviously the fact that Ferio is ruler, that is the problem with the world," Lantis teased, and Ferio glared.

"Excuse me but I do believe your brother rules part of Cephiro," he countered.

"You guys!" Hikaru shouted.

"There aren't enough Mages around, the smallest thing people have to come and bother me about," Clef muttered, and Umi rolled her eyes.

"I have to deal with his whining."

Fuu laughed, "I have to deal with Umi-san whining about Clef whining," she answered, and Hikaru shook her head.

"That's not it!"

"Then what is?" Ferio asked.

"That's what I've been trying to tell you!"

"Oh, well then," Fuu looked at her expectantly.

"It's the fact that there aren't more Umi-chan's to go around and bake such delicious cakes and pastries. By the way, where is that cake?"

"Hikaru!" Lantis groaned.

"What?" she asked gently.

"We shouldn't have expected something deep from her," Umi muttered, and they laughed.

§§§~~~

The kids got back before their parents and found an empty castle.

"They said they were staying in!" Kojishi protested, and they all laughed.

"I don't think they were serious," Fuuchou told them.

"Obviously," Mizuuma informed her.

"Right, I knew that," Fuuchou grinned, "I was uh…just testing you."

"At least she tries to cover it up, Fuu-hime doesn't even act anymore," Kojishi grinned as Fuuchou glared.

§§§~~~

They ate that night, together, as one huge family, and they realized that this was the way to live.

"So," Hikaru looked at her brother, "About you and Presea…"

He blushed and looked down, "Yeah about that."

"Yeah about that," she challenged, and they laughed.

"Hikaru sounds like Satoru!" Umi shouted, and Hikaru looked at her and glared.

"I do not!"

"You do too!" Fuu protested.

"Not!"

"Too!"

"Oh God this is going to be awhile," Lantis muttered, and Ferio shook his head.

"We don't know them," Fuuchou turned away.

They laughed and talked all through dinner. Clef and Umi both saw a distinct happiness in their daughter's eyes, and once they saw her sneak a hand under the table at the same moment that Takeru did, and immediately understood.

§§§~~~

Fuu looked outside, and the Wind blew her hair. She heard Windam in her mind, 'Thine task is over.'

"Forever?"

'Nothing is forever, but for now. Thou art strong, as strong as I could have ever hoped for.'

"Arigato," she told him, and he smiled in her mind.

"Hey," Ferio put his hands around her waist, and she smiled at him.

"Hey."

"Windam?" he asked, and she nodded, "Yeah you got that spaced out look, what did he say?" he questioned.

She smiled, "He said that my task was over."

"Forever?" she laughed and turned so she was facing him.

"That's what I asked," she told him and kissed him, "No," she answered and turned back around as he held her close to him, "Not forever, but for now. I'm going to live in the moment, and hope that it never ends."

"It never will as long as you're always close to me," he whispered and kissed her cheek.

She smiled and looked into the Wind as it swirled her hair and blew her skirt slightly.

§§§~~~

Misao had his arms wrapped around Fuuchou. They sat under a tree near the castle, looking for their time alone.

He kissed her neck and whispered in her ear. She laughed, and he smiled as he looked back into the fading sun.

"The sunset is beautiful," she said quietly.

"Not as beautiful as you," he said just as quietly, and she smiled and got closer to him.

"You're such a suck up."

"I guess," he smiled when she laughed, "Does that mean I get to stay close to you?"

"Do you want to?" she turned and looked at him.

"Forever," he nodded.

"I love you," she whispered, and he smiled.

"I love you too."

She reached in and kissed him as he wrapped his arms around her tightly. As she pulled away a flower from the tree above them fell from the branches and landed softly in her hair. When she looked at him he swore she was Aphrodite in another form.

"God you're beautiful," he brushed back her hair and put the flower behind her ear.

"So are you," she waited for him to kiss her again before she sighed contentedly and fell back into his arms to watch the sun.

§§§~~~

Hikaru smiled as she looked into the Fire. Rayearth emerged in front of her, a spirit in the flame, "Rayearth?"

'I'm here to tell thee that thy work is finished,' his voice was barely a whisper in the flames, and she knew only she could hear it.

"Finished?"

'For now,' he nodded, and his head disappeared in the flames; his body bounding off behind it.

"Arigato!" she called.

"Who are you talking to?" Lantis asked as he emerged and sat next to her, taking her hand

"Rayearth," she answered and put her head on his chest.

"Oh," he responded and stroked her hair which she had already taken down, "What would I have done if I never met you?"

She laughed, "We don't have to worry about it."

"I guess not," he sighed slightly, and she looked up.

"What's wrong?" she asked, worry in her eyes.

"Well now that you're not going off fighting and almost getting yourself killed and everything," he grinned slightly, "I have no excuse to kiss you anymore."

"Excuse?" she blinked, "You need an excuse?"

"No," he laughed and kissed her, "I was just seeing your expression."

She laughed.

"You're cute when you're worried, but then," he kissed her again, "You're cute all the time."

She laughed and lay with him by the Fire, enjoying the touch and the feeling of love.

§§§~~~

Kojishi stood outside, on the palace steps and felt the heat of the setting Sun.

"Kojishi!" Hiroji called behind her, and she turned and smiled at him, "I was looking for you…" he started, but she put a finger to his lips.

"Look," she pointed at the Sun, "It's gorgeous."

"Yeah," he nodded and turned her around, so she was looking in his eyes, "Kinda reminds me of you."

"Kinda?" she asked skeptically.

"Well you see," he brushed a strand of her hair from her eyes, "It doesn't look half as good as you."

She laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck, "Still forbidden?"

"Was it ever?" he asked, seeming clueless, and she laughed.

"Nope, never," she looked at him for a long time before she said softly, "Hiroji, I think-I think I love you."

"Interesting," he said softly, "Because I know I love you."

She smiled slightly, "I guess I know too then."

"I'm glad," he kissed her, and she smiled, thinking of their first kiss. She blushed and looked back to the Sun, saying goodnight to it as she did. She felt sad, but realized that if he held her during the night she wouldn't be saying goodnight at all, because he was the Sun. Without him she couldn't live, and she was glad for that feeling.

§§§~~~

She looked out of her balcony window and sighed, looking toward the ocean. He came behind her and heard her wistful sigh. He closed his eyes and said a few words. They ended up near the shore, and she looked behind her, startled. She smiled when she saw him, "Arigato," she whispered in Japanese, and it gave him shivers.

"Don't do that," he told her softly and touched her lips, teasing her.

"Why not?"

"Because it makes me want to kiss you."

"Oh, is that bad?"

'It is at the moment,' Selece smiled in their mind.

'Bad time Selece,' Clef muttered.

'I already heard!' Umi pouted, 'My task is over for now but not forever. I did good, I deserve a break. Some R&R and then you go and ruin my fun!'

He laughed, 'Well since thou already has the information.'

'Yes I already have the information,' Umi mocked and laughed.

Her laughter sent chills up his spine, and he wanted to kill Selece at the moment.

'I feel your anger Master Mage,' Selece told him.

'How could you not?' Clef demanded.

Umi grinned, 'Selece is there anyone that I'm with that you approve of?'

'Um…no.'

'Oh good,' she said sarcastically, but laughed anyway.

'It's good to hear that,' Selece told her, 'And I'm leaving now.'

'I can't tell you how happy that makes me,' Clef informed him, and he was gone with another laugh.

"Now," Clef looked at her and kissed her neck, "Where were we?"

"You were about to kiss me," Umi reached in, and he met her lips, "Well," she demanded when he pulled away.

"What?" he asked, and she glared. He laughed and couldn't deny her anything, so he pulled her close and kissed her again.

"More like it," she said quietly and waited for night to close in on them.

§§§~~~

The night brought rain, and Mizuuma slipped out and sat under a tree, watching the Storm.

He crept behind her and grabbed her shoulders, "Boo!"

She screamed and fell. He fell on top of her laughing. Quickly the laughter ended when she found that she was beneath him. He sat up on one hand and looked down at her. He hesitated for a minute then reached in and kissed her, pinning her to the ground. She smiled when he pulled away, and she reached up and pulled his neck back. He put his hands behind her back and helped her up.

"Under a tree in a Storm, doesn't sound very safe," he told her, but wasn't about to leave his safe haven.

"I don't think I'm going to get struck by lightning," she told him.

"Oh," he pulled himself closer to her, so she was in his lap.

"What are you doing?" she asked but wrapped her arms around his neck and made herself comfortable.

"I'm getting close to you. That way if lightning wants to hit me it'll have to hit you first. And since you're so confident…"

She jumped up and ran from him.

He laughed and ran after her.

Finally he caught her, they were both soaking wet, and he was suddenly serious. He put a hand behind her neck and kissed her passionately. She had never felt that great a desire for any one person in her life. She broke away, panting, and needing more as she pulled herself closer.

"Never let me go," she whispered when he kissed her again, "Never let the cold come back."

"I won't," he reached down and kissed her fingers. Despite the freezing rain they were warm, and he smiled thankfully at the heavens and hugged her close.

*Fini! Until next time!*

Tori:

"You don't want to lose her

She must be worth losing

If it is worth something

Talula

Talula

She's brand new now to you

Wrapped in your papoose

Your little Fig Newton

Say goodbye to the old world"

~Tori Amos, Talula, Boys for Pele