Another one-shot. Not related to the previous chapter at all. Hope you enjoy. :)
Gali followed the Toa in front of her with growing curiosity. It wasn't like him to want to go anywhere with her, let alone ask her to accompany him. And yet he had, and he seemed almost excited about something. A rather nervous appearance overtook his strides, but still he forged on.
"Tahu I don't understand why you would want to show me something way out here. There's nothing out here but Lava rock and dirt..." she peered closer at his mask but his expression remained the same.
"It...is something of a surprise I suppose... I don't want to tell you what it is just yet..." he kept his glowing eyes trained forward in determination as he passed the line of rocks into the nearby trees.
The forest? Why would he be taking her in there. "You're not planning to murder me are you?" it was meant to be a joke, but she couldn't help feeling that it might be a possibility. It was no secret that they never go along. What if this was some way to finally get rid of her?
Tahu stiffened, looked back at her with a look of twisted anger. "How could you even say that? We are Toa. Unity before duty and destiny. Without you we would fall apart without unity!" he turned back to his path, a look of hurt in his glowing eyes. He muttered something else that she couldn't quite make out but she didn't pry.
Their surroundings changed drastically as they walked. The harsh rocky terrain of the volcanic lands had nearly vanished, replaced by thick, beautiful forest. Flowers bloomed in patches and the green stems were bright and crisp against the dark trees and dirt. It was beautiful. But when she voiced her opinion he merely nodded.
"Tahu, seriously, please tell me why we are going out all this way alone. This is driving me insane! Every part of me is screaming for me to turn and run..." she admitted, scuffing her foot on the ground nervously.
He stopped walking, nearly making her run into him when he suddenly froze. He looked angry, conflicted, and he was trying to keep it all down. "Gali..." he started, his voice quiet and unsure. That was not like him at all. "You know we always fight. We can never agree on anything, no matter how trivial..." he clasped his hands tightly behind his back, still not resuming his walk. "Do you recall the recent peace negotiations that we went to together?"
She nodded silently, urging him to continue.
"Well, something you proposed that day got me thinking. And I think I found a solution to our constant fighting, albeit not a permanent one. But it's a start..." he trailed off, looking down awkwardly at the ground.
"What is it?" she was actually curious and quite surprised that he even took the initiative to look for a solution to their problems.
"I believe I have found our 'neutral zone'."
"What?" she wasn't believing half of the things she was hearing. Tahu wasn't the kind of person to talk like that at all.
"A neutral zone." he tried to explain, stepping forward slowly to resume their walk. "A place where both parties may enter without the threat of...war..." he finished halfheartedly, become agitated and downcast at the same time. "In other words, a place where you and I can go where we will not fight with each other without end. That is, if it works for you like it does for me."
"Okay... I guess whatever it is it's worth a shot." she smiled, trying to keep an open mind about whatever it was he was going to do. He wasn't the most creative or intelligent of the Toa, but if he had already take. Her out here he must have thought it through some. Or he really was finally going to kill her. For some reason she couldn't get that thought out of her head.
"Well, here we are." he pulled back at some shrubbery, revealing what could only be called a small paradise of water and heat. Gali took in the bright colors of the water and the crisp green of the plants distanced from the large pools.
"It's a hot spring." she murmured, watching as Tahu held his hand out to her. What was his game? What was he trying to pull? This wasn't normal. Nevertheless, she let his hand wrap around hers as he lead her around the larger pools of steaming water to a much smaller one. Unlike most hot springs this one did not smell awful, which she was grateful for. "What are you doing Tahu?" she asked.
He gave her a half smile. "We can never be happy with each other in our domains, so I found a place with compromise." he stepped into one of the pools of water, but she hung back. "Normally, I do not like the feeling of water. I find it irritating and smothering. But here," he motioned to the clearing and the pools that surrounded them, sitting back in the water on a ledge. He stretched his arms out on either side of him, resting against the edge of the deep pool. "here the water is hot and welcoming to me. I can be at peace here. And, I was hoping..." he glanced down at the water with a look of embarrassment creeping into his eyes. "I hoped you would feel more at ease here too."
Gali looked at the pool critically for a moment, deciding whether or not she wanted to risk getting in it. Sure, the water was her home... But she wasn't sure if she would find the heat as relaxing as he did.
"Gali, you are the wisest of us all. At least give this a try. What is the worst outcome possible? We could fight, use words against each other that are in no way true (at least on my part), and we could leave here still at odds with each other."
"Tahu..." she couldn't believe it, and she couldn't resist the urge to tease. "I believe you just said something pretty smart." she ignored the annoyed roll of his eyes and stepped into the shallow place of the water. "Very well, I will join you." She ventured further into the pool until she was knee deep, then she sat down across from him. The water was hot and she could feel it stinging the softer places under her armor as it seeped in around her. She shut her eyes for a second, letting out a strangled sigh. "That feels...oh..." she relaxed against the side of the pool and listened to the sounds around her. She was still aware that Tahu was with her, but he didn't seem to mind being ignored.
She heard the water slosh as her fellow Toa moved around and she smiled, craning her neck back and arching her back to stretch. "Oh Tahu... I think you were right. This is amazing." she waited patiently for his haughty response of 'I told you so' but it didn't come. "Tahu?" she opened her eyes to look around, but he had vanished. "Where are you-Ah!" she shrieked as hands clamped down on her ankle, forcefully dragging her deeper into the water, but not enough to reach past her shoulders. "Tahu!"
He came back up above the water with a laugh, steaming water dripping down his armor. The bright glow of his eyes showed humor and...playfulness. "You should have seen your face!" he laughed, earning a shove. But even as he was knocked back to the place he had been before, he didn't look put out at all. The motion seemed only to fuel his enjoyment of the situation.
Gali shook her head at him, regaining as much of her composer as she had left. "What's up with you?"
He smiled, quirking up an eyebrow. "Nothing. Absolutely nothing Gali. I simply feel that I can be myself around you here. And I hope that you feel the same way."
Gali just couldn't get it. He was being so lighthearted and generally careless. It was like staring at an entirely new person! "I-I guess I do." she eyed him carefully. Perhaps he was going insane? "Tahu, are you sure you're alright?"
"Yes!" he exclaimed, throwing his arms up into the air on slight frustration. "Gali, I have never felt better around you before! I can talk to you without yelling. I can be open with you without feeling judged. I can do this-" he cut himself off and pulled her closer to him, pressing his lips firmly against hers for a mere second before releasing her. "-without feeling like I'll mess it up somehow. Gali, I have never felt better."
The Toa of water looked down at her hands on his chest in shock, her mouth opening and closing with no words. She could feel the warmth emanating from him over the warmth of the water, but it wasn't uncomfortable. It actually felt nice. How come she had never noticed that before? Maybe it was because every time they touched in any way it was always harsh and uncaring. Cautiously, her hand left his chest and went up to touch at her lips. Had he seriously just kissed her?
"Well, what do you know? The Toa, who always has something to say, is speechless." he smiled almost sweetly at her, caressing her mask with three fingers. "Gali, have I ever said that you are beautiful? You are... Very much so..."
"Tahu..." her voice dropped to a hoarse whisper. "Are you drunk?"
He sighed, dropping his hands to his sides under the water. "I wish... This would be going a lot smoother if I was." he looked down, becoming slightly disgruntled. "I'm sorry, I should never have brought you here. I thought you might understand, but I was obviously wrong." he started to get up, only to be pushed back down by both of Gali's hands.
"Tahu, I never knew you could be like this." she stroked her thumb across his cheek and then down over his bottom lip. "I've just never seen you so...like this." she leaned forward slightly, not sure of herself but continuing despite that. "But I like this side of you. It's a lot more enticing than-"
"Oh stop, I'm not that different." he growled, turning away from her slightly. She hooked a finger under his chin and brought his gaze back to her.
"Tahu, why did you bring me out here?" she demanded, looking him straight in the eye. "Why here, why now?" she cupped his face between her hands, and her heart seemed to still. "Why Tahu? Just why?"
He opening his mouth once, then closed it firmly. He shook himself and finally sighed. "I guess I was hoping to find something that wasn't there. Again, I'm sorry I wasted your time."
"Stop it." she frowned at him, slapping her hand firmly on his shoulder. "Spill it Tahu. Now. How can you say that whatever you were looking for isn't there if you don't tell me what it is?"
The fire Toa watched her for a silent moment, then he took her hands in his and placed both of them on his chest over his heart. "Gali, as long as I can remember I have always found you attractive. And over the years my feelings for you have increased exponentially. It may not seem like it, but I really do like you. You are smart, kind, brave, and you have an annoying talent to challenge me all the time. And I like that." he reached up and cupped her face in his hands. "I like everything about you. And before you ask again-no, I am not drunk. But I have been on many nights when I can't stop thinking about you and why I thought we could never be together. We always fight, and I thought that if I could find some place where I wouldn't yell at you I could tell you that I-I..." he growled, "Oh, dang it! I love you Gali. I've been trying to say it for years! And now that I have you might as well just tell me the thirty different ways that this relationship could go wrong..."
"You're an idiot Tahu..." she wrapped her arms around him and smiled against his neck. "I can't believe it took you so long to say that." she felt like she was whispering. She was in so much shock she felt like she was going numb. "I've been waiting so long..." she quickly wipe away the tears in her eyes before he could see them. "I was beginning to think that you didn't care at all..." she pulled away slightly and smiled. "Are you sure you're not drunk?"
Tahu smiled back, not irritated in the slightest. "I am sure." he laughed quietly. "And I have always cared Gali. I will never stop caring..."
And done! This was originally supposed to be longer and very embarrassing, but, I dot know.. It just felt right to end it here. :)
Please Leave a Review. :)