A/N: Almost there...

Special thanks to NeverKnew!

2-4 "The Way I Feel"

She reached the bottom of the stairs and cast a look over her shoulders, a deep frown on her features.

"Well, that was weird."

Or rather, Rei had been.

Many thoughts had been on Makoto's mind. Or, well, in a nutshell, only one. Minako. And she really needed to talk to the girl. While she could simply call or text her asking to meet up, that would lead to questions of 'why' and 'what about'... and it was just too delicate of a subject to approach over the phone.

So, in attempt to break the awkward silence hanging between them the past few days and to confront the girl in person, Makoto had left the deafening quiet of her apartment.. and had found herself wandering the streets that lead to the shrine.

At her arrival there, she learned two things: First, she had just missed the blonde by only a few minutes. Second, one of the few things that could really scare the life out of her was a grumpy Rei.

The combination of both caused her to basically turn on her heels and exit the sacred grounds without even bothering to say hi to Artemis who was sat curled up on Rei's porch and had eyed her suspiciously.

With a huff Makoto pushed her hands into the backside pockets of her jeans and straightened her back. *Well, now what?* Frustrated, Makoto kicked at the ground fruitlessly.

Her eyes went up to the blue sky. Absentmindedly, she noticed a distinct change in atmosphere and could already sense the electrifying taste of an upcoming thunderstorm. The prospect of it wouldn't deter her off her track, rather it made her feel even more restless, fueling her, the subliminal tension making her nerves tingle.

They hadn't talked about the kiss. That incredible kiss... When they both eventually had pulled back for air, Makoto had felt worried and protective. She didn't want to rush this like that – especially not while Mina was still recovering from her nightmare. So instead of giving in to her desire to make out with the sexy blonde on top of her, she had carefully pulled back and guided them both to settle for cozy snuggling. ...But, boy, that took her strength.

Yet, she had expected Minako to say something. Had expected her wanting to talk, question what had just happened in her usual unceremonious manner... Or mention it the next morning... Or the day after... Or the day after that..?!

The somber silence made Makoto question Minako's thoughts on the whole thing. And it confused her.

Could she have interpreted everything totally wrong? Had she missed something? What was holding Mina back? Had she read too much into it? ...-was she going to lose her now...? For good?

That thought hurt. It hurt so much...

But maybe... Maybe Mina didn't really mean anything by it-... Or did she? Maybe it was just Mina being Mina. Being a natural flirt, feeling comfortable around a friend, finding comfort in her, enjoying the physical closeness, just exploring, testing and fooling around with a good friend, groping and kissing-... No.

That kiss. It was so much different from all that...

When Mako had leaned in and brushed her own lips against those the soft, precious ones, she had felt Minako immediately return the motion. Carefully adding pressure, gently nibbling, tenderly testing the sensation and taste of each another... But on top of that, Mina had wrapped her hand around Makoto's neck, had pulled them closer, making the kiss mutual without question. Makoto had enjoyed the feel of Mina's fingers digging through her loose hair, the claiming grip as they settled entangled at the base of her neck. Had enjoyed it so much, her own lips had parted for a purred moan, only to be passionately conquered by a hot, eager tongue seductively licking her upper lip and then inquiringly sliding past. She had rejoiced in the feeling, running her own hands over Mina's back, pulling her up and closer, affectionately massaging her sides and shoulders while drowning in the sweet pleasure of their tongues gliding sensually against another and Minako's slim and perfect body pressing so demanding against hers.

No. If all that was just a curious friendship-thing or some kind of warmth-craving from Minako's side, then-... Well, to say the least, she was going to envy whomever Minako would kiss with real love, big time. No. She'd hate them. She wanted those pristine lips to be hers. Didn't want anyone else to experience being kissed like that by her Love Goddess.

It was so perfect... The passion... The gentleness... The mutuality...

No. No, really. That kiss was-... so incredibly breathtaking. How could it not be-... It had to be- ...real? ...real love?

Makoto took some deep, calming breaths and dropped out of the sprint she hadn't even been aware of running.

Just why? Why didn't Minako talk to her? Even, if it was a... a huge, unlikely misunderstanding.

It couldn't be one. But, after all she'd been through, all the losses and disappointments in her life, Makoto couldn't quite shake that notion... If she lost Mina over this-..! Losing Minako, who had become the source and reason of her own happiness was an unbearable thought. Wonderful Goddess Minako, who made her believe in real love again...

Part of her feared, dreaded to talk to the girl, wanted to let things calm down between them, pretend nothing out of the ordinary had happened, return to their prior relationship as good as possible. To just enjoy the wonderful girl and how she made her feel loved like no one else ever did before. Not risking anything by trying to analyze or label their relationship. No commitments, no promises... -no more scars. Not risking to experience yet another episode of losing someone she loved...

But that was the problem. She missed the girl... and she already felt committed to her. She loved her.

How weird it had been... How she never before had thought of a woman to be her Prince Charming... But Minako featured everything she was looking for! ...Well, at least character-wise, maybe not so much in appearance. But – hey! Mina was hot! And there was so much more to the girl. Mina was so strong and independent, yet Mako could still protect her, spoil her... guard her...

...and how wonderful it was, to just hold the girl in her arms close and listen to her heartbeat. The most wonderful sound to fall asleep to... And to wake up next to the stunning beauty... And to make her her favorite breakfast...

Makoto felt her cooking was the way she could express her feelings best. Letting all her emotions and caring seep into her craft. And while preparing those special white-chocolate pancakes for Mina she poured her heart out to the girl...

Makoto growled along with the low roll of thunder in the distance and shook some raindrops off her face.

It was her own fault alike. She was so scared of losing, she had kept quiet, waiting for the other girl to react, to lift the weight of confession off her shoulders. But... Maybe Minako was just as scared.

...it wasn't that unlikely, really. She knew the blonde was indeed very fragile and just as insecure beneath the blunt and optimistic front she always held up. Minako was a born actress, an idol, a leader. As fickle and careless the pretty girl appeared to be to most, Mina was very deep, serious and insightful. And self-conscious.

The sudden urge to slap herself upside the head filled Makoto. She knew all that. She knew Minako. Possibly knew her better than anyone else. And yet, she had neglected to even consider-...

Someone bounced off Makoto's side.

*What the-...* Makoto turned in surprise, but immediately grinned.

There she was.

"Hey! There you are!" All her musings came to a halt as she took in the sight in front of her.

Minako, her precious Mina, whom she'd been looking for all along, now only stood an arms reach away from her. Her beauty radiating in the gray of the heavy rain. But, Mako frowned, the girl didn't move. She had her head down, her long blond hair covering most of her precious features, making it hard for Makoto to read the smaller girl's thoughts. *Yeah, for my next life, I'm definitely gonna order some mind-reading abilities.*

Makoto frowned, worried. A dozen of her earlier most-threatening thoughts rushing back into her mind. But then again, she just literally ran into the girl.

"..Mina? Sorry! You alright? I was a little lost in thought here... You're not hurt, are you!?"

To her relief, Minako finally looked up.

"I'm fine, Mako-chan..."

And there it was.

As Mina's voice trailed off, the baby blue pools of her eyes became deeper, opening up to a whole world of emotions for Makoto to see, making her heart jump.

Yet, Makoto's eyes strayed involuntarily. She couldn't help but notice, how Minako still looked incredibly sexy. Her long, bright hair soaked and slicked by the rain falling around them, the damp, orange dress Makoto liked so much on Mina (and now probably even more!), clinging to firm, slender body...

Mako tore her eyes back up, swallowing hard to gain back her focus.

Mina wore a slightly glassy-eyed expression as her gaze roamed over Makoto's body. Mako had to bite back a grin.

"Are you sure?"

Feeling suddenly both very confident and curious, Makoto leaned in closer to Mina. She brushed some of the blonde strands away and raised her hand, as if to check the girl's forehead for a bruise or bump. In truth, she watched carefully as Minako willingly leaned her head back, to offer Mako better access to examine her. She watched Minako's eyes flutter shut as she gently brushed her fingertips against the smooth skin and the blonde took a shaking breath.

A shaking "...yeah," was all Mina got out in reply.

*There's no way I am taking this the wrong way, is there?*

Makoto straightened back up and eyed her beauty. Mina frowned slightly at something, and - feeling somewhat victorious about the idea - Makoto guessed it had something to do with Mina not quite being in control of herself. Yet, even if that was the case, Makoto was not the one to take pleasure from someone's helplessness like this. Only a little.

"Geez, Mina-chan. This is a pretty bad weather to wander around," and with a sideways nod to her slightly shivering figure she added, "you must be freezing!"

She didn't dare to look directly at the pretty dress that clung to the smaller girls body, so tightly it barely left room for imagination at this point. Fighting the urge to just go ahead and all giddily pull her into a warming bear-hug was already hard as it was.

"Oh?" Minako just blinked at Makoto for a moment. Then, slowly she turned around and surveyed her surroundings. "Wow! I didn't even notice it was the end of the world – again."

Makoto couldn't help but laugh at that. Yes, indeed, the sky was a gloomy, dark gray at this point, the heavy rain left deep puddles on the ground, cold mist carried by an angry wind from all directions sprayed against barely protected skin. Occasionally flashes of lightning brightened their surroundings for an blink of an eye, quickly followed by vibrating thunders that kept getting louder and closer. Makoto couldn't imagine enjoying her element more than in Minako's presence.

Right. Minako. There were still some things to be done. But first things first. She needed to get the girl home and dry, before talking...

After taking a quick look around herself, to get an idea of their thereabouts, Makoto nodded into a particular direction. "C'mon, blondie. I'm glad I found you before this gets any worse. Let's get you to my place. I can make you a nice hot choco to warm you up."

Makoto watched the girl carefully, almost expecting some awkward rejection at the prospect of them spending time together. Alone.

But instead, Minako followed her without the least sign of hesitation. She appeared to be delighted even. Makoto took a deep, cool breath of heartfelt relief. Yeah, this was looking good. Very good. Maybe she could-...

"What brought you out here at such a weather ...brunettie?"

Minako's voice was clear, almost casual. But the question threw Mako. How was she supposed to reply to that?

"Hn?" She tried to buy some time.

*Ah, nothing in particular, Mina. I was just looking for you, to confess my undying love to you.* - Well, that would be a tad too blunt, wouldn't it?

She cast a side glance at Mina, to find her looking up to her with a playful smile and curious eyes. "Oh! Um, I don't know..." Maybe a half-truth might work. "Call it... a hunch? I wasn't quite paying attention where I walked – as you probably noticed." She flinched a little. "I hope, you're not going to get a bruise there..." She had been so busy with her thoughts... "I just ended up here in the park." ...her thoughts about Mina. Well, she had been looking for the girl, but she couldn't have possibly known she would find Mina in the park. How did she find her? She smirked at that. "Life can be funny like this, you know?"

"Yeah, life is like a cucumber!" Makoto slowed her steps, turned her head and stared at the grinning blonde. "...-only, you know, different."

Suppressing a helpless giggle, Makoto only grinned and shook her head. *How can I NOT love that girl?*

In that spirit, she moved closer to Mina and placed her arm around the smaller girl's shoulders as they continued their path. She smiled down at her, seeing her own joy and blissful content reflecting in Mina's eyes. "Well, I guess... you're right."