A/N: This is a request fic. I'm still not sure I'm that good with these characters and I apologize if I make them very OOC cuz I haven't worked with them in awhile and I've only worked with them once before. And I've never worked with Taniya before. D; Anyway, um…yeah. I'll do my best but if I didn't make it how you wanted let me know. I'm very sorry if I didn't D;
Warning (in case you ignored the summary): Hints of Shojo-ai (girl on girl). Of course, take it as you will. If you want to believe it's only friendly, be my guest. It's open enough for interpretation.
Disclaimer: I do not own GX.
The surroundings in that dreary desert world were bleak, desolate. It was not exactly the ideal place to live but it was most certainly better than the place she had come from and it did suit her heart well considering how she felt. She trudged along, dragging her feet in the dunes, her head hanging. Even though she had done it to help the one she loved the most, she was still heartbroken. She couldn't help but be. After all, he had not come back for her. He had not helped her out in any way. And worst of all, he had not even succeeded nor had he returned with her.
The woman who had discovered her was walking silently alongside her, her chin lifted confidently in the air. Perhaps Ekou would have mirrored this posture had she not felt so tired…so miserable. She had hoped that Amon had come back, as well, somewhere afar off. She would have traveled to the ends of the earth to find him. If only she knew where to start. But she didn't even know where he had been in the world she had just come from. There seemed to be no starting point for her to tackle, but that didn't mean she was going to give up.
Glancing up from heavy, half-lidded eyes, she noticed that Taniya was leading her to a make-shift shelter under an overhanging ledge. There was a bit of tattered cloth spread over to lip of the rock, which they crawled under to find a room-sized space beneath. Ekou shivered and curled up against the wall of the rock, pulling her jacket closer around her lithe figure. She felt so weak and cold…It would take a few days' rest to get back on her feet again. She thought wistfully that she would have liked her recovery to happen sooner, so she might commence her search for her beloved. But if she knew Taniya, then that was not going to happen until she had rested up a bit.
Presently, the Amazon woman was heating up a morsel to eat over the hot coals from a fire which had burned out earlier in the day. Ekou was famished; her mouth watered at the prospect of finally getting to eat again. She watched intently until Taniya handed her the plate then, doing her best to retain some respect as a woman, tried not to gulp it down too hurriedly.
Silence reigned save for the occasional loud swallow or clanking of silverware against the plate. It wasn't until she had finished her meal and resigned to lying on the cold, barren ground that anything was spoken.
"So…he left you." The deep, rich voice resonated in the small space; Taniya did not look at Ekou, but rather at the stick which she used to poke at the dying embers in an attempt to rekindle a flame.
Ekou weakly lifted her head to stare at the woman in front of her. Then, hurriedly, she sat up and frowned. "He didn't leave me. I sacrificed myself for his sake. Because it was what was best for us."
"It wasn't kind of him to let you do that," Taniya remarked, "There are other ways to get what one wants. Seems to me like he took the easy way out. That never ends well. Neither did it end well for him, hm?" She gave Ekou a pointed look, dropping the stick in the sand next to her leg, and watching as hot orange flames licked hungrily at the kindling.
"Well…maybe it hasn't so far but maybe it will pay off in the future," Ekou insisted, trying to save face and remain optimistic. Although, even from her point of view, the situation did seem rather dire.
Taniya seemed less than convinced. She hummed softly to herself in thought as she stared past the flames that hungrily engulfed the wood, at some unseen dream. Both women failed to speak for a good ten minutes, each lost to her own thoughts. Finally, Taniya broke the silence again. "He disrespected the gift you gave to him. You owe him nothing."
Ekou clenched her jaw as a wave of anger washed over her. No, it wasn't really anger. More like…indignation. Her hands trembled as she curled her delicate fingers into fists. "It had to be done. I chose to do it because he was chosen."
"If he was chosen, wouldn't he have succeeded longer than he did?" Taniya queried, still skeptical, "Honestly, you shouldn't depend on a man so much. You should be the one in control. It sounds to me like you let him boss you around. That's not good for you."
"Maybe not but if it's good for him—" She only had the chance to begin before the Amazon interrupted.
"But it wasn't good for him," She pointed out, poking the fire with her stick again, "And sometimes it's a woman's job to follow her heart and intuition and interfere. If it hurt him and you knew he wasn't being himself, then you should have said something."
Taniya shook her head. "You really need to learn to step up to a higher sort of responsibility you owe yourself. Sometimes what people want isn't good for them. And what are you going to do now that he's gone, and you have no goals of your own? You lived for him and now what do you have? You need to let go of the past and embrace the future."
Ekou wished she had something to say in sharp comeback to this but found that she had pulled up a blank. Taniya was still gazing steadily at her. At first, Ekou could not help but be angry but…she gradually began to recognize the soft, gentle concern in those blue eyes that were so intently affixed on hers. She showed no outward signs of her inner turmoil, only looked away. Taniya wanted to show her that she had to let go and she was trying to break the news easy to her but…it wasn't easy. Maybe she would have to face the facts; Amon was gone and her efforts had been wasted. Had he been wrong? Misguided? Or had fate simply taken a turn for the worse? She didn't know what to think…It was all overwhelming her at once.
She absentmindedly traced patterns in the sand, only to look down and realize that the shapes resembled Amon. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to block out the pain that arose from deep within. True, she had been at Amon's every beck and call but…she still considered herself a strong woman, not fragile at all, and yet…compared to Taniya, she felt like a weak flame in the presence of a roaring fire. There was something about the Amazon, something sturdy and calm, that made her feel as though everything she had worked herself up to be was all in vain.
Never had she planned on vocalizing the fear but it left her lips in a sudden instant, in a sudden breath of air; she had no chance to try to quiet it before it had fallen upon the other's ears, in a voice that was tiny and lacking authority. "Do you…find me weak?" It in itself sounded frailer than she looked at the moment. Truly if Taniya hadn't before, she would then. Ekou felt as though she were barely hanging on.
The other glanced up, unable to mask the astonishment in her eyes. "I don't think weak is the word. You're not weak in anything except what you chose to be. The only weakness you had was Amon. And only because you made him one, instead of a strength."
She nodded slowly, taking the information in. Taniya was right. From what she had observed of the other woman, she had never made anything that could be a weakness truly that. She had always used it to her advantage. Maybe she could learn a thing or two. It did not mean that she had to give Amon's dream up. On the contrary, she could perhaps find a way to manipulate it so it would benefit both of them. If she ever found him again, of course.
Pulling her knees up to her chest and shivering, she sighed. She watched in dismay as a cool, moist puff of air came from betwixt her lips. It was getting colder out since night was swiftly falling. The earth could trap some of the warmth but where they were, it had been in the shade all day and was cool. She couldn't possibly see how they would stay warm. Well, she wasn't going to complain. She could make do. She was a survivor and had been through enough discomfort in the past. This only paled in comparison. All she did was pull her cloak tighter around herself, trying to prepare for the rest of the night.
Much to her surprise, the other woman got up and moved to sit down next to her. At first, she was puzzled. But when Taniya edged closer, she realized why. Soon, she not only shared her cloak with the Amazon, but her body heat too. Exhaustion started to take its toll, and she leaned against the more muscular woman, resting her head against her shoulder and heaving a sigh.
Taniya did not say anything, but the silence was receptive. Instead, she brought Ekou closer, securely wrapping her arms around her to calm her, as she had begun shivering. A warm smile was exchanged between the two, and they curled up against the cavern wall. Ekou felt a strong hand brush gently against her face, wiping a stray tear away that even she had failed to notice.
"There, there," Taniya comforted, bringing her closer, "You're safe. I won't let anything hurt you right now."
"I…I could take care of myself," Ekou insisted stubbornly, though her body was giving in to fatigue and illness.
"I understand but for at least tonight let someone else help," Taniya told her, pulling the cloak tighter around both of them. "You don't need to get sicker."
She nodded feebly after a moment's hesitation. What was one night going to harm anyway? She fought back the anxiety and sadness that threatened to return, and nestled her head comfortably under Taniya's, closing her eyes.
It was the cool, misty gray of dawn when she awoke. The first thing she noticed was the absence of warmth that had been next to her the majority of the night. The second thing she noticed was the undeniably tantalizing scent of sizzling meat. She lifted her head from the unforgiving ground and blinked a few times, her blurry vision finally adjusting. There, across from her, Taniya was crouching over the fire, cooking something for breakfast. At first Ekou thought that she wouldn't really like to eat but as she straightened up, her stomach growled and she felt famished. Mouth watering, she crept closer to the other woman to get a better look at what was being prepared.
"Good morning," Taniya greeted, offering her that warm smile of hers. She turned her attention back to the task at hand, but it was obvious that she was awaiting a reply.
"Good morning…" Ekou returned the greeting, though it wasn't nearly so heartfelt. It did not rather feel like a good morning to her. Aching cold throbbed everywhere through her being, penetrating to the soul. She shivered at the dampness that surrounded her, anticipating the hot meal.
Nothing was said for a few moments but there was plenty on their minds. Taniya finally spoke again, a slight hint of concern evident in her voice. "Did you sleep well?"
"Not really," Ekou admitted, sighing as she pulled her skirt down a little more, repositioning herself in order to sit more comfortably. "It was a rough night. I'm glad it's over."
"You were still thinking of him, weren't you?" Taniya asked, an edge of bitterness below the surface.
"…Maybe…" Ekou did not want to admit that she had been. But it was too obvious, especially for Taniya.
The Amazon gave her a pointed look. "You need to forget the past and move on."
"I know," It came out more irritably than she had meant. Moving on was the last thing she planned on doing. She had to keep searching, keep trying to find him to make things right again.
"You know," Taniya pointed out, "I'm only trying to help you and save you from more grief."
"I know what you mean," Ekou grumbled, looking dour, "but I can't help what I feel my purpose is."
Taniya shook her head slowly. "Well…What can I say? If you're not willing to change there's not much I can do. But I'm not giving up on you, and you shouldn't give up on yourself either."
"I'm not giving up on myself, and I'm not giving up on Amon," Ekou insisted, a wave of determination washing over her. Quickly, she got to her feet, though she had to bend over a little to keep from bumping the ceiling of the cave. "I'm going for a walk. I'll be back."
"Are you sure? It's not safe out there and you're still not well." Taniya called out as she hurried out of the cave
"I'm positive." This was all that Ekou would offer as she stalked off into the cool of morning. She would not give up and she wouldn't stop looking. Yes, she had every intention of returning but if she didn't? Well, she couldn't change what fate had in store for her, could she?
It was mid-morning when their encounter was made. She did not recognize this person, at first, because she was feeling so faint and weak from exhaustion and hunger. The inner drive, determination, was what kept her going. And as she lifted her weary eyes from the desert floor to meet those gray ones, something inside her stirred, and awakened.
All it took was a close, fleeting glance. And then before she could hold back, it had passed her lips in a breathy whisper.
Could it be true? Was it just a vision brought about by extreme conditions? Or was this really her life standing before her, in the pure flesh and blood?
A moment was silently suspended in time, the rushing blood in her ears drowning out the faint whistling of the wind in a desolate world.
He shook the stray grains of sand from his cloak. Judging by his wild appearance, he had been through quite a few wind storms. And yet...She would know those eyes anywhere. Those eyes that captured the very essence of her heart and soul, her love and her passion for life.
"Amon…" She called a bit louder, her voice cracking. Everything felt so dry and sickly, except her own eyes. They were moistening with tears.
She reached out slowly, wondering if he were an apparition or a figment of her imagination. But when her fingertips grazed the rough skin of his jaw, she knew for a fact that it was real. Joy flooded through every vein of her being, initially. He had returned. She always knew he would. Had he returned for her? She had hope.
His jaw clenched and he gently pushed her hand away. She dropped it to her side, bewildered. Why was he pushing her away? Or was he even? Was that a glistening tear in his eye? Was that the look of a shamed, defeated man? No, she would never let Amon degrade himself like that. He was a king…and he had every right.
True, there was a bit of resentment lingering in the depths of her soul, as was natural. After all, she would have hardly been human if there wasn't. But she had gladly shoved it aside for this moment, for the need of finding him. And it had finally arrived…She would hold back no longer. Too many times had she admonished herself for words that were left unspoken between them, feelings that had to remain tethered in the vast depths of her soul.
She tilted her head a bit to one side, regarding him in gentle submission and adoration. He returned her gaze with a bit of a cold glare, though it gradually softened. It was not her fault at all. Maybe he was angry with himself for the events that had occurred, quite unlike he had originally pictured them. He had been wanting to push her away when he saw her, too embarrassed to say much of anything, his pride too broken. But by this point, he was going to be a man and face his mistakes. He was going to take what he had done wrong and make it right. No matter what, he had to keep trying to achieve his goal, and here was his second chance. She would not abandon him and had made that clear. They might not be able to go back to the way things were, but they could most certainly keep trying until some good came out of it. Neither was the type to give up. And Ekou could see the plea for forgiveness burning in her Amon's eyes. He refused to voice it, but she could see it clearly as the daylight, and she cupped his cheek in the palm of her hand, lovingly. She had forgiven him although she still harbored bitterness deep within. That would not be enough to ruin things. She owed it to him. No matter what Taniya or anyone else said, she could not and would not be convinced of this deceitful truth.
"How did you come back?" She whispered, tenderly stroking his cheek.
He grimaced, looked loath to answer. "I…don't want to talk about it."
He stood stiffly, his posture indicating his discomfort with the subject. She nodded understandingly, deciding that it had to be let go. "Well, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that you're safe now. I don't know how long you've been travelling, but we might have a chance to fix things. But first, you need something to eat. Come on." She grasped him by the hand and attempted to lead him.
At first, he resisted, but gradually, she coaxed him into following her back to the cave that Taniya had stationed at. For some reason, she believed that Taniya would be receptive of Amon's return. But as soon as she saw the cold look and felt the hostility exuded from the Amazon, she knew she had blundered.
Taniya stood stiffly, placing her plate down, to meet the couple. She looked Amon up and down, clearly disapproving of him. Shaking her head, she affixed her icy blue gaze on Ekou. "Why did you bring him back? He's no good for you. I told you."
Ekou glowered, deciding to stand her ground. As much as she liked Taniya, she could not have her treat Amon so disdainfully. "It was a mistake and he won't make it again. Next time things will be done right and it will go well. Don't treat your future king like this!"
"Future king?" Taniya gave a hearty laugh and shook her head again. "You really have lost your mind to your feelings, haven't you? Even if it is his 'destiny,' even if he is the 'chosen one,' the only way he can ever secure that title is if he gives respect to his followers. And he clearly has no respect for you. What makes you think he'd treat anyone the way he should? He's selfish. He can't make a good leader."
Ekou's blood boiled, and she clung fast to Amon's arm, her nails digging into the skin. "He would make a good leader! He's only appearing selfish because he knows what's right for us. He knows things that we don't know or understand so we might as well take a chance and put our trust in him."
Taniya was obviously amused by this outburst. "There's no need to get so defensive. Things will work themselves out, I guess. You come on in and get something to eat. The heat and hunger is getting to you. And you can't possibly be expected to think straight in this condition. As for you…" She turned to Amon, once she had shoved Ekou forcibly into the cave behind her, where she could be safe.
Amon stiffened again, and didn't say anything. He didn't know what was coming but he planned to take it as calmly and maturely as he could, whatever it was.
Taniya took a step closer to him, completely undaunted. Such characters failed to intimidate her; it was quite rather the opposite effect. She gave him a good look up and down. "You have a lot to learn. I know you've been through a lot but you haven't become anything but a spoiled brat. If you really were wanting to grow up, if you really did care about your status, then you would seek out benefits for more than just yourself. People don't get somewhere by only looking out for themselves. You have to look out for your comrades, too. It is important to discover yourself but when you hurt others, you only hurt yourself and become twisted. You make enemies. And that's what you've done here. You had a lot of people on your side at the beginning. But you had to become so selfish that you flipped the tables. A little bit of selfishness is natural and good for a person, but you went too far. Because of that, you have no business seeking out Ekou's kindness or taking advantage of her feelings."
They stared at each other for a tense moment before Amon chose to speak. "I only did what I had to. I only did what I was destined to do, and Ekou helped me."
"So you were a victim of fate?" Taniya frowned. "That's no excuse. You make your own fate."
"I messed up once," Amon admitted, returning the scowl, "And yes, I probably will many more mistakes. But I'm human. I don't intend to give up, though. If you want something badly enough you keep trying. And you don't give up."
"But sometimes you know when something isn't meant to be. And I thought you had learned that." Taniya pointed out, "And you've hurt Ekou. Even if she won't admit it to herself, she is angry at you and that will grow the more you deny what you did to her. If you have too much pride to apologize to her face—"
A flicker of distress shadowed his features momentarily. "It's not that…I am sorry. Do you hear that, Ekou? I said I'm sorry for failing. I'm sorry I hurt you and didn't even succeed in what you wanted me to do."
"I'm not sure that's going to ever be enough," Taniya muttered, looking bitter again, "I suggest you leave now, before things get ugly."
"Taniya," Ekou protested, "stop! It is his destiny! I don't mind, really. We can keep trying. Just get out of the way and let him come to me. Nothing is going to stop him, anyway. Can't you see he's trying? He's trying to make things right and he's trying not to start a fight with you. Just stop!" She stood, ready to take part if she had to.
"I won't have it," Taniya stood her ground, sounding almost even threatening. "I care about Ekou, and I can safely say that I care about her more than you ever would. You can accomplish your goal without her if you do want it that badly enough. You need to learn to rely on yourself. Stop being such a weak man. If you are a man at all."
Ekou lunged to protest but Taniya held an arm out, preventing her from coming any closer. Amon was offended and opened his mouth to further argue, but the Amazon was putting her foot down and that was the end of the matter.
"Come on, Ekou." She said, taking the other woman by the arm and giving her a little shove, "Let's get moving to try to find some firewood. We're almost out."
"Take care of yourself for now. Worry about him, later. This won't be the end of him." Taniya assured, forcing her away from Amon.
Ekou struggled and called out to Amon but when she turned around…he was gone. There was nothing that indicated he had even been standing in the space the swirling winds occupied…no footprints or anything. A cold chill ran down her spine as she began to wonder.
Had it been real at all?
At any rate, she was too stunned by his sudden appearance and disappearance to argue anymore, and lapsed into silence for the rest of the day. The firewood and dinner was gathered and consumed that evening. Ekou no longer resisted Taniya's presence or her strength of comfort. It was quite the opposite as she allowed the other woman to curl against her shivering, slender figure, protecting her from the cold. Even if she had been angry at her, she did not have the energy anymore. She felt as though it had been sucked from her, leaving her a listless shell.
Her memory of that stormy night was blurry; all she could recall were the howling winds and Taniya's strong arms around her. That and another presence was added to the cave by the morning. At first she thought it was Amon but when she got a better look at him, she realized it was only Taniya's partner, Misawa, curled up against the Amazon's back and fast asleep. She wondered where he had come from and when he had come in.
He didn't have anything interesting to allow at breakfast, though he did mention seeing a figure retreating over the endless sand dunes early that morning when he had come in from his expedition. Ekou felt a faint flutter in her chest and she knew instantly who it had been.
Whether or not it was only his lingering spirit or if it was him in actuality, she did not know. All that mattered was that he was still around, in some shape or form. And so when all attention was diverted away from her, she slipped quietly outside again, with no intention of coming back before she had found him. The small bit of hope was enough for her. She would find him and fulfill his wishes, even if he was beyond her immediate reach. That was her goal and that was what she had lived for. So why stop then? It was all that she had to keep her going.
A/N: Sorry it was really bad but I'm having trouble remembering those last few episodes and I can't watch them now. XP And I was having a bit of trouble with the story…sorry it was fast but it kinda wrote itself and decided it was done. Anyway, it was…kinda inspired by some ghost stories I had been reading and whether or not that is his spirit or him in actual form is up to you to decide for yourself. ; ) It doesn't matter to me either way. Anyway, I hope you liked it, Kirby! Sorry it took so long and if you want me to change it…I can try. DX I'm sorry for Amon's behavior, too. : (