by Twisting Demon/Gabriel Ang
Disclaimer: I do not own Threads of Fate or anything else here I didn't create.
It's been so long since they've been together, alone, just each other. Tender memories of days gone by still lay restless in Mint's mind, slowly and cruelly being etched away by the hands of time. It's not like she wanted to forget. No, it's entirely the opposite. She doesn't want to forget, but she can't help it. So much time has gone by between them that.... it's as if the gap between them couldn't be closed. Every night she lay in bed, restless, as visions of him plagued her very existence. It denied her sleep, thought and actions on many occasions, yet at first she knew not what it was. She never realized how she felt for him. She always thought he was her close friend, nothing more. She denied herself the chance to search deeper into her own feelings, never wanting to know what love was all about. By the time she realized the truth, it was too late. He was gone. He was taken. He was someone else's now. She had missed her window. She could only look at him, her mouth never saying what her heart wanted. To see the two of them, so happy in each others arms, so passionate in others embrace, made her stomach churn and her heart bleed. The very sight of them together drove her mad.
It was because of HER, she said. Claire. He was always so infatuated with getting her back that he sometimes forgot about Mint. Mint sometimes bgean to hate her because of that. During their journey together, she had many chances to confront him and herslef herself, yet she could not muster the courage to do so. When they were alone, try as she might, she couldn't bring herself to do anything. Not a single gesture could she do. Not a single word could she say. She just couldn't do it no matter how hard she tried.
She was afraid. She was afraid of rejection. During their travels together she had been so cold, and sometimes so cruel to him. And yet, despite all her tantrums and selfishness, he would just take it all inot himself, and smile. She knew that smile was plastic. She knew his feelings writhed in pain at the thought of Claire and at the thought of Mint getting angry at him. He chose to bear the pain himself, never sharing it with anyone. He called himself a coward, but through the days Mint began to assure him he wasn't. That was when she began to realize what he was to him. But she continued with her charade, showing Rue the bratty, tough lady mask she showed everybody. He may not show it, but she knew that somewhere inside, he had pent up resentment towards her. This was why she was afraid of rejection. She knew crystal clear he had all the reasons in the world to hate her. She understood it well. She could understand if he couldn't, or anyone in the world for that matter, love her. It took her a while, but she knew she could bear it now. She just needs to finally come out.... and say it....
The crickets chirped loud in their musical mating dance as Mint leaned on the balcony that night. She couldn't sleep. She was restless. She wasn't sleepy at all. She went to her bedroom balcony dressed only in her nightgown, deep in thought. Before she knew it she was there, calmly listening to nature's lovely symphony. For the past few weeks she found no better calming joy than to listen to nature's orchestra of animals sing their songs of love and beauty. The music could sooth any restless heart, she thought to herself. That's why she liked listening to it. Whenever she needed time to think, this place at night always helped her.
"Why....? Why can't I.... just.... just say it! What's wrong with me?"
She knocked on her head a few times. She's been asking herself the same question over and over, night after night, week after week. It confused her to demand herself action but never being able to actually do it.
"There must be some other way to do this...."
Looking up into the starlight sky she pondered what to do. She so desperately tried to find some other, less painful way to teel Rue how she felt. She was so lost in hopelessness, knowing that she'd just lose to Claire. Still, there was a part of her that shone within that hopeless void, telling her to go on. With that she did, but only barely. That part of her told her with a soft voice to tell him, no matter what he'd say in return. That.... at least.... would calm her troubled soul.
Mellow lights began appearing in the dark greens before her. They flew about like dancing lights around the shrubs and bushes of the gardens. They were fireflies, she knew.
"Haha.... So pretty! Yet...." *sigh*
She had always admired fireflies for for their enchanting beauty during the dark of night. How they used their radiant lights to attract mates enchanted her. It reminded her a lot how similar humans were to them. Humans too used so many means just to get the opposite sex to like them, some would go to so much extremes just to receive the emotions of another human being. Before she met Rue, she admitted to never having cared about how others saw her, but now, she'd do almost anything to show Rue the real her. Still.... as they say.... first impressions last.
A thought struck her that very moment. She realized just how short a firefly's life was. They lived for just a few hours, some barely days. But once they're born, they immediately search out those who would bear their young. They start out early and do whatever it takes. They never get down when opposite fireflies reject them. They still go on with what short life they have, until hey finally achieve their goal. Of course, to fireflies their own lives may be one long struggle which to humans is merely a speck of time. That's when she realized something, something which made her decide right then and there, what she had to do.
"Life.... life is just too short. We never.... know when the time comes...."
"That's it. I have to do it. There.... I might still have a chance. Even if he doesn't.... me back.... he needs to know. He has to know."
With that said to herself, as light tears streamed down her face, the sun rose. It's morning. She'd been up all night thinking. But now, she knows what she has to do. With great resolve, she put on her clothes, fixed her hair, and went out of her room. Out of the palace. Out of the city. Back.... to Carona.
After Valen was defeated and Claire brought back to life, Rue decided to stay here in Carona. It was for the best. He felt that there were still many [Relics] in that area, and he had to make sure no one would ever touch them. Also, that home in the northern snow plans, the very same place where all this started, held too many painful memories for them. She settled there, in a nice house, on the grasslands where Rod used to stay. They were there, living in peace, blissfuly unaware of the pain an old friend was enduring. She was coming to settle her feelings with him.
It was nightfall when she arrived. Just as she planned it. She wanted to make sure no one else was about. Not even Claire. She didn't want her in this. What was needed to be said, would only be between him and her. No one else.
"Nothing's change, I see. It's been ages since.... I was last here..."
She stood there, contemplating. She was in the grasslands, barely a few feet away from the door to Rue and Claire's house. The cold, biting wind blew through her orange hair as she stood there motionless in the dead of night. It was autumn season, yet the air had gone quite icy in a few weeks. She had nothing on but her regular clothes, with nothing more than a scarf to protect her from the numbness. She was freezing, but she didn't care. She had other things on her mind.
Slowly, she reached for the doorknob. Before she could knock, she heard a sound coming from inside a the house. A woman's voice....
"Hahahahahaha! That's a good one Rue!"
A woman's laughter. "Must be that Claire." She thought to herself. She peered through the the fog of the side window. She saw them. The two of them. In each other's arms. They were in front of the fireplace, talking and laughing. They were having a good time. They were enjoying each others company, not noticing the lone, bedraggled figure lonesomely looking at them through the window. She stared at the two loved birds. She felt here heart consume itself into ashes, like the wood that burned bright to feed the fire that gave warmth. Every word she heard them say was like an insult to her very existence. Every time they held hands was like someone teared away at her very own flesh. She tried to look away, but she couldn't. She looked at them with sheer jealousy. She wanted to bang at the windows and scream her whole soul away, but she knew she shouldn't.
Finally, she couldn't take anymore. She sat like a scared child on the front steps, and wept bitterly. Tears of mixed emotions dropped fearlessly down her cold, blue cheeks. She held her legs together, like a fetus inside a mother's womb looking for security. The cold drops of sadness bit mercilessly on her fragile skin. She couldn't stop herself from crying, but she wanted to cry.
"If.... if maybe.... He saw me like this.... then...."
She cried even more. She cried becuase she wanted to. She cried because.... she wanted pity. Pity for all the things she went through. She thought that if Rue saw her crying, wallowing in her own suffering and disdain, then maybe he would understand. Maybe he wouldn't hate her. Maybe he'd give her a second chance. Maybe... just maybe. To her, it was all she had left.
"Huh? What was that? It sounds like...."
Rue heard her agony through the solemnity of their home. He slowly tread towards the door, and upon opening it, saw the pathetic figure lying by the door frame, desperately trying to wipe her tears away. He looked at her. She looked at him. They spoke no words to each other. He remembered her. She remembered him. They haven't seen each other for months, yet they knew who each other was. They didn't even have a picture of each other. They both changed physically and mentally, yet they recognized. There are just some things that one doesn't forget.
"M... Mint? Wow! I haven't seen for.... wait.... Were you.... crying? What's wrong?"
She couldn't respond to him. Here he was, in her face, happy to see her, yet still so concerned about what she was doing. It's as if she had lost her voice all of a sudden. She tried to speak, but she could only produce tiny squeeks that were barely audible.
"Rue.... I.... I.... Please.... I need to talk to to you.... alone."
"Huh? Why? Maybe we should get inside and-"
"Please. Alone. Please. There.... by the fountain."
She pointed to town. The fountain at the center of town. The two of them. During their adventures together they used to talk while sitting by the fountain side.
"....Ok, but let me get a coat for you. You're freezing...."
He grabbed a coat on the coat rack and put it on Mint, who's hands were trembling like crazy. He held her close to him, trying to warm her up. That moment Mint's face lit up. He held her closer to him.
This moment. She's been fantasizing for a chance like this ever since they parted ways. She's always been longing to be in his arms like Claire. She tried to savor every moment she could spare. She knew she may never have another chance like this ever again.
The fountain. It flowed water even during the night and during sutumn time. They sat there by the side. Mint hands began to shake even more uncontrollably. Out of nervousness she bit her nails trying to calm herself.
"Mint, if their's anything wrong, please tell me."
She's practicing for this moment for days, but now as the words hang at the tip of her tongue, she had trouble saying it out loud. She mustered all the courage she could call into herself, and tried to speak. Slowly.
"It's.... been days. I couldn't sleep.... just thinking about you. About us. I.... I...."
"I've.... been asking myself....'What's wrong with me?' 'Why do I do this to him?' For endless night I pondred. I.... wrestled with my own self.... just trying to be honest."
"Honest? About what?"
"Rue I.... finally shed my mask. The mask that.... would have.... destroyed me. You helped me get rid of it. For that.... I couldn't thank you enough. And then.... that's when.... when I realized...."
She looked at him with a painful look. She then collapsed onto him, burying her face into his chest. She lay there, listening to the steady beating of his heart. She didn't want to ever let go. She wanted to be like that forever. Just the two of them in eternity's embrace. But now... she knew it was impossible. Somehow she knew. Sometimes, words aren't needed to convey the deepest of emotions. Sometimes, words can even be the biggest hurdles.
"Rue.... I.... I.... love you."
There. She finally said it. The three simple words that had caused her so much pain and suffering was finally out of her system. He hugged him again, this time resting her head on his shoulder. She caressed his white silvery hair. The very color that has plagued her dreams. A few tears dripped from her eyes to his shoulders.
He hugged her in return, much to her surprise. She thought he would push away in rejection, but he didn't. They were like that for a while, savoring each others presence. After some time he did pull away, but he held her shoulders, and put her half an arms length away. Mint saw a few tears escape Rue's eyes. He was crying to. She never saw Rue cry before. She wasn't the only one who was broken that moment. He was too.
"Mint I'm.... so.... so sorry. But.... I can't. It's Claire that I love."
He said the dreaded words she feared so much. But.... this time it was different. Somehow.... it didn't hurt her as mush as she thought it would. Despite that, she still cried a little. With that, Rue gently lifted her head up, and spoke softly to her.
"I'm sorry it.... had to come to this. I.... made up my mind years ago. Mint.... you're my best friend, my dearest, closest friend. To see you like this just.... just.... Please, I hope you understand."
He pulled her back to an embrace. With his words, she understood what Rue was also feeling. But, the fact that Rue called her his best friend, made her happy. She realized that Rue didn't hate her. She was still a big part of his heart. To have said what she has always wanted to say, to have heard what Rue had always wanted to say, was good enough for her. Now, her heart was at peace. She understood what real love it. It's to give your all to that special someone, without expecting love in return. Silent tranquility returned to her heart and soul, as if the weight of the whole world was taken from her. She was now at peace with herself.
"I.... understand. Thanks.... for being so understanding with me. Thank you for letting me take aload off my chest. Thank you so much. Well.... I guess I'd.... better be going."
"Then.... I'll see off. Look, if ever you need some guy help, don't hesitate to see me. You know I'll help you any way I can."
She waved goodbye to Rue as she got on the ship. As the ship began to move into the great big sea, they both looked at each other. The one that got away, she thought. With Carona now gone from sight, she looked forward, towards the home she would be returning to with a distant smile. She was happy.
Now, she was finally free. Free of the chains that binded her to a painful past. Free of the pain that that had tried to consume her. Free of the relentless dreams that had kept her awake all these nights. Free of the confines of the cell that had held her bound to place in time she couldn't escape.
She was finally free.... free to love.... and be loved again.
I first started this story as a way to get the load off my chest. Okay, kinda selfish, but as it went on I knew I could make it into a good fic.... probably.