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For love and life

  She knew that it was something that she needed...ah...but...what?  Always a question that she was asking, she only wished that she could get an answer for the fear that was building up inside of her.  She rolled over to face the dark window that poured out a putrid sickness before her.  She grabbed the gun from her nightstand and silently slipped out of the house...a walk...that was what she needed.  She knew that it was dangerous, but nothing scared her.  Darkness was her disguise, and at times, she felt, her only friend.  Stepping out into the dark street, she stuck the automatic into her belt and continued on her way.  She would take a simple walk, just enough to clear her screaming mind...Two blocks later, her mind was still in an uproar.  She broke out into a desperate run...she had to get rid of this feeling.  What was going on?  How come she could not get out of this confusion?  She needed time she knew, but right now, time was her enemy.  

She turned into a dark alley.  Maybe complete darkness would help...She slowed, feeling along the wall...this is ridiculous...feeling along like a scared rat...Taking her hand from the wall, she allowed herself to wander away from it's hard security.  The moon would be her guide.  She could see its dim light though the brick cracks.  She stopped...what was that?  She drew her gun and spun around, narrowing her eyes to focus.  She heard nothing...She kicked at the ground, to let whoever was there know that she knew...Nothing.  She took another step...."Maybe this wasn't-"  She felt the cold wind of a breath behind her.  She spun, aiming her gun, ready to fire.  A deep voice came out of the darkness, "Raquel?"  Raquel relaxed, rolling her eyes and slipping the gun back into its holster.  It was only Zane.  "Zane...why must you always follow me?"  

Zane stepped out of the shadows and kicked sheepishly.  "I don't want you to get hurt.  You know its dangerous."  

Raquel scoffed, "Thanks for the concern, Zane, but I can handle myself."

Zane felt a little hurt by her sudden hostility.  "Look, Raquel, I know that you're going through a lot, you know, losing Harley and all, but you and I...we were...I just...I love you, and I don't want to lose you."

Her heart was pricked, and she could feel herself bleeding on the inside.  Why Harley?  Why did he have to bring back Harley?  Why couldn't everyone just leave her alone?  "Zane, I know that you want to help, but this something that I need to figure out myself."

"Raquel,"  he said softly, "You need me right now...Let me be there for you.  You know that you cannot do this on your own."  

Raquel looked away.  This was not her way.  She had to be tough for herself.  She had to prove to herself that she could get herself through anything.  

Zane knew better than to let her continue on with this. That had been his first mistake:  listening to Keira and not going after Raquel when she needed him the most.  He was not going to let that happen again. Grabbing her hand, he led her out of the alley and into the street lights.  "Listen to me Raquel, I will not let you run away from your team because you supposedly have things to work out with yourself.  You know just as well as I do that you are ust running from the situation!  Harley would not want this!  Let me help you, please."

Steeling herself from the pain, Raquel wrenched herself away from Zane's grasp.  But Zane would not take no for an answer.  Reaching out, he grabbed her by the shoulders, "Raquel, wake up!  You're killing yourself and the rest of us...You're killing me!  I love you!  Are you hearing me:  I love you!"

Raquel looked up with startled eyes at her best friend.  It was coming back.  It was like she was awakening from a dream:  the beach, the wind, the smell of the ocean, Zane's fingers running through her hair...his body close to her's...his right hand behind her neck and his left around her waist...his lips...against hers...his voice, whispering, "I love you, Raquel."  She had just lost her brother, to her own hand.  She had been broken by that, and he had been there for her.  Her best friend then, her best friend now.  How could she ignore him anymore?  She knew she was hurting him, every time she had pushed him away since Harley's recent death.  But she had sworn...sworn...never to love again.  But...her emotions were running crazy.  His eyes were trained upon her.  She could see it...he loved her so much.  She knew that she needed him.  It was as if a fire was burning in his eyes.  A fire of passion, love...friendship.  

Zane could see that she had fallen into that chasm.  He tried again, "Raquel, please, I love you."  

Overcome, she realized that she could no longer resist.  His strong scent filled her nostrils.  His words pierced into her soul...I love you...She closed her eyes.  Her body began to relax.  Zane brought his hands up and held her face in them.  He was waiting...he had been waiting for so long.  He could have her so easily.  He could kiss her right now so easily.  But that was not what he wanted.  He wanted her to surrender first.  He wanted her to realize that she loved him, too.  He knew that she did.  He had felt it that first night they had kissed.  He felt it when Raquel had receieved the letter from Harley...the look that had said, "Zane, please, don't leave me."  Maybe that had been his mistake.  He realized now that he should have not listened to Keira and let Raquel run off by herself.  But now was his chance to redeem himself...and he would wait until she was ready to catch her...

Raquel felt it again, it was the wind of his soul washing over her.  She felt herself giving in.  Was she ready?  She looked back into those crystal blue eyes...he was just waiting....struggling, but waiting.  She tensed once more, but he held on even tighter.  "Okay...okay...I...I...Zane...I do need you...help me."  Like a weak newborn filly, she collapsed into his arms...like she always did.  Zane held her tightly...stroking her hair.  It felt so natural, like he was made to hold her, and only her.  He wanted to hold her forever, to be her strength, to be her energy, to be her everything.

    Then, she said the words he had waited so long to hear, "Zane, I won't hide from you anymore...I love you, too."

His whole world came together at that moment.  Everything that he had ever desired manifested at that moment.  He held her tighter than ever, listening to her quiet sobs.  Tears stung his own eyes as he began to repeat the words over and over again, "I love you.  I love you.  I love you."

She pulled back gently so that she could look back into his eyes.  "I'm sorry I made you wait for so long."  Zane could not help but smile as he took a strand of her hair in his hands..."I would have waited a hundred years for you.  Do you wanna walk for a minute?"

She nodded as he took her hand in his hand and led her on.  He was on cloud nine.  He, Zane Mit, was holding Raquel's hand!  He felt himself stand up straighter, feeling like he was protecting the most treasured jewel on earth!  And why not?  She was the most valuable thing on earth.  

Her gentle voice broke into his thoughts, "Zane?"


"You know that I've always loved you?"

He stopped and turned to her, "I had hoped so.  I couldn't be sure, but I prayed that you did."  

"You know that I was just trying to protect myself...pushing you away?"

"I thought maybe that was why, but I'm not real good with women's psychology.  I failed that class!"

They laughed and continued walking.



"Do you ever think about that night...you know, when you first kissed me?"

"Yeah...actually, I do."

Raquel was silent for a moment.  "Zane?"

This time Zane stopped and turned her towards himself, grabbing her face in his hands and looking boldly into her eyes.  "Tell me again, Raquel, tell me that you love me."

Her hands went up to his and she held them there,  "I do, I love you, Zane."

"I've waited all my life...all of it, to hear you say that to me.  I love you, Raquel.  I would have waited forever to hear you say that to me.  No matter what you go through, I am your best friend, and I always will be.  When you need to cry, scream, vent, laugh, love, whatever, I promise you, I will never leave you.  Even if you never returned my love for you.  I love you, Raquel."

Raquel smiled for what felt like the first time.  "I can't help but love you.  You're so good to me...How could I not love you?"

Zane smiled back...his heart pounding.  His breath came fast.  Was she ready?  He leaned over and kissed her forhead carefully.  She was so fragile.  She didn't even know how fragile she really was.  He wanted to take care her of her so much.  Gently, he wrapped his arms around her.  It was all she needed, was for someone to love her like this.