The malediction broke through a heavy patch of clouds before coming to a land near Zenton's punisher. Earlier, at the Basilica she had told him of her engagement to Raphael and he quickly left under the pretense of paperwork. Less than an hour later she discovered he had gone to Inis, a place that was special to them when they were together.
She saw him by the water and made her way to him....
"The paperwork was a lie, I just wanted to get away."
"No, not angry Shalee, you did what was best for you I can't blame you for that." He hesitated, "You could have told me... said something, a mail even."
"I didn't know how to tell you. It was like...once you left, you just disappeared from my life for good."
He stared off over the lake, "Yea, glad Rapheal was there to move in and pick up the pieces..."
"You left me, what did you think I would do? Wait forever for you to decide I was important?"
"I... I don't know what I expected, I wasn't thinking about it... I.." He wiped away a tear form his face. "I'm sorry, I should be happy for you."
" ...but you're not?"
"No... I still have feelings for you, and out of selfish desire I'm not. I know I shouldn't, I should just accept this and move on. I came here hoping I might be able to put it all behind me, to say my goodbyes. I think it's only making it worse."
"I am the one who is and should be sorry. My own darkness has brought me to this end, my demons may be quelled but I now must live with the consequences of my actions."
"Zenton...I don't know what to say. When we were together, I wasn't enough for you. I wasn't enough to keep you happy, to keep you from falling into the darkness. You can't imagine how that hurt me."
"I can... probably no less than hearing your engaged to someone else hurt me. I never wanted to hurt you Shalee... God knows that to be true."
"You didn't want to but you did. I just wasn't enough for you..." She folded her arms across her chest, "Did you ever find what you were looking for?"
He glanced to the starry sky, "You would only find me foolish if I answered the question."
"I would not."
"I had what I was looking for the whole time, I was just too blind to see it. The grass isn't always greener on the other side...."
She sighed to herself, feeling horrible without really knowing why. "I dont know what to say to that."
"My empire, my faith, I was even blessed with love for a time. I threw it away in hopes of finding what? A spot amongst murderers? I don't know what I was thinking Shalee. And here I am, a broken soul seeking redeemption."
"You're on the right path. You're serving the Empire again."
He was silent for a moment. "So why did you come, actully how did you even know that I was here...?"
"By chance really. Your friend, Nitrog. He was having some problems with his interface, I was showing him how to work it...anyhow. Stumbled across you on the starmap. Saw you were in Inis...I knew you werent doing paperwork. I came to see if you were okay."
"I'm glad you came, better than me being here alone."
"You should have told me you were coming."
"I didn't want to involve you in my troubles.."
"I'm still your friend, Zenton. I still care for you. Thats not going to change."
"So what do we do about this place? Forget it exist?"
She shook her head no, "I'm not going to forget. And theres no reason why we can't come back here to talk."
He moved closer to her, "Why didn't you look me in the eye when you told me you we're engaged?"
"I don't know...," She glanced away as he approached her.
"You're discomforted by my presence?" He frowned.
"No of course not." She turned her head, looking at him again. "I wouldn't be here if I were."
He laughed nervously, "Too right you are, and I will be okay, to let you know."
"I know you will Zenton. You always come out on top, right?"
He didn't answer right away, "No not always. I don't think I've came out on top yet."
"I don't believe that for a moment."
"How do you figure?"
"Well. You've fallen pretty far at times but you are still in the militia are you not? You've gained the respect of your corporation, chancellor..."
"Chancellor.... it's just a word. I am nothing more than any other pilot in the Bleaks."
"Apparently not. Invelious thinks highly of you."
"He does. I've proven myself and I'm trying to make the best out of everything in DIA. I have no where else to go."
"I don't really believe that. I'm sure there are other places you could go. But I like that you are with them."
"They are a good group... fiercely loyal to one another for the most part."
"Unlike PIE who is at each other's throats half the time."
"I don't remember Praetoria ever being at each others throats."
"Not to your face, that wouldn't be very Amarrian, now would it."
"No I guess it would not."
"But I'm glad DIA isn't like that."
"It has it's own problems."
"Nothing that needs discussed, internal issues that are bound to be resolved."
"Yes, of course." He doesn't trust me anymore...
He stood there in an awkward silence for a moment thinking about lost times, "So, whens the wedding?"
"It will be a while. Raphael is going away for a while, a personal mission. So I don't know really."
"I mean, we only just got engaged."
"You know I find it unorthodox some fake relationship blossomed into something real, hell... you seemed to hate him last I seen you."
"I know it's hard to understand. It's hard for me to understand sometimes. I did hate him for a while. But we spent a lot of time together."
"That you did."
He walked over to the shore of the lake and picked up a small flat pebble and skipped it across the water. "So when you told me, "It's not what you think" when I first learned about the relationship, what was going on? Surely it's been long enough you can tell me now. Not like it would hurt anything."
"Zenton, so much was going on. Commander Priboj? He went on a mission for the Empress, and got himself into a world of trouble. He told me one night as a hologram. But that put me in danger. Suddenly I was being watched...and they wanted to make certain I would keep my mouth shut." She furrowed her brows, remembering. "Anyhow, Michael came back again as a holo. Saint walked in on us, so then he knew. Michael ordered us to pretend to be a couple so that we could be together to 'watch each other's backs' 24-7. Thats how it happened."
"... it was an order?"
"To 'date' him? Yes. Thats how we started, I hated him back then."
He picked up another stone and tossed it into the water, "Fuck praetoria and it fucks you back, fair enough," he said to himself as he watched the ripples dissapate.
"I never meant to hurt you. I wanted to protect you from it all..."
"Nothing is going to stop the hurt, the hurt of finding out your dating Rapheal, hurt of finding out today -my second day back- your engaged to the guy. Returning to the empire's borders have been nothing but pain for me... the fall of Arzad, having lost you for good to him..."
She couldn't help but to get angry because he was making her feel horrible. "Well I hurt too, you know. When we were together...I didn't even know how you really felt, you never touched me, always kept me at arms length. And YOU didn't ask me to marry you. You never tried to make anything of this relationship. Never asked me to live with you. To be with you. And then you left, I begged you not to go and you made all of these promises on how you wouldn't. But you did."
"You told me to go," he said grimly.
"Long before that." She trailed a frustrated hand through her long hair, "When you left PIE. When you left to be a pirate. When you said you'd come back to PIE."
"I didn't want to rush our relationship... we're immortal, we live forever, we would have had all of eternity... I wanted to build something special that would last forever...." He sat down on the ground and stared out at the lake, "I screwed up when I left PIE I know that..."
She sighed to herself.
"I didn't know that Zenton." So many memories flashed through her mind in that moment. She moved over to where he was sitting and sat down beside him.
"No, you didn't Shalee. I really did want to come back to PIE.... I just... besides you, Mitara, Vaarun, and Omni...I didn't feel wanted, that's why I didn't try to return. And there is no way in hell I'd get back in now after telling Laerise to get over herself." He laughed softly, "See why being impulsive isn't a good thing?"
"I'm not asking you to come back now." She shrugged, "Theres no point. You're good where you are, you belong with DIA."
"I know Shalee..."She watched a shooting star fall across the sky the purple sky. It felt strangely comfortable to be sitting there with him, like old times. In the past they used to stay out by the water for hours, talking about the war, their future, their jobs. "Invelious asked me to come to DIA."
"I wont, and never will say I would be in objection to it...."
"On those bad days that I think about leaving PIE, I admit my thoughts take me to DIA."
"You'd have a bright future in either corporation but... you'd never want to leave your husband to fly with your ex-lover in another corporation. That might look bad to him." He chuckled, "Can't say I would blame him for thinking that."
She blushed, "No I guess not."
He smiled genuinely at her as she blushed. "Thank you, by the way."
"Coming all the way to Inis just to check on me..."
She leaned against him, "How could I not Zenny? Once I spent three days scouring ever pirate bar in New Eden just to find you to check on you."
His grin widen, "Only to find me at a loyalist establishment none the less if I remember correctly."
"Yup." She laughed softly at the memory.
"I only ever went to one pirate bar, that was The Sky Hook, and only talked with one person had a drink and left, I'm just not a very good pirate."
"Your security status says different..."
"I've done... some bad things in my time Shalee... I don't try and hide it."
"I just want to repent and save what ever I can of who I used to be..."
"Is that why you were at the Basilica?"
"I went to pray for those who died in the recent battles with the Matari. We incured some pretty grievous defeats yesterday... and I also had an ulterior motive."
"An ulterior motive?"
"To find you..."
"You could have just commed me."
He smirked, "Where's the fun in that? We wouldn't have ended up here, talking away the entire evening."
She smiled in return, "Very sneaky. Did you have the thing with your corp mate planned too?"
He grinned, "Perhaps."
A moment of easy silence passed between them as they sat there. Memories of their past played through her mind again and for a brief second, it was easy to imagine things were as they once were. He had been everything to her; mentor, friend, confidant. She opened up her mouth to tell him about her problems with Garst, "Zenton..?"
He gave her a curious look, "Yes?"
"I..." She hesitated. She had always been too dependent on him, maybe that was one of their problems. Having him fix everything for her.
"I should be going...I have to get back out to patrols...." She stood quickly, "Take care, okay?" And before he could answer her, she was dashing off.