The fifth element has lived a thousand different lives in a thousand different universes, seen a million sights, learned a million faces. Some remain, some fade, some change over time.
There are few she has called friend, fewer still she has called kin.
Plavalaguna's skin is pale in the noonday sun. The wind foretells rain, friend.
Leeloo smiles, fluttering her fingertips over Plavalaguna's wrist. It has been five thousand cycles since I have tasted rain.
Plavalaguna's smile is warm, the sun after the storm has dissipated, unexpectedly crystalline when it seemed the dark would never end. What do you remember?
Leeloo breathes in, closing her eyes. Lightning, she says, and Plavalaguna's fingers encircle her palm like a safe haven.
In how many lives have I known you? She asks one day, when the trees are in full spread, their leaves turned up to the sky in supplication and celebration. The flowers are points of warmth in a world of blue and green.
Leeloo remembers a chain of faces that have nothing in common – a myriad of features, colors, times – except that they looked upon her in love.
All of them, I suspect.
Plavalaguna hums in the back of her throat, the sound traveling back along the chain to its beginning.
She was young, once. She opened her eyes to the world and knew nothing of purpose, of plans, of endless cycles that would circle her through time like a wheel. She knew only that the sky was blue and her mind was a blank slate, waiting to be filled.
I fear the birth more than the death, Leeloo confesses, her head in Plavalaguna's lap. Plavalaguna's nails trace calligraphy on her scalp.
Plavalaguna does not speak, simply places her palm in the center of Leeloo's chest and holds there as Leeloo breathes, in and out, in and out.
The birds fly as the sky darkens to dust, burnt umber saturating the horizon. They are long and sinuous, tails undulating like waves behind them.
Sing for me? She asks, rolling her head in the grass to look at Plavalaguna, who's lying on her back, hair spread like a blue starburst against the earth. I want to remember. When the time comes.
Always, Plavalaguna says. Her profile catches the red of the setting sun, edges undefined in the waning light.
She opens her mouth and her voice rolls forth like a moon-drawn tide, silver and pure. Leeloo's body aches with the lives she has lived, all the lives she has yet to live.
I will watch for you, Plavalaguna promises. Leeloo's metallic armor lies in ruins all around them, scarred remains of her sacrifice. I will wait.
Leeloo opens her eyes to the sky and her mind becomes a blank slate as her body dies.
The stars turn, the tides wane.
She is a moon, held in forward-motion stasis by the inexorable gravity of a planet. She sleeps on the dark side where the light of the sun does not reach, hibernating in the vacuum of space. Her thoughts come slow like stone, percolating with the movement of mountains.
She is carving and re-carving a path created for her before she knew her own name.
She wonders if, eventually, the sun will claim her, burning her up in a flare of pure energy. She does not fear it.
The first days awake are blood, pain, confusion. Her skin feels stretched too tight, and her language is once again long extinct, spoken only in textbooks and memories. She is a breathing relic. She runs from the prying eyes, screaming her frustration in the antiseptic air, fists clenched at her sides and her bones aching, as if they grew too fast. The machines whirr all around her and do not speak back.
Home, she begs the pilot, taking his nicotine-stained fingers in her own. I want to go home.
When she sleeps in the ship, curled into a perfectly round sphere in the co-pilot's seat, she dreams of darkness. A song calls in the far-off distance, and she moves towards it, half-remembering.
It has been too long, friend, she says, and Leeloo looks at Plavalaguna with her new eyes and feels herself waking in the light of the sun.
In the rain-drenched freshness of the garden, she walks with her feet bare to the damp earth and lies down beside Plavalaguna.
Plavalaguna's gaze is timeless with the weight of recognition; their coming together feels as old and familiar as roots growing into loam.
She had roots, once, and sinks into Plavalaguna like a seedling unfurling its first leaf.
She places her hands on the soft curve of Plavalaguna's stomach and says it is time.
Yes, Plavalaguna replies. I know. Her smile of acceptance is serene, fearless.
Leeloo's nails dig into Plavalaguna's skin, as if she can change what awaits them. She fears enough for them both.
I will watch for you, Leeloo promises. Plavalaguna's eyes flutter and she smiles for Leeloo, smiles as she always has, smiles even as her body bleeds its last. I will wait.
I will know you again, friend, Plavalaguna says, and her eyes become blank slates that reflect only the burning stars.