Brothers in Arms
by Dark Amethyst


* * * * * * * *

I don’t know how much later, I wake up with Naru-chan still cradled in my arms. She’s blinking, coming awake too, slowly. She focuses on my face, then reaches her arms up to pull me close, gratefully.

“Where is everyone?” she wonders in a moment, looking about her at the empty room.

“Kunzite and Zoicite, I think, chose to forget,” I tell her. “To start over. But I imagine wherever they are…or will be…they’re together. It’s what saved them – they saved each other. As Moon saved Endymion. As you saved me.”

Naru smiles sadly and turns herself in my arms, cuddling in, her head on my chest.

“And the others?”

“I don’t know,” I admit.

And it’s true – of Jadeite I have no idea…where he’s gone, what he chose. As for Rachael – all I have are hopes…that she has gone home. For in those last few seconds, I forced her grip from mine and dropped her hand. There was no other way. And no time for thanks or farewells. The only hope for her a fresh start – the life she had before I destroyed it. I pray she’s gone to that – with not a recollection of me. And perhaps, one day, I can forgive myself for what I did to her…

“Won’t you miss them?” Naru asks.

“I will,” I sigh, resting my chin on the top of her head. “But they’re free now. That’s all I ever wanted.”

She’s quiet in my arms, and I pull her up into a tighter embrace, moving my face alongside hers, pressing her soft cheek against mine.

“Although,” I add quietly, my mouth close to her ear, feeling her tense expectantly in my arms. “There’s one thing that I still want. Do you know what that is?”

“No,” she answers nervously, blushing so that I’m ashamed of my attempt at levity.

“A chocolate parfait,” I whisper, smiling, but expecting anger now…or at least disappointment.

But she merely laughs, blushing more deeply at her own thoughts.

She sighs, stifling another giggle, resting her head on my shoulder relievedly. “Is everything really going to be all right now?”

“I hope it is,” I tell her…the only thing I can tell her. “I hope it will be.”

= = = R = = =

It’s overcast as usual as I make my way home from class. The wind rustles the leaves fitfully and the night air has a sharp cold tang. I draw in a breath savouringly as I come to the brow of the hill, stopping a moment near the empty park bench…looking down to the dark sea. A queer feeling of déjà vu rushes over me, and I stand puzzling a moment, trying to decipher it.

Of course it feels familiar, I tell myself. I come by here every other night!

But it doesn’t feel…familiar. It feels…like something’s wrong…missing.

The wind whips up more insistently and a cold drizzle starts. I shake the odd feeling off and walk away, putting up my umbrella.

I cross the street and head towards home. As I near my block, I notice that same gorgeous red car, parked near my door. I’ve seen it a few times now, here and there. I wonder whose it is?

I try to act nonchalant as I walk closer. As I come abreast, I’m about to duck my head to get a look at the driver, but the car pulls away – off with a roar into the night. I stare after it a moment, then shrug.

If he’s a stalker, he’s a rich one. You could do worse, Rachael.

I grin as I turn the key in the lock, but the grin doesn’t last until the elevator.

I make a little dinner, correct my papers, then climb into bed with a book – all as usual…as empty as usual…but I’m feeling…slightly worse. As if…I’d lost something I once had.

In the morning, I’m too busy to be morose, hurrying to class as usual. When I get to the lecture hall, the prof is late – also as usual, so I pull out a book to catch up on some reading. A soft voice from my right interrupts me.

“Excuse me.”

I’m drawn to the sound…a low quiet voice, a seductive tone that somehow commands and cajoles simultaneously.

I turn to the desk beside me to stare somewhat drop-jawed into deliciously deep blue eyes…attractively obscured beneath spikes of blonde.

He’s staring back at me unabashedly, and raises an eyebrow in confused inquiry.

“Have we met?”

I shake my head. I would remember. To say the least.

Yet…I’m overcome once again with that peculiar recognition…that frustrating sense that my heart knows something my brain does not remember.

After a few moments of frowning concentration, he lets the matter pass and smiles at me with devastating charm.

“I’ve just joined this class. Would you mind if I borrowed your notes?”

* * * * * * * *

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The Nephrite and Naru Treasury