The Gift of Love

by LadyKeren


* * * * * * * *

Naru sat on her bed with her hand beneath her chin. She gave a loud sigh as she pondered the previous turn of events. She had tried going back to sleep, but Nephrite's confession to her combined with her worry for him prevented her from being able to.

'I suppose I should be happy that Nephrite-sama said he loved me…which I am, since a part of me didn't think he would return my feelings…but how can I be totally happy, knowing he is possibly in trouble?' The red head could feel her eyes welling up with tears, but she blinked them back and took a deep breath. 'Don't get too upset, Naru,' said a voice inside Naru's head. 'Try to think of what to do.'

'Okay, if I am going to save Nephrite-sama, I'm going to have to find Sailor Moon. The problem is I don't know where to look.' Naru then remembered the conversation she had with Usagi that afternoon, in regards to Nephrite. 'Maybe she knows something about Sailor Moon, how to contact her or something. Her knowledge of him is too weird to just be a coincidence.'

Knowing Usagi would be the only one who could help, Naru decided to call her. She quietly tiptoed downstairs, not wanting her mom to know she was still up. She was hopeful speaking to the blonde about the situation would not be too difficult, given her change in tune. She retrieved the cordless phone, tiptoed back upstairs to her bedroom, sat on the floor and dialed the number. 'I hope she's still awake, or else I won't be able to help Nephrite-sama. Who knows what will happen then?'

"Good evening, Tsukino residence," answered a crisp female's voice.

Naru let out a sigh of relief. "Hi, Mrs. Tsukino. I'm sorry if I disturbed you. May I speak with Usagi, please?" 'Please be awake, please be awake, please be awake.' Not that she was expecting her friend to still be up, considering her slothful nature and how late it was.

"Hold on just a moment."

"Thank you." As Naru waited for her friend to come to the phone, she composed herself enough to be able to say whatever she needed to without breaking down into tears.

Usagi came to the phone giving a long yawn. "Yes, who is it?" she asked sleepily. There was silence on the other line. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. "Who's calling me?" 'Please let this not be a prank call. I wouldn't be able to sleep if it is.' She hoped it wasn't Umino, either, or else she would give him a piece of her mind for interrupting her beauty rest. But then her heart began to pound with worry, since the only time she would be called so late was if something was wrong. Did Ami or Rei have some sort of crisis? 'I wonder if there is some sort of attack going on that I know nothing about.' She balled her free hand into a fist at the thought.

Naru took it Usagi had been half asleep, if not going to sleep soon. 'I had better keep this call short.' "Usagi, I'm sorry for calling you so late." Naru didn't believe her best friend would be mad at her since she didn't make it a habit to call late at night, but she didn't want Usagi to get the wrong idea.

"Oh, Naru!" Usagi exclaimed, somewhat relieved, somewhat worried. 'She's the last person I would expect to hear from this late…something must be wrong for sure.' Realizing how loud her voice was, she lowered it to a whisper, lest someone would come and tell her to lower the decibels. "What's wrong?"

"I have some good news, but I also need your help, and I didn't know who else to call."

"Okay. What happened?"

"Well Masato Sanjouin's real name is Nephrite. He told me he loved me and he also asked me to help him find Sailor Moon."

"Oh?" Usagi wanted to believe Nephrite's confession to the red head meant that her wish upon the shooting star came true, but it still remained to be seen. She was not sure what to make of him wanting to meet up with her. 'For all I know, it could be part of a trap he is planning to set for me. I mean, yes he proved me wrong, but I can't expect that his personality would make a drastic change in just one night.'

'Oh, she certainly took that better than I thought she would. I thought for sure she would be at least slightly freaked about Nephrite-sama wanting to see Sailor Moon.' All of a sudden, Naru's eyes filled with tears, which she had been doing a good job fighting. "I have the feeling Nephrite-sama is in great danger, but I feel so useless knowing I can't do anything to help him." She burst into tears.

Usagi cocked an eyebrow. "What kind of danger is he in?" she asked, genuinely concerned. She knew if Nephrite loved her best friend like he said, the agents of the Dark Kingdom would surely torture him for that, which would spell disaster for Naru as well. The thought of Naru being in danger made her feel discomfort in her chest. She could hear sniffling. "Naru? Are you crying?"

Naru's tears subsided. "I'm sorry to burden you with this so late at night. I'm all right now." At that moment, a silhouette of Nephrite appeared outside her bedroom door, though she didn't know it.

"Are you sure you're okay?" inquired the blonde. She hoped her friend wasn't just saying that.

"Yes, I really am. If you know how to contact Sailor Moon, please tell her Nephrite-sama needs to speak with her. Thank you for listening, Usagi-chan."

"Sure, Naru," said Usagi hesitantly. "Anytime." She hung up.

'Don't worry Nephrite-sama, help is on the way,' thought Naru as she hung up as well.

Nephrite smiled to himself as he heard the last bit of the phone conversation. 'Just as I thought. So Naru-san's friend's name is Usagi, is it? Interesting.' He knew just how he would use that piece of info.

* * * * * * * *


Ruby, Yukari and Miki found out about Zoisite's plot with the help of Yukari's crystal ball. The twins' faces turned pale with rage. Ruby was so furious that her face turned nearly as red as her hair. Not only was Zoisite a complete coward, but he had to involve an innocent girl who had nothing to do with his grudge against Nephrite.

Ruby's first instinct was to turn the Plant Sisters into plant fertilizers, tear Zoisite apart limb by limb, and rip out his internal organs as the finishing touch. She clenched her fists and proceeded to breathe heavily, almost as if she were hyperventilating. 'Okay, Ruby calm down,' she mentally told herself, trying to slow down her breathing. 'If you are going to stop this, you must have a clear and sound mind. You have to do something fast, as those annoying weed sisters could be terrorizing Naru-san by the second.' She recalled how peaceful and fragile the girl looked and imagined her and Nephrite's lives being cut short in a cold blooded manner.

The red head youma shook her head to rid her mind of the horrific image. 'Pull yourself together, girl! This is no time to think about crying yourself silly! Remember, this is nothing Master Nephrite cannot handle.'

The twins glanced at Ruby. "You all right? What do you think about all this?" asked Yukari.

By then Ruby had calmed down somewhat. "It is absolutely despicable, but I cannot say I'm surprised, considering what an annoying, detestable parasite Zoisite is," she answered.

Yukari rubbed the bridge of her nose. "Good grief. I knew Zoisite was a scumbag, but who knew he was such a vengeful maniac? Do you think he concocted this scheme all on his own or did Kunzite put him up to this?" 'Can't Kunzite train him better?'

"It wouldn't surprise me if Kunzite gave him that plan, but you never know what he would be capable of when he becomes a dangerous enemy," said Miki. "Of course, he could just be making empty threats, but it is wise not to take chances. I must admit, at least he had the sense to warn those wretched sisters that Master Nephrite is a very skilled warrior. "

Ruby laughed huffily. "Even so, they're fools if they think Master Nephrite will be outsmarted so easily. Subtlety is clever, but not good enough."

"Yes, well, we'd better go find Master Nephrite and warn him about this," pointed out Yukari, looking worried. "Otherwise, Zoisite and those plant women will make liars out of us."

'Yeah, like that'll ever happen,' thought Ruby. "Agreed."

* * * * * * * *

Usagi quickly got dressed in her sailor outfit and proceeded to run over to Naru's house with Luna beside her. Shortly after she had hung up from her best friend, she began to have a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach, which she usually had when someone close to her was in danger.

"Are you sure you want to go through with this plan of helping Nephrite?" asked Luna. "He may have set a trap for you."

Usagi rolled her eyes at the attempt to make her have second thoughts. "Of course I'm sure, I've never been surer of anything in my life! I mean, I'm still not entirely sure if the wish I made worked, but I want to find out!" 'Plus Naru sounded really upset on the phone and I don't want to see her hurt.'

Luna didn't know what to say to that, since it was understandable. "Well, if you say so. I do, however, believe Naru is in danger. However, you're not going to save her in time if you don't pick up the pace!"

"Hey, what do you expect? I'm not a cat!" Usagi hated when Luna always had to rub it in her face that she was a slow sprinter.

"Never mind, I'll meet you there!" Luna sped off.

'Geez, she could have waited for me…we were almost there…but I suppose it beats her rushing me when I'm doing my best to get there quickly.' Usagi was about to follow, but suddenly, the sidewalk became crooked and she had trouble keeping her balance. Soon it seemed like everywhere was crooked. It was almost as if someone was trying to send her into another dimension.

"Aaaaah! What's up with this? I bet this is the work of a youma! You're going down, you Dark Kingdom flunky!" A part of her wondered if it could be Nephrite or one of his youma behind the trick, but she was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. 'After all, innocent until proven guilty, right?' She took out her brooch. "Moon Prism Power, Make Up!" As the transformation was complete, the sidewalk and surroundings returned to normal. The moon senshi stood with one hand on her hip and the other on her forehead, poised for whichever challenge she was about to face. "All right, show yourself, whoever you are! I don't have all night to be waiting!"

"Hahaha, thank you for revealing your true identity, Sailor Moon!" answered a familiar male's voice.

'Oh. So it is Nephrite.' Sailor Moon whirled around. 'Where is he? I don't see him.' She was about to yell at him to show himself, but before she could, he appeared in a swirl of reddish light, levitating to the ground. His long hair, which had been swirling slightly upward, fell over his shoulders.

"Nephrite!" Moon cried out, half terrified, half exasperated. She felt like such a fool for even thinking of helping him, since at the moment he didn't look to be in any danger. 'He must have tricked Naru-chan again…no Sailor Moon…don't think that way, even if you are suspicious. You have to hang tough! Remember, it will take some time for him to change.'

"So Sailor Moon's real name is Usagi, is it not?" asked Nephrite. "You would be a fool to deny it. I saw you transform."

Sailor Moon squirmed, unsure of what to say at first. It was true, he had seen her transformation, so she couldn't lie, but at the same time she knew she would be a fool to confess. There was one thing that puzzled her. It was one thing for him to see what she looked like in street clothing, but how could he possibly know her name? 'He must have overheard Naru while she was talking to me on the phone. That little schemer!' She knew enough not to openly show her anger, as he would probably be amused by it. She decided to test him. "Perhaps I am, but if you know that, would you please do me a favor and not tell anyone? It could just be our little secret between the two of us. All right, Nephrite?"

'I see she's not willing to acknowledge her identity…clever girl. However, I can still see through her little charade.' "You don't have to hide the truth any longer."

Moon didn't think it would do much good to explain why it was imperative to hide her identity, but she decided to try anyway. "You don't understand. I really have to. Do you realize what could happen if Beryl learned the truth? Please, I really don't want to fight." The blonde senshi stopped, listening to herself. Although she hadn't planned on saying the last words, she realized how true they were.'Great…he must think I'm a wimp or pathetic, but I can't help it.' She looked down at her feet.

Nephrite studied the young girl before him, and could see in her eyes that although she had a brave front, she was at least mildly afraid. Not that he blamed her. If he were in her shoes, he would be afraid of him, too. And he could very easily take advantage of her fears and attack if he wanted to, since he generally enjoyed seeing her on her knees.

'Please, Nephrite-sama, say you and Usagi-chan will try to come to an understanding,' said a voice in the star shitennou's head. What struck him was that it sounded a lot like Naru's voice. He wasn't sure if he was entirely ready to do that just yet, but he hated the thought of Naru being in distress. He thought of a good way to prove her right. "Not to worry. I do not intend to reveal your identity to Queen Beryl." There. It was a start, but better than nothing and a huge step where his enemy was concerned.

"Nephrite…" Sailor Moon looked surprised by what her one time foe just said. She was tempted to ask him what brought on the change. Surely it wasn't her plea, since she never knew him to be relenting. 'I think I know. It must be Naru…he must love her after all. I thought he was toying with her emotions again.' She dared herself to look at his facial expression, to make sure he wasn't patronizing her. To her surprise, she saw that he looked serious, and almost thoughtful. "I appreciate that, Nephrite," she managed to reply.

Nephrite gave a small, reserved smile. For the longest time, he didn't see her as a real threat, as she looked very weak and was no more than annoyingly persistent. He had to admit, though, she proved how tough she truly was when she destroyed most of his battle youma and gave him the fright of his life the previous night, when he was nearly fatally wounded by her tiara. 'You have proven yourself to be a worthy adversary, Sailor Moon.'

The two warriors stood facing each other. There was an awkward silence between them. Luckily, Nephrite's trio of female henchwomen appeared before things could get too awkward.

"Master Nephrite, we have come to warn you about something very disturbing," said Ruby in a rush. "It seems Zoisite and some youma of his are up to no good. They are going to kidnap—"

Before Ruby could finish her sentence, she was interrupted by a voice crying, "Nephrite-sama, help me please!"

'That's Naru-san's voice!' The star shitennou looked troubled. He realized Ruby was trying to tell him Zoisite had planned to have Naru kidnapped. He recalled Zoisite vowing revenge on him. His expression turned into a scowl when he realized what Zoisite's plot of revenge involved—using Naru as bait to get to him. 'Such cowardice…or perhaps he knows he cannot win against me. Either way, I will not tolerate this!' He made an effort to soften his scowl, and looked at the senshi of the moon. "I have some business to attend to, but rest assured our paths will cross again." He and his youma teleported away.

'I guess it's safe to say my wish on the shooting star worked after all,' thought Moon. 'I noticed he didn't attack me, even though it seemed like he was going to at first.' She also noticed it was the first relatively civil conversation she had with him. 'Maybe next time I see him, we will start to become friends…speaking of friends, I'd better go find Luna and see what happened to Naru-chan…I had almost forgotten I was supposed to be looking for her until I heard her scream.' The blonde could not bear the thought of her best friend being hurt. She clenched her fist. 'Those creeps will pay if they try anything with her.' She ran off to see if she could find her feline guardian.

Luna had just arrived at the Osa.P place a few moments ago. She began to feel an extremely evil vibe nearby, prompting her to look up. Housenka was soaring through the air, with a bubble surrounding her, but she was not alone. She was holding a figure tightly around the abdomen.

The feline was filled with horror once the youma flew closer and she got a good look at the person. "Oh no, it's Naru! I have to alert the senshi right away." She didn't know what exactly the youma had in mind for the red head, but she had a bad feeling, considering how ruthless the Dark Kingdom agents could be. 'Sailor Moon had better hurry up…the slowpoke.'

* * * * * * * *

Nephrite and his trio of youma arrived in Naru's room, desperate to stop the perpetrator from getting away with the underhanded scheme of kidnapping her. However, the room was empty.

"Oh no! She's gone! We're too late!" yelled Ruby. 'Whoever took her was certainly fast. Not that it'll change anything.'

"Dang, the sisters were too fast for us!" moaned Yukari. "Who knows what they will do to her now?"

Miki gave her sister a look. "Yukari, don't say that. Your pessimism isn't helping at all. Master Nephrite could be trying to devise a plan."

Upon hearing that, Yukari put her hands to her mouth. She didn't want to risk aggravating Nephrite, as he was probably more stressed than any of them. "Sorry. I guess I'm a bit tense."

Miki gave Yukari an understanding look. "So am I. But if Naru will be saved, try to refrain from panicking."

Ruby saw a small piece of paper lying on the bed. "Look. It appears to be a note of some kind. Maybe it explains Naru-san's whereabouts." 'It had better, if those wenches know what's good for them.'

Nephrite picked up the piece of paper his underling pointed out. 'Last warning. Hand over your kurozuishou if you wish for Naru's life to be spared,' it read. 'Zoisite's minions must have left this behind. Such an insolent fool. Does he honestly think I will ever surrender to him?' An image of Naru laughing and running towards him appeared in his mind. There was no way he was going to allow such a fragile soul with a radiant smile to be harmed over something as priceless as a stone. In his anger, he crumpled the ransom note and created a ball of flames in his hand, thus burning the note.

"Master Nephrite, what's the matter?" asked Miki. "What did the note say?" 'I'm guessing it was something out of line, based on his reaction.'

Nephrite looked grim as he answered, "My kurozuishou in exchange for Naru's life." Just thinking of the demand made his blood boil.

Ruby pressed her lips together, resisting the urge to let out obscenities, which she didn't want to do in front of her master, so she opted to just hold her tongue. She growled angrily.

"What the hell?!" blared Miki. "You don't have to give him anything!" She could feel her nerves twitching. 'If only Zoisite were in this time I see him I'm gonna electrocute him to pieces.' Realizing her outburst, she stopped and tightly folded her arms across her chest.

There were so many insulting comments Yukari wanted to make about Zoisite, but she was trying to keep her cool for once. "Um Master, I am sure it will be a piece of cake for you to rescue the girl, but do you want us to come with you? I mean, just in case this is a trap so we can strike if we have to."

Nephrite knew it was possible this was a trap being set for him, but he had to take the chance. However, he didn't want his youma to be exposed to it. On the other hand, he found her concern valid and thought a little bit of help would be nice, just in case. "Yes, but remain hidden. It is a possibility Zoisite has similar plans for you as well."

Ruby nodded, hearing Suzuran ask about getting rid of her and the twins. "Understood."

* * * * * * * *

The Plant Sisters held Naru captive at an abandoned nightclub called Rag Time, which was so run down it would have to undergo major renovation for future use. Housenka had made Naru kneel down, spread both arms out and she bound them at the wrists to an overturned table.

Guarding the girl was simple, yet the sisters were starting to become bored out of their minds since she did nothing but quiver in fear. They were ready for some action.

Grape impatiently tapped her foot. "Come on, Nephrite, what's the hold up? Are you trying to make me fall asleep from boredom?"

Housenka looked at her hostage with disdain, unable to believe someone as powerful as Nephrite would give someone so fragile and defenseless the time of day. "Do you honestly think he will show up for some wimpy little human?"

"Ha! If he doesn't, we will just have to kill her, won't we?" Grape chuckled softly to herself. 'Not that it would be much fun, considering how simple it would be to slay her.'

Naru overheard the taunts, which worried her more. 'Nephrite, are you coming to save me soon? These ladies are so creepy. I know you can defeat them.' She shuddered at the thought of being killed by them. Not to mention the position her arms were in put a strain on her shoulders. 'Please hurry, Nephrite-sama. I don't know how much my shoulders can take.'

Suzuran looked at the red head with false pity. "Look, the poor sweetheart is frightened. It's a shame we have to destroy her, hahaha!" She sensed a familiar force and looked up.

Nephrite finally showed up, walking down the old stairs. He gazed at the sisters with contempt. 'Worthless underlings…your powers are impressive but neither of you are a match for me. Zoisite was a fool to send you after me.' He spotted a frightened Naru. It pained him to see her in that condition and he was filled with more fury than before, but he tried to control his anger as it could get in the way.

The sisters returned his gaze. 'So you finally decided to show up, Nephrite,' thought Grape. 'However, it will be the last mistake you'll ever make.' Housenka stood with her legs wide apart, ready to fight.

"Nephrite-sama, look out!" cried Naru, when she saw her kidnapper preparing to attack.

"Die, you traitor!" Housenka spat, launching a barrage of small red bombs.

Naru's words had barely entered Nephrite's mind in time, but he saw the assault coming and avoided the explosion by leaping off the stairs, high into the air. Suzuran shot distortion waves from her hands, which didn't faze him enough to cause pain and dizziness, but the defense attack decreased the momentum and amplitude in the leap he made to dodge the bombs. As a result, he crunched down on the right ankle when he landed and nearly stumbled. He was able to prevent it by crouching down on one knee.

Housenka saw the near stumble and cackled with delight. "Look at the all powerful Nephrite now!" she mocked. "I thought you would be a stronger foe than this, but I guess I overestimated your abilities!" The youma shot more grenades at him, hoping she would get him this time. He scooted out of the way just in time. It was then he began to feel a dull throbbing in the ankle, though only slightly.

"Grrr, you little upstart! You won't escape my attack this time!" 'This guy seems even more powerful than Master Zoisite described. And this is a better plan than what we had in mind.' She placed both arms above her head, preparing to launch more grenades.

Housenka's taunting at the near fall incensed Nephrite, mostly because in her own obnoxious way, she was correct. He was generally much more agile and precise than what he just demonstrated. The fact that a defense attack caused his little mishap was unacceptable. 'You won't be amused for much longer.' The star shitennou conjured his star sword, and charged at Housenka. He slid the blade of the sword across her waist before she could launch another volley of her projectiles. She instantly turned into dust. Next, he lunged at Suzuran, stabbed her in the abdomen and made a vertical slice of her body.

'Don't worry sisters, I will avenge you both.' Grape extended her thorn arm at Nephrite, but he sped past the arm, forcing her to retract it. Once he was positive he had her distracted and was close enough, he chopped off her thorn arm at the shoulder, making sure it wouldn't be able to extend anymore. This caused her great pain and the wounded area began to bleed profusely. She clutched at the area where her arm used to be.

"Aaaah! My precious vine arm!" cried the youma in a fit of rage. "You'll be sorry!"

"I don't think so." Nephrite slit her throat, causing blood to gush out and he stepped away to keep his uniform from being soiled. He slid the blade of his weapon across her upper body for the final blow.

Naru had an awed expression on her face. The fight had left her speechless. She had seen a sample of Nephrite's power, but she had no idea she was merely seeing a small sample. 'He's really good at wielding a sword, too. I'm just glad he did all that to protect me.'

Nephrite reached into his pocket and pulled out his kurozuishou, held it up and crushed it in his hand. He no longer wanted it and he certainly wasn't going to allow his rival to keep nagging him for it. He let the shards of the shattered crystal drop to the ground before walking over to the red head girl and gazing lovingly into her eyes for awhile. He carefully sliced the ropes that bound her wrists, made the sword disappear and then swept her up into his arms, carrying her out of the run down nightclub.

* * * * * * * *

Seeing that the coast was clear, Nephrite's trio of youma appeared from hiding as they spotted him coming out of the building. As happy as the women were that they were not needed, they were still glad they got to witness the destruction of the Plant Sisters. They walked side by side, next to him. "Great job, Master Nephrite!" Yukari congratulated him. "That was classic!"

"Yes," agreed Miki. "That should teach Zoisite a lesson and then some."

"I imagine the battle was a total waste of your time, but at least it didn't take long," commented Ruby.

"I appreciate your support, girls." Nephrite did find the sisters to be somewhat unworthy opponents even with their unique abilities, but if putting them away was what it took to save Naru, so be it. As much as he would have liked to think he taught Zoisite a lesson in the process, he couldn't be too sure, depending on the sakura's persistence.

"What are you going to do about the kurozuishou?" asked Yukari. "I am certain he will come later to get his greedy paws on it, since he knows you no longer have any use for it. Or even worse, kill you for it, since his youma failed."

"I have been aware of that, which is why I disposed of it."

"Great thinking, sir," said Ruby. "Now if Zoisite wants a black crystal, he will have to have the witch queen make one for him." 'That'll teach him not to mess with Master Nephrite.'

Nephrite and the henchwomen were passing a park and were almost back at Naru's place. As Nephrite approached the apartment, the youma slowed down, intending to give the couple some time to themselves.

"We'll be right out here if you need us for anything," said Yukari.

"All right." Nephrite teleported into Naru's bedroom and gently put her down.

"Thank you for saving me, Nephrite-sama," said the young girl, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her head against his chest. It felt so good to be in the safety of her bedroom once again, even though she wasn't sure how she would go back to sleep. 'Oh his chest feels so warm…I can listen to the sound of his heart beating all day.'

The chestnut haired young man was a bit taken aback by Naru's sudden display of affection, but relaxed and cradled her. "It is the least I can do after having deceived you ever since I met you. I do not wish to continue lying to you."

"I know." Naru embraced him again and looked into his eyes. "You have shown me you really do have a good heart. As long as we're together, everything will be all right."

'Huh? It seems I have much to learn from this girl.' Nephrite tried not to show pain on his face as his ankle had begun to hurt—a lot.

Naru thought of what she meant to ask Nephrite, now that they were alone. She had been worried when she saw his rough landing back at the fight and she noticed something had seemed off about the way he was walking whilst he was carrying her back home. It seemed to her like he was trying his hardest not to walk with a noticeable limp. "Nephrite-sama? May I ask you something?"

"Hmm?" Nephrite sat on the edge of the bed. He could take being on his feet no longer, with the ailing ankle. "What is it?"

Naru thought of the best way to approach the question. 'Just come out with it.' "Um, I noticed during your fight with those creepy ladies, you landed funny and nearly fell. Are you hurting?"

The reformed shitennou could see a look of concern etched on the girl's face. He didn't want to worry her, and he was never one to make a big deal over a stupid injury, although the cause of it angered him. But he had promised to be truthful to her from now on. "Yes. I seem to have twisted my ankle."

"I thought so." 'If he didn't hurt his ankle after a landing like that, I would be shocked. To think that it only happened on my account. I hope my efforts take at least some of his pain away.' "Take off your boot. I'll have a look at it."

Nephrite removed the boot as he was instructed with some difficulty, slightly wincing at the pain. He rested his leg on the bed for Naru to examine. She sat across from him and rolled down the sock so she could take a look. Sure enough, there was some swelling as well as a small bruise, which she couldn't help but wince at.

'Ouch. No wonder it hurts,' thought the red head as she gently massaged it. She proceeded to rip a piece of cloth from her pajama top. She wrapped it around the injured area and tied it, tightly enough so it was secure but not to the extent where he would feel even more pain. "There. Maybe you can soak it or something."

"Thank you, Naru." Nephrite swung his leg over, retrieved his boot and stood up gingerly. It was still very sore but bearable. Right now, a soak in a whirlpool bath did sound good. He wondered if maybe he should go to the hospital, but decided against it, unless the pain didn't subside. He bent over, gave Naru a quick one armed hug and disappeared from the room.

'Oh Nephrite…I hope you'll be all right.' Naru crawled under the covers to see if she could try going back to sleep.

Ruby and the twins were waiting for their master by the rosebush. They had noticed him limping slightly after leaving the nightclub so they were not surprised to see him with one shoe off. Yukari had a sympathetic expression on her face. 'It must be really hurting.'

"Ruby, please, watch over Naru," said Nephrite. "There is a chance Zoisite will return for her."

Ruby nodded, knowing Zoisite returning was a huge possibility, and she couldn't have that. "You got it, sir." Inwardly, she was smiling as this would be her chance to get to know Naru better. She teleported away.

"I am sure Naru-san will be in good hands with her," said Miki as she watched Ruby go. She and Yukari wandered over to Nephrite and wrapped their arms around his broad shoulders. "Hang onto my shoulder," Miki instructed Nephrite.

Nephrite looked bewildered, but had an idea of where Miki was going with this. She was obviously trying to make teleporting easier for him under the circumstances. He placed an arm around her shoulder like she told him to, and teleported with them to the mansion.

* * * * * * * *

Naru was still very much wide awake, despite the time of night it was. The recent turn of events left her feeling mentally exhausted, and was weighing heavily on her mind. She just lay there, tossing and turning. 'Sheesh, I'm too young to have insomnia.'

"You're having trouble sleeping, aren't you?" asked Ruby, noticing Naru's restless state.

Naru nearly jumped out of her skin at the sudden voice. She sat up and looked around the room. 'Oh gosh I hope it's not another one of those evil creatures.' She saw Ruby sitting just a few feet from her. "Oh, it's you!" she said, relieved. "What are you doing here?" 'Not that I'm complaining or anything. I could use the company after what happened tonight.'

"Master Nephrite has asked me to stay with you," answered the red head youma.

"Oh." As much as Naru would have loved it if Nephrite was there, she decided Ruby was safe. After all, the young woman had been nice enough to her the previous night. She could also tell Ruby and the twins had a good relationship with Nephrite based on the conversation they had whilst he was bringing her home. Surely they would honor a request involving her. Besides, if Nephrite was there and her mother saw, she wasn't sure how she would explain his presence to her mom. "To answer your earlier question, yes, I guess I am having trouble sleeping. There is so much on my mind."

"Do you care to tell me about it?" asked Ruby. She paused, realizing Naru might not be too keen on confiding her innermost feelings to someone who was still practically a stranger to her. "Of course, you don't have to if you don't want to, but just know I am here to listen to whatever is troubling you."

Naru hesitated, wondering if she should tell Ruby what she had been thinking about, considering she still didn't know the woman very well, although she wanted to get to know her. Not to mention she was someone who used to be one of the evil creatures. 'Come on, it won't be so bad. Remember, she has known Nephrite for much longer than you have and it'll be good to get your feelings off your chest.' She looked at Ruby from the corner of her eye. "Well, I'm just worried about Nephrite-sama. I hope he'll be all right again soon. "

"Of course." Ruby wasn't surprised to hear that. She knew how deeply the young girl cared for her master and didn't like to see him hurt. "I am sure he will be fine in no time at all, hun. It is probably no more than a sprain."

"I hope that's all it is." The mere thought that it happened on her account still bothered her, but she decided not to reveal it right then. There was also something else she had wanted to ask him, but she didn't think it was the right time. "This may sound silly of me, but I am scared another evil creature will come after me." She hoped Ruby wouldn't scoff at her for being wimpy, but she couldn't help it. The close call she had with the Plant Sisters was enough to give anyone nightmares.

"Not to worry. I will see to it that it doesn't happen." Ruby couldn't help but pity the girl. She was so innocent, yet so helpless in all of this. The only thing she wanted to do was show her sisterly side by repaying her for saving Nephrite and protecting her in any way she could. 'Come to think of it, she could practically be my younger sister.'

"Thank you so much. It means so much to me." Naru was beginning to feel at ease with Ruby.

"Don't mention it. Now try and get some sleep. You have been through a lot today. If you are still worried about Master Nephrite, I can take you to see him tomorrow if you like."

"All right, thanks. I'd like that very much." 'Hopefully by then his ankle will have stopped hurting so much.' Feeling as if some of the weight had been lifted off, Naru crawled back under the covers.

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return to Index / go to Chapter 3

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury