Hearts of Sword
by Moon Momma

Part Eleven -- Nothing Without You

* * * * * * * *

What thou art is mine;
Our state cannot be severed, we are one,
One flesh; to lose thee were to lose myself.

John Milton, "Paradise Lost"

* * * * * * * *

Naru lay on a couch in Jasper's filthy, smelly apartment. Her hands and feet were tied. It had been torture listening to her cell phone ring and ring, knowing it was Nephrite trying to call her, and being unable to answer. She had begged this evil-looking person who had kidnapped her to answer the phone, but he had simply laughed. When he finally did pick it up, there were so many things she wanted to say, but she didn't get the chance. I'm sorry, Nephrite, I shouldn't have broken the rules, I should have told you where I was going, I should have asked someone to come with me, I should have let you come with me, I'm so sorry. I love you, Nephrite, I forgive you, I just want us to be happy together. At least she had been able to warn him. This couldn't turn out like the last time, when she was kidnapped, he came to rescue her, and they were caught in an ambush and he died. It just couldn't be like that, though if it did turn out that way it would be her fault because she should have known better than to let herself get kidnapped. But she really hadn't thought they would try it on a busy street in broad daylight. Nephrite, I'm sorry.

This horrible man frightened her. He hadn't touched her, except to hit her on the head with her cell phone, but his words to her, coupled with the memory of what he had done to so many poor girls, filled her with a choking terror. "I could rape you," he had said dispassionately when she first woke up in this place, "but I don't think I will. You're special, baby. By the time I'm done with you, you'll be beggin' me for it. Then we'll see what Mr. Good Guy Nephrite thinks of that." He had grinned then, cartoonish black lips stretched around rotten teeth.

After so many hours, she was starving and she really had to go to the bathroom. This strong need to go was a side effect of pregnancy, the doctor had told her. Her captor was sitting in a trash-strewn chair near her, smoking a joint and scratching himself in an indelicate place. "Please, I need to use the bathroom," she said, feeling humiliated.

"Go where you are, baby," he said. "Don't matter. Last week some chick puked right where your head is."

Naru gritted her teeth and resolved to hang on. She was actually glad a little while later when the three Lords, wearing their black turltenecks and black jeans, shimmered into the apartment. Jasper stood up. "What took you guys so long? I was supposed to leave..." He stared blearily, stupidly, at the clock over the fireplace. "Whenever. I've got a gig in... Don't matter. Gotta go." He picked up a black leather jacket and wove his way out of the apartment. "My limo's waitin', man."

The Three watched him leave, then looked at Naru. "I can't believe this," Zoisite said. "We're spending our weekend here in this dungheap babysitting Little Miss Cute. I hate this place."

"Zoisite," Naru said, "it's going to get a lot worse if you guys don't untie me right now."

* * * * * * * *

Nephrite sat in front of the giant TV in Mamoru's apartment, working on his sixth beer and blasting the heads off of bad guys on Mamoru's goriest video game. He drained that bottle and went into the kitchen for another one. Mamoru intercepted him. "That's number seven, Nephrite. Don't you think that's enough? You won't be able to do anything for Naru if you've got a hangover in the morning."

Nephrite surrendered the beer, went back to the couch, and turned off the video game. "I drank too much last night, too." This was bad. He was normally a very light drinker, and now he was drinking too much two nights in a row. Mental note: find other way of coping when life starts to tank.

Mamoru sat beside him. "What's going on, Nephrite?"

"For a while this evening I thought that Naru had left me."

"What? That's ridiculous! I've never, in either of my lives, seen two people who were as crazy about each other as you and Naru, and that includes me and Usagi. You know, Nephrite, seeing the two of you together, then and now, to me it's like... a sign that everything is right with the universe. There's just something about you and her that's so right." He laughed a little. "I remember how my father got the idea of pairing you four Lords with the four Senshi. I guess he thought that with me married to Usagi and you guys married to the Senshi, his court would be the center of activity of the Solar System. It was almost funny, how frustrated he got that none of you would cooperate. Naturally, the Senshi weren't happy about him interfering in their private lives. You didn't have eyes for anyone but Maira, of course, and as far as Jederin was concerned, if it wasn't in a book he wasn't interested. And then there was Konstantin and Zoyan."

"You knew about them?" Nephrite asked.

"Sure. I don't think they knew that I knew, though. I never held it over their heads the way you did."

Nephrite's shoulders slumped even lower. "I guess I was a real jerk."

"Yeah, but a nice jerk. A likeable jerk. Everyone should be a jerk like you. But, anyway, I don't know what all that has to do with anything. It's just something I was remembering. So tell me, why would you think Naru would leave you?"

Nephrite closed his eyes. His head was already starting to hurt. "I had to tell her some really bad stuff last night. About how she died in the attack on the Palace. That was the price I agreed to pay, for the chance to come back. I had to tell her about how I killed her. And our baby. She said she forgave me, but I don't see how she could. I was sure she had left me." He was silent a while. He wished he hadn't let Mamoru take that last beer from him.

"I remember," Mamoru said softly, "that when you deserted, it was bad enough that you broke your oaths to me and my father, but what was really scary was that you could abandon Maira like that, leaving her in disgrace, carrying a traitor's child."

"Now you remember what kind of a monster I am."

"No. That was what made me realize how powerful and evil Beryl really was, that she could turn you into someone who would do that. You know, Maira defended you, right up to the end. She kept insisting that instead of worrying about the Lords, we should really be concerned with Beryl and the evil force behind her. Even when Queen Selene's War Council took Maira into custody, for so-called security reasons, she would never hear a word against you."

Everything Mamoru was saying swirled around in Nephrite's head. "It would be better if she had left me, than for her to end up in Jasper's hands. I can't stop thinking about those girls in the newspapers."

"Me, either," Mamoru said. "I have nightmares sometimes, about him capturing Usagi. And now you're living the nightmare."

Nephrite clenched his good fist, then grabbed an empty beer bottle and threw it against the wall. "You're a dead man, Jasper!" he yelled.

"And you're drunk, Nephrite," Mamoru said. "Go to bed." He pushed the red-haired man in the direction of the extra futon. Nephrite went uncomplainingly, and fell asleep as soon as he lay down.

* * * * * * * *

Naru woke up on the same filthy couch. Her hands and feet were untied; after untying and re-tying her four times during the night so she could use the bathroom, the Lords had finally decided to leave her untied. Kunzite put the strongest Guards he knew on the door and fire escape, and figured that if she still somehow managed to escape it would serve Jasper right for kidnapping a pregnant woman who had to go to the damn bathroom every half hour.

In truth, Naru had embarked on a campaign of psychological warfare. She had noticed almost immediately that the Thrilling Three, as she called them to herself, were profoundly annoyed at being saddled with her for the weekend. If she irritated them enough, maybe she could find a chance to escape. Maybe they would even voluntarily let her go. Her first plan, to get the ropes taken off, had succeeded.

A brief wave of aching loneliness washed over her. She wanted Nephrite, she yearned for him, her body cried out for him; but he wasn't there, she couldn't turn to him and ask for what she needed.... The moment passed and she became aware of her situation again. She got up, went to the bathroom (for real, this time), and took the pamphlets on Nutrition During Pregnancy from her bag. Her cell phone wasn't in there; Jasper had hidden it somewhere. She wandered into the fungus-infested kitchen, clutching the pamphlets. Zoisite and Kunzite were sitting there, frowning down at cups of black coffee. "I'm hungry," Naru whined.

"Well, tough. There's nothing to eat in this dump," Zoisite said.

"I need proper nourishment." Naru put a snotty tone into the whine. She opened one of the pamphlets. "Every day that goes by without proper nutrition increases the risk that my baby will have terrible health problems. I need at least four servings of protein, four servings of calcium, two servings of vitamin C, three servings of green leafy and yellow vegetables and yellow fruits, two servings of other fruits and vegetables, five servings of whole grains, and extra iron. For the greatest benefit, I should eat the iron-rich foods in combination with the vitamin C foods. Folic acid is important, so I need lots of orange juice."

Zoisite slammed his coffee cup onto the table, sloshing the sludgy liquid onto her hand. "Oh, shut up. What does this look like, a damn health food store? Well, here's what we got." He went to the cupboard and flung the doors open to reveal row after row of brightly-colored boxes, each one decorated with a picture of a toucan with a rainbow-striped beak. Zoisite took down one of the boxes and a bowl from a neighboring cupboard, and poured a mountain of neon-colored, ring-shaped cereal into the bowl. "Froot Loops." He went to the refrigerator, took out a carton of half-and-half, sniffed it and made a face. "And sour half and half." He dumped a quantity of the curdled cream over the Froot Loops and banged the bowl down in front of Naru. "Enjoy."

The sweet scent of the cereal, mingled with the odor of spoiled half-and-half, reached Naru's nostrils. The brilliant colors swam in front of her eyes. Naru's stomach suddenly went into reverse. She clapped a hand over her mouth and ran for the bathroom.

* * * * * * * *

Nephrite sat at Mamoru's kitchen table, alternating cups of black coffee with glasses of water. Ami had phoned early that morning to report that she had found something in her search of the lease records of the apartment buildings in the area where Naru's cell phone was. Nephrite had thought that his head would shatter into a thousand pieces when the phone rang. At least it had distracted him from the fact that Naru, warm and soft and welcoming Naru-chan, wasn't with him when he woke up.

Mamoru came into the kitchen having showered and dressed, and Nephrite went to get cleaned up. He thought about taking a shower, but then remembered the first shower he and Naru had taken together, the afternoon they came back to Tokyo from the monastery. It had become a habit, nearly every day after Kharandha'i practice. He knew he would fall apart again if he stepped into the shower, so instead he just washed his face and tried to comb out his hair. Hopeless. He didn't trust his shaky left hand with a razor, so he let that task go, too. Fresh clothes would have been nice, but he was too much bigger than Mamoru to be able to borrow anything. He wandered back out to the kitchen, using his hand to shield his eyes from the dazzling morning sunlight, and downed a glass of orange juice. "Let's go. I want to see what Ami found."

Mamoru looked him up and down. "You look like walking death, man."

"I've been dead. This is worse."

"Too much beer last night."

"No. Sleeping without Naru. Let's go find her."

* * * * * * * *

When Naru came back to the kitchen, Kunzite was gone and Zoisite was sulking alone. The offending bowl of cereal, thankfully, was gone. Naru just didn't have the energy to continue her obnoxious act. She curled up on the couch where she had slept, too tired, hungry, and depressed to even care about the odors emanating from that piece of furniture.

The blond Lord, Jadeite, wandered into the living room, wearing boxer shorts and a t-shirt. He stopped and stared at Naru, a strange, thoughtful expression on his face. Naru stared back at him. "Rei's Grandpa survived, you know."

"I know," Jadeite said quietly. "I'm glad."

"Yeah, right."

"How's Rei?"

"She and Yuuichirou are pretty serious. I think they'll be getting engaged soon."

"I see. I always thought she was really something special."

"And that's why you tried to kill her Grandpa. You know, you guys are totally sick. Going after an old man like that, who has no idea what's going on, just so that -- that -- that thing in the black and white face paint can be King of the Universe. I'm sure you're all real proud of yourselves."

Jadeite turned away from her. "I used to be a Healer. Nephrite reminded me, that day. I used to be a Healer and an Imperial Guardian of the Realm of Earth, and my name was Jederin. I used to be an honorable man." He walked back in the direction he had come from.

"You aren't anymore, that's for sure!" Naru yelled after him.

A short while later, Kunzite came in the door, his arms laden with grocery bags. He walked to the kitchen, then stopped in the doorway. He looked at Naru, and jerked his head sideways, indicating that she should follow him.

One bag contained rubber gloves and cleaning supplies. He had also bought paper plates and cups and plastic utensils. "No way I'm washing those," he said, indicating the piles of molding plates and bowls. "One of you can, if you want to." From the other bags he took a carton of milk, a bottle of orange juice, whole wheat bread, rice cereal, yogurt, jam, instant noodle soup mix, fresh fruit, cans of Coke.... Naru's mouth watered and her eyes teared up at the sight of the bounty of food. Zoisite also looked desperately grateful, but all he said was, "Good. Now we don't have to listen to Little Miss Isn't-It-Wonderful-That-I-Got-Knocked-Up whine about being undernourished."

"You're very welcome, Zoisite," Kunzite said. "I didn't know boys could get PMS." He took a paper cup out of the package, poured orange juice into it, and handed it to Naru. "Thank you," she said, while Zoisite glared at her. "Hey, what about me?" the copper-haired Lord demanded.

Kunzite poured another cup of juice, then put it on the table and pulled Zoisite into his arms for a long, hungry kiss. Naru looked away. Nephrite, I want you. Please get me out of here.

* * * * * * * *

At the Hikawa Shrine, Rei eyed Nephrite disapprovingly. "You're going to be a lot of help today."

"Leave him alone, Rei," Mamoru said. "He's dealing with some major issues right now."

"Major issues, yeah," Makoto said. "Like maybe a couple of six-packs of beer?"

"Come on, have some sympathy," Minako said. "His Naru's been kidnaped by Mr. Groupie's Worst Nightmare King of the Dark Kingdom. If that doesn't give him the right to drink heavily, then what does?"

Nephrite groaned and rubbed his forehead. He sat down on a mat at the table and buried his head in his arms. "Stop shouting."

Usagi finally arrived, bubbling her greetings to everyone. Nephrite glared at her. Mamoru said, "Hush, Dumpling Head. You're in a hangover zone." He lovingly kissed her to show he wasn't really mad at her, then saw Nephrite watching them morosely. "Sorry, Nephrite."

Ami came to the table and sat across from Nephrite. She had her little blue computer in one hand and a sheaf of notes in the other. There were enormous dark circles under her eyes, which couldn't quite hide the look of triumph. Everyone else gathered around, moving quietly out of consideration for Nephrite's condition. "It took all night to track this lease down," Ami said softly, "but I did it. It's a good thing it's on an apartment in the first building I looked at." She picked up a sheet of paper. "The lease on apartment 14A, Cityline Towers Apartments, is in the name of Quartz Limited. That's what caught my eye -- jasper, of course, is a variety of quartz. I've been doing some research." She smiled. "Quartz Limited is a subsidiary of Universal Operations Inc., which is a subsidiary of...." The list went on and on, a labyrinth of holding companies, parent companies, and subsidiaries. Nephrite mumbled something about overdiversification. "...which is the parent company of Heavy Sounds Inc.," Ami continued, "which is one of the names on account number 228574DS584736 at Worldwide Commerce Bank. The other name on the account is Jarvis Jeevers. Which happens to be, get this, the real name of Mazz Destrukshun."

"Bingo," Mamoru said.

"Let's go," Nephrite said. He stood up, then the world rocked around him and he sat down again, hard.

"You're in no shape to go anywhere," Ami said. "Besides, today's Saturday. Jasper is probably off to do a concert somewhere."

Yuuichirou held out the morning newspaper. "It's in here. He's playing Seattle this weekend. Police are estimating there'll be forty to fifty deaths at the concert."

Everyone looked at Nephrite. "Don't look at me," he said. "I can't think." He couldn't believe that in only six or seven weeks he had let them become so dependent on him. "Someone else figure this out, ok?"

They all looked lost, then Usagi, who was supposed to be the real leader, spoke up. "It seems like we have two choices. One, we can go after Naru now, while Jasper is away for his concert. I'll bet he didn't take her with him, since he just goes away long enough to do the concert. She's probably stashed at his apartment with the Lords guarding her. They probably won't hurt her, since Jasper has his own plans for her. Two, we wait till Jasper gets back and then finish this whole thing and rescue Naru in one big showdown. Personally, I would rather get Naru back right away without her getting caught in a big battle, especially considering that she's, well..."

"Pregnant," Makoto said. "Come on, Usagi, it doesn't hurt to say it."

"Pregnant. Wow, I still can't believe it.... Oh, Nephrite, I'm sorry!"

Nephrite had buried his face in his hands, wishing that everything would go away and his Naru, his sweet Naru who was carrying his child, would be safely in his arms again. He forced himself to say, "I'm ok." He had to get himself together. Naru was depending on him, they were all depending on him.

"You want something to eat?" Rei asked. "That might help steady you a little."

Nephrite thought of food, gaging his body's reaction. Definitely not. "No thanks. I'll be ok. Go on, Princess," he said to Usagi. "You're doing fine."

Usagi's eyes widened in surprise at the compliment, and she glowed. "But if we go in now, they'll know that we know where they are, and they might move and we'll have to find them again. We'll lose, what's it called, the elegant surprise."

"Element of surprise, Dumpling Head," Mamoru said. "But you've done a good job thinking the situation through." Usagi beamed at him. Mamoru continued, "I don't know about anyone else, but I'm inclined to agree with Usagi. In view of Naru's condition, not to mention Nephrite's, I think it would be better to go get her right away. Based on the fight at Yuuichirou's audition, we shouldn't have any trouble handling the three Lords. How about the rest of you?"

All the Sailor Senshi agreed. "Well, we're unanimous," Mamoru said. "What do you think, Nephrite?"

It was hard, so hard, he wanted Naru back safe and sound right away, but he knew Dark Kingdom tactics better than anyone else there. This could easily be either a trap or a diversionary tactic. There was a lot at stake, not only Naru's well-being but the fate of the world. "I say we wait," he said reluctantly.

* * * * * * * *

Naru and the Thrilling Three, having finally had a decent breakfast, were all sitting in the living room of the apartment, staring glumly at each other. "Well," Zoisite finally said, "I hope you're having fun, at least, Naru, since it's because of you that we're stuck here."

"Don't start, Zoisite," Naru said. She was fed up with the the smallest Lord. It was time to teach him a lesson. "You're a world-class bitch for a guy, but I can out-bitch you any day of the year if I'm in the mood, and I am just in the mood, boyfriend. So lose the attitude."

Zoisite took the bait. "Hey, wait a minute. I'm not the one who was stupid enough to get myself kidnapped."

"Oh, poor little you, Zoisite. I exist just to make your life miserable. And what makes it worse is you went to all that trouble to murder Nephrite and he wasn't considerate enough to stay dead and out of your way. You just hate it that he's back and making more little Nephrites to screw up your life."

"Just shut up," Zoisite said, but Naru had reloaded and was ready to fire off the next round. "Maybe you hate him a little too much, huh? Maybe you pretend to hate him so that Kunzite won't know that he's your second choice." Zoisite turned red and opened her mouth to argue, but Naru plowed ahead. "Maybe it's Nephrite you've always wanted, hmm, Zoisite? Not that I blame you, but you wouldn't stand a chance with him. He only likes real women, not pretty boys who wish they were women. Plus you're jealous because I'm having Nephrite's baby and that's something you can never do for Kunzite."

Zoisite jumped to her feet. "I don't want Nephrite, and I don't like babies!" His mouth trembled, and he took refuge on Kunzite's lap. "Why are you being so mean to me?"

Naru was shaking with all the things she had wanted to say to this horrible creature for nearly three and a half years. "Oh, no reason. No reason at all, except that when I was a little girl you sent your monsters to kidnap me from my home, and then you murdered the man I love right in front of my eyes. You killed me too, that night. It just took me a lot longer to die."

Zoisite was huddled in Kunzite's arms. Jadeite watched dispassionately. Naru went to stand right in front of Zoisite, and held out her scarred wrists. "Have you ever wanted to die, Zoisite? Have you ever been in so much pain that you were eager to take your own life? I have, all because of what you did. I hope it was worth it to you. You've brought me more misery than any one person should be able to bring another in a lifetime." Zoisite was shaking with silent sobs, but Naru wasn't finished yet. "You are a whining, sneaking, cowardly, backstabbing bully, Zoisite. I used to hate you, but now I know you're not worth hating. I don't want to hear you complain any more about being stuck with me for the weekend. You're going to be stuck with Nephrite's blood and my heartbreak forever. I hope you're happy."

* * * * * * * *

Nephrite's decision was met with silence. He buried his face in his hands, thinking of Naru alone and frightened in the hands of their enemies. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Mamoru's face, full of sympathy. "It's ok, Nephrite. You've done the honorable thing. And now it's my turn to tell you that you've been outvoted. We're going after Naru today, while Jasper is gone. Are you coming with us?"

"I wouldn't be any good to you," Nephrite said miserably. He held up his braced right arm. "I can't fight. I'm a mess. I'd probably end up getting you all killed."

Minako leaned over and put her hands on his. "Listen. Remember the first time you and Naru came to a Scout meeting? Remember you told us not to underestimate her? Well, I don't think you should underestimate yourself, Nephrite. There's something you can do, I just know it."

Nephrite sighed, rubbing his eyes and forehead with his left hand. Then he got up and walked away from the table. He stood just outside the door, thinking. Naru could fight, as skillfully as any of the Sailor Senshi, if someone brought her a weapon. He held out his left hand and called Naru's curved sword to him. Leubhe'ira shimmered into his hand. He remembered ordering the set of swords for her, intending them as a wedding gift. The swordmaker had watched the Guardian curiously, knowing that this was a very special order and wondering who the tall auburn-haired Guardian could be wanting such beautiful swords for -- they weren't for him, they were too small. Nephre'im hadn't told the swordmaker who the swords were for; he knew that if he said they were for a woman, the swordmaker would refuse the commission. He remembered the private magical rite, late the night that the swords were delivered, when he had Named them. Leubhe'ira, the Beloved Girl. Waeldhe'ira, the Valiant Girl. And Deunahe'ira, the Beautiful Girl. Maira's swords -- Naru's swords -- all named for her.

He held Leubhe'ira with the hilt in front of his heart, the blade so close to his face that the sharp edge just touched his nose. He spun around to face the Sailor Senshi, who were watching him quietly and eagerly. He grinned, and his eyes narrowed. Then he thanked the sword and asked it to await his next call. It shimmered away. "Let's go," Nephrite said.

* * * * * * * *

On his private jet high above the Pacific Ocean, Jasper heard Metallia speak to him. They are coming. It is time. Remember my instructions, and you will triumph. We will rule the Universe!

"All right!" Jasper shouted. With a flash of black lightning, he teleported off the plane. Unfortunately for the pilots and the members of Mazz Destrukshun's band, the black lightning made the fuel tanks explode. The flaming debris of Mazz Destrukshun's private jet spiraled down into the ocean.

* * * * * * * *

return to Index / go to Chapter 12

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury