Their First Date
By Sanjouin-DaCapo

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Naru's heart felt as though it had wings. He was alive. Nephrite was alive! She gazed up into his gentle blue eyes, and rubbed hers, wiping away the tears she had shed moments before when she found that he couldn't walk. Naru could barely see straight for her giddiness. Two years had passed, and she had her good days and bad, but this had to be a real turn for the better.

"You'll love the chocolate parfaits they sell there," Naru said, as Nephrite backed away from the table in his wheelchair.

"I know I will!" Nephrite laughed.

They made their way past the media, crowds and decoy, and Naru placed her arm around Nephrite. It had been so long, she wanted to take in everything in case it was all just a dream. Naru stroked Nephrite's flowing hair and gently patted his shoulder, then drew back her arm when she realized what she was doing.

"Oh I didn't mean to... I-" she began.

Nephrite looked up and smiled, like he did moments before he had been attacked two years before.

"Don't stop, Naru," he chuckled, reaching out to wrap an arm around her as well.

"Ok," Naru laughed, "I was just a bit worried that I was being rude... "

She relaxed and put her arm back around Nephrite, giving him a hug.

"Rude?" Nephrite asked, looking up and laughing some more.

"Some people treat people in wheelchairs differently," Naru explained, "they pat them on the shoulders or the head, when they don't even know them well... and do a lot of other things that make them feel weird..."

"Don't worry," Nephrite laughed, "you were anything but rude..."

They leisurely made their way to the restaurant, and went inside. Nephrite looked around, a little worried that he would be recognized by someone there. His decoy was also in a wheelchair but he looked a bit too fit for a quadriplegic, and soon people would likely catch on. He just wanted some peace that night before moving back in to his old mansion.

A man showed them to their seat, and Naru sat across from Nephrite, looking up into his eyes again. The chestnut-haired man reached out with a half-curled hand, placing it over Naru's. Naru closed her eyes and sighed happily, then reached out and stroked Nephrite's cheek with her free hand, feeling his eyebrows and teary eyes.

"So, have you found a cool boyfriend?" Nephrite asked, laughing a bit nervously.

"I did," Naru giggled, "His name is Umino... he's a bit of a geek but he's also a real sweetheart!"

The former general nodded, smiling sadly. It was probably just as well though, since he couldn't walk, and had to concentrate even to move his arms and wrists. Naru wouldn't want a broken man...

He felt Naru patting his hand, and looked up to see a worried look on her face.

"What's wrong, Nephrite?" Naru asked.

"It's... it's nothing..." Nephrite lied, inwardly kicking himself.

"I bet you're lonely," the young woman said, holding Nephrite's half-paralysed hand in hers, and stroking it.

Nephrite smiled sadly, and nodded. For two years, he had searched for someone that gave him what Naru had... total acceptance and love. And now Naru was in front of him, giving him just that, and yet... he wanted more. He wanted someone who belonged to someone else, and he felt guilty because of that.

"I'm... glad you have a boyfriend," he whispered, blinking back the tears that were welling up in his eyes.

Naru squeezed his hand, and patted it some more. Nephrite stared at the utensils on the table, then tried to ask his friend something, but met some resistance inside, resistance which he was not familiar with.

"Naru... I... I uh..." he stammered, trying to find the right words, and feeling so awkward he thought everyone in the restaurant was watching.

Nephrite glanced around, feeling so embarrassed that he felt himself blush. Naru squeezed his hand again, then stroked his cheek. He looked up to see her smiling at him, lovingly gazing at him again with those beautiful eyes.

"You won't be lonely anymore," Naru reassured him with another stroke to his hand, "I'll be with you... you need a friend, Nephrite"

The former general mumbled something Naru couldn't make out.

"What did you say?" she giggled.

"My... my... angel..." Nephrite began to trail off, blushing again.

At that, Naru got up and hugged Nephrite, and kissed him on the cheek.

"You are such a sweetie, you know that?"

Nephrite just looked up at her and wistfully smiled, before hugging her around her middle. Maybe he couldn't have what he wanted, but this was enough, at least for now. He had gotten this far, and at least he was able to make this date...

As Naru sat back down, the waiter came to their table and asked them what they were going to order.

"We'll have a chocolate parfait to share," Nephrite said, smiling goofily at Naru.

The waiter went to fill their order, leaving the two friends to stare dreamily at each other. Nephrite sighed, feeling guilty for even going out with Naru. What if Umino were to come in and see them?

"Nephrite," Naru began, "Is everything ok?"

"It is..." Nephrite lied again, smiling sadly like he did that fateful night when he departed the earth.

"You're lying," Naru said, giggling a little.

"I just..." Nephrite began, "I just... don't want to..... take you.... from Umino..."

"There's no harm in picking up where we left off," Naru reassured him, "We can go out for a chocolate parfait sometimes... and be like brother and sister. There's nothing wrong with that..."

Nephrite looked up and smiled some more, trying to hide his disappointment that Naru was taken. Naru sensed this and held Nephrite's hand in both her hands again, then kissed it.

"You are one of my best friends, and you will always be..." she whispered, "I'm sorry so much has kept us apart... but there are always possibilities..."

The chestnut-haired young man nodded, smiling a bit more strongly.

Finally, the waiter came and set the parfait glass onto the table, in the middle, then left again. The parfait was filled with chocolate cake, whipped cream, chocolate cream, and nuts and strawberries. It was topped with whipped cream, almond slices, and a cherry. Nephrite smiled, and reached for the cherry, then flexed his wrist back so his fingers closed more easily, and somewhat clumsily grasped the cherry by the stem. He then handed it to Naru, who broke it in half and shared it with him.

Cherries always did taste good, but this piece tasted by far the best.

"Would you like.... some help with the spoon?" Naru hesitantly asked.

"I can hold it fairly well," Nephrite replied, "But I know it is a custom for a man and woman on a 'date' to share... "

"Ok" Naru giggled, taking her spoon and feeding Nephrite the first bite of chocolate bliss.

The chocolate cake and cream was heavenly, so perfect and real. Nephrite let it linger in his mouth before swallowing, reveling in the wonderful taste of chocolate. He painstakingly picked up his own spoon and held the cup steady with his free hand, then took some of the parfait and fed it to Naru. They slowly ate the parfait, while catching up on those two lost years.

Finally, when the parfait was finished, Naru helped Nephrite with the napkin, since it was folded so flat it was hard for him to pick it up. She wiped her own face, then kissed some chocolate cream off of Nephrite's lips where he had missed a spot. Nephrite blushed some more but kissed her back.

The waiter came back with the check, and Nephrite reached for his wallet. Naru helped him pull out the credit card since he was having trouble sliding it out. He then put a brace on his fingers to keep his pen in place, and signed the check, and waited for it to be processed. When the card was resturned, he and Naru left the restaurant to get some fresh air.

"What would you like to do now," Naru asked.

"Let's... go to the park, where we spent our last moments together," Nephrite replied, looking down and chuckling nervously.

"O.k.," Naru said, "That was a romantic spot... though every time I went there after you... died... it felt so sad..."

Nephrite nodded at this, remembering how Naru cried as the life left his body that night.

"But... it won't be so sad anymore," Naru added, "Let's watch the stars and see how many we can count!"

The park looked almost exactly as it had that night when Nephrite left the world. It was a bit scary, since he had this feeling that the Plant Sisters would jump out any minute, and kill him. But he knew that they were dead, and he and Naru could finally talk in peace. Nephrite wheeled over to the tree where he and Naru had sat that night, and turned to look up at the sky. Naru put an arm around him again, and despite himself, Nephrite rested his head on her. He felt guilty at this display of affection, but Naru didn't seem to mind, as she was gently stroking his hair.

Nephrite smiled up at her again, then fiddled with the straps holding him in his wheelchair.

"Naru," Nephrite asked, "Could you... help me with these straps please?"

Naru smiled and helped Nephrite unfasten the straps, then slowly lifted him out of his wheelchair. She found him surprisingly light, though still heavy enough to where it took some effort for her to ease him out of the chair and onto the ground. He helped her, since he was still learning to transfer, and felt Naru propping him against the tree.

The young woman stretched out, then rested against Nephrite's mostly-numb torso, holding onto him as if for dear life and sobbing into his chest again. The former general wrapped his arms around her as tightly as he could, and kissed her on her forehead.

"My angel..." he whispered again, running his half-numb fingers through Naru's hair.

Nephrite looked up at the stars, silently begging for his heart's desire.

"O, stars... grant me this wish..." he whispered, a tear trickling down his cheek.

Soon he would discover just how powerful the stars could be...

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