The Stars Can Wait
By Sanjouin-DaCapo

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It was a beautiful, quiet night. The stars were out and the moon was a delicate crescent, and the sky a deep indigo. Naru opened the window a bit to let in some air, then adjusted Nephrite's position in his bed to prevent pressure wounds. She climbed into the the bed, and snuggled close to him. Nephrite wrapped a weak arm around her, pulling the young woman a little closer. She giggled, then embraced the former general in a tight hug, and kissed him on the cheek. Nephrite sighed contentedly, wishing this moment could last forever.

"Nephrite, would you like to visit Usagi and the others tomorrow?" Naru asked.

"Maybe," Nephrite replied, smiling a bit wistfully.

"If you'd rather not, I could have them visit here instead" Naru giggled.

Nephrite laughed.

"I just hope they don't get into any fights with Mimet or Tellu... "

It had been one year since his return, and he mostly kept to the Sanjouin estate, disliking the crowds and publicity. Except when dining at his and Naru's favourite restaurant, or visiting a park during the night, Nephrite rarely left his mansion's gates. He preferred to just stay out of the public eye, and live in peace. He knew that Naru needed to be outside more, but he didn't want to be poked at and patted on the shoulders by people he barely knew. Pity was something he could live without.

Nephrite kissed Naru on the lips, and held her closer, stroking her hair with his near-numb fingers. As time had gone by, he had grown used to the partial numbness, and to being cared for. Naru had lately stopped sleeping in her own bed, instead crawling into bed with Nephrite and laying on his chest or his shoulder. The former general felt a bit strange at that, but welcomed it because he didn't like sleeping alone.

He remembered waking up after that fateful night, when he died in Naru's arms, helpless to comfort her. He felt himself rising into the sky, light as a feather, then being slowly set down in an unfamilliar area. Nephrite opened his eyes and tried to get up, but was pinned to the ground by some invisible force. His arms felt like lead weights, and had little feeling, especially in the hands. He wanted to cry out for help, but decided not to, as he didn't want to attract any attention in this vulnerable state.

Was it a spell? Was this the Afterlife? Where was Naru? He had to find her... he had to keep his appointment to have that chocolate parfait...

"Naru... Naru..." he whispered hoarsely, before falling asleep.

He would awaken again in a hospital room, alone. For months, he would be confined to a bed, unable to move, unable to feed himself. All the while, Naru was on his mind. He had to get out of the hospital and find her.

"Now try it again..." the therapist instructed.

It was frustrating, trying to lift a simple little tennis ball, something a child could lift with no trouble. Nephrite gritted his teeth and pulled with all his might, lifting the ball a couple inches before dropping it onto the floor. He turned to look at the ball, and felt glad that he could still move his head; he didn't need a halo since his neck wasn't broken. The nerves in his spinal cord were mysteriously severed, but with no injury to the vertebrae or the cord itself.

Panting, Nephrite felt like he wasn't going anywhere with this 'physical therapy' but then he thought of Naru, and smiled. His angel was waiting for him...

As he worked at this, some feeling returned to his arms, and to a lesser degree, his hands. All the while, he thought of Naru, of returning to her. It helped him keep his sanity, especially when dealing with the more humiliating aspects of his condition, of his broken, vulnerable body. He didn't much like the idea of someone he didn't even know handling his nether regions. It sickened him, at times made him want to die from shame.

What would Naru say if she saw him like that?

When he was finally able to leave the hospital, Nephrite returned to his Mansion in The States, and stayed there, reading, researching, posting to different sites, trying to get a bearing before moving back to Japan, back to his property there. Was the mansion still standing? Had the keepers maintained it as they were asked to should he disappear?

For a year and a half, Nephrite pondered this. The only conclusion he could find was... to find out for himself. He was given a second chance for something, and he would take it.

Even if he wouldn't recognize Naru, Nephrite would see to it that she would recognize him. Soon, Masato Sanjouin was reported to be on his way back to Japan.

Thinking back on that, on their meeting one year ago, Nephrite knew what he did was worth it. He gazed lovingly into Naru's eyes, and felt her stroking his hair. The former general had been initially hesitant to get into a relationship with Naru, especially since she was going out with someone, but it turned out that Naru and Umino had talked about seeing other people, since the latter had his sites set on Ami.

Nephrite weakly caressed Naru's face, and kissed her on the lips. Then he reached, with some difficulty, under her shirt, up her back. Smiling, Naru helped Nephrite out of his nightshirt, stroked his perfect chest, nibbled at his shoulders... and awakened something he thought was lost. Naru pulled off her top, then her pants as well.

The former general took Naru in his arms again, and whispered "My angel... "

Naru giggled.

"So, you want to go out tomorrow, or stay here and watch the stars?"

"Let's go out," Nephrite replied, smiling, "The stars can wait... life can't"

To hell with scrutiny.

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