24 Hours to Life
by Moon Momma

5:00 am, Tokyo

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Nephrite was jerked awake by Usagi's shout. Immediately he was on his feet. "What is it?"

"Naru-chan! I thought I heard her calling for help -"

Nephrite didn't stick around to hear more. He called Naru-chan's room into his mind as he had seen it that fatal night more than three years ago, and teleported.

She wasn't in her room. Shattered glass from the window lay on the floor, and her bedroom door was open. A deep slash had been cut into the wall not far from the door. Not again, Nephrite thought. She must have been kidnapped again, and the only possible kidnappers he could think of were the monsters he and the Senshi had been fighting during the night. A potent mixture of rage and fear boiled up inside him. He fixed her face in his mind and teleported to her, wherever she was.

He found her lying facedown on a street, surrounded by five of the shadowy monsters. Quickly, he summoned star power. "Starlight attack!" he shouted and spun in a circle, throwing balls of starlight at the monsters just as more black blades came flying at him. The starlight and the blades met in a blinding collision around him and disintegrated. Before the monsters could create more energy blades, Nephrite threw the last of his starlight power at the three he could see, knocking them back a bit.

At that moment, Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Mask, and the other Senshi appeared outside the circle of monsters. The Senshi fired off attacks while Tuxedo Mask impaled one of the monsters Nephrite had stunned with a rose. Like before, it dissolved into smoky shadows that drifted away.

Nephrite dropped to the ground to cover Naru as the Senshi and the monsters continued their battle. Under cover of the others' attacks, Sailor Moon was winding up for her ultimate attack, to destroy the rest of the monsters all at once. Again. How many more of them were there? Nephrite wondered as he crouched on the ground, Naru crying and shaking beneath him. And where were they coming from?

The position he was in reminded him far too much of the night he had been killed by Zoisite's youma. Naru didn't seem to be aware of his presence; he hoped he wouldn't die again before he could at least talk to her for a moment.

Tuxedo Mask dropped another monster with a rose, then stood bent over with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. Nephrite was afraid they were all getting too tired to fight. Then light poured out from Sailor Moon's giant jeweled scepter. "Silver Moon Crystal Power Kiss!" she cried out. Light engulfed the monsters, wiping them from existence.

Everyone waited tensely for a few moments, to see if any more monsters were going to appear. Then with a collective sigh of relief, they all relaxed. Nephrite moved aside from where he had been covering Naru and knelt next to her. She seemed too lost in terror to realize that the danger was past. He sat there, trying to think of what to say to her.

Sailor Moon, drooping from the exertion of using her ultimate attack for the second time in one night, walked over and crouched down on the ground beside Naru. "It's ok now, Naru-chan. They're gone now," she said.

Slowly, Naru pushed herself up to her hands and knees. She wiped tears from her face as she looked at Sailor Moon. "Thanks, Usagi-chan," she said.

Sailor Moon sat back, a look of shock on her face. "How did you know?"

"I remembered. And everything started to make sense." She turned to Nephrite. "Nephrite-sama?"

He stared at her. "You remember me?"

She nodded, and bit her lower lip. "I do now. I'm sorry I forgot you, Nephrite. I don't know why."

He reached over and carefully brushed away the last of her tears from her face with his fingertips. "It isn't your fault."

"I'm afraid it's my fault," Sailor Moon said, her wide eyes filled with sadness. "Come on, let's go back to my place."

Sailor Moon, Tuxedo Mask, and the other Senshi teleported back to Mamoru and Usagi's apartment. "Shall we?" Nephrite asked Naru. Before she could respond, he scooped her up into his arms and teleported with her.

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The Nephrite and Naru Treasury