24 Hours to Life
by Moon Momma

2:30 pm, Tokyo

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Naru frowned down at the gleaming, spotless counter she was polishing. It was a slow afternoon at the store, which was bad because there was nothing going on to distract her from how stupid she felt. She couldn't believe she had actually told Umino he should date a lesbian! On the other hand, how was she supposed to know? Or maybe everyone but her already knew, and she just didn't know because she never paid attention. Umino seemed to have taken being dumped okay - he had finished his milkshake and hadn't started crying or shouting or throwing things or anything like that - but she still felt terrible.

The soft music on the sound system in the store sputtered, distracting her from her gloomy thoughts, then a voice that she recognized as belonging to Nephrite's blond friend - Jadeite, that was his name - came on. She listened to the announcement, feeling a start of recognition when he mentioned the incident at her mother's store, which seemed to have been the beginning of the whole thing.

"The OSA*P?" her mother exclaimed. "But there was never - no, wait, I remember - some horrible-looking woman captured me and tied me up in the basement, and I could hear all this chaos above me - These people were behind that?"

Naru suddenly couldn't remain brooding behind the sales counter any longer. "Mama, believe me, they aren't like that any more."

"That's - those are the men who were in here!" her mother exclaimed as Nephrite started speaking. "The one who was interested in you!"

"Mama, I have to go to him. This is the most important thing that might ever happen to him, or to me. I have to be there for him."

"But, Naru-chan -"

"I'm sorry, I can't stay here while this is happening." She ran into the office for her purse, then ran out again.

"Naru-chan, you're still grounded!"

"I know, Mama! I don't know when I'll be back, but I will come back, I promise!"

"Tell him I'll send him an invoice for damages to the store!" Mrs. Osaka called after her as she ran out the door.

Naru didn't answer. She ran until she came to a bus stop where a bus headed for the harbor was loading. She climbed on and paid the fare; it was already packed with people talking excitedly about the amazing and mysterious announcement and how their memories of the strange incidents had suddenly returned. Naru clutched a strap as the bus started forward, overwhelmed at how many people Nephrite and his friends were going to have to deal with, but glad that his plan seemed to be working.

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The Nephrite and Naru Treasury