24 Hours to Life
by Moon Momma

5:45 pm, Tokyo

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Nephrite glanced at his watch. It was quarter to six. The long lines of people waiting for apologies and reparations had shrunk somewhat, but the job was nowhere near finished. The cash they had on hand was nearly gone; he needed to find a moment to go back to the ATM and try to coax a little more money out of his new accounts. But it was almost six, almost the deadline, and he didn't want to be found missing when whatever powers-that-be who had given them this chance came to deliver their verdict.

Of course, it was going to be a failure anyway. Jadeite had not been able to resolve things with Thetis; his conditions remained unfulfilled. "I don't want you guys to suffer just because I blew it with Thetis," he had said a half-dozen times throughout the afternoon, but the others had reminded him of their pact. With Naru at his side, though, Nephrite was finding it hard to remember the vow he had made to his brothers-in-arms. How could he leave her again, lonely and heartbroken? He knew Jadeite wouldn't mind if he claimed his new life while Jadeite had to go to damnation, but would he be able to live with himself if he made that choice?

Naru was trying to keep smiling, but he could see in her eyes her fear that they had failed and he would have to go away again. Could he hurt her for the sake of his honor? He looked at the dozens of people still in line, and the little remaining money in the cash box. He might not even have a choice in the matter.

All at once, a swirl of blue-green light appeared over the table and a gentle spray of water hit his face. The light cleared to reveal Thetis standing on the table in front of Jadeite. She was wearing a pale green silk skirt and jacket and ivory high-heeled shoes, and was carrying a purse so stuffed with money it looked like it might burst.

Jadeite stared at her, open-mouthed, and Nephrite felt almost as flabbergasted. "Th - Thetis?" Jadeite stammered.

"I changed my mind. Claude is even more insufferable than you. And, after a thousand years, I don't want to have to get used to anyone else." She dropped down to sit on the edge of the table between Naru and Jadeite, her shapely legs crossed at the knee. "So, how about it?"

"How about - what?" Jadeite sounded as though he'd been hit on the side of the head with a sledgehammer.

"Idiot." Thetis grabbed the collar of his tuxedo shirt, pulled him to her, and kissed him very long and thoroughly. Murmurs and light laughter arose from the people waiting in line.

When she finally let Jadeite go, he said, "Does this mean you forgive me?"

Thetis laughed again, but the laughter this time was different from last night's. "You are a silly man. Now." She hopped down from the table, found the cash box, and opened her purse and dumped a large amount of money in foreign currency into the box. "I'm sure people will accept this instead of yen; they can go to the banks tomorrow to exchange it. Give them a little extra."

"But it has to be our own money," Jadeite said.

She kissed him again, more gently this time. "What's mine is yours, my love. Next!" she called out.

The next person stepped up in line. Just as he began giving his information, a voice sounded out over the crowd. Nephrite looked at his watch; it was exactly 6:00.

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The Nephrite and Naru Treasury