by Moon Momma
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On Sunday and Monday, it was easy to stay home in bed. Mrs. Osaka had been about ready to throttle Sanjouin Masato for endangering Naru with his careless driving, even though Naru explained that it was the other driver's fault, the one who had tried to run them off the road. Naru's mother was so relieved that Naru had walked away from the crash that she didn't question her daughter's vague complaints of not feeling well. On Tuesday, Mrs. Osaka insisted on taking Naru's temperature and kept prodding at her stomach and feeling the glands in her neck, asking if anything hurt. By Wednesday, Mrs. Osaka was no longer buying the vague complaints and took Naru to the doctor.
Dr. Mihashi had been Naru's doctor her whole life. He was old-fashioned and rather stern. He gave her a thorough examination and asked a lot of questions about how she'd been feeling. After making a lot of notes on the chart on his clipboard, he looked at her with a very serious expression on his face. Naru wondered if he had turned up something wrong with her after all. "Naru," he said, "you're old enough now that this is a question I need to ask at every examination, and your mother particularly asked me to look into the matter today. Naru, is there any chance at all that you could be pregnant?"
"No!" Naru felt her cheeks flame. "I have a boyfriend, but we've never done... that." Mama, how could you?
"I could do an examination to determine if you are telling the truth, but I'll take your word for it. For now. You understand, Naru, that your mother is very worried about this relationship you're involved in?"
"She thinks... Masato... is too old for me."
"How old is he?"
"I don't know, twenty-three, maybe." Actually one thousand and twenty-three, but I don't want my next stop after this to be the hospital with padded walls.
"Naru, don't you think there's something wrong when a man that age wants to date a fourteen-year-old girl? The common wisdom would tell us that there must be unhealthy motivations on his part."
"That's just a stupid prejudice. Masato really loves me, and he's never done anything to hurt me. He never will."
"And what about your mother's feelings?"
"It's my life, not hers."
The doctor sighed. "Your mother is waiting in my office. I need to talk to both of you. Get dressed, and the nurse will bring you in." He left the examining room.
Naru and her mother eyed each other angrily when Naru was led into Dr. Mihashi's office. "I won't have--" Mrs. Osaka began, while Naru was saying, "Mama, how could--"
"Please, ladies," Dr. Mihashi said. "Mrs. Osaka. Naru. Please let me speak. Naru, your mother is very worried about you, as any mother should be about her child. She is only trying to do what's best for you. Mrs. Osaka, Naru is clearly in a rebellious stage, as is normal for her age. However, 'normal' is not the same as 'tolerable.' You must make your rules clear, and enforce them without exception, in order to break her of this rebelliousness. If you wish to forbid her to see this man, then tell her so and do not permit her to bend or break the rule."
"Thank you, Doctor. I wish I'd had the courage to do this before." Mrs. Osaka looked straight at Naru. "Naru, I forbid you to see Mr. Sanjouin again."
His name isn't Sanjouin Masato, his name is Nephrite, and nothing, not youmas or the Dark Kingdom or doctors or even you, Mother, can keep us apart. "All right. I won't see Sanjouin Masato again."
Mrs. Osaka looked at the doctor in astonishment. He smiled at her, rather smugly, Naru thought, and said, "See? That was all it took. She isn't too far gone, Mrs. Osaka. All you need to do is be strict with her, and she will learn."
"You're right, of course, Doctor." She looked at Naru again. "And you, young lady, are going to school tomorrow."
Naru bowed her head and looked at her hands folded in her lap. "Yes, Mama."
* * * * * * * *
At school the next day, all the kids stared at her and whispered about her. Though Nephrite had told the police that the accident had better not appear in the papers, Sanjouin Masato's second brush with death had become common knowledge. Naru was prominently mentioned as the girl who had been with him both times. The reports didn't reveal her name, but there was a photo of her, from the Diamond Embassy ball, along with Nephrite's picture and a picture of the burned-out wreckage of the Ferrari. Naru wondered if anyone in the Dark Kingdom read the newspapers, and if the attempt to make Queen Beryl believe Naru and Nephrite had died was in vain.
Umino's hovering and flirting were driving Naru crazy, and it made it worse that he was the only one of her friends who would even talk to her. Usagi never looked at her once, and Makoto and Ami made a point of ignoring her. Her other so-called friends would rather point their fingers and gossip about her. She was trying to eat lunch alone, on a bench in the schoolyard, when Umino came and sat practically in her lap. "Get lost, Umino," Naru snapped, more harshly than she really meant to.
"Naru-chan, what's that creep Sanjouin got that I haven't got? I mean besides tons of money, great hair, and he's a foot taller and drives a hot red car... Sorry, I guess he doesn't have that any more..." Umino trailed off, realizing that he had, at least partially, answered his own question.
"Umino-kun, I wish we could be friends," Naru said quietly. "I really need a friend right now. I just wish someone would say, 'Naru, I'm so happy for you that Masato loves you so much.'" She started crying.
Umino actually spoke with some dignity. "I'm not the one who's going to say that, Naru." He got up and left.
Naru sat there, crying and fingering her heart pendant. Her mother had tried to make her take it off, but Naru had refused and Mrs. Osaka wasn't about to tackle her in order to remove the necklace. She wanted Nephrite so badly, but she couldn't call on him because he was trying to figure out how to keep them from being captured by Beryl.
Sudden screams interrupted her thoughts. A huge green reptilian youma had appeared in the schoolyard. It was tearing through groups of students with its enormous, sharp-taloned hands, flinging unconscious, bleeding forms to each side. Naru jumped up from the bench and ran towards the youma. "Stop!" she screamed. "Leave them alone! I'm the one you're looking for!"
The youma turned its head to look at her, then lengthened an arm and grabbed Naru around the waist. Naru tried to resist its pull, but she lost her footing and fell, hitting her forehead hard on the ground. She was only half-conscious as the youma dragged her across the ground, then lifted her up to talk to her. "Where is he, girl? Tell me where the traitor is!" it hissed.
"I don't know!" Naru cried, then she heard a deep, harsh voice shout, "I'm here!"
"Nephrite," Naru murmured as she lost consciousness.
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Nephrite had lost track of time while thinking about what to do. He had created a pocket dimension for himself, where Zoisite couldn't find him, in the woods near his house. But Naru's terror and a strong sense of danger penetrated to his little cave of nothingness. He teleported to the source of the feelings he had sensed, and found himself in the yard of Naru's school. Unconscious students lay scattered around the yard, and an enormous green lizard-like youma was holding Naru's limp form in one gigantic claw-like hand. He heard Naru cry, "I don't know."
"I'm here!" he yelled, hoping to distract the youma into dropping Naru. He wasn't prepared for what happened instead. Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, and Sailor Jupiter appeared. Sailor Moon's speech was cut off when the youma shrieked, "Here she is, Master! I found her for you!" and threw Naru's unconscious body at Nephrite. He caught her, stumbling backwards with the force of the throw. Moon threw her Tiara at the youma, which disappeared with a shriek. Umino, the boy who was always hanging around Naru, ran up to Nephrite and pulled on Naru's leg. "Give her back, you creep!"
Sailor Moon had retrieved her Tiara and was poised to throw it at Nephrite. He roared, no words, just an angry, animal sound, and kicked Umino away, then teleported with Naru.
They rematerialized on his bed. Nephrite caught his breath, then inspected the damage to Naru. She was bleeding from a large gash on her forehead. The right side of her school uniform was torn, dirty, and bloodstained, and her face, arm, and ribcage were scraped and dirty on the right side, as though she'd been dragged along the ground on that side.
He carried her into the bathroom and washed her injuries as best he could, then inspected the cut on her forehead. It would have to be stitched, or... Healing was not his strong suit, but he had been trained in a few simple techniques that were useful to know in the heat of battle (how did he remember this? he wondered. How had he managed to forget?) He traced the forefinger of his right hand along the cut, trying to exert just the right amount of energy, and the cut closed up. It wasn't perfect, there would be a scar, but at least he wouldn't have to worry about getting her to a doctor right away. There was something else that needed to be done, and since it was necessary he wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.
It was time for the last resort. He had been weak and stupid to let things go this far. Naru could have been killed, those children in the schoolyard could have been killed, all because of his foolish surrender to his emotions. He carried Naru back to his bed and sat there, cross-legged on the middle of the bed, just holding her. She was still unconscious, and he didn't want to wake her up. He knew he was just postponing the inevitable, he should get it over with. But the next time he saw her after this, if they ever saw each other again, her eyes would slide past him, unrecognizing; she wouldn't even stop to think about the possibility of meeting him, and he would die inside.
Too soon, she stirred and awoke. She looked into his eyes with her enormous, soft, blue-green eyes and murmured, "Nephrite." Then she threw her arms around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss.
With great effort, he forced himself to break the kiss, and moved her from his lap to sit facing him on the bed. "Naru, I'd hoped it wouldn't come to this, but things are getting too dangerous. That youma attacked your schoolmates looking for you. They could have been killed. You could have been killed. And if things weren't already bad enough with the Sailor Senshi, the youma acted as if I had sent it to capture you. So, you see, the situation is very bad. Do you understand?"
She nodded. By everything holy and unholy, he wished she didn't look so scared and innocent and trusting.
"I've made some decisions. I'm going back to the Dark Kingdom."
"It's the only road open to me at this point. Don't worry, I'm not going to become one of them again. I'll only be acting the part. Maybe, when I'm there, I can figure out how to help the Sailor Senshi. And at least Beryl won't be hunting me down like a renegade any more."
"It sounds so dangerous."
"It is, but not as dangerous as if I were captured. And I won't be putting the people around me in danger any more."
"I wish you wouldn't go."
"There's no other choice, Naru. Now, the other decision I've made. For your own protection, Naru, I need to erase every trace of myself from your mind." She tried to interrupt, but he continued. "I need to completely remove every memory, every thought, every emotion you've ever had in connection with me. That way, not even a youma, not even another General will ever associate you with me. It'll leave you unconscious for a while, but I promise I'll take you somewhere safe before I go."
"No, Nephrite. I won't let you do that." There was a hint of steel in her voice that he had never heard before.
"Please. It'll be easier on both of us if I have your permission. And, when it's done, you won't even remember me to miss me. It won't hurt at all, in any way."
"Well, you don't have my permission."
"Naru, listen to me--"
"No, Nephrite, you listen to me. I am sick and tired of everyone telling me what's best for me. You, my mother, Usagi, stupid old Dr. Mihashi, Umino, everyone thinks they know what's best for me. When do I get to decide what's best for me?"
"Naru, you're too young--"
"I'm almost fifteen."
"You're a child. You don't know anything."
"Nephrite, I stopped being a child when I fell in love with you. I knew from the beginning that it wouldn't be easy, but I also knew that I would do whatever it took to be with you. If I did have any illusions left that my life would be safe and simple, I lost them that night in the park, when I nearly lost you."
"Naru, I just don't want you to get hurt."
"I'd rather get hurt than live my life without even remembering that I had known you! You say you can remove all traces of yourself from my mind and my heart, but that isn't true. You'd leave a big hole, and I'd know all my life that something important was missing without ever being able to find out what it was. Is that what you want to do to me?"
Nephrite closed his eyes against the truth of her words. He knew what she was talking about; that was what had been done to him, when Beryl had stripped him of his memories of her. But this was for her own protection. He shouldn't have said anything, he should have just done it, but, foolishly, he had wanted a chance to say goodbye to her. "So I do not have your permission to do this."
At least he knew what he was up against. It would be harder this way, but it had to be done. He began to lift his hand toward her head.
"Nephrite!" She startled him, interrupting the beginning of the spell. "You were going to do it anyway, weren't you!" Before he could summon up a lie to deny it, she slapped him. "How dare you! That's the sort of thing only an evil person would do. Is that what you are, Nephrite?"
He bowed his head, remembering the searing pain as Beryl ripped away pieces of his mind and his heart; remembering the emptiness, knowing that he had lost something very valuable but not having any idea what it was; remembering the hatred he had felt towards Beryl for what she had done. He couldn't do it, after all. "Forgive me, Naru," he whispered. "I was wrong. I won't do this without your permission."
Gently, she touched his face, where the force of the slap still stung. "I'm so sorry, Nephrite. I shouldn't have done that."
Carefully, he folded his hand around hers. It felt so delicate. "I deserved it, Naru-chan." He opened his hand, looked at her hand for a moment, then enfolded it again. "There's one other option," he said slowly.
"I know what you're going to say, but say it anyway."
"You could come with me to the Dark Kingdom."
This was a bad idea. He didn't trust his own motivations. Was his longing for her clouding his judgement? Probably. "Naru, it will be dangerous. As soon as they figure out we're not really on their side, well, it'll be... ugly. And anyway, it's very unpleasant there, and you might not be able to leave for a long time."
"None of that matters to me, as long as we can be together. Besides, weren't you telling me just a few minutes ago what a good idea it was for you to go back?"
"It isn't a good idea. It's a last resort. I don't want you mixed up in it."
"Nephrite-sama, if you can't count on me to stand with you when things are this bad, then what's the point of our being in love?"
He squeezed her hand, wondering what he had done to deserve to be loved with such courage and faithfulness. The thought of having her with him made the prospect of returning to the Dark Kingdom much less bleak. He hated himself for even considering taking her with him.
"Besides," Naru went on, "if it's safer for you, wouldn't it be safer for me too? Even if it's still dangerous?"
"Yes," he said slowly. She had a point. But she needed to fully understand what she was getting herself into. "But, Naru-chan, there's something you need to understand before you decide."
"I won't change my mind."
"Naru, listen to me. You know that I love you very much. You need to know that I also desire you very much. Physically. Do you understand what I mean?"
"I've been trying to resist my desires because it probably wouldn't be the best thing for you right now if we were to... do that. But if you come to the Dark Kingdom and live there with me, in my rooms because that's the only place where you'd be safe, I might not be able to fight my desire for you for much longer. I mean," he went on, feeling helpless and hating himself for it, "I'm trying to not be evil any more, but that doesn't mean I've suddenly become some great paragon of virtue." Naru's face was still and serious as she listened to him. "Naru-chan, do you understand what might happen between us, if you come with me?" he asked.
She looked up at him with those big eyes, so full of love. "Yes, Nephrite. I understand. I'll come with you."
He wrapped her in his arms and pulled her close to him. "You deserve so much better, Naru-chan. But I'll be glad to not be alone there."
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return to Index / go to Chapter 7
The Nephrite and Naru Treasury