Author: Annwyd PM
They've all changed. After the game and before the epilogue, Jade reminds a lost Tear of Luke's promises.Rated: Fiction K - English - Jade & Tear - Words: 969 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 10 - Published: 06-05-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6026234
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
They all had a place to be, these days, even if they hadn't had one before. Jade made note of this as he settled back into his place in fomicry research. He also made note of the exception: Tear.
She drifted from place to place-on business from the Order of Lorelei, she said, but Jade suspected the others knew as well as he did that that was only an excuse. She could settle down somewhere if she wanted to. Instead, she moved across Auldrant, always searching. In his down time, to keep himself busy (a task only a few others realized the importance of), Jade kept track of her movements. They followed no pattern. Her pattern had been swallowed up with Eldrant when Lorelei was released.
For months, he made a point of avoiding her when she came to Grand Chokmah. If she wished to brood alone, then so be it; it wasn't his business to interfere. But gradually, strange emotions he had acquired over the course of their journeys in the past two years began to tug at him. Responsibility. He was, after all, the adult here. If Tear was drifting aimlessly, he was supposed to steady her. He still didn't entirely know why this was the case, but he knew that it was. Luke had taught him that.
He found her on errand to see Peony for the Order of Lorelei. Jade was privy to the message she had relayed, and he knew it was not one that had required someone of Tear's status to deliver. But she'd chosen to deliver it anyway, because she wanted to linger in the places she'd traveled with Luke and the rest of them. Sure enough, he found her after Peony had abandoned his throne room, standing at the window behind the throne, looking out at the waterfall.
At first, he wondered if she'd heard his approach. Was she really so out of it that her soldier's instincts had fallen by the wayside? He couldn't approve of that. But then he say the faintest shift of her stance that indicated she was aware she had company, and he relaxed.
After a few moments, she spoke. "Even now that fonic artes aren't as extraordinary," she said, "it's still beautiful."
"Indeed, Grand Chokmah remains a marvel," Jade said. "You won't find me saying anything else here of all places. What if one of the Emperor's rappigs heard me? I'm told they're excellent spies."
Tear straightened up. "Did you have anything useful to tell me, Colonel?"
He lifted a hand to his head in mock woe. "How harsh..."
"In that case, I'll be going back to Yulia City," she said.
He sighed. "And so the lovelorn traveler continues her pointless journey."
Where before Tear had straightened, now she stiffened. "Colonel!"
"Oh, I'm sorry," he said. "Was I not supposed to mention the L-word? You know how us old people get. Our discretion is unreliable sometimes. We get so impatient with the silly games of youth."
Tear was flushing dark red. Jade didn't think he'd gone too far, but he realized he couldn't be sure. As easily as he could read people, sometimes emotions and their depth still eluded him. He fell silent, watching her closely.
Finally, she said, "There's nothing pointless about it. The new Order of Lorelei needs to maintain open communications with the people of Auldrant."
"Yes, and I'm sure you'll feel the same way when he returns," Jade said.
Tear started. She turned that wide-eyed stare upon him, the one that betrayed all her soldier's poise and made her look as innocent as Luke at his most naive. Perhaps they suited each other better than they themselves realized. "When he returns..."
Jade wondered why he was saying these things. There was, after all, no guarantee that Luke would return. Was it significant if he did? His was one short life in a sea of them. But Tear was looking at him with those eyes, and Jade recalled when Luke had looked at him with determination. "You're far too young for your hearing to be going," he said.
"That isn't it," Tear said. "Colonel, you of all people...do you really think...?"
"Ah," Jade said. So it came down to that. He was still the cynical one, or so they thought. Or rather, he was the reasonable one, he corrected himself. But Luke had taught him something about the place of reason. He'd taught Tear more, and something else besides. "Don't tell me you're not going to hold him to his promise." Luke was a fool, Jade thought. One shouldn't promise things one couldn't guarantee.
"I am," Tear said. "I'll be waiting for him, wherever I am. Wherever he is." She hesitated. "Jade...thank you."
Oh. This. Jade still wasn't used to being thanked. He waved a hand. "I suppose it's what I'm here for. Certainly I can't have anything better to do, now can I?"
He left Tear where she was at the window, gazing out at the waters beyond. But he couldn't quite resist slowing his steps as he walked away and turning back to look at her. To be sure she was all right, because he wanted to look after all of them, including her.
Tear no longer seemed to recognize his presence. She was in a world of her own memories, waiting for when she could make new ones together with Luke. Jade had done such an unreasonable thing by encouraging her. But he could not shake the feeling that it had been the right thing to do.