Chapter twenty-two:

No Place Like Home

Kiba stopped, feeling his heart pounding against his ribcage. The stench of blood was thick.

With a great deal of reluctance, he pushed the doors open. The relief he felt was so overwhelming, that he stumbled back towards the door. Not hers, he thought. Its not hers.

His eyes searched the open room. The tank that once held Cheza laid in pieces. Three bodies surrounded in pools of blood laid before the remains of the tank.

But there were no traces of Serena or Cheza. He could still smell them, their scent strong as the blood, but they were gone.

"She's not here," Saturn said, her eyes searching the room. "Where did they go?"

"Home," a voice said from somewhere in the room.

The group of wolves tensed, their backs arching to form a ready stance. "I haven't come here to fight wolves," the voice continued. From the far shadows of the room, a rather tall looking man stepped forward. "Serena fought for me."

Kiba growled, recognizing the man from the ship that had kidnapped Serena weeks before.

The Noble hardly paid him a glance, but instead kneeled down before one of the bodies. "This is all my fault," he whispered, as he gathered his brother's body close to his. "I could have change things long before they got out of hand.

"But like all the others, I used her."

Gingerly, the man stood, cradling the smaller body close to his. "Haruka knows something has happened," he continued saying, as if there weren't wolves witnessing his crumbling façade. "I must take my brother home to be buried."

Kiba shifted, letting his wolf form dissolve into his human one. "Why did she leave," he asked the stranger. Deep inside his chest, the already tight knot twisted harshly.

The other man lifted his head to look at them now. "She went back to where she belongs, Kiba," he said softly. "Cheza is with her, if you still seek out to find paradise."

With a menacing growl, Kiba threw out his right arm. "I don't care about paradise," he snapped, his eyes glowing yellow.

The Noble chuckled, as he shook his head. "Tell me wolf, where do you belong?" he asked with genuine curiosity. "Do you belong in paradise, the place you have been searching for, your whole life?"

He didn't hesitate, because he had realized long ago that he had stopped looking for paradise. These last few weeks had been filled with searching for something else. For someone else.

"No," he replied, creating confusion from the others behind him.

The man nodded, his arms tightening around the form he held. "It appears you have learned something," he said once he reached Kiba. "It doesn't take much to create Paradise. The place only exists in being where you belong."

Kiba nodded, knowing what the man meant.

"Come wolf," the Noble said. "I'll take you home."

----

"Thank you Zoicite," Serena told the Noble. When she had left Jagara's castle, she had instantly run into Kunzite and Zoicite. Zoicite had been more than happy to take her home.

The young Noble smiled sheepishly. "It wasn't a bother," he replied. They stood outside her apartment door.

Serena collected the spare key from under her rug and pushed the door open. "Go on in Cheza," she said, allowing the flower maiden to go in first.

"You're going to be okay, right," she asked, looking at him. Zoicite sighed carefully, his hand reaching up to fiddle with his long ponytail. "Yea," he said reassuringly. "I'll need to tell the others…"

Nodding, Serena stepped into her apartment. "Again, thank you."

Zoicite shrugged, his right had lifting into a wave. "I'll be seeing you," he said as he turned and walked away.

Serena watched him, knowing that what he said was what he meant. She had been watched her whole life. Why would they stop now?

With a small sigh, Serena closed her front door. As she made her way towards her bathroom, she stripped from her clothes.

At the bathroom door she looked into her bedroom and found Cheza lying on her bed. Good, she thought.

Serena stepped into her bathroom and started up the shower. As steam filled the small room, she slipped out of her undergarments. Clothes Zoicite had given her for her trip home.

A ride that had taken hardly two weeks.

Pulling the curtain aside, she climbed into the shower. It was strange. Most of the cuts the glass had made had already begun to heal. Only small scratches seemed to be left. The worst was the one in her hand.

Serena looked at that hand as she stood beneath the spray.

When Kunzite and Zoicite had found her, she had been a bloody mess. Glass had done a number on her body, but now there was hardly anything.

Sighing heavily, Serena washed her hair and her body, something she hadn't done for so long. She cleaned and scrubbed in places she never thought of.

An hour later and cold water spraying, Serena turned the shower off. She pulled the curtain back and grabbed her towel. She quickly dried, before leaving the room.

Quietly, she walked into her bedroom and dressed into her pajamas. After she was dressed, she took her brush and quickly worked it through the tangles. When she finished, she braided her hair before lying down in bed. Cheza slept on one side of the bed, so Serena pulled back the covers on the other side.

She slipped in between the sheets and laid her head down on her pillow. I didn't realize how much I missed my bed, she thought to herself.

For the past two months Serena had slept on the floor, in motels, and in a duplicate of her own room. But nothing was like her own bed. Not even the one Kunzite had made for her.

This is my home, she said as she buried her face into the soft pillow. It smelled of the soap she used to wash them before she left. Her blanket smelled of Kiba. Serena had been unable to wash the comforter, afraid she would loose his memory forever.

Serena closed her eyes, her body snuggling beneath the covers. I'm home, she thought sleepily. I'm finally home.

----

Serena O'Donnell woke to the sound of her alarm clock blaring. Yawning, she rolled over and buried her head beneath her pillow.

The clock continued to shrill. Then suddenly two hands grabbed her, and with such a force shook her back and forth on her bed.

"This one awake!" Cheza said aloud, her voice loud enough to mute the alarm sounding next to Serena's head.

With a groan Serena got out of bed. "All right, all right," she grumbled beneath her breath. Her arms lifted into a stretch, as she yawned again.

Turning back to her alarm clock, Serena blinked. It's six in the morning? What the heck was she doing up, she wondered.

Rubbing her eyes, Serena left her room to go to her living room. Rounding her couch, she entered her kitchen. Every clock she looked at said the same time. Frowning, Serena went back into the living room.

She found the remote and switched on the news. Serena searched the screen for the time. Six o' five blared at her. Shaking her head, she looked for the date.

It took her a second before she realized what she was staring at.

Her eyes widened when she realized it was August 1st. "Oh no, I'm going to be late for work!" she cried. Running from the living room, she ran passed Cheza to enter her room. Tearing through her things, she tugged out a clean outfit.

Serena pulled off her pajamas and quickly dressed in clean underwear and tugged on nylons. Next she pulled on a jean skirt, and managed to slip on the white blouse in ten minutes.

Glancing at her alarm clock, a disgruntled sound escaped her. She ran out of her bedroom to go to her bathroom. Serena stared at her haggard form. "Oh god, I've died and gone to hell," she moaned.

Tugging loose her braid she reached for her brush. She worked out the fresh tangles of her long hair. Pausing to look at her reflection, she came to a quick decision. Serena parted her hair down the middle. With each side she tied them into twin buns, with pigtails trailing down towards her calves.

Like old times, she mused. Not only was she going to be late, but she was going to miss out eating breakfast, and making her lunch. "Just like high school," she said with a pitiful laugh.

Turning, Serena ran from the bathroom to go back into her bedroom. She found a pair of sneakers to wear and slipped them on her feet.

Okay ready, she thought, and ran from her room.

She entered her living room and found Cheza staring at her Television screen. What am I supposed to do with her, she wondered. Serena grabbed for her coat that hung near her door. "Cheza, its time to go," she said.

The girl sitting on the couch got to her feet and joined Serena near the door.

Before leaving, Serena turned the TV off. Outside her apartment, she locked the door. Together the two made their way down to the sidewalk below.

"Where does this one go?" the girl asked.

Serena smiled, as the two of them walked quickly to her work place. "You're coming to work with me," she explained.

"This one go with Serena," the girl asked. Serena nodded, and taking off her coat, pulled it on over Cheza's shoulders. "We'll need to go shopping afterwards," she said mostly to herself. "Get you some clothes…"

"Miss O'Donnell," the doorman asked when she and Cheza reached the building of her job.

Looking up, Serena smile at the older gentleman. "Its good to see you Sam," she greeted warmly. The man moved to open the door for her. "Thanks," she added as they walked through, heading for the elevator.

She pressed the button, only to have the doors open automatically. Stepping inside, she pulled Cheza in with her. "Its okay," she said to reassure the other girl.

----

Nathan Ferelith stood in the doorframe of his office. Never in his entire life did he feel this nervous. As seven o'clock came around the prickling sense of fear crept up on him.

It was August 1st, the day Serena O'Donnell was due back to work. But it seemed like she was either going to be late or not show up at all. He feared the later.

Since he hadn't heard anything about the young blonde, the last two weeks had turned his life into hell.

Reaching up, Nathan scratch at the beard he had neglected to shave the last couple of days. He was getting too old for this. Where is she, he wondered. His eyes darted back to the date on his computer. It said it was August 1st. His eyes fell to his watch. Seven ten. Why isn't she here?

He wasn't the only one tensed either. Violet eyes lifted to the cubicles that filled the work place. Molly Gem sat at her desk, her eyes glued to the door of the elevator. With her hands poised over the keys of her computer she wasn't getting anything done.

But he couldn't blame her. The young woman was positively worried about her friend. Serena O'Donnell had come to mean so much to everyone who worked on the paper.

Dragging his eyes away from the red haired woman, he looked at the rest of the room. Everyone was sneaking glances at the elevator. Everyone was hoping to see the familiar face appear.

A sound alerted him.

A small gasp, had his gaze moving quickly, but the sight of the steel doors sliding open had his heart lurching roughly in his chest.

He hadn't realized until then how wound up he was. Since the moment he had heard of her disappearance, the strain had begun to build and build. And even though he had told Molly that Serena was safe, inside he really wondered if that was true.

So he wasn't all that surprise when he begged and pleaded with everything he had, to have whoever that was on the elevator be Serena.

"Come on, I'm late as it is," a familiar voice said.

Molly had he chair shoved back so quickly that it knocked into the neighboring cubicle. She rounded the tall wall, her eyes trained on the open doors.

It seemed like the doors were going to close on them, when a small hand darted out to catch them. Then to everyone's surprise, two people came out.

At first Nathan didn't recognize either of them. But then the girl lifted her eyes, a pair of bright blue eyes in his direction. Unlike the last time he saw her, Nathan found himself staring at a completely different Serena. And it didn't have all that much to do with the girl's new attire.

Her hair was longer, and she did wear a style he hadn't seen on her since high school… But there was something different about her, that knocked him for a loop.

"Serena!" Molly cried out, and threw herself at the smaller blonde. The usually cocky red haired woman was reduced to tears in seconds at the sight of her best friend. A friend no one ever expected to see again.

"Molly?" Serena asked in surprise, her eyes blinking. Confusion, and then worry crossed her features.

Without meaning to, Nathan found himself crossing the office space to reach the pair.

"What's wrong Molly," the small blonde asked, her concern showing through her voice.

"You came back!" the red haired woman sobbed. "I thought I would never see you again!" the small woman's shoulders were racked with sobs, as she clung to her friend.

Nathan felt his heart lurch painfully in his chest.

"When I saw you go down that elevator, I really thought that you were saying goodbye. And that… that was it!" the woman continued to cry. "How could you do that to me!"

Suddenly Molly jerked herself away from her friend. "The next time you decide to up disappear use your god damn cell phone!"

The startled look on Serena's face brought a smile to his face. "Now is that any kind of welcome, you should be given to your friend who was missing for two months, Molly," he asked softly. The short red haired woman whirled on him, her green eyes blazing. "Don't give me that Nathan," she growled. "I was worried sick for two months, and I haven't had one decent night sleep!"

Nathan found himself lifting a brow at that statement. To his amusement, Molly backed up a bit, a flush creeping up on her face. "Well err-" she stammered.

Serena looked from one and then to the other. From over Molly's shoulder, Nathan noticed the tiny smile she let slip onto her face.

"You're late," he commented wryly, finally taking his eyes off the fiery red head.

"Yea well, I got home late," came the reply. "Oh, and I have new roommate. This is Cheza."

Nathan looked at the girl who had came in with Serena. She was a small girl, but taller than Serena by at least an inch or so. Her hair was an uncommon lavender shade, while her eyes, were red, without even a hint of white at all. The girl who looked to be about sixteen, wore a full body suit which clung to her form, but was covered by a black jacket that reached about to her waist in length.

"Hello Cheza, I'm Nathan Ferelith," he introduced himself. Molly next to him reached up to wipe at the last trace of her tears. "Molly Gem."

Turning back to Serena, Nathan finally asked, "So are you ready to get back to work?"

Serena nodded, her hesitation brief. "Yes," she said, sounding like she wanted to add something more, but held it back.

As Nathan watched her, he realized that what he had seen earlier, was grief. The girl wore it like a second skin as she went to her cubicle to sit. While she was happy to be here, and seemed to be enjoying herself, a part of her seemed to fold up within itself. Hiding deep inside, where no one else could see.

I'm terribly sorry things had to happen this way, he said silently. You should have never had to go through what you did.

And we tried so hard to make it that way…

----

Serena unlocked her front door after a long day of work and spending an hour at the mall. Carrying in bags filled with clothes, she allowed Cheza to enter, before she shut the door.

In the living room, Serena just dropped the bags that had weighed her down for the trip home. "I'll get you something to drink," she said tiredly.

She lead Cheza into the kitchen, and fixed the girl a glass of cold water. "Here." she handed the glass over, in which the girl drank from.

When the girl finished, she set the glass down and turned to look towards the living room. "Kiba," the girl said, a hint of sadness in her voice.

Serena followed the girl's gaze. "I miss him to," she confided, tears filling her eyes. "Do you want to take a bath?" she asked hoping to distract them both from the memory of the white wolf.

"Bath?" the girl asked, turning to look at her.

"Yea, so that you can clean yourself up," Serena said, hoping to help the girl understand. "I'll go turn the water on…"

Leaving the kitchen, Serena passed through the living room. She walked down the hallway and entered the bathroom.

With a small sigh, she pulled off her shoes and set them aside. Rolling up her sleeves, she went to the tub. Serena started the water, adjusting the temp to the right warmth.

Plugging the drain, Serena waited a bit as the tub filled. Halfway full, she climbed to her feet. "Cheza!" she called. "You're water's ready!"

"This one full," came the reply. With another sigh, Serena said, "No you're bath is ready!"

When no reply came, and the girl didn't come into the room, Serena grumbled beneath her breath.

Turning around, she took a step towards the door.

But the person who stood there, kept her from leaving.

Drawing up short, Serena had the tingling sensation of Déjà vu. Tears formed in her eyes, as she dragged them up the jean clad boy who stood in her bathroom doorway. He lacked the thick gray jacket, but the white shirt was forever kept unbutton at the top.

Oh please don't let this be my imagination, she pleaded tearfully. Several tears slipped passed her defenses, rolling down her cheeks.

Closing her eyes, she allow a few more tears to fall, before the opened them again. The boy with unkempt brown hair still stood in her bathroom. His blue eyes held her in place.

"Kiba," she whispered hopefully. It was all he needed, before he crossed what little distance that had been in between them. "Serena," he replied roughly, pulling her into his arms.

With a tiny sob, her arms flung themselves around his neck. She clung to him, her sudden weight causing them to stumble. The pair fell backwards into the tub. Water splashed up over the side of the bathtub, hitting the tiled floor.

Kiba's arms tightened around the small girl beneath them. His mouth came down and claimed hers. Serena moaned, her fingers moving up along his neck only to entangle themselves in his thick hair.

His mouth slanted, and his tongue slipped passed her parted lips to claim what he called his. When he finally pulled away, he nibbled her bottom lip, before nuzzling her cheek.

"Kiba," Serena gasped, her body trembling beneath his. She held him close, his face buried in the crook of her neck. They laid like that till the bathwater began to overfill the tub and began to spill onto the floor.

Serena used her foot to shut the water off.

Lifting his head finally, Kiba stared down at her. "I found you," he whispered, his eyes flickering with emotions he seemed unwilling to let go. She felt his fingers dig into the cloth of her blouse, his hands gripping onto a handful.

"I cant believe you came," Serena said, her eyes searching his face. "Did you come all this way for Cheza?" the hurt that she felt, if that was the reason why he was there, seemed to reflect in her voice. Kiba growled, his body tightening its hold on her.

"As I told that Noble, I don't care about paradise," he admitted aloud. "I stopped searching for it a long time ago."

Confused, Serena drew her eyebrows together. "why? You wanted it so much," she said.

Kiba dipped his face forward to nuzzle her neck. He breathed in deeply, taking in the scent he had longed to smell after she had been taken away from him. "Because I already found it," he replied after pulling back to look at her. His eyes held hers for a full minute, before he added, "Paradise only exist in being where I belong."

Serena licked her dry lips, her eyes searching his for some hint. "Did you want to stay with me?" she asked, fearing he might reject her.

For the first time since he appeared in the room, mixed emotions crossed his face. In one swift movement, he had them up and out of the tub.

With a startled yelp, Serena clung to him, as he carried her from the bathroom, and into her bedroom. "Kiba," she gasped, when he shut the door to the room, and laid her down on the bed. "I'll only stay if you let me," he said, standing at the foot of the bed.

Serena bit her lip to hold back a sob. With jerky movements she nodded her head, tears clinging to her wet lashes.

With a growl, Kiba joined her on the bed. Leaning over her, he dipped in and nibbled on her lips.

Serena groaned, her heart slamming against her chest. When he pulled back, he helped her back to her feet. She felt helpless, as Kiba moved about her, slowly taking off all her clothes.

When he finished, having slid her nylons down her legs and off her feet, he stared at her. Heat crawled into her cheeks. Then, Kiba removed his own clothing.

Once undressed he didn't waste another moment. In one stride he reached her, and scooped her up into his arms before laying her down on the bed. He climbed in after her, so that they both laid on their sides his body spooning hers.

He nuzzled her neck with his face, again breathing in deep. Serena sighed, her body relaxing in his hold. She felt her eyes closing, her body ready to succumb to sleep.

But when his hand brushed across her stomach, her eyes flew open. Rolling onto her back, she turned her head to look at him. He was staring at her with a curious expression.

"Kiba, there's something I need to tell you," she said carefully. She braced herself, her body tensing for rejection. "I'm pregnant." at his confused stare, she added, "I'm going to have your baby."

She watched as his eyes widened, his mouth parting to utter a faint oh. She knew it was coming. He would either get up and walk away, or declare it wasn't his baby.

Then suddenly, his eyes softened and a small smile formed on his face. He leaned in to nibble on her neck. Serena broke into giggles, despite the serious situation they were in. "Kiba!" she gasped, trying to get him to stop.

He rolled over on top of her, his body completely covering hers. "I'm right where I belong," he said, holding her attention with his soft words. "You're my paradise."

Serena found herself smiling then, her arms moving to wrap themselves around his neck. "You want to have a baby?" she asked. Kiba's smile broadened, his eyes glinting mischievously. "No," he began, making Serena's eyes widen, before he finished what he wanted to say. "I want to have lots of babies."

The End