Disclaimer: Yada yada yada. . .

Author's Note: Hiya! Exams are finally over, woo! Ceeeeeelebrate. . . XD

Partying aside, I'm now here to present to you a new one-shot fic. It sort of goes hand in hand with More Than Just a Story, but it doesn't matter if you haven't read it. So. . . Yeah.

More explanations and crap at the bottom. ;-)

Please enjoy!








Chrono felt the corners of his mouth sink as he lightly closed his ruby-colored eyes, breathing in the perfumed, honeysuckle air. Spring was here. Which in of itself was a good thing, granted, but beautiful things like flowers and song birds always made his heart ache with loneliness.

Sighing softly and flopping gracefully upon his back, he lifted his gaze to the robin's egg sky; wistfully watching the ice-cream clouds float past. A gentle breeze ruffled the clearing, dancing through the bright green leaves forming on the trees. It was very relaxing- But the melodic sounds of nature only seemed to make the nothingness inside of him intensify.

He needed some sort of noise. White noise. Any noise.

Which, in retrospect, explained why he suddenly heard himself singing quietly, voice husky from lack of current use. "Toki no sunahama de mitsumeru, yosete wa kaesu- namida ato. . . Hito no kanashimi mo itsuka wa- Umi he kareru ka na. . . Yume no naka d- - -Joshua!"

The devil almost jumped out of his skin as a blonde framed face suddenly impaired his view; twinkling blue eyes full of amusement and mischief. Bolting upright so fast that he almost crashed foreheads with the boy- who had been leaning over him, feet planted a few inches away from each of the demon's pointy ears- Chrono felt his cheeks flush pink. "What are you doing here?!"

"Visiting you," he replied simply, though his poorly hidden smile spoke volumes. "Though by the look on your face, I think you would have preferred I stayed at Seventh Bell." He pretended to look hurt.

"Oh! No, no!" Chrono shook his head emphatically, showing off a flustered smile. "You- uh- just startled me."

"Really?" Joshua frowned, looking slightly disappointed. "I was hoping that was an act. What about your superhuman hearing? And your enhanced sense of smell? Can't you read my aura from one hundred feet away?"

The demon's already embarrassed features took on a slightly exasperated look. "I think someone's been reading too many fantasy books again. . ."

Joshua laughed as he fell next to Chrono, crossing his legs in an imitation of the devil's position. "Maybe. But I don't really have much else to do in my room." His smile saddened slightly as he began to poke at the springy grass, twisting a bit of it around one pale finger. But within a moment he had pushed the depression away, already sensing Chrono's pity filled pools on his face. "Anyway- that was a pretty song you were singing!" Beaming up at the devil with a cock of his head, he winked. "I bet Rosette would love you even more if you sang for her. . ."

'. . .

What?!' Barely able to process the sing-song gibe, Chrono felt his already rosy face begin to burn. "P- pardon- - - ?!" he stuttered, wrapping his hands around the leather belts on his calves; tugging them in a nervous reflex. The boy's crafty air became slyer as he chuckled.

"Oh, don't tell me you haven't noticed!" he prodded, having a jolly good time now. "Rosette's crazy about you! She made you those disgusting cookies!"

"They weren't- well, maybe they were a littl- - -!"

"She takes stuff from the orphanage for you!"

"I told her to sto- - -!"

"She talks about you nonstop at home!"

"I'm sure that's- - -!"

"Aaaaand. . ." he lowered his voice to a whisper, leaning in on his knees as he interrupted for the last time. "I heard her saying your name when she was asleep last night." Rolling back onto his rear end again, he began to giggle as Chrono cleared his throat, still incredibly pink.

"Uh. . . Well. . . Um. . ." he managed to reply intelligently, not looking well at all. "I mean- where is Rosette, anyway?"

Joshua's smug smirk grew. "She's with the other kids- They went into Detroit today! I wasn't feeling well this morning so I didn't go. Rosette wanted to stay but I wouldn't let her. It took some arguing, but I won." He appeared proud of himself. "And she promised to bring us both back some saltwater taffy! Isn't that swell?"

But by then Chrono wasn't listening anymore. "You weren't feeling well?" he echoed, sounding worried as he instinctively placed a hand upon the boy's forehead, trying to detect any unnatural warmth. "Then why are you out here? You should be home in bed! Or at least wearing a heavier jacket- - - !"

With a frustrated noise, the boy roughly pushed the hand away, still all smiles. "Oh, don't worry so much! Honestly, you're worse than my big sister. I'm feeling fine! I think I just ate something that didn't agree with me at breakfast."

Chrono didn't seem convinced. This annoyed Joshua. And so he frowned- then moved forward once more, resting most of his weight on his hands as the demon blinked, wanting to scoot away.

". . . Rosette."

The devil's face flushed purple.

"Haha!" Falling stomach -first onto the grass, the child took a moment to snicker and snigger and snort at the expense of his demonic friend. Chrono, on the other hand, took this brief period to pout, glaring at a pebble before him on the ground.

"That's not funny," the devil grumbled quietly.

Joshua rolled onto his back, arching his neck slightly to stare at the other. "Oh, Chrono, it's hilarious!"

"It is not!"

"You know you loooooove her. . ."

"She's centuries too young!"

"Ah, but you are interested?"

Chrono spluttered indignantly. "You've been reading too many romance novels!"

The boy grinned widely. "I don't need to read the novels to know what's staring me in the face. You looooooooove my sister!"

"I don't!"

"I know y- -o. ough- ough- - -!" Cutting himself off without warning, Chorno straightened in considerable alarm as Joshua curled in upon himself; lung-tearing hacking sounds pouring from his mouth.

"Joshua? Joshua! Are you okay?!" The devil hurriedly got to his knees and crawled over to the boy, gently touching his face. Within seconds it had gone from normal temperature to searing hot- sweat glistening on his brow as a sickly fog clouded his eyes.

Joshua nodded shakily, trying to beam convincingly but failing. The devil smiled sadly. "Let's get you home, okay? It's getting late, anyway. . . Rosette will be back with your taffy soon."

The boy looked as if he wanted to say something in return- protest-, but he couldn't form the words. Instead, he silently surrendered and allowed Chrono to pick him up piggy back style, weakly resting his head on the devil's shoulder. They walked this way for a while, neither saying much of anything as the sky dyed itself pumpkin orange.

And then. . .

"Ch. . .rono. . ." Joshua suddenly choked out, voice barely above a whisper. The demon murmured an odd sort of grunt to show he was listening. "P. . . promise me that. . . when I'm gone. . . you'll take care of my sister."

The devil paused for a moment, seemingly surprise. Then he glanced at the boy on his back from over his shoulder, a gentle grin on his face as he started off through the woods again. "A bit early for final wishes, isn't it?"

He started to laugh, but the attempt ended in a coughing fit that took him a full five minutes to overcome. "I didn't mean it. . . like that. But seriously. . ." he finally breathed, having trouble remaining conscious. "Promise me. Sh. . .she may be an ugly little caterpillar now. . ." he joked, "but someday. . . she'll be a beautiful butterfly. . ."

". . ." Chrono did not react when Joshua slipped into a restless slumber on his back, instead trying to take comfort in the steady heartbeat he felt through his clothes. He was fine. . .for now.

". . . I promise."




One thing that I'd like to see more of, in the Chrono Crusade manga, anime, and fan fiction, is Chrono/Joshua interaction. (Not like THAT. I'm being SERIOUS here. (-;) I mean, we're told that they're friends, and Chrono obviously cares about saving him, but that's about it. (At least, of what I've seen so far.) So I thought I'd take a crack at embellishing upon it a bit. (Besides, I sort of wondered what Joshua would say to Chrono about his sister. . . Heehee.)

Well, I hope you liked. Please review. . . ? Pretty please? Thankies!

Ja ne!

PS. I should also mention that the song Chrono sings in this is the first stanza of a song that he actually does perform (in his adult form, with Joshua as backup) called 'Castle in the Air.' The English translation of the line is: "I gaze on the sandy beach of time, Returning to the gathering of tears' traces. Will even the sadness of people- someday return to the sea?" And yes, he was beginning the next line when Joshua interrupted him.

You can hear the whole song on the 'Chrno Crusade Museum' CD (and the third drama CD), along with Rosette and Azmaria singing 'Windy Girl'. Both are quite lovely! (But be warned that the voices are those of the actors who did the radio dramas. Not that it matters, since they're better than the ones that did the anime. . .) If you're interested in buying the CD (you should, it's excellent!), e-mail me and I can send you a site to check it out. :-)