Disclaimer: All Suikoden elements belong to Konami.

Special note: Alright, a lot of people have been telling me that the use of Nash's nickname for Sierra, "old girl", should be toned down a little (I guess because it sounds insulting). But do you want to know why he uses it so often? Well, "old girl" originally started out as his way of teasing her about her age, but over time, it's come to mean much more to them. Now, when he calls her "old girl", it's just his way of saying "sweetheart" or "darling" or something akin to that. Get it? Got it! GOOD!

Rebirth

Chapter 1: Retraction

by ArchFaith

"Not even going to say goodbye, huh?"

She was only mildly surprised to hear his voice whisper through the hot night air. One stocking-clad foot lightly hit the threshold of the doorway as the mildly curious accusation reached her ears.

The brass knob had almost turned and clicked as she paused, her hand still grasping the lock. How quickly he picked up on things, this boy. Hints, small clues, infinitesimal changes in her mannerisms. Well, he was a spy, after all. It was his duty—extensive training, years of practice...he was good at these things.

She sighed.

Too good.

The boy sat up in bed, his muscular frame propped up by his arms as he gently leaned forward. Unclothed save for a thin blanket that covered his legs and waist, the beads of sweat collected on his forehead as he eyed her, the azure blue of his pupils burning into her motionless form. He brushed a piece of wavy blonde hair away from his eyes and smoothed it back against his head as he frowned.

There was no easy way out of this, was there? To wake up, feel for the familiar body lying to his, to feel nothing. To wake, and see the supposed receiver of his affections nearly walking out the door...he wanted an explanation; he would not settle for anything less. And she did owe him one, after all; he had been sweet to her. This much she could she admit. Sweet, kind...more than that. But no...she quickly pushed the thoughts out of her mind as she slowly turned to face him.

The white blouse clung to her damp body, as did the pleated blue skirt and stockings to her pale legs. Her blue shoes, the long cloak—these she cradled in her arms. She did not think he would wake so easily...but maybe he was, in reality, a light sleeper. Perhaps he was always watching her at night, watching to see that she did not leave. And perhaps he had stopped watching her, had trusted her enough to know that she would still be there when the morning light filtered in through the heavy curtains.

Well—he should have kept watching.

She smoothed back the silvery strands of hair and tucked them behind her ear. It was warm out; of course, it was always warm in the desert city. Caleria, city of a thousand thieves, city of the palm trees and dancing girls, the gateway to Harmonia and beyond. The headquarters of the Southern Frontier Defense Force—his unit. Nash Latkje, only son of the prosperous Latkje family, a trainee of the Howling Voice Guild. The fair-haired swordsman of Harmonia.

The crooked smile, the loose strands of hair in his eyes, his teasing nature. Old girl.

She was fresh from the battlegrounds of the Dunan Unification War...Highland...the gathering of the One Hundred and Eight Stars. She had fulfilled her duty to destiny, helped to stabilize the world and make it safe once more; and, having completed her mission, found that her own longings needed to come to an end. The small, nagging feelings of loneliness had temporarily been silenced as she found herself gravitating towards the handsome Klaus Windamier—but alas, no. To spend an eternity with him—this she could not imagine.

She did not know where else to go.

And so she went to him. Over the hills and valley, around the rocky, desolate mountains, on the path to the old city of Caleria, where she knew he would be located. He had been glad to see her; he had accepted her, welcomed her as she stood in the doorway of his small house, her face a mixture of mild annoyance and deep joy. She had always had a certain fondness for this clumsy blonde boy—his confident smile, the deep azure of his eyes, the mixture of tease and equal that he displayed every time he opened his mouth. Something within him—inside him—yes, her ancient soul loved. It was as if she was still sixteen again, as if she had woken up from a slumber centuries-long, awoken next to a young blonde man with wavy hair and a relaxing smile.

Start over. Be loved.

But now...and now...

She slowly went over to him and sat down on the bed as he fully sat up, knitting his eyebrows as she averted her eyes, letting them wander to her feet as she spoke. "I am sorry I did not wake you," she whispered, blinking. "I thought it might be better if I allowed you to sleep..."

He frowned, his expression bordering on anger. "So you were just going to go like that? Without even telling me? Without even saying why?"

She looked at him now; he seemed far away. The last few weeks of her life it was as if they were the same age—now it was like looking at a child. Yes—an old, withered hag talking to a young child.

He would be so insulted if she told him that. "Well..." she began, her ruby eyes drifting into his. "Nash...this is difficult for me to explain..."

He tried and failed to stop his fists from forming into tight balls. "Sierra...you should know by now that nothing you could ever say to me..."

There was no amusement in his voice—no tease. This was real; it was not one of her many games, one of the many instances in which she would relentlessly badger him while he lightheartedly told her off. He was serious; he was hardly ever serious when he was around her...

She decided she did not like this side of him.

Quickly she stood up. Clearly the only way to handle this would be to take a side—there could be no middle ground now, no pleasantries or formalities. She couldn't apologize for just walking away. "It could never work between us, Nash. I have told you this time and time before—always in half-jest, I confess. But now...I have truly realized our destiny. We...we are not the same. We could never be the same. I will never truly grow to love you. And you cannot love me."

"What the hell are you talking about?" he yelled, his eyes blazing as he stood, hastily wrapping the thin sheet around his waist as he went over to her. "I could never love you…you're not making sense." His eyes roved over her flustered form. "There has to be something wrong."

His arms moved to embrace her; she pushed him away, backed up until she could feel the draft of the hot breeze on her back as it flowered in through the window. "I am not just joking around," she said solemnly, desperately trying to make her voice stony and indifferent as she coldly drew her gaze upon him. "This relationship—it is but a small episode of my life. I am done here. I am finished toying around with you..." Her voice faltered as she turned away. "I have grown quite bored with this...so I have decided to end this affair."

She pressed the shoes and cloak tighter against her body, almost tasting the fury that was about to manifest itself behind her.

She readied herself for the explosion she was sure would erupt—but none came. An awkward silence came to rest upon the room suddenly—a quiet tension that gently landed upon the messy bed, settled into the worn old desk and chair, swirled around the small end table with its dusty brass lamp. She could feel him still standing behind her, his arms drawn up protectively over his bare chest.

She could not tell how long it was that they stood like this—her arms tight against her only belongings, poised as if to fly out of the door any minute; the boy standing near her, silent, calculating. Outside, the palm trees rustled in a light breeze, the nauseatingly soft sounds of a Calerian night.

"You're selfish, old girl," he whispered, finally, coming up to stand behind her, his breath against her cheek as she blinked furiously, trying to keep the bloody tears from forcing their way to the surface.

"You knew that when I took up with you," she answered, trying to make her voice sound callous, angry. When in reality only a small thread of self-discipline was keeping her from taking back all her words, her gestures, her actions—from taking them all back.

"When you took up with me?" he echoed, his eyes narrowing. His frown had formed into a scowl, his mouth trembling he placed his hands on her shoulders, squeezed them gently as he did whenever they made love. "I get it." His scowl twisted into an incredulous, sarcastic smile now—he closed his eyes, and she turned her head slightly, just in time to witness a single tear trace its way down his tanned cheek. "Guess I'm just a whore to you, right? Something you can just use and then toss away, like an old toy."

That is correct, as far as you are concerned. Just keeping thinking that way, and it will be alright. For both of us.

It took all her strength to keep herself from whirling around and throwing her arms around him. "Think whatever you wish," she answered. "It's none of my concern any longer."

She wrenched herself away from his arms and marched over to the door. This time the knob turned fully—she wrenched the door open and strode out into the small square, the light of the fading lanterns casting shadows on her lithe body as she quickly wrapped the shawl around her shoulders.

He immediately hurtled after her, catching her and turning her around, his hands clamped on her arms. "Don't do this, old girl," he whispered, his discomforting face stricken as he furiously blinked, hoping to keep the anguished tears from pooling at the base of his eyelashes. "You're not yourself…I know there's a reason for this. There has to be." He pulled her into an embrace now, wrapped his tanned arms around her as she stood there in silence. "Whatever it is…please," he pleaded, stroking her soft, silver hair, "just stay. Don't just go by yourself."

She callously pushed him as the red droplets slowly forged their way down her face, staining her pale cheek. "Get away from me," she said lowly, dangerously. "Our time is done." She turned away from once again, focused her eyes on a waxing candle glistening inside an old brass lantern hung from a doorway opposite the plaza. "I shall not be coming back here, I assure you. I hope you live a life worthy of your successes."

She quickly brought her hands to her face, wiped the offending tears off her cheek before turning to face him once more, twisting her face to condescending and annoyed.

He knew he could not stop her; once her mind was set on her goal, there could be no discussion, no pleading. But—why? Truly it could not be so—that she meant their affair to be brief, that it was always her intention to leave once she grew bored. As domineering, as self-centered, as argumentative as she was—and he had always known her to be—she would not do something like this. He did not know whether, in her heart, she had truly grown to love him as much as he did her; but surely there was something inside her that felt for him; surely there was a part of her heart that did have some kind of passionate feeling for him. And as much as she troubled him, scolded him, slapped him—she would not do this kind of thing. She would not hurt him like this.

Surely…?

He moved to embrace her once again; she backed away before he came a step closer. Hugging her only possessions to her chest once again, she rapidly turned away. "Goodbye," he thought he heard her whisper as, in an instant, she had vanished from his sight; her vampiric traits allowed her to travel at enormous speeds, and this she had utilized to its best ability; she ran so quickly out of the deserted plaza she was sure he would not be able to see her bloody tears form once again.

He stood staring for a moment, the hot breeze tousling his blonde hair as he blankly scanned the plaza for any signs of her presence. It was a vain attempt; he knew that her little vanishing act meant that she was gone.

The soft light of the lanterns, the geometric patterns of the walls of the houses, the leaves of the palm trees rustling in the wind—

A small, clear trail formed at the base of his eyelashes and traced its way down his cheek. He blinked; a second tear formed, and then a third. Slowly he blinked as the tears gently flowed, his mouth quivering at he looked up into the starry night sky.

Just look after her for me.

To be continued…

Note: Well, the first chapter ends here. This fic is going to turn out differently than my other Nash/Sierra fluff stories…this chapter is mainly exposition, just setting up for the main part of the story. Hope you all liked it, and please review! I love hearing everything's comments and criticisms, so make sure to tell me what you thought of it!

Also...this story will feature something different, an old idea I've been playing around with for a while now, and something I thought would be interesting when applied to Nash and Sierra. So stay tuned!