A/N: It's late, and I was in one of those melancholy moods. No reason why, but I felt like writing some fluff. So, here you are! Also, this is set before the series but after the whole 'Seventh Bell' incident. It's where Rosette is training to become an excorsist, so please know that before starting the fic. It'll make things so much easier. ;)
Disclaimer: I don't own Chrono Crusade, sorry to disappoint.
The deafening BANG from the gun made Rosette cringe. She watched in frustration as her bullet flew past practice target and into the straw behind it. The fourteen year old girl clenched her fists and put her gun down.
"What do you think you're doing?" a stern voice demanded from over her shoulder, "You're not finished here, Rosette. You'll have to do much better than that!"
Rosette turned around to see her weapons teacher leering at her from his six-foot stature. His stubborn jaw was set, and his brown eyes showed no mercy for the teenager before him, "But, sir, I was going to take a break…"
"Not with those shots you're not! Pick that gun back up and keep practicing! You don't get a break until you can hit that target every time!" he bellowed at her. Rosette bit back tears and turned around so her training master wouldn't see her weakness. She fired three more shots—BANG, BANG, BANG—before the teacher, seemingly satisfied, moved on to torture the girl a few stalls down.
Once she was sure he was gone, she allowed a single tear to graze her cheek in frustration and sadness. She raised the gun and closed one eye, not even bothering to wipe the wet streak off of her face before she aimed and shot. It missed again, and Rosette bit her lip.
"Rosette?" a gentle voice asked softly, "Are you okay?"
The girl turned once again, this time to face her best friend, "Oh, Chrono," she gave a fake smile, "I didn't see you there."
Chrono's crimson eyes softened, "Are you okay?" he repeated.
Rosette nodded, lowering the gun, "I'm fine. Really," she added the second part when she noticed that he didn't look convinced, "I think I'm almost done practicing, if you want to wait for a while."
Chrono glanced behind Rosette, and his face went from concerned to apologetic. Rosette didn't have time to look behind her before she heard someone yelling in her ear.
"Rosette!!" the teacher was back, and he was livid. His eyes narrowed dangerously, "What are you doing? You won't improve your aim that way!"
Rosette mumbled something incoherent, and Chrono sidestepped so he was even with the girl, "Sir, Father Remington wants to see Rosette right away." (A/N: This is, of course, a lie.)
The training master blinked and turned his glare towards the devil, "Tell Father Remington that, under his orders, I'm supposed to train Rosette, and he can't just interrupt that!"
Chrono shook his head, and Rosette saw anger flash in his eyes, "You're not training her; you're making her miserable!"
"I'm teaching her what she needs to be taught! She can't have an aim like that on a real mission!" the teacher spat at Chrono, who scowled.
"She won't be going on a mission for a long time anyway! If you keep working her without a break, she's going to get sick!" Chrono objected.
The training master fell silent, glaring at the devil in front of him. Then he shot an irritated glance at Rosette before turning away from them, "Take her, then! I don't want to see her until next week's lesson!" he spat, stalking off towards the other girls, who had stopped practicing to watch the whole ordeal, "Get back to practicing, girls! You'll never improve that way!"
Satisfied, Chrono turned back to Rosette, who continued to stare after her teacher, "Come on, Rosette. Let's get out of here."
Rosette turned to look at him, her cerulean eyes pained, "Chrono, why'd you do that?"
"Because he's working you far past what you should be doing. Because you're clearly hurting now, and what you need is some reassurance, something that you're sure not to find here. Also, because you're my best friend, and it hurts me to see you so sad," Chrono counted the reasons off on his fingers.
The girl glanced back at the training master, who had taken up yelling at some other girl. She lowered her gaze, "But now he's going to take his anger out on me later."
Chrono shrugged, "It can't have been worse than how he was treating you just a few minutes ago," he grabbed her hand, and she dropped the gun on the table as he dragged her out of the practice area. Once they were outside in the fresh air, with the birds singing and the trees gently swaying in the breeze, he let go and turned back to her, "There, see? Isn't this much better?"
Rosette smiled slightly, nodding. Chrono grinned and led her towards the entrance of the monastery.
"Where are we going, Chrono?" she asked.
"We're getting as far away from that training area and that teacher as we can," he had approached the gate by now and punched a combination on the keypad to the left of the iron entrance. With a creaky clamor, the iron door swung open, and the forest unraveled before the pair. Chrono started forward, but Rosette hung back.
"We're not supposed to leave the monastery without telling someone first," she said slowly. Chrono stopped and glanced behind him, frowning.
"Come on, Rosette. Forget what they tell you, just for an afternoon. Follow me," he gestured for her to pursue him, and, after a moments hesitation, she obeyed. He directed her through the trees, ignoring her questions and making random turns until Rosette was sure they were thoroughly lost, "Just a little bit more, Rosette. We're almost there."
Chrono finally stopped in the middle of a patch of trees. Rosette came to a halt behind him, "Chrono, where are we?"
The devil only smiled, "Close your eyes."
Rosette gave him an odd look before complying. She felt firm hands being placed on her shoulders, and she was led forward through the brush. The grass felt soft under her boots, and her golden hair whipped in the wind.
"Open your eyes," Chrono's assuring voice murmured into her ear.
Rosette opened her cerulean eyes, and instantly covered her mouth in surprise, "Chrono…" she whispered, surveying the beautiful scenery around her. The forest had broken apart to form a small clearing, and a sparkling lake now glistened beside a patch of stunningly green grass, the color of emeralds. An old tree sat above a checkered red and white picnic blanket that had been laid out on the patch of grass, with a setting for two decorating its simple pattern. A basket full of food sat in the middle of the blanket, ready to be eaten. An eagle glided silently and gracefully across the sky, dodging the fluffy white clouds that littered its flying area. The noonday sun was in such a position that it glittered in the reflection of the glassy water, bathing everything except the blanket in its golden glow.
"What do you think?" Chrono asked softly. Rosette was speechless, still gaping behind her leather gloves. Suddenly she turned to her best friend and enveloped him in a hug, squeezing him so he'd know how she felt.
"Thank you, thank you," she cried into his deep purple hair. The devil smiled and patted her back until the girl drew away, blushing slightly. Her cerulean orbs were wet with tears, but Chrono had a feeling that this time she was crying for an entirely different reason.
"Remember, Rosette, that no matter how badly things seem, you always have friends who care deeply about you," Chrono advised her. Rosette nodded, wiping her eyes and sniffling.
"Thank you…" she repeated softly, "I needed this…"
Chrono chuckled, "I know. Come on, you must be hungry. Let's eat, okay?" he led her to the blanket and handed her a sandwich when she sat down. Rosette took delicate bites, staring from Chrono to the lake to the sky with damp eyes.
"It's so beautiful," she whispered, swallowing. Chrono nodded, pouring her a cup of water to wash down the food. She took it gratefully, smiling.
"I found this place the other day and knew that you had to come down here," Chrono's eyes hardened, "Rosette, are you sure you want to keep practicing there? I mean, you're not restricted to the monastery. You can go somewhere else."
Rosette sighed, "I know it's hard now, Chrono, but…" she took a breath of fresh forest air, breathing in the smell of pine and wilderness, "but I can't stop now. Not when they're the only ones who have clues to Joshua's whereabouts."
Chrono frowned, "Rosette, they don't know any more than we do. And all their 'practicing' is practically making you sick from overwork!"
The girl fell silent, staring at her sandwich. Chrono sighed, "Look. You're clearly not happy there, and I've heard you crying in your room every night before you go to bed. Is finding Joshua really worth all the pressure they're putting on you?"
"Of course it is!" Rosette snapped, "Joshua's all I have to live for, Chrono! It's not his fault I'm not strong enough to keep up with the other girls!"
Chrono looked taken aback, "Joshua's all you have to live for?" he repeated slowly, "So, if you got word that he was dead, you'd cease to live as well?"
Rosette seemed to realize just what she had said, "No, Chrono, I didn't mean it like that. Joshua is important, but so are you! I'm really glad that you've stuck with me all this time."
"I haven't been any help," the devil replied, looking towards the lake, "Joshua's still missing, and now you're depressed all the time. I can't do anything about it…"
Rosette, who had been inching closer to her friend while he had been talking, now put her arm around his shoulder. He leaned into her touch, his crimson eyes not leaving the glittering surface of the lake, "Chrono, if it weren't for you being near me, I think I would have ceased to live a long time ago. You've done a lot more for me than you'll ever know, and I appreciate that."
Chrono turned to her with soft crimson eyes, "Really?" he asked slowly, and she nodded.
"The path of training I have ahead of me is going to be hard, and I won't be able to do it without help. Will you stay with me and lend a hand when I need it?" Rosette pulled him closer.
Chrono smiled softly, scooting so he was sitting right next to Rosette. Her scent wafted around her, a charming smell of cinnamon and roses. Chrono nodded, "Yeah, of course."
A/N: Again, it's late, so you'll have to excuse any grammatical/spelling errors. Hope you liked the story! Please review and tell me what you think!