Heart of a Soldier

Summary: (Post Abyss) One year has passed since the events at Eldrant, and through the help of another, Tear comes to realize a few things. (Lukear)


A/N: I had this odd urge one night. Then, a few nights later, I continued on that idea and came up with this. Though I truly admire the ending, the mid section of it and how it came to that ending, I'm not so proud of. After reading it over a few times, I can't quite figure another way to make this work like it has, so I guess it'll be sufficient enough, for now. Although, the REAL thing I originally wanted to get out of this might still exist in a few stories to come…

Warning: There may be a bit of OoC-ness towards the end in Tear's part. That didn't work out as well as I had hoped.

Kanarazu, bokura wa de au darou. Onaji kodou no oto wo mejirushi ni shite, koko ni iruyo.

Certainly, we will meet again. Our hearts will beat as one and I will return here to you.

Yakusoku ga ageru.

I give you this promise.

Tear awoke; another year had passed and yet she still arose with these thoughts as her impetus, "Will today be the day?"

Upon Van's death, she found herself unable to continue her life as a soldier, albeit the only life she knew. Then without a job, she took up a temporary residence in Baticul, under Natalia's concerned suggestion. However, she soon found the Kimlascan capital not to her extreme liking, as it reminded her too much of Yulia City and all the memories it held. Not to mention she couldn't help but notice the Duke's Manor as it towered over the city day by day. And she knew she could never go there, even under invitation for it would only lead her to gaze at Luke's empty grave. They were wrong to build him a grave. He wasn't dead. He wasn't…

She shook those thoughts from her head; those, the same that had tied her to the life she led now—wandering in search of blind hope… and perhaps a job, too.

Though she realized she had a waitressing gig always open for her in Keterburg, that wasn't what she wanted either.

What she wanted was…

Tear pulled the mangled sheets back and sat up in the bed she rented at the inn in Grand Chokmah, bringing her knees towards her chest and laying her head over top her arms. She sighed, at least her share of the final travel fund was still holding up admirably.

Dressed in her usual daytime attire, she exited outside from the lobby and headed towards the bridge that separated the common folk from the Emperor's Estate and the Military Base. As of recent, it had become her favorite area in which to pass the time nowadays, aside from Tataroo Valley.

The rays of the sun shone over the water beautifully as it tumbled down into the ocean below, crashing with a roar, though hardly deserving of a such description, with a certain gentle vivacity that never failed to captivate her, and calm her ravaging thoughts. And although the waters' mist was often cold, the sun's rays were always warm as they basked the city in the late morning hours.

"My, my. What do we have here? This is certainly a surprise."

Tear turned to see one dressed in his military uniform with his hands casually tucked away in his pockets. As ever, accompanied with two unblinking red eyes from behind a pair of thin glasses, as well as the ever present smile that left his mind closed to those around him—probably for the better.

But through their time spent together—or rather, the times in which they had all somehow wound up at the same place for the same reason and out to do the same thing at the same time, as Jade had corrected—she could always manage a glimpse here and there behind that mask of his. Today, he seemed at ease and sincere.

"Good morning, Jade," she greeted him tranquilly. "Why are you lingering around here? Aren't you late for work?"

"Perhaps I am," he responded coolly, but not coldly as he shrugged, "But who's counting the minutes?"

She laughed softly. "That's an awfully unprofessional view."

"Fancy it coincides with my prescribed lunch hour and day upon which I meet with His Majesty, Rappigs the IX."

Rappigs. Tear smiled distantly at the thought.

Jade took the spot adjacent to her near the paling of the bridge. "Pardon me if this isn't my business to pry," he said, adjusting his glasses with his forefinger. "But what brings you to Grand Chokmah? If I recall, you've put your military days behind you, no?"

"Yes," she said, facing the waterfalls. "I'm only seventeen, still with plenty of years to work ahead of me, and after all that's happened, it's just not what I want to spend my whole life doing."

"I'm terribly offended,"

"To each their own."

"Such is the beauty of a world not shackled by a pre-determined fate." Jade mused. He then softly cleared his throat. "More to the point, I still find it a bit surprising that someone of your disposition is still as young as you say."

Tear frowned slightly, turning her head to look at him quizzically. "What do you mean?"

The Necromancer remained silent, his burning red eyes focusing on the cascading falls before them as he chose his words carefully, "You are incredibly mature for your age, a bit wise beyond your years, as well. …Though I suppose it may all be a consequence—or simply a product, if you'd rather—of growing up in the military." He closed his eyes, removing his glasses as if to unmask his words just the like. "…I hate the idea of an army or military, though I don't altogether resent working for one, myself, but…" he opened his eyes; they were as hard as steel. "…it transforms people into monsters. It takes their mortal mind and rips it into shreds, if they are weak. All they know is of war and death; they become socially incompatible and, more often than not, if their lives were not taken on the field of battle, they shortly thereafter take it themselves. Even if they are strong of mind, they still become monsters in what they do. It is a truly horrible thing."

Tear took a moment to process his words. She agreed, "Your words ring with a painful truth, I—"

"I apologize." he quickly said, normal in appearance again, "Those were mere ramblings of an old man, you mustn't take them to heart."

"No," she remarked, "You speak the truth and it would be stupid to ignore facts."

"Then do not forget: they treated you with some degree of humility because—even now—you are still technically a child, not a soldier."

Speechless. Tear was without a single word to say. It was as if something inside of her had snapped when this truth entered her mind, acting as a long-lost, long forgotten key to her inner self. Everything looked so different; it was as if she was seeing it for the first time. Within her mind, she ran over everything that had happened in her life with a new perspective, one previously unknown to even herself, but all that came to a halt when she reached one year from the current day.

She wanted to be loved. She wanted to love Luke. She wanted to be loved by Luke.

He was… Luke wasn't…

Her eyes burned, her mind cramped—she couldn't breathe, her chest felt heavier than ever and her legs felt too weak to support this newfound force. She was off balance. She moved to step back but found herself unable to respond in time.

"Tear!" He called, placing a steady hand on her back as she stumbled about, tears blurring her vision. She feel clumsily into him, her hands beside her head on his chest to hide from the public the tears that streamed freely down her face.

Jade openly stiffened; he felt her sobs rack into him as she cried into his uniform. For a moment all he could do was listen, seemingly numb. Slowly, he lifted his right hand and gently place it on her back, then stroked her hair with the other hand. Inwardly, he surprised himself that he found a sort of parental instinct within him to help soothe this heartbroken, destroyed child.

"I want him back… I just want Luke back…" Tear repeated miserably between sobs.

For the first time in nearly two-and-a-half decades, the fierce scarlet eyes of Jade the Necromancer softened so dramatically, one could finally se the blue-sky eyes of innocence he was born with before becoming buried once again beneath the beating heart of a soldier.