Disclaimer: …don't own any of Trinity Blood…after so long saying this gets really annoying…

Last time:

Unfortunate as it was, it was true. The probability of them finding Cain was higher if they split up and bigger groups were harder to keep hidden. The whole mission was suicidal; everyone knew it, but it had to be done. The very world was in peril; they could not sit around and do nothing, when it was in their power to do something. Perhaps if luck was on their side the victory of this ancient war would be theirs.

Esther stood from her tall back chair. "Discuss the finer details of the mission and let me know later; I have a ship to work on." Then the fiery teen was out the door, leaving them all to discuss the assault on her desecrated home.

The race to save the world was on and rapidly coming to close.

This Time:

Forget Me Not

Chapter XXI – Time Is All We Have II

Everyone was busy; hustling about the palace for whatever reason. The ones that were to launch an assault on the Order were even more so. If they were not sleeping, they were either in the council chamber discussing battle plans or doing weapon checks and training. However, there was one individual that was barely seen, if at all. Hours ticked by and Esther worked in the Ghost's hanger with a relentless vigor. Her health was beginning to worry them all, when she never appeared for meals or in her bedroom.

- 3 ½ Days later –

Abel had just finished his quiet dinner in his chambers; everyone else busy with their own things to join him in the dining hall. They were to leave in the morning, and get to their destination at dusk. Last minute things had to be done and everyone was on edge; the silver haired priest was no different. Bu the worst thing being that they had no word from Esther on how their means of transportation was doing. Last anyone had seen or heard from the little star was a day and a half ago.

The Vatican Crusnik was concerned that Esther would have worked herself so hard that she'd be near useless for the attack against the Order the come morning. And she was of great importance; their guide through the whole operation. So Abel's next step was to speak with Seth about the redhead and then go to the hanger and see if he can't get some food in her and some well deserved sleep. Esther had forbidden anyone to enter unless it was inform her of her ready dinner; more often than not dinner went cold, with rare occasions of being carried away. The other exception was being that Esther was summoned for whatever reason, and that had to be by the Emperor, or she wouldn't show.

"…Esther… you stubborn girl…" he breathed out, walking to Seth's personal chambers. Once there before the intricate designed doors, Abel knocked.

"Who is it?" questioned the Emperor in her strong ruler tone.

Seth was such a paradox, even to her elder sibling. "It's me."

"Oh Abel! Good it's you; come on in!"

Pushing the double doors wide, glacial eyes gazed into the nearly indoor garden chambers. Green plants and blooming flowers were everywhere; the fragrant air filling the Crusnik's senses. Small animals scurried around everywhere, their small calls telling all residence of the room of their presence. Among it all was Seth's colorful furniture; in the center of the room, at the sitting area sat the Emperor herself. But she wasn't alone; Mika Fortuna sat across from her; dressed in her purple and pink dress of frills and bows.

Striding forward, Abel stopped some feet from them both and gave a respectable bow. "Good evening Your Majesty, Lady Fortuna."

"Lord Prince," nodded Mika, showing her respect.

"Aren't we formal today," smirked Seth as she leaned back on the couch, looking more like a child playing dress up in her fancy clothes, then the ruler of the Empire. "What are you after this time Abel?"

Confused, Able blinked at his little sister. "W-What? But I don't want anything Seth! Can't an older brother come and talk to his little sister without being questioned for a hidden agenda?"

The green eyed girl raised a brow. "Really? Cuz you look like you're on a mission Abel. Would there happen to be a little redhead we know and love behind this little visit?"

Pale cheeks warmed with the light splash of pink as Abel lowered his eyes. Seth had hit the nail on the head.

"Thought so," Mika and Seth stated in unison and soon joined each other in an episode of snickering as Abel scowled at them with pouting lips.

"I'm concerned about her, is there something wrong with that? Esther has cooped herself up in that hanger for days; barely seeing anyone and eating little to next to nothing. And don't get me started on sleep; she could be a zombie by now."

Seth nodded as her smile fell. "I understand Abel, I'm worried too; we all are. You worry enough for all of us for that matter. But you came here to get my permission and the keys, didn't you…just to keep Esther from ripping you a new one. Am I right?"

Abel nodded.

From somewhere on her, the younger Crusnik pulled out a four pronged golden key. Seth tossed it at Abel and the clumsy priest actually caught it, even with the slight difficulty. "Use that and you'll get in. If Esther tries to bit your head off tell her I sent you. Tell her to get some sleep before tomorrow too; she'll need it."

He gave a wide goofy grin. "Thanks Seth!" Abel was quickly out the doors and on his way to the hanger, leaving the woman to grin amongst themselves.

"You were right, Your Majesty; it's written all over his face."

Seth sighed, starring after her brother. "Everyone knows it except the two of them. They're both blind if you ask me."

Mika chuckle, "Abel has realized it with time, it's Esther that's the problem."

Seth smirked. "She's a handful alright, but Abel can handle her…" The young girl mentally sighed. "…of that I have no doubt…" she thought.

— — —

The heavy metal doors barely clicked shut behind him with an eerie hollow 'shink' sound before Esther's voice rang out.

"Whoever you are, you better have a good reason for bothering me! Because I'll rip you a new one…big time, if you don't have a good reason!"

Blinking and slightly frightened, Abel remained where he was; silent as he could be. Esther's voice had come from somewhere on the polished silver ship. There was the jingle of tools and the mutterings of curses; Abel stealthily followed those clues. Soon he found the redhead with her head stuck into a compartment near what he thought looked like an engine. Legs barely touching the tall latter that kept her up there; a good 15 feet off the ground if not more.

"I'm busy here! If you're not the Emperor of the New Human Race, get out!"

Apparently she had heard him coming.

"Don't I count," he asked timidly, a pout clearing heard in Abel's voice.

"Abel!" cried a surprised Esther as her head shot up.

Unfortunately for her, her crimson crowned head hit the lid to whatever she had been working on. The sound her skull made upon impact with the heavy medal cover was a loud clank. It was so loud that Abel feared Esther had cracked her head open. However that wasn't the last of his worries. The blow to the head had Esther disoriented and losing her balance on the good fifteen foot latter. Upon that realization, the redhead's left foot left the platform, causing her to fall backwards.

"Esther!"

Rushing forward, Able barely managed to catch the young woman from another painful impact with the cement floor. The sudden weight of catching Esther with his unbalanced body, it was no surprise they tumbled to the ground. Still Abel held Esther close; tucked into his arms and lying on his lap. She appeared unharmed from the fall by appearances as glacial eyes took her in, but Abel decided to ask anyway.

"Esther, you alright…?"

The girl groaned, holding her aching head. "…oww…my head…" Esther groaned more lifting a single eye lid to squint up at her savior. "You surprised me Abel…"

He gave an apologetic grin. "I'm sorry, how's your head?"

"Fine…it's no biggy…"

"Here…let me see…" he said as Abel gently moved Esther's hand away. Delicately the priest stroked the back of the girl's head. She hissed and flinched but didn't move away, just remained where she was in Abel's lap; blushing as it were. By the end of it Abel had found nothing that was serious. "You're fine; no bleeding or fracture, you'll just have a bump on the head."

She chuckled, staring up at him. "Oh yippy…a bruised skull."

Abel chuckled in return, a smile gracing his face. "As long as you live right? That was a nasty fall Esther."

Esther's cheeks burned with a blush as she nodded in agreement. "…thank you…for catching me."

"I couldn't let you fall now could I; it was my fault after all!"

"I'm fine so don't worry about it Abel."

Thought reluctant to shove off such an incident, Abel nodded none the less. "Can you stand?"

"Don't know till I try." And with care Esther pushed herself to her feet. All the while Abel rose and was ready to catch the redhead if a case of vertigo hit her. It never happened. "There! All better!"

He smiled. "Other than the bruised skull that is," Abel said. "What were you doing up there anyway?" he asked, gazing up at the airship and the spot where Esther had been before her spill off the latter and into Abel's eager arms.

Esther shrugged. "Just some last minute wiring; everything else is done," she said in a matter of fact voice. "You can come up if you want Abel," Esther said gesturing to the latter and the ledge of the ship Abel could perch on.

Abel blinked up at the spot. "You're not going to rip me a new one, are you if I do?"

Esther blushed but laughed as well. "No I won't; you're the exception. You can keep me company; so up you get." Not want to anger the young woman Abel did just that and climbed the latter.

Once there and in the opening of the engine, Abel looked over the edge to help Esther up. She wasn't there though, staring up at him as he had expected her to be. She wasn't even there behind him climbing the latter.

"Wha?"

Girlish giggles sounded by the priest's side. The silver haired man looked up and found none other than the redhead he had been searching for. It was the first time Abel took notice of Esther's attire. She wore a light blue mechanic jump suit; the top half unzipped and removed so the arms were tied around Esther's slim waist. The white shirt she wore beneath had no sleeves and revealed her mid-section slightly; all the while clinging to the redhead's curving frame. Upon her feet were some worn lace-up boots with an inch or so heel. But covering her clothes were splashes of grease and oil; hands nearly all blackened with it. There was even a black smear upon Esther's right cheek bone. To Abel Esther's scuffled hair and worked appearance was more attractive then he would have expected.

Shaking his head to clear it of the haze Esther had inspired. "How'd you get up here so fast?"

She blinked. "I jumped of course. You can sit over there while I finish this up," Esther stated as she gestured for him to lean against the side of the ship.

Relaxing into his seat, Abel watched as Esther kneeled by the open hatch. Tools littering the area about her, one's distinct to the technology of the Empire. Meaning the priest didn't have a clue on what they did. Abel's glacial eyes just took in the young woman concentrating intently on her work. Esther's wide range of expressions as she worked making Abel smirk. All the while as Esther did her job, her face scrunched up in faces; mainly her tongue ended up outside her mouth and pointed to the ceiling. It was rather cute of her to do. It reminded Abel of a child trying really hard to keep inside of the lines when coloring.

He chuckled as Esther did it again. "Does sticking your tongue out help Esther?"

The Methuselah girl's head shot up, with a scarlet hue to her cheeks, nearly the color of her very bright red hair. Sapphire eyes were wide in Esther's embarrassed shocked; mouth agape with no words forth coming. She just stared at the man before her dumbstruck.

That is till a stream of oil came from the hatch, breaking Esther's eye contract.

"Ahh! Oh crap!" Esther cried, fumbling with whatever had caused the problem.

The stream was finally successfully turned off after not too long of time. However, much to Abel's amusement and Esther's horror, she did not go untouched by the incident. Half of her face, and crimson hair was covered in the black-brown substance. The right side of her face and shoulder having taken most of the damage as well; the white shirt wasn't so white any more. The jump-suit eve dirtier then it was before. Esther was very un-amused, if her annoyed oil covered expression was any indication for the priest. And Abel couldn't stop the laughter if he tried, and neither did he want to.

Esther scowled at the laughing man, holding his sides as if his laughter would cause Abel to explode. As nice as it was to see the rather burden and sullen individual laugh as he did, the teen wasn't happy with it being directed at her. Crimson brows furrowed further as Esther swept a hand through her hair to get the oil drenched tresses out of her face.

"It's not funny Abel…"

His laughter ensued.

Esther glared, struggling to wipe her face off with an already oil covered hand. "…Nightroad…"

Finally, the fits of mirth racking the priest's body slowly subsided. Still grinning widely though, Abel removed his glasses and wiped away his mirthful tears. "…oh, I'm sorry Esther…it's just…" he stopped to chuckle and pulled out a handkerchief from his robes, kneeling before the put out young woman. "…it was just too funny…the look on your face was priceless!"

"…glad I amuse you Abel…" she said flatly with a scowl.

Abel gave an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry…" he murmured and began to wipe away the oil eclipsing porcelain skin. "…I haven't laughed that hard in a long time though…"

Silence ensued as Esther quietly sat there as Abel cleaned her up the best he could, with what he had. Intent on doing his job of cleaning her up, Abel never took notice of the burning blush that lurked beneath the dirty oil. Just wiped away what he could with his small white cloth; moving Esther's chin gently with a hand. The silence was as awkward as it was intense, still Abel didn't notice so intent on his job.

"There! All better; I can finally see that pretty face again!"

Esther blushed even further. The heat in her cheeks she half believed would cause the oil that remained to melt off! The priest always seemed to not to notice how he affected her and how Abel's words always got a blush out of her.

"…t-thank you, Abel…" Esther finally managed to get out; still blushing but hiding it behind her hair. "…but now your handkerchief is dirty…"

He chuckled, a wide beaming smile on Abel's face. "Oh I wouldn't worry about that! The important thing is that you're no longer as dirty."

Staring up at him, Esther's sapphire eyes took in Abel's gorgeous and carefree smile, that innocent eye wrinkle of his; it was so much more cheerful and not forced like it so often seemed. But it was also contagious, because soon Esther found herself smiling and chuckling as well.

"Yea…I guess so," she murmured stroking her cheek, still feeling the warm from Abel's hand.

"Did I miss a spot…" Abel questioned innocently as he saw Esther stroke her cheek. Leaning in, he rested a hand just above Esther's own hand upon her cheek. Eyes of glacial ice blinked taking in the situation finally. Abel's eyes widened as he too gained a pink tinge to his pale handsome face. "Aaa…"

Esther blinked unsure of what to do. She wanted so badly to have Abel stroke her cheek as he did when he thought she was a sleep. Wanted to fill the thrill it brought with it again, but fully conscious. The redhead just didn't know what to do to get Abel to do that. Then there was the war they would wake to come morning. Should she really reach out to him now when both of them could very well die in the next 24 hours? She could see the outcome already…

"Abel…I…" she thought, but the ability to do so verbally was lacking.

"Esther?"

"Huh?" she started; jerking back from her stupor and staring into Abel's face.

"You alright?" he asked, worry clear in his very words and eyes. "You looked so sad for a second there; you had me worried."

That hand began to fall as he spoke.

Before she really knew what she was doing, Esther grabbed Abel's hand and held it against her cheek. The warmth it held was instantly felt, the strength it possessed while being so soft and gentle at the same time. She didn't want it to leave; she closed her bliss but as well as sorrow.

"Esther…"

She tightened her grip on his hand. "Don't leave Abel…" she murmured, sounding almost desperate. "…just…stay here, where it's safe. Why does it have to be your duty?"

Taking her in, Abel was struck with conflicting emotions; his brows furrowed in distress of her words. Esther was showing so much emotion toward him then he had normally seen before. It was moving and thrilling; the warmth of her cheek seeping into his hand soon to warm the rest of him. She couldn't see it, but Abel smiled sadly at Esther; his thumb moving to stroke her cheek bone.

"Esther…I'm the only one that can stop him…" he spoke softly; mixing emotions in every word he uttered. "If I don't stop him, the world will be in danger; it already is with Cain alive."

With eyes stricken with distress and swelling tears, Esther stared up at her savior. "Still…I don't want you to go…" she said clinging to the hand caressing her cheek.

Looking her straight in the eyes, Abel lifted his other hand to hold Esther's face between them. "I have to do this Esther, but everything will work out fine…you'll see!" he said and to finish it off, Abel gave one of his reassuring smiles. "I won't die Esther, promise. And neither will you for that matter. Promise me that?"

She nodded, a smile on her face, though happy it still held a hint of sadness. "…promise…" Though the look in Esther's sapphire eyes showed that a promise alone could and would not keep them both alive, but it would make them try to though. "Can I ask you for a favor Abel?"

"Of course," he said beaming.

Raising her other hand, she rested it on top of Abel's, her fingers curling to squeeze it lightly. "…stay here with me…" she asked softly, lids falling shut. "…I don't want to sleep alone tonight…"

How could he deny a look like that? Full of need to feel safe and whole while riddled with fear of the uncertain. Esther showed it all on her face that was so young, but in her eyes her age showed. Abel couldn't deny her something so simple; he didn't have the heart to. But neither did he want to deny something like this from Esther. There was no better night then tonight to show just how much he cared, and he wouldn't have to utter a word.

He smiled softly, drawing Esther closer as easily as if Abel was drawing a feather into his embrace. "Of course Esther; I wouldn't have it any other way."

Esther smiled happily as she snuggled into Abel's heavy robes, curling up to his side. "Thank you Abel…"

Arm draped over her shoulders while, her crimson head rested on his shoulder, he ran his fingers through a portion of her hair that wasn't touched by the oil in a soothing gesture. "No, thank you…now go to sleep; we both need it."

"Hmm…kay…"

Smirking, Abel rested his head a top Esther's. He couldn't be happier then where he was right then had made him. There was no better place for him to be.

Quietly, Esther spoke again, but her voice telling the priest how close she was to sleep; tucked under his arm and snuggled up to his chest. "I wish this night would never end…"

"Me too Esther…me too," he whispered. "Now go to sleep."

Together, they fell into blissful sleep, their minds filled with happy dreams of better days.

— — —

Her heels clicked loudly, echoing slightly in the large and very empty hall. No one was around this late at night, but Seth was sure all were still awake. With the fight beginning in the morning, few would find sleep coming easily. That was why the young ruler was seeking out her elder brother. Seth though, couldn't find him; he wasn't in his room and he wasn't in the gardens.

"Where did that bean pole go?" she huffed, her expression pouting.

"You're Majesty?" spoke up the very distinct voice of the Marquee of Kiev.

Seth spun around to see said Methuselah closing the doors to the room behind her. "Ahh! Astharoshe, you not sleeping well?" It was obvious by the troubled look in her golden eyes and her vertical nature, but it was polite of Seth to ask. The aristocrat nodded. "Were you looking for Abel?" The ebony haired young woman nodded. "He went to check on Esther, I was hoping to ask him on how the ship was coming." "Would he still be in the hanger?" offered Astharoshe as guidance. "Hmm…maybe, but Esther doesn't like distractions while working. I wouldn't be surprised if Esther had kicked him out. I should check though…" Asthe nodded. "I'll accompany you." So the pair started down the hall once more, the sound of both pairs of heels sounding out. It wasn't long before Seth and Asthe came across a patrolling Father Tres. It was the Marquee that thought of asking him first. "Father Tres, can you find out where Abel is?" The android stopped before the pair of woman. "Affirmative…stand by." Then the sound of whirring and gears turning mixed with soft beeps could be heard from the auburn haired machine. After a few moment Tres' hazel eyes came back into focus on the pair before him. "Father Abel Nightroad is 731.3 ft North –East; 502 ft below our current position." The woman stared at the android. "Where exactly is that Tres?" inquired Seth, slightly dumbfounded look on her face. "The hanger," deadpanned the android father. "So he is there after all," exclaimed Seth more excited then would normally be expected. "Wonder if Esther knocked him out and left him there, or is actually interacting with him?" Astharoshe smirked. "I say knocked out; that girl did it to Leon and threatened to do so with Hugue…why not Abel. Plus, that pumpkin head can really be annoying when you're trying to work," said the aristocrat from personal experience. A mischievous gleam sparkled in Seth's jade eyes. "I say no to that, because she has a soft spot for Abel." Turning to the android she smiled and nodded. "Thank you Father Tres, you can continue with whatever you were doing." "Positive," once more deadpanned the man and strode away with heavy footsteps. "To the hanger then?" grinned Asthe; she was welcoming the distraction from the activity of the coming morning. Seth nodded grinning. "Let's go!" Before either of them could take even one step in their new direction, doors off to their right opened. Two blonde heads poked out and both with mischievous grins on their faces. Apparently Mika Fortuna and Sister Kate had over heard the conversation and whereabouts of the clumsy priest. "May we come along?" inquired Mika cheerfully, her favored white cat in her arms. "I haven't seen my dear great granddaughter in so long!" Seth nodded with a smirk and giggle. "Sure, what's your excuse Kate?" The holographic nun stood calm and in a proper manner with her hands folded and crossed before her, softly resting upon her skirt. "The results of the Ghost's status have yet to be given to me by the Guardian. I would like to know w the status and I'd like to run tests of my own." They all knew she just wanted to see Abel and Esther bonding; they all felt the same. So the group of curious woman made their way down to the hanger. No further interruptions occurred so in about ten minutes they were standing in front of the large medal doors. The lock and key pad showed it was unlocked, though Seth knew the code so either way they would have gotten in. However the unlocked part was strange. "I don't hear any crashes," stated Asthe grinning. "Either the Pumpkin Head is already unconscious or Esther isn't threatening him." Mika giggled. "She wouldn't hurt a hair on Abel's head; she's far to smitten with him." Seth nodded. "I agree with Mika…I bet their bonding." "Depends on their version of bonding," pointed out Kate. Which was true, both Abel and Esther seemed to bond under the strangest circumstances and ways. "Only one way to find out then isn't there," and the Emperor Augusta Vradica pushed a button and the doors opened. Much to the group's surprise, there wasn't any noise at all. No sound of tools tinkling, or the curses that goes with it when Esther works. There was no sound of their voices to signal them talking, not even Abel's slight snoring that signaled when he was knocked unconscious. All was silent in the huge compartment that housed the Ghost. "Where are they?" inquired Seth as she looked around. "Split up and see if we can't find them; Tres said Abel was in here." So they split up. Seth went to the little sitting area that was used by the mechanics on break; there was no one there. Kate went off in the direction of the office but didn't find the people in question, however did find the report she wanted. Mika walked to the back of the hanger, looking about the crates of parts and tools; still nothing. "Found them," whispered Asthe harshly from the right side of the silver and shiny ship that was the Ghost. All of the rest of them rushed over to the Marquee. But once there they found nothing, just a smirking Astharoshe. "Where are they?" asked Seth, jade eyes curious as they looked up at Asthe. "Up," stated the taller woman, pointing a finger up at the ship. Looking up, sure enough they found the pair in question. What was surprising though was the activity they were participating in. Abel and Esther were sound asleep as they leaned up against the side of the ships main cabin; snuggled up close to each other. Esther loosely clutched Abel's cassock, head resting on his should and chest. Abel in turn rested his head upon Esther's as one arm was placed about her shoulders in a relaxed embrace. On his face was something few had seen and something Seth had missed. Abel Nightroad, Crusnik 02 was smiling. A smile not stricken with any hidden dark emotions like sorrow or despair; that soft smile spread across his sleeping face was a true, genuine, pure smile of bliss and happiness. The group of on looking woman smiled happily upon seeing them. "It's so…adorable," breathed Lady Fortuna. "About time too," stated Asthe, crossing her arms over her chest. "They way they keep being oblivious about it gets irritating after a while." Seth chuckled. "Indeed; they both deserve happiness though, I'm glad they found some." "We should leave them be; they need their rest," murmured Kate, gesturing to the door they had entered through. In silence they nodded; softly stepping in their heels so not to wake Esther and Abel with the echo that would normally be heard. Filing out, all the women gave a fleeting glances and smiles to the sleeping pair. Seth smiled as she looked up at her elder brother holding the girl he cared for in his arms. "Sweet dreams you two," she murmured and was out the heavy door, closing it behind her. The thing that all hadn't noticed though, was the soft twinkling of something cascading slowly down Esther's cheek. It was a tear, the cause for it a mystery onto them all. A/N: Ahhhh! I'M SO SORRY! I never intended to leave you all hanging for so long! One thing happened after another and I literally forgot about this story for a time! I'm so sorry! This story is not ending yet, I have it written out, I'm just finding the time and encouragement to type it out to be lacking. But I still have no reason to have left you all for this long! You all have a right to be angry with me and have a good reason to hit me (holds up a sign with MERCY? written on it) but I will do my best to get the next chapter out when I can.