Catch the Wind
Notes: The characters are not mine and this ficlit is. It was directly inspired by the prompt You were never mine to begin with at 30 Nights. It does support the Nephrite/Naru pairing, and it takes place shortly after the StarS season. Consider it an intro for some of the elements I'll be introducing in my multi-chapter Sailor Moon fic, so if anything seems odd, it will be explained there.
He had really always known that she had never loved him as she loved the ghost from her past.
Of course she cared deeply for him, and they had spent many happy hours together. And in every way he had tried to show her the extent of his feelings. She was always touched by his efforts, and she would smile and tell him how sweet he was, or how thoughtful.
But sometimes a far-away look came into her eyes. The smallest thing could trigger it, from the sight of a red Ferarri to the mention of chocolate parfait. And she could never stand to walk past a certain part of town, where the old abandoned buildings stood. Sometimes even the local park was off-limits. She would stare intently at one spot, under a tree, and then look away again. She always walked faster past that point.
He knew what those times meant. It was then that she was thinking of the man whom she could never have, the one whom she still loved. The wound had scabbed over, but it had never fully healed.
It usually seemed that she had been able to move on. Sometimes she actually was happy and cheerful. Sometimes she had even ended up with innocent crushes on other guys, such as that weird one who had played the flute. But as time went on she had become closer to the one who longed for her love. He had wondered and hoped at times if maybe she would be able to give her all to him. She knew that he, the Nephrite person who was haunting them both, would want her to be happy. He would want her to move on if she at all possibly could.
Innocent crushes were not the same as deep and lasting love. She cared about Umino with more than infatuation, but it was Nephrite whom she truly loved. He could always tell.
The moments where she grew far away had happened more often of late, though they always increased when it approached the time of year and the day Nephrite had perished. Usually she returned to her normal self within a day or two. This year was different. She had been distant since before Nephrite's death date, and by now it was long past it and she had not changed. Something was deeply bothering her, but when he had asked about it, she had not wanted to tell him. He could only suspect that it had something to do with Nephrite, and when he had asked her, she had not denied it.
She had finally been told that she had to choose. Nephrite was dead and gone, but he, Umino, was alive and waiting for her. He knew she wanted to fully put the past behind her. Or at least, he had thought she had wanted it. Over the past few months, he had become all the more unsure. Where once she had seemed to have overcome the past, now she seemed to be becoming entrapped by it.
And he was no longer sure if their relationship could continue. There was not room for a third party, and a ghost at that.
In some part of his heart, he was extremely jealous of Nephrite.
She could not bear to continue hurting him.
For a long time she had never given him a second glance—or a first, really. He was just the class nerd, rambling about topics that neither she or Usagi cared about. Generally the girls had tried to get away from him as soon as possible.
Once Nephrite had come along, she had become devoted to him. He had been everything she had dreamed of in a man, and of course she had come to realize that she had only been crushing on him at first. She had been a foolish and silly child. But somehow that had changed. She had come to truly and deeply love him. She had risked her life for him. Despite everything she had been told by Sailor Moon, and even what she had witnessed herself, she had longed to believe that Nephrite still had good within his soul.
Not even he had believed it of himself. But he had proven it to both of them.
She had not been able to get over his death for some time, especially because she had been afraid that it had been her fault in some way. But then she had been so touched by Umino's bravery when he had struggled to save her from the Youma in the cemetery. And she had been able to start picking up the pieces of her heart.
She had begun seeing him in a new light that day, and afterwards. It was true that she had come to love him, too. And yet sometimes she wondered if her feelings had come too fast after Nephrite's death. What if she had only begun to fall in love with Umino on the rebound? What if it would not have happened in any other circumstance?
This worried her all the more as they entered high school. If it was true, then she was not being fair to him. She should probably let him go. But she was not being fair to herself, either. Nephrite was dead. And Umino was alive. She should not throw away her chance for happiness.
But if she did not love Umino the way he loved her, then how could they hope to spend a lifetime together? Should she just figure that the love would come later? What if it did not? They could not possibly be happy in a situation like that.
She drew her legs up to her chest. "Oh Nephrite, I don't know what to do," she whispered aloud to the night air. Here she was, in the spot in the park that marked where he had departed this life. Though no one knew it, occasionally she went there when she needed badly to think. This certainly qualified. Umino had given his ultimatum earlier that day. She had to choose.
Would it be easier or more difficult if Nephrite was alive and well again and there were two men she actually could choose between?
To love a ghost, she might as well be trying to catch the wind.
"I really am silly, aren't I," she said, trying to smile through her blurring vision. "This is impossible, and I know it, but I still can't let go. And this year's been really bad. It's funny, I almost feel like . . . I don't know, that we were supposed to be together and something went really, awfully wrong. But how can I tell something like that to Umino? And I know waiting won't do any good now . . . I mean, when you're . . ."
She trailed off. She needed time to think, to pull herself together. Maybe the best thing would be to put her relationship with Umino on hold for now, and they could both step back and really try to access the situation. Then, maybe they would be able to get back together if it all worked out.
But what if she decided she did love Umino and wanted him, and in the meantime he found someone else?
She buried her face against her crossed arms.
"I've gotten myself into such a big mess," she sighed.
Nephrite would probably tell her that she was being a fool. Maybe he would even say that she had only loved the false image of himself that he had created. Sometimes she had had those doubts herself. But she had always come back to the same conclusion—that the image he had presented was not altogether a facade. At least some part of it was his true self, the him that he had not remembered.
Did he know now what his life had been like before he had lost his memories? He had told her of the fragmented scenes he still recalled, but none of it was very helpful.
And if he actually did come back—though of course it could never happen—would he continue lying to her, as he had predicted? Or would that be in the past because he would have changed after all this time?
She had changed, too. She had told him that even if he kept lying to her, she did not care, as long as he was with her. That was ridiculous. She did not want to be in a relationship like that. Her time with Umino had shown her that a relationship built on true love would involve trust. It would be one of the most important elements. She had trusted Nephrite from the beginning, and he had let her down so many times. Yet she could not help remembering how he had begun to change towards the end. What would have happened if he had lived?
If he ever came back and continued to lie, would she be able to tell him that she did not want that now? A weak smile came over her features. She did not think he would be like that anymore. But this was such a silly train of thought anyway. Nephrite would never come back. People did not return from the dead.
With a sigh she began to pull herself up. She needed to get back before it grew any later. And she was still not any closer to a resolution. Maybe there was none to be found here.
"Umino's probably really the best guy for me," she said aloud, continuing her one-sided conversation with Nephrite's ghost, "so why can't I forget? Why do I keep feeling like it was supposed to be you with me instead, Nephrite?" Her voice was raising, though she was not fully aware of it. "What does it even matter now, after all this . . ."
She trailed off, swallowing the lump in her throat.
"I'm sorry," she said, her voice lowering. "I shouldn't be talking like this. I just . . . feel so alone."
A slight breeze picked up, gently moving her hair and clothes. It almost felt like she was being embraced from behind. That only made the tears come to her eyes and fall.
But the weak smile returned as well.
"Nephrite," she whispered.