This exists to explain what was happening in the previous chapter, for those who haven't watched Love Hina.
As Jade got up and calmly began to dress, just like any other morning, he reflected that while there had been several moments in his life that had been rather painful, on reflection (once he'd learned to identify the pain in his chest as emotion – originally he'd thought that heartache was another stupid metaphor), and he'd lost several important things or never been capable of gaining them, it was when Dist pitied you that you knew that you had hit absolute rock bottom.
Years ago, Dist had asked him about that in the first place because he'd been worried about Jade's feelings, and then he'd tried to give him some stupid platitude about how Luke's memories would go on.
Dist, that little runny-nosed Saphir who had kept running after him and being slow and forcing Professor Nebilim to repeat lessons until he got them instead of giving Jade all of her attention. He'd thought he'd just been upset with the fact the idiot's slowness was causing him to be bored, at the time.
He'd had a crush on her and been jealous and hadn't even realized it.
To be fair, perhaps Dist's idiotic platitude had been internally consistent… from principles that had long since been disproven. He'd just been too weak to face facts the way Jade had and persisted in his delusion.
Yes, Asch would, and now did, contain Luke's memories, due to taking over Luke's brain where those memories were stored along with his body, but memories and personality were not the same thing. Jade had used the Professor's body so that her memories would end up in the replica (since he'd had no ability to control the seventh fonon, the fonon of memory), but all attempting to preserve that dead bit of tissue had done was cause the replica's brain to be non-functional in interesting ways (not that he'd appreciated them at the time, scientific curiosity or not).
Dist had clung to the hope that memories made the person, that a perfected Nebilim replica with her memories would somehow become her. He'd clung to that stupid, childish hope even after they'd discovered that wasn't the case together. For the Big Bang effect to trigger, the replica had to be made before the original died. There had to be a vessel for the fonons to flow into so that they didn't leave to the fon belt.
And that wasn't even taking into consideration the horrible thought that perhaps what Jade had done had scrambled her fonons too much for even that. That perhaps he'd killed not only her body, but her very soul, trying to impress and then save her.
Luckily, only hyperresonance was capable of doing something like that, and Jade wasn't even a seventh fonist.
Luke possessed the power of hyperresonance, and Jade had spent some time trying to think of a way to convince Luke to kill Asch with that power, destroying the young madman's fonons before they could mingle indistinguishably with Luke's own.
Purely as a hypothetical, of course. He'd known there was no way that Luke would be willing to do something like that to save his own life. A life he'd been wanting to give up since Akzeriuth, a martyr with far too many causes.
No, Jade had an intense dislike of the word impossible. He was not a person who gave up, except on attempting to pound sense into lesser intellects. Teaching was, in most cases, almost, no, quite literally physically painful (the way the body made emotional pain physical was fascinating, now that he noticed it. Of course, perhaps his body had been trying to shout his emotions to him all those years, since he'd been so obstinately deaf to them, and so his headaches were more intense than other people's?). Were they trying not to learn?
And yes. Very often, they were indeed trying not to see the truth. Because truth, like the truth that Luke was never coming back, was often a very painful thing.
He hated when important things were impossible, but saving the lives of important people, so he would not have acknowledged that saving Luke's life was impossible if that hadn't been the case.
Despite such thoughts, he adjusted his belt, practiced summoning the Blood Pain from within his fonons: all part of his normal morning routine, as were the thoughts that came to mind when he looked at the Blood Pain.
Such an appropriate name. Pain was part of the human condition, in the very blood. When he'd been called a monster was when he'd managed to convince himself that he felt no pain, and as he forced himself to learn to be human life became more and more painful.
And memories, like all those associated with this weapon. Her, and her, and Dist's insane (because the definition of insanity was attempting the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, an especial sin in a fonologists) attempts to give her back to him, bring back those happy days, which Jade hadn't understood at all because he hadn't even understood that he'd been happy then.
The weapon sank back into his arm, into his very veins, and he reflected that in his younger days he'd be giving Peony a physical exam now.
Before he'd learned what trust was, or rather found that there were some things that were trustworthy.
He doubted that Luke knew what it meant, that Jade had offered him his left hand instead of his right, but some things needed to be done, useless and sentimental or not.
He was going to need to conduct another physical examination on Asch, however. Even though the damage had been reversed (Lorelei controlled time, after all), he was still inhabiting Luke's body. If he strained himself too much, his fonons would begin to separate the way Luke's had been, and while personally Jade didn't really care about Asch, other people, who Jade did regard as worth the air they were breathing, would be upset if he died. Especially so soon after his return.
Jade wondered idly if Asch had ever figured out what was going on. Luke had been far quicker on the uptake than his original, although to be fair Asch simply had far more things than Luke that he was refusing to see. It was theoretically possible that he had a good head on his shoulders, if he ever used it. And now he definitely did, because it was Luke's head on Luke's shoulders that he was using.
Now Anise was also a very bright child. The idea of bringing Asch up to the fon belt and dragging Luke back down to be placed back into his body was an inspired one, except that it didn't work like that. As he'd told her, the only way to move Luke would be to create a replica world, even then they'd have to be careful they didn't just get Lorelei (he'd have to find some way of destroying it with hyperresonance as well as Asch without destroying Luke as well: what Vandesdelca had planned had been simple by comparison), they'd have to destroy this world for raw materials the way Van almost had (not to mention that destroying the original's body was necessary for the Big Bang effect in the first place), and even then there was no guarantee that he'd form a human-shaped aggregate in their lifetimes.
Well, perhaps he would, to yell at them.
Luke would truly hate being the cause of yet more deaths.
Really, he needed to stop working out the logistics of things that he definitely wasn't going to do. Tsk tsk. He shook his head at himself as he closed the door behind him and walked towards the guest quarters. Tataroo Valley was Malkuth territory, after all, so Natalia had thought the diplomatic thing to do was to head here first.
Why? It wasn't as though he'd wanted Asch to come here.
Celebrating the return of a hero required that the person who had returned actually be a hero, after all. Nevertheless, Peony had given him an imperial welcome and there were certainly going to be tiresome celebrations and the presentations of some of the awards that had been given to him while he was dead, to honor the dead.
Except he wasn't dead anymore and a triple-crossing assassin? Was far from honorable.
Psychopomp or not.
It had been interesting to watch the others start to realize that they were in a dream, or at least apply the logic of the dream. He hadn't thought Anise was a seventh fonist, that doll had seemed to do most of the work of casting the resurrection arte, but it appeared she had at least a breath of the fonon inside her.
Only seventh fonists went to the fon belt. When they died.
He would have been far more worried that perhaps they had, and he would be left behind, if he hadn't known Luke.
It had still been a relief to wake up and see that Peony was still breathing.
What happened to those who weren't blessed with the fonon? With nothing to contain their memories or selves, no brain or fonons, they simply dissolved into the earth. Nothing left of them to be reborn or feel guilt. He was quite looking forward to it, really.
And then he froze, because he knew Luke.
Surely Luke wouldn' t have done that to him. Surely not. He knew how Jade felt, he was the only one who truly understood besides Peony. Surely he wouldn't have made him a seventh fonist. Anise must have just had the potential all along.
Except Luke hadn't cared what they wanted when it came to keeping them alive.
He would have to test himself. And then decide what he was going to do.
After he examined Asch.
He was almost cheered up by the sounds coming from behind Asch's door. Smashing things after something like this was a healthy reaction, well, as far as Jade knew, and he couldn't break things if he were dead.
After briefly knocking on the door in his best military fashion, Jade opened it. The room almost resembled Peony's, except for the absence of rappigs. And instead of Peony lounging on his approximation of a bed Asch was standing in the ruins of a mattress, clenching his fists and breathing hard.
Asch had seemed almost supernaturally calm when he'd returned. Jade had suspected that it was even worse than he had thought for awhile, that neither Tear nor Natalia would be getting the one they wanted back.
Asch had taken the body because he was Luke's original, yes… but Lorelei was the oldest of them all.
However Auldrant was still intact, so Lorelei still had a vessel to inhabit. Natalia had gotten back her childhood sweetheart, and it had seemed as though he'd matured during his absence somehow.
"I forgot," Asch said as some kind of explanation. "I didn't remember."
"That's how dreams normally are. You forget that it is a dream." You forgot that this had happened before. You thought that it was real.
Jade had kept thinking that she really was dying in front of him, and he really was failing to save her, over and over again until he'd learned to control his dreams.
"I dreamed that he was still alive, it was sometime after our fon slots had been synced and I was invading his dream that way. Was that really you?"
"Most of the people there were real, except for the ones without faces." The miscellaneous cheagles, for example.
"He wasn't real."
"No." If he still existed. Jade hoped he did, hoped that he had escaped his body before Asch had devoured his mind, two streams of golden light had flown upward from Eldrant and there was a chance that… Well. Perhaps he could ask the others in the morning.
"I didn't remember his memories either, while I was dreaming. It's still coming back to me now." Asch, well, no, he had reclaimed the name Luke fon Fabre even before his death but everyone still called him Asch, still didn't quite know what to think about this. "They'll be fine. Everyone was talking about wanting to see him." Earlier that night, while the wine flowed. "I knew what I was doing and then… I didn't."
"So you do still have some control over your abilities?" Jade asked, voice deceptively mild. If Asch still retained the power of hyperresonance? Well, that changed matters, didn't it? Especially since he had said that he didn't possess that power anymore.
Not even going a day without lying? Well, what did one expect of someone who had turned traitor so many times?
He shook his head. "No, otherwise I could have done it while I was awake. I wished that they could, and… We're still linked." He reached up, though the ceiling blocked his view of the fon belt. "Or I'm still linked to something, I don't know… I knew somehow that it would be granted, that they could, and I fell asleep. I couldn't go," he realized. "I can't go back."
Was he just talking about visiting or did he mean that he couldn't return to the fon belt at all? Jade wondered which he meant, but didn't ask. There were people he actually cared about. "They will return, won't they?"
Asch nodded. They both knew Luke, and if Lorelei was anything like him?
Not that Asch was anything like Luke. "Well then. Do try and get more sleep, tomorrow will be long and boring."
As for Jade, he had some blood fonon tests to run.