… Oh my God. I still can't believe I actually finished writing chapter one. :O It's been a long time… Tomorrow would be exactly seven months since I published this story (thus meaning it's been that long since I uploaded the prologue, too). I'm sorry it took so long… Hopefully I'll be able to keep this from happening in the future. Anyway, while I'm not necessarily rushed, I don't have a lot of time either, so I'll just cut my rambling short this time and do the review replies.
Ultimashadow: Thanks! XD Ah… She did? *scratches head sheepishly* Ah… I can try to change it if you think it's out of character… That's good; I was hoping it would be funny, but wasn't really sure if it would be. Thanks – I'll do my best. :)
WindGoddess Rune: I wondered about it, too… I heard some people say it that the dragon Primula saw in that vision is Noi, but I didn't think that was true. So, in Fierruneru no Unmei, I've come up with my own theory. :P It'll be a while before the identity of that dragon is revealed… But, I'll try to write a little faster so you don't have to wait as long. :) Thank you. :D
Prince of Tennis' Shaman: Glad to hear it! :D Yep! :) I laughed while I was writing it, too. XD That was actually, originally, supposed to be a completely different person reacting to a completely different thing that Shu had done… But that scene got scrapped, so I thought I might as well use it there. XD Don't worry, it's fine; take your time. :) Though I have some good news about Tenkai – they finally subbed it into Spanish! :D They subbed it into English, too, but there are some inaccuracies (especially in the opening theme XP)… It's been a long time, but you updated quite a few things since then (which I've happily seen most of them… though I think I missed some; I still need to check that). :) No, no, don't worry about it – you're not moving that slow. It hasn't been seven months since you last updated, so you're moving faster than I am. XD I'm sorry it took me so long… I had writer's block for a while with this story, and then I've been hurrying to update my other stories, too… But the first chapter is finally here. :D Well… The Final Warrior of Light has branched off into Maple Leaf now, so I'd say it's doing pretty good. XD Blue Dragon Beyond has been doing very good (I had a great time writing the last chapter, anyway XD) – I think you're going to like the new chapter. ;) (At least… I think you haven't read it; you haven't reviewed, so I thought you either hadn't gotten the chance to read it, hadn't been able to review when you read it, or that it must have been truly awful. *sweatdrops* But, don't worry about that – review if or whenever you want to. :) ) Also, there's a chunk of chapter 15 written, and the rest of it should be pretty easy to write. Futari Kiri is having a few problems… But the first chapter is about halfway done. I just have to push myself to write the rest. XP Um… The other stories are all pretty late. But the updating-by-poll system has been doing well, I think, so hopefully all of the stories will be caught up soon. :)
WindGoddess Rune: I'm so sorry it took me this long… I know; I'm sorry for making you wait so long. :( It's finally updated, though…
WindGoddess Rune: Thank you. :) Again, I'm sorry it took such a long time, but the new chapter is here at last. :D
Review replies done! I know I said it before, but I have to say again that I can't believe I got this up… Right now I'm kind of a cross between stunned and giddy. But, before I forget, I have some news for everyone. You may have seen me mention this to Prince of Tennis' Shaman, but in case you didn't, I'll tell everyone here: Tenkai no Shichi Ryuu has FINALLY BEEN SUBBED! :D In both English and Spanish, too… Though personally, I'd recommend the Spanish subs, because the translation is a little more accurate. XP Also, thanks to Growlmon1 for informing me about the English subs - I had known about it being subbed in Spanish, but I hadn't known about it being subbed in English until that review. Anyway… I'm tempted to rant about this for hours, so I'll stop talking about it now. XD Anyway… There's nothing else for me to say (not that I remember, anyway), so I'll just let you get to the chapter. Read on, everyone! ;D
Primula opened her eyes slowly, blinking to clear her sight. Where... Where was she?
"I thought you'd never wake up." She turned her head as he spoke. His hand was touching the wall; if she had to take a guess, it looked like he might be tracing something, but she couldn't tell from the position she was in. "I shouldn't wonder if the real reason you fell asleep during tea was so that you could get out of telling me about your vision."
"I can't help that - I get exhausted after having them. You know I do." She sat up, but she was still unable to see what he was doing. So, she gave up, deciding to just... "Shu, what are you doing?"
"Checking off the days before Jiro takes his shift."
He chuckled. "You really are asleep, aren't you?" Despite her prompt blushing, he continued. "We decided that we would take turns guarding you. Remember?"
"Oh... Oh, that's right..." She rubbed her forehead. She felt so strange... Was it from having the vision? She'd never felt like this after having one. Then again... It had been a while since she'd had such a strong one. Yes, quite a while... Perhaps she had just gotten unused to having them, and everything would be fine soon.
She tried, she really did, but the feeble excuse didn't manage to convince her.
"Looks like I've got three more days." Shu stepped back from the wall.
"Oh?" She swung her feet over the side of the bed. "And what shall you do once Jiro starts guarding me?"
Another distant look appeared in his eyes, but this one was different from the last one. This one held happiness. "I think I'll go back to Talta Village for a little while. I already went there to check on everything a couple of days ago. But it'll be nice to stay there this time. At least until I take my turn again."
Primula frowned. "I don't want you to give up time with your friends and family because of me."
He waved his hand dismissively. "Don't worry about it. You're my friend, too, you know. If something bad happened to you because I wasn't here, I'd feel just as bad as if something happened to one of my friends in Talta. I might be a little more upset about three of them, because I've known them so long that I consider them family, but... I would be worried about you if you were in danger."
She looked away. It warmed her inside a little, the thought that Shu would be so concerned about her. She didn't like the fact that he was worried - it bothered her greatly, in fact - but it touched her that he even cared that much.
"All of this is besides the point, though..." Shu grinned at her. "I should call the maids in. It's time for you to get ready."
"Ready for what?" She shot him a perplexed look.
The grin widened, eyes twinkling with mischief. "Your dinner with those lovely aristocrats."
Primula's eyes widened as she remembered, then closed as she sighed, helpless to her mercilessly boring fate. "Oh, dear..."
乱れ (みだれ)/ Midare (Disturbance)
"Oh, sure, Xi," Jiro ground out from between clenched teeth. "I'd love to help you get your stuff organized. It's the least I can do, considering everything you've done for me." He raised his voice. "Though it would've been nice to know that involved being your servant!"
"Now, now, Jiro," Xi waved her hand, looking particularly amused. "It's not that big of a deal."
"Easy for you to say." He snapped. "You don't have to lug around all of this junk." As if to emphasize his point, he set down a heavy cardboard box filled with who-knew-what, then started back to where the rest of the things had been piled.
"True, but you're a powerful Shadow User that's endured tough physical training for over two years, while I am just a meek, delicate girl."
Jiro moved the next box with his feet - this one was too heavy to even bother with lifting. "It's worth noting that you're taller than I am." The point he tried making seemed weak even to him, but he figured it would be worth a shot.
Xi's smirk widened. "That's because you're just a twelve year old kid."
He stopped moving the box abruptly, a heaviness resting on his shoulder that hadn't been there before, then spoke quietly. "I've seen too much to be a real kid anymore."
Xi looked down, a good portion of the reason being guilt; the last thing she had wanted to do was upset him, and had hoped, in fact, of doing the opposite. "I suppose that's true. Not many people have had to go through the things that you did." She lifted her head again. "But, I've been with you for a while, Jiro. I've watched you carefully, and even if you can't see it yourself, there are times that you do act your age." She shook her head. "Don't give up on yourself so easily. Grand Kingdom might have destroyed your village, they might have destroyed your life, but remember that they didn't destroy you."
Mumbling too low for her to hear, he started kicking the box again, but Xi smiled to herself as she resumed shuffling papers on the desk, because she knew she'd gotten through to him.
"Hey, Xi..." Jiro paused for a moment. "You're setting up this information gathering shop as if you're going to be here for a while..." He swallowed. "Are you... How long are you planning on staying in Nirvana?"
She let out a small sigh. "As long as I'm needed. Primula is going to need help from all of us, so it's better if we're as close as our circumstances will allow." She looked at him a little more carefully. "And you? What will you do, Jiro?"
"I..." He looked away. "I'm not sure yet. I've been thinking about it a lot, actually, but I still haven't been able to make a decision. I guess... I guess what I'm doing now is trying to figure out the path that I'll follow from here." He turned his toward her again, then tentatively asked, "But... Until I make that decision, can I still stay with you?"
She leaned back in her chair, smile warm. "You can stay for as long as you like." She flipped a little more quickly through some of the papers, then furrowed her eyebrows. Where did that form get to...?
"Agh!" Jiro fell back against the wall - he'd tried kicking, pulling, pushing, everything on this next box, and the end result was that it threw him. "Shoot, Xi, what've you got in here? Chunks of iron?"
She laughed a little, then shrugged. "A good portion of those boxes I'm paid to hold onto, with strict instructions to do nothing more, so even I don't know what's inside of them. Speaking of which, don't open or damage anything, or we'll both be in hot water."
"Yeah, just what I wanted to hear right now." Jiro grumbled, having been tempted not a second before she said that to drive the box through with his sword.
"Oh, and one more thing, Jiro," Xi choose to ignore when his shoulders jerked upward and his eyebrow started twitching. "We need to hurry up a little, because we have someone coming to pick up one of those boxes."
"Thanks for the short notice..." Jiro crouched down, staring hard at the box, trying to figure out how the heck he was going to move it.
Her hands were folded in front of her, pressed together tightly. The wind tried to blow a few strands about, but her hair had been firmly pinned down by the tiara.
Primula closed her eyes. How had things come to this? She had been sheltered, hidden away, for most of her life, and now she was expected to lead an entire nation without fail? Maybe... Maybe she wasn't cut out for this...
But, if she wasn't, then who was?
"You should be getting down there soon, shouldn't you?" Shu stretched as he came up behind her. "They're all going to be there soon."
She'd been a little surprised when he spoke so suddenly, but she already felt more relaxed then she had a moment before. "I'll go downstairs in a minute."
He scratched the back of his head, the other hand on his hip, eyes shut. "Two years ago this never would've come out of my mouth, but I'm glad Rogi's going to be there. He's someone familiar at least. For a normal guy like me, having to be in front of all of those important people... Man, it's nerve-racking!" When he opened his eyes, and took in sight of Primula looking off into the distance forlornly, his own worries were quickly forgotten. "Hey, what's wrong?"
She shook her head. "It's just... The responsibility of being the ruler of Nirvana is so heavy... It makes me wonder if I'm really the right person to bear it. I mean... This meeting isn't much of a big deal, but what about when the important things come along? If I make mistakes... countless people could suffer because of it... Their lives are in my hands."
"Primula..." Shu reached towards her.
"Shu..." Her voice sounded feathery thin. She voiced the thought before she could stop herself. "What would Zola have done?"
Shu stiffened, taking in breath quickly and holding it. His throat felt tight.
She realized her mistake right away, but she had already said it, and it was too late to take it back. She tried to remedy the situation. "Shu, I'm-"
"Zola..." He cut her off unintentionally. His voice sounded strained, almost pain-filled. "Zola would have..."
The moonlight illuminated her silver hair. "... As expected of the Extra Seven, deciphering the code is proving to be no simple task."
"What's the matter?"
"No, I was just thinking about how great you are."
"I am just doing what my heart believes in... and not because of other's opinions."
"That's true, but..."
"You are the same, aren't you?"
"... Yes, that's true."
The memory gave him the words. "Zola would have done what her heart believed in, and not because of what anyone else said."
Primula held a hand over her chest. "What her heart believed in..." After a moment more of thinking about it, she immediately felt much lighter, maybe even more than she ever had. "I think I understand."
"If anyone would, it would be you. Zola said something very similar to that once..." Just as she noticed a sudden tenderness in his eyes, he reached out and tucked some hair behind her ear. "I don't know how I didn't notice it before..." His voice was soft, so soft, and just like his eyes, seemed years and miles away. "You look so much like her..."
She swallowed past an inexplicable lump in her throat. "Do you think she would be proud?" It surprised her how much she wanted to know the answer.
"Really proud." The way he said it left no room for doubt. He smiled then. "I know I am."
Jiro had been holding a towering stack of papers when the jingling bell announced someone entering the store - and it took him so completely by surprise that he yelped, threw his arms upwards to the send the papers flying in the air, and a slipped foot sent him sprawling onto the floor.
"Welcome!" He could hear Xi saying. "We've been expecting you... Oh, and please forgive my assistant - he's been terribly clumsy today."
Jiro shot up into a sitting position - it sent some of the paper lying on him fluttering upwards, as well as causing one to land precariously on the top of his head - and, his irritation additionally fueled by his embarrassing situation, immediately began snapping at her. "Does the word 'overworked' mean anything to you-?!"
He froze, recognizing the voice instantly. He could never forget it. No... Oh, God, no... Not her. Please, not her... Don't let her see me like this. Just at that moment, as if it were taunting him, the paper slid off his head.
"Jiro... What..." Kluke struggled to find words, her eyes wide, and looking utterly stunned.
"Kluke..." Jiro started weakly, before she could continue. "What are you doing here?"
"I told you someone was coming over, didn't I?" Xi reminded him with no small amount of amusement. "Someone from the hospital. To pick up medical supplies."
"And you conveniently left out all of that, as well as who it was coming!" He hissed at her. It had been so long since he'd seen Kluke, really seen her... He'd never wanted to reunite with her like this.
"Well, I figured that you'd be comfortable seeing someone that you knew, so I didn't think it was worth mentioning who would be picking up the supplies." She twirled some hair around her finger idly. "Which reminds me, if you could get that box to her before I get fined for a late goods return, that would be great."
"R-right." He managed to get himself into a crouch, plucking up some of the papers near him, hoping that looking down would hide his flushed face.
"Do you...?" Kluke cleared her throat. "Jiro, do you need help?"
"N-no!" He said it quickly. Maybe too quickly. "I, um... Just give me a minute." He threw the minuscule stack he had collected onto the table, swearing in his head when a few fell off and back onto the ground, then quickly began checking the box labels; fortunately, he'd discovered during the organization that all of the boxes Xi stored were marked by the owner's address printed on a sticker. He had found the method slightly odd when he first saw it, but he certainly wasn't complaining now that it seemed useful.
It took a few minutes - in which Jiro's embarrassment was further intensified when he dropped several boxes - but eventually, he managed to find the one that held the supplies.
"Here..." Jiro handed it off to her carefully, unable to look her in the eye.
"Thanks." Kluke shifted her feet, waiting for him to do something, anything else.
Having come to the decision that he might need a figurative slight push in the right direction, Xi said, "Come on, Jiro, don't you have anything else to say to your girlfriend?"
That got him talking. His head to shot up, and face crimson, he started stumbling over words, "Sh-sh-she isn't - I-I mean, w-we aren't - I n-never - a-and it isn't-"
"Jiro." He yelped a little when Kluke placed on his shoulder. "It's okay."
He turned his head toward her, nervous. "B-but..."
"You know, Jiro," Xi continued. "I think you might've been right about being overworked. So, tell you what - it's been a long time since you two have seen each other away from the battlefield, and those supplies aren't crucial and aren't ones that the hospital will need right away, so why don't you go outside and chat for a while? Or," she quickly added, seeing how Jiro was about to begin protesting, "if you'd like to stay, I'm sure I can dig up a few things about Jiro in my database, maybe a few embarrassing stories-"
"No, no, that's okay!" He cut her off rapidly, and a little too cheerfully, already turning Kluke towards the door and pushing her toward it. "Come on, Kluke, the day's still young!"
Kluke, wide-eyed and half-stunned, only had one time for a short plea before she was pushed out into sunlight. "Ah, Jiro, wait!"
End of Part One
*eyecatch of Kluke*
End of Part Two
Once outside, and after the two had settled onto a stone bench near the entrance of the information gathering shop, Jiro attempted to give what he felt was a much-needed apology. "Look, Kluke... I-I'm really sorry about everything that happened in there... And I'm sorry about the way that Xi acted, too - she likes to tease me sometimes, and I guess you just got caught up in it-"
"Jiro," she placed her hand on top of his, which had been resting on his thigh. "It's okay. I don't mind."
"Kluke..." Just looking at her made him realize how much he'd missed her. Her smile, her laugh... Her friendship. He managed a small nod, returning her smile with a smaller one.
Kluke stretched. "Well, we got sent out here to catch up on everything that's happened while we were apart," she dropped a wink. "So, we better do some of that before we run out of time, huh?"
Jiro blinked, then grinned warmly. "Right."
Shu was going to lose his mind.
He had lost track of time, but as far as he was concerned, it had been way too long - way too long for too much monotonous conversation.
Alliances and treaties, trade agreements, money management, and even the pricing of food... They covered just about everything. There had been more, but most of it had flown right over Shu's head, and he had no desire to chase after it.
But he had come to respect Primula even more than he had before. She took in all of it, and despite the fact that Shu knew she was as bored out of her mind as he was, with a grace and patience that had to be a natural talent.
Shu only wished that he had half of that grace and patience. For one thing, it would make sitting through this more tolerable.
He was determined to sit through it, though. He had made a promise to protect Primula, and he would uphold that no matter what.
But... As hard as he tried, he couldn't stop himself from slouching forward, or the way everything darkened as his eyelids started to droop...
A sharp laugh woke him up, and he discovered that he was being gestured at by one of the men, almost mockingly. "This is the one that guards you, Lady Primula? It's a shame, really - I suspected more from Nirvana's forces."
Shu had sat forward then, ready to snap a retort, but someone else beat him to it. "He is not of Nirvana's forces," Primula's voice was sharp, dangerously sharp, "yet there is no one else that I trust my life with more. As such, I'll thank you to not insult my nation, or my friend." She leaned back in her chair, relaxed again. Satisfied that the leaders and nobles had been cowed into silence, she continued, "Now, if you've finished with your interruptions, we can go back to the subject at hand..."
Yep, Shu thought wearily. I'm definitely going to lose my mind. He glanced to the side; when he caught Primula's eye, she gave him a small, yet reassuring smile before going back to whatever it was that she had been talking about. Well… He amended, leaning back like she had only moments before, grinning. Maybe not.
"Wow..." Kluke leaned back, watching the clouds that lazily rolled across the sky. "I can't believe all of the stuff you've been through these past two years..." She giggled sheepishly. "It makes everything that I've been through seem so much smaller."
Jiro shrugged. "Having your house reduced to rubble isn't what you'd really call 'small'."
She bit her lip, choosing then not to comment about it. If anyone would know what that was like, it would definitely be Jiro, but she knew bringing it up could be painful for him...
"I know what you're thinking," Jiro said, smirking. "I'm not made of glass, Kluke."
"I…" She shook her head. "I just didn't want to upset you-"
"You're not going to upset me." His features softened slightly. "There is a reason that you were the only one I told about my past."
"Jiro…" Kluke swallowed through a thickness in her throat, feeling inexplicably flustered. "I-"
"So, anything interesting happen yet?" Xi interrupted, hanging out of the doorway, making Jiro yelp.
He glared at her, not least of all because he'd wanted to know what Kluke had been about to say. "What are you doing-?"
"I just don't want Kluke to get into trouble," Xi gestured to her. Then reaching, into her pocket, she added, "You might want to take a look at this." She dangled a pocket watch in front of their faces.
Kluke nearly fell out of the bench. "Is that the time?!" Not waiting for an answer, she plucked up the box of supplies next to her, shooting up into a standing position. "Oh no, I'm so late! Ah, I'm probably going to get into trouble!" She lowered her head, looking ashamed. "And Andropov is probably worried sick…"
"Andropov, huh…" Jiro murmured, too low for Kluke to hear, not entirely understanding the twisting feeling in his chest, while at the same time, oddly enough, understanding it all too well.
Xi heard him, though. Wordlessly, she placed a hand on his shoulder; he semiconsciously leaned into her touch.
Kluke, however, had missed all of this. She raised her head to look at them. "I have to go, but… I'm so sorry for having to leave like this. Oh, and Xi," she turned to her. "On behalf of the hospital, we thank you for your immense help and the safe delivery of our supplies." She bowed.
"You're very welcome." Xi folded her arms, grinning lightly. "But, you'd better hurry if you want to get there in time."
"R-right!" A quick nod. Then, she almost turned to go… But stopped, took two huge steps toward Jiro, set the box on the bench, and took his hands in her own. "It was wonderful to see you again, Jiro. Normally, and not in the middle of a battle, you know? I…" She averted her eyes, slightly bashful, for a split second, then directed them back to him. "I really missed you. If… If you want to, you're free to come down to the hospital whenever you like. We could talk, or maybe… maybe even go out and have lunch or something…" Her hands loosened slightly, with an almost-unnoticeable, nervous tremor.
He tightened the grip for her, smile warm. "Sure. I'd like that."
"Okay." Kluke nodded, letting go of him, her features managing a mixture of relief and enthusiasm. "I'll, um… I'll see you soon, then." After grabbing the supplies, taking a few steps back - very much seeming like she had difficulty bringing herself to leave - she turned and ran down the path, waving over her shoulder. "Bye!"
He shouted a farewell of his own, but waved a little wider than she had.
Once he couldn't see Kluke anymore, he finally lowered his arm… And then, becoming aware of the mischievous eyes boring into the back of his head, he whirled towards a smirking Xi. With half-lidded eyes, his response was, "Just say it."
The smirk grew. "Say what, Jiro?"
"Don't do that."
She sighed, hands outspread. "What can I say? You two were adorable."
Silently fuming, he started heading towards the door.
"I was right about one thing, though," Xi said from behind him. "You were really happy to see her, weren't you?"
"… Let's just go inside already. We have more of those infernal boxes to move."
The amusement in her voice doubled. "Whatever you say."
"Ugh, where has that girl gotten to?" Oda, the head of Primula's ladies-in-waiting, and also the young priestess' usual caretaker, was leading two younger maids (who were fairly new to the job) down the cloister-like path that connected two parts of the castle. If one were to look right or left, they would find a nice garden similar (though more quiet and secluded) to the more well-known one that surrounded the castle. However, the lady's maid had too many things to worry about to pay attention to such a detail. "She can't be left alone for even a minute!"
One of the maids turned to the other. "I heard that even the esteemed Furioso had trouble keeping her from wandering off."
Oda spun around, wordlessly glaring daggers at both of them. After about a minute had passed of the two girls just squirming, she turned back around and continued down the passageway.
The other maid glowered at the girl next to her. "Too soon."
"How was I supposed to know?"
Oda took in a deep breath, expelling it in a yell. "Lady Primula, where are you?!"
Unbeknownst to the three maids, a small hand let go of a broad-leafed plant, letting it fall back into place and obscure the view.
"They're never able to find me when I come here." Primula walked back towards Shu, who was lying on his side in the grass. Taking a seat next to him, then taking off her crown and placing it beside her, she added, "I don't like to worry them so, but… I don't think I could've taken much more without a break, and saying that we needed only a momentary pause was the perfect opportunity to slip away for some real peace and quiet."
Her only reply was a very, very sleepy, "… Mm."
"Hmm…" She looked down at Shu. "Perhaps I wasn't the only one who needed a break."
Shu responded with a still very sleep, but now also grumpy, "Mm…"
"Shu… Can I ask you something?" She placed a hand on his shoulder. A slight shake produced no response, so she tried a different approach. "If you go to sleep, I'll just come into your dream and ask you there." Or 'ask if I can ask you' would probably be more accurate, she added wryly in her mind.
He moved a little. "Yeah…sure…" His voice was sleep-slurred but understandable.
Primula settled onto her side next to Shu, laying her arm across him. "It's about Zola."
She felt his back go stiff, and (though she felt awful about it) knew he was fully awake now. "I thought we talked about this earlier." He spoke clearly, but uneasily. "Primula, I know that you're going to be a good leader-"
"No, not that." She interrupted him. "… Can you tell me about her?"
"Tell you about Zola?" He looked over his shoulder; she couldn't see much of his face, but she could make out that he was perplexed. "Don't you know about her already?"
"Some things." The tone she used told that she wouldn't say anymore about it, even though Shu didn't have a clue about why she wouldn't. "But… I want to hear it from you."
He shook his head slightly, giving up on figuring her out, then rested his head back on the grass. "Zola was… Cold. Quiet. Mysterious. And a very powerful, very skilled Shadow User. She was a good teacher, too; some of her training would leave you feeling like your limbs were about to fall off, but she could make you a force to be reckoned with. Sometimes you couldn't really tell what her intentions were…" He trailed off.
Primula gripped his shirt, feeling more than a little unnerved, though she wasn't entirely sure of the reason. Maybe it was the fact that what Shu told her hadn't been what she'd expected to hear.
Shu continued, though. "But it was when you were in danger, when you needed help or advice, the times that really counted… That was when you saw how big her heart really was." His voice held warmth, but also a great sadness. "She always knew what to say, what to do… and she would've done anything to protect us. I trusted her with my life." He closed his eyes tightly. "She was one of my dearest friends." And even after all this time, I still miss her. The pain of Zola's absence was still fresh, as if they'd lost her not two years ago, but only yesterday, and it honestly surprised him how badly it hurt.
"I'm sorry that I keep making you talk about her," Primula leaned her head against his back. "It's just that… I knew about what I was and my connection to Zola for most of my life, and I understood it well, but it never took away the feeling that something was missing. I suppose the reason that I keep asking about Zola is because I think that maybe if I knew more about her, that feeling of something missing wouldn't be as strong."
"When I talked about her just now, did it help?" He asked her quietly. Hearing her confirm that with an affirming noise, he continued, "Then, it's fine. I mean, sure, when I talk about Zola, it hurts…" Well… That might be a bit of an understatement. He didn't voice it, instead choosing to gently say, "… But, from the sound of things, you're hurting, too." He took hold of her hand into his own. "So, if it'll take away some of your pain, I don't mind if it hurts me a little."
"Shu… Thank you." For the second time that day, Primula felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
Several figures sat at a long table in a dark room. With the lack of light, it was hard to discern how many there were, or even what they looked like.
One of them spoke. "So, then, we'll be doing it tonight?"
A nod. "Tonight."
Another voice, coming from the head of the table. "We must succeed. Whatever the cost, we must succeed. Tonight will mark the beginning of events that will at long last bring justice to the world…"
Nirvana's hospital resided on a hill, so it provided an excellent view of the sunset that was currently bathing White Brigade's capital in an orange glow. Kluke had decided to take advantage of the lovely sight, doing so by sitting on the hospital's lawn, next to the flowerbed.
Jiro… It really was nice to see him. She smiled softly to herself.
"There you are." Andropov came up from behind her, taking a seat next to her. Absentmindedly, he thought of how much more comfortable these clothes were than his uniform – he had gone back to wearing them after the last fight with Rudolf, deciding to wear the uniform whenever something battle-related occurred (the uniform was definitely better suited to a combat situation than the simple blue clothing), though he had jokingly told Kluke that he wanted to find some shoes that were a little more sturdy. "You've been really hard to find today."
Kluke winced as if she'd been poked with a pin. "I'm sorry about that, Andropov-"
"Don't worry about it, Kluke. I was just kidding. But…" His eyebrows furrowed. "What took you so long, anyway?"
Kluke closed her eyes, smile warm, hands closed over her chest. "I ran into an old friend." And hopefully, soon, I'll get to see him again.
While she looked through her window, up at the stars, Primula pushed the brush through her hair. Oda had offered to do it, as per usual, but Primula had politely declined – while she was more used to having things done for her, she actually preferred to do things for herself.
Behind her, Shu sat on the bed, though the motion could better be described as falling into a sitting position. "Man, I am beat…" Just then, his stomach growled. Embarrassed – and sweatdropping – Shu crossed his arms over his middle. "Sorry."
Primula giggled. "That's why I told you not to fall asleep in the garden."
"You could've at least woken me up for dinner." He scowled at her (though this didn't do much good, since she was facing away from him).
"You seemed so exhausted, though…" Now she sounded like she felt bad about it.
He shook his head. "It's okay. You're right; I needed the sleep."
She brightened suddenly. "Why don't you ask Szabo? He'll cook something up for you."
"He will?" Shu arched an eyebrow. Though most of his hostility towards his former foe had ebbed away, it still felt weird to him to ask the robot to prepare a meal.
"Don't sound so surprised." Primula said, close to laughing.
"Well… If you say so." Shu stood. "I could really use it, so I guess it's worth a shot."
A little while later found Shu walking down the hallway, feeling comfortably full – whatever else could be said about the Mecha Robo, he was one heck of a cook.
But all musings came to a stop, his blood running cold, as he heard the combination of shattering glass and a scream.
Primula. Shu bolted towards her room. Please, don't let me be too late. In his mind's eye, he saw Zola at the end of the Battle of Darkness, smiling at him before disappearing for what he'd thought would be forever. Please, don't let me lose her again.
As soon as he'd made it in front of the door, he slammed it open. His eyes saw it in pieces – the broken window. The shards of glass on the carpet. The overturned chair. The dropped hairbrush.
He rushed to the window, his hands just missing the sharp glass, though his mind was far too occupied to even care if it had cut him. His eyes looked quickly, for something, something… Primula…
Even in the darkness of night, he saw the figure moving towards the exit of the castle ground, as well as the small, blonde person struggling in their grasp.
Fear for his friend's life pulled the scream from his throat. "Primula!!!"
End of Part Two
*eyecatch of Shu*
*cue scenes from next chapter in background*
Narrator: Shu chases after Primula's kidnapper! Will he be able to rescue her in time? Also, the Superior Life Forms are having some problem of their own.
Noi: Being chairman is going to be harder than I thought…
Shu: Don't worry, Primula – I'll save you no matter what!
Noi, Bouquet and Marumaro: Hmm… Could it be that he likes Primula?
Shu: I didn't say that!
Noi, Bouquet and Marumaro: You can do it, Shu! We'll be over here!
Shu: Instead of that, why don't you just drop whatever the heck it is that you're doing and help me!!!
Narrator: Next chapter of Blue Dragon: Fierruneru no Unmei – Rächer.
Chapter 1 done! *sigh of relief* Man, I'm so glad this chapter is finally complete… It seemed like the plot was going a little slow at first, but it seems like it managed to pick up at the end. ;) So… Please review if you can; I'd like to know what everyone thought of it. :) I'll try to update after 10 hits, but which story gets updated next is kind of decided by the poll… Speaking of which, the results of the poll that decides which story is updated next will be cleared after this chapter is uploaded, so please remember to vote again! And, there's not really anything else I need to mention, so I'll see you soon! :D