Writer's Note: Thanks to Morgeil for the beta-help! It was sorely needed and greatly appreciated!
Warning: Takes place pre- and post-series and contains major spoilers.
They were both young and stupid. They were inexperienced and cocky. They also both loved adventure.
So when Jade proposed that they steal an Arrowhead and fly it around in secret for a while, to get a leg-up on their future careers as soldiers, Graveheart was only wary for about a minute before he agreed to it.
It was thrilling. It was confusing. Jade seemed to know more than him and yet she knew very little at all.
They crashed the ship into another one, right in front of the commanding officer as he was coming in to the docks. They were both bruised and somewhat bloody, but when they were pulled from the wreckage, Jade was laughing and Graveheart was grinning. It was the greatest thrill of their lives.
Two years into the army, Jade went down. Shot up pretty bad in the middle of skirmish, Graveheart was the only one who had seen it happen. He kept at her side, his hands held to her bleeding wounds, his eyes fixed on her fading eyes, and all he could think of was how stupid they both were and how this was nothing like the romantic dream they had expected.
And, he had been so sure that he would have been the one to fall first. Not Jade, who always held him above it all.
There were moments of glory. Successfully surpassing the supply quota. Sneaking in and killing enemy soldiers who would have killed them at any given moment. Insects, Toads, Flamehead...they were all on the scorecard of their military careers.
The thrill of the hunt, the kill, and the kisses stolen in between, the eager and hot kisses that promised more behind locked doors, that displayed lust for life as well as each other...it was heaven.
The second time Jade went down was the last. It wasn't just Jade. It was Mica. Graveheart would have joined him if it hadn't been for that one hand that grabbed him back, that yanked him from the edge and kept him free of burning lava and fiery death.
She didn't move to stop him when he fired at the Fire ships. She couldn't, anyway. By then, nothing would have stopped him.
He left without saying goodbye. She hated him for it. She hated his weakness, his lack of courage, his inability to face reality and his insistence on dwelling on something that couldn't have been avoided.
She hated him for leaving her, for always having to be the strong one of the two. She hated him because he was able to show his weakness and not be any less of a warrior.
She hated him, because apparently she wasn't enough to hold him up anymore.
It started slow. Graveheart knew Jade was angry, and probably always would be. After what they had shared in the past, he truly felt he deserved it.
She was cold to him. But she was also like she used to be. It was comforting, in such a tense situation. Even better when she learned to joke with him, fight with him, and yes, even trust him again.
He understood her anger. Respected it. Shared it, even.
But he needed her love more.
Now he was the one who had his trust tested. Graveheart knew Jade better than anyone else, and knew when something was off. She was hiding something, cloaked in mystery and unwilling to share it.
Anyone else would have left her to her own demons. Graveheart sometimes wondered if it would make a difference if he stayed or left.
But he had to trust her. It was all he knew.
So he did.
He was the only one who brought that laugh from her, that specific laugh that came right from the gut and out the mouth. The one that made her eyes spark and close into crescents, her head thrown back in delight, her fingers on his arm clenched tight in her mirth.
These pockets, these moments, together in a nest built out of need and want, Graveheart spends his time making her laugh, just to see her do it, just to feel it against him, her whole body shaking, her face lighting up like it used to.
Graveheart knew the moment she allowed her tears to shine that Jade trusted him again. Jade was not prone to tears. She was not the type to cry from any known reason - unless something was so horrible that she grieved, deep down inside, so much that it spilled over and streaked down her cheeks.
So when she confessed to giving the access codes to Mantel, stood there with her face crumpled but her gaze fixed anywhere but on him, he knew she was sorry, and he knew that she trusted him with everything she was.
And he knew that trusting her had been the right thing to do.
Jade was Queen. Graveheart was a man of Rock once more. The Beast Planet was long gone.
There was a fear, something he refused to admit, deep within his breast, that now that the war was over - indeed, any war - Jade would not want him anymore. He hated thinking that way because it was so childish, something only a man half his age would think, and yet here he was.
But once the ceremonies were over and the Palace was empty, he looked up to find Jade seated on her throne, her eyes on him and him alone. They were warm, and her smile was real. She stood up and strode down the steps like she had owned them all of her life, and once she reached him, she slipped close and hugged him tight, careful not to let her armour dig into him.
Something deep within him seemed to melt, and he hugged back, the simple gesture so much more.
They fought. There was no avoiding this.
Jade had very different ideas as to how to handle the random uprisings and rebellions that came from unrest and dissatisfaction. She had different ideas on how to conduct trading, treaties, council meetings and conflicts between the populace. She was very much still a Quarrior, the soldier that served the army for more than half of her life.
But Graveheart had been a soldier for less. He had been a diplomat for years. He knew people. Jade knew them, too, but it was harder for her to sympathise. She wasn't cold - she just wasn't very empathetic.
So they fought. But it never lasted. Not when she realised what he was saying. Not when he realised what she was saying, too. Together, they made a great team.
Just like old times.