And so, of course, Ember finds that she has lied whenever she says something here. After saying that "Broken" was her first attempts at angsty fanfiction (go read that if you enjoy Kingdom Hearts II and Axel/Roxas), she found this relic. She wrote this two years ago, found it today, and typed it while subjecting it to a brief editing.

So, here you go, Black Cat folks! It's been a long time coming.


Rain


from the Chronos Official Logbook

kept by Sephiria Arks, No. I

23 March 1998, 09:30

Number XIII has refused orders from the Elders and stated his desire to leave Chronos. I myself will go today to either persuade XIII to return or erase him should persuasion prove impossible.


It was harder than usual to remain my usual emotionless self. Maybe that was because it was someone I cared for that I held at sword point on this cold, rainy evening. I struggled to keep the emotion out of my voice, at least, as I pleaded with him to realize his folly.

"Heartnet, I beg of you, return to Chronos!" Come back to me, I thought. I quickly repressed that thought. The man before me had never been mine.

He was speaking now. "Sorry, Sephiria, but I won't take orders from anyone anymore. I want to control my own life. It would really be best for you to forget about me."

I stared at him, shocked. "I can't do that," I whispered sorrowfully. As support to my words, my memories of this man flashed before me…


Chronos Official Logbook

17 September 1993, 15:00

I have recently spoken with newly-appointed eraser Train Heartnet. Ordinarily such action would be left to No. II, but I was informed that Heartnet has great potential, which I wished to see for myself. It is true that Heartnet is talented. Someday he may even become a Number. But he has to learn a great deal about the ways of the Numbers before such an event can occur.


Rain fell in torrents as I approached our newest eraser. I had been told of Heartnet's abilities, and certainly his target was dead just hours after his first assignment was given to him. But as he stood there trembling, he looked every bit the teenage boy he was. Only sixteen years old, the boy was already devoting himself to the lifestyle of an assassin. Not that age is an important factor; I myself was only twenty, and I was leader of the Chrono Numbers.

He sensed my approach and turned to face me, gun drawn. As a testament to his skill, his aim was true even though he was still trembling like a leaf. His golden eyes were wide, fearful, as he stood waiting for whatever was about to happen.

"It's unpleasant, the feeling of taking another's life, isn't it?" My words startled him, but the look on his face and the increase in his trembling gave me all the answer I needed. "It's good, though, that you feel this way. It means that you still have a trace of humanity. Once that is gone, it is possible for an eraser to go mad with power, killing indiscriminately. Every target that is erased is erased for a reason, however. Never forget that," I cautioned. "It will do you no good to fret excessively over erasing those who threaten Chronos or the world."

It would do no good at all, to Heartnet, or to Chronos. Heartnet would lose his mind, and Chronos would lose a talented eraser. I had seen it happen to others, and I did not want Heartnet to suffer that.

Slowly, tentatively, so as to avoid startling him more than I already had, I placed a hand on his shoulder. "If it helps any, I'm proud of you so efficiently carrying out this mission," I said quietly. Then I began to walk away through the pouring rain.

As I turned away, Heartnet spoke his first words to me. "It does help, Number I. It helps a lot." He no longer trembled, but tentatively smiled at me, I saw when I turned around to look at him.

"You may call me Sephiria, Heartnet. I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of each other," I said. Then I walked away, this time without turning back.

Eventually Heartnet will not tremble when he erases threats. And then what will become of him? He is already a talented eraser, and it is only his first day. If an opening arises, he may even become a Number. He certainly possesses the skill. All he requires is the experience.


Chronos Official Logbook

13 March 1995, 16:45

Erasers Train Heartnet and Creed Diskenth were evaluated for the vacancy left by Number XIII. Neither was aware of the reason for the evaluation, having been told it was a reevaluation of their erasing talents. Heartnet is the preferred candidate, as Diskenth appears to be developing mental instability.


"Thank you for your time, Heartnet. That is all." He had just completed a series of tests. He was told that the examination was to evaluate his position as an eraser. In reality, I was considering appointing him as the new Number XIII. I was very pleased with his performance; he was every bit as talented as the other candidate, the deranged individual he calls 'partner'. As far as I was concerned, Heartnet was by far the best candidate for the position, despite his youth.

Instead of leaving, he turned to me. "Sephiria, if I may…?"

I nodded, gesturing for him to continue.

"What was that really for? I have done nothing to jeopardize my position, as far as I'm aware, and it is most unusual for Number I to test an eraser."

Not to mention that erasers were generally not evaluated on a regular basis. Heartnet was a sharp one, unlike his egotistical partner. This was good for the position I wanted him to fill, but it also meant I would have to watch myself in the future. However, I turned my mind to the more immediate dilemma: how was I going to respond to Heartnet's insightful question?

Unthinkingly, I responded with the truth. "You were being evaluated for the position of Number XIII of the Chrono Numbers."

Heartnet's eyes widened in shock. "Number?" he repeated disbelievingly.

Internally I cursed the situation my lack of thought had put me in. I hadn't intended to say that. But something about him had compelled me to—what was it? The force of his eyes, maybe, or his no-nonsense demeanor?

Since I was already in for it, I decided to explain more fully. "Yes, Number. And as things stand, you are the best candidate."

He went even further into shock, one hand reaching up and messing up his already-unruly dark hair. "Amazing. I knew something was up, but I never would have guessed…"

"Well, that's 'what this is really about'. It will take time, but you are the best candidate. One day soon you will become Number XIII, Heartnet."

My tone, as it was meant to, ended the conversation. Heartnet walked out into the rain, shock and awe still apparent on his face. I no longer had any business in the building, so I did the same, walking away into the freezing cold rain.


Chronos Official Logbook

22 April 1995, 16:30

Today Train Heartnet was appointed Chrono Number XIII and given the orichalcum pistol Hades. We now have a full complement of Numbers once again.


I met up with Heartnet outside after his official induction. It was raining, but neither of us really minded. This rain was light and warm, unlike the cold rain that had fallen the last time I had seen him.

Looking at him, I felt an inexplicable surge of emotion. What was it? It took me a moment to place it as pride. I was proud of the young man before me. He had come a long way since the day we had first met.

"So, how does it feel, being a Number?" I asked him.

As I had hoped, he seemed to give the question serious thought, speaking slowly and quietly as he turned Hades over in his hands, getting used to the feel of his new weapon. "Well, for most of my life I've sought skill and power. This past year and a half, I've heard about and seen the legendary abilities and skills of the Chrono Numbers, protectors of the interests of the most powerful organization in the world. So in a way it's a large step closer to my goal. But the Numbers are legendary, so in a way it's a challenge, a reputation to uphold."

I smiled slightly. "And are you up for that challenge, Heartnet?"

He looked me in the eye, the slightest of smirks on his face. "Well, you seem to think I'm up for it. You wouldn't have recommended me and made me a Number if you didn't."

Despite myself, I was flattered. "And you're convinced because of my opinion? Are you sure that's wise?" I teased. I quickly caught myself. What was wrong with me? First emotion, now playful banter?!

He chuckled, and then his face became serious again. "Of course it is. You're the leader of the Chrono Numbers. Your opinion means the world." As he departed, I could have sworn he winked at me.

What was going on? I struggled to calm my uneven breathing and my stuttering heart. Who or what was this Train Heartnet, that he had such an effect on me?!


Chronos Official Logbook

3 May 1995, 15:45

Today I spoke to Number XIII over lunch about the responsibilities of his new position. He seemed to understand and accept them. It is my belief that Chronos has gained a valuable asset by making him a Number.


I was berating myself constantly as I prepared to meet Heartnet for lunch. That in itself was perfectly normal; I frequently held meetings with Numbers over lunch. What wasn't normal was the anxiety I was feeling. Evidently he had affected me more than I had previously thought.

I am not one to deny the truth or to attempt to fool myself. I knew and had eventually accepted that I was drawn to our newest Number. I also knew that my newfound attraction was a problem that could interfere with my duties. That was absolutely unacceptable.

I refused to allow my duties to be compromised in any way. So I ignored my racing heart and excitement as I walked in the rain to the café where we were to meet.

He was waiting for me. "Hey, Sephiria," he greeted. He was much less uptight and formal about greetings now that we were closer to the same level of authority.

"Hello, Heartnet," I smiled. "Do come inside; you must be hungry."

As we ate, I explained to him the responsibilities that came with power, the questions that a Number must always ask him- or herself. He listened intently to every word, every caution, and every piece of advice I gave him, absorbing it all. I allowed myself a brief moment of satisfaction; I had chosen well, making him Number XIII by my strong endorsement to the Elders.

As the time passed, our conversation moved to other things. Later, I never could quite remember what either of us said. What I remembered was the happiness that came with being able to talk to him about things that held no real significance whatsoever.

Eventually, however, we both had to leave. We stood up and walked outside, where the rain was still falling.

He was the first to speak. "Well, I suppose I'll see you soon, Sephiria."

"I'm sure you will," I replied. He began to walk away. "Oh—Heartnet?"

"Yes?" he questioned as he turned to face me once again.

I handed him a red envelope with the Chronos seal emblazoned on the back. "Your first mission as a Number," I explained.

"Thank you," he replied, and began to walk away again, tucking the envelope into his pocket. I knew it would not leave that location until he was positive he was alone. He was far too good at his job to forget a fundamental like secrecy.

Any concerns I may have had about Heartnet had vanished by the end of our lunch meeting. He had eagerly accepted all of the knowledge and advice I could give him. He understood how important it was that he not lose himself in power, that he always had a good justification each time he pulled Hades' trigger.


Chronos Official Logbook

1 January 1996, 09:30

Evaluation of the year 1995

This past year has been very successful. Not only have we gained talented erasers, we found a highly skilled replacement for the late Number XIII. Also, Chronos has grown in importance and strength. We all hope for another year as successful as 1995 was.


I walked out of the building into the rain, thinking that it would have been snowing had it been any colder outside. As it was, the rain would in the course of the night freeze over the snow that was rapidly becoming slush.

I ducked just in time to avoid a projectile formed of this slush and whirled around, sword drawn. The one who threw it found himself at sword point before I realized who it was.

"Oh. It's you, Heartnet." Slowly I lowered my blade. "Why, pray tell, did you find that necessary?"

He shrugged. "Would you have turned around if I hadn't?"

He had a point. I probably wouldn't have. "Well? What do you want?" I couldn't keep a small smile from my face; this was the first time in a long while we had seen each other.

"Well, it's been a while." His thoughts seemed to mirror mine, if not for the same reasons. All of a sudden, he bent over, collected more slush, and lobbed it at me.

It was a reflex reaction that did me in. I sliced the slush ball in half. Not the wisest idea, though, as this caused it to splatter all over me.

After that, Heartnet had decided to vanish. He hadn't disappeared as thoroughly as he needed to, though, for I quickly traced his soft laughter to a nearby tree. What I did next could only be explained by saying that immature actions spark similar reactions.

Due to Heartnet's precarious stance in his tree, he could not dodge properly and soon had a face full of slush. He fell in a controlled manner out of his tree, shaking his head in a failed attempt to get the slush out of his hair. "Guess I deserved that one, didn't I?" he asked, his face apologetic.

"Yes, you did," I replied, attempting to keep my face straight and failing. There was something about his expression that I found amusing, perhaps its resemblance to a puppy that wanted a treat and was being denied.

All of a sudden his expression changed and he said, "Hey, Sephiria? Follow me." And he was off, racing through the streets.

My curiosity piqued, I quickly caught up to him. "Heartnet, where are you going?" I demanded.

"You'll see!" he replied excitedly without once breaking his rapid stride.

After running out of the city and into a nearby wood, he slowed down. I followed suit. After all, I had no idea where he was leading me. It had been a foolish thing, following him, and the Number in me was screaming her head off. But for some reason I trusted the young man I was following.

He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye. "I don't suppose you could close your eyes?" he asked, his tone suggesting that he already knew the answer.

"No, sorry. It's a Number thing."

"I didn't think so." And he walked on, me following behind.

He led me into a small hollow. In springtime this would have been beautiful, with many flowers. Only the thinnest blanket of snow covered the ground, the branches above having protected it somewhat from the rain.

"Happy birthday, Sephiria," he said softly behind me. Shortly after that I was alone with my thoughts in one of the only places outdoors even slightly protected from the cold rain.


Chronos Official Logbook

13 April 1996, 20:00

This evening, I took Number XIII to dinner, both to commemorate his successful first year as a Number and to inform him of a particularly important mission being entrusted to him. He seemed to grasp the complicated details and I believe this assignment will go as smoothly as all the other assignments I have given him.


The rain pattered outside, making a pleasant sound as it hit the windows of the little teahouse Heartnet and I were eating at. Officially we were celebrating his first year as a Number. And it had been a very successful year with completed mission after completed mission. But unofficially I was returning the favor he had done me by remembering my birthday. Not that he knew it yet, of course. Just then we were going over the details of a very important mission.

However, we could not talk about the mission all throughout the dinner, and soon he asked, "So, how does that place in the woods I showed you look now?" As if he didn't know. He had probably seen me there, as I went to the spot frequently and I know he knows my movements. Numbers keep track of other Numbers.

"It's lovely. Did you know that arranging flowers is a hobby of mine, when I get the chance to do it?" I asked suspiciously. As far as I knew, I had never even mentioned my birthday to him. Then again, the man before me had a way of making me tell him things I wouldn't have told anyone else, that was a proven fact. It was perfectly possible that I had let it slip.

"No, I didn't." He looked surprised enough that I guessed he was telling the truth. "All I knew was that it's a nice, quiet place. Good for thinking."

"Speaking of which…" I trailed off. How was I supposed to say it? It was one thing to take him out for his birthday, but another thing entirely to let him know about it.

He interrupted my panicked thoughts. "Yes?" he asked, seemingly confused.

I decided it would be best to do what he had done four months before. With a racing heart, I walked over to him and whispered in his ear, "Happy birthday, Heartnet." Then I walked out into the warm April rain with a smile on my face.


Present day- 1998

There were many more memories like this, happy times that had made me fall in love with the rain since we only seemed to see each other when it was raining. But now my memories took a darker turn into the more recent past…


Chronos Official Logbook

21 January 1998, 10:15

Number XIII has ignored a summons. Reasons for this are unknown. Number II has been sent with a warning.


I paced back and forth anxiously. Even the rain falling outside could not help me relax.

Belze assessed me with calm eyes. "There's nothing you can do, Sephiria. For whatever reason, he didn't come when summoned. If he was anyone else the Elders would have already ordered him dead. Instead they make another exception for their pet cat." He did not say it in an offensive way, so I let that remark go.

"Something must have happened, something big. This isn't like him, Belze. He would never just choose not to come…" I trailed off. There was no evidence to suggest he could not have come. It had likely been Heartnet's own choice.

Apparently I could not keep my worry from my voice, for Belze's casual assessment turned much sharper. "You've gotten attached, haven't you? Damn it, Sephiria, you know better than that! The moment emotion comes into play your ability as a Number is compromised! You know it as well as I do!"

Touched though I was by his concern, the tirade still stung. Maybe it was because he had voiced exactly what part of me had been screaming all along. I had gotten emotionally involved, ignoring all the dangers of doing so. And now I was paying for it.

But my worried thoughts could not be diverted for long, and Belze had left the room. What was wrong? What had caused Heartnet to stray from his former path?

There was little point in worrying about what I knew little of, not in this case. I would only give myself a headache. And so I left, walking through the rain to the hollow in the woods that Heartnet had shown me so long ago. I needed to clear my head, and soon.


Present day

For the past several months I had been extremely concerned about Heartnet, fearing that he would leave us. Now my fears were quickly becoming reality. Heartnet was leaving the Numbers, and I had been assigned to erase him. It was like something from my very worst nightmares.

I froze with him at sword point. I couldn't do it. I could not kill this man. I would fail my mission for the first time.

All of a sudden he sidestepped my sword and took a step forward, the oddest look in his eyes. He seemed to search my own eyes for something, but for the life of me I could not guess what he was searching for. Whatever it was, he seemed to find it, for he smiled softly and sadly. Then he softly pressed his lips to mine. He pulled away after a moment, whispered, "I'm sorry, Sephiria," and vanished without a trace.

Just like that, Train Heartnet walked out of my life.

In the west, the sunset began to show through a gap in the clouds, forming a rainbow. A promise, it meant, a new beginning, for somewhere deep down the little girl in me still believed in symbols. It was supposed to be a happy thing.

So why was I so sad? Why did my tears mingle with the rain on my face? This may have been a new beginning, but I looked on it as an end to something good. I wanted Train back. I wanted the rain back.

end


Epilogue

Chronos Official Logbook

24 March 1998, 09:30

Number XIII refused to return to Chronos and has been erased. A replacement will be found in due time.


Belze walked in behind me. "I read what you put in the logbook. It's not true, is it?"

"I couldn't do it, Belze. I couldn't kill him." I could feel my eyes tearing up.

"This is the point where I would reprimand you for becoming attached in the first place, but I can tell you're already giving yourself a hard time." Not that I would have listened if he did reprimand me. My thoughts were in an unknown place, as far away as a certain Black Cat.

"I feel so…" Were there words to describe it, this desolation, this heartbreak? Sadness, confusion, many emotions battled within me.

"Well, you know how to deal with that. Throw yourself into your work. When you're busy you won't have time to feel anything."

I straightened up. "You're right, of course." And I walked away.

I would never be able to completely forget Heartnet. But I did need to stop these constant thoughts; they were slowly killing me. And so I cast away all thoughts of him, to be dealt with when the pain was gone, and walked into the sun, away from the rain of my past.