Ketsu

The matter was settled relatively quickly; apparently, Mohs wanted the Kimlasca and Malkuth companies to feud in order to lower their prices and generate more profit for Daath, so he forced Van to write threatening letters to both of them. Van wrote the letters against his will, but he still had to leave work to prevent others from tracing his involvement. Unfortunately, Van had chosen a bad hiding place, going to tutor the Fabre boys, and when the Kimlasca Company received their threat, the eldest boy, Asch, figured out that Van was involved. Van had no choice but to run, taking only the younger boy, Luke, who believed he was innocent, with him.

Considering Van's considerable sorrow at ever being involved in such a thing, Peony decided not to report Van's actions, but Mohs was arrested as soon as the police were notified. However, Van had lost his job, and unless the Daath company got a new president soon, the company was likely to fail.

Saphir, of course, was in quite a state; still wearing the boa, he was pacing Jade's kitchen, ignoring the mug of tea Jade had made for him.

"I can't believe that Mohs! Such filthy methods are so below the Daath company! I'm too embarrassed to admit I work there!" he raved. "And Van! Engaging in fisticuffs with the boss! Oh, I could just die of shame!" He slumped into the chair, nearly knocking over the tea.

"Now, now, Saphir," Jade said, putting down his dishrag to move the tea to a safe place. "One should never be ashamed of the actions of co-workers. Why, I once had a co-worker who severely embarrassed the company, endangered several lives, and threatened the President, and I can still go to work every morning with a smile on my face."

Saphir's face clearly showed the hurt, but he just adjusted his glasses and looked into his mug. "Not that that means much...your smile's fake."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I said your smile's fake, Jade," Saphir said, staring even deeper into the mug. "You haven't truly smiled since I left, and we both know why."

Jade's smile fell, and he turned smartly back to the dishes. "I haven't any idea what you're talking about."

"Peony may let you get away with running away from your problems, Jade, but I won't let you do it with me," Saphir shouted, then, as if surprised, he lowered his voice. "We were friends once, Jade. Best friends; at least, you were mine..."

"Don't, Saphir," Jade said in a strained voice. "Don't bring up the past."

Saphir looked up from his tea; Jade's back was tense, as if trying to keep out Saphir's words.

"I should go," he said, setting down the mug.

"You know where the door is," Jade said, not turning around.

The door shut quietly. Jade didn't move, the same dish still in his hands. He had been washing the same dish for three minutes. The water was cold.

"Saphir!" He was still in his house slippers, already running down the hall toward the stairs. "Saphir, wait!"

Saphir turned from where he'd been waiting for the elevator; it was clear he'd been crying, with tell-tale lines of moisture running from his nose and on his cheeks.

"I thought...you didn't want to remember..." Saphir stammered.

"I don't," Jade said, "but that doesn't mean I can keep running away."

"Jade..." Saphir pulled out his handkerchief and hastily wiped at his nose and eyes.

"Saphir," Jade said, putting his arm awkwardly around Saphir, "I did say I'd let you take a bath if there was time. Would...now be a good time?"

Saphir sniffed again then put his hand on Jade's arm. "Now would be perfect.