Dejana's Writing

a Sailormoon (PGSM) fanfiction by Dejana Talis
-not to be used without permission-

For Kasey

The doors to Crown slid open with a soft whisper.

"Welcome," said Nephrite, without looking up from sweeping the floor. After a moment, when no giggle of schoolgirls arose to distract him, he looked up at the silent intruder. His broom stilled. It was Mizuno Ami.

"You have an annual pass, right?" Nephrite asked brusquely.

"Yes..." Ami nodded, smiled, and turned to walk down the corridor. After a few steps, she stopped and turned around. Nephrite was still watching her.

"Actually, I wondered if I could ask you something," she said hesitantly. Her eyes flickered away from Nephrite, wandering erratically about the room.

"Yes? What?" Nephrite bent over his broom again, turning away from Ami's clouded, lost eyes. Every day, they were a bit emptier.

"Why..." Ami said softly. "Do you know... why I come here?"

Nephrite froze, but did not look up. "Your friends," he said shortly.

"Kino-san?" Ami smiled with vague fondness, but it soon faded. "That's just it... we don't sing or anything, we just... sit there. But if we don't come, it feels strange..."

Kino-san. The unfamiliar address crossed another item off an invisible list.

"Why are you bothering me with all these stupid questions?" Nephrite burst out. Not too loudly, or Motoki would hear and scold him for being unpleasant to customers. "Can't you see I have work to do?"

He turned away, but Ami slammed her palms down on the counter.

"You know, don't you!?"

Nephrite stared at her. She looked shocked at her own outburst and lowered her eyes to the floor. For a moment, she hovered between fight and flight, her lips forming a hasty apology, but her hands slowly tightened into fists.

"You know something," she insisted. "You remember what I can't. Don't you?"

"I don't know what you mean," Nephrite answered after a short pause. It didn't slip by unnoticed. Ami hesitated while Nephrite robotically swept the floor, apparently not caring that he was merely moving the dust around in a circle. The silence dragged on, but Ami didn't move.

"I'm... sad..."

Nephrite nearly froze again, but forced himself to keep moving. The less said, the better.

"I'm sad, and I don't know why." With those words, some unseen dam within Ami seemed to burst, and the rest poured out in a flood. "We sit there every day, as if it were a part-time job. Hino-san won't speak to us anymore, but we can't remember why she should. Osaka-san looks at me like we should be friends but she doesn't know why. I feel like something's missing, something important, but the more I try to remember the more it slips away. I'm so sad, and I don't know why!" Her voice cracked.

The broom hissed softly across the floor as Nephrite burned inside. For what was far from the first or the last time, he cursed whatever kept him confined to a mortal life. He had never had reason to keep secrets before. Even in the Dark Kingdom, he had always been honest about his plans. Now he found unspoken words eating him up inside.

Yes, he remembered. He remembered Ami, Makoto and Rei returning on the night of the storms, looking more haunted than any creature of the underworld. Peace had returned, but their friend Usagi had not. The girls had never spoken of their final mission as Sailor Soldiers. Nephrite, however, had spent enough time among traitors to know the faces of those who had killed one of their own.

He remembered well the days that followed, when he wondered each time he saw the girls if it would be the last. They had become empty, lifeless things, more dead than alive. Rei had withdrawn from the others before long. Naru was consumed by questions and accusations. The sun shone again, but for the Sailor Soldiers there was only darkness.

"You know, don't you," Ami repeated. Nephrite looked up, and her eyes were wet with tears. "You remember something. I don't know why I'm so sure, but I am."

Something strange had happened over the following weeks. Confusion settled over Makoto and Ami, a disorientation made worse by familiar surroundings. Day by day, their memories of being Sailor Soldiers began to fade. From Queen Beryl to Kunzite to the loss of their princess, it all vanished like a distant dream. The sadness, however, never faded from either girl's eyes.

Nephrite looked at Ami and saw it clear as day, flooding out the confusion behind her useless eyeglasses. There was a time when he would have labeled ignorance as weakness. There was a time when he would have used the truth as a weapon. Now, when he looked at Ami, there was only bitter envy in Nephrite's heart.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he said firmly. "Get out of here and leave me alone."

It wasn't fair. Ami didn't have to remember the comrades she had lost. She didn't have to suffer nightmares of her master's death. She didn't have to live with the memories of what she had done. Still, he could not bring himself to take the blissful ignorance away from her.

Ami didn't speak, but watched him while the grief crested in her eyes like a wave. Nephrite looked away, but the sadness followed him, an unfounded melancholy that bit into him for reasons he couldn't explain. He walked around the counter and stood facing the former soldier, his former enemy, his former rival. Without her memories, there was only the grief to consume her.

"Don't dwell on things," Nephrite muttered. "Denying your pain only rots your heart. I know."

"But it doesn't make sense!" Ami protested. She wiped at her cheeks, ashamed, but more tears spilled from the corners of her eyes. "There's no reason for this feeling! It shouldn't exist!"

"Well, it does," Nephrite said bluntly. "Whether you know the reason or not... if you need to be sad, be sad." He turned away and bent to his task, attacking the floor as if he could make the dust scatter in fear from his broom. Stupid, stupid, stupid! What did he think he was doing, saying such foolish things? No wonder he had been cast aside by both his masters...

A sudden warmth rushed up Nephrite's back as Ami wrapped her arms around him from behind. She squeezed briefly, and for a moment Nephrite was so startled that he once again stood frozen. Then Ami's grip was released, and a rush of air passed between them.

Nephrite turned around, mouth open to speak what had not yet formed in his mind, but the doors were already closing.

The End
Pretty Guardian Sailormoon and its associated characters and canon are the property of Naoko Takeuchi and Toei.
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