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Chapter Three: Haunted
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The Fallen

Chapter Three: Haunted

Chapter 3: Haunted

“Saiph?” Nash turned to see his friend standing by the turn at the restroom and went to him. “I thought you said you wouldn't walk all the way back here.”

“You two were taking too long.”

Nash knew better. Saiph never did anything without a good reason ... and he was never harsh to anyone. Nash wanted to know exactly what was going on. “You just wanted to see if you could get a peek on the naked Ara, didn't you?” he waggled his eyebrows and smiled evilly. “You devil you.”

“Don't be ridiculous!” Saiph shouted, but Nash could see a tinge of pink on his cheeks. “That girl is a pest. She's only here because she shouldn't be killed.”

Nash's eyebrows raised. “Why do you hate her so much? She hasn't done anything to you. You told me she gave you the distraction you needed to defeat Hydra.”

“She's a pain in the ass! And why do you care? If I hate her, it's easier for you to take her, isn't it?”

Nash was starting to catch on. He stopped the jokes in his head from coming out and got completely serious. “She's done no harm, and she seems uninterested in any advance I make. She doesn't care for me, though I must admit I find her quite lovely. As for her dying, it's unthinkable. If you want to hate her, fine. Just don't scare her out of this base.”

“That girl is nothing but trouble! I want nothing to do with her! If you want her, then take her! I don't give a damn what happens to her!”

“Don't kid yourself, Saiph!” Nash shouted finally, losing all patience. “You've fallen head over heels for that maiden and you're treating her like shit!” He sliced his hand through the air. “Even if I was such a fiend that I would attempt to steal her from my best friend, she wouldn't want me near her! As far as I'm concerned, she's yours! But, with your attitude, it may be too late!”

Saiph looked... almost stricken. “I do not... love her ...”

“Have you not heard the legends?!” Nash demanded. “When our kind fall in love, it is instant! If you've fallen, you know it! The love given to us Angels cannot be destroyed or abolished in any way! Do you or do you not love her?!” Nash's gray eyes blazed in anger. “Well?!”

“I do not love her!” he cried out. “I can't! She's a civilian and a human and she doesn't understand us!”

“It doesn't matter who or where or why!” Nash snapped. “You know that as well as I! Our mates were chosen before we were born, and it is a random occurrence. I've been searching for mine since I was five; I haven't been picky in my searches. So she's a human and has no armor. Is this a crime? Does this make her a fool?”

Saiph turned away. “I... I can't... we're in the middle of a war, for God's sake!” Saiph lifted his hand in short reverence, as if asking a higher being for understanding, before dropping his hand again. “She would only get in the way.”

“Then why did you bring her here? And don't just say that it was the right thing to do. I know that. Why did you order Feb to take her in and care for her?”

Saiph's mouth opened, then closed. “I couldn't take care of her,” he said finally, and shifted slightly. “It was... Dammit, Nash, where are you going with this?!”

Nash pounced on the opening. “Where do you think? Be nicer to the girl. You're hurting her.” He bit his lip. “I wonder if she felt the reaction, same as you.”

Saiph shook his head again. “She couldn't have. She's human.”

“Then it looks like you'll have to take some seducing lessons from yours truly!” Nash said, the evil smile back in place.

Saiph smiled a bit. “I'll pass.”

“But, seriously,” Nash said, “why have you been so horrible to the poor girl?”

Saiph shrugged. “I... don't know. It was just... easier.”

Nash made a rude noise.

“Shut up,” Saiph snapped. “It's not that easy, falling so quickly. I can see why some Angels fell. I feel... vulnerable, like she controls me.” He shrugged, seeming unable to explain.

Nash feigned confusion. “What's so bad about that? I wouldn't mind a girl keeping me on a leash.” He grinned cheekily.

Saiph glared at him. “You know what I mean.”

Nash sighed. “Unfortunately, yes, I understand. She... doesn't seem the type to take advantage of that, though. She seems very nice and kind. She wouldn't hurt you, even if she doesn't love you. Which I doubt,” he added, thinking about it. “She seems really stuck on you.” It was true. She had seemed to think a lot about Saiph. He had seen her crumble when Saiph had yelled at her. He'd seen her thinking about him... and he could tell it was about Saiph, because her eyes got all faraway and dreamy and wistful and melancholy and... well, they were they eyes of one in love. Unrequited love.

“I don't want to talk about this anymore.” Saiph's gaze told him to drop it in no uncertain terms.

Nash, reluctant to switch gears, started on a similar topic. “You know Feb wants you, right?”

Saiph sighed. “Yes, unfortunately, I know.”

Nash chuckled. “How are you going to tell her you're in love with Ara?”

This time, Saiph's sigh could have blown down a house. “I'm really not ready to discuss that.” He looked around. “Why hasn't Ara come out yet?” Saiph's eyes widened, and Nash knew it was because of the easiness with which her name had come out of his mouth. Nash knew Saiph better than Saiph did himself, after all. And he knew that his friend had it bad.

He shrugged for Saiph's benefit. “I don't know. Want to go in and fetch her?” he teased.

Saiph made a half-ass attempt at hitting him before smiling. “I'm not as desperate as you.”

Nash acted as if he'd just been physically attacked. “Oh, you've pierced me!” He faked a swoon for a moment, then looked to the door. “She'd said that she'd be out in a minute, and it's been a long time since she said that.” He realized something and felt his heart grow with dread. “When we were yelling, we weren't thinking about her proximity to us. Do you think she heard?” He raced to the door and pressed his ear against it, almost hoping she'd fling the door open and smack it into his face. No such thing happened, and he heard no noise inside. Saiph was beside him. The Orion bearer lost his patience and tossed his friend off the door, springing it open and running inside. Nash was immediately behind him.

The room was empty. The nightgown was folded up on the sink, the seat of the toilet down. Feb's clothes, those that obviously were not used, were on the seat, looking lonely and desolate. “Where is she?!” Saiph turned to Nash as if he could magically answer him.

“She probably heard us yelling and ... left. She wouldn't go to Feb, and she wouldn't go to where she might have met someone.” He thought about her for a moment. He could remember when she'd been yelled at by Saiph when she was trying to get him to let her change. She'd been hurt by his words, but hadn't stood up for herself too much. She'd stood up for him, though. For their friendship. That was it! “She would've left, or tried to leave,” Nash told him, snapping his fingers. “She would have heard us arguing and blamed herself, so she would have left to-”

“Whoa, whoa,” Saiph slowed down. “Did the two of you plan this or something?”

“Do you really think I would have let her even think about leaving here?” Nash asked, incredulous. “I know women. They value friendship as much as love. If she thought she was breaking us up, then she would leave. She thought you would want to hit me.”

Saiph looked away. “For a moment there... I did want to deck you.”

“And she knows that,” Nash told him. “Women are like open receptors when it comes to emotions. She could feel the animosity you felt for the two of us and wanted to make sure she didn't destroy our friendship.”

“But... isn't this a bit drastic?” Saiph took off for the nearest exit, and Nash followed, answering his unspoken question instead of the one he voiced.

“Women don't think like us men. They think of others first, sometimes a bit too much. And the way you were treating her, she probably thought that you wouldn't care if she died.”

Saiph faltered in his sprint. “What?!”

Nash hated to say this, but he needed to hit home to his friend just what he'd done. “With men, if you hurt them emotionally, they hit you back. For women, it's different. You hit them, and they hit themselves. Women need to know that you care about them, or else... they stop caring about themselves. It's a thought pattern that's a bit more than negative. It's... almost suicidal. And if they care about what you think of them, i.e. they love you and want you to love them, everything you say is logged away. You know when women get upset when a guy says something? It's that little program in their brain, the one that whispers that they aren't good enough, that you'll leave them for someone better. Angel, human, Fallen, it doesn't matter. They're all the same. They need to know you love them. You took that away from her.”

Saiph's eyes looked haunted. “So she's gone outside, where she'll be killed? Where she knows she'll be killed?!”

Nash glanced at his friend. “More like she's leaving you and entering a danger that won't hurt as much.”

They stopped at the dead end and Saiph turned to him. “I need you to check in here, just in case she hasn't left. And, when I find her, I want ... I need ... to speak to her privately.”

Nash nodded his consent. “You better bring her back, minus tears, okay?”

Saiph nodded. “I... don't want to see that... look on her face anymore.”

Nash nodded. He refrained from saying anything more; he just turned and raced back down the corridor. And hoped Saiph could find her before Alphard or any of his friends did.

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Every story unless otherwise claimed is Kayura's, and is copyrighted 2006 under her name.