Homework is such a waste of time, and Nalin has no idea how much time he has before Winter’s spirit becomes weak or she chooses to move on. But with Topaz sitting down for lunch he has no choice but to act like a good boy.
Prim went to school like a good girl, but when Cruz decided to take off during lunch and invited her to join him she decided she couldn’t really say no.
“You.” He begins, pointing a finger at her. “Are the hottest chic I’ve seen in this town ever. Are all fairies gorgeous or are you just special?”
His compliment makes her blush. She can’t really return the compliment in any way as she isn’t that attracted to him. Is it strange that she feels nothing? Nalin always told her he fell in love with Winter as soon as they were teenagers.
“I’m nothing special, Cruz. My siblings say I take after my mom, and my parents were always happy together. She was pretty, so I guess that makes me pretty too. It’s all a matter of opinion, really.”
Cruz makes it very clear that in his opinion, Primrose is beautiful, and he wants to be with her completely.
If her parents were still around, Prim would be breaking their hearts.
But her siblings are both busy with their own lives so no one notices her staying at Cruz’s house until late, Nalin doesn’t even look up at her when she takes a seat next to him to do her homework.
Her garden seems to be the only thing that’s noticed her absence all day. And for that, she’s thankful. When she was a child, aunt Jade would always show her her alchemist garden, the older woman even taught her how to plant and care for seeds, and tricks for making them grow up strong. Prim’s actual fairy grandmother had even told her about a trick some stronger fairies could do where they could make a plant bloom just by sprinkling some fairy dust on it.
With Nalin’s birthday approaching fast, he takes a moment to visit his parents’ graves where Topaz set them in the local graveyard. Part of him keeps expecting to see them when he comes upstairs for breakfast, but being in a new house and a new town helps a little. Unfortunately the crippling loneliness negates any bigger positive effect a new setting might have had on him.
Topaz has heard about the local town festival a few times since they arrived. When she finally gets a chance to go she makes sure to drag Nalin with her.
“This is stupid.” He sighs, one foot resting on the soccer ball they found by the shootout net. “Can we go home now?”
Topaz grins at him. “Tell you what, we’ll go home when you can get one past me. Deal?”
They’re still there when Prim arrives with Cruz after school. He makes a joke about some woo-hoo behind the old barn and Prim makes the mistake of asking if this means she’s his girlfriend.
“What’s this about being my girlfriend?” He asks, voice suddenly growing cold. “Don’t go getting clingy on me, Primrose. You’re hot and all but I’m not going to tie myself down to just one girl! Forget it.”
She wonders if all boys are horrible or if she just got lucky.
Its dark by the time Nalin and Topaz head home, and he’s a lot darker than he was that morning. The karate equipment was one of the first things Topaz purchased for the house when they moved in, and while Nalin hates wasting time on things that won’t help him bring Winter back he has to admit that punching things and getting hurt in return actually calms him down when he’s stuck.
He doesn’t realize how late it is until Winter’s ghost fades through the wall towards him.
He has nothing new to report to her, but before he can explain why she speaks. “You have a tan. Did your sister buy a tanning booth or something?”
He feels terrible. “N-no I uh... we were at the summer festival all day. I guess I got a bit too much sun. I’m sorry. I should have been working on getting you back.”
Winter’s always been good at hiding her true feelings, and doesn’t let her disappointment show. “Nalin I can’t expect you to spend every moment of every day working on one thing. It isn’t healthy. I don’t even really expect you to succeed, so don’t put your life on hold for something that might not even work.”
“It will work.” He promises, and then pulls her in for a kiss. “I have to get you back.”
Meditation was how Topaz used to keep her mind in one piece during high school. It helped keep her calm and focused.
She’s heard stories of meditation transporting your spirit to strange and wondrous places, but she’s never really believed it until the moment she opens her eyes to find herself in a whole new world.
Normally, she’d panic that she somehow managed to teleport herself away from her family and begin to look for a way to return home. Instead she feels a strange peace all about her. She spends what feels like hours just staring out across the never ending water.
From the trees behind her, she hears a voice call her name. Without thinking she turns towards the island and follows the sandy trail towards the voice. She hears it in her mind rather than with her ears, but she can still tell the direction its coming from.
As she passes she can’t help but recognize the bizarre mix of foliage around her. She sees the flowers she grew up with, some plants that she uses in her alchemy, and even trees from far off China and Egypt. It’s a mess, but its peaceful.
The path leads her to a strange looking shack on the far beach.
It’s a bit dusty and run down to be the sea king’s chosen home, but perhaps that’s just how he likes it.
Or perhaps its guilt that has him allowing the plants to take over his home. Each of Gaia’s children has their own realm to make their own, but by allowing her to hurt his family, by not stepping in to save even the innocent little girl who was killed he hasn’t felt like he deserves a world to himself. He hasn’t left this chair since he allowed his descendant and his wife to be killed by Gaia, he’s only watched the children as they made their way through the world. He hadn’t wanted to step in, but perhaps it was better to break one heart quickly than to allow them to come to Gaia’s attention again.
He stand to greet his descendant as she steps into his home. “I am honored you accepted my invitation to meet me. I don’t deserve your time, but I wish to help you this time.”
It takes Topaz only a few seconds to clear her mind enough to recognize this blue haired man as the man who held her and Prim back while Gaia attacked. At the time she felt thankful for his protection. But now its all anger. “You beast! You didn’t give me an invitation, you just grabbed me and brought me here. I don’t need your help, and I want to go home NOW.”
“If, when I’m done speaking, you still wish to go home without saying anything to me then I will send you home. But please, at least let me speak.”
“You have nothing to say to me that I wish to listen to, you beast.” She continues with a glare. “You said you were my family’s protector, you promised we’d be alright. Dad and Fawn chose to give their lives to protect ours, but we have not been alright. Do you have any idea what I had to do to keep my siblings safe? Do you have any idea how hard its been for Nalin to face losing Winter? She died to save him! And you just stood back and watched it all happen! What kind of a god are you if you cannot even keep your promises?”
“You were FINE.” He growls, finally losing his temper. “Yes you had to do things you were against, but were Nalin and Prim ever harmed while you were gone? Did you ever have to sleep outside when it got cold? Did they ever get sick when you weren’t close to aid? I couldn’t give you an easy life without mother- without Gaia, becoming suspicious! Who do you think led that man to you at the park? How did he know to take the chance on a broken machine?”
When he steps towards her, she steps back, hands coming up in fear.
Seeing he’s finally got her attention, he gets to the point. “I was going to keep my distance but your brother is once again doing something that will make him a whole new set of powerful enemies! You thought Gaia was tough? He’s dealing with the Reaper now!”
“He... he can’t be... why would he even-” She answers her own question before she finishes her sentence. “He’s trying to bring Winter back.”
“Love is a powerful incentive.” Neptune points out. “I need you to stop him before he gets in more trouble. The Reaper will forgive one time incidents, especially if I can get to his wife in time to calm him down. But Nalin is trying to create a machine that will give any soul near it a mortal body again. The Reaper will see it as a statement of war.”
Topaz feels her heart breaking, thinking of what Nalin’s actions might do. “He’ll never forgive me if I stop him from bringing Winter back.”
Neptune steps closer, close enough to hold her hand. “But will you be able to forgive yourself if you don’t stop him?”
He sends her back home without another word.
Ah Neptune... I've missed you. Unfortunately I had to lose Gaia when I fixed my game so I'll have to remake her if I ever want to show her in the game. But perhaps its better not to see her. Gaia is everything that is, so does her physical form really matter?
The Sari kids have shitty luck in love.