Nall watched as she sat by his side. It was such an interesting picture. A young woman looking no more than sixteen bent over a dying man, about eighty years old. To the casual observer this was a granddaughter saying goodbye to her grandfather. No one would have guessed what he knew, that this was a best friend saying goodbye to a best friend. Ruby looked so sad that it brought up all the deeply repressed memories he had of the days his friends left him alone. He watched her sitting there in the yellow dress the dragon kids had given her. She looked so beautiful even with the tears coursing down her face. He leaned against the doorway of the room and listened to their quiet conversation.
"Ruby," Hiro croaked out, "I'm dying aren't I?" She shook her head.
"I'd say no but I never could lie to you," she whispered, "But its going to be alright now Hiro, you're going to be with Lucia again. You're going to be with all our friends." The old man's tired eyes let loose a tear.
"I'm not going to be with you, am I? No more adventures for us together," he whispered. She nodded.
"I suppose not. But you don't need me. You'll have Ronfar to scoop out angels with and you'll have Lucia the one you love," she reassured trying her best to contain her sobs. He laughed at her.
"You're horrible at this. And besides I love you too Ruby, just differently then Lucia. You're my best friend," he told her weakly. She nodded.
"I know, Hiro. I never doubted you. We've been through everything together. We saved the world. And I will tell your story to your children and to the children of all the people of Lunar, so don't worry. I love you too Hiro," she said.
"NALL," Hiro managed to scream lightly. Nall was surprised but came to his side anyway. "This is the most important girl in the world to me next to Lucia and my daughter. I don't give a damn how much she tells you she can take care of herself. You just better look after her. Promise me." Nall nodded.
"I promise Hiro. Nothing will ever harm her. You go see Lucia now," he told him. Hiro nodded and Ruby felt the hand she was holding go limp. She froze and so did the tears on her face.
"Hiro," she whispered. She knew he was gone and she broke down sobbing uncontrollably. Nall didn't know what to do. But she let him know by throwing herself into his arms. He wrapped them around her and gently led her out of the room closing the doors. As soon as they were out Ruby remembered herself and broke the embrace.
"So that's it," she said, "that's all my friends. That's all the most important people in the world to me. Let's see Jean died first six years ago, and then Mauri, Ronfar couldn't live after that, then we had a break for about two years and then Lemina and Leo went within months of each others. And Lucia, she died last spring. And now Hiro, I guess that's it. I guess I'm alone."
"You're not alone Ruby," said Nall firmly, "You still have me and the dragon kids. Do you want to burn something? It might make you feel better." She laughed dryly.
"Twenty seconds and you're already trying to keep your promise. But Nall, Hiro was right I don't need anybody. I'm not stupid I'm not a little girl anymore. I can take care of myself and watch over my friends' children. But Nall, tell me, Jean was seventy-six when she passed away. That's a long time to live for a human, right?" He nodded.
"It was a very long life. All your friends as mine did had long and full lives. And you can watch over their children but you can't interfere in their lives. They are your friends' children. They have no obligations to be your companions as their parents were," he said trying not to be too rough. She narrowed her eyes at him.
"I said watch over. I don't need a lecture from you Nall. I don't need anything from you Nall. I don't need anyone. Hiro is gone and he left me here. He left me in your care and that seemed to give him some sort of satisfaction. But how can you help me Nall? All you ever do is tell me what I'm doing wrong," she screamed sobbing again.
"You're upset so I'll let that go," he told her.
"If I upset you so much you can just let me go all together. Like I said I don't need anybody," she said stomping out of the room and towards the outside of Taben's Peek. He followed her.
"Don't act like I don't understand this," he screamed at her, "Alex and Luna died together on the same day. I lost my two best friends on the same day. And I got over it and you will too, so stop being such a brat."
"I'm sorry Nall," said Ruby apologetically. "But you didn't prepare me for this. You said it would make me cry you didn't say it would pull my insides apart."
"How could I prepare you Ruby? I wasn't in love with one of my friends," he said bitterly. She looked as if he had smacked her.
"Neither was I. The only love I felt for Hiro was the same love you felt for Alex. The love of two best friends who would do anything for one another. And that's why your being so hard on me to get over this and why I find myself lashing out at you because you are actually on some level glad he's gone. You made the mistake I made awhile ago. You let jealousy get in the way of friendship. Hiro tried to be your friend Nall but you turned away from him. I don't expect you to feel the sorrow I did but, you won't even mourn for him like you did the others." Nall shook his head.
"You are way off Ruby. I am in no way glad that Hiro is dead and you must think pretty damn highly of yourself to think I could be made jealous over you," he shouted. She frowned deeply.
"I guess you're right. Why would you be jealous over me? Hiro always thought that you loved me and I loved you. That's why he asked you to take care of me. He was the only one out of everyone including us that saw romance between us," she said. "I'm sorry if I offended you Nall. I'm going to go be on my own for a little while." She turned to leave.
"Ruby!" Nall called out. "I'm sorry too. Hiro is right I do love you okay. But I am not glad he's dead. Maybe I wasn't as good a friend to him as I could have been because I was jealous but he was a good person and he reminded me a lot of Alex. I am not glad he's gone." She nodded.
"I love you too Nall. Hiro seems to be helping me find things out about myself right up to the end. Will you help me bury him next to Lucia this afternoon?" she asked.
"Sure Ruby sure. But do you realize what we just said to each other right," he said. She smiled at him.
"Of course I do. But that's for tomorrow. Today belongs to the last," she said. Nall knew what she was talking about. The last she was talking about was her last goodbye to strong connections to the human world. The last of her childhood would be buried that afternoon. That day was a day for sorrow. Love and companionship could be sought out tomorrow.
Back to the Library of Vane.
Back to the Shrine to Ghaleon.