Jimbotomy lay on the black sands of the northernmost part of the Wavestrider Beach, drifting in and out of consciousness. Noboru was purring contentedly, asleep on Jim's stomach. Jim looked up to the sky and began to sing a tune.
"There's a place for us
Somewhere a place of us..."
Jim leaned back, closed his eyes, and let the darkness overcome him. He awoke in a room of darkness, surprised to see a white haired night elf sitting in front of him, wearing a glittering golden dress.
"Avi?" Jim said with a start. But she did not respond.
"You know her," came the familiar voice of Seral from behind Jim, in more of a statement than a question.
"Aye," Jim responded. "She is a friend."
"She thinks more of you than that," Seral said.
"She wrote me a poem. It was very difficult to say goodbye to her, to come out here to study."
"More difficult than you expected, you mean."
"You do that, Jim," Seral said with a sigh. "You blind yourself to the feelings of others, closing yourself off from them. Do you know how hard you made it for me? How impatient I got with you? You waited far, far too long, and look at what happened."
Jim sighed and frowned. "I can't read minds."
"No," Seral countered, "but you might start paying attention from time to time."
"What, you expect people to walk up to you and tell you how much they care? You know how hard that was for you. Figure it out. Look at what you did to her."
"She is my friend."
"Yes," Seral said, "and now her connection to your realm is a thin, frayed strand of string. She has suffered much, and needs you. And she is not the only one. Did it take you leaving to recognize that?"
"It may have."
"Jim," Seral continued, "it may well be too late for Avi. Her hold is tenuous, and one false step might knock it loose. Take extreme care with her; she is retreating to a darkness she thinks is safe, where she would be alone forever. But remember, her relationship with you is a symptom of a larger problem. She is not the only one who cares."
"What is it you would have me do?"
"Step up, Jim," Seral said. "She would have never reached this point had you spoken up earlier, had you given more of your time earlier."
"I stepped up once," Jim said, "and look at what happened."
Seral grumbled. "You're not eight years old anymore. Stop blaming things on that."
Jim woke with a start; the tide had come in, and a wave had splashed his legs with the warm waters of the sea off Tanaris. He stood back up and carried the still sleeping Noboru back to the cottage. He prepared his bags for a trip to Stormwind. Saix and Braemar's wedding was the next day, and Jim had forgotten to get presents. With a grunt, he set his books in a corner, left the cottage, and was off.