Title: Confessions of Stone – Undoubted Love
Author: Jade Hunter
Disclaimer: Sailor Moon, its characters and properties do not belong to me.
A.N: Yup, another Generals/Senshi fic from me. There is no connection, however, with Heart's Songs. Different fics entirely, perhaps even different universes.
"A gift," he had said, before he left with Usagi for their honeymoon. "Because I don't need them anymore, and I know they've been wanting to talk with you."
At first, Minako had been confused. Them? Talk? Who?
Mamoru had simply smiled, warmly, happier now that he was married to his one true love, and had given her a single stone, wrapped in a soft silk cloth.
"Don't touch it, or speak to it directly, until you're sure you want to talk with him," he had advised each of them. "They'll know you, and they'll come."
It had done nothing to alleviate her confusion – until she had gotten a good look at the stone he had handed her, ever so gently.
From the way Mamoru had acted, had talked about the stones, Minako was sure that it was futile to hope that the stone was simply a stone. But then again, things had always been futile for her when it concerned him.
She made up her mind, firmed her resolve.
"You can come out now," she said, slipping into Venus mode. Normally, while in her temporary human form of Minako, she was happy-go-lucky, cheerful, sometimes a little clumsy. Now, while not transformed, she was Venus through and through, serious, intolerant of breaking rules, war-hardened and battle weary in her soul.
The stone glowed softly in reply.
Then – he was there. He was transparent and floating, but he was there.
Aphrina, he greeted her, using her secret birth-name from the Silver Millennium, one she had confided in him after they had revealed their love for each other. It has been a long time.
At first, the mind-speech startled her, but she regained her bearings quickly.
"It has," she replied stonily. "It's Minako now, or Venus. Whichever you prefer."
Minako, then, he said, and she arched a brow in triumph. If he had chosen to address her by her Senshi name, he would have effectively taken the first step in distancing them. He had chosen to call her by her new name, however.
The look in his eyes made it plain that he knew his loss, though it wasn't such a large deal to him. His expression became, perhaps, as guarded as her own. He had always been good at that; it had always vexed her, as well, if she remembered correctly.
The hard, chiseled lines of his features softened as he smiled, You remember truly.
So, he could read her mind now as well.
Yes, he replied. Only because I am but a shadow in your world, half here, half elsewhere, unable to move in either direction, for my vow to my Prince overcomes even the pull of Death. Thus, my fellow Generals and I are able to see things, such as feelings and thoughts, through auras.
"I prefer to speak aloud, if you don't mind," she said simply.
He tilted his head slightly to look at her; "I do not mind, Aph – Minako, speaking aloud takes little effort, but the other ability is much more difficult to control, and some things I cannot help but see."
"If it can't be helped, I suppose that's all right, then," she replied in a deadpan.
He realized immediately her sarcasm, and reacted as if each word bit into him physically. Though, that was impossible, now.
"I wish I could – " he began, earnestly, his eyes melting into pools of sorrow.
She didn't let him finish, shaking her head sharply. "No. Don't apologize, don't say you regret it, don't think about 'what if'. All it will do is make you feel better. Hearing that will do nothing for me. Seeing you again…I hate you."
He flinched, paling, if that was possible.
"I hate you," she repeated, firmly. There was a pained silence from him, and suddenly she was angry. "Don't you have anything to say!"
"What can I say?" he finally answered, his voice weak with unimaginable pain. "You've always been sure of your feelings; nothing I could say can make you change your mind, make it hurt less."
Her beautiful face contorted violently; "You're hurting? Because I told you that I hated you? Words are nothing, Kunzite, nothing! That's why I don't want your apologies!"
He closed his eyes tightly before opening them again, reluctantly. "What do you want from me?"
"I want you to feel what I felt when you betrayed me," she whispered, bitterly. "I want you to feel that…even just a fraction of it. I wish you could."
He said nothing, but she read him now as easily as he had seen through her before – a lifetime ago.
"You think you know," she accused. "You think that what you feel now compares to what I felt that day."
He looked away.
"And maybe it does," she continued, cruelly, deliberately. "Don't you want to know why I hate you?"
He remained silent.
"Don't you? Because I want to know why you betrayed me," she hissed venomously. There was no pure love in her now, this was the violent love, the betrayed love that spoke through her this way. "Tell me!"
Finally, Kunzite looked at her again. "I owe you that, and much more," he said, slowly. "I will tell you. It wasn't all simply Beryl and Metallia's dark magics, you know this."
"I know," she replied.
He nodded, having expected it, and continued, "It was also part of what I felt – my darkness, my secrets, my insecurities. She – Beryl – took those and twisted them, magnified them, so that what I felt consumed me, until I was willing and eager to accept her power."
"No, you don't," Kunzite said, sharply, and it was the first time he had raised his voice at her. "You don't see! My love for you was pure – is pure. It's all encompassing, and it grows within me every day; even now, when I am nothing more than a spirit, I can feel it. But you must understand – I was only human, an Earthling, as you would say. I could not believe that someone such as you could love me."
"I loved you," she interrupted, no longer angry, no longer fierce, but broken. A pretty doll, fallen off the bed and collapsed on the ground. "I did, truly."
"In my heart, I knew," he replied, also becoming subdued. "But we never spoke the words aloud – we dared not! – and I was only human, fallible, so I had doubts. And they were my undoing."
"You think I didn't have doubts?" Minako demanded. "How could I not doubt? I didn't question my feelings for you, nor yours for me, but I struggled with the realization, for a long time. I was the leader of the Inner Senshi, guardians of the Princess, and I knew the rules."
"It was expressively forbidden, our love," she continued. "And I knew it well – I, who had long scolded and lectured the Princess on her liaisons with your Prince, why, of course I knew! But there was you, and I could not ignore my feelings – what sort of Venusian would I have been if I had? And so, despite my doubts, I loved you freely."
Her voice dropped. "And then you made me hate you."
She glanced up at him.
"Why?" he repeated, agonizingly. "Why do you hate me?"
Suddenly, hot tears were sliding down her cheeks, and she could not wipe them off, didn't bother. His hand came up, hesitantly, but hovered an inch away from her skin, which prickled.
"Because you made me choose," she cried out. "You made me choose between my love and my duty, and I can't help but hate myself for choosing my duty!"
"Shh," he tried to soothe her. "You chose rightly."
"I know that!" she answered vehemently, "But that doesn't keep me from hating myself. And I hate you for making me feel this way! I hate you because…despite it all…I still love you."
Her breath hitched at her involuntary confession, and there was stunned silence.
"I still love you," Minako repeated, tasting the words, moving to wipe the tears away. "I still…"
Echoing her, Kunzite smiled, "I love you…undoubtedly."