Title: Confessions of Stone – Always 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. Along the same lines as Confessions of Stone – Undoubted Love.
There were few times in life when Hino Rei was unsure about herself, for she had brought herself up to be a confident girl, to prove to herself and her absent father that she didn't need him.
Now was one of those times, however, and she glanced uncertainly at the stone that Mamoru had given her a few days ago.
She was just now working up the courage to face it, this stone which held the spirit of her supposed former love – Jadeite.
Rei wanted to scoff, wanted to ignore the stone and the man with a dismissive wave of a hand, a derisive toss of her hair, but she couldn't; the irresistible pull she felt tugging at her soul and heart made it impossible to deny.
She reached out – and touched it.
Immediately, the stone began to glow, almost pulsating, and floating before her was the blonde General that she had faced her first day as a Senshi, during her life as Rei Hino. The same General whom she had fallen in love with in her former life as Aresia.
He was transparent, half there and half not, which wasn't exactly what she had expected. Perhaps she had expected someone more solid, someone who she could blame and yell at and...and she didn't know.
All she knew was that this spirit in front of her, long dead in the physical sense, gazed at her in a way that made her feel as if she was his world.
You are, his mind whispered to hers, secretly, intimately. You are all that and more. You are my firebird.
Flattered, and not a little flustered, Rei smiled slightly, inclining her head in greeting, though she stepped no closer to him than necessary. He was the only man she had ever known that could complement her and have her blush like a schoolgirl. Even Kaidou-san, with his sophisticated smile and gentle words, had never made her flush with appreciation at his admiration of her.
Kaidou? Jadeite demanded, frowning, Who is that?
She easily detected the jealousy in him and smiled again, this time in amusement. Sensing his unease, however, she finally let a picture of Kaidou-san in her mind, of their time together, and gave it all to Jadeite.
He did not deserve you, Jadeite thought stubbornly. He was pouting slightly. Your affection was misplaced on him, as was your hope."
I rather think it was the kiss that bothers you the most," she answered, lightly. Her tone turned wistful as she added, "He was a kindred, though only for a moment."
He remained silent, his arms crossed sullenly.
She rolled her eyes at his childishness, the same playfulness that had drawn her out of her shell so long ago – something only the others could do, before him.
"You will never change," she declared. "Always so vexing…!"
And suddenly, he was serious again, his eyes solemn, his face wreathed with regret. "I have changed," he said, softly, and she knew what he spoke of. He switched back to mind-speak, adding, I have changed, and I wished to talk with you, for so long…
"About what?" she asked quietly, though she knew. She always knew.
He gazed levelly at her; You know. I wanted to tell you why I…
"I don't want to hear it," she told him, firmly. "I don't."
Why? I must tell you, so that you can understand, he told her.
"I don't care to understand," she replied, her voice steady. "I don't want to know. Don't you see?"
No, I don't, he answered, and there was a tone of regret in his voice. There was once a time when I knew you well, when we could speak without speaking. But you have changed, and I, perhaps, am left behind, gazing after you, longing for you, unable to catch up.
"I have changed," she agreed. "I am Rei now, not Aresia, for one, but I don't think the two are all that different. They are both me, and are both Mars."
Why won't you let me tell you? Why won't you let me apologize?
"And what good would that do, Jadeite?" she asked him, earnestly. "What's done is done, that was in the past. I cannot live my life – this life – all the while thinking of what could have been. I live this life now, thinking of the now and of the future. I don't need to know about the past. I can live without it."
She paused, gazing at him solemnly.
"Perhaps," she finally whispered.
He rocked back, as if he had been slapped, and she might have stabbed him with a sword, for all that it would have hurt him less.
Do you hate me then? he cried out.
"No," she said. "I could never hate you, Jadeite."
Why? he asked bitterly. I am a traitor. A traitor to my Prince, and to you. I deserve your hate, and more.
In her mind, she saw the final battle, the hordes of youma, swarming around the Moon, dimming the beauty of what was left of the once mighty Kingdom. She saw herself, battling them, shooting fire, becoming Mars, and becoming War itself. And she saw him, as he had been that day, a General in the Dark Kingdom's army, sneering maliciously, eager to face off and kill a Senshi.
Jadeite winced, and she knew he had caught her memories. But she did not object to him being in her mind – it was necessary for mind-speech, and he was far more comfortable with that than speaking aloud. He had always liked intimacy.
"You betrayed me," she agreed, not arguing that fact. "But you also loved me, once, I think."
More than I thought I could love anyone, he sighed, I loved you with all of my being, firebird.
She recalled the nickname, smiled, and reached out a hand to hover over his cheek, remembering the feel of smooth skin. He closed his eyes, and recalled the touch of her hand.
"That's why it doesn't matter," she whispered to him, stepping closer, finally. "Because I loved you, too, more than I should have, probably. More than my vow to Serenity let me. But I did, and nothing can change the fact that, before you betrayed me, I loved you."
Loved, he repeated, disappointed. You loved me. No longer, then?
She wearily gazed at him.
"Every man I've ever loved has left me, hurt me," she told him. "You were the first. Tell me, Jadeite, is it worth it? Do you still love me, though it hurts to know I can live without you?"
It is always worth it, he told her, then echoed, Because nothing can change the fact that I love you.
"Always?" she asked, wistfully.
He reached up a phantom hand, and attempted to lay it on top of hers, which was still hovering near his cheek. Always, my love, my firebird. Always.
She sighed, closing her eyes, not knowing what she would do, but knowing for sure that his confession had made her undeniably happy. He still loved her. Would always love her.
Always, he repeated.
Rei kept her eyes closed, mentally urging him, and he bent down obligingly. Though his lack of physical form made it impossible now, they had memories of previous times, and they had each other.
It was enough.
She felt the wind brush her upturned lips, knew it was the phantom kiss she had wanted.
She sighed again.
"I love you, too. Always."