Title: Confessions of Stone – Smiling 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 CoS – Undoubted Love, CoS – Always Love, and CoS – Waiting Love.
"I wonder, do you regret it?"
The words hung in the air, and she waited expectantly, patiently.
He didn't disappoint her, and with a strong glow of the stone, materialized before her with little extravagance, as transparent as a ghost.
I did not think you would call on me, he voice came softly in her mind, with none of his trademark exuberance and love of life in his mental tone.
This was not the Zoisite she had known. It was as if he were truly dead, she thought vaguely, as if the life was sucked out of him and this spirit before her was a faint shadow of who he had been before.
His head tilted slightly, and he smiled sadly, painfully, Is that how I seem to you? Then it must be so; you have always known me better than anyone else.
"I did not know you enough, it seems," she replied, not angry, not bitter, nor any of the other emotions that raged in her fellow Inner Senshi, simply stating a fact.
She could have yelled at him, condemned him, cast him away from her, and it would have hurt him less; he told her so, not with words, but through the mental link they temporarily shared.
You knew me, he told her. Better than I knew myself. And that was my undoing, was it not?
"I wouldn't know," she said, a bit scornfully, this time. "I do not presume to know what you were feeling back then – that has never been my way."
I know, he said, and he smiled, and he was Zoisite again. And you should know what happened. It is your right, to know why I strayed from my loyalties, as it had something to do with you. Mostly to do with you, actually.
"Me?" she asked, stunned, feeling the cold bite of outrage gather inside her. "Me? You blame your betrayal on me?"
He moved quickly to reassure her; Not blame, my love, I would never – could never – blame you. No, I blame myself for my weaknesses.
"Weaknesses," she echoed.
Yes. I was, to put it frankly, scared, he sighed, then laughed at the absurdity of it all. I was scared of the intensity of my feelings for you – you know that I had never loved another woman at all, and never loved anyone as much and as intensely as I loved you.
She nodded, saying, "You told me, to ask me to forgive you if you did something wrong, as you had no prior experience. I said that it was fine…"
…because you had no experience either, he finished. I couldn't believe you, but now I cannot believe the men of the Moon Kingdom. They did not know what they missed when they gave up the chance to love you.
She flushed, turning red to the roots of her hair.
He smiled again at that, something so like her, like Hierma, and now like Ami. I will stop embarrassing you.
"Thank you," she replied quietly. "Go on."
Ihad never felt such a strong love before, and it frightened me. It frightened me so much that I went to Kunzite for advice, he snorted. Kunzite! Can you believe it?
She couldn't help but laugh at the image with which he presented her; he, the lady killer, Zoisite, going for advice on love to the stern Kunzite, who had been said to have no room in his life for anything but his duties. Of course, everyone had been proven wrong when they had found out about he and Venus, but even then he had never been too open with anyone else but the Senshi of Love and Beauty.
Big help he was, Zoisite continued sarcastically. He grunted once, told Jadeite, who laughed at me and told Nephrite, who said something vague about the stars and told Endymion. I don't really thing the Prince heard – by that time, he had constantly had his head up in the clouds, as you would say now. Back then, we called it daydreaming.
Recognizing the teasing lilt in his voice, she smiled.
There was a moment of comfortable silence.
"You were frightened so much…" Ami finally prompted.
He sighed, After a while, I stopped trying to get advice and started to simply let things happen. And that was wonderful, howevermuch it was against my ways. But you always made me question myself; whether I deserved to love you, to have someone like you love me, was a question that was constantly on my mind.
She frowned. "Someone like me?"
You were Sailor Mercury, gifted with great intelligence that was unparalleled by any in the Moon Kingdom or on Earth, he said. You were stronger than women on Earth, you were faster, you were smarter, you were Immortal, and you were beautiful. What man wouldn't question is worth when it comes to you?
Again, she blushed, but this was accompanied by a warmth that came with pleasantness. However, she pushed it away as she digested what he had told her.
"But I loved you," she protested. "You knew I did."
I did, and yet, it had always been in my nature to question things, to see things objectively, he sighed sorrowfully. I couldn't see why you would love me, ever. And I despaired, and Beryl found me in my time of weakness.
"You wanted love to make sense," she realized. "But that's not the way it goes, Zoisite. I may have been Mercury, I may have been Immortal, but I was there and I loved you but you didn't notice because you were too busy trying to see things logically."
Logic has always been my downfall, he admitted, ruefully. As it was always your strength. I never understood that.
"I may be logical, but even I know when to put that aside and trust my feelings, Zoisite," she admonished softly. "And my feelings for you…they may have been forbidden, but I trusted them with all my heart."
I should have done the same, he replied, lowering his gaze to the ground, to the walls, anywhere but at her.
He looked weary, defeated, not her Zoisite again, but the stranger that was left in his stead. She hated this stranger that took the face of her Zoisite while failing to take on the true qualities of him that were truly important.
Do you really? he asked. I hate it, too, that you must see me this way. And yet I have been this way for a long time now. I wish I could be the Zoisite you remember.
"It would be preferable to what you've become," she replied firmly. "Look at you. You may be a spirit, but you don't have to act like a ghost. Yet here you are, haunted. The Zoisite I knew would never have let himself become this."
The Zoisite you knew had it in himself to betray you, he reminded her. Is he really the one you want? At least I would not do that.
"Yes," she said, and saw his surprise. "That's love, Zoi. There's no guarantees in love, there's just you and me and trust. That's all, and that's all we need."
You…and me? We? he repeated wistfully. I wish that were so.
"Why wish for something you already have?" she asked him, earnestly, finally letting some of her emotions show.
He glanced sharply at her.
I dare not presume – he began, but was cut off.
"Go ahead," she invited him, smiling slightly. "Presume away, because it's true."
For a moment, he gaped at her, unbelieving.
Then, he smiled.