Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon. It was made by a genius and I'm not that smart, though I might wish otherwise.
Letter from the author (the "story" part is later):
First of all, replies to those who reviewed to Chapter 18 are on my page. I know some of those are a few years old. Although I don't reply, I do check my page/story every now and then for those who reviewed and I am very flattered and touched that people still read and review even though it has been a (long) while since I last posted.
Next, replies to those who will review this chapter will be posted on my page about 2 weeks from now.
And finally… It is with a sad, sad heart that I put this fanfic as permanently on hiatus. I thought that leaving this for a while and then returning to it would give me inspiration, but sadly, no matter how much and how many times I leave it and no matter how often I return to it and try to think of it, the thrill of writing for this fic has disappeared. I know where my characters are going (most of them, at least) but have no idea how to get there and I've lost the desire to write. If, at some point in the future, my interest to write this story will return, I will definitely upload again. However, this seems highly doubtful as no matter how hard I try to write, I find I have lost interest in this fic and nothing I write comes out right.
Anyway, since I'm officially filing this story as "permanent hiatus", I decided to still post the drafts of some parts of the story that I had already written, so at least you'll know how certain things played out. And also because, most were written in a time when I still liked what I wrote and I also feel kind of sad that all my hard work and backstory (seriously, I had even written up a draft/outline on the history of both Lunarian and Terran peoples, including some notes on the Alliance) won't be used, so posting will at least ensure that all that didn't go to waste.
So, with that intro, here's a bit of the history I wrote, stuff that happened before Heaven Sent started. Bits and details would've made it to the final draft, at least that's how I envisioned it.
Endymion's ultimate ancestor is actually a gifted Terran and the youngest daughter of Serenity I, who was the first owner of the Silver Crystal. Way down the line, the Lunarian blood became so diluted with Terran blood that the only remaining 'gift' it bestowed on her descendants is Endymion's longer-than-normal-Terran lifespan (all his ancestors lived longer than normal) and his "psychic" powers, which has largely remained dormant ever since. The High Command is also very, very distantly related to Endymion because they all came from the kids of that Terran-Lunarian joining, though the only remaining 'gift' left to them is their psychic powers. And due to the fact that it has been ages and ages ago, the Lunarians don't anymore consider these Terrans to be related to them and neither do Serenity and Usagi consider them distant relations since the growth of both branches of the family were drastically different.
The current Endymion is Endymion III. During the reign of his father, King Endymion II, an evil force called Metalia had tried to overthrow the government so Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus were sent to Earth to help deal with it. Alliance intelligence reports showed that if Metalia were allowed a powerbase, she could grow strong enough to war against the Alliance, hence the sending of the Outers to Earth to stop her. The two were sent in disguise as Lord (Sailor Uranus) and Lady Argent (Sailor Neptune), who were aristocrats from a far distant land who stayed for a military visit in Manetheron and Glyden. Lord Argent was known as a good commandeer and training officer from where he came from, so he was sent to further his training in Manetheron. Lady Argent became known as the quiet, supportive, drop-dead beautiful wife of Lord Argent. She tutored Prince Endymion a bit, knowing that if something were to happen to King Endymion with Metalia on the loose, she wanted to make sure that Endymion would be somewhat prepared to rule a kingdom. Also, unknown to everyone else, since she was a bit bored, she began to write a gossip column under the pseudonym Lady Q. Writing this also helped her keep track of the latest happenings with the royals and, when she finally became popular amongst the ton, could subtly direct their opinions in the direction she wanted them to. Such was the power of her column.
While deep within the compound and within the royal circle, the Outers were able to use their position to gather intelligence about Metalia at the same time protect the center of Earth's power. However, when they finally were close to defeating Metalia, the Outers realized that they would need the help of others since Metalia was too strong for them and since the Outers weren't directly under the authority of Queen Serenity (Usagi's mother), they didn't bother to tell Queen Serenity of their plan to inform key Terran individuals about their real identities and the threat of Metalia. So they told King Endymion II and his brother, Queen Elizabeth, and their High Command of their identity, explained Metalia, and all devised a plan to defeat her.
So. Uranus and Neptune, the High Command were successful in rooting out Metalia and destroying her powerbase, unfortunately, in the fight, King Endymion and Queen Elizabeth were killed. The rest of the High Command and Outers all agreed to make it seem like a carriage accident killed the royals rather than tell the people about Metalia, to avoid a general panic. The so-called "civil unrest" or "almost civil war" that happened after the royals died was actually just the High Command and military force rooting out the remains of Metalia's small army and totally destroying Metalia's force. Once that was done, the Outers stayed just enough to make sure that the Kingdom's transition would be smooth then went back to the moon, their "final Senshi test" (akin to sending the Inners to Earth to get back Serenity) complete and a success. Of course, in Earth, the story that went around was that Lord Argent retired from the military and he and his wife would spend the rest of their lives traveling around the world and living in remote places since they apparently liked nature and wanted to study wildlife.
However, before dying, because they were aware of the existence of other planets/worlds now, the royal couple obtained a promise from the Outers that if anything were to happen to them, they would help make sure that their son and his High Command would be the strongest the Outers could make them, to make them able to protect themselves and the Earth.
So when Prince Endymion grew up to his teens, Lord and Lady Argent returned to fulfill their promise. This time the backstory was that they were sent to Manetheron to help with military training since Lord Argent is known as one of the best military training officers from where he came from. And he lived up to his name as his training was all Terran with a dash of Alliance skills in it. He actually ended up training Kunzite. He also trained Zoi, Neph, Jade, and Phane (Neph's twin brother), but he dealt mostly with Kunzite. It is also due to the teachings of Uranus and Neptune that Endymion, Kunzite, Nephrite, etc are the most sensitive psychically, out of all the High Commands ever since. The Outers, knowing that the High Command's ultimate ancestor was a Lunarian, knew that their psychic powers would be more developed than the rest of the purely Terran population, so they taught them to always "listen to and hone their instincts". Which, in Alliance training, was actually the first step to developing psychic powers.
Once the Outers were satisfied with the training of Endymion and his High Command, they went back to the moon. The press release in Earth was the usual, they went back to their home land and continued to travel around the world.
Sorry, are you guys following so far? Hope so. Hee! This is quite a bit of backstory, I'm sorry, but it'll all make sense, promise.
So when the Inners when to Glyden, they actually ended up staying at the guest house in the Argent lands. And in Heaven Sent, the mysterious Lady Q had appeared once more and that was because the Outers had returned to Earth, but were still in hiding and they didn't think it was the right time to announce their presence to the Inners. Besides, while their ultimate goal was to return Princess Serenity to the Moon, they also had another agenda. The Inners lived in the guest house while the Outers lived in the main house. Since the Inners were given strict orders not to let others see where they lived, they stayed away from the main house. This worked out well since the Outers didn't want the Inners to know that they were in Earth as well.
Later, the Queen would despair that her Senshi were off doing things on their own and why didn't they follow her? They would reply that they were the Senshi of Princess Serenity and would thus owe her their allegiance. That would also mean that they would do what was best for the Princess.
As Lady Q, Sailor Neptune made sure the population accepted and liked Usagi. As Lord Argent, Sailor Uranus assessed the High Command, if they were serious with the girls and if they were worthy. And because, if the Inners DID like the High Command and the High Command were serious and worthy of the girls, then the Outers would do everything in their power to make the transition of Alliance-Earth introduction and subsequent joining as smooth as possible.
Also, the interim's king's name is actually Prince Mamoru. When she finally gets her memory back and learns of the king's name after Endymion's coronation, she would remark to Endymion that Mamoru was such a nice name and Endymion would tease her that in his next life, he'll try to be named Mamoru.
So now that we're all caught up, my Author's Notes (i.e. extra explanations) will be written amidst the story, as necessary. Here's what was supposed to be Chapter 19, it's mostly snippets from Lady Q's publications. I hoped that using this style would be an easier way to get to know the new characters and to see how some of old ones were. Unfortunately, as I wrote it, I felt so lazy. Like, yes, okay, I'm letting the story progress and yes, I do want a chapter where we see what all the fuss over Lady Q was about. But at the same time, I felt… like I was writing in such a way that was more writing the plot points rather and less writing the story. Did that make sense? Yet everything else I tried didn't work. So, here we go… and from here on in, all author's notes will again be underlined, like all my previous ANs.
Many thanks and I hope you enjoy. As always, reviews are welcome.
Chapter Nineteen: Lady Q
Excerpts from Lady Q's newssheet...
In this very column, I once hypothesized that the Prince must have a special lady in mind to get over his well-known aversion to aggressive women and being treated as a crush object by one and all for him to whole heartedly follow the Edict... and what do you know? I am right!
I know I have mentioned the Lady Usagi before and mentioned, too, that she's the High Command's ward and is close to the lot of them. Since it's quite obvious to anyone with eyes that the six are close friends and genuinely like each other, I have not bothered to write her name here in association with any of the High C. But events yesterday just might prove me wrong.
The Prince, upon entering Glyden amidst the usual pomp and circumstance, was seen riding in a carriage with the Lady in question, looking quite cozy indeed. In the first place, it was the first time that the Prince rode in a carriage instead of riding on a horse and it was the first time, too, for him to be caught with his arms around a lady and even going so far as to kiss her on the forehead.
And before the females of this land go into collective apoplexy, please be reminded that according to tradition, a kiss on the forehead means respect and not, say, the mad passionate love that I am sure you are all imagining right now. You can breathe easy. For now.
But since the prince did act out of character to someone who is, for all intents and purposes, a newcomer to Society... perhaps now is the time to bring our attention to Lady Usagi and just who she is, really.
According to the High C, they saw her lying unconscious about a month ago in the grounds of Gaia Palace. They brought her to their garrison and took care of her and when they found out she had amnesia, instead of tossing her out or foisting her off someone else (which is well within their rights to do so, gentle lady or no), they instead took her under their wing and told the world she was their ward. We all know the High C's honorable to their fingertips and this just proves it. Unlike other guardian-ward relationships however, the Command and Lady Usagi seem to genuinely like each other – so much so that Lord Kunzite, aka The Serious One, occasionally cracks an expression when seen with her. Prior to this, he only shows expressions when with his close friends, and rarely does so in public. And if Lady Usagi can crack the serious mien of The Most Terrifying General as well as get along remarkably well with the rest of the High C (evidence 1: comfortably sharing a plate with Lord Jadeite), then that is enough to prove that there really must be something special about her.
Other than her amnesia, of course. And the fact that nobody in the kingdom seems to have seen or heard of her prior to her abrupt appearance into the High C's lives.
Still, for all intents and purposes, she seems to be an extremely nice woman and nobody who has met her seems to have anything bad to say about her (except for ladies who are hell-bent on the Prince but I attribute that to jealousy so they don't count... and besides, they really can't say anything worse than: she's too close to the Prince!).
All marriageable ladies of the ton, please take a deep breath and think calm, happy thoughts before reading this article...
The Lady Usagi and the Prince were seen out and about town as the Prince showed Lady Usagi around Glyden Vale.
Okay, ladies, that sentence was purely innocent in writing and in actuality so please, please rein in your imaginations. And to help with that, here's the blow-by-blow:
They began their day at the Glyden Coffee Shop near the palace, with the Prince ordering coffee and Lady Usagi hot chocolate, according to the owner. Then they rode their horses to Cherry Tree Lane where the Prince helped Lady Usagi dismount and escorted her around the famous Lane, all the while maintaining proper distance and decorum. Except for one time when Lady Usagi said something that looked like a teasing comment to the Prince. This caused the Prince to laugh and ruffle her hair. Lady Usagi made a face then jokingly pushed him off the path. The Prince, in retaliation, ran after the laughing Lady. They got lost amidst the Cherry Trees off the path but soon came back, both faces wreath in smiles, and her arm on his once more.
The Prince looked more relaxed and happy than I have ever seen him before.
I don't know about you ladies, but anything that can make Prince Endymion happy is all right with me. He is, after all, the Terran prince and our liege lord.
The High Command are back at Glyden all right, and they look happy to be home. In the five days since they arrived, here is what they have been up to:
Lord Jadeite is, as usual, flirting up a storm wherever he goes and he usually goes to the popular hangout spots to wreak havoc on the hearts of the young ladies. Sometimes he's alone, occasionally with a High C, and rarely, with (a) non-Command Glyden-based friend/s. While his actions are all that is usual for him, one of his topics of conversation is not usual – he was asking the ladies what topics or subjects they were taught before being presented to Society. While I am sure he obtained interesting answers (debutantes are usually taught pianoforte, dancing, proper walking [seriously, there's a class for this], but there are some who are taught languages, history, Literature, depending on the eccentricities and future son-in-law desires of their parents), I am not so sure how inquiring about a lady's knowledge relates to what we know and love about him. After all, how can one flirt with the question, "My lady, out of curiosity, what subjects were you taught before being presented to Society?" Then again, if anyone can flirt with such a mundane a topic, it would be Lord J.
Lord Nephrite visited his usual hangouts – the park, zoo, riding his horse through the forest. I don't see how he can meet girls there or what he finds of interest in those places, but whatever. This is, after all, Lord N that we are talking about and his love of solitude and nature is what we love about him, yes? It never fails to surprise me that Lord N, the known nature-lover, chose to serve as a High Command while his extremely social talkative twin brother Lord Glaucophane works as a roving inspector, a job that includes travelling alone to remote places. And speaking of The Other Red Head, I hope to see Lord G at the Little Season soon. Though the two brothers are busy with their respective duties, they do manage to try and see each other at least once a year. While the two men would undoubtedly deny it, I find such a tradition sweet.
Lord Zoisite has gone back to his bookish ways as he has visited both the public library and university library and stayed there for hours on end. Though I do wonder why Lord Z would ask this of the librarian: "Are women allowed?" Does he perhaps have a lady in mind who would be interested to enter the sacred sanctuary of intellectual males? Though a few ton (bookish) ladies come to mind, I don't think any of them are close to Lord Z, certainly not enough that he would invite said lady to the library. And since this newssheet details the lives and times of the Society, with special attention to the High Command, it should be noted that Lord Z has also visited the university dean and sat with him for an hour or two. While this is not completely out of the ordinary, it's not every day that a High Command member will have a meeting with the university dean that is not kingdom/politics-related.
Lord Kunzite, the most responsible and predictable of the Command, has gone to the various military training facilities in Glyden, doing his job and his job alone while the rest of his men mix business with pleasure. Sometimes I wonder what would happen to the kingdom if this general ever lets loose? Would it be the end of the world as we know it? And finally, what or who would make this general lose his cool?
The Prince, other than the aforementioned outing with the Lady Usagi, has kept close to home like he usually does every Little Season, though on his few forays out into Glyden, the Lady Usagi has always been by his side.
In other (Non-Command) news, the first ball of the Little Season is planned for next week, a masquerade, I believe. Though invited, the High C has not, as of yet, made a decision to attend.
This is probably all coincidence, but whatever the case, I leave this open to interpretation:
Lord and Lady Argent, Lord Aragonite, Lord Joel, and the all the parents of the current High Command are in Glyden. Or, are on their way to Glyden. Yes I know that all of those I've mentioned always drop by Glyden during the Little Season at some point or another in the past years (except the first three who very rarely visit Glyden or Manetheron), but it has rarely happened that they all just happen to be in Glyden all at the same time and at the start of the Little Season, too. I'm sure they are all ecstatic to be together though as all I've mentioned are close to each other and to the current High Command. One can just imagine how fun it will be in Glyden Hall Palace when everyone finally arrives.
For those of the new generation who are unaware of who exactly these people are, here is the rundown:
Lord Argent – trainer extraordinaire, worse than Lord Kunzite and Lord Aragonite combined. An officer at Forst Reach (a really, really far place) but highly recommended by the commander there, he was sent to Manetheron during King Endymion II's reign to help Lord Aragonite train soldiers. After King Endymion II died, he and his wife went back to Forst Reach and only returned when Prince Endymion reached his teens. He and Lord Aragonite concentrated their training skills on those who wished to be High Command. Every single soldier who applied for High Command unanimously agree that Lord Argent is a much, much, much worse trainer than Lord Aragonite could ever be. Way worse than even Lord Kunzite. And that is saying a lot. When Lord Aragonite resigned his post and promoted Lord Kunzite as High Command, Lord Argent helped Lord Kunzite pick the current crop of High Command after Lord Kunzite was through giving them his own training (which, though infinitely easier than Lord Argent's, was still extremely hard as Lord K mixed the styles of both his mentors). Outside of the training field, Lord Argent keeps mostly to himself. After the graduation of Lord Kunzite's High Command, he and his wife went back to their home in Forst Reach where, I hear, he has stopped being a terror on the training field and instead, travels around the world with his wife.
Lady Argent – many a sonnet has been written to her face and her green eyes, most of which came from the very soldiers who quake in their boots at the sight of her husband. A quiet, unassuming woman who was like a beautiful silent shadow beside her husband on the few times they joined Society's entertainments. Not much is known about her except that her devotion to her husband is absolute and vice versa.
Lord Aragonite – he held the position of leader of High Command before Lord Kunzite, only one of the two still living High Command of King Endymion II. What can I say other than Lord Kunzite takes after this man? Except that Lord Aragonite certainly has more facial expressions that Lord Kunzite. Like all resigning High Command members, he was given the choice of complete retirement or working as an advisor to another monarch and he chose the latter, staying at England as advisor to the Queen Victoria.
Lord Joel – the other living member of King Endymion II's High Command, he likewise chose to be an advisor and current lives in Monacco, in the palace with King Albert.
It has come to this author's attention that the High Command was apparently seen in the company of ladies prior to coming back to Glyden. Yes I know I am almost a week behind the actual news and such a thing has never happened for this gossip sheet, but as the information only came to me just recently (no other publication has made mention of this), I only write about it now. Better late than never, I always say. And better be sure of the facts before printing, but that's a different story entirely.
Anyway, this author still has to find more information about the ladies, but in the meantime, here goes the news: Lord J was seen happily whistling, with that trademark rakehell grin of his, while riding away from Hikawa Shrine (a very old remote shrine in Manetheron), after an encounter with someone named Lady Rei Hino. Lord K was seen in the presence of Lady Minako but I am not sure what to make of this since, while Lord K is rarely seen in the presence of women, his face continued to remain impassive the entire time he was with said lady. The Lady Minako seemingly tried to engage him in conversation but, as we all know and love The Silent One, she soon gave up and the two parted ways with Lady Minako looking slightly disappointed and Lord K looking… like Lord K. Lord Nephrite was seen conversing with a lady in a darkened garden and it was later seen that the lady was none other than the statuesque Lady Makoto.
And I could not credit the news when I heard it but I was assured that the news was factual: Lord Zoisite has danced with (and somehow, missed a beat as well, which has never happened to the blond general) and walked with a Lady Ami. While Lady Ami has a few common things with Lord Zoisite's previous women – pretty, titled, not explicitly part of the High C's stay-away-from-them Code – she is also… how do we say this delicately? Not quite within the usual age range of Lord Z's tastes. As she is different from all the others, does that mean that she is special to Lord Z? Or perhaps Lord Z's simply… branching out?
Guest House, Argent Hall, Glyden Vale
It took a while before the Senshi found out about Lady Q's newsletters and it was purely by accident.
Makoto went out, like she usually did, to go into the nearby forest and train in a secluded place she discovered two days ago. As she stepped out the door, she locked it but accidentally dropped the key. As she bent down, she noted something white sticking among the trunks of a small shrub near the front door. She peered at it more closely, wondering what it could be, and saw that there was more than one. The wild growth of the shrubbery around the house hid them and it looked as if it was just thrown towards the house from the road.
She, out of curiosity, grabbed one and by pure coincidence, read the earliest publication. As she continued to read the newsletters, her eyes grew wider and wider in horrified panic. But when she read the last one… the one that discussed the Senshi's encounters with the High Command, she let out one horrified shriek that could probably cause glass to break before hurriedly running inside the house.
Cherry Tree Gardens, Glyden Vale
Usagi mused, "You know, if I have friends, I think I'd want to fix them up with your men."
Endymion chuckled. "Don't count on it. My men aim to be bachelors for life."
"Aw, c'mon, I think they'd marry once they find the right girl."
"And your friends are the rights ones?" He looked amused.
Usagi laughed. "I can hope. The generals are just such great guys, y'know?"
"Enough about my men. I spend enough time with them as it is," Endymion joked. There was a moment of comfortable silence, then, gently, he asked, "Usagi… can you tell me about your family?"
Usagi thought a while, a faraway look in her eyes. "When I try real hard, I think I can almost feel my parents' love but not their faces, but then I wonder if it's wishful thinking on my part or an actual memory." A shadow of sadness passed over her and Endymion was reminded of the one time she cried to him about her family, wondering why they didn't seem to be looking for her at all. She continued, "I'm not sure if I have any siblings, though."
"Does it worry you still?" Endymion tenderly brushed back a lock of her hair.
"You not remembering."
In a quiet voice, Usagi answered, "Surprisingly, no. My memories will come when they will, I have no control over it. If I have family still, I'm sure there's a reason for why they're not looking for me. At least, I'm hoping. I'm not that unlovable, am I?" There was a smile in her voice that indicated what she said was to be taken lightly.
"Of course not," Endymion answered seriously, regardless of her tone of voice.
"And even if I find out that they're dead, I don't think it'll be so bad. I mean, I think I'll mourn them again because, when I remember, it'll be like they died all over again. I don't feel so lonely anymore Endymion." She mused, smiling at Endymion as she kissed him on the cheek. "And I'd like to thank you for that. You keep the loneliness at bay."
Eyes intense, Endymion cupped her behind her head and pulled her down for a kiss. When they broke off, Endymion stared deeply into her eyes. "I love you."
Usagi blinked. "What?"
Very simply, without artifice or any hint of embarrassment on his face, Endymion said again, "I love you."
Usagi studied him, worried she'd see a lie and yet seeing only truth in his eyes. And then she realized something: there was not a hint of expectation on his face. He didn't say that he loved her to hear what she had to say or because he wanted to know her reaction. In fact, he wasn't waiting for anything at all. He said it because he felt it. And that melted Usagi's defenses like nothing else could. And yet, still, she withheld the words, not because she didn't feel the same way, but because she was afraid that saying it would change everything.
"I'm a coward, aren't I?" she suddenly said.
Endymion blinked in surprise. "What? Where did that come from?"
"I'm a coward." She put her face against his chest. "I'm afraid, Endymion, so afraid."
"Don't be," he whispered in her hair. Hugging her tight, instinctively comforting her even though he had no idea what the cause was. "I'll always be here. Nothing will change. Believe it."
"I love you," she whispered against his chest, in a voice so soft she knew Endymion didn't hear.
Chapter ?: Planning Plans
Author's Note: although the timeline of the following events are more or less chronological, I still wasn't sure where or when the events would happen so the dates are all in question marks.
September ?, 8am
Glyden Hall Palace, Glyden Vale
Nephrite entered the breakfast room with a big smile on his face. "Hey guys, looked what the cat dragged in."
The High Command, and Usagi, all looked up to see a distinguished gentleman enter the room with an equally big smile on his face.
"Lord Aragonite!" Kunzite greeted with surprised pleasure. "What brings you here?"
Lord Aragonite, a tall gentleman with dark hair mixed with gray that made him look very distinguished, had that presence that Usagi quickly deduced was military. She did, after all, spend majority of her time with military men so she had soon learned to notice how military men moved.
Lord Aragonite shook the silver-haired general's hand. "Wow, 'Zite, you've grown," he joked.
"Grown older, you mean?" He chuckled, standing aside as Zoisite shook Lord Aragonite's hand. "What can I say? Living with these guys has aged me prematurely."
"Hello Father," Jadeite greeted, which caused Usagi to look up in surprise.
"Father?" she repeated, dumbfounded.
"I know, I get that all the time," Lord Aragonite said with a sigh but with an affectionate look at his son.
Lord Aragonite approached Endymion and was about to bow when Endymion stuck out his hand, giving the older general a smile on his face that clearly said he did not wish to stand on ceremony.
"Your Highness," Lord Aragonite greeted respectfully, shaking Endymion's hand. "Has Kunzite upheld the name of High Command leader? He hasn't embarrassed my name, has he?"
Endymion chuckled. "Of course not. Were you not the one who trained him? As someone who trained under you as well, you're a slave driver. You wouldn't have allowed Kunzite to take over your position if you weren't confident of his skills."
Kunzite noted Usagi's curious expression and explained, "Usagi, this is Lord Aragonite. He used be the High Command leader of the King Endymion's High Command. He was the trainer before me and trained both Endymion and I since we were kids. When he resigned and I took up the post, he was the one who," Kunzite shot a sidelong glance at the innocent-looking Aragonite, "um, tested me."
"My lord general," Usagi greeted with a smile, holding her skirt up to curtsy but Lord Aragonite prevented her from doing so by holding out his hand to hers. When she placed her hand in his, he leaned down and kissed the back of her hand, "My lady. I have heard… of you." Usagi continued to smile at him, unaware of his hesitation in his statement. "Won't you join us, my lord general?"
He put up his hand. "Please, my lady, just call me Lord Aragonite or Aragon. When I resigned my post and gave it to Kunzite, I also lost the title of Lord General, though some occasionally call me that as a sign of respect to the office I once held."
"As you wish, my lord."
"Come join us," Endymion invited as he sat beside Usagi.
"I've already eaten, but I wouldn't say no to some coffee," Lord Aragonite hopefully said and Erika fixed him a cup.
"Black with two teaspoons of sugar," Erika announced as she placed his cup in front of me.
"You still remember?" Lord Aragonite looked delighted.
"Of course." Erika chuckled before heading back to the kitchens. "You used to live here, remember? I still well remember your habits."
"So, Lord Aragonite, what brings you here?" Jadeite asked. "Not that you're not welcome, of course."
Lord Aragonite looked fondly around him. "Actually, Lord and Lady Argent sent a message that they were headed towards Glyden for the Little Season this year and I decided to come back as well." He looked at Endymion and Usagi meaningfully. "The Argents hinted at some major news that might break this Season so I also sent a message to the other guys. They wrote back saying that they'll go Glyden as well. I'm guessing I was the first to arrive."
Endymion turned to Usagi and explained, "All old High Command members have the choice to retire from service completely or to stay on. All of my dad's Command decided to stay on so they work for the kingdom by staying at the other major cities, as my representatives in those places."
"Like… rulers?" Usagi asked.
"No, my lady," Lord Aragonite replied. "We remain as advisers to the rulers of those places. And since we used to be High Command members, our advice has certain weight. Not to mention that the King has given us more power than your average advisor so anything we decide on has the full backing of the crown and we can decide independently as well, except that we have to inform the crown of any decision we made."
Endymion continued when Usagi still looked a little confused. "They watch over the place, see if everything is running smoothly. Any new laws that we wish to implement, they tell the rulers of that place or they modify them to fit the place and its people. They oversee the military, as well, and continue to send updates to us."
Usagi began, "So… the four of you stay at the other major cities of the planet?"
Lord Aragonite looked slightly pained. "No, my lady, only two of us remained. One member of the Command died with the king and queen and," he hesitated then shot a glance at the now-impassive Kunzite, "Kunzite's father died a few years later."
"Oh… I'm sorry." She directed it at both Lord Aragonite and Kunzite.
Lord Aragonite smiled kindly at her. "It's all right. It was a long time ago."
"Yes, it was," Kunzite added, smiling for Usagi's benefit. She saw the swirl of emotion in his eyes but decided not to comment.
Aware of the sudden awkwardness, Zoisite asked, in an effort to change the mood, "What about Lord and Lady Argent, are they coming back soon?"
"As far as I know, yes. They didn't write where they're coming from this time, but I'm assuming it's at some far reach of the kingdom, like always. The only time they mingled with civilization was during King Endymion's reign and when you guys were finishing your military studies."
"Who are Lord and Lady Argent?" Usagi asked curiously.
"Military men. Well, military man married to really beautiful woman," Nephrite said with a trace of wistfulness.
"Man, was she pretty." Jadeite said with the same look of wistfulness on his face. "I still dream of her green eyes sometimes."
Kunzite just smiled at his generals then turned to Usagi. "Lord Argent was trained in Forst Reach military base. It's a small holding very far from here, but he was highly recommended and sent to Manetheron and Glyden to work with Lord Aragonite's High Command. When King Endymion died, he later worked with Lord Aragonite to train us and man alive, if we thought Lord Aragonite was a harsh trainer, Lord Argent sure proved us wrong."
"Tell me about it." Jadeite rotated his left shoulder, as if in memory of a long-forgotten wound. "My arms and legs start aching just thinking of him."
"After our first training session with Lord Argent, when we got told that we would be training with him again, Jadeite cried. It was the first time I ever saw him shed a tear." Zoisite chuckled from the memory.
"I did not! I had allergies!" Jadeite replied indignantly amidst laughter from the rest of the room's occupants.
Lord Aragonite grinned. "Actually, after I saw the way he trained you guys, I must admit that I'm really happy he wasn't my training officer!"
"He was that bad?" Usagi was fascinated.
Kunzite chuckled. "Yes. He makes me look like a pansy. But I have to admit, without him, we wouldn't be where we were today."
Lord Aragonite added, "And I admit that, because of him, you guys are the best High Command Terran history has ever had. Not even my High Command could come close to your skills and teamwork."
All the guys looked at Lord Aragonite in stunned disbelief but it was Endymion who was able to voice out what they all thought, "Wow. Coming from you, Aragon, that's high praise indeed."
"Well, age has mellowed me."
"Really?" Zoisite grinned. "Enough that you wouldn't fancy a go at the training field?"
Lord Aragonite snorted. "I'm not that mellow yet. I still like to keep fit and you guys always give the best exercise." He shot them all half-amused and half-warning looks. "And I'm guessing you'll need all the practice you can get because Lord Argent mentioned wanting to get on the training field with you guys again."
All four men groaned and slumped into their chairs.
Usagi, unable to help herself, asked Jadeite, "Jade, are you going to cry?"
After Lord Aragonite left and Usagi excused herself to dress, Endymion turned to his men. "Does everyone except Usagi know that I'm about to say or do something with regards to her?"
Jadeite thought about it. "I don't think so. Just the upper echelon of your kingdom, I think. Lord Aragon only mentioned the Argents and Lord Joel. These are the people who will need to be here anyway when you finally marry or get crowned."
Endymion frowned. "How did they find out?"
Nephrite drank the last of his coffee. "I think I might have to claim some responsibility for this. I may have mentioned to Glaucophane that you were interested in Usagi the same time that I asked him to inquire about Ladies Ami, Makoto, Minako, and Rei during his travels."
"Will Phane be coming back too?" Zoisite asked interestedly.
"I'm not sure. There might be a chance that he will but I don't know when," Nephrite replied.
Kunzite mused, almost absently, "Should be interesting, then, to have the remaining old High Command here, our old teacher Lord Argent, and Glaucophane back. I think the last time we were all together was during the King's Interim ceremony."
Nephrite shook his head. "No, during our graduation, they were all here as well. Lord Argent should be as he oversaw our 'graduation' test."
Jadeite sighed dreamily. "I still remember Lady Argent's kiss when she and Lord Argent said their farewells to us."
Zoisite stared at the other blond general. "Dude, she saws us as kids, hence the fond kiss on the cheek."
"I don't care," Jadeite announced. "A kiss is still a kiss."
Endymion chuckled. "Don't tell me you were all madly in love with her?"
"The entire garrison was, I think." Jadeite chuckled. "But anyone with eyes could see she was devoted to Lord Argent so all of us poor suckers had to content themselves with admiring her from afar."
Kunzite turned to Endymion, "Didn't you ever have a crush on her?"
Endymion looked startled. "I don't know. I don't think so. It's kind of hard to crush on her when she was so strict on me. She tutored me, remember?"
September ?, 7am
Guest House, Argent Hall, Glyden Vale
After one full day of rest, the Senshi where eating breakfast and trying to figure out a plan to continue their mission. They had Scanned for Glyden Hall the morning before and learned that it was located a few miles away from their present residence, far enough that their psychic powers would go undetected whenever they used it (this worried them for the Alliance Crisis still needed their inputs via Call/Conference every now and then) but near enough that if they fancied a visit to the Hall (at the back of their minds they haven't quite given up on their desperate plan of kidnapping Serenity), they could do so and complete a round trip in one day.
Minako started the discussion off with, "So… any bright ideas on how to approach the Generals?"
Makoto frowned. "I suppose we could try befriending them, but as they are already deeply suspicious of us, I doubt it would have a high chance of success."
Minako tentatively suggested, "We could… maybe… flirt with them or try to seduce them?"
There was a moment of silence then everyone broke out into forced laughter.
Rei began with, "But that's… that's not honorable, is it? I don't want to fool anyone like that."
Ami followed, "Besides, I don't know about you, but I don't think I know enough of flirting or… or… s-seducing," she choked on the word, "to be able to pull it off."
"Besides," Makoto added, nervously. "It really isn't, well, honorable, as Rei said. We really shouldn't… become close to them… like that."
Minako stared at her Senshi. "What are you guys not telling me?"
"Nothing!" They all assured her, each avoiding the others' gaze.
Minako cast another look at them all. "All right… What will we do, then, regarding the Generals?"
Makoto stood up abruptly. "I'll go think about it… as I go out and… train."
Rei also stood up. "I'll also think about it and… and… meditate, outside."
Minako looked at Ami, who was quietly and studiously finishing her breakfast. "Ami?"
"I'll… read what we can do."
AN: below are a random moments between Usagi and Endymion but I didn't know where to put them. Also, I had been debating whether to include the other parents since there seemed to be too many characters as it was. So this most likely would've made it to the cutting room floor or would be heavily edited had I continued my story. For the family members, I searched online for gemstone names that were associate to the namesakes of the generals. I wanted to uphold the gemstone theme.
Endymion was lying comfortably on the picnic blanket that was spread out on the ground, his head on Usagi's lap. The fingers of his left hand intertwined with Usagi's right and she was absently playing with their hands. Although it was noon and the sun was high in the sky, they were kept cool by the shade of the trees and the constant light breeze that blew.
"Usagi?" he called softly.
He stood up and sat, facing her. Usagi was staring over at a distance, obviously a million miles away.
"Usagi?" He brushed back some of her hair. It was fixed in her trademark hairstyle and he found it was his favorite look. "Earth to Usagi, hello?"
Hey." He began kissing her fingers. Usagi turned to look at him blankly. "Penny for your thoughts?"
Usagi smiled. "What makes you think I'll sell so cheaply?"
Endymion laughed. "A nickel then? A dime? That thought better be good," he threatened jokingly.
"What's up?" he asked, putting his free arm around her and holding her close.
"I was remembering last night."
"You mean when I hugged you, kissed you, and held you and you got all breathless and flustered and stuff?"
"No, not that!" Usagi laughed. "Although now I'm thinking of it."
"Good." Endymion grinned wickedly, pushing her onto the blanket. Usagi was laughing breathlessly, heart racing, nerves tingling in anticipation as Endymion playfully nipped her collarbone, nuzzled her neck and pressed butterfly kisses on her chin and cheek, before finally kissing her.
A little while later, the two were lying down with Usagi curled on her side, pressed against Endymion, who was lying down with one arm comfortably around Usagi.
"So, what was the big important thought?" Endymion asked. "What were you thinking about last night?"
"Lady Vesuvianite and Lady Tanzanite," Usagi replied with a smile.
In the middle last night's dinner, a footman had leaned down to talk with Drew. Drew nodded then excused himself from the meal. A minute later, he entered with two incredibly beautiful women on each arm.
"Wow," Usagi had gawked, her attention so centered on the women that she didn't realize Jadeite and Zoisite had both stood up.
The one holding Drew's right arm had blond hair piled high on her head with delicate tendrils escaping, a porcelain complexion, and the most brilliant blue eyes that Usagi has ever seen. They sparkled like sapphires on her face. Her nose was straight and she had the cutest chin. Her body was draped with a glorious flowing dark blue dress that clung to her every curve and swirled gently as she moved. On Drew's left was a woman with dark, dark black hair that curved in a gentle wave at her waist, there were three braids at her temples which were pulled back and tied at the back of her head. Her complexion was as pale as her companion's, her dress was a green that made her remarkable stormy gray-green look more green than gray.
"Mother," Jadeite and Zoisite had greeted, kissing the back of their hands and disentangling them from Andrew so the respective sons could escort them to their seats.
"Mother?" Usagi exclaimed, staring in disbelief between the generals and their mothers.
Jadeite's mother was the blond and did bear a remarkable resemblance to her good-looking son. Zoisite was escorting the black-haired woman but Usagi couldn't see any similarities. She stared at the women's bodies, each still slim enough for a maiden and not at all like they've given birth to sons who were full-grown. She stared closely at their unlined faces, unwilling to believe that they were old enough to have sons older that she was.
"You're joking right?" Usagi stared at everyone in the room.
Everyone had laughed while the women smiled delightedly at her disbelief.
"Remarkable, isn't it?" Zoisite asked Usagi dryly.
"Unfortunately, they are our mothers," Jadeite gaily added.
"'Unfortunately'?" the blond goddess echoed, laughingly hitting Jadeite's arm.
"But… but… they're beautiful!" Usagi said, still in shock. "Gorgeous! With killer bodies!"
"Thank you." The black-haired goddess smiled kindly at Usagi. "You must be Usagi."
"Uh-huh." Usagi was still gaping at them.
The two sons pulled out chairs for their parents and sat down at their places beside the women.
"Usagi," Jadeite called. "This is my mother, the one-and-only, Lady Vesuvianite."
"Just call me Viv." Vesuvianite smiled. "Everyone else does."
"And this," Zoisite gestured, "is my step-mother, Lady Angelina Tanzanite. She insists others call her Angel but, really, I think that's misleading, so just call her Ann."
"Zoisite!" Tanzanite laughed. "Don't believe him, I'm more known by Tanzanite than by Angelina. In fact, I dislike my first name so much I don't even use it. Zoi always makes a point of mentioning it because he knows how much I hate it."
"Mother? Seriously?" Usagi asked, still stunned, which caused everyone to burst out laughing.
"Yes," Endymion smiled, remembering Usagi's reaction last night. Usagi kept staring at the women throughout the meal, which the women enjoyed tremendously. They loved that they were still attractive and looked young enough to the general's sisters.
"It must be hard for Jade and Zoi, to have such beautiful women as mothers," Usagi remarked.
"It's not really that hard for them, but it's hard for the women they escort because, let's face it, what woman would feel comfortable walking beside a man who's own mother was far beyond their own beauty?"
"I guess I never thought of it that way." Usagi leaned up on one elbow. "What did your mother look like?"
"She was beautiful."
"Yes," Endymion continued, sensing Usagi's curiosity. "She had long dark brown hair and green eyes."
"What about your father?"
"Black hair, blue eyes; I look a lot like him."
"Really? Wow. They must have made a striking couple."
"I'm told they did." Endymion smiled, brushing his fingers against her cheek. It always amazed him that he could spend the whole day with her and never be bored, that he could kiss her so frequently and yet each kiss felt as if it were their first, that he could never tire of looking at her, of touching her.
"Do you remember your mother?" Endymion asked. He often asked some questions about her past often out of nowhere to catch her unaware in the hopes that she'd answer without thinking and end up remembering. It didn't bother him that she didn't remember, but sometimes it bothered her so he wanted to do everything he could to help her.
Usagi got a faraway look in her eyes. "I think she was beautiful. Probably looks a lot like me."
"Then she must be gorgeous," Endymion said, all serious.
With a surprised laugh, Usagi gave Endymion a quick kiss of thanks, before snuggling against him again. Her face was pressed against his chest (he had found out that she loved listening to his heartbeat), one arm around his waist, and one leg thrown over his. His arm was around her, curling against her as he held her pressed against him.
September ?, 2:00pm
"Tell me a story."
"What do you want to hear?" Endymion absently caressed her face. Sometimes, she'd ask about his childhood, his memories of his parents and uncle, any memories he had, stories about the women who chased him, and sometimes, how Earth politics and the government ran. She had a surprisingly adept political mind, which Endymion found out, for she saw things that only women saw and commented on it. She frequently insisted that women be allowed to study, until University level. Endymion was still giving it some thought.
"About the Kunzite and the guys. Tell me about them and their families."
"All right. Hm… where do I start…"
Usagi played with the buttons on his shirt. "When did you guys meet?"
Smiling as he remembered, Endymion began his story. "I met them occasionally, since their families are members of the aristocracy and quite active in the government. I was closest to Kunzite, though, maybe because we were near of the same age and also because he came to live with us when his parents died."
"Maybe you should start at the beginning." Usagi grinned. "I might get confused at the timeline."
Endymion chuckled. "Kunzite's a year older than I am, Nephrite's younger than me by a few months, Zoisite's a year younger than I am and Jadeite's younger than Zoi by a few months." He paused as he collected his thoughts. "Kunzite's an only child, his father, Lord General Spodumene was in my father's High Command. He was originally the head of the High Command, same position that Kunzite now holds, except that when my parents died, he was in the carriage as well and broke his leg. It hadn't healed right, for some reason, so he couldn't handle the physicality of his position. He could handle up to a limit, but not as much as he used to be able to handle. Jade's father, Lord Aragonite, was then made the head. When Kunzite and I were about nine or ten, I guess, a few years after I lost my parents, Lord Spodumene and Lady Hiddenite, Kunzite's parents, died when a weird epidemic broke out."
Endymion paused, lost in memories, "I remember that they were extremely nice people. When my parents died, his family took me in for a while as my uncle dealt with the millions of details that accompanied the death of a king. It was hectic at the palace at that time, as my uncle dealt with a lot of things. Everyone agreed I should stay away from it all, give me time to grieve and give me a moment of privacy away from the public as I mourned. It really did help, my time with them. When his parents died, my uncle took him. My uncle, Drew, and Erika became my surrogate parents and they treated Kunzite no different. We studied together, trained together, so I guess you could say that Kunzite's the closest thing I have to a brother." There was pain in his voice so Usagi raised her head to look at him, but he pushed her head down gently. And she knew that he didn't want to talk about it, not now.
"When we were thirteen, our military training started, and that's where we met Nephrite and Glaucophane."
"Who?" Usagi interrupted.
"Nephrite's twin brother. They're identical."
Usagi was stunned. "He has a twin brother? How come I never knew this? How come he never mentioned it?"
"He rarely does. Only if you ask him point-blank does he say anything. He… his family isn't really a happy one. His parents worked for the government, sort of roving inspectors. They travel a lot and stuff. My parents gave them leave to retire or have more vacations when their children were born but they declined. They left their kids home alone often and with only their governess to take care of them. They probably only saw their kids about once or twice a year, and only for short periods of time. I suppose that's why Nephrite craves solitude at times. He and his twin were usually off alone together. His twin took the same job as his parents, with the stipulation that he not have the same route as his parents, Lord Lawsaonite and Lady Epidote. Neph has told me that Phane wants to enter military service too, like him, but so far, I haven't heard anything about Phane returning."
"That's so sad. But Neph seems okay about it," Usagi mused. "Were he and his twin close?"
Endymion laughed. "They were so close they could practically talk to each other in their minds. It's the oddest thing we've ever seen. There was this one time we had training practice wherein we had to go through a survival course. Neph was part of one group and Phane another. Anyway, there was an old ambush hole that the trainers weren't able to fill in and Neph fell into it. Phane was with us at that time and there we were, standing around, waiting for our turn, when Phane suddenly fell. He said that his left leg couldn't support him and then he told us that Neph broke his leg. Nobody believed him, but he kept hollering in pain that our trainers called practice to a halt and told everyone to fall in to be accounted for, just to shut Phane up."
"I thought military training is strict and stuff."
"We get a little leeway, sometimes, because we're nobles and stuff," Endymion admitted. "Besides, this was the first few weeks of training, so I suppose the sergeant decided to be nice to us. Anyway, Neph wasn't anywhere around. The sergeant began sending out search parties but Phane kept insisting that he knew were his brother was. Finally, out of curiosity, I expect, the Sergeant let him go and Phane walked directly into an obstacle course he's never been into and went straight to where Neph was."
"Did Neph break his leg?"
"Yeah, he was in the hospital for a month."
"I think that's totally cool," Usagi remarked. "Telepathy and all that."
Usagi lifted her head. "You don't believe in telepathy? Psychic powers and all?"
"Before Neph and Phane, no, but after I've known them for years, I kind of believe it. But only maybe for people who are exceptionally close." He then stopped and wondered if ever he and Serenity would ever get those weird telepathic connections. Some part of him wanted it and another part, the one that doesn't exactly believe in psychic powers, didn't. He suddenly remembered another memory, "There was also this other time, weeks before Neph was going to be promoted to general, he disappeared in the middle of the night. Two weeks later he returned and the day after he arrived, we found out in the newspapers that there had been some civil unrest where Phane was staying. The rebels had caught Phane and locked him in their camp. Although the newspapers said that Phane was somehow able to escape, we knew Neph went there to save his brother, although Neph never told us why he left."
"I still think that's cool," Usagi insisted. "Now, let's go on to Zoi and Jade."
"Well…," Endymion mused. "Well, Zoi's mother, Lady Garnet, died a year or two after he was born and his father, Lord Corundum, remarried – you met his stepmother last night – about the same time that Zoi entered military training. He and Jade entered a year after us. Last I heard he has two younger half-sisters. Jade's a spoiled son-of-a-" Endymion broke off, embarrassed to be cursing in Usagi's presence. Ignoring Usagi's amused expression, he cleared his throat and continued, "Um, Jade's spoiled. His parents, Lord Aragonite and Lady Viv gave birth to three daughters, even though they had hoped for sons. Those three were born in a five-year span. Jade was born five years after the youngest daughter, so Jade basically has four women fawning over him and one father, who thinks the world of his heir. Also, Jade's the youngest person to ever be promoted to general and it's been Lord Aragonite's dream to have a son in the military. Jade exceeded his father's expectations by being general." He suddenly chuckled. "However, Jade lacks Lord Aragonites skill with strategy. He's our best strategist. If a war broke out, he'd be the first one I'd call back to the Manetheron to help."
They were silent for a while before Endymion gently asks, "Why all the questions about my generals?"
Chapter ?: Investigation
September 11, 7:00pm
"Hi, everyone," Endymion called as he entered the dining room, fingers intertwined with Usagi's. All the generals were already there and so was the king. Andrew and Erika were laying down the food on the center of the table.
"Endymion, Usagi, you're just in time. We were afraid you wouldn't make it," Erika greeted, a smile wreathing her face.
"And miss your cooking? Yeah, right. Usagi would kill me," Endymion joked, pulling up a chair for Usagi to sit in. He sat beside her.
"How was your day?" Usagi asked the men, bestowing a smile on Lady Viv and Lady Ann, who were talking with the king at the other end of the table.
"It was all right," Kunzite replied.
"Yeah, same old, same old," Nephrite added.
"Did you spend it together?" Usagi asked, waiting until Elizabeth and Ian were sitting down before starting to eat.
"Of course not," Zoisite laughed. "We spend enough time together as it is. We need time apart."
It took a while for Usagi to get used to that on-going joke between the generals and the prince. They constantly complain that they're together all the time even though it doesn't really bother them if they are always together. And even if they spend days apart, when they get together again, it's like nothing has changed.
"So? Who'd you spend it with? Those girls you always spend time with?"
"Yeah, them." Zoisite smiled. "Usagi, are you sure you don't know them? They once mentioned that they knew you."
"They know me?" she asked, surprised. "We're talking about… what are their names again? Um… Minako Aino, Rei Hino, Makoto Kino, and Ami Mizuno. Ladies and Baronesses of all those places? Those girls?"
"Yes," Kunzite replied.
"But I've never heard of them before. And from your descriptions, they don't sound at all familiar. Maybe I should meet them one day? It would be easier if I could just talk to them face-to-face and ask."
The generals turned to Endymion.
"What?" Usagi asked, looking from the generals to Endymion and back.
After a moment's hesitation, Endymion told her, "It's not safe."
"What? What do you mean?"
Endymion faced her squarely in the eye and explained, "My instincts tell me there's something… off about them. I've asked my generals to look them up. From what they've told me, when they asked around, nobody really knows those girls but everybody they've talk to says that the girls 'look familiar'. Since they've managed to gather whatever background information they could, my men are now investigating the women themselves. I'm afraid you can't meet them until I am satisfied with the information that they have, until I believe that they are safe for you to meet."
Usagi looked at him, incredulous. "You're doing all this just because of a feeling?"
"Endymion's the best, Usagi," Kunzite assured her. "He graduated top of our class and with honors. He's one of the best warriors in this kingdom; and warriors rely on their instincts and Endymion has the most honed. If he weren't prince, he'd probably have my job. Or Lord Aragonite's."
"Lord Aragonite's the -," Jadeite stared to explain but Endymion cut him off with, "She already knows who he is."
"Oh," was all Jadeite could say.
"But why would they say they know me when they don't?" Usagi wondered.
"That's what we'd like to know and that's what we're trying to find out," Nephrite told her.
"You don't think I'm a spy, do you?" Usagi wondered suddenly.
"Of course not," everyone in the table assured her.
"All right," Jadeite spoke up authoritatively as Erika and Drew sat. "All conversations please come to a halt. We need to concentrate. It is time to eat."
Everyone laughed, diffusing what minimal tension had risen due to the topic.
Dinner passed enjoyably and there was another humorous moment when Endymion reached for the last piece of steak at the same time that Andrew did.
"I wanted that," Endymion said, irked.
"So did I, your Highness," Andrew replied, pouring a generous amount of gravy on his plate.
Long after dinner, Endymion called for a meeting with his generals in his room – which was conveniently located at the end of the East Wing, giving him easy access to Usagi, who was also in the East Wing. At the same time, since it was in the same wing, Endymion didn't have to sneak across the entire palace in order to go to her room, minimizing his chances of getting caught.
"How are the investigation coming along?" he asked his men, tightening his robe. All of them were in their robes for they were having this meeting when their valets have gone off to bed and the servants have left the East Wing.
"Lady Minako's kind of erratic," Kunzite began. "She says one thing and acts in another way. First she'll be this timid, shy little creature, then I'll say one thing and suddenly, her temper's all up. She says her parents are both old and from the country, then that would mean that they have horses, right? But she rides like she's never ridden before. And she's like Usagi, getting all pissed just 'cause girls aren't allowed to study and teach and go to the University and stuff."
"Really?" Zoisite spoke up. "Ami's the same way. But I think that's because she's kind of a smart person."
"Makoto's the same way. Except that she's really good on a horse," Nephrite remarked.
Jadeite nodded. "Likewise with Rei. Except for the horse bit; I've never seen her ride. I meant the whole girls-should-study part and not the horse part." He turned to Kunzite. "But Rei's a lot more interesting to watch compared to Minako, I'd guess. When her temper's up, her face gets all blotchy, her eyes gets all fiery, she grits her teeth, and yet struggles to stay calm. When she talks, her words are all evenly spaced and stressed. Her temper amuses me so much, it makes this whole investigation thing bearable."
"Of course, the fact that you think she's really cute has nothing to do with it, huh?" Zoisite asked, critically eyeing the younger blond.
"Wait." Endymion raised his hand and the others became silent. For all their friendship and ribbing, Endymion was their leader and prince and they all knew and respected that. "One at a time, please. Kunzite?"
"I was kind of done," he admitted. "Minako aroused my suspicions the same way she aroused yours, I guess." He looked around at his men. "The same way those girls aroused our suspicions. Being with her, my instinct tells me something's off. As I try to put some logic behind that feeling, I get suspicious because certain things don't add up."
Nephrite told them all, "Baroness Makoto is not all that ladylike. I mean, she's a lady, definitely, but there's a tomboy side to her and I suppose that's all right. I mean there are a lot of girls out there that are boyish." He turned to Endymion. "I know you told me that she started babbling about fighting styles, but she's never said anything like that to me. Whenever I try to get her to talk, even asking her once point-blank about it, she just gives me this weak smile and says that it's not ladylike to know such things and she changes the subject. There's nothing overtly suspicious about her, but then there are times when she gets real quiet and stares at the sky with a longing look on her face."
"Sounds like you found your soulmate," Jadeite joked. "A quiet girl who likes solitude and adores the sky? That's you, buddy."
"Zoi?" Endymion turned to Zoisite.
"Ami? I suppose she's a lot different than the girls, not only because she's older but also because, well, let's face it, she's a spinster. Firmly off the Marriage Mart, on the shelf, an old maid –"
"Stop with the thesaurus, Zoi," Endymion interrupted. "Get on with what you've learned about her so far."
"She's a good kisser," he grinned wickedly.
"I'm joking!" he protested, holding up his hands after they all yelled his name. Chuckling to himself, he continued, "She's very well-read, she's probably read every book that has ever been printed."
"Kind of like you?" Kunzite raised an eyebrow.
"Almost like me," Zoisite arrogantly declared. "But she has the most fascinating brain. Her favorite saying is 'necessity is the mother of invention' whenever she inadvertedly blurts out her ideas on furthering our technology. See, we're usually talking about one thing or another, like, this one time, music. And anyway, she says that there's this material that has a magnetic strip and it can record music and sounds. Isn't that fascinating?"
"Aaaaand your point is?" Endymion asked.
Zoisite blinked at them, obviously forgetting that he was giving a report. "What? Oh, right. Yes. This girl has never been to the university, and yet she's read all the university books. She's a genius."
"And this is suspicious, because…?"
"Endymion, think about it." Zoisite leaned forward. "They're from the country, right? Some very remote place if their reactions are anything to go by – they all get close-mouthed when we try to ask them about their hometown. If we press, they mumble and change the subject. How could she have access to books? And not just any books but the latest books. Are they that rich? I casually mentioned something that scientists only found out recently, and she knew it! Whenever I ask her about her far-fetched ideas, she just blushes and stammers that she has always dreamed of being an inventor. She says her parents were normal country folk, so how can she know all this and be as scientifically savvy as any scientist?"
"That is weird. See what else you can find about her, Zoi, okay?"
"My pleasure." Zoisite grinned.
"And don't mix business with pleasure, all right?" Endymion rolled his eyes.
"Why not?" Zoisite frowned.
"Let him be," Kunzite put in. "He'll never stop complaining if we don't let him do what he wants."
"Er… thanks, Kunz," Zoisite dryly said.
Kunzite added, "Besides, Marchioness Ami isn't, well, let's all be honest here. Her reputation doesn't really matter because she's past the 'marriageable' age."
Zoisite frowned at Kunzite.
"What? Isn't that why you're so confident trying to seduce her?"
"Well, yeah," Zoisite admitted. "But it seems so crass when you talk about it."
"Sorry about that. You know I mean her no disrespect."
"No problem, Kunz. You are right, though. I just didn't realize it sounded so bad when you say it out loud. I am trying to seduce her for the simple reason that she's a spinster. It's no big if I conduct an affair with her, regardless of whether she's a virgin or not."
"You mean, you don't know yet?" Jadeite asked. "It's been a few days already, are you getting slow? Losing your touch?"
"Shut up," Zoisite snapped. The generals all looked at him in surprise. "She's not just some floozy whom you bed, you know? She's… different."
"Ooohkay…" Endymion interrupted to break the tension. "What about Rei, Jade? What have you to say about her?"
"Her temper's explosive," Jadeite told Endymion. "And she's… aggressive, almost. Bossy. Abrasive. Strong-willed. If I were into the weird, I'd say she's the weirdest ever."
"What do you mean?"
"Endymion, the girl likes birds," he complained.
"So? Is that a crime? How's that suspicious."
"We went to the zoo once and saw a few predatory birds on display. She was telling me that they hated it there, that they wanted to feel the wind on their wings and hunt and all that. She sounded like the birds told her that. She's… weird. But a nice weird. Remember how, when we were kids, we didn't know what to make of Neph and Phane's weird mind connection? Well, Rei's kind of like that. Except that she seems to have that weird mind connection with everyone, even animals. Unlike Reds' weird mind connection."
"Would you stop calling it 'weird mind connection'?" Nephrite complained. "And I thought you stopped calling us the "Reds". You know we hate that nickname."
"Sorry." Jadeite grinned easily but looked closely at Nephrite to see if the other was offended.
Nephrite caught his look. "Don't worry, I'm not offended. I've known you too long for that."
"Isn't she a part-time Shrine Maiden? Aren't they supposed to have some mind power thing?" Endymion frowned.
"Yes," Jadeite agreed. "But I've talked to Shrine Priests, Endymion. People who are supposed to be psychic and whatnot and Rei's, well, more sensitive than they were. We were passing this couple arguing on the street before and after we passed, Rei kept giggling. When I asked her why, she said that the two have been crazy about each other since forever and she couldn't wait to see how they got together. The next day, I overheard some people say that those same two people were caught in a compromising position in the girls' father's barn." He raised his hand when he saw the others' about to protest. "I know, I know, it could be just one of those girl things, right? But… like Endymion, I trust my instincts, and my instincts tell me that there's more to her than meets the eye."
"There's more to all this than meets the eye," Kunzite agreed, leaning forward and placing his elbows on his knees, bringing his hands together and forming a temple with the tips of his fingers. "Endymion, this is a delicate thing. We can't just put them under investigation. They say they're members of the aristocracy, if that's true, there are certain procedures we need to follow. And yet, we can't confirm if they're nobility if they won't tell us where they live or even who their parents are. And we can't just send out men to search every corner of the kingdom, this world's too big and we don't have enough men."
Nephrite spoke up, "I've asked Glaucophane to check out the places he's going to. He's out there, anyway, in the far reaches of the kingdom, as well as near. At least, it can narrow down our search."
"How did he know?" Kunzite asked.
"The girls' titles, remember? Claymore, Claremont, Langston, and Havenhurst. Considering the fact that the girls all grew up together, those four localities are probably close to each other. Phane's gonna ask around," Nephrite replied.
"Isn't Phane in some God-forsaken place in the middle of Africa? Wow." Jadeite looked impressed. "Your weird mind connection travels that far?"
Nephrite gave him a long look before replying dryly, "No. My weird letter writing connection travels that far. Jade, get a grip. I wrote my brother a letter, all right?"
Jadeite began laughing, mostly at himself. "I guess that was incredibly stupid of me. I guess I didn't think of mail; I was too busy wondering what it'd be like if telepathy were real and if it can actually travel long distances. Can you imagine mind-talking with someone? And wouldn't it be cool if that someone were miles away?"
"Yeah, right," Zoisite scoffed. "That's totally impossible."
When the generals left, Endymion stood thoughtfully in the middle of his darkened room. Perhaps it was because he was in love himself, but he had a feeling that Zoisite might be developing feelings for Marchioness Ami. And somehow, he couldn't help but feel that the others might likewise be feeling the same way about their girls. Giving himself a mental shake, he pushed the thought away from his mind. His men were professionals. Besides, he thought, grinning wickedly, he had his campaign with Usagi to think about.
With a wide grin, Endymion slowly opened his door, checked to see if the coast was clear and headed to Usagi's room.
Chapter ?: A Masque Ball
September 16, 7:00pm
"My lord Generals?" A brunnette with brown eyes peeked inside the room after knocking on the parlor door. The generals were waiting for Usagi to get ready while Endymion had gone out of the room for a while to the greenhouse to pick a corsage.
"Gabrielle? Is that you?" Kunzite asked.
Gabrielle, one of Usagi's lady's maids, blushed. She bowed as she entered. "Yes, my lord general. Um… is Prince Endymion in here?"
"No, he's not," Nephrite replied, straightening from where he was leaning against the mantle of the fireplace. "Is something wrong?"
"Well, my lady Usagi, um, I'm not sure how to say this," Gabrielle stammered, wringing her hands with worry.
"What? What's wrong?" Zoisite asked, likewise standing up.
"Milady's a bit… distressed with the dress. But she won't tell us what's wrong!"
"The white dress?" Jadeite frowned. "But she's the one who wanted that dress, she chose it. What's wrong? It doesn't fit?"
"No, it's not that, Lord Jadeite. It's just that… actually, we're not sure what. She refuses to tell us anything, but she's crying."
Laverne, Usagi's other lady's maid, crashed through the door. She froze, realizing that all the men's eyes were on her. "Er… is Prince Endymion around?"
"No." At this point, the generals were all starting to worry.
"What is wrong?"
"Forgive my intrusion," Laverne bobbed a quick cursty, "Lady Usagi's been asking for Prince Endymion or any one of you. She's… well, distressed."
"I'll go." Kunzite walked resolutely to the door.
"I'll go with you." Nephrite followed, worry evident on his face.
Laverne cleared her throat and delicately suggested, "Perhaps it would be best if only one of you went?"
Nephrite and Kunzite shared a look. "All right," Nephrite conceded, watching Kunzite walk out the door.
"Usagi?" Kunzite knocked on the partially opened door before entering. After a quick look at the sitting room, he went to the other door that opened to Usagi's bedroom. He knocked perfunctorily and entered.
"Kunzite!" Usagi sobbed, throwing herself at his chest. He caught her just in time.
"Usagi! What's the matter?"
"I don't know! The dress, it's – just take it off, take it off!" she cried.
"Shh." Kunzite tried to calm her. "Everything will be okay, all right? Just relax." Grasping her shoulders, he tried to make her stand up. From the mirror situated behind her, he saw the dress and couldn't really see what was the big deal. Usagi herself chose the design for her costume. She said she wanted to look like a princess and wear white.
Sleeveless with delicate thin straps, a scooped neckline lined with gold lace, the white silk shimmered and flowed to the ground. The flowing skirt was studded with pearls and sequins, forming designs of stars and moon and planets, emphasizing the plain white of her tight bodice. Her hair was up in a chignon, but the hairstyle was messed up now.
"Kunzite," she sobbed on his chest, crying so hard she was barely coherent, Kunzite caught words like 'family' and 'memories' and 'pain' but barely understood the rest. One thing was clear, in order for her to calm down, she had to get out of the dress.
Kunzite looked around then remembered that Gaby and Vern were downstairs.
"It's all right, Usagi," Kunzite soothed. "We'll get you out of that dress. Er… why don't you go to the changing screen and change? I'll go and look for another costume you can wear, how's that?"
"I don't want to look at it!" she cried, grabbing the front of the dress and started pulling. Kunzite grabbed her hands, afraid that she'd tear the dress and possibly hurt herself.
"Kunzite, please, take it off. I can't stand to look at it, I can't stand to touch it. Take if off. Please…" she sobbed.
Kunzite looked at the ceiling and prayed for courage. He also prayed Endymion won't kill him. "Er… all right. Um… I guess I can take it off…" Taking a deep breath, still not taking his eyes of the ceiling, Kunzite moved his hands on her back, feeling the buttons and slowly taking off the first one.
"I hope to God Endymion doesn't kill me for this," he muttered, closing his eyes.
Endymion entered the room in high spirits and was surprised to see his generals looking worried. "What's wrong? What happened? Where's Kunzite?"
"Vern and Gaby told us that Usagi was kind of… distressed about her dress."
"I thought she was so excited to wear it? She even refused to try it on because she wanted to feel the impact when she wears it for the first time, tonight. Do you think she'll like these?" he asked, showing the simple white rose he picked as corsage.
"So." Endymion looked around again. "Where is Kunzite?"
"Ok… it's out…" Kunzite breathe a little easier as he knotted the robe around Usagi, her dress safely kicked under her bed.
It wasn't that he's never seen a naked woman before. Not that he saw Usagi naked, no, of course he'd never do that; he undressed her strictly by feel (OF THE DRESS!) and never looked and he made sure that his hands didn't touch anything he shouldn't. But it was just that… it was Usagi he had undressed.
Usagi had calmed herself somewhat and was just listlessly standing there in the middle of her room.
"Are you all right?" he asked worriedly.
"Er…" Kunzite wracked his brains for something to say for her manner indicated that she didn't want to talk about why she went crazy with the dress. "Do you still want to go to the ball? If you don't want to, it's totally okay."
"Endymion won't go if I won't go."
"Well, yes." It seemed pointless to lie about a fact they both knew. "Would that be bad?"
Usagi sighed, sitting down in front of her dresser. She took off the remaining pins that held her hair up. Long gold tresses tumbled down.
She began brushing her long hair. "Endymion's the prince. He told me that tonight's ball is one of the few balls that happen during the Little Season and he's obliged to attend, not that he considers it a chore since Masque Balls are really quite fun. If I don't go, we both know he won't attend."
"Yes…" Kunzite answered cautiously, wondering where this was going. "But after what you've
just… well, after everything, do you still want to go? I understand if you don't want to."
"I just want to forget it ever happened," she said tiredly, turning to look at him. "Endymion's been looking forward to going ever since the invitation arrived. I've never seen him this excited about a ball."
"Right." Kunzite didn't bother to mention that one of the reasons Endymion was so excited for tonight was because this was the one ball where he was Usagi's date. He couldn't be her date back in the city because Usagi's reputation would be in shreds if it was found out that she stayed in the same palace compound as the prince. Also, the other women would hate her and make her life miserable so Endymion never had a chance to escort her to a ball. This was his first time to be her date and he had every intention of showing his people that Usagi was the lady he had chosen to marry. He may not announce it but he could show it, which, considering all things, was almost like an announcement itself, Kunzite supposed.
Lately, magazines have been saying that Endymion was seeing 'a mysterious blond lady' (mysterious because nobody in the kingdom knows who she is and Endymion hasn't exactly been going out to very public places with Usagi). Endymion usually didn't bother to read those magazines and, when asked by paparazzi, he usually neither denied nor acknowledge the rumors. His point being was that there were too many rumors out about him that if he tried to sort through them all, he'd never be able to get any work done. With this ball, Endymion wanted to kill two birds with one stone: show his people his partiality for a particular lady and sort-of confirm the latest rumor without actually saying anything.
"So… you're going?" Kunzite finally asked.
"Yes. I don't want to disappoint Endymion."
"You love him, don't you?" Kunzite asked bluntly.
Usagi just smiled at him. "You know I'm not answering that."
"I understand." Kunzite smiled. "So, what'll you wear as costume?"
But Usagi was too busy staring at Kunzite's outfit, which she only noticed now, when she wasn't overwrought anymore. "What in heaven's name are you wearing?"
Kunzite looked down. "This? It's a kilt. Like it?"
"That's a dress."
Kunzite had a pained look on his face. "It's a kilt, Usagi. It's not a dress."
"It's a skirt!"
"It's a kilt. It's an entirely different thing!"
"You can call it whatever you want, but I know a skirt when I see one. And that's one. That's a short skirt."
"Usagi, let's hope that no European actually hears you talk like that. This is a very important outfit."
"Why in heaven's name are you wearing it?"
Kunzite sighed. "This is my costume."
"You have really adorable knees, did you know that?"
Kunzite blushed. Then laughed wryly, telling Usagi, "You're the only one who can make me blush, did you know that? Usagi, being part of the Terran High Command, we're not allowed complete anonymity, no masks, even in Costume Balls. And, I don't know when this started, but we all wear the same costumes when we go to these things. This acts as a sort of uniform and costume all in one. I suppose Endymion told you that we're generals as well as liege lords of certain areas in the planet?"
"So our 'costumes' come from those places. The national outfits aren't something we wear every day and neither do we wear it often when we're at those places we head."
"And this is… yours?"
"No, this is Zoisite's. Mine's different. On the ball on the eighteenth, we're going to wear my country's national costume then."
"Is it also a dress?"
"No." Kunzite smiled. "Stop that. Just for that, I'm not telling you what it is, you'll have to see it during the night's ball."
"That's two nights away," she complained. "You know how curious I am!"
"Serves you right." Kunzite grinned.
"Okay, just for that, I charge you with finding the right costume for me."
"Get cracking, Kunz, I need a costume within the next five minutes." She pointed imperiously to her door, grinning at him.
"The things I do for you," Kunzite laughed helplessly, obediently walking towards her door.
"Kunz, is it really okay? I mean, that you'll do this for me?"
Kunzite turned to look at her, sitting prettily at her settee, long blond hair flowing down and touching the ground, face cleared of tears and smiling at him. "For you, Usagi, I'd do anything," he tempered that serious statement with a smile. "Don't go anywhere, I'll think of something."
"Thanks," Usagi called to his departing back.
Chapter ?: Masquerade
AN: For those who don't know, a duel was usually done in order to 'demand satisfaction' because one male had insulted another man's honor or a woman close to the second man. One person will toss the challenge (usually a glove thrown or just an exchange of words) and the other will accept it. Then they set the time (dawn) and date (usually the next day) and place (usually an open empty field). Seconds are called and chosen to stand there just in case the duelers die or get hurt. No females are allowed to be present.
September 16, 10:30pm
"I have to tell you, I'm torn between being eternally grateful to you and wringing your neck."
"What's the problem?" Kunzite grinned at his prince.
Kunzite turned to look at Usagi, who was dancing with Jadeite and wearing a white demi-mask that was trimmed with feathers. "There seems to be nothing wrong there. Although, I have to admit I didn't think she'd look this good."
"Yes, she is. She does. She's… she's… she's such a… a… a woman! And it's so obvious!" Endymion scowled at the men who were looking at Usagi admiringly. It worsened his temper that he wasn't even sure who the men were, for their masks were firmly in place. Only the Terran High Command didn't wear any masks – remnant of some royal tradition that Endymion was hating at the moment. He wanted, more than anything, to pummel the men whom he considered to be looking at Usagi in an unseemly way, but can't because he's the prince with an image to uphold, not to mention that public brawling would set a bad precedence to his people.
On the other hand, he was pleased with the outcome of the ball. Everyone present knew that he was there with the mysterious blond lady wearing the very sexy black tuxedo that hugged her every curved and shouted to everyone with eyes that she was a woman.
Dear God, he swallowed convulsively as he watched Usagi's body swaying with the music.
He will never look at tuxedos in the same way again. Ever.
"Don't worry about it." Kunzite clapped Endymion on the shoulder. "It's just one night."
"Wherever did you find a tuxedo small enough to fit her?" Nephrite asked as he joined them.
"It's mine," Kunzite admitted. "One of my old ones." He stared at Usagi in his tight-fitting tuxedo. "That was the only one that fit her. Besides, she wanted to wear this. She said that pants give her such freedom of movement that she might wear it all time. I told her she was welcome to borrow any of my old pants, as yours are all gone."
"Lucky dog." Nephrite grinned wickedly at Endymion.
The prince looked… torn.
"What's the matter?" Nephrite inquired.
"I don't know whether to be happy about that or not. Can you imagine Usagi walking around in pants all the time? I'll either be blissfully happy or undergoing severe tortures unknown to man. To see all that," he gestured to her, "those hips, those long, long legs of hers… her ass. That is one damn fine ass, you know? I can look but I can't touch."
"Who says you can't?" Zoisite joked from behind them.
"We're not yet even engaged." Endymion couldn't keep his eyes off her.
"Kunz, where are you going?" Zoisite asked when the silver-haired man nodded to them and started to leave.
Kunzite nodded to one side. "Where I'm needed."
Nephrite and Zoisite watched as Kunzite approached a blond lady in a really cute yellow-orange trimmed Sailor outfit with a long skirt. With the mask, they didn't know who it was but Kunzite seemed to know her for he bowed before escorting her to the dance floor.
AN: that was Sailor Venus. The girls, not knowing what to wear to a Masquerade and missing their old life, decided to go for a modified version of their Senshi clothes - mostly the skirt length as their original skirt length would've caused a scandal on Earth, so they made it a long skirt.
"And I'm going to where I'm needed," Endymion said resolutely as he plowed forward to go to Usagi's side.
"Jade," he announced once he reached them. "Get lost."
Jadeite laughed good-naturedly. "As you command, your Highness."
Usagi smiled at them, used to their joking ways that she didn't even bat an eye. Her admiring eyes drank in Endymion's fitted white shirt and plaid (another word for kilt) that was wrapped snugly around his waist. Although she had ribbed Kunzite that he was wearing a dress, she had to admit that, on Endymion, it looked good. The plain white shirt emphasized his strong chest and broad shoulders, the kilt and belt emphasized his trim waist and the short skirt showed off his legs… which looked pretty good.
"Hey there, beautiful," Endymion greeted softly, pulling her gently against him.
"Hey yourself." Usagi loved the feel of Endymion against her.
"Are you… okay now?"
"Kunzite told you?"
"I'm really grateful to him. He was really such a gentleman, you know? At first, I thought I'd be embarrassed because he undressed me but then I thought – "
They arrived home a little past two in the morning and on the way back, while Usagi was sleeping against Endymion's shoulders, the generals had indicated that they wanted to talk to Endymion so the High Command was once again convened in his room after he dropped off Usagi at her bed.
"What's all this about?" Endymion asked, sitting down. His generals sat in a rough circle around him.
Zoisite hesitated before finally saying, "Nephrite and I are going to a duel later, at dawn."
The others stared at them incredulously.
"Whatever for?" Kunzite demanded.
Although not forbidden to duel, the Terran High Command nonetheless avoided dueling for a number of reasons. The first and foremost was that – bragging aside – they were the finest warriors around and nobody could beat them so it would really be unfair for them to duel, practically pointless. Second was that, they were the High Command, they had images and reputations to uphold and that included being honorable and such. And dueling wasn't… all together completely and totally legal…
"Surely there's no reason big enough that you'd have to duel with someone?" Jadeite insisted.
"You'll have to ask Neph," Zoisite said defensively. "I'm just his second!"
They all turned to the red haired man.
"He insulted a lady."
"Okay," Kunzite amended. "I guess that's a good reason as any. Er… may I ask who?"
Nephrite mumbled something.
"Who?" Jadeite asked. "Mumba Wamba?"
"No." Nephrite turned several shades of red, which was interesting to see, on a redhead.
"In my defense, I'd just like to say one thing," Zoisite spoke up, sounding defensive. "I know nothing about it. I'm totally innocent. He just asked me and I said yes! I was just being a good friend. He's my brother! Except, not by blood. I know nothing. Absolutely nothing."
Nephrite shot him a glare.
"More or less," Zoisite amended.
Kunzite and Endymion exchanged looks. "We're not going to like this, are we?" Kunzite asked tiredly. After all, the two were the leaders of the group.
"Well, see, here's what happened: I was minding my own business, hanging out at the gardens outside, when I heard voices. There was a man who was forcing his attentions on a lady and, well, I had to do something!"
"How about just punching the guy out cold? You'd have saved the lady without the necessary duel," Endymion pointed out. "You do know that dueling is kind of illegal."
"I know. And I did," Nephrite mumbled. "I jumped in and tried to punch the guy while the lady, once freed, fled."
"Er… 'tried to'?" Jadeite caught the wording.
"Um… yeah… I don't know who the guy was since he had a full mask on, but I do know he's tall and has blond hair. Anyway, I tried to punch the guy, but he blocked it. And we tried to fight, but… but… well, he's good! I couldn't even hit him properly. Then he attacked my masculinity and so I had to defend both my honor and the lady's. I had no choice."
"Who's the lady in question?" Kunzite asked shrewdly.
"Um… well…" Nephrite cleared his throat and swallowed audibly beneath the steely gazes of his prince, his leader, and co-generals. "Baroness Makoto Kino."
"I'm sorry." Endymion hit the side of his head like a swimmer would to dislodge water that got in his ear. "What did you say?"
"You did not just say 'Makoto Kino', did you? Not her, right? Please tell me I heard you wrong." Kunzite stared at him, incredulous.
"You heard right," Zoisite muttered.
"And you allowed this to happen?" Jadeite turned to the other blond in surprise. "You just… accepted this and allowed yourself to be his second?"
"I didn't know who she was," Zoisite mumbled, but his ears were turning red, a sign that he was lying.
"Let me get this straight," Endymion said slowly, stressing each word, as Nephrite and Zoisite looked at him warily. "You are actually off to defend the honor of someone you're investigating? Someone who's a possible spy?"
"Um… yeah… that's… that's pretty much it…?"
"Have you lost your mind?" Kunzite demanded.
"Probably," Nephrite sighed.
Endymion ran a hand through his hair. "All right. Enough with the Terran High Command bullshit, I want us to talk as friends. What happened, Neph? Why'd you do it?"
Nephrite looked at Endymion straight in the eyes and said, "I… care about her, I guess. I dunno. I just… snapped." He caught the look of his other friends and chuckled wryly. "I know, me, lose my cool? It just… happened. I just heard their voices and I went crazy. I barely knew what was happening, only that I wanted to punch out the guy's lights. He just… I just… I hated him and I wanted to kill him for hurting Mako."
"'Mako'?" Kunzite raised an eyebrow at the implied closeness of the nickname.
"Don't give him grief," Zoisite warned. "I've heard you call your charge 'Mina'."
Kunzite scowled, "Fine. Point taken. Neph, continue."
Nephrite shrugged. "That's pretty much what happened. I demanded satisfaction, Zoi showed up, the other man agreed, we separated ways and I asked Zoi to be my second."
"Why not me?" Jadeite complained.
"Er… Zoi was there."
"Okay… can we go back to being the Terran High Command?" Kunzite asked. "Look, Neph, as your friend and almost-brother, I have nothing against you dueling. The circumstances were understandable and I'd have to say I'd have reacted the same way had I been in your place. Although, I do share Jade's sentiment – why not me? It's been ages since any of us has dueled." He scowled at being left out of the fun; the generals were like that sometimes. "And I'm very curious about this guy who seems to be a better warrior than you or your equal. I didn't know there was anybody like that around. But, as your Head General, all I can say is to exercise caution. Nobody can know about this."
AN: that tall blond 'man' is actually Sailor Uranus, in disguise. He apprehended Jupiter knowing Nephrite was nearby and had hoped that Nephrite would defend Jupiter even though Neph was investigating her (Uranus and Neptune knew, as Lord and Lady Argent, that the High Command was investigating the Inners). It was Neph's "test". Jupiter, not recognizing Uranus' masked disguise and not expecting the Outers to be on Earth, had no idea who the tall blond 'man' was.
"Of course." Nephrite hesitated before saying in a grateful tone of voice, "I'm glad you guys understand."
"Okay, enough." Kunzite grinned, standing up. "Any more sentiments and we might get all weepy in here. Was that all?"
Nephrite and Zoisite shared a thoughtful look. "Yeah, pretty much," Zoisite admitted.
As the generals left, Kunzite turned to look at Endymion. "By the way, I answered when people asked who you were with. That's all right, right?"
Endymion nodded then remarked, "It will probably in the newspapers and magazines tomorrow, right?"
His men nodded.
Kunzite asked, "You really want to marry her, don't you?"
"Yes. I'm just gathering the courage to ask. The ring's burning a finger in my pocket."
"You mean you've been carrying it around since the day before we left the city?" Zoisite looked surprise.
"Yes. Am I a loser or what?"
"You're a loser in love," Jadeite joked. "We forgive you."
"Good luck, then," the generals told him, clapping him on the back.
"Which reminds me…" Endymion ran a hand through his head and scowled at Kunzite. "We need to talk."
"I swear to God, nothing happened!" Kunzite insisted. "You have nothing to be jealous about! I didn't see her at all! I treated her with utmost respect."
Endymion's threatening look suddenly turned into a grin. "Yeah, that's what she said. I just wanted to hear it from your own mouth. And maybe see you sweat a little too."
Kunzite, who was sweating, frowned at Endymion. "I could kill you."
"Sure, you can try. Go to sleep Kunzite." Endymion smiled. "And thanks for taking care of my girl."
Although Kunzite's face was impassive, Endymion was unobtrusively watching him closely and therefore caught the pained look on his friend's eyes. "No problem. Usagi's my friend too. Good night, Endymion."
Shortly after dawn, Endymion knocked on Zoisite's door and entered after being called to come in.
"Are you all right?" he asked the blond general who was lying on his bed, bare-chested and with the sheets covering his lower body and pillows surrounding the bed.
Zoisite put down the book he was reading on his bedside table. "As you can see, I'm fine, not a scratch anywhere. What's the worry?"
"Nephrite's not in his room, I checked. Is he okay?"
"I just wanted to check up on both of you if you guys are okay. How'd the duel go?"
"Er… it didn't, not really. The, um, girl in question showed up."
Endymion stared at him, incredulous. "What? A girl showed up on a dueling field?"
"Girls, actually. Specifically, Makoto and Ami."
"Makoto and Ami? As in, Baroness Makoto of Claymore and Marchioness Ami of Langston? Well. Wow. What did they do?"
"What else? They stopped us. When the blond guy saw them, he left."
"Why'd he do that?"
"Do you know who he was?"
"No. He still had his full mask on, saying that he came straight from the ball. Just before we were going to start and as he was about to take it off, Makoto came running into the field."
"So you never saw his face?"
"Man. That has got to be the weirdest duel ever."
"Tell me about it." Zoisite shook his head. "And the sad part about it is that we can't even get the other guy to swear not to tell anyone that Makoto and Ami were there. I hope he doesn't say anything," he said darkly, cracking his knuckles. "If he does, I'll demand satisfaction from him."
"The price of being honorable." Endymion sighed. "So, where's Neph, then?"
"He's with Makoto, as far as I know."
Endymion frowned. "Do you think he cares about her?"
Zoisite shrugged, not caring. "Endymion, I hate to kick you out, but I do need sleep, you know," he pointed out.
"Oh, right, sorry. See you later?"
"Yeah, I'll be up by lunch." Zoisite watched Endymion close the door behind him.
A second after the last of Endymion's receding footsteps was heard, a dark brown head with dark blue eyes popped up from the covers beside Zoisite. Holding the sheets to her naked body, she turned to the blond general worriedly.
"Think he knew I was here?" Ami asked.
Chapter ?: The Proposal
AN: written a long time ago, I had a tough time trying to find a romantic way and place for Endymion to propose. Finally, I just figured I had to go with the flow and trust that my characters knew what they were doing. Hope it turned out okay. Also, the dates on this chapter and the next remain as is. I had a calendar where key events were timed already, and the story flowed around that
September 17, 4:15pm
A few hours after lunch, Endymion had come up to her, tied a scarf across her eyes, forbidding her to take it off, and slowly led her out of the palace, into the stables and lifted her onto a horse. He got up behind her, whispered to her to trust him, and they left the stables at a trot.
"Are we there yet?" Usagi finally asked, gripping Endymion's arm, which was wrapped around her waist. His other hand was holding the reins, leading the horse. They've been travelling for quite some time already.
"You're very fond of that phrase, aren't you?" Endymion's laugh rumbled through his chest, which Usagi felt.
"You've avoiding the question," Usagi said with a smile.
"Yeah, I am." Endymion slowed the horse to a walk. Usagi felt the horse move up an incline.
"Where are we going?" she asked, swaying with the motion of the horse.
"It's a surprise," Endymion replied with a smile on his voice.
"It feels like we went off the road, did we?"
"And we're going up…?"
"Where are we?"
"A lot of help you are," Usagi accused before giggling, thoroughly enjoying herself.
After a while, Endymion stopped the horse then dismounted. Usagi waited for him to pick her up and when he didn't she spoke up hesitantly, "Er… Endymion? Endymion? You didn't leave me, did you?"
"What would you do if I did?"
"Yell really loudly?"
Endymion burst out laughing. "Don't worry, I'm not leaving. I need to lead the horse at this part. Don't you trust me?"
"Yeah, I do." For some reason, Usagi felt that their words had a double meaning.
"Good. You holding on to the pommel?"
"Like death," she replied cheekily, causing Endymion to laugh once more.
"Are we there yet?" she asked again after a few minutes had passed. She inhaled deeply, smelling something sweet and fresh in the air.
The horse stopped and Usagi felt Endymion moving around, maybe tying the horse to prevent the stallion from wandering. Then she felt his strong hands gripping her waist firmly as he helped her down (the feel of which she enjoyed thoroughly). Once she was settled on her feet, she felt him looking at her. Then, Endymion cupped her chin, lifted her face up and slowly bent his head to kiss her.
"You know, kissing is quite different with a blindfold on," Usagi said breathlessly when they finally broke off. With her eyesight blocked, every other sense was heightened and the feel of having to rely on Endymion entirely to be her eyes also added to the excitement.
"Really? Better or worse?" His breath tickled her cheek.
"I dunno. Let's try again."
Later, much, much later, Endymion pulled away and gently took her blindfold off. The sudden brightness blinded her and she blinked rapidly until her eyes adjusted. Then her eyes widened.
"Welcome to a place I like to call 'Cherry Tree Lane'. The locals simply call it Cherry Tree forest," Endymion whispered as he stood behind Usagi and wrapped his arms around her.
They were in the middle of a forest made up entirely of cherry trees and, since it was fall, the petals and flowers were drifting slowly to the ground with every gust of wind that blew. The ground was carpeted with white blooms that filled the air with their sweet scent. Usagi took a step away from Endymion and gazed at her surroundings, loving everything she saw.
"This is… beautiful…" She turned to him, hooking her arms around his neck and smiling into his eyes. "Thank you for bringing me here." After giving him a quick tight hug, she pulled away and went off to explore.
"You're welcome." He smiled at her, admiring what he saw. Usagi was wearing a deep blue long-sleeved gown and some petals stuck to her dress. With the pureness of the white of the cherry flowers, it felt like they were stuck in a place where soft snow was falling on the ground and there was nobody else around except the two of them.
He watched her dancing around the falling petals, looking like a fairy among the drifting snow. dancing and twirling with a big smile on her face and occasionally laughing in delight.
"I love you."
She stopped whirling to look at him. "What?"
"I said I love you," he repeated smiling at her. "And stop pretending, I know you heard me the first time."
Usagi just smiled back at him.
"Aren't you worried that you're saying 'I love you' to a girl who's name you don't even know?"
Endymion walked to her and held both of her hands, bringing one to his cheek. "It doesn't matter, it never did. I know you and I love you. Whatever name you may have, my blond goddess."
Usagi tilted her head to the side, the name somehow stirring something deep in her.
"Don't you love me some?" he asked playfully.
Usagi stared at Endymion, love shining in her eyes as she beheald his endearing expression. "Yes," she whispered.
"What?" He stilled.
"I love you."
Endymion stared at her, dazed. "You love me? You love me? You're sure? Really?"
Usagi laughed at his dumbfounded expression. "Yes, I do. Silly! Isn't that the answer you were hoping for?"
"I was, but I wasn't sure you actually loved me back. It's one thing to hope for it and imagine it to be true, but it's quite another when it's actually true. Like, really, really. I mean, I just decided to take the plunge and just do it. Then when you weren't saying anything, I decided to be cute about it and wheedle it out of you or something."
"Well, I'm glad you did." Usagi smiled and told him what was in her heart. "I've only known you for a while and yet it seems like I've loved you forever. Like, I've been waiting for you. Your face, so strange and yet so familiar… your voice, who you are… Does that make sense?"
"Yes." He smiled at her tenderly. "I feel the same way about you. I'm glad I finally found out. I love you." He bent down to kiss her.
"I love you, Endymion. Very much."
Caught up in each other, neither of them noticed the gust of wind around them, causing the petals to fly up and float, swirling around them in a circle. As their kiss deepened, the floating petals swirled faster, drifting around them and above them, somehow pulsing in time to their beating hearts.
Thousands and thousands of miles away, in the privacy of the bedroom of the Lunarian Royal Family, the Moon Queen lurched forward, curling in on herself, her hair falling on both sides of her face as she put both hands on her chest. As if she could somehow stop and control what was happening. The Guinzuishou on her chest flared brightly, but instead of its usual pure white light, there was a very soft hue of pink overlaying it.
A feeling, warm and bright and piercing shot through the Queen's heart then spread to her every blood vessel. It was intense pleasure that was almost pain. She knew instinctively what it meant, for the connection was strengthened by blood and bounded by love, protected by the Silver Crystal.
Gasping, she stared, horrified, at her husband. "Oh, no! Serenity's in love."
A few hours later, with intermittent kissing throughout, Usagi and Endymion were walking hand in hand, winding around the cherry trees. They rarely talked as they savored the magic of the place and if ever they talked, it was with the quiet voices of people who were enjoying their privacy. Both walked around with big smiles on their face, the kind of smiles and looks that were associated with people who were in love and knew they were loved in return.
"There's a place I want you to see," Endymion said, swinging their arms and grinning widely because he was just so darn happy.
"You mean other than this?" Usagi smiled back, his happiness reflected back in her eyes.
"It's really beautiful."
"More beautiful than this?"
Endymion laughed. "Are you going to continue with that?"
Usagi laughed as they walked. Then, from a break in the trees, a sudden glint of the sun blinded Usagi and she instinctively turned towards it. Clearly seen between tree trunks was a small lake. Usagi turned to Endymion, eyes bright. Endymion smiled at her, nodded at the part of the forest ahead of them and nodded his okay. She ran ahead with Endymion's laughter drifting from behind her.
She stopped when she was at the edge of the lake, staring at the pristine calm blue waters, watching the sun low on the horizon, it's red-orange rays casting dark red shimmers on the waters.
"Yeah, beautiful," Endymion agreed, but when she glanced back, he was leaning on a tree trunk and looking at her. Blushing, she turned to face the setting sun.
Sighing dreaming, she said, "I wish this day would never end."
When there was no reply, she turned around to look at Endymion but didn't see him.
And then she did.
He was on his knees before her and she was wondering what he was doing when – perhaps the waters lapped gently and the reflection moved, perhaps the sun moved just a smidge and reflected on the water at just the right angle – bright light flashed against her eyes. She blinked, focused, and stared at a really beautiful ring. It was small and dainty, white and yellow gold entwined together with a small ruby heart at the center. Endymion was holding it up to her with all the love in the world shining in his eyes.
Usagi burst into tears.
"Wait, I haven't even asked," Endymion protested. "Don't cry. You never know, my proposal might not sound that bad."
In the midst of her tears, Usagi let out a startled laugh.
"That's it," Usagi teased, wiping away her tears as she laughed and cried at the same time. "That's the big build up?"
"You're going to make me work hard for this, aren't you?" Endymion complained, but there was a smile on his face.
"Darn right," Usagi joked. Even though emotions were crashing through her and she felt such love for him that she was almost bursting with it, the joking and laughter was somehow just right. It was them.
"Well, I had this nice speech all prepared, but I lost the piece of paper I wrote it on," Endymion joked back.
"And you can't remember anything? Not even a teensy bit?"
"Well…" Suddenly serious, Endymion reached out and took her left hand, gazing deeply into her eyes as he extended her fingers, the ring poised. Both were aware of the way he was shaking, a result of a combination of emotions: nervousness and happiness. She looked at him questioningly and he just gave her a helpless little smile, unable to control or hide the way he felt.
He took a deep breath, then, "It's hard to explain, hard to talk, but… see, people look at me and think that I've got it made. I'm blessed – or cursed – with things that other people deem important. I'm the crown prince and women chase after me for that, except you didn't. I'm good with military stuff but I'm not that experienced with women and I'm happy for that because it makes every minute with you new and different. I excel in my studies and yet I've never courted a girl so, with you, I just tended to follow my heart. I don't think it's led me wrong. Er, has it?"
Usagi shook her head, tears of happiness silently streaming down her face.
"Then you came, dropping out of nowhere from the sky, with your temper and crybaby ways and bottomless pit stomach." Endymion smiled as Usagi laughed. "And none of the things that I thought defined me mattered to you. You didn't care what I was or what I had, all you cared about was who I was. You didn't care about the way I looked or how cranky I can be sometimes in the morning before my caffeine fix, all you cared about was trying to make me laugh. And I fell for you like a rock. I love you. I've loved you since forever, it seems. I'll never leave you and I sure as heck won't ever let you go. I've waited twenty-four years for you, don't make me wait any longer. I'm here before you, not as a prince or a rich man or some so-called drop-dead gorgeous guy who has women chasing after him. I'm just me. Just me." He kissed her fingertips. "Marry me. Be with me. Live forever with me. Because I can't live without you."
"What would you do if I said no?" Usagi joked, trying to lighten the moment somewhat.
"Like you'd ever do that," Endymion joked back.
"Aw, c'mon, humor me."
"I'd kiss you senseless until you said yes." Endymion smiled at her.
"And if I said yes?"
"I'd kiss you senseless in gratitude."
"So either way I get kissed, right?"
Usagi looked away for a little while, behind her, at the lake, and the reflection of the sun setting. On one side of the lake surface, she noticed the dim light of a full moon. Suddenly, inexplicably, she went down on her knees across Endymion. Endymion blinked at her in surprise.
"Marriage is a joining of equals," she said by way of explanation. "I love you." She leaned forward and dropped butterfly kisses on his cheek, chin, and forehead, punctuating each 'yes' she said, "And, yes, I want to be with you. Yes, I'll marry you, not because you're the prince, but because you're an honorable man. Yes, I'll marry you, not because you're drop-dead gorgeous, but because you're the most brilliant man I know. Yes, I'll marry you, not because you're rich, but because you're a wonderful man and a great friend. I'll marry you, not just because you asked me to, but because I love you. You're the other part of me that I feel I've been looking for all my life. I don't have a past, but your love for me secured my present, and my love for you ensures my future. I want to wake up every day in your arms and know that I am with the man I love, the man I'm meant to be with. Yes, Endymion, I'll marry you."
As they kissed, neither noticed the light of moon blaze once, then dim.
September 20, 3:10pm
"We are screwed," Minako declared, lying on her back on the couch with an arm thrown across her eyes. "We're screwed and dead."
Makoto was at the table, frowning as she read the newspaper that was the cause of Minako's outburst.
AN: this was written way before I wrote the chapter about the Edict.
Lately, there've been news about the prince spending a lot of time with a blond girl. There were even candid pictures on the front page of this morning's newspaper: Prince Endymion was sitting beside Princess Serenity in front of a trendy café, sharing a frappuccino (and this has been happening so often that prince-watchers just wait near that café to take candid shots). There was also another where they were walking, hand in hand, in front of shops and Endymion was caught looking at Usagi tenderly as she smiled up at him.
The news item was once again saying that the prince had been spending a lot of time with a beautiful blond girl who was simply called 'Usagi', who was 'a close friend of the generals' as well as 'Endymion's special friend' (everyone who read it knew that meant 'girlfriend'). There have been speculations at to when Endymion will propose and when the announcement will be made. At first, women all over the place complained about it but after the king released a statement about Usagi, saying that she was 'a lovely girl' and that the king 'had gotten to know her quite well', the women grudgingly accepted 'Usagi' as a decent girl for Endymion. After all, even a blind woman could see that the man was crazy about her.
"I guess we're lucky the Moon doesn't get any news from the Earth," Ami remarked, frowning.
Rei added, "And I guess we're lucky the Queen doesn't require specific details when we give her our weekly report. I guess I am kind of glad that Serenity's suitors finally showed up. The Queen has her hands full with trying to calm them and explaining the situation to them as well as taking care of the political ramifications of a missing princess."
Makoto looked up from the floor where she was doing her daily exercise routine. "I'm just glad she's leaving us alone to conduct our investigations." Nobody added that their 'investigation' wasn't really… going.
The Queen had called back the two, er, cats a day after they all arrived in Glyden. Lady Luna and Lord Artemis had to help the Lunarian Royal Couple with the many political needs of the Lunarian Royal Court now that Prince Diamond of the Gray Moon Clan and Lord Seiya of the Fireball Planet have arrived to court to the missing Moon Princess. The Senshi can only imagine how hectic and tense the palace was at that moment.
"No matter what we say and do, we're still screwed," Minako groaned. "We've been here a little over a month and what have we accomplished? Nothing."
"Not really," Ami murmured.
"What? What did you say?" Minako turned to look at Ami.
"Nothing," she replied, not even lifting her eyes from the book she was reading.
"What's that, Ami?" Makoto asked curiously.
Ami lifted the book so the others could see the covers.
"Mythology?" Rei wrinkled her forehead. "What's that?"
"It's some fiction stories of some parts of this world."
"Why are you reading it?" Minako asked.
Ami shrugged. "Because I like books and there's nothing else to do here. I don't have any tutor duties since the Season has ended so I've got lots of free time. We can't even get close to Serenity now because Prince Endymion's always by her side."
AN: the following have no chapters yet because I wasn't sure where I'll be putting them.
August 26, 2:00 am
Hikawa Shrine, Manetheron, Earth
AN: supposedly placed after Ami and Zoisite danced at the ball but I took it out because it didn't really add anything to the story. This is just more background about the generals that I wasn't sure would even be included in the final draft of the story.
Mercury had been standing outside the cottage for a few minutes when she began mentally going over everything she knew about the Terrans, in an effort to take her mind off Zoisite.
When she first read information on the Generals in every available Terran history book, she was surprised to learn that, considering the huge amount of rumors and speculation associated to their names, there weren't many facts available about them. All that the Terran books stated were their ages, age when they entered military school, parents and family life (other than Kunzite's, the others' family life are mentioned briefly), and how many years it took for them to become Generals. She was lucky that the Queen gave her the Silver Alliance's own record of the Generals, which was considerably more than what can be read in Terran books but still less than she would have liked. She had always believed that foreknowledge was the best weapon and that one can never be too thorough in finding out everything about the enemy. Or The Other Peoples, as the case may be.
Based on those two sources, she learned that Endymion and Kunzite were of the same age, with Kunzite a few months older, and that the two grew up together and entered the Royal Academy, the most prestigious military school, at the same time. Both also rose through the ranks and proved themselves distinguished in their skills, thus ensuring that Kunzite, with his close relationship to the prince a definite consideration, would be a member of the Terran High Command, like his father before him.
Nephrite and his brother, Glaucophane, entered the next year and lived in the same dormitory as Kunzite and Endymion, where they all met and became friends. Although both were not as distinctive as Kunzite and Endymion, they were nevertheless part of the top percentage of their class. Nephrite rose to General while his brother joined another part of the military. Nephrite was placed under Kunzite's command, where he learned all the skills he could and honed them until he was allowed to take the Distinction Test, which he passed, and became the third member of the Terran High Command of this generation.
Jadeite, for reasons unknown, delayed his entrance to military school by a year and entered the same year that Zoisite did, which was a year after Nephrite and Glaucophane entered. Jadeite quickly became known as a happy-go-lucky immature rake that barely got by while Zoisite, just as quickly, rose to the top of his class, impressing his superiors with his knowledge and skill, only worrying them slightly because Zoisite spent all his time reading and training without having any extracurricular activities. Near the end of their first year, because Jadeite was close to failing and the school administration did not want to expel the son of one of their distinguished alumni, it was decided that Zoisite would tutor his carefree schoolmate. Against all odds, the two struck a friendship that the made the administration fear that the black sheep would ruin the brightest star. All that became moot point when Zoiste somehow managed to tame the black sheep, enough that Jadeite was soon giving him a run for his money, and the black sheep was able to loosen up the brightest star so that Zoisite was now Jadeite's constant companion in detention, whenever the two happened to get caught.
During the beginning of their third year, they met Nephrite and Glaucophane then became friends with Endymion and Kunzite in their fifth year. The Silver Alliance notes in passing that Jadeite and Zoisite did not get along well with Kunzite and Endymion initially but by the time the graduation of the two elders rolled around, the six friends were close. After graduation, Nephrite, Jadeite, and Zoisite all underwent their training under Lord Kunzite. At this time, Kunzite had earned the reputation of a hard but fair General Trainer. Very few willingly chose to be trained by Kunzite, but the three eagerly went because they all wanted to be part of the Terran High Command (again, friendship with the prince a definite consideration).
AN: Jade and Zoi initially didn't get along well with Endymion and Kunzite because Jade made the mistake of going after Laverne who, unknown to everyone except Endymion and Kunz, was actually Kunzite's half-sister. This led to maybe the first and only time that Kunzite almost came to fistfights with another soldier, and a junior at that. This was also where Jade and Zoi started to become friends with the older four friends. When Kunzite told (threatened, actually) Jade to leave Laverne alone and Jade found out the reason why (after lots of spying), he approached Kunzite and apologized sincerely.
When he was a kid, Kunzite idolized his father and when his parents died, his illusions about his father were shattered when his father's will stated that part of his wealth be given to a daughter named Laverne. Kunzite initially wanted to hate Laverne but as she was just a kid, practically a baby, when he met her and his surrogate family (Endymion, etc) reminded him that, in all the ways that matter, Lord Spodumene was still a good man. Whatever the circumstances surrounding Laverne's birth, Lord Spodumene continued to oversee Laverne's education and upbringing. Without trying to force Kunzite to make peace with his father's other family, they installed Laverne's mother as a maid in the palace and she was such a nice and sweet girl that Kunzite eventually warmed up to her. And he began to treat Laverne as a younger sister and they became close, especially after the death of her mother. Since Kunzite (and Endymion) both agreed that Laverne should be kept hidden (she looked a lot like Lord Spodumene, except he had white-blond hair and she has dark brown) and was one of the many maids of the Hall. This also meant that Kunzite was free to care for her and be affectionate with her since nobody else saw their interactions. This would sort of be one of the things Venus would realize and her reaction to the entire Kunzite-Laverne closeness would be one of the reason why Venus would be able to touch Kunzite, to start to matter to him, that is.
Ami was slightly mystified by all the training to be part of the Terran High Command. She could understand entering the Royal Academy and studying and learning the skills needed to be a military man, for it was almost the same as the training those in the Silver Alliance underwent. But having equated the Terran High Command as a sort of distorted Terran version of the Senshi, she could not really understand prolonging the years in order to become a member of the High Command.
In the Silver Alliance, all heirs underwent Senshi training practically on the day they were born. When they reach the age of five, they were sent to live in the Lunarian Palace to undergo the most rigorous and comprehensive training of the galaxy. They were to learn not only the history of their kingdoms but the history of the Silver Alliance and each of its members as well. They were to learn the languages, cultures, laws, and folklore of all Silver Alliance members as well as Outer Kingdoms who have been in contact with the Silver Alliance. Once older, they would undergo training that covered every fighting style known and were challenged to invent a style they could call their own by mixing everything they knew and figuring out what fighting style felt most comfortable for them. In addition to that, they had to master their Psychic powers, get at least a general idea on how to run majority of Mercurian technologies, know Venusian flirting styles (which, under the right circumstances, could be a deadly weapon by itself), and perfect Jovian fighting styles, which were one of the most all-encompassing in the galaxy.
Once they have mastered all that, they would then undergo specific training to strengthen the strengths their races had. If a kingdom had more than one heir, only the true heir would continue to this level. Finally, to graduate and attain the title of Senshi, one had to fight Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune, and Sailor Pluto. The outcome would either be to win (which no one in the Silver Alliance history has ever been able to do, regardless of generation) or to last a few hours, holding up your own side of the fight quite well (which is what usually occurs). The only one exempt from this was the Heir to the Lunarian throne, who underwent lessons alongside the other heirs, with the exception of weapons and defense training. The Inner Senshi's main responsibility is to protect the Guinzuishou and the Bearer and secondary is to protect the galaxy from enemies. The Outer Senshi, on the other hand, underwent a far more disciplined training and their main responsibility was to protect the galaxy from enemies and secondary, to protect the Guinzuishou and its' Bearer.
Terran military ranks slightly resembled normal Silver Alliance ranks, but with a shorter duration of time and yet a more comprehensive training for the latter. Terrans entered Military Academy at the age of eleven (Jadeite entered at the age of twelve) and were called Privates for their first and second year. Third to sixth year was when Privates became Sergeants and after graduation, they attained the title of Lieutenant. Some were happy with this but majority entered field training to go through the ranks of Captain, Colonel, and Major. Majors were trained directly under 3-Star Generals until they became 1-Star Generals and became good enough to rank a 3-Star.
This was the highest level most could hope for and only those aiming to be part of the Terran High Command continued on with their training under the toughest taskmasters of that generation. For Zoisite, Jadeite, and Nephrite, they were under Kunzite. For Kunzite (and, partly, Endymion) he was under the last remaining member of the Terran High Command of the previous generation, Lord Aragonite, who resigned the day Kunzite became a member of the Terran High Command. Lord Aragonite taught Kunzite everything he knew, which ensured that Kunzite would be the Leader of the Terran High Command of this generation.
The Terran High Command were chosen for each generation to ensure that each king, each prince, would have their own set High Command – or a group of likely candidates who were well on their way to joining the High Command – by the time the heir reached the age of eighteen.
Since Zoisite, Jadeite, and Nephrite showed a lot of promise throughout their training, they were given the title 4-Star General or Lord General. A Distinction Test was given when they were deemed ready and, since they passed, they were promoted to 5-Star General level, or a High Lord General, and a member of the most elite force in the planet, the Terran High Command. By some strange quirk of fate, only four to five men in every generation ever made it to this elite force.
The Terran Heir, unlike the Lunarian Heir, underwent the same training as the Terran High Command, the goal being that he would be near to, equal to, or surpassing the Leader of the High Command in skills. For this particular generation, Endymion and Kunzite were equals.
The sky was lightening in the East when Mercury finally ceased her musings and went to bed. Considering their failure at the ball, it was likely that they would have to decide on a new course of action.
September 22 or 23, night
Two Lakes Mountains, Glyden
AN: backstory: after their engagement became public, Endymion's closest friends were teasing him because he continues to sleep with Usagi in her room (with nothing happening! Just pure sleeping) even though they're not yet married. He counters that nothing happens and he wouldn't dream of making love to her "until and unless Usagi was in his bed". Breakdown of conversation:
Endymion: "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I won't touch her until and unless she's in my bed, willingly."
Others: "Why don't you promise not to touch her until the wedding?"
Endymion: "(snorts) Isn't that the same thing? It's not like Usagi will enter my bedchamber before that on her own volition, and neither would I want her to make the first move in that way. Besides, don't you think it's much more romantic to say that I will only make love to her once she's in my bed rather than simply say that I'll not touch her until our wedding night? I mean, how many people say that, really? It's so used. I want mine to sound original and romantic."
Others: "(rolls eyes)"
AN: so on the High Command's annual camping trip while in Glyden, the four generals backed out for various reasons. They really had stuff to do and Endymion also told them to make their excuses. They usually camped at the Two Lakes Mountain, known for its two lakes that were a few miles apart. One lake was a hot spring, with the water coming from beneath the mountains. The other lake was a 'cold' spring, with the water coming from the glaciers on top the mountain. The High Command usually camped somewhere between the two lakes so during the day, they could swim in either of the two. Endymion, with Usagi, camped nearer the cold lake and he 'forgot' to tell her about the warm lake.
On the High Command's annual camping trip while in Glyden, the four generals backed out for various reasons.
After reaching their camp groups, Usagi decided to take a bath at the frigid waters of the lake they'll camp at nearby. There were actually two lakes in that area, one had waters were fed directly by the mountain ice caps and was cold all year round while the other were hot/warm because it was fed by hot springs. Endymion had warned Usagi of the temperature but Usagi didn't think it was that cold and she was hot and sweaty and the thought of a cold bath seemed a good thing. Endymion shrugged and let her be.
Once Usagi jumped in (she forgot to test the temperature first), she shrieked with the shock but said she was fine when Endymion yelled out if she was all right. After her bath, she went to the campsite to see both sleeping bags laid out on opposite sides of the bonfire Endymion made. Endymion was already lying down and had his eyes closed. Usagi was near tears because she was freezing and shivering and couldn't seem to stop.
"Endymion," she called out pitifully, as her teeth chattered. Endymion, who had been lying with his eyes closed, opened them. He took one look at her – at her shivering body and chattering teeth and eyes filled with miserable tears – and wordlessly opened his sleeping bag in an unspoken invite.
Usagi fell on him in an ungraceful heap, hitting her head on his chin and hitting her chin on his chest. But she didn't care. The heat emanating off his body felt so good. She wriggled this way and that, trying to find a comfortable place to be. Proprieties were not at all in her mind as the combined feeling of his heat and the warming of her body that followed started to make her sleepy.
Patiently, Endymion squeezed her waist, an unspoken command to keep still that she followed. He ran his hands through her back, keeping one hand firmly around her and throwing his leg over hers so that he surrounded her in a sort-of body hug.
Usagi immediately ceased moving and sighed contentedly against him. Although their position might be scandalous to others, at this point, Usagi had gotten so used to sleeping beside Endymion that she didn't think much of lying flat on top of him.
One of Endymion's hands brushed against her back, up and down, in a hypnotic and oddly comforting rhythm. His other hand ran through her hair as he methodically lifted the strands to dry it. She felt his lips against her hair and felt his breath tinkle her temple. All this, added to her exhaustion, caused her to be drowsy in record time.
She was just drifting off to sleep when Endymion's voice rumbled in his chest and she felt his lips move on her scalp as he whispered, "Usagi?"
She was barely awake.
She snuggled closer to Endymion, rubbing her cheek against his chest, savoring the feel of his cheek on her forehead and the way his hands ran down her back and through her hair.
"What?" she mumbled.
Endymion bent slightly, so that his mouth was right next to her ear as he whispered, "You're in my bed."
Chapter ?: The Wedding Rehearsal
AN: First almost-one before Usagi finds out who she is. They decided that her identity doesn't matter, even if he is heir, because there had already been a nation-wide (kingdom-wide?) 'search' (indiscreet inquiries) but it yielded nothing. The night before the set date, the friends decided to put on an impromptu wedding rehearsal, with only Usagi, Endymion, and their closest friends, the High Command. They were interrupted by the arrival of the Senshi, both Inner and Outer, who, after a bit of a fight, whisks Usagi off. I'm still unsure if I'll make the Outers enter as Senshi or as not-Senshi but also not looking like Lord and Lady Argent.
Outside the Cathedral, the Senshi raced up the steps.
"Wait!" Ami called to Uranus and Neptune, who were ahead of the Inners.
They paused on the top step and glanced inquisitively at Ami.
"You're supposed to wait for the question!"
"What's she talking about?" Uranus demanded of Neptune as they continued up the steps. Just as Uranus was about to kick open the door, Neptune laid a hand out.
"There's a question to be asked," she said, pressing her ear against the door. "'Is there anyone here who objects to the marriage,' and if someone does, he/she says, 'I object'."
Uranus stared at her, slack-jawed. "Am I the only one who remembers that this is a rehearsal wedding? An impromptu one at that!"
Inside the Church, Jadeite was milking his role as priest for all he was worth. He had also flapped his voluminous robes so much throughout the mock ceremony ("But it's so flowing and airy!"), they had to re-light the candles around the altar three times within the first 30 minutes. After the third, Kunzite grabbed his belt and wrapped it, and the robes, around a protesting Jadeite.
"I now pronounce you Ball and Chain."
"Jade," Endymion mildly reprimanded as Usagi giggled by his side.
"Okay, okay." He rolled his eyes. "I now pronounce you, er, husband and wife, king and queen, and all that rot."
"Isn't the last part kind of inappropriate?" Zoisite commented, standing behind Usagi.
Nephrite, who stood behind Jadeite and acted as the priest's assistant, eyed Zoisite's 'costume', which Usagi insisted he wear as he played the role of Matron of Honor (which Erika would be on the day itself).
"That," he muttered, meaning Zoisite's lacy veil and the fake bouquet of flowers he held clasped with both hands against his chest, "is inappropriate."
Kunzite, who, alongside Endymion and Usagi, was playing the same role he would be in the wedding – best man – struggled to keep his face solemn as he tried to avert his eyes from the spectacle of Zoisite's outfit.
"Jade, get on with it," he managed to choke out.
Throughout the entire ceremony, none of the men could quite look at Zoisite without choking back laughter.
Jadeite smirked. "All right, then. After I do the whole pronouncement, I believe the priest's next words are…" Endymion tilted Usagi's beaming face towards him and bent down, preparing to kiss her, as Jadeite continued laughingly, "all the best men may now kiss the bride."
Endymion froze. "What?"
Usagi, her trembling (with suppressed laughter) lips a few inches away from Endymion's, burst out laughing. "Jade! You're impossible!"
Then ten thousand things happened all at the same time. Well, obviously it was less than that but it just seemed that way because the simultaneous things that happened where so loud and so unexpected on such a relaxed and celebratory night that they seemed more than they actually were.
The massive double doors to the Cathedral burst open and the Generals instinctively went on the alert, the sound of ringing metal echoed inside the Cathedral as four men drew their swords. (Well, Jadeite had to struggle a bit first and it wasn't until Nephrite slit open the belt around him that he was able to draw his sword and make the metal ring.)
Endymion shoved Usagi safely behind him. Zoisite ripped off his veil with the hand holding the bouquet and threw both to one side as he moved to stand next to Endymion. Jadeite jumped down the few steps separating him from Endymion and stood against Endymion's back. Nephrite, who was nearer Endymion's other side than Jadeite, stood there. Kunzite pivoted on his heel and stood in front of Endymion. Endymion protected his woman while his generals protected him.
A gush of wind blew inside the Cathedral, bringing with it the scent of roses.
"I object!" boomed a tall, lithe, blond man as he stalked up the aisle, unarmed, followed closely by a likewise unarmed beautiful woman with flowing dark hair and, even from a distance, the generals could see the intensity of her green eyes.
"This wedding cannot happen." Although the woman's voice was less booming and infinitely more melodious than the blond, it was no less intent.
Although the High Command did not know the intruder's names, the faces were familiar. And even though the two entered unarmed, the generals only marginally lowered their ground – it was not in their nature to attack defenseless opponents.
"Is it just me," Zoisite murmured to his companions. "Or does the scent of roses and 'oohing' and 'aahing' accompany their every appearance?"
The two introducers stopped when they were halfway down the aisle and stared at the High Command. Although they did not give off any impression of aggression, the generals correctly perceived that the two will not stop until they finish their task.
"We cannot allow this wedding to happen," the man repeated.
Kunzite's brows drew down until they met in the middle. "Why?" his voice, pitched quite low, rumbled as he spoke.
"Because we, er, object," the woman answered. "Believe me," she said, gaining confidence as she spoke, "we will stop this wedding from happening, no matter what."
"Oh really?" Neprhite drawled. "You and what army?"
"Yeah," Jadeite added conversationally. "There are five of us and two of you. And even if he was really awesome warrior, I don't quite think the odds are in your favor because, well, we're also all pretty good."
"I beg your pardon?" said the blond. The two of them stilled so suddenly that the Generals gripped their swords at the ready. They exchanged looks before pivoting on their heels and looked behind them, at the gaping emptiness behind them.
"Girls." The man's voice promised dire consequences should his wishes not be followed.
There was a pregnant pause… then the sound of shuffling, of fabric rustling, then…
The Generals gaped at the entrance as Ami, Rei, Makoto, and Minako shuffled inside, all looking everywhere else so they would not have to meet the eyes of the Cathedral's occupants.
Endymion relaxed slightly at the sight of familiar faces though nothing so far made sense to him. Usagi, who had stayed crouched behind Endymion back in paralyzed fear, felt him relax. Taking her cue from that, she started to uncurl, deciding to peek over his shoulder to see what was going on.
"What's going on?" Nephrite asked slowly, eyes on Makoto, who was determinedly staring at the ceiling.
"Who are you?" Endymion asked warily. "What do you want?"
While the four girls clustered behind the two strangers, the two strangers shared a look before the blond hesitatingly announced, "Haruka Ten'oh." Then nodded to his companion. "Michiru Kaioh."
"Normally we'd say it's hey and nice to meet you but these aren't normal circumstances, are they, so forgive our bad manners," Zoisite said, staring hard at Ami as if by staring he could compel her to glance his way.
"What do you want?" Endymion repeated just as Usagi's blond head popped up next to his shoulder. Haruka and Michiru started violently when they saw her and immediately dropped to their knees.
Usagi looked at them uncomprehendingly, uneasy with the brittle tension in the air and uncertain of the events happening. Her hands, which had been holding on to the back of Endymion's jacket, clutched his waist. She looked uneasily at the High Command around her and at the six people across from them.
She met the eyes of the other four girls who glanced at her and smiled weakly, almost as if in apology, still studiously ignoring their respective men.
Michiru and Haruka straightened up and studied their Princess, noting that she stared back at them with no flicker of recognition on her face.
Finally, Michiru could not help it. "Oh, little one, do you truly not remember us?"
Serenity shot an uncertain look at Endymion.
"So it's true." Haruka braced her shoulders then let her gaze rest on Endymion, treating him as an equal, unnerving him. "We do not want any trouble. We just want her back."
Endymion stared at him in disbelief. "Well you can't have her. She's mine."
Kunzite, ever the only General who could instantly separate emotions from logic no matter what, asked, "Do you know her?"
Minako finally broke their silence, speaking in a voice heavy with sarcasm, "Well obviously we know her else we wouldn't be wanting her back now, would we?"
Kunzite quirked a brow. "So who is she?"
"That's not your business, is it?" Makoto said belligerently.
Nephrite stared at her. "Yes it most certainly is ours. She's to be our queen."
Endymion was frowning the entire time. "You know her but you won't tell us who she is?" At Haruka's nod, he scowled. "Well I'm not letting her go just like that! She's mine and until and unless you can prove to me that you know her and mean her no harm, I'm not letting you near her! And you can get rid of the notion that you'll stop me from marrying her because I definitely am marrying her!"
Throughout this all, Usagi stood silent at Endymion's back, thoroughly confused and slightly fearful. After hearing his heartfelt declaration, though, she suddenly hugged him from the back. "Oh that was so sweet!"
The tense mood broke as everyone stared at Usagi like she lost her mind. She glanced at all the disbelieving faces around her and smiled weakly. "Heh."
"Goddess!" Rei finally exploded. "Why are we even arguing with these Terrans?"
Said Terrans frowned for she said their race as if she were not part of it and as if she thought them below her.
"Let's just get Serenity and get out of here!" she continued.
"You're right. We're wasting time." Haruka turned to Michiru, eyebrows raised. "We've tried talking and it didn't work. Can we go on now with my plan which called for action?"
Michiru sighed, rolled her eyes, and nodded, all at the same time.
The two faced the High Command resolutely and their expressions caused the latter to tense in preparation. The two raised their hands and the High Command braced for a fight but instead of weapons, the two were holding something slender in their hands that glinted in the candlelight, and instead of attacking, which the generals expected them to do, they… did something else entirely.
AN: the blond words are stuff that I still need to look/research for the exact wording.
Michiru called out something that sounded like, "Nepchoon Planet Powah, Make-Up" while Haruka shouted, "Uranus Planet Power, Make-Up".
There was a flash of bright light and everyone, except the Inners and, weirdly enough, Usagi, threw their hands up to protect their eyes. When the glare faded, the High Command warily blinked then started violently at what they saw.
Because Haruka's transformation was the most obvious, Sailor Neptune's aqua hair and eyes didn't elicit comment. But for Sailor Uranus… ah. Reactions ranged from no reaction (Kunzite, Endymion), backing up (Nephrite), stumbling back (Jadeite), and yelping "He's a girl!" (Zoisite), Sailor Uranus and Sailor Nepture paid them no heed and, in fact, weren't even looking at them. They stood back-to-back in the center of the Cathedral, at the center of the aisle, still for a second, before Uranus spoke up, "Intro speech here," followed by Neptune's introduction of, "into speech here."
The High Command just gaped at them.
Sailor Uranus glanced behind her and frowned.
Minako weakly smiled at her. "Well since you both seem to have things well in hand…"
Michiru glanced at the younger girls, at the gaping generals, then back to the girls and remarked mildly, almost conversationally, "You do know, of course, that the only reason they… befriended you was because they thought you were spies? They were ordered to investigate you."
The four girls whirled around just in time to catch the generals' stunned guiltily expressions.
Surprisingly, this gasped was echoed by Usagi. "You guys! How could you?"
Rei stared at Jadeite in disbelief. Her temper, the most explosive of all – in more ways than one – flared. Her power, which she had never really learned to unlink from her emotions, ignited even before she lifted a hand to call out her power.
Throughout it all, Jadeite stared at her in fascination.
"Dude, your girl's on fire!" Zoisite yelped, staring in disbelief as flickers of flame spread from Rei's fingertips to her arms, up her neck, crawling over her torso, and flowing into her hair.
"Mars Star Power, Make-Up!"
There was a blinding flash of white light; they again threw an arm over their eyes.
Nervously, Jadeite backed up, warily eyeing an enraged woman with fireballs burning brightly in both her hands. For one of the rare times in his life, Jadeite was silent. Then again, perhaps he choose silence as the better part of valor since 'Rei' looked like she was just deciding what to do with Jadeite – and all choices were enjoyable to her but very likely painful for him – that Jadeite correctly guessed that any sound coming from him would speed up her decision making. He also could not stop staring at her crimson eyes and just barely restrained himself from asking whether her eyes were red because she was mad or if that was her normal eye color.
Makoto stared at Nephrite with murder in her eyes. "You!" She pointed her finger at him. "I am going to hurt you!" She threw one hand straight up.
"Jupta Star Powah Make-Up!"
Again with the blinding white light – the High Command were getting quite used to it and, this time, just closed their eyes against it. The glare barely cleared when Nephrite suddenly dove behind the pulpit. Where he had been standing, a perfectly formed circular burned area was left, still sizzling. Although nobody saw the specifics of the event since it happened so fast, if the highly frizzled hair of the entire High Command and Usagi were anything to go by, it's quite possible that lightning may have struck near them.
"Mako! I swear I can explain!" he yelled from his hiding place while his red hair stuck wildly in all directions above the pulpit.
Ami merely stared at Zoisite, letting her eyes say everything.
Zoisite took a step forward. "Ami," he began.
But Ami held out a hand and he froze. The same hand slowly lifted up. The Command, expecting this, resignedly closed their eyes as Ami called, "Mercuree Star Power, Make-Up!"
When Zoisite opened his eyes, he had been braced to be on the defensive, but 'Ami', who had gotten to know him quite well, was way ahead of him; Zoisite opened his eyes to see 'Ami' just a foot away from him.
He quickly closed his eyes again, so quickly that he failed to see Mercury's surprising transformation from an elderly matron to a very young girl.
"I don't suppose that's a really blunt thing I'm feeling? You know, down there?"
Zoisite swallowed hard.
"Do you suppose," he asked plaintively, very, very careful not to move a muscle. "That you could put whatever that sharp thing is you're putting against, er, me, elsewhere?"
'Ami' raised a cold eyebrow. "Would you prefer I aim for your heart?"
Now Zoisite considered himself as brave and courageous as the next guy, but 'Ami' was aiming for the one place that would really hurt him. And, really, it was every guy's worst nightmare.
"Yes," he croaked without second thoughts.
Better to die a man than… not.
Endymion stared wildly around as his generals scattered.
Hell hath no fury from a woman scorned, indeed.
Only Kunzite remained where he was, only changing his stance so that he stood wider, bracing himself to protect his king from the last opponent.
Steadily, calmly, he stared at Minako. Minako stared right back, as if daring him to challenge her. Finally, with a flip of her hair, she raised her hand. "Benoos Star Powah, Make-Up!"
He was prepared. He was ready. He was expecting it.
Kunzite raised his sword just in time to meet hers. They clashed with an unfamiliar sound and somehow, Kunzite knew that the blond was just playing with him, which was a really weird feeling since it was usually what he did.
'Minako' twisted her sword in such a way that she directed both swords to the ground. She grabbed a handful of Kunzite's hair, pulled him close, and gave him a hard kiss on the lips. When she pulled back, she snarled at him, "I am not a bad kisser!"
They quickly separated, 'Minako' waiting for one second to see if Kunzite would strike, would go on offensive, and when he didn't, she slashed at him from below. He jerked back and angled his sword perpendicular to hers in defense. To his stunned disbelief, he felt his sword give. He looked down in time to see his sword break cleanly in half. So surprised was he that when 'Minako' shoved him, he fell without resistance. As he lied down, he looked up at from across the length of her sword – the tip of which forced his chin up.
"That's impossible," he gasped out.
'Minako' raised an eyebrow. "What is?"
"My sword, the High Command's swords, are made of adamantium, the strongest alloy there is, nothing can destroy it. It's also the rarest metal and of all the adamantium mined, it was only enough to make the five swords that only a Command member can carry."
'Minako' sneered. "You mean nothing on this planet can destroy it."
Kunzite glanced down to study her sword. A sword made of what looked remarkably like glass. Or crystal. Something that easily shattered and easily broke, and all he could think was, impossible.
Although it seemed as if each even happened with an interval of, at least, a few seconds, the truth was that events happened so rapidly that there was general chaos for a few seconds before everything grew quiet.
Amidst the chaos, Endymion had backed up until he stood behind the altar, still holding and keeping Usagi behind him. He looked around and noted that only Neptune and Uranus did not move.
Nephrite was cowering behind the pulpit while 'Makoto' calmly sat in the center of one of the pews that directly faced the pulpit. Methodically, rhythmically, she zapped the pulpit a couple of times with mini-lightnings, perhaps to remind him that he better stay put.
Jadeite still stood frozen in front of the altar while 'Rei' faced him from across the aisle, one of her burning hands raised slightly in warning, telling him without words that one move from him and she'd let loose.
Zoisite was standing in the middle of the steps that led up the altar, 'Ami' standing close in front of him. Although nobody could see what had happened, they noted Zoisite's tense stature, 'Ami's' hand position, and guessed it wasn't good.
Kunzite was lying on his back, propped up by his elbows, in front of the front pews with 'Minako' standing over him like an avenging angel.
Although wholly sympathetic to his generals' plight, he was also worried about his position. He knew very well that as the future king, he had a responsibility to an entire planet to keep himself alive but he knew also that he would never allow anyone to hurt Usagi and was fully prepared to die for her.
For one breath, everyone was still.
Then Uranus took one step forward, towards Endymion and Usagi.
Unthinking, Endymion grabbed the nearest thing he could get his hands on and threw it.
A single blood-red rose, taken from the vases that flanked the altar, flew through the air with deadly precision and pierced the marble floor at an angle, centimeters away from Uranus' boot.
Uranus and Neptune looked at him.
"I won't miss the next time," he warned, holding in his hands eight roses, each one's stem slipped into the spaces between his fingers.
"Stop! Stop! Stop!" Usagi yelled, crying, from behind Endymion. Endymion quickly twisted his body in such a way that he could hold her close to comfort her while at the same time still being able to protect her by putting his body between hers and the others.
"Who the hell are you?" Kunzite demanded. "And what the hell do you want with us?"
'Minako' pressed her (spiked! Ouch!) heel on Kunzite's chest, withdrew her sword slightly, and conversationally answered him, "Oh we don't want anything from you. You we don't care about. We only care about her." She jerked her head at Usagi.
"Please, please stop," Usagi sobbed. "Can't we all talk without fighting?"
"Oh, Sere, honey, this isn't fighting. Believe me, if we were fighting, you'd know." 'Rei' grinned at her. Jadeite relaxed marginally as 'Rei's' fireballs dimmed considerably.
"Senshi, I realize that you all have your own grudges with these… boys – " the Generals all scowled. "But don't you think it's time we do what we're supposed to do so we can leave?" Although Uranus spoke mildly, the men rightly heard the underlying voice of command. And mild reprimand.
The Inners glared at the men but obligingly let them go. One second they were there and the next, they leapt back to stand with Uranus and Neptune.
Intro speeches here.
Jadeite, likewise recovered – more or less – stood frozen in place and gaped at Mars. "Rei, that's a burning arrow. That's a bloody fire arrow. That's a bloody burning fire arrow pointed at me!"
"Mars Flame Sniper!"
Jadeite ducked, but not in time to avoid getting hit, if that was Mars' intention at all. The flaming arrow pierced his collar, barely missing his neck. The impact threw him back and against the wall so that he hung a few feet off the floor, suspended by the arrow. The part of the arrow that was touching his shirt was not on fire, but the rest was, which meant he couldn't pull it out.
In the meantime, Zoisite, having recovered his powers of speech, stared at Mercury in shock. "You're young! And… and… pretty!"
Mercury coolly gazed at Zoisite then suddenly yelled, "Shine Aqua Illusion!"
The Generals, expecting the same bright white light that accompanied the girls' every shout, resignedly closed their eyes but they instead heard a rushing sound and felt the temperature around them drop considerably. They opened their eyes, looked around, and realized that Mercury had frozen all the doors shut.
"Venus Love-Me Chain!"
"Shine Aqua Illusion!"
By the time the mists cleared up, Zoisite and Kunzite were tied together with a weird glowing heart-shaped chain that they were afraid to touch and Nephrite stood where he had been, literally frozen from neck down.
"Stop! Stop! Stop!" Usagi yelled, struggling with Endymion, who had been trying to get her down on the floor. Since she refused to go down, Endymion resolutely remained standing in front of her.
The girls turned to look at the couple and began to attack, but each attack was foiled as Endymion shot his roses with deadly precision.
Finally, Mercury called out, "Shabon Spray!"
Endymion tensed, braced for an attack but instead, a thick mist spread and, within seconds, filled the Cathedral. It was so thick that Endymion could barely see Usagi and she was standing next to him. What happened next happened so fast, one second Usagi was next to him and the next, she was gone. He only had a brief glimpse of something gold that winded around her waist before she was pulled away from him.
"NO!" he yelled, reaching out for her but all he grasped was mist.
Air, he thought desperately, wind to blow the mists away.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a strong gust of wind blew across the Cathedral, dispersing the mists and revealing the Senshi.
"That's… impossible…" Neptune, who was right across from him, stared at him.
"That's… impossible…" Endymion stared at them.
The Senshi were kneeling in the middle of the aisle, forming a rough circle around Usagi. Their heads were bent in concentration and they were glowing, either by themselves or some of the mist still clung to them. Usagi stood in the center, her back to him.
AN: When I finally write this chapter, I was going to elaborate that 'etc, etc' to describe the Senshi calling on their planet powers, so their foreheads were lighting with their symbols, and Serenity began to glow as their combined powers surrounded her and that's when she'll get her memories.
When Usagi regained her memories, she fainted. Uranus caught her and bore her away, with the rest of the Senshi following. Neptune was the last to leave but before she closed the door, she took one last look at them then called out, "Deep Submerge!"
Watching the brightly glowing yellow orb (of possible impending death) hurl down the aisle at them, the High Command, brave to the end, braced themselves for death.
Next chapter… Instead of attacking them, Neptune's power actually freed them and once they realized that, they sprung into action.
Jade: Way ahead of you.
Endymion: Neph, go –
Neph: Gone, baby.
But he was already gone. (they all left, except Kunzite)
Endymion turned to Kunzite, "Kunz –"
Kunzite looked at him impassively. "My place is with you."
Endymion stared at his head general and a look passed between them. He nodded once and they left the Cathedral.
Jade and Neph followed the Senshi, Zoi was to search what background info he could on the girls, and Kunz would guard Endymion because the Senshi could be threats to national security. Endymion understood all this.
Born June 30, Chibiusa was born exactly nine months after Endymion and Usagi first laid together.
Lunarian tradition dictated that she be named Serenity but this confused the Terrans and Lunarians for it was the first time ever that three generations of Serenity's were alive. Before, Queen and Princess was enough of a distinction but because Chibiusa was also a Princess, this would then confuse things. Sailor Pluto started calling her Small Lady and the name stuck.
Endymion was not entirely happy to have another Serenity in his life (a wife and mother-in-law, he once remarked, was plenty enough Serenity in his life and he wanted some 'excitement') so he continued with his intention of calling his child Chibiusa.
When they found out Usagi's true identity, both expressed that they liked the name 'Usagi' and would miss it so Endymion said that he would like to name his daughter 'Chibi-usa' in memory of that name. Serenity/Usagi had then laughed and said that they can only name their second daughter that because the first is always named Serenity. Endymion said he'd find a way around it – and he did.
The child was known as Princess Chibiusa on Earth.
The day after their night in the mountains, Usagi noticed a pimple on her, chin which caused her to shriek (and panic?) the first time she saw it, as she's never had one before. When she was finally reunited with her parents, both of them zeroed in on the zit. Her father was speechless with shock while her mother, quickly concealing her initial surprise (she had a feeling something like this had happened) commented that perhaps she was not used to Terran air which caused her to break out.
The truth was that the Senshi, including the Lunarian Princess, only got zits when they were pregnant. It was practically the only symptom of their pregnancy.
Dark Moon Clan – Prince Diamond, white hair, ice-blue eyes
Fell in love at first sight and swore that one day Serenity/Usagi will be his. Serenity/Usagi replied that love is not forced and is given freely, without any strings attached.
Endymion overheard him and, when Serenity/Usagi left, threatened Diamond that if he ever went near Serenity/Usagi, "there is no place in this universe you can hide from me. I will find you and bring her back."
Diamond swore that one day Endymion would find Serenity/Usagi bound to him (Diamond) and in his (Diamond's) bed.
Had to leave because an uproar occurred at his homeland and his younger brother, Saphire, wrote to him and told him that their world was being destroyed by the wars that were going on and he was the only one strong enough to unite the clans and/or, at least, stop the wars
Kinmoko Planet: Lord Seiya Kou – long black hair, dark brown eyes
Serenity/Usagi was crying when he first saw her and she didn't seem affected by the way that he looked. She always talked about Endymion while with Seiya but enjoyed his company. She was unaware that Seiya was trying to seduce her away from Endymion.
Endymion, however, was not oblivious to Seiya's tactics but couldn't do anything about it because he was either still stuck on Earth or held back by the Senshi and Alliance royalty.
Left because Serenity/Usagi made her choice (Endymion) and he didn't bother to stay for the wedding or any of it because he said it would hurt too much. Before leaving he told Endymion, "Take care of her and don't make her cry."
Endymion ended up respecting Seiya because he could see that he cared about Serenity/Usagi in almost the same way that he himself did.
Lord Taiki Kou – long brown hair, dark brown eyes, was the quiet type of guy and didn't really say much
Lord Yaten Kou – long silver hair, dark brown eyes
Laverne's first crush – but a puppy crush at that – which drove Kunzite insane.
Venus had something to do with this.
Kunzite at first liked him, but when he found out Laverne liked him, Kunzite ended up hating him
Zoisite lightly tugs her arm so that she'll go down the carriage as he tosses out, "Geez, Ami, are you going to marry me or what?"
Ami hit the pavement.
She uses this (her fall) as an excuse to not answer Zoisite (although he takes it as a yes) and the next time they meet, it's at Usagi's wedding rehearsal (where they kidnapped Usagi).
When everything has settled down, Zoisite says she's an innocent and that it's only honorable that he wed her. She says otherwise, that she won't be any man's 'duty' or 'honor'. Zoisite writes what could be the most romantic love letter in the history of mankind to apologize, express his feelings, and ask for her hand in marriage. Unfortunately, she's allergic to love letters and can't get past 'Dear' because she breaks out into hives. This frustrates Zoisite because it "really was the best, ever!" but Mercury can't read it and Zoisite (and Mercury) refuse to let any other read it. And Zoisite can't quite read it with a straight face and a non-red body color.
Zoi: "How many times it thundered before Franklin took the hint! How many apples fell on Newton's head before he took the hint! Nature is always hinting at us! It hints over and over again. And suddenly we take the hint."
Ami: "You stole that quote from Robert Frost!"
Zoi: (angrily, intensely, passionately) "I don't care if somebody else said those words! What I'm trying to say is, I've felt, for the longest time, that I was in love with you. I knew it in a deeper level far beyond my consciousness and the world – and little things in me as well – kept hinting and hinting and hinting and it took a while for me to take the hint! I'm sorry I didn't realize it sooner, I'm sorry I wasn't brave enough to accept that you held my heart in your hands for the longest time. I'm sorry I was not sensitive enough or man enough to realize that I've been in love with you since you called me a liar and a fool to my face and used Abraham Lincoln to do so! I'm sorry all right? I'm sorry for letting time pass that you thought everything I ever did or say to you was a lie! It wasn't! It never was! I may have been the biggest idiot in the world for not realizing just how much I love you, but you're going to be the stupidest woman alive if you're going to continue to use my stupidity as a way to keep me from your life. Are you that afraid to take a chance? For God's sake, Mercury, I love you! You may find another to love – although when you do, I will kill him – but you will never find anyone else who will love you as much as I do. I may not have been to as many places, or planets, that you have been to but I don't need to search the whole universe to know that you, and only you, are the one whom I will love as much as I do and you're the only woman I want to spend the rest of my life with."
Ami: (stunned) "Mercury? You called me by my real name."
Zoi: (throws hand up in despair) "Dear God, woman, you try my patience! I say what is in my heart in what is possibly the most romantic speech you will ever hear me say in this lifetime, and all that penetrates your thick head is the fact that I used your real name?"
Ami: (insulted) "I do not have a thick head!"
Zoi: (pulls hair in frustration) "Mercury, Ami, what does it matter what I call you? You are you and whatever your name is, I really don't care, it won't change how I feel about you or the fact that I want to spend forever with you."
Ami: (melts) "Really?"
Zoi: (angrily) "Obviously!"
Ami: (abruptly) "Okay."
Zoi: (in shock) "What?"
Ami: (dryly) "Contrary to your belief, I did hear everything you said. And you're right. I am sorry that I'm using your stupidity as an excuse for my stupidity. I was afraid. But I'm not, not anymore, and haven't been for the longest time. I just… wasn't sure how to tell you that… um… well… yes. I do love you. I really do. And I've known for the longest time."
Zoi: (in a daze, shocked still) "What?"
Ami: (continues) "I wasn't sure how you felt but if you ask my friends, I had this plan, see, where I would kidnap you and tie you to the bed and make you admit that you loved me and hopefully wring a marriage proposal as well. But if you were still too dense, then I'd ask you to marry me. So I'm really glad you did all that without me having to force you because it means more this way. I do love you, Zoisite, I've always had. And you are the only man I'm meant to be with, forever."
Ami: "Zoi? Are you okay?"
Ami: (sighs) "I don't believe this."
Ami: (assesses Zoi) "Yeesh. The man I love has gone into shock."
Proposal of Jadeite-Mars: there never really was one.
During the reception, Jadeite stands up to do the customary toast and ends it with, "So congratulations to the newly wedded couple, from me and my fiancé, Mars."
Mars: (amidst thundering applause – the most playboy of generals was finally getting hitched) "WHAT!"
Mars: (frostily) "I don't recall you asking me."
Jadeite: (logically) "Would you have said no?"
Mars: "I'm not sure. But right now, after what you just pulled, I'm thinking you're getting a 'hell no'."
Jadeite: (beaming) "Then aren't I lucky that I never asked you?"
First time they sleep together:
Jadeite was teasing Mars that she can't control her powers and Mars was adamantly denying it, saying that she has full control even when angry. It just seems like it doesn't.
The two enjoy betting.
Jade: "Betcha I can make you burn."
Mars: "Betcha can't."
A long while later… Jadeite looked contentedly at the burning remains of his room then turned to the raven-haired beauty slumbering peacefully beside him. He grins and nuzzles the tousled black head beside him. "I win."
Epilogue: (Heaven Sent)
I had an idea that the epilogue would be a letter from a historian to Endymion and Serenity. It would then make it seem as if the entire story of Heaven Sent was a history book regarding the courtship of the Heir and Inner Senshi. It also gives out details on what happened to the children of the couples presented in the story. It's not finished, but here's what I have written so far:
Dear King Endymion and Queen Serenity,
First of all, congratulations! I just heard the news that Chibi-usa has given birth! Please convey my congratulations to the new parents, Chibi-usa and Helios. And please also tell them that I hope, for the sake of variety and history books, that they refrain from naming her Usagi, Chibi-usa, or any of their varieties. Chibi-usa was lucky enough that Pluto called her Small Lady and the name stuck, else all royal missives containing her name would probably not be taken seriously.
Enclosed with this letter is the final copy of the history book you had asked me to write for you. Who would have thought that, when you gave me this task on the day of your marriage, I would enjoy it so darn much? Or find a soul mate in the man you assigned to help me? Or that it would take half of our lifetime for me to complete it and it's not even done! I know you only asked me to document the lives (personal lives) of the current generation of Alliance Monarchs, but the task was so satisfying and it was such a great way to present another aspect of history, I thought to continue it. Although it is perhaps not as important as all the boring details found normally in history books, I (and a lot of Mercurians, actually) find this a much more rewarding read as it shows that the 'heroes' and big names of history are only just like ordinary men and women. Queen Mercury has since instituted a new branch of their history department whose purpose was to document the personal lives of key history figures. She had asked me for suggestions on what to name the branch and I answered "Romance Central" which caused her to stop speaking to me. I was about to apologize but apparently Mercury retaliated by appointing me the Dean of the Romance Department! I've tried to think of what revenge to take but can't think of anything. And Phane is no help as he just bursts into hysterical laughter every time I bring up the topic.
Anyway, as I was saying, while documenting your love story as well as Venus-Kunzite, Jupiter-Nephrite, Mercury-Zoisite, and Mars-Jadeite, I decided to continue on my work and document your post-marriage lives plus your kids. After all, the fusion of Terran bloodlines to all bloodlines of the Alliance has produced pretty interesting results – but I like to think it was because the people were also interesting in a way previous generations never really was (we don't necessarily have to tell Dowager Queen Serenity I said that).
(Other stuff here.)
PS – Phane has just informed me that the royal couple has decided to call their daughter Chibi-Chibi. Please tell said royal couple that, will all due respect, I absolutely refuse to write that name and any story that would necessitate mentioning that name in our history books until they come up with a more acceptable name! Although, of course, I am honor-bound to write down her real name but, like I did with Chibi-usa, I will allow only perhaps 2-4 instances where her real name will be written down – birth, marriage, coronation, and death.
PPS – right before sending this off, I just got the confirmatory results from Mercury and guess what? We're pregnant again! Phane keeps hoping for twins but I told him that's highly unlikely as we already have a set of twins running loose in our home and one set is plenty enough, thank you very much. Could somebody please explain to my husband (who refuses to listen to reason or any research paper previously made on the subject) that the incidence of birthing two sets of twins is highly unlikely even though he thinks that my half-Lunarian and half-Venusian and his Terran-Guardian (with a drop of Lunarian waaaaaay in the past) bloodlines would make it possible? Thanks!
Author's Notes: And that is the end of my notes. Hope you enjoy the drafts and what would have been key moments in my story. Farewell all, and see you in my next story. As of now, Heaven Sent is on permanent hiatus.