Tell me a story…

She didn't rise to be the leader of the senshi by being stupid. She wasn't chosen to be personal guard to the princess of the moon because she was an idiot. Perhaps they had done things differently on Terran soil back then, but she did not get to where she had by being an imbecile.

This she calmly informed the future rule of the universe.

"You look pale, Mamoru," she smiled. She bustled around the spacious kitchen, opening drawers and cabinets, wanting to keep her hands busy. "Any particular reason?"

Mamoru shook his head and silently prayed that she would stay away from the sharp utensils.

"Now, you see," she chirped, slamming the refrigerator door shut with enough force to shake the glasses. "I am not dumb or oblivious. Isn't that right?"

"When…when is Usa coming back?"

Blue eyes narrowed dangerously. "You didn't answer my question."

He briefly wondered how much time he could buy before his girlfriend came back. Being alone with an irritated female in a room with many sharp things was a highly undesirable situation.

"So," she continued, sliding a rather large steak knife out of its plastic cover, "when three of my senshi are walking around with stupid, goofy grins on their faces, I know exactly what happened."

Mamoru choked on the water he had just sipped. "You…do?"

She nodded in reply, running a slim finger across the knife, testing its sharpness. "So…how long, Mamoru?"

He wondered if it would do any good to pretend like he didn't know what she was talking about.

"Don't try to act stupid." She was now slowly polishing the blade. "I know that there are few with the power to revive those of Terra. And it sure as hell wasn't Usagi."

Damn.

"About…eight months?" Seeing her stiffen, he fumbled, "You know, give or take a year or so."

"You son of a--"

"Threatening Mamo­-chan again?" Usagi breezed in, somehow managing to look graceful (in her own way) even laden with groceries. "I wondered why you suddenly had the urge for ice cream and broccoli."

Knowing her liege well, Minako spared Mamoru a withering glare before rushing to help Usagi with the bags. "He revived the Shitennou."

Usagi opened the refrigerator and starting unloading the ice cream. "Ah."

"Eight months ago."

Usagi raised an eyebrow in her sheepish fiancée's direction. "Oh? This he neglected to mention."

"He seems to be neglecting a lot of things. It's because he's an idiot."

Mamoru opened his mouth to retort, but fell silent after a sharp kick from Usagi. Pouting, he opted to remain quiet.

"Do you think that he knows that we know?"

"He's not an idiot, Usagi."

"True. He probably figured it out a long time ago."

She tried not to let that hurt.

Drumming his long fingers against the counter's surface, Mamoru opted to not let on about Kunzite's obliviousness.

"So, what are you going to do?" Usagi looked over her shoulder, and smiled gently at her best friend.

The girl snorted and flipped her golden hair over a slim shoulder. "What do I care?"

Mamoru wisely got out of the way as she snatched her purse and stalked towards the door.
"Oi."

Aino Minako stilled, her skin trembling under Usagi's small hand. "Yes?"

"He'll come, Mina-chan. Don't worry. He'll come."


Kunzite prided himself on his cool demeanor, on his ability to remain unfazed in the sight of chaos. Still, he was very satisfied that his voice came out in a silky whisper instead of a roar.

"You did what?"

Jadeite calculated the distance from him to the door, and cocked his head, wondering how fast their silver haired leader was.

Zoisite, who had already done the calculation, slumped. "We had no prior intention of meeting, Kunzite. We were just curious."

Nephrite nodded encouragingly.

Kunzite briefly contemplated murder. His hands actually reached out and mimicked strangling motions. Nephrite gulped and moved strategically further.

"You met the senshi. You met them and spoke with them."

Zoisite nodded.

"Does Endymion know?"

Jadeite gulped nervously. "Serenity saw me yesterday."

Kunzite's stomach dropped. "You went to meet the Princess?"

"It isn't like I knew that she would be walking into the same bar--"

He waved the excuses away, impatient. "You met the Princess?"

Jadeite nodded slowly.

Kunzite sighed and closed his ice gaze wearily. "Let us hope that Aphrodite does not know."

Jadeite frowned. "I'm sure she doesn't, Kunzite."

"Good." Kunzite abruptly shot to his feet and strode purposely out of the room.

Nephrite watched his friend carefully. "Do you not wish to see her, Kunzite?"

The door slammed shut in reply.


Passerby scurried away as a seemingly insane white haired man let out a slight roar of rage and pounded a fist against a nearby wall.

Fools. Imbeciles! How dare they go against all reason and…and...

His hands clenched and fell to his side, useless. His blasted heart ached with jealousy. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair.

He wanted to see her.


The first time they had met, she had tried to kill him.

Granted, it wasn't her fault. The entire situation had been a mess of confusion from the very moment Endymion had set eyes on the moon princess. In hopes of preventing an affair between the two, the Shitennou tried vainly to discourage any contact between the two outside of public or formal occasions. Strangely, the others soon grew lax in their efforts; Jadeite seemed more interested in seeing if he could escape death by fire, Nephrite took to shutting himself in his room, forbidding any of the others access and Zoisite had practically locked himself in the library. Useless.

During a dinner held in honor of relations between the moon and Earth, Kunzite saw his chance as the princess excused herself from the table early. He had followed her, unsure of his intentions, but armed with the knowledge that he needed to do something before the predicament escalated any further. He had reached out, his fingers outstretched to grasp the petite girl's shoulder, and let out a surprised grunt as a sharp point poked him none too gently in the back.

Funny meeting you here, my lord.

He had turned gingerly and was pierced by two startlingly blue eyes. The princess of Venus. The irritation and annoyance that had flared up at his being caught unawares vanished like smoke.

It would seem that you resemble a mouse in headlights.

What?

He had raised his hands slowly, glanced down at the tip of the sword she brandished—was that stone?—and did something foolish.

He laughed.

Kunzite smiled, a bittersweet twist of lips, and leaned back against the post. It had taken nearly an hour of pleading from the tiny princess to calm the bristling blonde and prevent any permanent damage to his person.

How could he not have fallen in love?


Mina blew a frustrated breath, watching it puff in the cold air. Usagi's parting words hadn't left her in the best of moods, but she was doing her best to shrug the feeling of uncertainty off. She needed to cheer up. What was that phrase? Out of sight…

Out of heart?

The blond let out a huff and plastered a smile on her face. Just because the guy wasn't coming to look for her was no reason to be upset. She shouldn't be upset. Right? RIGHT.

She was smiling so widely that people were starting to give her strange looks as they passed by. Sucking in her breath and straightening her shoulders with a sort of painful determination, she prepared to flounce away.

BAM.

Gasping in shock and annoyance, Minako found herself staring at a pair of well worn boots, lifting a hand to her offended nose.

"I'm so sor--" the words of apology died on her lips as she followed her gaze up.

Dark slacks. Broad chest. Bright green eyes, filled with the same turmoil of emotions that she suspected she was feeling. Her hand fell, limp, to her side.

Silver hair.

She heard a strangled sound, only half aware that it came from her own mouth. A memory, faint but insistent, ran through her mind like mist.

Funny meeting you here, my lord.

Kunzite.


He supposed, looking back, that it wasn't exactly the bravest or noblest course of action. Jadeite would most likely never let him hear the end of it. Imagine, Kunzite, the greatest of the Shitennou, running from a girl who barely came up to his shoulder. It was humiliating. It was embarrassing.

Muttering curses—directed at everyone from Endymion to Zoisite to himself—he ran on, unceremoniously shoving hapless pedestrians out of his way in his desperation. His face impassive, his heart thudding painfully, he found that he didn't care.

He just hadn't been prepared for the horror reflected in her eyes.


Minako watched his graceless departure with a sort of detached wonder, uncaring that she remained sprawled on the sidewalk. Should she follow? She admitted to herself that she had not the strength for that, and simply sat, staring after him and fighting back tears that rose, unbidden, to her eyes.

He had looked terrified. An unladylike snort escaped her lips, and she found herself laughing, her sides shaking until it hurt.

Familiar hands grasped her arm, gently pulling her to her feet. A warm voice spoke her name, questioning. She barely noticed.

He had looked terrified.

She remembered their first kiss.


After the large misunderstanding which nearly resulted in Kunzite's head on a stick, she had taken to following him around the palace—ultimately causing the normally stoic and mature king to result to childish things such as bribing Jadeite to lie about his availability or whereabouts and ducking behind pillars whenever he heard a telltale click of heels.

Serenity had laughingly chided her, but she had ignored it. There was something about the man, something that she could not place a finger on, that intrigued her. And so the hunt continued…

…Until she found herself being harshly yanked into an unoccupied room by a white gloved hand. Her shriek died on parted lips as her eyes focused on the man, only to be replaced by a calculating grin.

If you desired to be alone with me, my lord, you could have just asked.

His eyebrow had twitched alarmingly, and she had taken advantage of his speechlessness to observe the chamber. The War Room. It had been appropriate.

Blast it, woman! I demand that you cease your actions immediately!

She had laughed and circled and he had backed away, nearly falling over the Queen's throne. A dull flush rose over his cheeks—almost invisible-- and he had held a hand out in front of him, as if to ward her off. She only came closer.

I said cease! Blast it all, get away!

She had kissed him then, only to pull away with a loud gasp at the flash of heat that had sparked between them. Instantly, his eyes had changed, grown darker with some emotion that she had not wanted to believe. Her mouth had been hanging open. His curled in a knowing smirk. She somehow freed herself of his hands, which had risen to wind themselves in her hair, and, mumbling apologies, had fled, not noticing the way his eyes had lit in amused wonder.

With that one action, the game had instantly changed. What had started as simply curiosity had unexpectedly morphed into something more dangerous. Now it was her that blushed when she met his gaze, her who tried to avoid his eyes when he spoke.

Damn the man.

Without even meaning to, she had fallen in love.


Kunzite sank against the door, eyes closed in resignation. Jadeite and Nephrite had looked up in shock as he slammed the front door, but he had ignored them pointedly as he thundered up the stairs. By the Goddess, could he do nothing right? Staggering over to the bathroom, he splashed water on his suddenly pale face and leaned drunkenly against the mirror.

She had looked at him with horror. There had been other emotions as well, but he had not been able to see them through his own shroud of pain. She had looked at him with fear.

Letting his eyes fall shut, he let out a haunted cry, releasing enough power to shake the house. Books fell, scattered, by his feet. Zoisite would most likely throw a fit. Kunzite didn't care.

She had looked at him as if he were a monster.

Just like the day she died.


He had watched her that day, coldly admiring as she slew youma after youma, their blood splattering her otherwise flawless face. She cried out only once, when she saw the red senshi fall. Kunzite had merely curled his lip in disgust. The little fire princess had the tendency to let her emotions get in the way. A pity. But then he smiled.

His goddess wouldn't.

When she saw him, her eyes traveling over his uniform, his cold gray gaze, she had looked at him with a sense of resignation. There was no hope, not even shock. It was as if she had known this day would come.

Time had stood still. He could still remember the sense of utter silence, as though they were alone rather than in the middle of a war. Then he spoke.

Funny meeting you here, my lady.

Her eyes had widened impossibly, fingers trembling on the golden links of her whip.

Bastard.

He had simply smirked. Usually his goddess was cleverer than that. Then, without warning, he had lashed out, smiling when his sword was parried.

Come to play with me, my little love?

They had always fought with a similar style, with no easy victor. She had possessed, obviously, the abilities of a Senshi, but as a Shitennou— or a Dark General--he was in no shortage of power himself. Every thrust was parried, every attack blocked.

She had met his gaze head on; eyes carefully blank lest they betray her next move. But with every swing of his sword, he saw something flicker behind the mask.

Anguish.

Enraged at this, he realized that she was deliberately on the defense, reluctant to actually attack.

Do you think that you can play with me, Aphrodite?

She had not answered, simply holding her gaze steady and blocking his next move.

Fight me!

Through his red veil of fury, he saw a flash of something in the corner of his eye, and felt his lips curl in a triumphant sneer. By the sudden look in Venus' eyes, she had seen it as well. A brief flash of silver.

The Princess Serenity.

His goddess had shrieked her name, terror coloring her voice, but it was too late, and she fell, hands struggling to contain her screams at what she saw. The girl had fallen, pierced on a blade of stone. Something inside of Kunzite that was still him pained at the sight, the small twinge flaring up as he realized what the girl was lying on.

Endymion…

He had remembered brushing the hurt aside and heading towards the bodies. Before the battle, Beryl had specifically ordered that the princess be delivered to her, and he had no intention of failing.

And then she had appeared in front of him. Hair askew, fuku tattered and liberally splattered with blood. He had itched to have her.

Her eyes had filled with tears that she struggled to blink away, her face contorted with grief. But her sword had been steady.

Do not make me do this.

He had laughed, scornfully. Your liege is dead. Can you still choose between us?

Kunzite, stop.

He had pressed on, uncaring of the heartbreak in her voice, and mockingly opened his arms as if to embrace her. Come. You could never make the choice between duty and—

She struck then, stabbing him through the chest, and his words had trailed off, gurgling as he fell to his knees. A thin trail of blood had trickled out from his mouth, hot against his cold skin.

Only then had she sobbed, a loud keening that something inside of him had ached to comfort.

He could still hear it, the uninhibited wail of mourning. He could still see it, the way her body had crumpled with the force of her pain, uncaring of the battle that still waged around them. Her words still haunted his nightmares.

Kunzite, why?

And then he had known no more.


Minako felt her heart stop beating as she surveyed the simple building. It looked unassuming, but…

"Did the house just shake?" she asked, her eyes widening in disbelief. Her companion merely groaned, running a slim hand over his face to muffle an oath.

"Think nothing of it," he assured her, reaching for the door. He looked back, emerald eyes quiet and searching. "You may come in, if you change your mind. I'll keep the door open."

She murmured a brief 'thank you' as he opened the door and was briefly assaulted with loud music and louder voices before it swung shut.

What was she doing? She fought the urge to pace, knowing how foolish it would look. He had run from her, had he not? And yet, here she was, standing outside his door like a fool. The sudden urge to flee rose in her, choking. And yet…

You are no coward, Aphrodite.

She shut her eyes at the voice, unwilling to deal with the sharp ache that it triggered.

Squaring her shoulders, she nodded resolutely. She reached for the door, only to gasp as the door was ripped open.

The shouting ceased instantly, and she forced herself to meet his gaze in the silence.

"Hello." She smiled softly. "Funny meeting you here."


Kunzite felt the door get slammed behind him, and nearly gave into his urge to kick it down and escape up to the sanctuary of his room. Those idiots! When he was through with them, not even Endymion would be able to stitch them back together.

Instead, he found his hand reaching out to cup her cheek. Horrified, he dropped the offending limb, forcing it behind his back.

"Aphrodite," he whispered, the very sound of her name on his lips evoking emotions long forgotten.

She simply stared at him; her smile bright, her gaze guarded. Then, without warning, her eyes filled.

"Why did you do it, Kunzite?"

He flinched.

Kunzite, why?

"Because…" He gave in and traced the curve of her cheek with his calloused fingertip. Tears streamed down her face, and he wished that he was strong enough to wipe them away. "Because I was too weak."

She simply stood, silent.

"I knew that we could never be together—a Shitennou and a Senshi. I had nothing to give but my heart—and what good that would do? A war was looming, and I was unable to offer even allegiance. If only…" he trailed off, eyes distant.

"Do you think that any of that truly mattered to me?" she demanded.

"I wanted to protect you."

The words hung, mocking, between them in the ensuing silence. He fought the insane urge to laugh.

"You should have known, Kunzite."

Irritation rippled across his features. "I am no Nephrite, I cannot read the stars. I cannot see the future."

She shook her head and backed away. His hand clenched, and he let it fall.

"You should have known me."

He could stand it no longer, reaching out and grabbing her wrist. She stiffened.

"Remember? How you used to cry at night because you did not think that you bear to choose between me and Serenity?"

She did.

"If only I had had enough power to bring an end to all of it. I wanted to protect you from ever making that choice."

She seemed shocked, her free hand coming up to brush at the moisture on his face. It seemed like forever before she spoke. "You were tricked."

"I was a fool. To trust a witch over my liege."

"You made a mistake."

Kunzite snorted. "One that cost us everything."

"So where do we go from here?"

Stunned at the sudden question, he found he could not answer, fear robbing him of his voice. The silence stretched for what seemed like an eternity.

She cleared her throat and looked away. "I doubt that things could ever be the same."

He nodded, acutely aware of the sharp pain in his chest. He turned, reaching for the doorknob blindly, aware only of the fact that his world was breaking. He had known better but he had hoped, he had hoped

And her hand was his and he stilled, disbelieving…

"So let's try to make it better this time around."


Kunzite's hand tightened to a vise grip, and he turned—slowly—to meet her eyes, afraid.

And there she was, her eyes puffy but brilliant, her smile blinding.

Her whoop of joy rang like bells as she found herself scooped up and twirled in capable arms, looking into eyes that she thought she would never see again.

"I love you," he breathed. "More than I dreamed possible."

The tender moment was broken when she threaded her fingers through his hair, jerking his head back firmly.

"Well?" she demanded. "Isn't this the part where you kiss me?"

She had, he reminisced, always been bossy.


Zoisite peeked out from the window, impatiently flicking his hair out of his emerald eyes and pressing his cheek to the glass to try to get a better view.

"Stop hogging the window!" Jadeite whined.

"Shut up, you idiot, I can't hear!"

Nephrite rolled his eyes from his position as the two younger men bickered. His rank and age gave him the right to use the spy hole in the door, which granted him a better view, but poor hearing—made even worse by the idiots' pointless argument. He turned to hiss a command to shut up already, but instead let out an ungraceful oomph as the door swung open, toppling him to the floor.

Kunzite loomed threateningly in the small doorway, his pale eyes flashing. Minako stood behind him—her hand in his-- radiant but sheepish. Nephrite was in the middle of returning her grin when his eyes narrowed in concentration. Was Kunzite wearing Minako-san's lip-gloss?

The silver haired Shitennou had the tendency to grow quieter when he was truly irritated, which was why the purr of his voice had the shorter men paling considerably.

"Who told Minako where to find me?"

The room erupted in chaos as Minako's giggles, Kunzite's threats of bodily harm and the sound of furniture being knocked over filled the rafters.

Make me believe in happily-ever-after's again.


Author's note:

Tah-dah! I struggled and struggled with this chapter, and finally finished it. Sick with a cold, to boot. v I know that I said that I would finish Forever before working on another chapter, but I couldn't resist. Besides Ami and Zoisite, this couple is one of my favorites. And I knew that I had to write the "seduction scene" before I lost the image.

Writing this chapter was a lot harder for me than any of the others. Maybe because it's been a while-- who knows? But I really worked hard to put emotion into the words-- so much so that I was actually kind of drained by the end of this-- especially the death scene. So I hope that comes through. (The emotion, not the fact that I was tired.)

I always hated those who don't like senshi romances because of the prophecy in Sailor V. It makes sense, but...I see the Shitennou as being strong enough to handle that knowledge.


Thank you all so, so much for your reviews.

P.S. The last chapter (usa/ma) won't be out until I post at least a couple of chapters of Forever, so be please be patient.