I know some people are very against the way Endymion's warriors were portrayed in the anime, myself among them. They made Zoisite look so pathetic, just following 'Malachite' around everywhere and pretty much draping herself over him. I like the Zoisite from the manga much better- but I like whomever initially made the decision to present one of the Earth guardians as a female. Sailor Moon is skewed towards the whole 'Girl Power' thing in some ways, isn't it? Every single superhero and mega-Villain is a chick. So I kinda like the idea of Endymion having a lady guardian person.

The Silver Millennium had a certain order to it. The Moon watched over the Earth, and all the other planets watched over the Moon. Earthy had declined to be part of the Moon Kingdom many hundred years ago, but there was still a deep bond between it and it's Holy Guardian. None of the other planets had withdrawn as such, but they were not so heavily populated, nor so powerful as Earth was. So they watched over those who watched over Earth.

Each of the planets had a republic of sorts; the overarching Moon Kingdom, as well as Earth, were the only who still relied on a royal figure to lead them. But each of the planets also had a royal family, of course, who produced a sacred warrior to watch over their Moon Princess as she grew and developed into the queen that would rule the Moon Kingdom. Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter each sent their young lady to the Moon, to become a Sailor Senshi and watch over the growing Moon Princess...the undefeatable and immensely beautiful Sailor Moon.

Earth, while enjoying the protection of their Moon, operated differently. They had a royal family who had ruled for centuries, and the members of that family were aided and guarded by members of the Elementae family. Prince Endymion, the future sole ruler of Earth, had four noble beings from this lineage watching over him. Kunzite, the well-spoken leader of the group who'd become a best friend as well as Endymion's most trusted advisor. Kunzite's younger sister, a spunky, sassy girl named Zoisite who could hold her own against her brother and her cousins. Jadeite, the hot-tempered fighter who had a soft spot for his friends. And Nephrite, the tough, somewhat wild man who frequently went against the wishes of his mother Beryl, the leader of the family, to aid his Prince in seeking the Moon Princess's company. Beryl, along with many other Earthlings, were against the budding romance between Endymion and the Princess Serenity. They assumed that if the two were married, it would mean a reuniting of Earth with the Moon Kingdom. And though they were happy to bask in the protective embrace of the Kingdom, they wanted the Serenitys and their hairbuns to stay out of Earth's business.

Endymion's friends were perfectly willing to ignore this opinion, and keep a lookout for servants and such when the Princess had descended to Earth. Frequently, she brought her friends along with her. Makoto, Princess of Jupiter, was fierce warrior who loved girly things such as pearls and flower petals. Minako, Venus' chosen champion, commanded the attention of most every male she met, though she could probably have taken them all in a fight. Rei, Sailor Mars, was a deeply attuned and loyal companion of the Princess. And lastly, Mercury's Ami was a brilliant but shy little girl, who frequently found herself tagging along after the other girls.

Once again, the five girls had sneaked down to Earth against the wishes of the Queen's advisor Luna. They met the Prince and his band in one of Endymion's many gardens. Giggling, the group split. Endymion and Serenity headed off for a stroll around the garden as their friends were left to amuse themselves. Minako's beauty had deeply attracted Kunzite several visits ago, and the two arranged themselves on a bench near a fountain to debate and discuss topics of mutual interest. But the two thinkers did not appear innocent friends, as their hands were entwined as they spoke.

Makoto and Nephrite were already gone. After a horseback ride a few visits ago, they were always attached at the hip on Serenity's trips to Earth. Whether it was running the hedge maze a few hundred meters away, wandering the supposedly haunted attics of the palace, or disguising themselves as common folk and wandering Tokyo's streets, they were always off on an adventure.

Rei and Jadeite always bickered on these visits. But it was a playful, flirtatious kind of bickering which often resulted in the two disappearing for an hour alone, and coming back (still bickering) quite disheveled.

As she watched her best friends be romanced by these handsome, strong warriors, Ami often liked to wander the large, beautiful gardens. She'd bring a book and read in a grassy alcove, or try and identify all the flowers she came across as she wandered aimlessly. She sometimes ran into Endymion and Serenity, who looked at her pityingly, as if apologizing for Endymion only having three men in his entourage. She wasn't as desperate for love as they seemed to think her, but she still found herself slightly jealous in the presence of all the happy couples, slightly sad that she would probably never have that, and slightly embarrassed at all the lovey-dovey goings on around her.

Sometimes she ran into Zoisite, who too wandered around, enjoying the beautiful day. She rarely stopped to talk to Zoisite, as the girl made her nervous. It wasn't that she was afraid of Zoisite; both knew that Ami's power, which stemmed from Mercury itself, was much more than anything Zoisite could hope to grasp. But Zoisite always impressed Ami so much that she felt inferior in her presence. It could have been the fact that Ami was dressed in a lightly flowing gown today, one where the blowing breeze rustled the silk so that it looked like the ocean, whereas Zoisite was content in leather boots and a simple maroon dress. Her male counterparts wore armor and capes, but Zoisite looked natural in the short but flexible dress, with a drawstring bag and a weapons belt tied around her waist. Her untamed, blonde, curly hair exploded over her shoulders and hung every which way on her back, making her look fierce. Ami felt delicate next to this-this gladiator, even though she was the one who supposedly fought off greater evils.

The Senshi had always worn the Sailor uniform, and the Princesses had always dressed up such when going on social outings. Neither was becoming of the warrior Ami felt she was supposed to be, like Zoisite was.

She found Zoisite reclining in the cemetery. She'd always known there was a small area with royal graves and flowers of mourning in the gardens, but they were so spacious, she'd never stumbled across it. Zoisite lay on top of a tomb, letting the sun hit her face and closed eyelids, with a sprig of something clutched to her chest. The sun glinted off her skin and shiny sword as Ami slowed her walking to drink in the sight.

"Fallen Goddess..." escaped her lips before she knew it, and Zoisite's keen hearing picked up on it right away. She raised her head and stared inquisitively at the girl before her.

"You want something, Mercury?" It stung the way she always called her 'Mercury'. At galas and banquets, when the two ran into each other and courtesy demanded a greeting, it was always Mercury. She had even taken to calling the other Senshi by their given names, if not for any other reason than her guys were always talking about them. But she heard nothing about Ami from any of the four. She didn't know Ami that well. So she didn't call her Ami.

"No, I was just passing through. I've never been to this part of the gardens before." Zoisite nodded, looking around and sitting up.

"Do you have the heebie-jeebies or something?" Ami shook her head.

"I don't find graveyards frightening. They are resting places, not damned areas." Zoisite cracked a smile as she swung herself down from the flat tomb.

"I always thought that you'd be the kind of person who got scared in graveyards. I guess I was wrong." Ami was not sure if she should be offended or not. Hadn't Zoisite basically just told her she was a wuss?

But the blonde was already approaching her. Ami's glance fell to the flower in her hand, and Zoisite noticed her eyes' path.

"Its called Meralily. It grows on Saturn, and it represents life continuing after death. It's a flower of mourning, but a happy one." She held the blue blossom out to Ami, who awkwardly took it from her. "The Prince's great-grandfather brought it here to the gardens when his wife died. It's my favorite flower that grows here." Ami examined it closer. If someone so admired such as Zoisite found the flower so amazing, there must be something special about it. But she couldn't find any peculiar shapes or interesting markings. It was, she realized, just a pretty plant.

"I love the color," she said, searching for something to say. It was true; the blue-violet color of the flower was soft and inviting, yet powerful. Zoisite held out her hand for the flower, and Ami quickly placed it in her open palm, but found that Zoisite had stepped closer and was slipping the stem under one of her barrettes. She wasn't even sure why she was wearing barrettes when they were just sitting there, serving no purpose except to hold flowers, apparently; probably just because there was nothing else to be done with her hair. It wasn't long, or flowing, or curly, or even a lovely color. It was just straight and blue, and thus short. Ami felt the cut suited her unattractive hair better than a long style could have. It wasn't like she'd even find a man, like her friends had, to notice how her hair framed or did not frame her face.

"It looks pretty in your hair," Zoisite commented. "It makes it look more purplish."

"I wish my hair was that color," Ami said, forgetting to be bashful for a moment, and wandering over to the small reflection pool in the center of the cemetery to see how she looked with the flower. Zoisite's careful fingers had entwined it just so that it actually did make her choppy hair look cute. And purplish, apparently.

"Why?"

"Because it's such a lovely shade of blue. One that you don't commonly see." Zoisite studied her for a minute.

"You're always wearing sapphires," she finally said. Ami blinked. Sure she was wearing sapphire earrings, but she still didn't get Zoisite's point. "Every time I see you, you're wearing sapphires. Rei wears rubies, Minako wears Topaz, and Makoto emeralds. Serenity wears diamonds. Is there a rule that says you have to wear those stones?"

"N-no, they're just native colors of our planets. Blue is Mercury's color." Zoisite looked like she'd just said something as obvious as 'Hey! You're breathing!'

"I know blue is Mercury's color, but there are other blue stones."

"Aquamarine, I know. But it's very pale, and I don't care for it much." Zoisite smiled as she drew a chain out of her dress. She lifted it from over her head, and handed it to Ami. A deep, sparkling stone, the same color as the flower that resided in her hair, sat in her hands.

"It's zoisite." Amy lifted her eyes and smiled back at her new friend.

"Your family tradition is known everywhere, but I didn't even think about your namesake." She made to hand it back, but Zoisite bent her head. Surpised, she slipped the pendant back around her neck.

"Will you walk with me?" Zoisite asked, her green eyes shining. She couldn't help it- she was constantly surrounded by boys. The prospect of just hanging out with another girl had always seemed strange, but now it just seemed comfortable. Beaming, Ami, ever the proper princess, linked her arm with Zoisite's.

They strolled around the gardens, pointing out flowers to each other. Zoisite lived here, and could identify several of the buds that way. Ami had never seen several of them, but had seen pictures of them in books. When the reached a bloom that normally grew on Pluto, the topic rolled around to her fellow Senshi, Setsuna.

Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto did not send scouts to watch over the Moon Princess. Setsuna of Pluto guarded the gates of Time, Hotaru of Saturn guarded the gates of the Afterlife. And Sailors Neptune and Uranus, called Michiru and Haruka, roamed the Kingdom, fighting off invaders and serving as envoys. The four were rarely seen, and Setsuna least of all.

"She was at the Princess' sixteenth birthday, was she not?"

"I don't recall seeing her there, but I was mostly kept towards the back. A mangy Earth girl like myself can't really compete with all the ladies in their ballgowns, can I?"

"Well, it's their loss," Ami declared. She could not believe she had ever felt awkward around this girl. Zoisite was tough, yes, but she turned out to also be very caring.

"I do remember talking to Princess Haruka. She's pretty cool." Ami nodded, also feeling slightly in awe of the outer planet Senshi.

"And Michiru was there, obviously." The love affair between the two women was common knowledge. And while some chose to shun them, others regarded their romance as the stuff of legends. These brave fighters with their passion for each other would have many stories written about them once they were gone.

"I find the idea of just traveling around, wherever the wind blows you, fighting alongside your partner a beautiful idea, don't you?" Ami nodded.

"I've always admired them. They're very serious, but I don't know two happier people."

"Except my Prince and your Princess," Zoisite commented, making a face as they walked past the couple who sat on a stone bench in each other's arms. Ami giggled.

"They're all so foolish, aren't they? They spend all week waiting and thinking about each other. Yet, I think it's terribly romantic." Zoisite shrugged.

"All of them except for us are completely gaga over each other. They're all doomed relations, but it does leave those of us on the outside a little jealous." They walked along further, Zoisite picking two white roses, one for each of them. "Do you ever wish you'd gotten one of the boys, instead of your friends?" Ami slowly shook her head.

"I don't think I ever had a chance, and I'm happy they're happy." Zoisite snorted an unladylike snort.

"Well, that's about the most passive thing I've ever heard. You want love? Go get it. Don't worry about your chances, and don't let the happiness of your friends outweigh your own!"

"If you're so adamant about it, why aren't you wandering these gardens with your own man right now?" Zoisite calmed down, shrugging.

"I haven't found the right person. When I do, I'll walk these gardens with them." She plucked a flower with silvery-white petals absentmindedly, before holding it up against Ami. "It's the same color as your skin." Looking for a place to put it on Ami, she hesitated, then twisted it under the broach on Ami's bosom which connected to a string of pearls around her neck, and held her floating dress up. As she her hand accidentally brushed the sensitive skin beneath the fabric, both girls blushed.

"My apologies, Ami," she said as she took Ami's arm again. A warmth settled down on Ami, as she heard Zoisite speak her name aloud for the first time.

"So, we should be heading back," Ami said after an hour of wandering. Zoisite looked up to read the position of the sun.

"Time goes by so fast." They'd been walking and talking the whole time. Zoisite turned them onto one of the paths that would take them back to the castle. Ami let herself be led- Zoisite knew these grounds far better than she did.

"Do you think our friends will even noticed if we're late?" she asked Ami as they walked.

"They are quite wrapped up in their own little words, aren't they?" she responded with a giggle.

"Do you think all love is like that, or just their brand?"

"I don't know. Some people choose to spend time together on their own time."

"Others grasp at every chance they have," Zoisite answered, nodding. "Like our friends."

"Haruka and Michiru don't do that."

"But then again, they roam the Kingdom together alone. They have all the time in the world."

"But they don't. They're warriors- they know that any fight could be their last." Zoisite's eyes pierced her as she turned towards her again.

"That's very true. I guess that's why ours are jump at the bit so much to spend time together. Every moment could be your last."

"Live for today," Ami finished for her. Neither said anything aloud, but both were thinking the same thing: Should they be living for today this very day?

"Can we walk together next time I come?" Ami asked, daring to voice the question first. Part of her shyness had slipped away during the course of their casual talking.

"Of course."

The Senshi held hands as they chanted to their home planets, and transformed into light for the journey home. Just before they left, when each girl was looking sadly into the eyes of her sweetheart, Ami opened her own eyes to find Zoisite's looking at her. She smiled at her as they left Earth, already awaiting their next visit.

When the time for that visit rolled around, the two continued walking the palace grounds, pinning flowers to each other's clothing. Arm-linking turned into hand-holding, and blushing at skin contact ceased to be. They talked about everything- politics, fashion, their home planets. They waded in the pools together. They hugged goodbye. They lived in the day, for the day.

Princess Serenity's seventeenth birthday party had many guests from Earth present. Among them was Prince Endymion, and his four body guards. The Prince and Serenity were at an undisclosed location, however, so the pairings-off between the guards had taken place. Ami led Zoisite out to the Moon Gardens, showing her the view of Earth from the terrace.

"I've never walked these gardens," she told Ami, her eyes still on the marble-like planet.

"It'll be an adventure," Ami giggled. Fireworks lit the sky, and Zoisite's eyes danced. Their fingers looped together as Ami pulled her towards her favorite grove. Something shining in the night caught Zoisite's eye, and she peered closer to see the bracelet Ami wore around her left wrist.

"Zoisite," they said together.

"It's a beautiful stone. Better than sapphires. And it reminds me of you." She gave Zoisite a small smile as the blonde stared at her. Ami took the time to pluck a purple flower, and tuck it behind Zoisite's ear. She leaned in to adjust the wild hair which fell over it, and found herself enveloped in her first kiss.

Zoisite pulled back, shy for once in her bold life. Was that okay? Did she scare Ami? Scaring sweet Ami was the last thing she wanted to do. But Ami just stared at her in the light reflecting off Zoisite's planet, thinking to herself how funny this is. She would have considered herself far too fragile and girly for Zoisite just a few months ago, but here they were, falling for each other. Zoisite had the same thoughts; Ami couldn't possibly be into someone so rough, so coarse.

"Hey, I didn't mean-" she started, but was cut off by Ami's lips on hers. Fireworks exploded in the background as one of them broke the kiss, and then, grinning at the other, wrapped her arm around her girl's waist. The other did the same, and Ami leaned her head on Zoisite's bare shoulder as they walked, feeling quite at peace. Zoisite's wild hair quickly draped itself over Ami to cover the naked back exposed by her powder blue dress, and they walked on, through the gardens. On the way, they ran into Minako and Kunzite, kissing by one of the fountains. For once, Ami felt no jealousy, no sadness, no embarrassment. She was not walking the gardens alone anymore. She had her own someone.