I don't own sailor moon. I just borrow.
Minako sat curled up in front of the window. It was raining. Again. She sighed, pulling the fleece blanket closer, shifting in her chair, the assignment from Artemis forgotten on her desk. Focusing was just not happening today.
Gray days always made her think about him. Those gray eyes laughing at her while she protested the gloom his planet subjected her to. That gray hair, silver and diamonds when he walked in, dusted with raindrops from morning patrol. Him. It was always him. And she hated him for it.
And it was almost the Lunar New Year, yet again. And, yet again, there would be debts uncleared between the two of them. A promise broken, retribution to be paid. But he never showed up to pay. This year, Usagi had made the Senshi an offer, on of the many 'don't tell Mamoru' conversations they so often had. Only most of those involved Usagi's spending, or small fires that she had to call Rei for, as damage control.
This was something a little more complicated.
This time, she'd done something so rash and so lovingly meant that only Usagi could have done it. She'd taken the stones, Mamoru's stones, their stones. She'd taken them and given them to the four people who wished most to destroy them.
She'd taken that huge leap of faith in her Senshi, in eternal love. Minako bit back tears. Easy for her to do, whose prince came for her, through two faithful lifetimes.
Usagi had made a truly valiant effort to convince them all to try talking with the men, to try to make peace this year.
"I Have a favor to request. And you're not going to like it, so hear me out first." Usagi had started tentatively, on what had begun as one of the girls' regular meetings at the shrine. They all eyed her oddly, so suddenly serious, after laughing for a solid five minutes.
"Ohhhkay." Makoto supplied for the, in her view, non-schizophrenic side of the table.
"So I've been getting nervous lately. We're already in our twenties, and we have no sign of how to move forward toward Crystal Tokyo. We should have had some sign by now."
"It's still early, Usagi." Ami supplied gently. "And we have to be realistic. It may be meant to be a long time off."
"I keep feeling like that's not it. I think, well, I think it's because there's so much unfinished from the past that we need to fix before we can move forward."
"Like?" Minako asked.
"I think that you need to be happy." Usagi replied, dead-serious.
"Happy?" Makoto asked, her voice quizzical and amused. "Who said we weren't happy?"
"You aren't, never really. None of you. You're always blaming yourselves, blaming the Shitennou for what happened between you, for never being able to love in this life."
"Usagi, you're not serious, right?" Minako queried in full-love Goddess indignation.
"Of course I am. I know how you feel. Mamoru tried to kill me while Beryl controlled him, and I felt like my soul was breaking every moment she had him working for her. What if the same had been true of the Shitennou? Wouldn't..."
Things almost got ugly then as Rei got up to leave,
"That is just insulting to what we've been through, Usagi. They willingly killed us. Allowed your death, and their master's! Don't compare that to what Mamoru did unwillingly."
"You don't know that Rei!" Usagi cried passionately. "None of you know! Don't you want to know? Wouldn't you want them to do the same for you?"
"Don't act like you know either! Don't act like this is an easy choice, one where we have all the answers. Would you really want to raise someone spirit so they could tell you, sorry baby, but I didn't love you enough to deny Beryl, to be loyal to my master. I didn't love you enough to find a way back to you." Rei's voice drifted from a tone like a downpour to a soft patter like snow. Her eye were on the table now, and she lifted them, dark and haunted and hiding nothing, to look at Usagi, "Would you want that?"
Usagi took her hand, even as Rei stiffened.
"Sit Rei. Please?" Her voice achingly gentle, full of love. Rei obliged, her hand still in the blond's. "Yes, I'd want to know. To know that I had made a mistake in loving them and that it's over and that I am free of it. It's time, Rei." She turned her gaze on the others. "You know it's time."
"What if it breaks me?" Makoto asked. "What if I can't handle knowing?"
"You will. You're the strongest women in the universe. You can do this." Usagi chirped in cheerleader mode, trying to lighten the mood.
"But we are still human, Usagi. Some things hurt us just as much as any other person. In some ways, we are just as weak." Ami replied eyes still distant.
Usagi frowned. And Minako became the focus of those searching blue eyes.
"What about you, Minako? You've been quiet on this."
"Hm?" Minako asked, distractedly. "Oh. I don't know, Usagi. Are you sure you need us to do this?"
"And I'd rather you choose to do this. I don't want this to be an order." No one replied. The princess sighed. "I'm going to give them to you. And I trust you to make the right decision."
She picked up her school bag off the floor and pulled out the four black bags and handed one to each of the girls, carefully reading her messy script on the make-shift labels on each bag. She smiled, pointed to the labels as she handed the first bag to Rei.
"So I wouldn't give you the wrong ones. Wouldn't that be awkward." Rei muttered something derogatory under her breath and cautiously took the bag. "And I put chunks of asphalt from the broken parking lot at the arcade back in the box Mamoru keeps them in, just in case he were to move it. I thought, since he never opens it..." She frowned a bit at that, and passed the next bag to Minako, then to Makoto, and finally Ami.
"There, in alphabetical order. I know you'll do what's right. I love you all." She beamed around the table. "But I have to go. Mamoru gets off work soon. I need to be home. Bye!"
And just like that, she was gone, leaving the greatest burden of choice any of the girls had ever borne. They looked at one another, an understanding that they would support one another, no matter what happened, colored each of their expressions. Without a word, the four parted ways to face their past.
And now, here she sat, with the stone in her top drawer, calling to her in every moment of the day. She had never been this close to the object, before Usagi decided to challenge her courage. So, she had never realized what it did to her, the power it had.
Instinctively, she knew not to touch it. That if she did, she'd release the spirit trapped within it. And yet she knew she had to.
Moving from the chair with remarkable speed, she crossed the distance to the white wood dresser with the purple crystal knobs and removed the black bag, not daring to stop and allow this courage to fail her.
She tipped the bag over and grimace as she felt the cool weight hit her palm. She looked down, opening one eye, praying that his would not be looking back at her, mockingly her as those eyes always did. There was nothing.
In irritation she looked down at the stone in her hand, which glowed softly, a clear, radiant soft pink stone. But no man. How like him to not be what she expected. Just like that first time. The great terrifying leader of earth's military, smiling at her softly in the moonlight, teasing her, whispering to her about her princess. She shook her head, now was not the time to get lost in what she loved in him, had thought she loved in him; this was the time to let go.
Focusing on the stone, she did what she had not done in peace times in over a millennia. She took a deep breath and called firmly "Kunzite."
Light filled the room and she shielded her eyes as the pink glow flooded the room. The light flashing through the spaces between her fingers finally dissipated. And she could not stop shaking.
"Venus." She choked back a sob, hearing that rich quiet baritone. He never did need to speak loudly to command the room. He didn't now. She finally opened her eyes, knowing she had to face him eventually.
But he wasn't there. She blinked in confusion before she sensed his presence, and looked down, only to find a hulking form with silver hair and a cape kneeling at her feet.
"What...what are you doing?" She asked horrified.
"Bowing." He answered simply, infuriatingly so Minako felt, "The now Queen of Venus and Head of the Senshi ranks above me, who is nothing but a dead, deposed king."
"Oh, by Selene, don't do this. In how many lifetimes will we stand on ceremony? Don't bow to me even in death, please?" She asked his safely bowed head.
And he complied, towering over her by nearly a foot. She wanted to cry, wanted to sing, because he was every bit as beautiful as she dreamed, remembered, she couldn't say for sure. Those sharp features she could run her hands over for endless moments, trying to memorizing their symmetry, the lips she knew so well, that every inch of her knew, even in a new body. His long, graceful limbs, hands that...No, she told herself in shame, none of this is mine. It never was. She meet his eyes. And he was looking at her with look she did not find familiar lighting his eyes.
"Alright. I won't bow to you, if you don't wish it. What reason do you have for calling me, lady?" His eyes not losing that look.
"Because I need your help."
"Anything." He answered without hesitation.
"I need you to tell me what happened, at the end. To...to tell me why you did it. Why you betrayed me. Why you betrayed us all." She looked back at him, and the look's meaning was clearer, longing.
Minako turned, unable to take it.
"Goddess, why do you look at me like that? What is it? What?" She asked in a panic.
"Because I have waited so long for you to do this for me."
"Do what?! I asked you for help!" She yelled at him.
"Yes, exactly. I needed you to do this for me, to ask for the truth. To redeem me. So that I can prove to my master what happened at the end, so I can leave that place," He gestured to the crystal with disgust. Then looking at her with such love she wanted to escape her skin to get away from it. "So I can fulfill what I promised you once, that I would come back for you."
Minako gaped for a while before she sputtered "How-how am I supposed to do that!? I mean, why would I want back someone who betrayed me?"
"Because I didn't willingly. And I know you won't just believe me, because that's the way you are." He smiled at her. "I love that about you. Damn stubborn."
"Hey!" She took a deep breath, shaking her head. She began again in a more composed tone that was less reminiscent of her high school years, "Why am I supposed to believe you?"
"You need to do somethings for me, to make things right. I need you to go find the objects we left for you, using our magic to recording the events as they happened at the end, so you would know why it looks like I simply betrayed you." He steeped forward, taking her hand, their first contact since the fall of the moon. "If you ever loved me, even if you do not now, even if you're not sure of your feelings for me then, do this for me so I can have a chance to serve my duty to my prince."
Agonized, she looked at his stone in one hand, his hand in her other, tears began to slip.
"Will I finally stop hurting like this?" She asked softly. He touched her cheek, unable to help himself.
"I will do everything I can to assure that. I promise you that much. I will do all I can for you, to right what happened between us and all the hurt you've borne." He caressed her softly, and she leaned into the movement without thinking. "Venus, you only have until Lunar New Years, when the moon's power renews, to complete this task. Then I lose my chance for another century, my chance to return. All the other girls have a different challenge ahead of them. You must help them complete them. And all of them must succeed, or none of us can return. You must work with them. Please, Venus, help one another. This will require each of you to grow in ways you never expected."
"What?" He asked, blinking.
"It's my name now, of course. Didn't you think to ask?" She teased.
"Oh course. A new life. A new name. It's beautiful. It suits you." He smiled at her with that tilt of his head that always indicated that playfulness she'd never expected. Just another thing.
Minako shook her head at these thoughts, the millionth ones today that he did not merit. She backed away, the intimacy not appropriate with a man she had promised never to believe. Whom she would not believe, unless she saw proof. Looking up, her cool, carved goddess face on, she meet his eyes. He sighed, they were going gold, which always meant she'd decided to fight.
"Understand me, Kunzite. I do this for me, and for my princess. And I will do this for you only to clear myself of an attachment to a dead man and of a duty to my princess, nothing more." Kunzite nodded, face impassive, just that faint expression of sadness in the eyes. She was among only a handful of people who would ever be able to recognize such subtle changes.
"Very well, My Lady. No matter why you do it, I thank you, Minako." She flushed, hearing her name in that voice for the first time.
"Yes, well. Where do I begin?"
I should be working on Built, but this would not stay untyped. Reviews are welcome. And My beta reader, VO1, is amazing. Without her, stuff would never get posted.