AN: Yikes! Just to clarify, the things they are smoking are cigars...I failed at describing them really well, I guess. Sorry for the confusion! In my Silver Millennium, everyone smokes. Kinda like the 1950s.
She still couldn't believe that she had stayed out all night. Undoubtedly, tomorrow she would be paying for it—oh who was she kidding? It was tomorrow already, even if it was still as dark as Earth midnight and the revelry in the streets was still going strong, and the party, much like the snow blizzard that Zoicite has shown her in his kingdom, was showing no signs of stopping. This was the biggest holiday of the year, here on the Moon and on Earth: the start of a new lunar year, another year of life and love and hopefully, peace. She had let down her proverbial hair and toasted the New Year with her sisters, and lover, and new friends; tossed drinks down her throat and danced in the streets with the carousing, masked citizens, shouting and laughing and throwing handfuls of confetti in the air until she was ready to collapse with exhaustion. A much different celebration than in previous years, where the usual activity was standing around like a wallflower at a stifling, formal Lunar ball and listening to all the fun happening outside the palace walls.
Zoicite had kissed her at midnight, and she could still feel the warm pressure that his lips had left on her mouth, hours later, if she closed her eyes and imagined it.
Mercury had stretched out on the chaise in Serenity's sitting room, which now contained more bodies that probably it ever had ever held in the history of its construction, and reassured everyone that she was just resting her strained, dry eyes for a bit, even though they felt heavier than a cast iron wheelbarrow filled with concrete. Mars had spilled her long limbs over the edge of the chaise and fell giggling onto Mercury's outstretched legs, giddy from the champagne bubbles in her blood and the blond Earth general who was trying to grab and tickle the sole of her bare foot. a
"Stop!" she gasped, kicking out and searching frantically for an ally. "Jupiter, help me!"
"I can't, we're starting." The Jovian princess sat at Serenity's glass and marble card table, shuffling a deck of cards. She leaned back into her chair, trying to avoid the smoke being blown at her from three sides. Nephrite had brought some sort of dried plant wrapped tightly in a cylinder, and then lit at one end. It was apparently some ritual that went along with the card game that he had taught them, because Endymion and Kunzite had discarded their jackets and lit up as soon as they sat down, exhaling fragrant plumes of smoke like a pair of dragons.
Mercury didn't know the rules of the game, other than money was involved, and flat clay chips of different colors. Nephrite sat with his back to the window, as an assurance that he would not receive help from the stars peeking through the fireworks in the sky outside. Jupiter sat to his right, her brown curls tracing the skin of her collarbone, where Nephrite's eyes were currently fixed. Kunzite sat opposite of Nephrite, the top button of his shirt undone and his eyebrows furrowed as he inspected Jupiter's cards. Endymion completed the quartet at the table, but his attention was focused on the Moon Princess and Venus, who were rolling on the sofa, giggling from beneath their carnival masks and finishing off a bottle of wine without the use of any glasses. His midnight kiss to Serenity had been so sweet and tender that Mercury had smiled to herself, despite the apprehension she felt at having all of them risk their necks to sneak to the Moon. Again.
They ran the risk of paying for it later.
It was worth it.
"Go big," Kunzite advised. Jupiter obliged, throwing a stack of blue chips to the center of the table. He choked on a smoke ring and coughed out,
"Goddess, not that big!"
"You told me to go big, I go big!" she protested.
"Oh, believe me!" Jadeite said from the floor underneath Mars's feet. "She goes big. RIGHT, NEPH?"
Without missing a beat, Nephrite picked up an empty liquor bottle and lobbed it at Jadeite's prone form. Mars kicked at him, shouting, and Zoicite—awesomely—chucked a boot that bounced off the back of a chair and landed squarely on the crown of Jadeite's blond head.
"I apologize for him," Zoicite said to Jupiter, ever the gentleman. Mercury wished that he would stop fidgeting around the room, adjusting light and opening windows and turning on music, and sit with her where she lay. He would make a nice pillow.
"I'll hurt him later," Nephrite assured her, as he placed his hand on hers. She smiled softly and leaned closer to whisper to him.
"Stop trying to look at my cards."
"I'm not trying to look at your cards!" However, his head dipped slightly at Zoicite, who was standing behind Kunzite's card hand and discreetly shooting Nephrite a thumbs-down.
Mercury yawned and adjusted slightly, kicking Mars.
"Oh, my dress!" The ebony-haired princess had spent an atypical amount of consideration to her appearance that night, deciding at the last minute that the party dress made to her exact specifications simply wouldn't work, and had borrowed one from Princess Serenity, a drape of silver with tiny straps. As she walked, she resembled a waterfall: powerful, awesome, and breathtaking. She jumped up and gently pulled Mercury's shoes off, placing the violet slippers underneath the chaise, and gracefully plopped back down on her lower legs. One hand dangled off the side and rubbed the blond General's hair as he leaned her legs, his cranial injury forgotten under the haze of alcohol and excitement.
"Jadeite!'' Serenity was rummaging through a white gilded trunk, and coming up with a strange wooden musical instrument with strings and a hole in the middle. "Endymion got this for me. Can you play it?"
Jadeite reached over and took the instrument, examining it carefully. "Old. Nice." He positioned his fingers on the skinny end and gave the strings a swipe with his other hand. A spit of music strained through the air. "So, what, Dimi? Portugal?"
The Prince of Earth glanced up from his cards, and locked eyes with the Moon Princess. "Italy, actually. I showed her the canals."
She sighed happily, lowering the spangled mask from her face, a crystal-adorned butterfly shape with delicate white feathers around her eyes. "It was so lovely, I'll never forget it." She danced by Endymion, running one finger along his shoulders and back. "I could see the moon in the water, and a man played me a song on one of these. He said he wrote it just for me!"
Jadeite was twisting the strings on the…Mercury thought it may be a cavaquinho, but the sound was too different. "I have to tune this bad boy, but I can play it. Will you sing for me?"
Serenity smiled coyly. "If I know the words. Maybe Mars will sing with me."
"Goddess, no. I did enough of that already tonight."
"I'll sing with you," Venus jumped up and put her mask back on, an elaborate swirl of rose-colored feathers that matched her gown. She had chosen flowing, pink, and strapless, her breasts twin pearls rising out of the bodice. The severity of the cut was offset by her truly fantastical mask; with plumes reaching around the back of her head on one side.
Beautiful dress, Mercury thought as Venus stood over Jadeite and started singing. I hope Kunzite doesn't rip it later.
"Fold," Endymion declared, throwing his cards down.
"Me, too." Kunzite folded his hand, and stared at Venus with a dress-ripping intensity.
Nephrite threw in more chips. "Raise."
Jupiter raised one eyebrow. "I see you. Raise." Her skin glowed with a healthy flush; her auburn curls hanging loose for a change, her brilliant mask adorned with peacock feathers resting just over the slope of her forehead. Her earrings were new, Mercury noticed with her sleepy eyes. Beautiful drops of amber entwined in gold. Must have been a gift.
She and Nephrite lowered their cards together: all hearts for her, but a trio of jacks and two sevens for him. Full house beats flush. Jupiter clapped her hands and let out a surprised squeak while Endymion and Kunzite started exclaiming loudly. "Don't be jealous of my skills," Nephrite drawled, pulling the pile of chips towards him.
Mercury felt herself drifting off again, and reawakened when she felt a light touch on her hair. Zoicite was pulling off her mask, careful not to tug, and then draped his jacket over her reclining form. The collar brushed her chin lightly; it smelled like him. She inhaled the warmth and tried to wiggle one of her feet out from under Mars. It was beginning to fall asleep with the rest of her.
"Mercury, stop wiggling, you're going to get me all wrinkled!"
So sorry you decided to sit on me, the Mercurian princess thought to herself, pulling Zoicite's jacket up closer to her face.
"Zoicite, can you put her to bed?" Jupiter had one of the rolled, smoking objects stuck between her fingers now. "Tuck her in?" She threw her cards down. "Fold!"
Endymion threw in some chips. "Call." A second later: "Damn, Nephrite!"
"I am happy to take your money, thank you."
"You must be cheating."
Jadeite stopped playing for a moment. "He must be cheating, because when he's not, he's legitimately terrible."
Nephrite blew a perfect smoke ring. "You're legitimately stupid. Additionally, I'm not cheating."
Mercury opened her eyes as Zoicite slid his arms underneath her, catching one last glimpse of that night. Jadeite lounged at Mars's feet, strumming his instrument softly. Venus and Serenity lounged together on a tight loveseat, one princess with a pigtail falling out of its bun and her mask crooked, and the other princess practically falling out of her dress as she sang in an Earth language.
A cloud of smoke rose from the card table. Jupiter had her elbows on the table as she leaned forward to speak to Nephrite, peacock feathers from her mask framing her flawless face. Endymion was tossing clay chips at Kunzite's face, and whether it was from the atmosphere or the alcohol, the normally stoic Earth general was tossing them back with increased ferocity, misfiring once and hitting Mars in the head. She laughed and tossed it back, and that's when Mercury made the discovery. Zoicite barely heard her whisper.
She cleared her throat. "The mirror. He's using the mirror on the opposite wall."
The entire room turned: on the wall opposite of Nephrite, right above Kunzite's head, a mirror hung, reflecting the starry night.
"Et tu, Mercury!" Nephrite shouted to her as Zoicite carried her out of the room, seconds before Endymion wrestled him to the floor.
The door shut behind them, muffling the noise a bit. Zoicite pulled her closer and laughed softly. "Good job, love." He started towards her room.
Mercury smiled with her eyes still closed. There weren't many nights like this. She would treasure it.