The initial summary from my website:
October 7, 1999: Well, here's one more short, sweet little fic. And it's all Kristi-chan's fault! . She asked me if (when I finished all my other fics) I might write an angsty Jadeite fic. *sighs* Well, a Jadeite chibi shortly added himself to the conclave of them that take turns pounding me for fics - he and the plot bunnies had a field day with me for a couple of days. Needless to say, I couldn't leave well enough alone until I'd written the darned thing. *laughs* No will power, I tell you... *sighs* Anyway, I hope you enjoy the fic!
Disclaimer: The characters do not belong to me, they belong to Naoko Takeuchi-sama. I'm just playing with them. I promise to put them back when I'm finished.
Timeline note: This story takes place after SMStars.
I have been a King. I have been a General. I have been a Guardian. But that was long ago - or was it yesterday? Perhaps it hasn't even happened yet... Time has long since lost all meaning for me. I don't know how long I've been here or how long I will be here. Even the reason why I am here is beginning to blur. Slowly but surely I am losing myself - half the time I can't even remember my name. Sometimes that worries me - mostly it doesn't.
I would sigh in exasperation at myself - if I could. But I can't. It occurs to me to wonder how I even know what a sigh is if I can not utter one... Ah well. It is no matter. Almost nothing matters any more. It's too much of an effort to make things matter these days. I almost remember a time when things did matter: a lot of things, all the time. What a dreadfully hectic existence that must have been.
Memories of that existence flow through my thoughts like water, sweeping me along for the duration. They are distracting, these flashes. They make me yearn for things that I just know I can never have, things I am surprised that I should want.
Oh dear... here comes another one. As I am swept away, I again feel that strange urge to sigh...
The scene forms slowly out of the mist around me and I watch in idle fascination as shapes and figures begin to appear. For the duration of the memory and for a brief time after, I will remember that these people and these places had names, but the memories will fade quickly. They always do.
The predominant feature this time is a... I wait for the name to come to me. Ah! It is a fountain. Large for its kind, this fountain takes up nearly the whole garden. The garden if filled to the brim with... with... rose bushes and cherry trees, kept in a perpetual state of bloom by certain magics. The names are coming easier now but I still can not recall the name of our loving gardener.
An image comes to mind and slowly coalesces out of the haze of the memory - willowy and slender, but lacking the curves that normally accentuate the female frame; long waves of copper-colored hair bound at the nape by a green velvet band; warm, caring emerald green pools set above a small, proudly arched nose and full generous lips. Everything about the young man screams beauty and gentleness. He is bent over crooning lovingly to a rose bush as he expertly prunes its overgrown branches.
He look sup in my direction and offers me a brilliant smile that practically radiates joy. He stands up slowly and tucks a ruby red rose into the lapel of my uniform jacket. I smile, murmuring, "Thank you," even as I fret over the fact that his name is escaping me. As the scene fades I again feel the urge to sigh.
Rather than being dumped into my normal cocoon of formlessness as I expect, the memory instead deposits me straight into another scene. It is different this time... After a moment of consideration, I recognize the palace library. Palace? Oh yes... the palace where I lived all those years ago.
There is a man sitting at one of the tables, pouring over some old tome of magical lore. Unlike the first, this man is older than I. He has been... whatever I was... for far longer than any of us. His long, silver hair and shining silver eyes are a nice counterpoint to the deep navy of his cape and uniform. I admire him - I know this with certainty. He is easily the best of us and far more honorable than I could ever hope to be.
A noise distracts him and his eyes flash up to meet my startled blue ones. When did I remember the color of my eyes? Oh well - again, it is no matter. I come back to the scene as teh older man's eyes snap downwards to the rose still sitting serenely in my jacket lapel. His eyes narrow and he offers up an accusatory look.
I laugh and throw my hands up in surrender. It seems like the right thing to do. I am almost startled at the sound of my voice when it emerges, amused from my lips, "Easy, Kunzite! Zoisite was pinning them on everyone who happened by the garden this morning. Besides - no one in their right mind would want to get between you two!"
He relaxes at my words and I fell better having finally been able to put names to the two faces. No sooner do I think this than does the scene shift again. I feel a moment's panic as I feel the weight of a sword in my hand and realize that I am fighting someone with it. My momentary pause allows some forgotten instinct to take control of my movements. As my body slowly remembers how to spar, I begin to relax and enjoy the experience.
A deep, booming laugh sound from my sparring partner as the exercise draws to a close, "There you go! See? You're getting better - it's just like I told you. Relax into the movements and let your body do the rest. Easy as pie, right?"
I nod, panting, as Nephrite sheathes his sword and brushes waves of long, sweat-damp mahogany tresses from his face. It occurs to me to wonder why mine are so much shorter than everyone else's. I can even dimly recall being teased about it by the man standing in front of me.
Even as I think this, Nephrite punches me in the shoulder, "So when are you gonna start growing your hair, scamp? Even Kunzite's is longer!"
I shrug as a blush suffuses my face. I'd answer him if I could remember the reason. I know there must have been one... Or maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part. I suppose that I didn't need to have a reason for everything I did. But, then that's the problem - I don't really remember...
As I once again focus on my thoughts, the scene fades once again. I am older now - far older than before. My blond hair is still short, my uniform still navy blue. I don't know why that should matter... I just know it does. A quick vision of a charcoal grey uniform designed almost exactly as my current one makes me shiver. That uniform invokes fear in me - real fear. I wish I knew why. Perhaps it's better than I don't remember.
I focus back on the the scene in front of me. It is night and the moon is full. A raven-haired young man stands in front of me, staring forlornly up at that image of pristine beauty. But I know it is not the moon he sees. He sees another beautiful lunar vision. He sees pale ivory skin, deep ice blue eyes, and floor length golden hair. For once, the names do not escape me. I know that this is my Prince - Endymion - the one I Guarded for so long. And I know that he is dreaming of his Princess, Serenity of the Moon.
For once, I know what is coming before my mind tries to throw me into it. I know, and I resist. I will not go down that path. I know what happens and I refuse to watch it again. Endymion's death, Serenity's death... my own betrayal. I can not watch it again. It is too painful - and am I not remorseful enough for what I have done? Have I not paid the price over and over and over again? Somewhere deep inside, I know I have. I have more than paid the price for my actions and I am ready to be released. But release will never come. Freedom will never come. I will be trapped here with my guilt for all eternity. The scene explodes outward with a blinding force and I am thrown back into the mist.
This time, there is no comforting blur as I emerge from the roller coaster ride my memories have tossed me upon. I remember everything with a dreadful clarity that I have not experienced since being sealed in this place all those years ago. I want to weep. I want to tear at my hair. I want to scream. I want to die. Anything that would change the truth of where I am. For now I remember... and this time I don't think the memory will fade back into oblivion. This time, I think I'm well and truly stuck with it.
My name... my name is Jadeite. I was first among the Dark Kingdom Kings. The first to face the reincarnated Senshi. The first to fail. The first to pay the price. And, oh, my Prince... if you ever wished retribution upon me for my betrayal you have achieved it one hundred fold. But I don't think the knowledge would make you happy. In fact, I think it would do quite the opposite. I wouldn't even wish this upon my worst enemy, and I know you would weep with remorse if you ever knew. I pray you never do. You don't deserve that guilt.
Yet even as I feel my mind sinking into a black hole of dispair, I see a ray of hope. I know... someone, somewhere, is searching for me. Someone, somewhere, knows of my dreadful fate. Someone, somewhere, is looking for a way to set me free. Into the joy of life or the pain of death - I no longer care. I just want an end to this torment, an end to the nothingness. Please God, let her find me soon...
Setsuna looked up from her novel as her adopted daughter gave a little sigh and sat up straight. In the days since the Sailor Starlights had left, life had pretty much returned to normal. Hotaru had been returned to her proper age and the Senshi had returned to school - well, all except for her of course. She let a light smirk cross her face as she watched Hotaru approach her from the other side of the pool deck. Oh the benefits of age... one doesn't have to sit through algebra and physics...
Hotaru had a troubled look upon her face when she finally reached Setsuna's side. The older woman made room for her upon her blanket and raised an eyebrow, "Are you all right, Hotaru-chan?"
She frowned, "I'm... I'm not sure, Setsuna-mama." Setsuna smiled at the endearment - no matter how old she got, Hotaru never seemed to outgrow her childish sweetness. It was truly ironic considering who and what she was. Hotaru continued, "Remember what we discussed the other night?"
Setsuna removed her sunglasses and gave Hotaru her full attention. The conversation they'd had two nights ago had been strange - mostly focused on the fact that one of the Dark Kingdom Kings might still be alive. Hotaru had sensed it and Setsuna had confirmed it. The discussion about what to do with this information had been heated, to say the least. They had wordlessly agreed not to share this information with the other Senshi until they had decided upon a course of action. It appeared that Hotaru had come to a decision. She steeled herself, "Yes, Hotaru-chan. I remember."
Hotaru curled her arms around her knees and nodded to herself, "I can't leave him like that, Setsuna. He's done nothing to deserve the punishment he earned. And if ever he did... these past few years have long since paid for it. He wasn't... he wasn't that horrible a person, ne?"
Setsuna shook her head, "No... no he wasn't. And for what it's worth, I agree. I'll support your decision, no matter what the ramifications."
This time is was Hotaru's turn to smirk, "I'm going to catch Hell from the Inner Senshi over this, aren't I?"
Setsuna chuckled and pulled her daughter in close for a brief hug, "Undoubtedly, Hotaru-chan. Undoubtedly."
Hotaru stood up and brushed herself off, "Then I suppose I'd best get started... I'll inform you when I return." With no further preamble, Hotaru pulled the Silence Glaive from it's spot in hammerspace and transformed. Sailor Saturn offered her one jaunty wave before disappearing into a spot of black light.
Setsuna replaced her sunglasses with a sigh, "Good luck, Hotaru-chan..."
I don't know how much time has passed... I think I've lost track, again. Oh, hell - what does it matter? The old refrains echo in my head. ~Matter? Nothing matters. Why should it matter? It shouldn't matter... It's no matter.~ And on and on and on. I can't take it any more. Memory is more of a curse than this sleep crystal ever was. Between the two, I think I'll go mad...
I vaguely remember having the same troubles before the mists descended the first time. I remember fighting them with all I had, struggling to retain myself, my memory. In the end it was to no avail. Not for the first time, I feel the desire to throw a temper tantrum. It is a silly wish, but I don't care. I just want to be able to move!! The frustrated desire makes me want to cry. The realization that I can't makes it that much worse. ~I can't take this anymore!!!!!~
Something cool and soothing provides a balm to my distraught spirit. It is only then that I realize that I had broadcast that thought on a wide mental band. I nearly kick myself for not having thought of that approach sooner. Or... maybe I did. I remember trying it. But no one was in range. But someone... someone is. Now. I desperately try to reach out to that cool darkness and am met with a gentle resistance - almost like a parent pushing a feverish child back down into its bed. I like the analogy and have to fight the urge to smile. I know that I can not.
That dark power surrounds me, more intense than any magic I have ever felt. It is with no small amount of trepidation that I finally recognize the power sygil of the Messiah of Silence. How did Sailor Saturn awaken without my feeling it? You'd think that even I couldn't be that oblivious, right? Oh well... I suppose I am. I again fight the urge to chuckle - though this time I am teetering on the edge of hysteria as I do so.
And then... as suddenly as if I was never trapped... I am free. The light almost blinds me, my eyes are watering terribly - but there are warm arms around me, fighting back the chill of the cavern. There is a calming voice above me and a blessed darkness emanates from the source of the voice, blotting out the piercing rays of light. I look up into the face of my savior - I don't care what she is to everyone else, but forever after, she will be my Messiah. Truly an angel, sent by God... there is no other explanation.
She smiles down at me, still murmuring quietly soothing words. It takes me a while to begin to make them out. My ears haven't had to function in a long, long time... When they finally begin to make sense of the sound that they are hearing, I smile. It is a strange sensation - I moved. The thought makes me smile wider and before I know it a joyful laugh has bubbled up from my chest. She joins me, delighted by my innocent joy. I want to hug her, but my arms just won't move that much.
Almost as if she understands my desire, she wraps her arms more firmly about me and gives me a gentle squeeze, "Easy... You'll be fine. You just need time to recover, Jadeite. And it's time that I fully intend to give you."
I smile again. To hear my name spoken... a real name, by a real voice... is like a dream come true. Such a simple thing, really, but it means so much... I am surprised to feel tears tracking down my cheeks towards my upturned lips. Why should I cry? Perhaps... perhaps because I can. My mind slowly winds down into sleep, and I sink gratefully into the darkness - I am exhausted. Good night, my angel, my Messiah... I'll see you when I wake.
Hotaru stared down upon the sleeping man with a mix of emotions. Those last words... they had nearly undone her. She gathered him up into her arms, transporting them both to Setsuna's home - the small one that she kept as a retreat from normal life. Those last words... she couldn't help but turn them over and over in her mind. Angel... Messiah... For once, that last word didn't hold quite the sting it had. It sounded like the title of a saviour. She smiled as she tucked the sleeping Guardian into bed. ~Messiah... I think... I think I could get to like that.~ And so, she settled down in the windowseat by the bed, Silence Glaive held loosely in one hand, to wait upon his awakening. For tonight, she would Guard him - he'd more than earned the privilege.
She whispered quietly, "Oyasumi nasai... I'll be here for you when you wake."
Even unaware as he was of his surroundings, Jadeite's lips curled up into a smile. His mind drifted off to hazy dreams, filled by the faces of friends - those long gone and those just waiting. He had been a King, he had been a General, he had been a Guardian. And now that he was free... he would be so again.
* * * * *
Questions, comments, anything of the sort? Feel free to e-mail me and ask. ^_^
Yes, I know the ending was sappy. I couldn't help it! I may be an angst queen, but I like happy endings... And Jadeite so deserves one. *nods emphatically* ^_^ Hope you enjoyed it!