A/N: This is an AU series I wrote a few months ago. Four parts, senshi/shitennou. This part is Minako/Kunzite, if people can't tell.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Somewhat inspired by the song "Sunrise Highway" by Straylight Run.
Six and Ten
He had barely moved to the neighbourhood two days when she saw him outside, a mutinous expression on his face. She tore through his gloom like the sun through morning clouds, a golden whirlwind from across the street who talked a mile a minute about how she liked to collect pictures of pretty places.
The boy, with storm-coloured eyes older than his years and a crop of pale blond hair, naturally wanted nothing to do with her. Girls had nasty germs, and a heart still raw from a mother's abandonment did not want company.
She wore a silly red bow in her hair and always insisted on sharing the cookies in her lunchbox with him while they rode the school bus together. He got used to her, but that didn't mean that he had to like her or anything. She was named MINA, for one thing. What kind of stupid name was that? AND she wanted to be a ballerina when she grew up, which was just sissy.
Then one day he was walking home from Little League practice and it had started to rain. He had just turned onto his street when he heard her voice, high-pitched with distress, as one of his nastier classmates dangled a fat worm in front of her face while the he stomped on the mangled, filthy remains of what was once a pink tutu, tossed in a mud puddle.
He went home with raw knuckles and a bloody nose and the image of worshipful blue eyes branded into his brain. She went home with the satisfying memory of the bully facedown in the mud, a boy's coat with too-long sleeves draped over her shoulders.
Twelve and Sixteen
It was distressing and preposterous to say the least. She knew, theoretically of course, that she was at a delicate age. Those horrid sex education classes twice a week had a lot of information on hormones and puberty and periods and all manner of nastiness. But that didn't excuse it.
The girl made a face at herself in the mirror and set her diary facedown on her bed. The pink-and-yellow cover seemed to mock her with its cheeriness as it lay a few inches away from gangly legs which would be long and slender and pale ivory in a few years.
The blue eyes in the mirror brimmed over with tears for a moment before they were ruthlessly blinked away. He was her friend, someone who should by all rights be a big brother figure, who had lived across the street for almost as long as she could remember. Just because he was sixteen and started to fill out from being on the varsity swim team in his high school and still rarely smiled but when he did OH--- well, that was beside the point!
She had no business developing a crush on him and writing his name all over her diary, in hearts and parentheses, coupled with hers now and again. He had a GIRLFRIEND, anyway. Some snotty-looking sophomore named Elise who wore dark red lipstick and a push-up bra and jeans two sizes too tight. Who always made a point to smirk down at her as though she were a mere baby.
She raised her chin and sniffled. She'd simply throw herself into her dance lessons and stay away from him until this tempestuous age passed, that was all.
Fifteen and Nineteen
The house was emptied; the real estate sign on the front lawn read "Sold".
The young man gazed at himself in the bathroom mirror, tall and broad-shouldered in his naval uniform, and his eyes were shadowed with new and old sorrows. It had been his choice, not his father's, to join the Navy after high school. He'd not been home last Christmas, and had sent postcards of exotic locales back to Dad, and to his oldest friend across the street.
He didn't get news about his father's car accident until it was too late.
He heard the front door open and familiar footsteps down the hall. She always managed to find him in their early hide-and-seek games. Kevin sighed and glanced over his shoulder at her perfect face, luminous with youth, her hair like a shower of sunshine flowing down to her waist, her ballerina limbs golden from summer sun.
And that was another of his problems, not that she had a clue.
"You'll continue to write," she stated. It wasn't posed as a question, but the question of it was visible in her summer-sky eyes. He nodded, and she simply moved in. He found himself enveloped in a tight embrace and the smell of honeysuckle body spray and the tickle of silky blonde hair underneath his chin, and simply absorbed.
"I'll always love you, you know," the words were muffled against his crisp uniform shirt, and he wasn't sure what she meant, exactly. "And I'll never forgive you if you don't take care of yourself. Don't you dare get yourself hurt."
Always and never, such terribly portentous words.
Eighteen and Twenty-Two
His letter didn't arrive until three months after she'd sent hers, and that was to be expected. He still sent postcards when he stopped at more interesting places, but they always took a long time to arrive. She didn't ever know, at any given moment, where he might be.
Letters were rare, because as a Navy SEAL, he had his hands full, and there wasn't often much he could tell her about what he was doing, anyway. But he wrote her two full pages after she told him about being accepted by a New York ballet corps, simple and sincere words. He had always been taciturn, and she savoured every word like chocolate. The creases in the thin, foreign rice paper were ragged from her re-reading, and she knew it was somewhat silly of her to sleep with it under her pillow at night.
He'd probably laugh at her if he knew, but she didn't mind. He didn't laugh enough, in her opinion, and when he did, it changed his face from sternly handsome to something irresistible.
Not that he needed to know that, either.
When she arrived in New York and entered the conservatory for the first time, she carried her dance shoes and leotard in a duffle bag along with a few items for good luck. Meticulously and carefully tucked into the small, zippered compartment on the side of the duffel bag were her old red hair bow, her first pair of ballet slippers, and his letter, where he predicted that he'd see her name up in lights someday.
Twenty-Two and Twenty-Six
The theatre was packed with patrons who bore the sheen of leisurely upper-class polish. The lighted entrance billboard had the name of Mina Angell in her debut as Odette. The program showed a flawless, limber blonde in a graceful arabesque for the black-and-white photograph by her biography.
The crowd had surged to their feet at the end of the ballet when she'd come out to take her bows with the rest of the company, and she had looked stunning in white tulle and full makeup. He could imagine the sweat dampening the back of her neck unseen, the stretches she'd do backstage in between scenes to loosen up aching muscles.
No one told her about the young man who'd sat in the back of the auditorium, because no one had paid any mind to him. Petty Officer Kevin Macauley may have been a decorated Navy SEAL, but he never was one to draw attention towards himself. No one noticed him pass a note along to the stage manager, either, because everyone was busy discussing the performance, the breathtaking grace of the ballerinas, the soaring beauty of Tchaikovsky's music.
That was all right by him, though. The postcard that lay amidst countless bouquets of roses showed the Statue of Liberty. That he had to leave the next morning was more or less expected, but he had given his word that he'd be there.
When he left for his next mission, he carried the photograph of her, clipped from the program, pinned to the inside of his uniform. He didn't know about her tears and prayers when she found the postcard.
Twenty-Six and Thirty
By twenty-six, she'd toured around the world as an internationally acclaimed ballerina, and a part of her would always wonder if he saw the cities that they'd both been to in a different light. She kept a stack of postcards in a shoebox wrapped in gold foil.
The public, not to mention any men who professed an interest in the glamourous dancer, never failed to gain the impression that she was too busy for love. Married to her art, single-minded, unapproachable.
She concluded a nationwide tour with a performance of Sleeping Beauty in California, playing the part of the princess in slumber awaiting true love, and privately wondered if she, too, would be alone and bereft for a hundred years. But then again, he was hardly a prince, now was he?
It was nearing sunrise when she finally returned to the hotel room where she was staying for the night, and she almost didn't notice the envelope pushed under the door. When she opened it with shaking fingers, she saw a photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge, directions scribbled on the back.
The dawn's rosy light gleamed around her as she ran, still wearing silk pajama pants and ballet shoes, all nerves and golden hair. East towards the sunrise, left on the avenue, right at the first stoplight...
And there he was, his face darkened by days in unrelenting sun, the thin white tail of a scar disappearing underneath his open shirt collar. Tall, broad-shouldered, still stern and unsmiling, and the tears blinded her before she could see clearly into his eyes.
But he caught her up in his arms as though he'd been waiting all his life to do so, lifting her up off her feet, platinum hair drifting together with gold, and neither of them knew who initiated the kiss, which was fierce and almost violent and mind-drugging and perfect. All around them the sky bloomed in golden benediction.
"Kevin, Kevin..." She traced the contours of his face with her fingers, a catch in her voice, "I love you. I told you years ago."
"I remember," his voice was low and rough. "I've been waiting to say it back to you."