WARNINGS: Graphic violence, profanity and sex. These are adult people doing adult things. When I write, I don't hold back. You have been warned.
A/N: I honestly never thought I'd be back again writing for Seiya and Usagi. I got rid of all my old fics, many of them unfinished, about 4-5 years ago. The one shot "Forever Hold Your Peace" is the only one that still stands. Anyway, I got hit with the nostalgia vibe recently and my inspiration was rekindled for one of my most beloved couples. I hope you enjoy it :)
Written by: Mikami
"…if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…" — Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The End of an Era
Aristaeus was dead. The news had spread like a viral plague through the lips of citizens, reaching to the furthest corners of Earth. It was widely known that the unyielding sovereign of their powerful rival, the Moon, had taken ill in the last year. Though the level of severity was unknown, it was still difficult to conceive that the man—once considered a god by some—was defeated by his own frailty and not by Earth-bound hands. Some rejoiced in the simplistic but ultimately ironic ending to decades of war. However, the battle-hardened scoffed with unbending pride, claiming his death brought an anticlimactic closure to the legendary rivalry between the Moon and Earth Empires.
The enemy monarch was dead but his last wish was apparently peace.
Within the military city-state of Crystal Tokyo, praise for the war's end was no different seven days after the news of Aristaeus' passing. Celebration was a shockwave, eliciting the cries of joy and relief throughout the city streets. It ricocheted like lightning through the media—footage of terrible battles, endless interviews with Earth's leaders and their generals spread the news to anyone ignorant of the monumental event.
For some that had fought the war throughout their existence, the end felt like a dark hole, as battles encompassed the very nature of their beings. Others found themselves in shock when war-weary Earth leaders agreed to answer the unanticipated call to peace. For the Templars of Crystal Tokyo, the threat of obsolescence was not far from their minds.
Although protection of the city-state was amongst first priority, the need for planning battle stratagems against the Moon Empire was not needed at the present. There was now a new concern that landed itself on the shoulders of the Templars during the very delicate time of post-armed conflict. Kou Taiki and Kou Yaten knew this instinctively as they made their way down the sparse, cathedral hallway.
"He's supposed to be halfway to Tor by now. The Metalia Syndicate doesn't like to wait," Yaten said. The silver-haired Templar swept a lock of hair away from olive eyes.
"It has to be important if he's delaying the millionth negotiation about jurisdiction," Taiki replied.
"In which those extortionist fucks have none in this territory," his companion snorted derisively as they both turned a corner. "I'm surprised he hasn't given the order to just annihilate them."
"You can put away the itchy trigger finger," Taiki smiled, brushing the sleeves of his light ash grey suit. "Because it's not our business to decide."
"Which is fortunate for them."
The large hallway opened up to a circular foyer; the floor was tiled with a black marble pattern. The soaring ceiling was a network of glass to allow the sun to illuminate the bare, limestone walls. At the end of the foyer were tall, double mahogany doors. The pair entered without hesitation, stepping into the personal study of Kardeiz Gamma.
The Chairman of Crystal Tokyo stood amongst the wood and leather-rich opulence, facing the expansive window. Hands clasped behind his back, he had been anticipating his subordinates' arrival. His indigo, ankle-length blazer flared slightly when he turned to acknowledge them.
"Where's Seiya?" he asked in place of a greeting.
"Last I checked he was at the barracks," Yaten answered, striding toward the regal but aging man in front of him. The Chairman was tall, his face wrought with sharper cheekbones and a lined mouth. Piercing gray eyes with flecks of pewter were set under a hooded brow, complementing his thinning, chestnut hair.
"We were to make sure the training and recruitment of soldiers didn't lag in lieu of recent events," Taiki added. "But he's on his way. I made sure of that."
The taller Templar briefly looked at his cell phone and then shoved it back into the inner pocket of his blazer.
"Chairman, it's already late and you still haven't left—" Yaten began.
"You needn't worry about any of that," Kardeiz gave them a mysterious smile. "Metalia won't even want to see me today due to an interesting piece of news that hit ground. Jurisdiction is the last thing on their minds, as well as mine."
When he was met with silence, the Chairman walked around the heavy oak desk. He could see the intrigue and curiosity flashing through their eyes just as an additional figure in black stepped through the mahogany doors. Three pairs of eyes turned toward the interruption.
Tall and dark-haired, the third Templar was attired in a fitted, double-breasted overcoat with a high-necked collar. Six gunmetal buttons lined the front as the overcoat reached the knees of his black slacks. The waist-high slits on the sides allowed him to stride faster toward the group of three already gathered in the Chairman's study. Upon approach, Kou Seiya gave a slight bow in apology.
"You're late," Yaten uttered from the corner of his mouth.
"You have my apologies, Chairman," Seiya said, after shooting Yaten a quick but withered look. "I was a little ambitious after being asked to survey the progress of the new recruits."
Kardeiz just waved off the formal explanation and replied, "This is infinitely more important. At least you saved me the trouble of having to repeat myself."
Seiya nodded, taking a place beside Taiki and straightening his black leather gloves out of reflex. He eyed the Chairman in question when the pause he took was drawn out longer than expected.
Kardeiz reached into the inner pocket of his blazer and pulled out a folded parchment. The blue wax seal of the Moon Empire was already torn open.
"Aristaeus wanted peace," he began, running his fingers absently along the ridges of the seal. "We all know it's the beginning of delicate times but this undefined period without physical conflict may come to an end sooner than we anticipated."
Handing off the folded parchment to Taiki, he continued, "It makes me wonder if Aristaeus intended this event to happen, living or dead."
"This is an invitation to a tournament," Taiki said, skimming the details.
"Precisely," Kardeiz replied as both Yaten and Seiya moved closer for a glance.
"Trusting a dead enemy's word?" Seiya asked, taking the parchment from his taller companion.
"With the stakes this high, what does that really matter?" Kardeiz said back. "The tournament is to be held in three days on the Moon. The champion receives a golden prize. There will be a union, in which all dealings with the Moon will go through the winning state, and then out toward the rest of the governing bodies of Earth."
The atmosphere in the room was suddenly swallowed thickly by shock and all three Templars regarded their sovereign and each other. While listening to Kardeiz, Yaten plucked the parchment from Seiya's hands to skim through the elegant calligraphy. Silver eyebrows drew together as he was still having trouble discerning what the Moon's entire offer really insinuated.
"It sounds like an excuse for the Moon to pit us against each other for their entertainment," Seiya said flatly.
"True. And that's what has me," Yaten added.
"You clearly aren't thinking about it in a more productive aspect," Kardeiz countered. "One of the sole reasons we've been at war with them for decades was to claim their secrets, their powers."
"Magic," Taiki concluded simply and the Chairman nodded.
"Winning the position of liaison to the Moon Empire at the very beginning of this new age will bring the victor a great power. There will be collaborations, new findings and unfathomable opportunities. It may result in the one thing Crystal Tokyo was always meant for—we would be a Capital and there will arise a new regime."
An uncomfortable surge was pulsing doubt through Seiya's bloodstream and at the new circumstances, he couldn't find any footing. As a first class Templar in the city-state of Crystal Tokyo, he had fought the Moon Empire his entire life. With two of his closest comrades he orchestrated attacks, infiltrations and was one of the few on Earth that made assassination attempts on Aristaeus' life. In light of events that seemed to change so rapidly, he felt like he was chasing breathlessly after it. Exchanging glances with Yaten and Taiki told him clearly that they felt the same.
"The Metalia Syndicate has already chosen their champion," said Kardeiz, eyeing Seiya. "They'll be sending Gauvain in two days."
Seiya wanted to scoff. Hearing that name was an insult in itself—Gauvain, a man who was long overdue to a cold, hard grave. There was already a well-known tension between Crystal Tokyo and the small brotherhood-like organization of the Metalia Syndicate. Seiya's distaste for that specific member was fatal but there had never been a chance to act on it. Not with Beryl in charge.
A new but disturbing thought trickled into his head. The possibility of Gauvain winning the tournament and elevating the Metalia Syndicate above the other Earth states, would give them power to expand.
He stared back at Kardeiz with a hardening jaw. The older man's penetrating gaze held a brute sense of knowing and at times like these, Seiya hated how the Chairman discerned his unspoken thoughts.
"We can't expect everything to be suddenly different," Seiya said darkly. "Aristaeus has been dead a week. They still hate us up there and won't hesitate to kill."
"Of course they do, but if I know Aristaeus' soft-hearted Queen, she's still grieving over her ruthless husband and will make sure every last of his wishes are fulfilled. Even through this turn of events, the Moon's loyalty to Serenity remains concrete no matter how afflicted they feel about an alliance with Earth. We will have her protection," Kardeiz answered, taking back the parchment.
"A week ago this would've sounded blasphemous," Yaten uttered, shaking his head. He slipped his hands into the pockets of his charcoal trench coat.
"The war was already over the moment he was bed-ridden," Taiki said. "It was just a matter of time."
Yaten glanced past Kardeiz and beyond the glass window toward the spires of Crystal Tokyo. He wanted to sigh in contempt but thought better of it and kept it to himself. Like Seiya and Taiki he was equally distrustful at the sudden change in the winds. But whether or not they felt a certain way never mattered. Their battalion of three had operated directly under the Chairman, executing his every order for as long as they could remember.
"They'd better give us a draft of the contract. We can tear it to shreds before putting it back together in a way we see fit," Yaten offered.
Kardeiz turned slowly on his heel and strode back toward his desk, an unreadable quirk lifting the side of his mouth.
"From what I've been told," he said. "There's no paperwork involved when it comes to finalizing the union."
"What?" Seiya asked, arching a frustrated brow.
The Chairman craned his head back to his personal guard.
"The contract is his daughter, Princess Serenity II. Both a symbol of the agreement and the prize to the winner of the tournament. The contract becomes binding in marriage."
"Aside from the obvious protocol to consummate the Moon-Earth liaison, were you really considering another wife after all these years?" Taiki questioned.
Kardeiz laughed and whirled around to face them in amusement.
"I intend to give her to Endymion," he corrected. "They'll be married before my time comes to pass."
"I see," the tallest Templar nodded quietly. He had a nagging suspicion that Prince Endymion wouldn't be too accommodating to his father's decision.
"I'll be sending the three of you to escort her back safely."
"On the assumption that we win," Yaten added, a tad sarcastically.
Kardeiz gave him an unsettling smile. It turned into a flash of teeth.
"You will be leaving in two days," he concluded. "That is all."
All three Templars gave a slight bow before heading for the door. Taiki could tell that Yaten was in dire need of expressing a barrage of conflicting thoughts but was holding it in like he was ready to burst. The two reached the mahogany double doors before the Chairman called one of them back.
"Seiya, I want to have a word with you," Kardeiz said, taking on a more serious tone.
The dark-haired Templar paused. Nodding at Taiki and Yaten's questioning stares, he bid them silently to go on. When they disappeared through the doors, Seiya walked back to the center of the Chairman's study.
"Was there anything else you required of me?" he asked, watching Kardeiz saunter behind his desk and take a seat in his large leather chair.
"As a matter of fact, I did," he said. He folded his hands together methodically on the dark oak wood. "All participating Earth states are only allowed one entry into the tournament. It can be the head of the governing body or one of considerable rank."
Kardeiz looked at Seiya unflinchingly. "I want it to be you."
"Without question," Seiya replied automatically.
The Chairman's expression wavered between a self-satisfied smirk and a smile. Seiya had seen that expression many times when Kardeiz asked him to pull a job.
"But there is one thing," said Seiya. "Knowing that your decision stands, how is Endymion taking this?"
"How my son feels is of no consequence," Kardeiz replied, his voice almost callous. "We're past that redheaded ordeal."
Seiya nodded and spoke, "Very well."
The Templar exited the Chairman's study with discomfort churning in his gut. He crossed the circular foyer quickly, hoping that a fast pace would ease his thoughts. He also had a feeling Taiki and Yaten were expecting him.
Somebody had been waiting, but it wasn't his closest comrades. Seiya stopped a few feet from the rigid figure that was fully attired in white. The nature of his suited garment was pristine, unlike his expression, which was marred with severity. His lips were drawn to a thin line and his brow furrowed as he regarded his father's right-hand man.
"He wants you to fight, doesn't he?" Endymion said, more of a declaration than an inquiry.
Seiya's face softened slightly when he saw the Prince's troubled gaze, but he ultimately knew that no amount of words could assuage the anger seeping from Endymion's demeanor.
"The decision's already been made," he explained, just short of weary. "I'm just following orders."
"You told me you wouldn't," Endymion said, a gloved hand fisting at his side.
"I told you I wouldn't IF he didn't choose to send me."
Seiya was steadfast in the face of Endymion's resentment. The Prince glared at him, despising the barest hint of pity concealed in the Templar's cobalt eyes. He never had a reason to hate the man he grew up with, or the otherworldly nature of combat in his blood—but Endymion couldn't hold it back. Seiya had always been the Chairman's default choice when it came to annihilating those who stood in his way.
"It's done, Endy," Seiya told him evenly. "Kakyuu will eventually have to understand that this is all for Crystal Tokyo."
Endymion wanted nothing more than to pummel him, especially after Seiya had the gall to look him in the eyes and be indirectly responsible for coming between him and the woman he loved—the courtier he had promised to marry since they were young.
News of the tournament, its rules and its coveted prize spread like wildfire within forty-eight hours of the invitation's arrival. A cursed piece of parchment with the Moon's blasted seal was all it took to bait his father's ambitions. There was no regard for Endymion's original plans, just the decision that he was to be married to the daughter of the Earth's long-standing enemy. It had broken Kakyuu's heart.
"She hates you, Seiya," Endymion said.
"I know…but she'll have to forgive me in time," Seiya responded, maneuvering his way around the Prince.
Endymion whirled around to stare angrily at his retreating form.
"I want you to lose."
The aggressive shard in his command made Seiya pause.
"Then I apologize in advance because your father ordered me not to lose," the Templar replied, before continuing down the hallway.
He left Endymion alone but not without guilt seeping its poison into his already conflicted thoughts. Although it rendered Seiya uncomfortable to end their conversation on a cold note, it was necessary to prevent it from escalating into another useless round.
Seiya was the first to know when Kardeiz decided to break Endymion and Kakyuu's engagement to fulfill his own aspirations. The Chairman had argued day and night with his son, advocating that Crystal Tokyo was far more important than something so petty. In all the years Seiya had known the Prince, he'd never seen him so distraught. Out of habit, Endymion expressed his troubles to his longtime confidante—though Seiya worked personally for his father, he never shared the cruelty of his decisions. But his position had made the situation difficult.
Endymion had every right to be angry but Seiya was an instrument for his father's wishes. He was without choice in the matter of the tournament and Kardeiz was confident in his chances of winning—which was what Endymion hated the most.
The Templars were a small force under the direct command of Crystal Tokyo's sovereign. They were more than the Chairman's exclusive guard or special units of the military, they held power in administrative duties and were enforcers of all policies and regulations in the city-state. They were the pillars that Kardeiz Gamma built his power, separated into three ranks. The third rank protected the Chairman's assets in the city and the second controlled the central citadel where he dwelled.
There were only three Templars in the city-state that held a First Class rank—all united under a single name, Kou. They stood with the Chairman personally, carrying out his every will. For Kou Seiya, serving his rank and the Chairman was a purpose in life.
Seiya exited the building and found Taiki and Yaten in the first courtyard of the citadel. He made his way down the white, shallow steps and crossed the tree-lined path. The spires of downtown Crystal Tokyo loomed in the background surrounded by the expanse of buildings far ahead.
"We saw Endymion heading toward the Chairman's study," said Yaten when Seiya met up with them. "I'm assuming you ran into him in the hall?"
"I wasn't in the mood for another pointless discussion," Seiya said, although his tone was neither annoyed nor cruel. "We've gone through it so many times, and no matter how much I apologize, it doesn't make a difference."
Taiki fell into step beside him. "You shouldn't be surprised. Even though it's under orders, it's still you that's pulling the trigger."
"It wasn't my choice to fight," argued Seiya stubbornly.
"There's still the option of losing on purpose…" Yaten remarked in a satirical manner. "But I'm sure the thought of that insults your pride and the result would cost the Chairman's plans for a new regime."
"Endymion will have to accept it," Taiki said.
Seiya shook his head, unconvinced. "I know Endymion. He won't let this go…he loves her too much."
The dark-haired Templar briefly recalled a conversation he once had with the Chairman. Even though Seiya had grown up with his son, Kardeiz never held back when criticizing his own flesh and blood. It was always the same argument, that a part of Endymion possessed a streak of weakness. Kardeiz claimed his only son inherited that despicable trait from his late wife. Seiya watched Endymion through years of grooming to follow in his father's path. Kardeiz was endlessly aggravated by his so-called lack of strength and ambition then as he was now.
Initially, the Chairman was never against a possible union between Endymion and Kakyuu. The redheaded woman was a courtier and from one of the richest noble families in Crystal Tokyo. Her clan supported the Gamma regime to the utmost. At the time, it was both strategic and convenient that Endymion fell in love with her. But Aristaeus' death uprooted any chance of that union now.
"Everything will change," Taiki said, looking out toward the city. "Life as we know it will cease to exist, whether or not we win."
"If at first we can get past the fact that we've been trying to kill them and them us, our entire lives," Seiya responded.
"I don't see the atmosphere being so warm when we get there. If we get pelted by random shit or get blasted by magic tricks, it won't be a shocker," Yaten stated with a shrug.
Seiya suddenly smirked as his gaze fixed on the sky above. "What's more we'll be bringing back Aristaeus' daughter, who probably hates us the most."
"Rumor has it her skill with magic is considerable," Taiki mentioned. He thought for a moment and then started to smile. "I've heard people calling her a witch."
"Oh yeah?" Seiya said, a single laugh escaping him.
"But no one's ever seen her, so it's just people talking out of their asses. The royal family was nowhere near any battles," the tallest Templar concluded.
Seiya's hand instinctively ran down the side of his overcoat, his fingers ghosting the concealed ridges of weaponry. "If she was that powerful, I would've met her at the front lines a long time ago."
The lavish palace gardens passed by in a rapid blur as she picked up her skirts in an effort to walk faster. She was heaving, emotion coiling hastily from her stomach and spiraling ruthlessly into her throat. Choking back a sob, she grit her teeth instead as she fought angrily against hot tears.
If there was one thing she could still be glad for, it was that it was dark. Usagi didn't want anyone to see her in such a state, especially members of her personal guard and closest friends. She wasn't comforted by their embraces or kind words; there was only a sense of rotting helplessness that hung like a black veil over her head. She was beyond aid and beyond saving. The decision had been made and her dying father's last wish was to be fulfilled to her utmost unhappiness.
How could he? How could he have such little regard for his own daughter's feelings even on his deathbed? She was to be traded away like a commodity and to the Moon's perpetual rival no less. He didn't even tell her about her fate; Usagi learned it from her mother moments after he passed.
It was like a void opened beneath her and swallowed her whole. The thought of being gift wrapped and paraded as a prize to the enemy made her want to scream, to throw out the Moon Princess' mask of formality at the ignorant Moon court. She was past pleading and begging, she wanted to throttle her mother out of the decision. It wasn't fair. Her control over her future was forfeit.
Crossing the moonlight courtyard, Usagi's feet pounded on the stone walkway when she spotted one of the many guest villas up ahead. A pang of desperation flooded into her system when her wide cerulean eyes noticed a single lamplight still burning through the evening. With her long blonde tresses flying behind her, she reached the door and to her relief it was open. The thought of Setsuna expecting her barely registered through her turmoil as Usagi loudly called her name.
"Setsuna!" she practically shouted, darting from the marble foyer and into the extravagant sitting room. When she found it was empty, she quickly headed through the next threshold.
"Setsuna, I have to speak with you!"
Usagi stopped abruptly at the foot of the winding staircase and looked up to meet deep, garnet eyes. Her worry and restlessness pounded in her chest in contrast to the rather nonchalant expression of the Princess from Pluto. When Setsuna reached the bottom of the stairs, her concern for the Moon Princess became more apparent.
"Usagi, what is it?" she asked, grasping her shoulder. "You're shaking."
Usagi didn't wait for invitation and stepped into the taller woman's arms, burying her face into her shoulder.
"I—I didn't have anywhere else to go," she said, her voice trembling with emotion. "No one can help me…"
Setsuna's arms came around the distraught royal. One of her hands coming up to rub the back of her neck in a soothing motion, trying calm her in the best way she could. The amount of distress storming inside her was radiating through the air and driving slivers of it into Setsuna's consciousness. It was infecting like a sickness, drawing a tightness through her chest.
The Moon Princess' condition was no mystery. Her father's dying request not only weighed heavily on her shoulders, but the shoulders of all Moon citizens who declared his decision for sudden peace blatantly impetuous. They said Aristaeus was sick, that he had no grasp of his former self and sold his Empire to the hands of the Earth enemy. A week ago, peace had been a foreign concept.
"How can he do this to me?" Usagi spoke brokenly, a fist curling against Setsuna's back. "It's like I'm being sold or banished…either way, it takes me from everything I've known."
"You think that your mother doesn't care enough about your wellbeing," Setsuna said, pulling back. She traced a hand along Usagi's strained temple with a saddened smile. "You shouldn't think that. This ordeal tears her apart more than anyone else."
"Then why doesn't she show me?" Usagi said back, anger splitting her tone.
Setsuna sighed and took her hand, leading her toward the sitting room. They sank into a pair of chairs nearest to the window, where the breeze lifted the gossamer curtains.
"A Queen can hardly show the face of emotion, even within these walls. We never know who's really watching and in a time like this, weakness is despised as pride hangs in the balance. You mother has to be strong, especially to face Earth and its leaders upon her husband's last wish."
At the reassertion of her hopeless circumstances, Usagi looked away toward the stars. A long pause passed before she spoke again.
"I wish I was someone else…I don't deserve this."
Setsuna reached for her hand again, tugging lightly and gently asking the Princess for her gaze.
"No one would be able to endure this burden but you," she said. "You're strong—I've always known it."
"No, I'm not." Usagi's cerulean expression crumbled as Setsuna's grip on her hand hardened.
"But you'll have to be. You're going to have to survive what's in store for you if peace is to be brought amongst us all."
Slowly, Usagi raised her chin to face Setsuna's enigmatic words. A depth of knowledge and ominous light were hidden cleverly in dark, garnet irises. Princess Pluto was a woman bestowed with the gift of foresight, one of the rarest forms of magic in the universe.
"What have you seen?" Usagi's voice dropped to a forlorn whisper.
Setsuna glanced away and left her chair, striding over to the nearest stone pillar. The shadows from the walls swallowed most of her body until it was only her torso that was barely discernable. Usagi heard her sigh softly through the distance she created, but the dark red tone in her eyes stayed sharp even through the darkness.
"I saw a man," Setsuna said quietly.
"Possibly the winner of the tournament," Usagi replied, more a statement than a guess.
"You will marry, Usagi, that much I'm sure of. Royal blood is in his veins. You needn't worry about your wellbeing," she said.
"Will I be unhappy?"
"I saw an arduous journey but you won't be alone. There will be those that struggle with you and an approaching time when you will decide whether or not to use what I have taught you."
Usagi closed her eyes, hot moisture spilling from the corners and falling into her lap. "I don't understand."
"All in due time," the Princess of Pluto responded.
Setsuna's answers were never clear or exact but behind them was the cold surge of reality, sending spikes into Usagi's bloodstream. This was more real now than it ever was. She was being given away and she was without any power to stop it.