Author's Note: Sorry for the belated update, but I'm finally going to get back to working on this story. I reread it and forgot how good it was going.
Disclaimer: Own nothing but the plot. Sort of. Mostly. ;)
Zoicite stared at Amy in awe as she recited flawlessly the entire book of From Prague to Paris: A Critique of Structuralist and Post-Structuralist Thought without even having to look at any of the pages. Zoicite had read the book maybe twice in his life and he could recall a good portion of the book's content, but not the whole book word for word. To say that he was impressed by Amy's intellect and impressive ability to retain everything she learned would be an intense understatement.
He cut Amy off after another ten minutes, making her blush and apologize for prattling on.
"There's no need for that, Amy," Zoicite said with a chuckle.
Amy glanced up at him. "No need for what?"
"To apologize; I loved listening to your soft talk about the finer points of structuralism conquering the academic minds of the Anglo-Saxon people. I was just hoping we could discuss something else. I have read the book, you know."
A bright blush spread throughout Amy's cheeks for about the tenth time since Zoicite had begun talking to her. It was amusing how she grew embarrassed very easily.
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to bore you with ramblings about something most people don't care to even know about..."
"No, that's not what I meant. I actually like listening to your voice. It's almost melodic in a way."
Amy's blush deepened.
Zoicite leaned against the nearby bookshelf. "You know, I find it very endearing when you blush like that."
Amy lowered her eyes to the floor shyly, biting her lip nervously. Unlike the other princesses, Amy was not accustomed to handsome men, or men in general, complimenting her. She was an outsider in most social circles, awkward, and usually intimidated the few men that did speak to her by the way she spoke of things like calculus or biology. Most men didn't like the thought of a woman being smarter than them.
"Thank you," Amy replied quietly, afraid that her face was now the color of a tomato.
Zoicite chuckled and used two fingers to tilt her chin up so he could look into her eyes. "No need to thank me for stating the truth."
They stared intensely at each other for several quiet moments before Amy cleared her throat. "Um, I find that I am growing rather hungry. Would you like to join me for an evening meal?"
"I would love to."
Amy smiled brightly and Zoicite felt his chest constrict at the sight. After she set the book she had been holding back into its proper place, Zoicite held out his arm and she gently placed her hand on the crease of his upper and lower arm and led him out of the library and towards the kitchen area.
"Stop staring at my ass!" Raye cried indignantly, balling her hands into fists as she glared heatedly at Jadeite.
Jadeite ignored the angry flames flying out of Raye's amethyst eyes and leaned back on the heels of his feet, smirking arrogantly. "That's mighty presumptuous of you," he replied in amusement. "Whoever said I was staring at your ass?"
"I was politely directing your attention to the flames of the fire with which I used a certain potion imported directly from Mars and when I turned around, your eyes were about three feet south of the back of my head!"
"You were never very good with math, were you?" Jadeite shot back, causing Raye's eyes to darken further. "And it just so happens that I was admiring the detailed black and red rose pattern on the floor. I've never seen anything quite like it."
All the anger instantly left Raye's face and was replaced by mortification. Her cheeks turned so red that Jadeite was afraid she was actually made of fire herself.
"Oh," Raye mumbled in a soft voice, wringing her hands together in a nervous gesture. "Well, then I'm sorry for accusing you of...of...I'm just sorry!" Anger seeped back into her voice at having to apologize to a man. Especially a man from Earth.
As Raye turned around, refusing to look back at him again, and began the tour anew, Jadeite's eyes trailed back down to the infatuating swell of Raye's behind, grinning wickedly to himself at having come up with a believable answer so fast.
"How is it that a beautiful princess such as yourself-who can have anything made or done for her by others-can create such delectable food?" Nephrite inquired of Lita as they stood in the kitchen, both leaning against one of the large metal islands.
Lita blushed at the compliment and set the tray of mini-cakes down on the countertop. "Well, when I was about twelve, after I had finished all my training sessions and studies, I decided to visit my cook friend in the kitchen. She was making this complicated-looking pasta dish and I asked her how she was able to make all these things. So, after she put the dish in the oven to heat, she began to teach me how to cook. Every day for five years I learned how to make new things, from pasta and seafood to pastries and desserts."
Nephrite couldn't stop staring at her, entranced. About a week before Darien had informed them of his decision to at long last visit the moon, Nephrite had read in the stars that a brighter future lay ahead of him and the others. That they would meet some new people-the stars had never specified the sex of the new people-that would change their lives for the better.
And now, standing in front of the beautiful and strong princess of Jupiter, Nephrite knew that, once again, the stars did not steer him wrong.
"Well, the lessons have paid off well," Nephrite finally said. "This is the finest food I have ever tasted in my thirty-one years."
Lita beamed brightly, causing Nephrite's heart to start hammering in his chest. "Thank you! That means so much to me!" The smile briefly left Lita's lips. "Most men, when they find out that I cook as a pastime, they laugh at me."
Nephrite's eyes narrowed. "Why would they laugh at you?"
"Because everyone knows that I'm a tomboy."
"You know, I have more male tendencies than female. I'm not one of those sissy girlie-girls, like Mina."
Both Lita and Nephrite jumped in surprise at Mina's sudden arrival, caught off-guard. They had been so lost in each other's eyes that they hadn't noticed Mina slip into the kitchen.
"I didn't mean that as a bad thing," Lita insisted, slightly flustered.
Mina chuckled before moving forward to peer into the oven. "How's the roast coming along? I'm getting hungry."
Lita straightened up and glanced over at the timer. "It still won't be ready for another half an hour, give or take a couple of minutes."
Mina pouted and stood up. "But I haven't eaten for almost twelve hours," she whined.
"You're starting to sound like Serena," Raye muttered as she strolled into the kitchen, Jadeite not far behind her. "You're not going to start eating consistently all day like she does, are you?"
Mina scowled at Raye and hopped up onto the nearest counter, swinging her legs from side to side as Serena and Darien walked into the room, Serena glaring playfully at Raye.
"Raye, I do not eat that much," she whined.
"Yes, you do. I'm just surprised that you haven't become the obese princess of the moon yet."
Serena's eyes narrowed and she made to move towards Raye. "Why, you..."
As Serena chased Raye around the kitchen and counters, Kunzite walked in, coming to a stop directly next to Mina, who began to blush furiously. Unfortunately for her, this didn't go by unnoticed.
"Mina, why are you so red all of a sudden?" Lita asked in curiosity.
Next to Mina, Kunzite allowed himself a small, unnoticeable quirk of the lips.
Mina placed her hands to her flaming cheeks. "I'm not red. Am I?"
"She's blushing because I caught her swimming naked in one of the palace's many pools," Kunzite answered for her. Immediately he felt Mina's cold, penetrating glare on the side of his face for revealing that information.
All action came to a stop. Serena stopped chasing Raye and the two girls turned to stare at Mina. Nephrite paused with his hand halfway to placing another delicious cake in his mouth, also staring incredulously at Mina. Darien and Lita were watching Mina in slight amusement.
Serena was the one who finally broke the awkward silence. "Mina, I thought you gave up swimming naked months ago when that ambassador from Mercury nearly cut ties with the Silver Alliance after having walked in on you himself."
Mina's face remained flushed at the feeling of everybody's eyes on her. Usually she didn't mind being the center of attention, but not under these circumstances. "Well, I stopped for awhile, but I love swimming and I don't do it very often! And I always swim in the pool that is never used because most people can't even find it!" Mina turned accusing eyes to Kunzite. "Which brings up the question of how you even found it in the first place! Were you following me?"
Kunzite lifted his left silver eyebrow. "Don't flatter yourself, Princess. I was merely exploring all the hidden nooks and crevasses of the palace."
"Yeah, that's kind of what Kunzite does," Jadeite spoke up. "We venture to a new place and every time he's out on his own making sure there isn't some trap to capture us or torture us." He reached down, grabbed one of Lita's cakes, and tossed it into his mouth. "He doesn't like to have fun or be sociable in any way. He's a very serious warrior with a stick the size of a boulder up his ass." He smirked at the glare Kunzite sent him.
Darien came to Kunzite's defense. "At least he does his job well. You could do with a little less goofing off, Jadeite, and a little more training. You need to be serious once in awhile."
Jadeite flushed in embarrassment when his eyes met Raye's laughing ones. If there was one thing Jadeite truly hated, it was getting reprimanded in front of a beautiful woman.
"Ha!" Raye cried, pointing her index finger at Jadeite childishly.
Mina, glad that, at least for the moment, the attention was off of her, turned to glare up at Kunzite once more. "You're an ass," she whispered so that only Kunzite could hear her.
"It takes one to know one, Princess," Kunzite shot back.
Mina gasped indignantly. "Do they not teach you manners on your planet?"
Kunzite turned his head to stare into her eyes. "Do they not teach you decorum on yours? Or Modesty?"
Seething, Mina hopped off the counter and walked to the other side of the room, away from Kunzite.
After dinner, Mina was consternated to find herself escorted back to her chambers, once more, by Kunzite. All the other generals had jumped at the chance to escort the others, leaving Mina and Kunzite the only ones unpaired. Mina had explained to Kunzite that she could make it to her room on her own. After all, she did it every night. But Kunzite would hear none of it.
"A woman should never have to look out for her own protection," he had said.
Well, that statement in and of itself had caused a bitter argument between the two that had lasted well up until they reached Mina's door, where she bid him a curt good night and then slammed the door in his face.