A.N.: I've given up—I can't keep working on the sequel when this story is bugging me so much. I'm going to start editing it, hopefully making it less wordy. I've promised too many people that I'd keep the story intact—no matter how much I want to cut out certain stupid ideas—but the chapters might be a little shorter by the time I'm done. Lemme know what you think.
And I know there's a lot of Jed-snarking…but I love Jed, and I couldn't help it. Zoicite is still Mal's best friend and all that—though there's nothing romantic going on—but I'll probably involve Jed more than any of the other generals. Same with Raye and the senshi. Jed/Raye pairings are my second favorites, you see.
As always, check out my bio page for story updating info!
Edited November 2007
CHAPTER ONE: Meet the Roommate
The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and as the trunk of his borrowed car slammed down on his fingers, Malachite was cursing. He bit off his words after only a moment, shifting the box to his other arm until he could take some of the pressure from his aching digits. That's the last time I borrow Jed's car, he silently groused. You'd think he could afford something better...and you'd think his ego would insist he get it. How can he really see himself as a lady's man when he drives this piece of junk?
Mal grimaced and dropped the box onto the ground, flexed his feelings to get the feeling back, then sighed. This wasn't the start he'd wanted, though he supposed he really couldn't complain. He knew how lucky he was to be moving into this building at all, because while he made more than enough money to support himself, the rent on a place like this was almost ludicrous. He couldn't have afforded it, wouldn't have paid so much even if he could.
He wondered if there was something horribly wrong with this girl, that she was willing to pay most of the rent herself and still allow a complete stranger to live with her. She obviously didn't need help financially, and what other reason could there be for two people to live together?
He turned his silver eyes towards his new home, glancing over the bright red carpet and canopied front door, over the uniformed doorman. Then again, he mused, I'm hardly going to pass up this chance, am I? It'll be a bit like living in a hotel, I expect, and unless she's completely insane, I think I can put up with her, whatever she's like.
Still, he couldn't help being curious about the girl. He'd never actually met her—she'd been out of town the day he'd toured the apartment, and he'd been too busy with his company to come at any other time. He didn't know what she did for a living, didn't know if she'd be messy or clean, loud or quiet. Not that it really matters. I don't plan on spending a lot of time with her, anyway. As long as she doesn't try to kill me in my sleep, we'll get along fine.
Hmm…sounds a lot like Jed's main criteria for a girlfriend, actually…
Malachite sighed again, bent to regain his box, and then started towards the front door. The doorman greeted him with a smile that was just this side of flirtatious, and then pulled the door aside. Malachite could have sworn the man also winked at him as he passed by, though he hadn't really been looking and so couldn't be sure.
Nor, on second thought, did he care. Between the ordeal of moving and Jed's constant teasing about Mal's female roommate—and everything that implied in Jed's admittedly perverted mind—Malachite was tired. He just wanted to finish unpacking and go to bed early. Who cared if another man was hitting on him, right?
He'd take the time to twitch properly later.
Malachite's typically stoic expression lightened just a little as he slid the last book into place on his shelves. It'd taken him a lot longer than he'd expected to finish unpacking, but at least now he wouldn't have to worry about it tomorrow. He was the type of man who couldn't sleep unless everything around him was ordered, and even tired as he was, unpacking all at once had seemed like the smart choice.
He gave a slight grunt of satisfaction and then turned and headed for the living room. He'd spent most of his time in his bedroom, and he hadn't done more than glance through the rest of the apartment. This seemed as good a time as any to become more familiar with it. He moved quietly into the living room, pausing for a moment to look around. The place was certainly lovely, though the color scheme seemed a little feminine to him. Unlike the darker colors of his bedroom, the entire room was carefully decorated in crèmes and gold and crystal. The whole place smacked of a professional decorator—everything in it perfect and perfectly expensive. There was even an honest-to-goodness fireplace at one end of the room, though it didn't look like it'd been used in years.
In fact, on a second glance, nothing about this apartment seemed used. The furniture was in such pristine condition that it might all have been just more decoration, and try as he might, he couldn't find a single picture or personal item. True, he hadn't exactly gone into the girl's bedroom, and perhaps she simply kept everything of hers in there, but this still seemed odd. Even he had pictures, and he was the last person anybody would expect to have friends. Was she really so horrible that she didn't?
A key turned in the front door, and Malachite immediately spun and tried to look nonchalant as the door swung open and a slight young woman stepped quietly over the threshold.
So this was his new roommate. She was younger than he'd expected, probably in her early twenties and thus at least half a decade younger than himself. She's too young to have this much money, he absently decided. Her family must be wealthy. I wonder if they know about me? I somehow doubt they'll be happy that their daughter is cohabiting with a strange male.
Not that it really made a difference, but she was prettier than he'd expected, too. She was dressed simply, in a pair of jeans and a rather tight t-shirt, but her clothing certainly showed off her slender figure. Her eyes were large, her features even and delicate. She was short, probably only as tall as his collarbone, and had really long hair. Even with it partially pulled away from her face, the blonde strands still cascaded almost down to her knees. I've finally found a girl with hair longer than mine.
She stepped through the door, and only then did he notice the white cat at her feet. The cat was following so closely at her heels that he half-expected her to trip over it, but she managed to slip, unharmed, into the room. She looked up at him, then, not seeming at all surprised to find a strange man in the room. She only smiled warmly, lips twisting in a mega-watt grin that lit her features and made her even more beautiful. "Hello," she said in a slightly accented but equally lovely voice. "You must be Malachite. I'm Mina."
She took a step forward and held out a hand, but Malachite wasn't given a chance to take it. The cat had started hissing the instant she moved, and when Mina glanced curiously down, it shocked them both by attacking her. It launched itself at her, claws raking the pale skin of her right ankle, drawing several red lines in the otherwise flawless skin. The girl yelped, more surprised than hurt, and shook her leg to dislodge the animal. "Artemis!" she yelled, clearly irritated, as the cat came free and landed, hissing furiously, a foot or so away. "What's come over you?"
The cat was still hissing at Malachite, the fur on its back rising, blue eyes narrowed to slits. Mina cast an apologetic look his way, then bent to pick up the animal. "Hey!" she shouted when it tried to bite her again, but the cat seemed impervious to her glares. It only slid out of her reach, turning suddenly and sprinting towards what Mal vaguely remembered was the kitchen.
Mina followed, cursing slightly herself, only to return empty-handed a moment later. "He jumped out the kitchen window," she explained softly, blue eyes carrying an equal mixture of worry and irritation. "He's just out on the fire escape, but I wasn't about to climb out there to get him." She shrugged, yet another apology in her voice. "Sorry about that," she said. "Stupid cat's usually very calm. I don't know what made him behave like that."
Malachite only shrugged. As long as the cat didn't attack him, what did he care?
The girl was watching him, blue eyes roving almost appraisingly over his face, and then she visibly shook herself and offered her hand once more. He took it, if a little reluctantly, and she favored him with another one of those megawatt smiles. "Anyway," she said, "welcome to the household. I'm sorry that I wasn't around to let you in or help you unpack, but I kinda forgot you were coming so early. Did you manage all right?" She paused only long enough for him to nod. "I'm assuming the agent showed you the rest of the apartment and worked out the rent and everything, but do you have any questions for me?"
He simply shook his head, amazed that she'd said so much on a single breath. Was she on crack, or did she always speak so quickly? The girl was practically bubbling over with energy, and he found it…annoying.
She was still talking, too. "I should probably warn you," she chattered on, "that I have some friends that are…well, insane might be the best word for them, and for all our sakes, I'll have to insist that you not leave anything alcoholic, sharp, or breakable where they can get at it. They don't make pretty drunks, and they tend to get violent even when they're sober." She grinned suddenly, blue eyes twinkling with something that looked an awful lot like mischief. "They'll also want to meet you," she confessed. "I've never had a male roommate before, and they've been teasing me non-stop ever since you signed the lease. Just ignore anything they say or any hints they drop, and we should be fine." She caught his expression, shrugged without losing her smile. "Just want you to be prepared," she told him, now laughing softly. "I love them like sisters, but they're all crazy. It wouldn't be nice of me to sic them on you without some kind of warning."
She paused, clearly giving him a chance to say something, but for the first time in years, Malachite was completely speechless. Great. My new roommate was the Energizer Bunny in her last life, and her apparently psychotic friends are planning an inquisition. I knew there'd be catch to this apartment!
She didn't seem to care about his silence, didn't even seem to have noticed it. "I'll also admit that I'm a complete slob, but we do have a maid, so it shouldn't be a problem for you. I'll cover her salary and everything, but you'll need to pay her if you want her to do your laundry." She stopped, expression briefly becoming thoughtful, and then shrugged. "I can't think of anything else," she admitted. "Are you sure you don't have any questions for me?"
We have a maid, too? Even with the psychotic friends, this is definitely too good to be true. He started to shake his head, then thought better of it. "May I ask why you wanted a roommate in the first place? If you can afford a maid, you obviously don't need help with the rent."
She shook her head. "No, I don't. I've been modeling and acting since I was a kid," she answered matter-of-factly. "Money hasn't been an issue for years." Mina sighed, something wistful abruptly entering her expression. "Honestly, I'm just sick of living alone. I have been for years, and I don't usually mind, but every once in a while, it'd be nice to have another person around, you know? Even if you're basically a stranger, and even if we don't ever really see each other, I like knowing that I'm not the only one living here."
Well, that explains that, though it's hardly the answer I would have expected. He stared at her, considering. So, she's a model. She certainly has the looks for it, though she doesn't seem like some spoiled fashion princess. Then again, I just met her. What do I know?
He still hadn't said anything, but her smile never faltered. "Well, anyway, I'm glad you're here." She turned, heading back towards the kitchen. "I'm going to see if I can get Artemis off the fire escape," she called over her shoulder. "I'll see you later, okay?"
He frowned as she sauntered from the room, considering. Then, with a dismissive shrug, he, too, turned and left the room.