Prologue

I hear them calling to me from inside the beautiful Crystal Palace; my palace.

"Serenity, Serenity."

I call to them and they obediently come to stand on the balcony with me.

Ami comes first, smiling gently but her eyes are guilty and brooding. Minako follows her chattering absently to Makoto who answers her half heartedly watching the sky. Minako hides the way she feels behind a fa├žade of happiness while Makoto hides her pain by looking anywhere but at me, for I am the cause of her pain. 'She' follows them all, obviously reluctantly, I know she doesn't want to be anywhere near me. Her eyes are cold and hard, and her mouth is pursed in a straight line, and vaguely I wondered when was the last time I had seen her smile. Rei was the only one of my friends who knew it was impossible to hide her pain from me.

"It is not safe to be on your own, why are you out here your majesty?" Rei asks me. Her voice is harsh and sharp, she cannot stand to call me Serenity or even meatball head, she treats me like a stranger. I can't blame her; she is acting the way I would have if I were in her situation. Ami shoots Rei a reprimanding gaze and Rei lowers her eyes immediately. She is no longer the strong, defiant girl I once knew and loved, this time had changed her, Crystal Tokyo had changed us all.

"I was thinking of Tokyo, how it used to be," I tell them simply and they all stare at me, Minako stops talking and clamps a hand to her mouth as her eyes fill with tears, I continue as though I hadn't noticed, "all our friends, Taiki, Umino, Shinozaki, Kaidou, I miss them."

"Don't talk about it, please, I can't stand it when you talk about *them*," Minako cries out suddenly as the tears run down her face. She runs from the balcony and throwing me an apologetic look Ami follows Minako to console her. I feel terrible now and move to go after them but someone takes my hand. I hope it is Rei, I pray that it is her ready to forgive me but it is Makoto and she squeezes my hand reassuringly, though her hand is cold and stiff.

"Give her time, give us all time," she pleads her eyes looking away from mine.

"I didn't want things to be like this, you know I would never hurt my friends," I tell Makoto desperately and suddenly she looks sadder and stares at me in a pitying sort of way.

"Not intentionally you wouldn't," she replies then excuses herself to be with Ami and Minako. Only Rei and I are left on the balcony now and neither of us says a word. I hear the rustling of a dress behind me.

"Are you leaving me too?" I ask blankly not turning around and I see Rei shake her head slowly out of the corner of my eyes.

"I will stay if you wish it, your majesty," Rei says and I turn on her angrily. They had no right to be angry with me! Not everything was my fault. I didn't ask for my destiny, I didn't have a choice. But neither did they Serenity because you didn't give them one, a voice reminds me and I blink my eyes rapidly holding back my tears of pity. Rei would never want my pity.

"Cut the 'your majesty' stuff Rei and talk to me," I demand and Rei is silent as she looks deep into my eyes.

"I can't," she tells me simply and I take her hand. It's cold as ice.

"Why?" I ask and she pulls her hand away as though my touch has scorched her.

"Because I may say something I'll regret, just like before," she tells me darkly her pain evident once again and she sees I am feeling sorry for her and looks away from me.

"Very well, you may go," I tell her and she bows stiffly and leaves me alone not before saying coldly,

"Do not be too long your majesty."

And I was left alone.