Thorny Roses

Chapter 16

A few days passed since the Ayakashi Sisters and Rubeus had been healed. Prince Diamond, Sapphire, and Emerald had been awaiting either their return or other news.

A Yuma entered the throne room, bowing to the people inside.

"Any news?" Diamond drawled lazily, taking a sip of his wine. Sapphire was anxiously staring at the Yuma, hoping for good news.

"Neo-Queen Serenity has destroyed the Ayakashi Sisters and Rubeus, your highness," the Yuma hissed.

"What?!" Sapphire exploded. His face was red with anger and shock, contrasting with the despair in his blue eyes. Emerald eyed him nervously. In all seriousness, she knew how much Petz had meant to Sapphire.

"That explains why I cannot find them. Oh well," Diamond sighed in boredom. "We'll need to find replacements."

Sapphire turned on his brother with an incredulous expression.

The Yuma bowed and disappeared.

"REPLACEMENTS?!" Sapphire yelled, his voice echoing around the room.

Emerald placed a calming hand on his shoulder but it was to no avail. Sapphire roughly threw her hand off of him as he stormed towards his brother.

"How can you replace them? They were family!" Sapphire screamed.

"Enough, Sapphire," Diamond rolled his eyes. "What's done is done—you can't bring them back by yelling at me."

Diamond waved his hand over the projector in the middle of the room and the previous battle shimmered to life. He grinned gleefully as he watched Sailor Moon emit a bright light and caused everything to disappear.

"Imagine what I could do with her by my side," Diamond wistfully whispered.

Sapphire's eyes blackened. "You still want her here when she murdered our family?"

"Of course."

"NO! I will not have it! I will never allow her to step a foot in this palace! I will kill her on spot!" Sapphire exploded.

Diamond's eyes darkened this time. He stood up, nearing closer and closer to his brother who did not look away.

"I will forgive you for that outburst because you are my brother, Sapphire," Diamond warned. "I know the real reason you're upset," he sighed, his expression softening.

Sapphire blinked in surprise at the tender expression on his brother's face. "Y-you d-do?"

"Of course. I know how attached you were to Petz. But do not worry: whores can be replaced as well." With that, he disappeared.

Emerald watched as Sapphire stood frozen in his spot. "S-Sapphire?"

Sapphire disappeared, materializing in his room. His eyes were completely black at this point. His eyes darted around his room and in a few seconds, he was throwing everything against the walls. Emerald appeared in front of his door and listened. All she heard was crashing and the sound of glass breaking. Finally she heard Sapphire release a guttural cry. She gently creaked the door open, peering in to see Sapphire curled up on the floor against his bed. His broad shoulders were quaking with sobs.

"Sapphire…" Emerald sighed, tears coming to her eyes. To see the normally stoic Sapphire breaking down was enough to do her in. He had always been the strong and confident one…

A six year old Emerald had been crying, her head resting on her knees as she hid in a corner of her parents' garden.

A comforting hand placed itself on her head. She looked up into Sapphire light blue eyes, smiling at her.

"Emerald, why are you crying?" Sapphire asked. Though he was only a few months older than her, Sapphire had always felt like a much older brother to her.

"Sapphire nii-san," Emerald sobbed. "Diamond said that I was too dumb to play with him."

"Now, you know he didn't mean that! He only said that because you're better at sword fighting than him."

"…R-really?"

"Definitely! Come on. Let's play and I'll show you how good you are!"

Now, it was her turn to comfort him.

Sapphire reached into his pocket, pulling out a picture of him and Petz. She had been wearing a long jade dress with a low back and her hair was loose. She was resting against his chest with her hands on his chest while he had his arms wrapped tightly around her waist. Her head was nestled in the crook of his neck while he had placed his chin on her head, his eyes closed with a small smile on his face. Neither of them was looking at the camera.

"Petz…oh, Petz…" he sobbed.

Emerald let her tears flow over as she wrapped her slender arms around his large frame, rocking him back and forth. He looked up at her with broken eyes, pleading with her to tell him it was all a dream. Emerald only bit her bottom lip to keep herself from sobbing with him.

In that dark corner of the Black Moon Clan palace floating above Tokyo, Emerald and Sapphire became brother and sister once again.

The Senshi and Chibiusa waved their hands at the Ayakashi Sisters running the jewelry and make up store. The Ayakashi Sisters, embracing their new lives, had decided to do what they do best. After inviting the Senshi to their new store, they had treated the Senshi to a significant discount.

"Ooh!" Minako exclaimed. "Look at these earrings!" She held up little navy studs with gold enamel.

"You have very good taste," Calaveras smiled. "Hmm…I'll say about 10,000 yen!"

"B-wh-ho-10,000 YEN?!" Minako sputtered. "This is probably worth about 4 or 5 thousand!"

"Hey, that's 10,000 yen with the discount! Do you want me to take it away?"

Minako fumed. "Here!" She slapped the money into Calaveras' open hand while Calaveras smirked.

"It seems business is going well," Usagi commented with a smile.

Petz grinned. "Yes, things are going very well," she nodded, looking at the various customers. Petz and Calaveras were helping customers while Berthier was working the cash register. In the back, Koan was doing what she did best: designing and creating the jewelry.

"We really are grateful to you," Berthier bowed her head. The Senshi thought she looked adorable in her soft orange dress and white cardigan, her hair loose.

"Yes, we really love this new life," Calaveras smiled. "I have no regrets about this chance to start over."

Petz stiffened but quickly relaxed, masking her sorrow under a smile. She, too, had no qualms with this new beginning…but she couldn't help but think of Sapphire. Yes, they were no longer together, but at least in the Black Moon Clan she would see him every day.

"Are you alright?" Makoto asked.

Petz slowly nodded, a small smile on her pretty face. "Yes, thank you." She shook her head slightly to wave the sad thoughts away. "You know, we have some pink rose earrings in this corner if you would like to see them…"

After an hour or two of chatting with the Ayakashi Sisters, they left the store, all sporting some kind of jewelry—even Chibiusa.

Minako, Makoto, and Rei had each chosen an array of jewelry and makeup. Ami had opted for a pretty silver bracelet that had a watch charm on it. Little blue glass beads were hanging from the silver chain. Chibiusa had chosen a headband made of pink satin and had pearls sewn onto the edges. Usagi had picked out a men's ring for Mamoru: it had a thick gold band with an oval shaped onyx stone imbedded in it. A lapis lazuli stone was placed in the center of the ring.

The girls walked to their park to wait for the Shitennou and Mamoru.

Sitting down on a patch of grass, the Senshi relaxed. Usagi watched as Ami lay down with a book and Minako sunbathed. Makoto lay down and, covering her eyes with her arm, fell asleep. Chibiusa had placed her head on Usagi's lap, falling asleep herself. Only Rei and Usagi were alert.

"Rei," Usagi calmly began. "We need to talk."

"What about?" Rei's eyes dangerously glinted.

"You know very well what about."

"Yeah? Well, what if I don't want to talk about it?"

"Rei, you're being childish—" Usagi got cut off.

"He called me useless! He said I would get in the way!" Rei shrieked, tears glistening in her violet eyes.

"Rei…" Usagi softly said. From the corner of her eyes, she could see that Ami, Minako, and Makoto were carefully watching. Chibiusa remained asleep.

"Imagine if Mamoru had called you useless and said that you would only get in the way. How would you feel?" Rei said. "Jadeite didn't believe in me and he didn't trust in me."

"You're wrong. He said those things for a reason. He didn't want you to get hurt," Usagi shook her head.

"Well, he sure picked one hell of a way to do it," Rei sneered.

"Mamoru did the same thing, you know. When we broke up," Usagi said, a sad smile on her face as she looked down, softly running a hand over Chibiusa's hair.

All of the Senshi looked up at their leader in surprise. They had never really found out why Mamoru broke up with Usagi.

"Mamoru had been having dreams about me getting hurt if we stayed together. So, he decided to remedy the problem by breaking up with me," Usagi said, a tear escaping from the corner of her eye.

"I didn't know that…" Rei quietly said.

"And you know what's really funny?" Usagi said. "When I recently told the Generals why Mamoru broke up with me, they all understood why he did that. They all would do whatever it takes to keep us safe. Yes, I'm royally pissed at Mamoru for not having more faith in our relationship, but now, we're stronger than ever. Imagine if he hadn't broken up with me and I hadn't left. Things would be so different and not necessarily better," Usagi said.

The Senshi, and Rei especially, were quiet, soaking up what Usagi had said. Each of them felt a surge of emotion for their respective General.

"Hey, girls!" Nephrite's voice called out with a large grin on his face. Makoto stood up and flew towards him, wrapping her arms around him in a strong hug. Nephrite, though surprised, was pleased.

"Not that I'm not happy, but what's the occasion, beautiful?" Nephrite winked.

Makoto smiled sweetly up at him. "Do I need a reason to hug you?"

Kunzite and Zoicite walked into the clearing together, each carrying bags of snacks. Minako and Ami stood, a blush on both of their cheeks. They silently took some of the bags from their respective generals and walked back, but not before Kunzite wrapped an arm around Minako's shoulders and Zoicite held Ami's hand.

Usagi felt a pair of hands cover her eyes. She smiled as she felt someone's lips press against her neck from behind.

"Mamoru," Usagi breathed. She twisted around gently so she would not wake up Chibiusa.

Mamoru's gentle blue eyes gleamed at her. He looked down at Chibiusa's sleeping form before sitting carefully beside Usagi.

"She fell asleep?" Mamoru gestured towards the pink-haired girl.

Usagi nodded. "Yeah, she was really tired after we visited the Ayakashi Sisters."

"Oh, how is their store going?"

"Really well, actually," Usagi smiled. "They're adapting easily. By the way, I got you a gift," Usagi said. Usagi was proud that she was able to say that without blushing. Mamoru visibly pouted that Usagi wasn't more embarrassed.

"I guess giving me gifts isn't special since you don't blush anymore," Mamoru playfully said.

Usagi rolled her eyes, handing him the tiny box with the ring. "Just open it, baka."

Mamoru chuckled and opened the box. The smile on his face faded away as he stared at the ring in awe.

Usagi felt nervous but again, she did not reveal that she felt so.

"Do…you like it?" She hesitantly asked. "Because if you don't, I can always retur—"

"No. No, I love it," Mamoru looked at her seriously, his eyes smoldering the same way they had that night. Usagi gulped and felt warm all over.

Mamoru smiled, placing a hand on her cheek. "Now, there's that blush I've been missing," Mamoru laughed. Usagi only blushed harder.

"I…I'm glad you like it," she murmured.

Mamoru tipped her chin towards him, leaning down to kiss her. Usagi placed a careful hand on his cheek, her fingertips light against his skin.

"Eww…"

They broke apart, looking up to see the Shitennou and Senshi staring at them. Mamoru scowled at Nephrite.

"Really?" Mamoru humphed. He turned to Usagi. "Why did you bring them back with you? Couldn't you have just left them where you were before?"

"Hey!" Nephrite exclaimed.

Usagi laughed. "No, otherwise, the Senshi would have a bone to pick with me," she winked at the girls.

Mamoru sighed, shaking his head. "Wait a second, where's Jadeite?" He looked around and then down at his watch.

"Why has he been so late these past few weeks?" Kunzite muttered.

"Well, he did say he got a part-time job," Zoicite said, munching on a cookie. Nephrite eyed the bag of cookies Zoicite was holding. As he lunged for it, Zoicite darted out of the way, causing Nephrite to fall over. Nephrite pouted but immediately brightened when Makoto held out a slice of cake for him.

"A part-time job?" Usagi questioned. Her brows furrowed. "Why would Jadeite need a job?"

"Sorry I'm late!" Jadeite ran into the clearing, breathing heavily. Rei was not facing him but her eyes were studying him.

"Where've you been?" Kunzite asked suspiciously.

"Working," Jadeite mumbled. He grabbed a water bottle from their pile of snacks and sat down, exhausted from the running.

"Well, where are you working?" Kunzite continued.

Jadeite's eyebrow twitched in annoyance and he lay down on the grass, covering his face with his hat. "Not important," Jadeite's voice was muffled under the hat.

Kunzite huffed, instead turning his attention on Minako.

Jadeite strategically placed his hat on his face so that it was covering him but he could see Rei if he tilted his head the slightest bit. She looked pensive, not angry like he had expected her to be. He sighed. Maybe she's forgiven me.

Rei on the other hand was completely immersed in her thoughts. A part of her was still angry at Jadeite but the other part understood him and wanted to forgive him. She had never felt so conflicted.

A few hours passed and during this time, Chibiusa had woken up. The Shitennou and Chibiusa began to play a game of catch using one of the oranges Kunzite and Zoicite had bought. When Chibiusa had failed to catch the orange and it was squashed on the ground, she pouted. Then, her sharp ruby eyes flitted to Luna-P's hovering form. The floating sphere seemed to know exactly what its owner was thinking and turned to fly away. However, Chibiusa was too quick. The Senshi and Shitennou laughed as Chibiusa triumphantly carried Luna-P over to continue the game.

When the game had finally ended, Luna-P spun precariously out of Chibiusa's reach, resting in a tree. The group of friends lounged lazily when Jadeite whined, "I'm bored! Let's do something!"

"What else do you want to do?" Kunzite rolled his eyes.

"I don't know…" Jadeite mumbled, falling back onto the grass.

Rei watched him carefully. "Oh!" Suddenly she remembered something. Everyone looked at her expectantly.

"I still have the prize I won from the festival!" Rei exclaimed, her face bright with excitement. Usagi and the girls were surprised but happy to see their friend with a lively expression on her recently sullen face.

"Oh yeah!" Makoto gasped with a delighted spark in her eyes.

"What prize?" Minako asked.

"I won a lottery kind of game at the university festival for a three-night trip to Yokohama," Rei said, fishing around in her purse. She beamed as she pulled out a key with a little card attached to it. There was the number of the beach house owner on the card. "I haven't used it yet!"

"Can we all go?" Jadeite cautiously asked.

Rei smiled softly at him. "Yes." She turned to the others. "There are supposed to be two bedrooms and two bathrooms so we can bring as many people as we want."

"We could go over winter break. It won't be too cold down in Yokohama," Usagi said. "So, does anyone wanna go to Yokohama?"

Immediately, everyone's hand flew into the air and they began to animatedly chat with each other. Mamoru and Usagi stared into each other's eyes, excited for the opportunity to get away. Rei and Jadeite were doing a similar thing: Jadeite's eyes pleaded apologies while Rei's eyes emanated forgiveness. They shared a secret smile that no one else had seen.

Sorry it took so long! I don't have too much work these days but I will be leaving the country for two weeks so I won't have access to my laptop :( But I will churn out a few chapters this week so you guys will be satisfied!

Love,

Pegasus'Horn