Thorny Roses

Chapter 17

For the next few days, Emerald and Sapphire were nearly inseparable. They ate together and sat together in silence but they were always together. Many of the servants of the Black Moon airship wondered if the two fancied each other but the wiser ones knew that this was the bond between a brother and sister.

Emerald paid no heed to the rumors flying around. She only paid attention to Sapphire and the acute pain he was constantly feeling. He no longer slept and he ate little. He often stared into space, his blue eyes nearly coal black.

Once in a while, Emerald, Sapphire, Rubeus, and Diamond would have dinner together as well as a meeting for discussing plans. Though Rubeus was no longer present and a replacement had not yet been found, these occasional dinners continued to occur.

Diamond, though infatuated beyond sanity with Neo-Queen Serenity, was still a perceptive person. He carefully eyed Emerald and Sapphire. Sapphire sat rigid and moved his fork around his plate, eating nothing, just staring down. Emerald had worried eyes on his figure. Diamond noted this with interest.

Diamond cleared his throat and reached for something on the table. However, at that same moment, Emerald had grabbed the dish and served Sapphire, unnoticing of Diamond reaching towards the plate.

"Sapphire, have some more," Emerald gently chide. "You're losing too much weight."

Sapphire accepted the food and offered a grim smile at the green-haired woman. He ate small bites but ate all the same, hoping to appease her worry.

Diamond was curious and irritated at the same time. Why is Emerald not paying attention to me?! I am her King!

He abruptly stood up. "I'll be retiring to my bedroom now."

Emerald looked up while Sapphire continued solemnly eating. "Alright." She turned back to Sapphire, pouring him more water. Sapphire offered her the same grim smile in thanks.

Diamond's eyebrow twitched in silent anger. "Won't you join me, Emerald?"

Emerald and Sapphire both froze. She slowly turned towards him, her eyes hopeful yet wary. "…what?" She whispered.

Diamond smirked on the inside. She always fell for this line. He knew that she would never refuse him, especially when he asked her in this manner. He watched as Emerald looked at Sapphire who sat in silence, looking down. He did not eat.

Emerald looked down thoughtfully before standing up. Diamond smirked, pleased. Sapphire still did not move. In seconds, the smirk fell from Diamond's face as Emerald slightly bowed her head in refusal.

"I'm sorry," Emerald said. "But I think I will stay behind with Sapphire and return him to his room."

All was silent.

SLAP!

Emerald cried out as she fell to the ground. Diamond bent towards her figure, pulling her head back by her hair.

"You dare refuse me?!" Diamond roared. Suddenly, he was pushed away. He stumbled backwards and whipped around to face a cold but livid Sapphire.

"Do not touch her."

Diamond's eyes widened at the pure ferocity that laced his brother's reprimand.

He watched as Sapphire bent towards Emerald and helped her up. He placed a protective arm around her shoulders and led her towards her room. Diamond watched with utter shock, his mouth hanging wide open at his brother's audacity. He felt a strange feeling in his heart as he watched Emerald's retreating figure.

He looked down thoughtfully and then turned on his heel towards his throne room, where he knew Neo-Queen Serenity was waiting to be observed by him.

The week before winter break was filled with excitement for the girls. Classes seemed to drag on for the Senshi. Their classmates noticed the anticipation on their faces and wondered what could make these beautiful girls so happy.

"Usagi-san," one girl called during the lunch break.

"Yes?" Usagi answered, turning away from Rei and Ami.

"If you don't mind me asking, is there a reason you are all excited?" she asked.

Usagi smiled and the girl felt dazzled. "Yes, we're actually planning a trip to Yokohama. We'll be staying there for a few nights."

"Wow! That sounds like so much fun," the girl gushed.

Usagi nodded, grinning. "Yes, we haven't been able to go on a break like this in a long time."

"Will you all be going?" she asked Ami and Rei.

"Yes," Ami answered with a timid smile. "It will be us three and Makoto and Minako from next door."

"And a few friends from the university," Rei added lightly.

"Yeah, friends," Usagi insinuated.

The girl laughed. "I'm assuming you'll be bringing a few guys…"

"Just five," Rei laughed.

"I hope you guys enjoy your trip then," the girl smiled, turning away.

Usagi, Rei, and Ami continued their previous conversation, oblivious to Miya Hitori sitting a few desks away, listening to everything.

Friday eventually arrived and each of the girls rushed home to finish packing. Usagi finished packing clothes and a few bathing suits as well as toiletries before rushing over to her parents' house.

Her brother, Shingo, opened the door.

"Oh, Onee-san, you're here," he said, opening the door wider.

"Hey Shingo!" Usagi hugged her brother. "How have you been?"

Shingo rolled his eyes. "I saw last week, baka Usagi! Not much changed since then…"

Usagi laughed. "Sorry, little brother. I can't help but feel interested in your life."

"Usagi!"

Usagi looked up to see Chibiusa with her own bunny suitcase, probably filled with similar items as Usagi's suitcase.

"Ready, Chibiusa?" Usagi smiled, holding out a hand.

"Wait!" Usagi's mother ran out of the kitchen with a large bento box wrapped in cloth. "Here's something for the journey! I know you'll get hungry."

Usagi smiled warmly, accepting the bento box. She bowed respectfully and gave her mother a hug. "Thank you, Okaa-san," Usagi giggled.

They ran out the door, hopping onto the next bus that would take them to the train station. They were all going to meet up at the train station before getting on the train.

Usagi and Chibiusa held hands as they got off the bus. They spotted Kunzite and Nephrite waiting in front of the train station. Chibiusa ecstatically waved at them and called their names. After safely crossing the street, Usagi let Chibiusa run to them. From afar, Usagi noted with amusement the girls watching Nephrite and Kunzite.

Wait until the girls get here, she chuckled to herself.

A few minutes after she arrived, Ami and Minako had arrived as well, followed by Rei and Makoto. Kunzite's eyes had bulged at the size of Minako's large suitcase while Nephrite's mouth watered at the bento box Makoto had made.

Zoicite and Jadeite followed a few minutes later. Usagi checked her watch. Their train that would take them straight to Yokohama was leaving in twenty minutes.

"I'm going to wait over there for Mamoru," Usagi said to the others, though they barely paid any attention, already in their pairs. She moved to the side of the road where she would be able to see a little better.

Mamoru came running towards the train station. He cursed himself for taking such a long shower. He slowed down when he noticed Usagi standing on the side, looking around. He smiled to himself, knowing that she was looking for him.

He looked around for a bit and felt his smile drop. Many of the men around the Senshi and Shitennou were eyeing Usagi in a way that even Mamoru felt ashamed. Usagi looked especially dazzling in her sky blue romper with loose quarter-sleeves. There was a deep v-neckline but Usagi had worn a red undershirt to match the red roses all over the romper. Her hair was tied into a French braid, revealing her baby blue eyes to the world.

Jealousy flared in him and Mamoru briskly walked to Usagi. She looked up in surprise, then happiness when he wrapped his arm around her shoulder. She opened her mouth to chastise him for being late when he cut her off with his lips.

Usagi was shocked but she didn't mind. Closing her eyes, she leaned into the sweet but hungry kiss, the same kind of kiss from that night. Usagi felt butterflies in her stomach, feeling that they would be sharing this kind of kiss more than once during the trip.

"Yah, Chiba!" Rei's voice broke them apart. "If you make us any later, we're going to leave the both of you here!"

Mamoru good-naturedly laughed while heavily breathing. Usagi smiled to herself, biting her lip. All eleven of them rushed to the ticket booths. Strangers around them often gave them a double-take, not only at each of their beauty, but also at the pure, innocent excitement on their grinning faces. It had been a while since they had all allowed themselves such a vacation.

Boarding the train, they could not find eleven seats all together; this was a train that stopped at various stops as well as Yokohama, so the train was a little crowded. The Senshi and Shitennou paired off, taking two seats each while Usagi, Mamoru, and Chibiusa sat in three seats.

It was a 45-minute train ride so after about 20 minutes, much of the train had cleared up as it neared its final destination. The Senshi and Shitennou were able to find seats together and decided to open up Usagi's bento box. They happily ate together to their hearts' contents—it was as if Usagi's mother had known that she would not only be cooking for just the Senshi and Chibiusa, as if she had known there would be an extra five people. Particularly Nephrite who was a bottomless pit when it came to food.

After they had eaten, for the last ten minutes they all decided to take a nap. Usagi was the first to wake up. She smiled when she saw that she was leaning on Mamoru's chest with an arm around her. His other arms was around Chibiusa, whose head was resting in his lap. She looked around to see that the Senshi and Shitennou were in similar positions: Minako was nestled into Kunzite's chest; Nephrite was lying his head on Makoto's lap; Ami's head was on Zoicite's shoulder while his was resting on her head. Rei and Jadeite seemed to be not touching at all, just sitting upright in their seats. Though, on further inspection, Usagi noticed that they were holding hands.

A few minutes later, an announcement came on that the train had almost reached Yokohama. Usagi began waking each of them up, beginning with Mamoru.

She gently kissed him, not stopping until he responded to the kiss. She smiled and pulled away. He blinked sleepily, looking around in confusion.

"What's going on?" He groaned, sitting up and stretching his neck.

"We're almost there. Help me wake everyone up," Usagi said, standing up and gently shaking Chibiusa awake. She moved onto the Senshi when Chibiusa was fully awake. Usagi carefully woke up the Senshi, leaving the Shitennou to Mamoru. Mamoru, however, still cranky from his partial sleep, carelessly nudged the Shitennou with his feet, kicking harder when they wouldn't wake.

Nephrite jumped awake at Mamoru's nudging. "Hm?! What?"

Jadeite had been so surprised he fell out of his seat, waking Rei in the process. He glared at Mamoru who had only moved onto Zoicite.

In this way, Mamoru and Usagi woke up the Shitennou and Senshi. Just as they had woken up Kunzite and Minako, the train crawled to a stop. Everyone grabbed their suitcases and walked out of the train once the doors slid open.

It was around 10:50 in the morning. Yokohama was a large, beautiful city and a popular tourist site. The beach house that they were going to was right on the beach near the nicest hotels and tourist attractions.

Taking a bus, the group excitedly chatted about all that they were going to do. They arrived on the street where their beach house was among others. It was a pretty two-floor, off-white painted house. It was quaint and cute as well as new-looking. The Senshi all but ran to the house.

However, they skidded to a stop when they saw a man in a suit with an apologetic expression on his face.

"Are any of you Rei Hino?" He grimly asked. Rei hesitantly stepped forward. "I am."

"I'm sorry, but I will need the key to the beach house."

"WHAT?!" Minako, Rei, and Makoto shrieked while Ami and Usagi were in shock. The Shitennou could also barely believe what they were hearing.

"But why? I won this trip fair and square!" Rei yelled.

"I'm sorry but—"

"But I've bought this beach house."

They all turned to see who had spoken: Miya Hitori.