Hello there :) It's been a while since I last updated. Just been busy settling into uni and trying to finish one of my other stories... emphasis on trying because I haven't succeeded. But please enjoy this chapter! xx


Sacrifice

I wake the next day and am immediately dressed and taken to my father, who sits next to me in his throne. I am supposed to listen to hopeful suitors and try and pick a husband – this is something I blatantly refuse. I try to reason with my father that this idea is absurd but he ignores my protests. So, instead, I am put through the worst torture imaginable. The first suitor is a young man in his early twenties. He is fairly attractive, with black curly hair that falls into his ice blue eyes and light brown skin. But as soon as he speaks, I instantly refuse. He talks about me as though I am some sort of grand prize to be one. It irritates me. I am human being. My affection cannot be won because of good looks and wealth. I cross my arms and sick further into my seat as he continues his speech about how wonderful he is. When he is done, I curtly refuse and my father kindly, but reluctantly, dismisses him. He then turns to me and frowns.

"What was that, Mako-chan?"

I blow some of my hair out of my face with a huff and glare at him. "He was a complete idiot. The way he talked about himself, I think he would love himself more than me!"

My father sighs deeply and orders Asami to let the next suitor in. As I expected he is exactly like the first. I refuse him straight away. This continues for about three hours until I have finally had enough. As another suitor enters, stand up and scream at him.

"No! I am not going to marry you! Get out now!"

The poor man is so stunned that he simply stands there with his mouth gaping open.

"What are you standing there for? I said leave!" I storm up to him and shove him roughly in the chest. My father scolds me, but the man gets the hint and scampers from the room before I have the opportunity to shove him again.

"Makoto! Explain yourself immediately!" my father bellows at me.

I turn and glare at him. "I told you, father," I spit venomously. "I don't want to get married!"

"You don't have a choice! It's for the good of Jupiter!"

I shake my head stubbornly and clench my fists into balls. Never have I felt so angry before and it's frightening... and exhilarating.

"No, it's not! If it was for the good of Jupiter, then I would be back on the Moon training with the other Senshi to help destroy this evil that haunts our universe. Instead, I am being held captive here like a prisoner. You don't care what I want or what this universe needs. You're just being selfish!"

At my words, my father rises and storms over to me. He towers over me and puts his hands threatening on his hips. His green eyes bore into mine – reading my soul. I am utterly terrified. He has never hurt me before, but perhaps I have crossed the line. I've seen him hurl grown men across a hundred yards without even breaking a sweat. A young, seventeen year old girl who be easy work. But I stand my ground and glare straight back at him.

"I'm being selfish?" he roared. His voice is as loud as thunder and just as dangerous. "You are the one being selfish, Makoto! In case you have forgotten, I am dying! You are my only daughter and it is your duty to find a husband so that you can become Queen!"

Tears of frustration leak out of my eyes and I choke them back bitterly. "No, father. My duty is to the Moon Kingdom and this universe. I will not get married. If renouncing the crown means that I can go back to the Moon, then so be it!"

"Makoto!" My father grabs a hold of my wrist and yanks me forward so that our faces are inches from his. "I forbid you from renouncing the crown. It is your birthright. Who else can I trust to govern Jupiter properly if n not my own daughter?"

I pull my wrist from his grip. "The solution is simple, father," I say quietly, letting my words sink in. "Either you change the marriage law or I renounce the crown. It's your decision."

I turn on my heal and storm out of the room. I feel so conflicted and unsure about what I should do. I wish I could talk to Minako. She would know what to do. Instead, I result to finding the only person who I trust. Shinozaki.

I pull my cloak around my shoulders and head out into the storm towards his house. The rain is refreshing and cools my temper. I instantly feel guilty about what I said to my father. If it is his dying wish that I marry and become Queen, who am I to deny him? I sigh and kick at the loose pebbles on the pavement. It does nothing to ease my frustration as I make my way towards Shino's village.

He lives not too far from the Palace, in a relatively well-off family, though nothing my father would ever see as 'worthy of a princess'. I met Shinozaki when I was five years old. It was after my mother had died and my father was holding a dinner party with some of the members of the Royal Court. Even though I was young, I was still the princess, and my father had forced me to wear a dress – something I despised deeply. In an act of rebellion, I ran away. I kept running until the storm had finally died out and that was when I met Shino. I sat down on the side of the street and he walked passed me and splashed me with water. So, I turned on him and it escalated into a mud fight that didn't end until each of us were rolling around with laughter, covered head to toe in mud. Since that moment, we have been as thick as thieves. But after our falling out, I am nervous about seeing him. I shouldn't be, should I? Shino knows me well enough to know that I would never want to get married. Still, I can't help the butterflies that stir in my stomach as I approach his door. With a deep, shaky breath, I rap my knuckled three times on the wooden door.

Shino opens the door and takes one look at me before slamming it in my face. Anger boils within me. He might be angry with me, but he has no right to slam the door in my face! I am the Princess of Jupiter, after all! This time, I don't knock. Instead, I swing open the door and storm into Shino's house.

"Shinozaki!" I scream, unbuttoning my cloak and hanging it up on the hanger in the hallway. Shino appears in the hallway, looking furious.

"How dare you enter without an invitation!" he bellows at me, striding forward glaring at me. I don't back down and fold my arms across my chest.

"How dare you slam the door in my face!" I shout back. "You have no right!"

"No right!" His hands clench into fists by his side, threatening – but I know he would never lay a finger on me. He knows I can beat him any day. "You're in my house!"

"And in case you've forgotten, I am the Princess! You ought to show more respect!"

At this, Shino backs away, his face stony. "I'm sorry, your Highness," he mutters bitterly, bowing his head. "Please forgive me."

I roll my eyes at him. "Don't be an idiot! Since when have you ever called me, 'your Highness'?"

His mouth opens in protest. "But you just – "

I hit him playfully on the arm. "Ha! Gotcha!"

He tries to hide his smirk but I notice it. He might not want to talk to me, but I can always make him laugh.

"I hate it when you do that," he mumbles. "You make me feel so guilty."

"I know!" I grin at him but he doesn't return it. Instead, he simply turns his back on me and heads into his living room. I follow him.

"Come on, Shino-chan!" I say playfully. "You can't ignore me forever!"

He looks back at me over his shoulder and I see the hurt and humiliation in his deep brown eyes. "You hurt my pride, Mako-chan. I have to regain my dignity."

I am rendered speechless as he sits down on the lounge and rests his head in his hands. It pains me to see him this way and I wish more than anything that I could make it better. But I can't give him what he wants. It wouldn't be fair on either of us. So, instead, I sit next to him and rest my hand on his knee. Neither of us speak, which I am grateful for. Words have never been my specialty. That's Ami's field of expertise.

After a few minutes of silence, I swallow my pride.

"I'm sorry, Shino-chan." He looks up at me blankly so I continue. "I'm sorry about what happened. I truly am. You have no idea how much it aches to see you so sad."

At this he gives a small smile. "I'll get over it, Mako-chan."

"I wish there was something I could do."

Shino takes my hands and stares earnestly into my eyes. It makes me squirm uncomfortably. "There is, Mako-chan. You could marry me; be my wife! We'd be so happy together. You would fulfil your father's wish of becoming Queen and I would fulfil mine of waking up beside you every day."

"Shino…" I warn, trying to pull my hands from his grasp but he doesn't relent.

"Can't you see? This way, everyone gets what they want."

I frown and manage to free my hands. "What about what I want, Shino-chan? What about what's best for the Silver Alliance? And this universe, in fact?"

"Er…"

"It is my duty to protect the Princess of the Moon, and with that responsibility comes sacrifice. I cannot – will not – sit idle here on Jupiter while there is something dangerous haunting our universe! It would be selfish, Shinozaki!"

He sighs and looks down at the ground.

"Look, I know I can't give you what you want. But you're my best friend, Shino-chan, and I trust you more than any person in this universe."

"I know."

I put my finger under his chin and turn his head to look at me. "Which is why I must ask what I am about to ask you. I love Jupiter – it is my home and I don't want to see it go to ruin. My father will soon… die…" I pause a little to force back the tears that have started to form. "I am his only heir, and yet I must abdicate while I serve the Princess. But, Jupiter needs someone fair and just to rule while I am gone. And there is only one person I trust enough…"

Shino's eyes widen as he understands the heaviness of my words.

"Shinozaki, it is my wish that you will take my place when my father passes, until I return from my duty. I know you will not let any harm come to our magnificent planet, no matter your feelings towards me."

"Mako-chan… I couldn't possibly…"

"Yes you could! And you will! If I cannot govern Jupiter, than you are the only other person who can. You love Jupiter as much as I do. You will make sure she remains strong."

I pause, letting my words sink in. Shino looks away for a moment to contemplate what I have just asked him.

"What about you?" he asks. "You are the Princess, Makoto. I can't take that from you, not legally anyway. I'm not of Royal blood or next in line."

"It can become legal if my father puts it in his will," I assure him firmly.

"I doubt he will do that. Be reasonable, Mako-chan."

"It is either that, or Jupiter has no ruler. That is my ultimatum. My father cannot refuse." When Shino still looks hesitant, I grasp his hands firmly. "Please, Shino. Do this. If not for me, do it for Jupiter."

He sighs deeply and his face turns serious. "You have my word, Makoto Kino. I will serve Jupiter as you would until you return."

"Thank you, Shino-chan!" I cry and fling my arms around his neck in a tight embrace. His arms curl around my waist and for a moment, everything seems to make sense. Being in his arms just feels so… right. Emotions overwhelm me and before I know what I'm doing, I crash my lips against his. His lips are soft and warm and reawaken those butterflies in my stomach. But, as quickly as it happened, Shino pulls away and I am left feeling empty.

"Does this mean you're leaving?" he says, brushing some hair away from my face.

I nod sadly. "Tomorrow morning, if I can manage it."

"So this is goodbye?"

Tears well in his eyes and his bottom lip trembles. I am too overwhelmed with emotion to speak so I simply nod my head again. He cups my face, his thumb caressing my cheek tenderly.

"I love you, Mako-chan," he says softly. "Just remember that, when you're off saving the universe."

I smile, tears now falling freely down my cheeks. It is amazing how a few days ago, I would have rather died that cry in front of anyone – yet here I am almost sobbing.

"I will," I promise him.

He inches closer to me and brushes his lips softly against my own. I cannot take it anymore and go to leave, knowing that if I don't leave now, I never will. As I head back out into the storm; Shino's lips still lingering on my own; I realise that I really did love him all along. But, even more heartbreaking, that he knew it too. And yet, there is still nothing either of us can do about it. My father always told me that 'with great power, comes great responsibility and with great responsibility comes great sacrifice'. Only now, do I truly understand his words.


So, I never really wanted Mako-chan to have a love interest, because I see her as such a strong female character that she just doesn't need one to be awesome! But Shinozaki is different... childhood friend/lover? Basically... except it never works out between them. Also, I wanted Mako-chan to abdicate the throne because she needs to be back with the other Senshi :) Please read and review! xx