Note: I use the name "Akumi" to refer to Darkury's personality in Ami's body. For more info about why I chose this name, please see WikiMoon.

She felt like she was fighting an uphill battle.

Everything had been fine until the Princess had awakened. It was as if that bright light had punctured a hole in Akumi's brain, and some other person was flooding into her head, seeping through the cracks. Each time, she felt more and more like she was losing control, losing her mind.

She refused to let this win.

The problem was, it was happening more frequently now. It seemed like she couldn't take two steps without the now-familiar flash of light, the stabbing pain behind her eyes, that screaming voice ringing in her ears; and then the aftershock—the daze of confusion, the blurred moments spent trying to wake up and recall exactly who she was and where she was supposed to be.

I know damned well who I am, she thought in irritation. And whoever the hell this other person is who's trying to take over, she can back off. This is my mind, and she can't have it.

But the attacks still left her with a hangover of doubt, and an odd, hollow sensation that refused to go away. A feeling that, no matter what she did, she simply couldn't shake.

A hunger that needed to be sated.

At this point, she was desperate for something—anything—that would take her mind off that blinding light. Something that would remind her who she truly was.

For some reason, her feet kept bringing her towards that lonely corridor. Initially, she'd resisted. After all, he'd rebuffed her advances the first time, and Akumi was anything but desperate. He'd had his chance, and he'd blown it—more's the pity for him. But tonight, the hollowness was so deep that it gutted her with an agonizing ache that threatened to consume her.

Tonight, Akumi was desperate.

So tonight, when she reached that familiar fork in the path, Akumi turned left.

Certainly she'd been attracted to him the moment she first laid eyes on him. There was no reason to lie to herself about that. She knew what she wanted, and she took it—that was simply who she was.

And what was there not to be attracted to? Nephrite had it all, physically at least—with his staggering height, strong build, gorgeous eyes as icy as her own heart. He also had the obvious advantage of being an outsider like herself; that pathetic excuse for a "queen," Beryl, had no use for him. And best of all, he had fire. She'd felt sparks between them immediately, and the way he snapped back at her every remark just fueled the flame inside her even more.

Unlike that thorn-in-her-side, Kunzite. As if it wasn't irritating enough that he thought that, since he'd given her her powers, he had a right to give her orders; his interest in her went beyond obvious, it was downright pathetic.

Nephrite, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with her—and that made her want him all the more.

She rounded the corner, expecting to find him sitting in that same place he'd been camped out since Beryl had banished him, but the red-haired general was nowhere to be seen.

Akumi furrowed her brows in dismay. This was not what she'd expected. The dull ache inside her sharpened, stabbing at the inside of her chest. She had not thought of a contingency plan; she honestly had not thought about what might happen beyond finding him here. Driven by need, all she'd been able to think of was that she had to find him. As if he could keep her grounded, keep that light at bay. As if Nephrite could somehow remind her of who she really was.

Despondent and confused, Akumi wandered back towards the underground palace. She didn't know where she was going, but she knew she didn't want to go back home. She had an easier time blocking out the light in the Dark Kingdom, and it was already burning dangerously on the edges of her mind.

Her hand was pressed against her temple, her eyes squeezed shut to drown it out, when she collided with something. Her eyes flew open and she saw Nephrite standing before her, looking down at her in surprise. The ringing in her ears dissipated. Alert, she looked quickly around. They were in a paneled corridor in the palace proper.

"What are you doing here?" she demanded sharply, fighting to suppress the new hunger forming inside of her at the sight of him.

He stared at her a long moment; if he hadn't spoken when he did, she was certain she would have just shoved him against the wall and begun tearing his clothes off. At length, Nephrite finally said, "I was looking for you."

That threw her. Akumi quickly put her guard up. "Why?"

"That's what I was going to ask you," Nephrite said. "Why? Why did you do this for me?" He fingered his new cape.

Akumi looked at him skeptically. "I already told you why. I felt sorry for you."

Nephrite scoffed. "Pity doesn't really seem like your nature."

The ringing in her ears had returned; it increased to a roar at his words. The light was searing at the edge of her mind, and Akumi could feel her, that other girl, trying to worm her way in. Get out of my head! Akumi snarled internally. You weren't responsible for that, it was me. This is my body. I'm in control. And he's mine.

Drawing her lips into an even smirk, Akumi said, "Think about it, Nephrite. Why did I help you then? And why did I offer to join you when I first got my powers? Are you really so dense that you can't figure it out?" She took a step closer so that they were practically touching. She could feel it now: the sparks crackling off him electrically, the flame of her own desire roaring up deliciously inside her. The blinding light was gone now; there was only the fire between them, waiting to ignite. "I like you," she said pointedly. Then she closed the distance, catching his lips with her own.

The blaze engulfed her now, and the hunger inside her. Yes, this was just what she'd needed to steady herself; her mind felt all hers now, the fog cleared. His mouth was hot against hers, and she ravaged it with her tongue, feeling it would never be enough.

He broke away violently, throwing her back. His voice shook as he said, "I don't believe you." She stared at him incredulously as he continued, "This is just another of Kunzite's plots against me."

A laugh that bordered on maniacal tore from Akumi's throat. "You still believe—after all of this—that I'm working for Kunzite?"

Nephrite's jaw worked indignantly, but his blue eyes shone with doubt. "Well, I mean… look where I found you." When she looked about the corridor confusedly, he added, "Outside Kunzite's chambers."

Akumi was livid. "You mean, look where I found you!" she spat. "I don't think I could make it more abundantly clear: I don't work for Kunzite, I don't like Kunzite, I can't even stand Kunzite. You're the only one that I want!" The confession made her feel oddly vulnerable, but that feeling was overwhelmed by the need inside her that was building to desperation.

Nephrite looked away, although his face was softened. "But…" he whispered, "but I belong to Lady Beryl."

His rejection stabbed her like a knife. Her emotions raged within her: hurt, confusion, anger, all swirling together with the hollow ache and the furious hunger that made her every muscle throb. Her voice broken, she snapped, "Then you're a fool! Get out of my sight!"

As he hesitantly turned to go, seemingly unsure now if he'd made the right choice, Akumi doubled over in pain, clenching her eyes shut and grasping at the side of her as if to keep it from exploding. The light was blinding now, it was searing. She had to get it out, she couldn't let it in.

"Mercury," a voice said. She opened her eyes in desperation. Kunzite stood inside the open doorway, looking at her curiously. "What are you doing here?"

Her ears roared, her head pounded. She felt voracious, empty, and wildly out of control. She couldn't let the light in. She'd do anything to stay herself.

"Mercury," he repeated, but then she was upon him, lips pressed against his, savoring the delicious fire that still burned all over her skin, still lingered from Nephrite's touch. If she closed her eyes, she could almost believe that he was still there, melding with her so willingly, igniting and catching and bursting into flame.

He'd said she belonged to Kunzite. Maybe he was right.

All she knew was that she was Akumi, and she'd won for now. She was staying herself tonight.