Minako could see that Kagami was watching her as she spoke, her eyes full of a mixture of resentment and interest. How long do I have before she regains her strength and runs away? Or worse, tries to fight again? I have to finish my story quickly… but it's not a story that can be easily rushed.
The other girls had reluctantly left at Minako's insistence, and only Adonis remained by her side. He sat down in the grass a few feet away from where Minako knelt on the pavement, but close enough that he could still hear her speak. He listened intently, interested to experience a memory from Minako's perspective, just as she had experienced one from his.
"Even though in my mind I knew something didn't make sense, that winning the chance to star alongside Ace was too good to be true, and something had to be up, my heart wouldn't listen. I was so in love with him, even being near him made it hard to breathe. It felt like he could see right through me, down to my innermost core. I thought he understood what it was like, because he was a defender of justice too," Minako took a breath as she neared the end of her story. It's difficult to bring up these memories. They are things that I have tried to forget, but will always remember. I haven't forgotten a single detail—the smell of his cologne, the feel of the ring that he slipped onto my finger…
Kagami remained silent, but Minako could tell she was curious to hear the rest. This must be what it's like to have a little sister. She's looking at me with such big wide eyes. Minako found herself admiring those eyes for the first time. Blue like mine, but clearer and colder—like ice that could pierce right through you. Instinctively, she reached over to push a stray lock of hair out of Kagami's face.
Kagami did not respond well to this. She swatted Minako's hand out of the way. "I'm doing you a favour by listening to your story, but don't think that we are no longer enemies. Don't get comfortable." She placed the hair behind her ear and felt the rest of her hair with her hands. It was a mess, matted and full of tangles, but Minako could still see how beautiful it really was, long and blonde like her own hair but with a gentle wave to it.
"I'm sorry," Minako responded. "I forgot myself." Or maybe it's that I finally remembered.
"Well?" Kagami spoke impatiently. "Aren't you going to continue?"
Minako couldn't help but laugh silently to herself. I guess she's warming up to me, in her own way. "Of course. Finally, he confessed his love for me, and asked me whether I felt the same way. I said that I did, but he told me that he didn't believe me, that love was always a game for me. When he said that, it made me realize that up until that point it had been. But this was different, I was sure of it."
Adonis shivered, remembering what happened next. He stood up and started to pace, not wanting to hear Minako describe his own demise.
"I started to have visions… memories. Well, you know what that's like," she paused, glancing over at Adonis. She knew that she was starting to make him feel uncomfortable, but there was no stopping now. "I was confused. And then he told me that my land was destroyed, and that he was my illusive lover, the one I had never found in my past life. Everything started to fall into place. But it all fell apart just as quickly when he revealed himself to be the enemy, the one in charge of everything I had fought against for so long. His hurt from the past life had made him weak, susceptible to dark influences. There was no choice but to…"
Minako clasped her hand over her mouth. I can't say it. I've spent so long running away from this, and yet I can hardly ever close my eyes without seeing him disappearing right before my eyes as he recites that final fortune.
"I fell in love with him, and it totally destroyed me. I had believed everything he said, but then the fantasy turned into a nightmare. And it made me realize: even if you love someone, you have to listen to your own judgement too. You can't blindly trust before you really know what's in their heart. And they have to be willing to be as vulnerable in front of you as you are for them." Finally at the end of her story, Minako continued to sit on the ground next to Kagami, staring straight ahead and remaining silent.
"Are you saying that I shouldn't have trusted what Cupid told me? And why should I trust you, then?" Kagami asked, suddenly defensive.
Minako raised her hands and stood up, trying to show that she meant no harm. "I'm not saying you have to trust me. I'm telling you to make your own judgement. Think about what I've told you."
As Kagami stood up, a golden energy surrounded her. She was done talking, and had transformed once more.
Minako tried to stand her ground, but Adonis had other plans. He ran to Minako's side, shielding her by wrapping his arms around her and letting his back face Kagami. "If you're going to fight her, you'll have to get through me first."
Though at first Kagami smirked and lifted her hand as if about to strike, when Adonis turned his head to face her and their eyes met, she stopped in her tracks. "Why would you protect her like that?"
"Because I love her!" he yelled.
Still within his embrace, Minako couldn't help but gasp. He said that so confidently. No hesitation. She closed her eyes and smiled to herself, breathing in his scent.
"Is this what love looks like?" Kagami started to mumble to herself as she slowly backed away. "Would he have done the same for me? Did he ever really defend me from anything?"
Adonis grabbed Minako's arm and started to run, using the opportunity to make sure that they were both at last able to get away.
As soon as they had returned to Minako's house, her parents insisted on serving dinner to the pair. They awkwardly sat across from each other at the kitchen table, Minako's parents sitting at either end.
Minako hardly paid attention to the dinner conversation. Her parents were enjoying chatting with Adonis, asking him all kinds of things about the idol industry and his reasons for quitting. He had an answer for everything, his knowledge and memories from his previous incarnation as Kaitou Ace still completely in tact. I can't stop thinking about what Kagami said before we got away. It seemed like we were finally starting to get through to her, even if she did almost attack again. She's starting to question all that blind faith she had in Cupid. But now it's my turn to prove myself. Why can't I remember what happened with Cupid?
She looked up when she heard Adonis laughing, telling a story to her parents about a time when he had to share a dressing room with a rival idol because they had double booked a show. I remember every detail of his death. Of my asking over and over why it had to be my fate to allow the person I loved be killed by my own hands. I remember the feelings I had around Psyche. Could I have forgotten doing something so terrible to the person that she loved? I'm sure that would have been the first thing I remembered.
Slamming her glass down on the table, Minako stood up. "We have to go. Adon—Ace has to get back home, after all. Thanks for dinner, Mom!" She ran out of the room and after bowing to her parents, Adonis followed.
"Venus, what was that about?" he asked, confused by the sudden change in mood.
"We have to get you back to Mamoru's place for the night, like I said," she smiled.
"Yes, of course. But is there something else? That was very abrupt."
"Mamoru is just the person I need to talk to right now," Minako responded, eyes forward, determined to reach her destination as soon as possible. If anyone has an understanding of what happened to Earth civilians of the past, it's him. He was the Prince, after all, and has the Shitennou as his resource. "I need to know what really happened to Cupid after Psyche came to Venus."