dedication: to Emily. happy christmas, bb.
notes: THE WORLD NEEDS MORE MAKO/NEPH THAT IS ALL. set in the same verse as tonight the world dies.
title: nervous like a knife fight
summary: We both take our revenge. — Makoto/Nephrite.
Makoto was against it from the beginning.
Her memories of the Silver Millennium were scattered things—they came in stark snapshots, too colourful and too bright to possibly be real life, but at the same time so very real that Makoto sometimes felt trapped by them. She would re-live them at night with her eyes closed; the same scenes over and over flickering past her eyelids.
They were small, unimportant things.
She remembered the feeling of a large hand curling around her hip. She remembered the Jovian storms; how the lightning lit the sky and the wet splat of raindrops on her face as she stood with her face tipped upwards. She remembered the jungles. She half-remembered boys who might have been her brothers, and she remembered Serenity and she remembered her Senshi sisters.
Sometimes she remembered eyes the colour of the trees, an intense dark brown flecked with mossy green and maybe gold. Sometimes, she thought she'd held one of those large hands for a long time in the dark of a pillar. Sometimes, she could remember the shine of the moon.
But it was a hazy sort of remembering, and Makoto could not put her finger on why the thought of the Shittenou returning disturbed her so. She knew only that it did, and Usagi's insistence that it be done disturbed her even more.
"Usagi-chan, it's not safe," Makoto insisted. She knew the other agreed with her, but so far, only she and Minako had voiced their displeasure at their princesses' newest ridiculous idea.
Not that they didn't love her.
They did love her.
That was the problem.
But they all agreed they would certainly love her more if she would just stay put and stop doing dangerous things.
But Usagi never took well to constraints. She'd looked up at them all miserably, that day when they were sitting in Makoto's little kitchen.
"Mamo-chan is miserable, Mako-chan," she'd said softly. "He misses them, and I—I can bring them back! I know I can, and he knows I can, but—you guys, he'll never ask."
"And he shouldn't," Minako had nearly snarled. The leader of the Senshi took her power stance, hands on her hips and her eyes burning with a thousand-year-old grudge. "They killed us!"
"He's lonely," Usagi had said, softly, head down. "I don't want him to be lonely. I have you, but Mamo-chan… Mamo-chan doesn't have anybody."
Minako's mouth had turned to a tight white line. "Your bleeding heart is going to get us all killed, Serenity. Doesn't your mother's sacrifice mean anything to you!?"
Usagi looked sharply at her from across the table. "This is not up for debate, Venus."
The air hissed out through Minako's teeth, and Makoto had looked between them worriedly. Ami tapped away on her computer. Rei didn't spare either of them a passing glance.
They did not approve of her decision. But Usagi was stubborn, and the more they argued about it, only more stubborn would she become. She was going to release the souls of the Shittenou if it killed her, and she was not going to let any single one of her guardians stop her no matter what they tried.
Minako had only spoken once more. "One toe out of line, Usagi, and I'll destroy them. All of them. Do you understand?"
Usagi had caught Minako's face in her hands across the table and smiled as bright as the stars. "One chance, Mina-chan. No killing right off the bat, okay?"
Makoto watched the crumbling of Minako's will with a shattering heart. They could deny Usagi nothing. Not when she smiled like that.
The whole world was going to kneel because of that smile.
The Senshi were all particularly weak to it.
Makoto hadn't voiced her displeasure with the whole thing that day, but she'd been staunchly against the idea.
It didn't have to do with getting her hopes up, either.
It had to do with a spear through her stomach in a life she'd lived a thousand years ago, and those half-remembered eyes glazed over with ice. It had to do with safety and murder and never really forgiving, because there were some wounds that time could not heal.
This was one of them.
Jupiter had been Jovian, and the betrayal that Makoto sometimes saw just before she fell asleep made her near sick to her stomach. Thinking about what the Silver Millennium could have been always made her retch, but this was different.
This was personal.
And so when Usagi came to Makoto and slumped against the table, looking miserable, Makoto couldn't dredge up the enthusiasm to ask her what was wrong.
She hadn't needed to in the first place.
"The stones cracked," Usagi murmured. "They just… cracked, Mako-chan, and nothing happened. Mamo-chan… he was so—so sad. I—I messed up, Mako-chan, how can I fix it?"
She had no energy, but seeing her mess-in-a-dress princess like that was heartbreaking. Makoto gathered Usagi up and brought her to the couch, murmuring calming nonsense in her ear. Usagi clung to her, tiny as a kitten and just about as weak, and stared at her with sad-kitten eyes as they settled down on the couch.
"There's nothing you could have done, Usagi-chan," Makoto murmured. "You couldn't have expected the stones to crack."
"I know, but I… you didn't see him, Mako-chan, he looked so disappointed…"
"He's not mad at you," Makoto murmured again, trying not to the let relief colour her voice. The stones had cracked. The stones had cracked. The Shittenou were gone for good.
"I know he's not. I'm mad at me," Usagi said. "I couldn't do anything at all. What's the point of having these powers if I can't… save people?"
"I know, Usagi-chan," Makoto said. "I know."
Usagi curled into her side, and Makoto tried not to be too thankful.
They weren't coming back.
They weren't coming back.
She closed her eyes, and breathed out.
They weren't coming back.
Until they did.
Rei was violent. She kneed Jadeite hard between the legs, and Makoto wondered if maybe she wouldn't have killed him right there if Minako had not dragged her off. Ami looked at them for only a moment before she closed her eyes, as though she could not stand the vision in front of them.
Makoto did not look at them at all.
She kept her eyes trained on Usagi, and watched them out of her peripheral vision. Mamoru looked so happy it was disgusting, and her princess was crying again, but—Jove, Makoto couldn't deal with this. She didn't want to deal with this.
She wanted to go home and cry, and she didn't even know why.
But she wouldn't leave Usagi here alone. Ami was defense-only, and if there was killing to be done, Makoto would do it herself. She wouldn't put her friends through that.
They'd all done enough killing in this life.
(But apparently not enough.)
Makoto closed her hands into tight fists, nails biting into her skin. She wondered if she held on tight enough, she could make herself bleed. The pain might shake her out of this complacency, and find the bravery to run them all through with a spear made of lightning.
But it didn't and she didn't.
She was afraid.
The world was never going to be the same.
"Usagi-chan, I think it's time to go home," she heard herself say. It came out mechanical, unadjusted, as though she hadn't spoken in an eon and her gears were rusty. She caught movement from her right, and felt her muscles slip in a loose-limbed sort of battle-grace.
Usagi looked at her, eyebrows pulled together, though Makoto couldn't tell if it was sadness or rage. Probably sadness—Usagi did not do anger very often, and never at her Senshi.
"Now, Usagi," she said.
She didn't say that with Venus gone to calm Mars' raging, Jupiter was in command of their princess' safety. She didn't need to say it—Usagi was the future ruler, and there could be no threats to her safety.
Please don't make me force the issue, Makoto silently begged. Not right now, Usagi-chan, please not right now.
Usagi's face remained rebellious for what seemed like forever.
It finally distilled into something neutral, and she nodded once. "You're probably right, Mako-chan. We'll let the boys catch up. Mamo-chan—"
Mamoru caught her up, and murmured something unintelligible into her ear. Makoto watched Usagi smile, and very determinedly did not look for the flutter of white capes.
Ami caught Makoto's arm.
"You okay?" she asked in a whisper.
Makoto's shoulders tensed ever further.
"I'll be better when we're gone," she said, and did not bother to lower her voice. She could feel three gazes fixed on her—the fourth was concentrated on the girl whispering in her ear—but she did not give them the satisfaction of returning the burning stare.
She didn't know these men.
The Silver Millennium and its siren song of memories was a million light years away, and the only thing Makoto cared about right then was getting Usagi and Ami out of immediate danger.
"Mamoru-san, please let her go," was all Makoto said.
His arms tightened around her princess' waist, and Makoto thought of betrayal, and how his had been the first. How they'd betrayed her, and how they'd trusted her. How Usagi always forgave, even when she probably shouldn't have.
How the Silver Millennium and everything and everyone they'd been still cut so deep.
She watched as her prince and her princess touched each other, desperate for the contact as though they'd never see each other again. As though they wouldn't spend the rest of forever together—as though they would be separated for years and years, and this was their last chance to reaffirm the fact that they would never stop loving each other.
Usagi and Mamoru were a fairy tale, Makoto thought.
And there was nothing in the universe that was going to prevent them from having their happily-ever-after. If there was, it was going to have to go through Makoto, first.
She caught Usagi's arm, and tucked her up against her hip. Ami was there on Usagi's other side, and Makoto breathed out, breathed in, breathed out—from far away, she was the picture of aloof coolness. Up this close, she was the only one who could tell anything was wrong.
Ami stared down the street ahead of them. Usagi looked at her feet. Makoto watched their backs.
It took all of her will not to electrocute the men behind her to death.
Makoto breathed in again, and walked her princess to safety.
"Get out," Makoto said cheerfully.
"I'm supposed to bring you—"
"Like I need the help," she replied. Her voice held steady; far steadier than she was, for sure. He was pacing back and forth, and Makoto was nervous like a knife-fight, skittering along the teetering edges of a slick-shiny blade and praying to every deity she'd ever heard of that she wasn't going to slip. "You're just inconvenient, Nephrite."
"I'm Nate," he said, and looked her straight in the face.
Makoto narrowed her eyes at him like what, am I supposed to care? and his face said yes, yes you are and she could only think get out get out get out before I blow this place to pieces because I could, I could—
"I'm not afraid of you," Makoto replied.
"I don't want you to be."
"If anything, you should be scared of me," she nearly smiled, and she was suddenly grateful that her little bakery was entirely empty.
Makoto could be as cruel to this man as she wanted, and there was no one to judge her for it.
The silence could take them both, and no one would ever even know. They regarded each other with wary eyes—she because she was a warrior-princess, and he because she was just as likely to tear him to pieces as she was to kiss him on the mouth. Makoto's gaze was thick and salty as leaden green enamel, and just about as dead.
She was going to wait him out.
It was all he said.
Makoto wanted to scream. She wanted to scream and tear him limb from limb and hide out beneath her sheets until long after the whole world had turned to dust. She wanted nothing to do with him, and his star-eyes and his attitude.
He was supposed to be dead.
(Dead like Metallia, dead like Chaos, deader than a doornail. Dead, dead, dead.)
When he was dead, he was easy to stomach. When he was standing in her safe place right in front of her?
Not so much.
"Nephrite," Makoto said very slowly, sounding the word out into deliberate syllables. She'd had way too much of this shit already, today, and she dusted her hands off like shedding the last of her summer skin to expose the harder, newly-painted veneer beneath.
"Yes?" he stood at attention, and Makoto thought of begging, pleading, crying as she scrabbled against the polished marble of the Silver Palace's hall, and how he'd wound his hand into her curls and kissed her as he'd spilled her insides all over the floor.
She loved Usagi, but this was not one shadow that Usagi would ever understand.
Usagi did not understand betrayal.
But Makoto did.
(The Galaxia of her memories laughed, and Makoto tasted betrayal burning at the back of her throat. She didn't have time for this. She was better than this, could grow things and replace the dead all she wanted and it—it was just never enough.)
"Do you remember what killing me was like?"
The skin around his mouth went tight, and Makoto thought revenge is sweet. She drank in his pain, and it twisted inside of her, ugly but honest. Maybe it was the first honest thing she'd dealt with in a long time.
And now that it was out, there was nothing to do but let it grow. Makoto had planted the seed of it, and she was going to pour sunshine and water all over it just because she could.
"You kissed me, just before. You held onto my hair," she laughed softly, like it was some kind of joke. Maybe it was, but it was certainly a sick one. "I've never been so scared."
She watched as it sunk into him, and a vicious sort of satisfaction suffused her. It sunk deep into her bones, easy, furious, horrible. Makoto had to wonder if this was how Minako felt all the time.
It was a novelty.
Makoto didn't enjoy suffering, usually.
But she was enjoying this.
"Aren't you going to say anything?" Makoto demanded. She folded her arms over her chest to give herself the courage to stare him in the eyes.
She wanted to watch him break.
(He wasn't the type to bend in the wind—never had been, either. He didn't adjust well, but then, neither did she.)
"I don't remember," he said. He looked down, and wouldn't return her gaze.
"Liar," Makoto said. "Did you enjoy it?"
"Don't ever call me that," she said. "Ever."
"How about you just not call me anything ever again and disappear?"
"No can do," he said, but he was choking on it, Makoto could tell. She tried not to be too smug about it, but that wasn't working out all that great. "Are you coming?"
"I've got stuff to do," she smiled, overly-sweet. "If you'll just please leave, I've got customers coming in."
The bakery remained empty as a tomb.
"What did I say?"
Makoto had never been good at verbal warfare. That had always been Minako's line of business, or Ami's; the Senshi of Love and the Senshi of Ice could both be cold and cutting when they needed to be, but that was expected.
For this, no, for today, Makoto was running solely on adrenaline and other people's pick-up lines. She wasn't anywhere close to figuring out what she needed to do, but for now, this was enough.
"Get out, Nephrite," she said again.
This time, it was almost kind.
"Seriously, I'll call the cops—" Makoto continued.
He cut her off. "I don't remember. I wish I did."
"Justification," he replied, and he took a step closer to her. Makoto held her ground and surveyed him like he was mud tracked in over a just-cleaned floor. She'd always been good at that.
"If you touch me, I will end you," she said.
He reached for her anyway.
It was somehow much more wrong and much more right than she thought it would have been.
His hands tangled through her hair, skin like ice against the healthy russet of her curls. Makoto laughed high and sharp before he kissed her. He tasted how desperation and tears and hypocrites must have, not that she knew what those things tasted like.
He kissed her until neither of them had breath left to breathe.
"You are so stupid," Makoto murmured against his mouth.
"Yeah, maybe," he replied.
She pulled away, still hiccupping her mirth. She thought of Usagi, and wondered if they'd ever had a chance all along.
"No, really," Makoto said. "You're so stupid."
Nephrite—Nate—whatever the hell his name was—he just looked at her. She was probably a mess, and she was okay with that. Makoto was good at messes, but not at boys. Not at past lovers. Not at this. Never at this.
She laughed again.
It was a little hysterical.
And then she took three breaths in to center herself, and shoved him away. He hit the wall. There was a sound like creaking stairs which might have been the crunch of bones as they shattered. Maybe. Probably not.
Makoto stared at him.
She had no tears left.
"So," she said. "Are we going?"