dedication: to my Venus, for Christmas.
title: soon these burning miseries shall be extinct
summary: Please, a round of applause for the lady on display. — Minako/Kunzite.
Her mouth was smeared soft and vibrant with red lipstick when he picked her up that night. There were marks all down her chin, too, like she'd been kissed all wrong by someone who had no idea what they were doing. She was lovely in a trembling-cigarette way, a shaking late at night, and when she smiled, it was all he could do to sigh.
"Why do you do this to yourself?"
"Because you won't do it to me," she laughed.
"That's not an excuse."
"Of course it is! You make it sound like a bad thing. I'm not doing anything wrong, you know."
He exhaled heavily at her through his nose. The slick of light from the streetlamp obscured them both for a moment as he turned the key in the ignition, and the engine purred to life.
"You didn't have to do this."
There was nothing but silence.
"No, really, Khadin, you didn't have to. I can handle myself."
"You've never been able to handle yourself, Minako," he said quietly.
Her head lolled to the side in a slow, deliberate arc. The soft skin of her throat was a pale line of chalk in the reflection of the window glass. She was an art, a shiver, a lie too sweet. "The dreams are getting worse."
"That's all you've got?"
He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. The streetlamps hid even the moonlight, and Minako sat in the passenger seat of his car with her hair the colour of golden rust pooling around her and he was reminded of another girl who had hair just like that; one who wanted to tear the world apart with her nails digging into the skin of his arm.
But Minako was nothing like Beryl. She was too wild and too alive and too… smiley.
She was too much a child to destroy the universe the way Beryl had wanted to.
"You're too young for this."
Minako chuckled dry in the back of her throat. "You always say that."
"I always mean it," he said, hands tight around the steering wheel. Even under the dark tan, his knuckles were white.
And Minako smiled slow and dangerous out of the corner of her mouth. He could be as impassive as he wanted; his hands always gave him away. It was the only way she could ever tell she had an effect on him.
They sped through the city's underbelly, the flash of the streetlamps across their faces as bright as the trailings of stars. Minako's fingers bit deep into the expensive leather seats to keep herself from digging her nails into her own palms.
She didn't need to bleed anymore, tonight.
Independently wealthy, she was Aino Minako, and love meant nothing to her except when she was using it to rend something in two. Her mouth was printed on the window in red next to the handprint in the frosted glass. Knowing Khadin, it was probably driving him mad.
Minako rolled her neck again, felt the pop of the vertebrae of her spine, and thought of other stars she'd seen shatter. The Silver Millennium sat like acid in her throat, a place where she'd died because she hadn't been good enough, hadn't been fast enough, hadn't been smart enough.
And this man, cold and beautiful like snow against sand, had been at the center of it all.
"I'm taking you home."
"I don't have a home," she said.
"Just—take me to your place, okay? I need to grab a couple of things."
His apartment was closer than hers was, but the thoughts swirled around the drain of her mind and she knew that he didn't have a home either. She had a house, but a home was a place where there were other people.
The white empty foyer of her building wasn't a home.
The stop light glared red through the windshield, and they waited.
Minako's face went solemn as they pulled into his parking space. The lock clicked under her fingers as she kicked her heels off and before he could even contemplate getting out. There were runs in her stockings already, up from the toe to the tops of her thighs where the stockings ended. His fingers caught in them as she clambered into his lap, blunt nails scraping against thin dark silk and sending shivers up both their spines.
"No," she said. Her knees settled on either side of his hips. "Shut up."
Her hands curled into the soft hair at the nape of his neck and tugged. "Khadin, for the love of all the gods, shut up."
He went quiet, silver gaze trained on the jut of her collar bone. She was too skinny, these days, and the pits of her eyes were dark as midnight glazed over with something more haunted than lust.
And for a little while, they only looked at each other gravely. Minako dropped her head down to the crook of his neck, breathing fast and shallow, and rolled her hips deliberate slow.
"We can do this two ways, Khadin," she said into his ear. "The easy way, or…"
His hands on her hips told her everything she needed to know. They stumbled into his apartment building attached at the lips, then hit the elevator breathing each other's air. Khadin hitched her up against the mirrors. Her hair was everywhere, golden and long.
She'd been dancing all night. Her fingers scrabbled at the seam of his too-expensive jeans.
They only barely made it through the door.
She had rug burns in the morning.
"What do you remember?"
In the pale light of false dawn, they both looked washed out. Like they were clean. Like they didn't both have a thousand years of regret sitting on their shoulders. Like this had been a good idea.
Minako had mouth-shaped bruises all over her thighs to prove it was not.
Khadin shook his head. "Everything."
"You're the only one, I guess. Other than me. I've always—always," she murmured. She shifted; sat up and the sheet fell away from her skin. Minako had never been ashamed of her body in her life. She wasn't about to start now, even in front of her forever-love.
The smile that carved its way across her face was bitter. "I was thirteen, Khadin. Thirteen."
As if that meant something.
At thirteen, he'd been drowning in schoolwork, and she'd been drowning in the past. They'd been at totally different points in life, but she was beautiful and young and endless. Minako tipped her head back, sweat-sticky hair spilling across the utilitarian white of his bed.
"Always," she said.
And they didn't talk about the Silver Millennium and they didn't talk about their mistakes and they didn't talk about the sword through her gut. They didn't need to, because they were still the same people even after a thousand years; they were still too stubborn and too protective and too out-of-place.
And they'd both suffered long enough.
Minako touched the red marks on his pillows where her lipstick had rubbed off, eyes hard. "I think we're all too young for this, Khadin."
Her spine was a knobbly pale thing and he pressed his fingers against the bottom of her back, into warm skin and warmer dimples. He didn't say anything.
"You know," she breathed, "someone told me once that I was always going to choose duty over love."
Minako laughed, soft and lilting, choked up with everything awful in the world. "The worst part? He was right. He was so right."
And with that, she stood up, and went to find her clothes.