A/N: So it's finished! Didn't take as long as I thought, honestly I really wanted to finish it and I did. Thank goodness this one was bugging me for awhile there. Definitely more Rei/Minako-ness in this part. Still no beta so mistakes are all mine. Hope you enjoy. :)

Disclaimer: I own nothing.


VI.

Ashes are better then charred corpses.

Ashes can float away, the wind carrying them wherever it goes. Sometimes Minako wishes she was just a pile of ashes. If she were she'd never have to deal with all of this.

Usagi gives them hope like a leader should and they would follow her to death, every time. But she doesn't understand the gravity of sacrifice the way they do. Giving your life for the cause, for her happy ending. Sure maybe they'll be there too but Minako isn't so sure it will be paradise for the rest of them.

Minako thinks she's more like a charred corpse. Irreversible scars, more fragile then she looks, hollow.

"You don't sleep much do you?"

Minako doesn't look at Rei. The question is rhetoric. Spending the night at Rei's wasn't a mistake, the mistake was being honest to begin with. Now Mars with all that passion, all that fire is standing outside in the wee hours of morning staring at Venus. Who was born a leader but just can't fit the shoes properly.

Minako loathes the past.

"Why are you up?"

She asks instead, trying desperately to forget her destiny as Venus. Just give me a moment to be myself. She wishes but the reality is that she is herself. Venus is her, past her, present her, future her.

"You're not the only one with nightmares."

Rei turns away from her, choosing instead to look up at the stars. Minako says nothing unable to form words. The truth is enlightening but it doesn't give Minako the epiphany she needs. It just fills her with more doubt, more questions.

She reaches for Rei's hand and squeezes. Wishing the fire would turn her into ash.

Destiny won't allow it.

VII.

Being a super hero used to be fun.

It was lonely sure but Minako remembers that it was also fun too. It felt wonderful to have the power to defend oneself and to defend others. It was scary sometimes but she had Artemis and that worked well for her. For a long time it was fine. But that was before she died back when she was young enough to find hope in the simplest of things. Back when being the Senshi of Venus meant more than self sacrifice and destiny.

Minako sees the burden now feels the weight of it and sometimes she thinks she doesn't have the strength to carry it anymore.

But then Rei is there. Filled with the same questions Minako has, when, where, why? Questions that really have no answer, even if Minako gives Setsuna those looks that say tell me. The Time Senshi never responds and Minako questions if she even really knows more then they do.

You're just supposed to have faith.

But for Minako faith isn't enough anymore. The sacrifices, the guilt, the regrets, they are becoming encompassing.

Mars is there. Rei is there.

"You're not the only one with nightmares."

Minako - Venus can only hope for the future. She's beginning to see that Rei - Mars can only hope for the same. Faith won't bother saving them and benediction comes at a cost.

But together maybe…

"Stop staring at me like that. You're throwing my concentration off."

It won't be so lonely.

"Sorry."

The flames of the Sacred Fire flicker and Minako can't stop herself from being enthralled by them or their priestess. You could get burned.

Being Venus sucks.

VIII.

There are a lot of rules she can break.

This is one of the more sacred unspoken rules, but Venus, Minako could break it if she really wanted too. The past tells her she already has. If the fever dreams about her and Mars are to be believed. A lot of rules were broken back then though, so maybe it isn't as sacred as she thinks. Minako is finding that Venus from then is a lot like the Venus of now. She's a lot like she used to be.

Maybe that's the real point of destiny, repeat until you get it right.

Still, it stirs in her like nothing else before it. This feeling, this desire as petty as it is. Minako always seems to desire the things she can never truly have. Like a normal life. Like falling in love…like Rei.

She can break the rules, forget she's Venus for awhile. But destiny has a funny way of reminding someone that they cannot forgo fate. Because its fate and it is meant to happen no matter what anyone tries to do to stop it. Minako tried - once - before (in the past) and all that had happened was what was meant to happen. Death, then waking up reawakened as Venus all over again.

There are no real beginnings or endings, just continuations.

She doesn't even know how it happened, maybe it was the dreams. Maybe it was part of her desire to break the rules, to forgo destiny as long as possible. Maybe it was just Rei, being there too question everything they are meant to believe in, in the same way Minako can't help but do. Maybe its just a tantalizing side effect of wishing everything was different.

"How many nightmares have you had?"

They sit across from each other in the quiet of night inside Rei's room staring at one another, expecting something from each other that they just can't seem to word.

"A lot of them aren't nightmares. Most of them are memories."

Telling Rei is also a lot like breaking the rules. Telling her the truth is breaking the rules. Not the sacred ones from a past they can only remember in dreams, but Minako's personally thought out rules. The ones that insure there is always a distance between them, just in case.

"How can you tell the difference?"

Rei's voice is soft, fragile, like she's ready to break, like she fears the answer. Or maybe she's afraid to tell her. Minako's smile is a sad one there is no reassurance, there is only the truth. And Minako wants to be honest, wants to lose the mask for a little while. But only in front of Rei. The only person she can.

"You can tell by how it feels in here."

Minako places her hand over Rei's chest, over her heart. She can hear Rei's sudden intake of breath, as if Minako has just burned her by touch. Impossible. She's the Senshi of fire. Her heart is pounding loudly though and Minako can feel every single thump.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

She's already broken the rules hasn't she?

IX.

"Have you spoken with this to anyone else? Artemis? Setsuna? Anyone?"

Minako shakes her head, Rei paces back and forth. They've been discussing the past for weeks now and in that time Minako has been decidedly honest with Rei. Only to the absolute best of her abilities, after all she is still Venus and being Venus means that somethings must always remain secret.

Rei stops suddenly, then with those questioning amethyst eyes she asks the question Minako can already see hidden within those mesmerizing eyes.

"Why?"

Venus is at the heart of Minako's very being, she was meant to be a leader. To surrender herself to the cause and too lead the troops there as well. But Minako isn't so sure she was meant for those things, Venus is her. But there are parts that are missing too, parts that are necessary in order to be what she was meant to be.

Sometimes she only gets pieces.

"Because we aren't meant to question."

It's a Venus response, but Minako finds there is truth to it. Who is she to question fate? Who is she to question anything? She is not the Moon Princess, she's just the leader of her Inner Guard. She isn't the one meant to make all the decisions or choose which path they are all to take. It's not in her, not like it is within Usagi.

Minako wasn't the one.

"But the dreams…the…visions…"

"The past."

Minako finishes for her. Something bitter and vile rises up her throat Minako can feel the strings of destiny tugging. The truth tastes a lot like blood, grotesque, metallic and everlasting. You can never be free of it for long, it's always there. In the palms of her hands, soaking all the way through the white fabric of her uniform.

She can never seem to wash it off her hands.

"How long have you known?"

Minako wants to say forever. She chooses "awhile." Rei stares at her like she's never seen her before. Like something has replaced Minako with a complete stranger. Maybe she is a stranger. Maybe Minako is a stranger hiding inside of Venus' body, entrapping her just out of spite.

Destiny isn't that kind.

"How could you? How could you keep this from me?"

Minako has never felt more alone then in this moment. She frowns, unsure of how to explain. Is there an explanation for all of this? For their destiny? For what they are meant to believe in? For each other? For the past?

She isn't Setsuna, she doesn't have that knowledge. She doesn't understand it herself, she doesn't understand their destiny the way a real Senshi like Pluto or Saturn can. Venus isn't built that way, Venus is just a soldier. How could she possibly explain anything to Rei? To make her understand, to see that Minako only really needs her.

Venus doesn't need forever, she just needs now.

"I had a right to know! The difference was in my heart wasn't it? Isn't that what you told me? I felt it…I felt it there."

Amethyst eyes are alight with fire. The encompassing fire of disbelief and betrayal. Minako doesn't have words for how she feels being under that gaze, seeing that pain. Turn me into ash.

"Mars and Venus were…"

"I don't care!"

Rei is a volcano erupting, spewing molten lava as far and wide as she possibly can. Minako can't blame her, it was hard for even her to understand that the past was very much real and alive. Their whole purpose being to right it, to make it to paradise.

To vindicate their sins.

But it's hard to see that when all you can see are visions of the past. How different things were back then, how they all broke the rules in some way. How the world had ended just when the story was beginning. Minako understands its hard, understands how heavy a burden it is to shoulder the mistakes of the past while dealing with the present. How hard it is to forget even if the past makes you everything you are. Even if it makes them Senshi.

But they need each other, they always have. Mars and Venus are…

"Just go."

Please.

Minako's mask hits the ground and all the Senshi of Venus can do is beg. Plead to the Senshi of Mars in the only way she knows how, without the words, without the promises or the lies. Just with those blue eyes that scream don't leave me.

Please Rei, please.

Mars turns away and Venus is left to shoulder the weight, alone. Minako feels like this was meant to happen.

It doesn't matter if she hates it.

X.

Fate has spoken.

They fight as they always have, side by side. They destroy the monsters, they save the day. Then its back to waiting for Crystal Tokyo. Waiting and waiting and waiting. Will it ever happen? No one knows for sure, but the Senshi are meant to believe it will. The Moon Princess believes in it too because she wants that happy ending. Minako just wants it to end already. Though she knows there are no real endings or beginnings to this story just a whole lot of continuations and maybes. Minako feels ill just thinking about it. It's like she's stuck here and she is. Sailor Venus is supposed to see the fantastic Crystal Tokyo along with the other Senshi who gave up everything for it. But the others don't feel like Minako does or at least she doesn't believe they do. Most of them have a begrudging acceptance of what their duty is, what their purpose is. Minako even imagines that some of them are happy with what is meant to be. She wishes she could be that way too.

But Minako wants more. Is that so wrong?

Rei can't even look at her.

And Minako isn't even sure what hurts more. Being alone in this or being away from Rei. The distance is unsettling. The nightmares about death return as they naturally would. They never truly go away, there is too much importance in them that Minako can't shake them from her being. A lesson, on top of many reminders that Minako needs in order to stay on the path. The right one. The one that leads to paradise. The one she was meant to be on. Still though Minako hasn't slept well in weeks. Her mind is a blurry haze of the past and of the darkness granted by death. So much peace there, so much quiet.

Minako wishes Rei would just look at her.

Just give her some fraction of hope that will help her make it through the nights. Something that will tell her they will make it through this together, just them, only them. The two of them Mars and Venus. Together. Minako needs something to hold onto, something to grasp and cling to for support.

Rei doesn't speak, just stays kneeling in front of the sacred fire ignoring Minako as best she can. She's searching for something that Minako can't help her with. Venus wants too but Minako can't. She doesn't know how.

Just talk to me.

She wills with all she has in her. The Senshi of Mars ignores her. Minako wants to shout, to scream, to cry, to do anything but stand here watching helplessly as Rei tries to make the gap between them even larger. Minako just wants her to understand.

Why won't Rei just look at her?

"Rei?"

A fragile word to break the silence, but Rei doesn't respond. Minako feels her resolve failing.

Please.

"Talk to me."

Amethyst eyes open but Minako can't see anything but the flickering flames of the sacred fire and the back of Rei's head. She isn't even sure that Rei has heard her but the flickering of the flames suggests change. Is it a change within the Senshi of fire? Or is Minako's mind playing cruel tricks on her? Giving her some semblance of hope where there is none. Maybe its both.

"There's nothing to say."

"That's not true." Minako whispers falling to her knees beside Rei. Begging her with pleading blue eyes and the mask, how it flutters when it floats away disappearing somewhere Minako can't reach out for it. There are so many things to say. So many apologies and words that have more meaning than anything they've ever believed in. There are things that matter to them both, things that really matter. Minako knows this more than anyone. They are all they have in this world filled of fates and destiny. Where those words hold all the power. When fate is in control of everything and they cannot stop it no matter the questions they ask or the rules they break.

The thing that really matters is each other.

Minako just wants her to understand that if not now, then someday.

Amethyst eyes turn to her and Minako is captivated by them. She can see things she's never really seen before, she can see Mars within Rei. Can feel the heat of the fire and see it within those captivating eyes. It flickers and sways and Minako is consumed by them.

She wants to be.

Maybe she always wanted to be.

"Please?"

Destiny is about repetition. It repeats and repeats until its right.

When Rei entwines their fingers together Minako knows that fate has spoken. Even if they get it wrong again, even if they mess it all up all over again. Minako knows somewhere deep inside of her that they will always come to find each other. They are meant too.

The nightmares of death and the reminders of the past will always bother Minako. But Rei will always bring her back. Giving her those necessary pieces she needs to continue. It's never easy but the wait might not seem so long to Minako if Rei is near.

It's not perfect, it's not even close to paradise. But maybe that will be enough for Minako, maybe that's all she needs.

Is Rei.

For now...together.

"Okay."