what once was will never be again
Summary: Manga-based. The Shitennou are stones, now and forever, never to live again. Five reasons why this is for the best. Senshi/Shitennou.
Warnings: None, really, except there's really not a happy ending here.
Mizuno Ami knows that she is not meant for romantic love.
The evidence is provided by her own body every time she finds a love letter in her locker and hives decorate her skin like a warning sign: this is not meant for you. She doesn't know why her body reacts this way to romantic overtures, but it's been the same way since eight-year-old Yamamoto Hisoka presented her with a hand-made card by the swings in elementary school. It's obviously psychosomatic; it's impossible to actually be physically allergic to something as arbitrary as love letters, and the way the hives present themselves almost as soon as she realizes what she is looking at, before she even picks up the letter, is quite telling.
The underlying cause that results in the physical reaction, however, is a complete mystery to her and those around her.
This is because Mizuno Ami doesn't remember.
(But Mercury remembers.
Mercury remembers being eternally youthful, during the height of the Silver Millennium, a princess of her own planet. She remembers that her people valued intelligence, loved wisdom, delighted in curiosity, and fell in love with inspiration - was it any wonder, then, that Mercury had experienced many suitors of her own? She remembers the flowers, the jewelry, the poetry, the declarations of undying devotion.
Intelligence, wisdom, curiosity, and inspiration. Was it any wonder, that she would be as drawn to these qualities as the rest of her people were?
Was it any wonder that she had been drawn to him?
Mercury remembers love.
She remembers stolen moments, guilty meetings, green eyes, and an impish nature. Long letters that bared their souls to each other, kept in a secret compartment in her desk, worn at the creases after countless readings. She remembers every moment, first to last. From the way her heart pounded and her hands trembled when he had smiled at her, to the way she wanted to crawl out of her skin when he broke his oaths to his liege to take up with a monster.
Mercury remembers heartbreak, but it is pale in comparison to the hate.
Hate is cold and unyielding; it was much better to hate, because heartbreak would have weakened her, but hate gave her the strength to destroy the one who had promised to give her everything and had instead cut her to the bone and stolen everything of value from her life.
How foolish she had been to believe him.
How foolish, to love him.)
Mizuno Ami is not meant for love. Her body tells her this, although her conscious mind doesn't know why.
(Mercury always learns from her mistakes.)
Kino Makoto doesn't lie, not even to herself.
When she mentions her old sempai, she does it a little wistfully, but never enough to give anyone the impression that she wants him back. Unlike before, she now never says his name or talks about what he looked like, only some of the things he did or could do. He is never a topic of conversation in and of himself, only someone she mentions in passing and leaves behind just as well.
This isn't because she doesn't remember him - it's just...now she remembers him.
(Jupiter had been a warrior to the bone, and was never the type to hide from her problems. Her first instinct had always been to confront, whether it was an enemy or a truth.
And sometimes, the truth was often more brutal than any enemy.)
She remembers him with more clarity than other people think, though she doesn't remember as much as she would like. She doesn't know his name, this is true. But she remembers how it felt, to be with him, then to have it all thrown in doubt, and that is more than enough.
That is more than she wants, sometimes.
It's easy to speak of him somewhat fondly, to talk only of his good qualities, because she knows that she will never see him again. It doesn't matter that the thought of his deep brown eyes still makes her heart skip a beat, or that she can remember times when she lay in his warm embrace as they gazed up at the night sky of his realm.
(He died twice by her hand, but at least the second time he had been nothing to her. She had not been so lucky the first time.)
There's no need for her to harden her heart with hate, even knowing that he had become an oath-breaker, because he will only ever be a memory to her, and it's far better to reminisce about happier times than to torture herself endlessly with questions.
(His oaths to his Prince had turned false, and so, too, had his vows of love to her.
Had any of it meant anything to him?
Jupiter hates him almost as fiercely as she loves him, for forsaking his loyalties and leaving her filled with uncertainty and doubt, dooming her for an eternity of wondering if he had played her for a fool from the beginning or if there had been a point where she could have kept him from turning his back on them all.
Does it even matter now?
The answer won't change the truth of what happened and what is.)
Kino Makoto allows herself no lies, only truth: she loved a man once, one older than her, who had been amazing for the short time they had been together, and then he had revealed his true nature, hurting her like no other. And while she speaks of her sempai with nostalgia, there is no part of her that feels she should ever be with him again.
(This is the truth: love is not the same as trust. One lingers even now, but the other is gone forever.)
Hino Rei looks always to the future, never the past.
This is why she pretends she doesn't remember anything from her past life.
She remembers it all - it's impossible to stop remembering, as much as she might have wished she could stop the dreams and the visions that leaked through when her guard was down. But it's quite easy to ignore everything that comes back to her, and pretend that she is no different from the girl she was the day before, one who knew a little less.
(Depending on his mood, his eyes could be every shade between blue and gray - )
No matter what she remembers, she pushes it aside to the back of her mind and vows never to think on it again. She doesn't need them, these memories that no longer matter. Her life is complete without their unwelcome intrusion.
(Master of illusions, always with a small smile and a charming word - )
Her life in this incarnation, the decisions she makes, she wants to keep these free of influence from the past. Even being a Senshi is something she likes to think as separate from the past. The powers, the legacy - these things are remnants of that life, but the reason she chooses to keep the mantle of a warrior is entirely her own, had been her own from the moment she first transformed.
(Mars had protected Serenity because it was a duty she had been raised to believe in from the moment she was born; she had gone down on bended knee as little more than a child, vowing loyalty and protection to a newborn babe held in the Queen's arms, the others kneeling beside her. Mars had barely understood the ramifications of swearing to protect someone with her life when she had spoken the words, but she had spoken them joyfully nonetheless because that was what she had been raised to do.
She chooses to protect Usagi now because Usagi is a dear friend. Her princess, too, but a friend first and foremost. It's love that drives her to protect in this life, not blind loyalty and duty, and this is infinitely better.)
There is no reason to linger on things that are no longer relevant. She, herself, is a new person, one free of the entrapments of the old life. She might not have a choice about remembering, but that doesn't mean she has to give weight to any of those memories. She chooses not to acknowledge them.
(Serious and calculating, with a mask of inoffensive politeness to everyone, but underneath the illusion, a man of passion and feeling - )
It doesn't mean her actions, her feelings, her life has to change because of them.
(How he would look at her, his gaze burning her skin, how he had trembled to touch her face - )
No, there was no point in remembering. She was a different person from before, and her life was different.
(For the first time in an eternity, how she had felt so alive in his arms - )
Her future will be different.
(She only lets herself remember this one thing: men cannot be trusted.)
Aino Minako has learned her lesson well.
She had always remembered more of her past life than the others, and, in truth, had remembered bits and pieces of him even before she had joined the group, thanks to Ace. Then, she had been a child trying to be a warrior, and it had been easy to dismiss what little she recalled as being unimportant in the face of the greater issue of protecting the Princess and preventing the tragedies of their past lives from repeating itself in this incarnation. Even when she had come face to face with him, it had been easy to attack, to consider him nothing more than an agent of the enemy.
Watching him disintegrate under the power of their combined attack had only given her grim satisfaction, nothing more.
(Even now, knowing everything, she doesn't regret it. Just what does that make her?)
It was only after their first few encounters with the Black Moon Clan, when she had acquired more of her old strength as Venus, that more of the old memories had also resurfaced.
More than just a glimpse or two of looking at him, of having him speak to her, now there was an endless parade of moments: how his eyes would soften when he saw her, how right it had felt to be in his arms, how it had felt to love someone so hopelessly - and, later, what it had been like to know that she was loved in return.
(Venus struggled for months, torn between love and duty, wanting to be with him but denying herself, until it occurred to her that there could be a balance. If Serenity and Endymion could wed, could be together publicly, then perhaps she, too, could...)
She remembers that she had once allowed herself to hope.
She remembers that it had all come to nothing.
(He came to the Moon for the first time as an enemy, bringing with him an army of his kind, following that witch Beryl and his eyes had been cold and full of mistrust when he looked at her. He showed no mercy for any of the Lunarian soldiers, cutting them down under the orders of someone not his Prince, and that was when she hardened her heart forever.
As he reeled from shock at Endymion's death, she had delivered a death blow of her own, taking advantage of his distraction.
In war, there is no honor, no mercy.
Not for the enemy.)
So she lets herself be flighty when out of battle. She lets herself be as careless as she dares, throwing herself with enthusiasm towards material distractions with abandon. Her eyes follow every cute boy she sees, and she flirts and dates as if truly the incarnation of Aphrodite, because all of these things are meaningless, and, thus, allowed.
Everything that Venus denied herself in the past, she indulges in now, and with no guilt whatsoever.
Because the one thing Venus allowed herself back then...
Well, that's the one trap she will never allow herself to fall for again.
(Once, Venus dreamed of a time when she could find a balance between love and duty. Then she realized that there was no such thing, and what she had thought was balance simply turned out to be circumstances that did not require her to choose one or the other at that moment in time.
And when the next moment came, Venus realized that there was no choice - not for her.)
(First and foremost, she is a soldier. Everything else is secondary.)
The Shitennou were once great Kings of their realms, honorable men sworn into the service of the Prince of the Golden Kingdom as his protectors, guides, and brothers. When their Prince fell in love with a forbidden Princess, they were concerned for what it meant for their future, the future of Earth. These concerns were set aside in the face of their Prince's happiness, and later buried further when faced with their own happiness -
But they were not buried far enough.
They could not hide from the power of Metallia.
It was a slow, creeping process, where the darkness seeped into their hearts and found a home within the smallest, niggling doubts that they harbored in their subconscious minds. There, with time, the darkness fed on their negative emotions, to which all humans are prone, and it nurtured their fears and their doubts until they grew to such overwhelming strength that love and reason were now the things buried and forgotten.
They sold their souls to Beryl and Metallia willingly, made a bargain with evil in order to save Earth's independence and autonomy.
They sold their souls to darkness for eternity, though they did not know it at the time.
After the end, they were given another chance, reborn into new lives, with a new chance to serve their Prince once more. When they grew old enough, their hazy memories led them to search for their Prince, but they found Beryl, instead, and their souls were called back to serve the darkness once more.
It was only after death that their souls found freedom, though limited in the form of spirits anchored to stones, and they all agreed that it was better to forever remain in this state than to ever be turned against their Prince once more. Although Beryl and Metallia were long gone, darkness was a constant in the universe, equal an opposing the light, and there were others with similar enough affinities to the darkness that they could subvert the Shitennou as Beryl and Metallia had.
Better to remain stones and spirits, never to be reborn again, seen and acknowledged only by their Prince, and no one else. Better to live a half-life filled with longing for what could have been, than to be used again as pawns for the forces of evil.
This was the only way to ensure that they would never become traitors again.
(This was their punishment.)