Minako had a secret…

Okay, that's a lie. She had hundreds of secrets. People sort of understood that. They gave her side glances when they thought she wasn't looking. She always pretended not to notice or care. Most of the time, no one pursued it.

Rei had forced her to look at some of her secrets, however. There had been too many close calls and obvious problems lurking in the blond's actions, and the miko was more than prepared to point it out. It had been a daunting task, but the miko pushed until Minako ran.

The thing that her raven haired friend didn't know was that even though she'd run, she'd gone to a safe and isolated place to think things through on her own.

She didn't want to. She hated looking introspectively at herself. She had to recognize all of her faults side by side with her redeeming qualities. Sadly, she often was of the opinion that her better qualities were fewer than her poor ones. She judged herself harshly, as she had grown accustomed and raised to do by her family.

Her home was as broken as the other Inner Scouts. Of them all, she was of the mindset that she and Makoto had the worst of it. Makoto had no one, much like she did as her parents could hardly be home long enough to spend a compiled week a year. She had a maid for several years before she turned eleven, and her parents decided she was old enough to care for herself as it was a waste of money to keep the maid any longer. It was the only reason she was so brash in her decisions. She'd hardly ever had anyone around to make them or judge her for them. Her parents were hardly competent role models, as they did things on whim and flights of fancy. They held up a strict public visage, one that was equally expected of her.

She learned quickly to rebel, as that was the only thing they were strict on, the most they could get her to play along with was the appropriate attire. The rest of the time, she was free to do what she would as long as she made it to her appointments on schedule, such as school, parties, and singing lessons.

Minako began a grudging dislike for most of her existence early on. She was jealous of others around her whom had happy families or obvious beaming traits that she so longed to have. When Artemis came into her life, her overzealous enthusiasm was simply for the fact it was exciting, new, and entirely something only she herself could do. There weren't any other Senshi at the time, and she reveled in her secret identity, playing the heroine she so desperately longed would come save her from her own life.

When she'd met the others, a part of her was greatly disappointed. She was no longer the only soldier. There were others. She wasn't as special any more. It was a sad and vain thing to think, but it was all Minako had to cling to. It was one of the only things that made her lonely nights passable, kept her sane.

When she finally started showing herself to them, she tried to wear the visage her parents had struggled to get her to express; it was slightly aloof and mysterious, hinting at experience and knowledge the others could not yet comprehend.

It didn't last long. Once she started spending time with them, Usagi was quick to break down her resistance. She found an odd companionship with Usagi, one she didn't immediately understand. At first, she was flattered. The others said they could pass as sisters. She'd always wanted siblings, so she was excited by the prospect. It helped that the other blond had so many common interests, ones she'd had as a guilty pleasure back in England, as such things were not proper for a lady.

Slowly, over time, she started realizing something was off about her feelings. She started observing the blond and her antics and what her own reactions were to them. Time in the park watching other families was also something she spent a great deal of time doing. It was difficult, as she was still jealous, but her growing insight was curbing her jealousy, taming its roaring flame.

It was around the time they were getting closer to discovering the Princess that Minako finally understood her growing attachment to the other blond.

It was like a light flickered on, and a flower blossomed in her chest. She felt light as a feather, as free as a bird. It was the most blissful and overwhelming sensation. She was so intoxicated by it she completely forgot to pay attention to the cause of it.

Before she knew it, Usagi became the unveiled Princess, and Tuxedo Kamen her Prince.

A mortal blow was struck on her heart that day.

None of the others paid her much attention, as the sudden discovery that their clumsy little Odango was the very "Perfect Princess" they'd been searching for had knocked them all for a loop.

Had they looked, they would have seen her seething hatred brewing as she glared at Tuxedo Kamen as he held her Princess tenderly. He had done nothing but belittle their little moon bunny from the get go, more so than Rei. He had no feelings for her but annoyance until "surprise!" she became "his" Princess. It wasn't like they'd all been looking for her, as she was crucial and important to all of them. No, he just had to have precedence because he was the one having special dreams about her! As if he didn't already have a chance and fail the first lifetime!

She had brusquely shaken herself before the others could catch her. They wouldn't understand. They generally didn't. They all came from broken homes, so their social queues and reactions to them were left desiring. She'd tried to bring up subjects of mainstream political and social interest, only for each of them to completely derail the subject before it even began. The closest they'd come was discussing a rumor about a female race car driver. They had so little interest that there was practically nothing to speak of, however, so her plan fell flat.

It gnawed on her though, watching Usagi with him. She chastised herself as much as she mentally badmouthed him. She knew she'd missed her chance because she'd gotten high off of her feelings instead of reacting to them. It seriously seared her spirits and confidence, what little she'd managed to forage together in the first place. Instead, she acted more robust, more exuberant. She had to expel all of her pent up frustration or she'd surely burst, and cause a certain someone some serious harm.

Things got trickier when she spotted the tell-tale signs of Rei falling for her as well. At first, the miko had been fascinated with the Prince. However, over time, the raven haired beauty began to see what Minako had seen from the onset. Their Princess was amazing. She could be childish and whiney, but she always went above and beyond when her friends needed her. She worked her adorable little self into a tizzy trying to save the day constantly, as well as attempt a normal life. Despite the fact she clearly didn't want to let Destiny muck with her life, she willingly stepped forward time and time again because it was what needed to be done for people to be safe.

Minako recognized that ages ago. She was sure that Ami and Makoto had as well, but she knew they were more attached in a familial fashion. Makoto doted on her like a mother-hen while Ami played the role of tolerant sister to a rather admirable degree. Rei was the bossy over-protective sister at first… but it was sliding into territory that Minako knew far too well.

She hated it. It twisted the knife already in her gut and laughed callously at her broken and bleeding heart.

When the Outer Senshi appeared, she became even more despondent. Stupid "Time Senshi" had to go show them all a future that was "perfect".

She doubted that. Perfect for who? Certainly not for the Senshi that were treated as mere background noise now that the Prince and Princess were reunited.

It was a true testament of will and fortitude that allowed her to go through the motions of that charade. It didn't help that Rei had fallen into the very pit Minako had been stumbling around in for so long. Minako wanted to kick her out, but a part of her felt sympathy for the raven haired girl, as she knew how infuriating it was to watch the Prince and Princess. She decided some small comfort would suffice, as she knew she could offer no more and no less.

It was a breath of fresh air when the miko began drifting away on her own. The raven haired beauty saw the futility in pursuing her chances, so decided to lay them elsewhere. Minako had to hide her smirk whenever she caught the miko sneaking glances at the Time Senshi. She supposed that made sense though, as the Time Senshi had the poise and calm aura that Rei so desperately sought and wanted Usagi to portray.

Minako was still S.O.L. She knew there was no redemption for her, no other to draw her eye. When the Starlights came, she had pretended. It soothed the others, as they were beginning to fret about her strange behavior. She allowed them to be calmed by a false sense of security as she clung to a rather irate Star Healer. It was a lie though, and the shorter girl knew it. When they'd locked gazes, the silver haired girl immediately knew her plight. Minako was quick to see the same plight reflected back at her. It was the only reason Healer tolerated her as she did. The others thought otherwise, that maybe Minako was cracking the harsh little woman's shell. Both knew it to be opposite, as they were both as embittered by the lot they'd been handed.

When they'd been re-created, Minako was the first to notice the shift.

Usagi had brought them back again, creating a lasting alliance with Kinmoku. When they'd seen the Starlights off, Minako knew that Usagi understood what Seiya was saying. It was in the telltale tensing of her shoulders, and the slight tightness of her smile. After they left, she saw the turmoil on her Princess' face before it could be smoothed when she turned to face them. Her eyes, though bright, had a lost quality to them, something that was nothing like the usual spaced out gaze she often wore.

The heir of Venus' heart raged at her. It dared her to try again. It argued with her rational that Destiny already had its hold, as it insisted that Destiny was never something set in stone, something Setsuna had pointed out to them discreetly in the past. So conflicted by her emotions, she found herself falling ill. The Prince was headed back to America soon to study, but she could not bring herself to rejoice as she wished.

She was bed-ridden. Her friends had all stopped by once or twice, but she had waved them off with false shows of wellness after a week. Instead, she allowed herself to stew in her self-pity. She'd had so many crushing outcomes in her life, she could hardly bare to see this one through. The heartbreak in Seiya's eyes had been all the understanding she needed to know that she would be so devastated, so broken, she would surely turn into a second Galaxia eventually.

The damn broke the ninth day, when Usagi decided to check on her again. Alone.

"Ko-chan! I brought some soup my mom made!" The bouncing blond paraded into her home like she owned the place.

Minako snorted, as she basically did. No one else treated it as anything but a place to visit in passing. Usagi, however, always made herself at home, like she was supposed to be there and anything else was foolish.

"What are you doing here? I told everyone I was well." Minako was huddled under her blankets, clearly sulking.

Usagi rolled her vibrant blue eyes. "I know how stubborn you can be. You'd pretend to be well even if you were puking your guts up for a week straight."

Minako muttered something but didn't protest when Usagi placed a steaming bowl of soup on the end table. She didn't even struggle when Usagi blatantly started to feed her said soup, as Minako knew she hadn't eaten for a while and hence didn't have the strength to do more than pout.

Usagi, always one to impress, serenely fed her the whole bowl. Not a drop was spilled, and never a moment did Minako see any of the usual clumsy flightiness that the Odango-chan usually displayed. It was moments like these that Minako basked in the warm aura that Usagi unconsciously emitted. She treasured these rare times, as it was not something their Princess usually liked to put on display. It was something the young girl did because she desperately clung to the fading image of normalcy, and to her, pretending to be carefree and unchained by the future was as close as she was likely to get to the real thing.

It was a long time before Minako realized that she'd been staring intensely at her fellow blond the whole time, and that said blond was watching her just as quietly.

Minako quickly looked away, trying desperately to hide the hurt and the sorrow that threatened to overwhelm her via once again tasting the tenderness that is Usagi and knowing it was only temporary.

"Ko-chan, don't turn away…" murmured Usagi, a small hand grasping her arm.

"I can't…" hissed Minako, her voice cracking. "I just… I can't!"

"Why?"

"You'll see," she whispered so softly she hoped Usagi couldn't hear it.

The hand on her arm tightened. "Show me."

Minako clenched her eyelids together so tight she could see stars. It was becoming increasingly difficult to breath, and her limbs were beginning to tremble. "You cannot."

"Show me," Usagi said more firmly.

"You cannot see!" burst Minako, wrenching herself out of her Princess' grip to escape further away on the bed. "You can't!"

A body slammed into her, knocking her over. Startled and panicking at the pinning weight of the blankets, Minako frantically began struggling, opening her eyes to seek escape.

It was her downfall.

Blue eyes locked with blue eyes.

Minako knew her soul lay bare for the Moon Princess to see all. And despite her fear, she was unable to close her eyes or turn away. It was like being under a spell.

The sharp inhale was all Minako needed to know her Princess saw what she'd been trying to hide all these years.

The heir of Venus went slack, eyes becoming shadows.

"Why?" asked the voice above her.

"Why what?" retorted Minako, voice distant.

"Why did you not say? This… it's had to have been years…"

Minako sighed wistfully. "I needed to be saved. I couldn't do it myself."

"And if I save you?" breathed Usagi, arms slowly encircling Minako's waist.

"You can't. Not the way I want you to save me."

"If I save you?" pressed Usagi, voice determined.

A momentary spark lit the Senshi of Love's eye. "I would…"

A relieved and wide smile split the Princess' face. Her arms held the blond below her tightly, but comfortably. "I've seen you linger in the background… You like to pretend, to hide, but I've always seen you." She nuzzled the other girl's cheek. "You walked in shadows because you knew no other way. Your heart ached, but you smothered its flame." Crystal blue eyes go dark, remembering. "I knew, I think. Destiny laid out a pretty picture, but it forgot to add the smiles." Usagi dipped her head lower, lips just caressing Minako's ear as the blond beneath her breathed more quickly. "I saw the way the faces froze in fake smiles, the way the King and Queen only had love in their eyes when looking at Chibi Usa… It seemed a very cold, isolated life… I would not like such a life. I would grow to hate it."

Mianko's eyes fluttered, heart racing. Her entire being was screaming. "Wh-what are you saying?"

"I have not spoken with the others yet. I was more concerned with you. I saw off the Prince today." Usagi laid her forehead on the bed, lips resting just behind the curve of Minako's ear. "We spent three days arguing. The fourth, he didn't talk to me at all."

"What of-?"

"Shh… I think Seiya had a point, when she said such things. But, unfortunately for her… I was reliving memories of the past, of a past that was perfect and bittersweet. My Prince has changed. He has broken my heart more times than should be allowed or is fair. I am not in the spirit of it happening again. And Seiya, for all her charm, only carries echoes of the person that Mamoru used to be." Usagi chuckled humorlessly. "Ko-chan, I am resentful of what the past has pushed upon my shoulders. I take up its mantle simply because watching everything get destroyed is something I never want to see again. Already it has happened twice, and Destiny would see it a third. I choose to change that before I have to rebuild it again."

"What of me?" asked Minako, darker blue eyes searching the ceiling imploringly for answers.

"Ah, Ko-chan… You are still so sadly broken… I saw how Rei watched me for a while. I knew what was happening. You have no idea how relieved I was when she started noticing Sets-chan. I did not want to be Rei's Princess. That ideal image is something I detest with enough passion that I've purposefully done my best to rid myself of those habits of my dead past. She was a weak person. She did nothing when her loved ones perished. I do not want to be weak like that. I want to be strong, strong enough that I will not lose any of you ever again."

A trembling hand delicately threaded through the long golden hair spilling from its bound bun and pooling on the bed. "I think… that's the first I've ever heard you admit to wanting to be strong."

Usagi smiled, rubbing her cheek against Minako's. "I hadn't. I wanted to pretend none of it existed. It was a nice fairytale, but it had too many holes, too many shadows. I didn't really want to live it, just play along for a while." She sighed. "Sadly, I played a little too long. Things have progressed quickly, and in a fashion I hadn't exactly wished." She shakes her head, pushing herself up so that she may look into Minako's eyes. "It seems I must become the soldier that I should have become all those years ago. This time, however, I take up that role willingly." Her visage becomes serious. "I have watched your light for a long time. It was not bright, even in the beginning, but it has slowly begun to dim over time. I had hoped, when we started spending more time together, the shadows around you would lessen… Unfortunately, they grew. Had I not already taken up Mamoru and the dream he presented, I would have been striving harder to get your light to grow brighter." She shook her head. "As it was, I ended up feeling hurt and confused, as the more time we spent together, the more upset you seemed. I had foolishly thought it was because I was upsetting you for getting too close."

Minako's hand unconsciously clenched in Usagi's hair, pulling on it slightly. "That wasn't why I was upset."

Usagi's smile is sad. "Yes, I see that now. However, you always cast your eyes away before, taking away my chances at seeing the truth."

"The others will not accept this," commented Minako, bitterness and resignation both heavy in her voice.

Usagi laughed, startling the blond beneath her. "I could care less if they get their panties in a twist. I am a Senshi. Not only am I Senshi, I am the Senshi for this entire Sol System. Despite the fact I hate my role as Princess, it doesn't mean I'm going to kowtow to their wishes now. I am done being weak, of playing this role as if a game. I'm tired of losing everyone in a stupid cycle because I haven't shaped up. I am Senshi! That is not something they can take from me, even if they wanted to. I am no longer a Princess sitting on a throne waiting to be protected and coddled. I am taking arms and protecting myself. I will protect you."

Minako's eyes teared up. A heavy sigh escapes her lips. "I'm so very tired of being alone…"

"You aren't," Usagi replied firmly.

Minako giggled. "How strange it seems that, as supposed leader of your royal guard, I have you protecting me instead."

Usagi caresses her cheek with a thumb. "Let me be your knight…?"

A tear rolls down the heir of Venus' visage and disappears into her hair. "Please?" she breathes, voice filled with every ounce of yearning she possessed.

The sun itself could not outshine the smile that broke across the Moon Princess' face.


A/B: Alright, well, this is a different pairing than usual; erm, in all categories I suppose. I watched a three part movie this morning called "Tipping the Velvet", and was quite inspired by it. I finished the movie with a hankering to write. I've wanted to write an Usa/Mina fic for quite a while, but couldn't figure out how to start it. I ended up really analyzing her character, as I recall obvious signs of hidden jealousy that would pop up at odd times. She always seemed to severely seek attention, but was socially awkward about it half the time. It read to me as someone who wore a mask a great deal longer than Usagi did, creating bitterness and larger bouts of jealousy that had toxic taints. I see her as being one to greatly admire Usagi for who she is and her willingness to continue being herself even through strife, faults and all. As Usagi is the only one she ever really seems to bond with, I see that respect and fascination developing into love.

Plus, I think this couple would be cute. I mean, Minako is the leader of the Senshi, the one in charge of them and the one to have the most contact with the princess. I see her taking her job more serious than most because she becomes so enamored/attached to her charge.

This fic did get a little more angsty than I predicted, but I like where it went. Not sure if I will do another chapter or not, but I really like how this turned out. I do one to do an upbeat one of them eventually. (there's so much potential for varied couples in this series I always have the urge to try new ones)