Romance

By Senshi of Ruin

Chapter One: Concert

The young Japanese idol listened half-heartedly to her screaming fans as she applied yet another layer of fuchsia pink lipstick to her already covered lips. Again it smudged and she was forced to wipe it off and reapply it. Minako cursed loudly as she did so, cursing the fact that on this one night of all nights her make up artist had been sick. Of course, she could have hired another one but at such short notice? Satchou had thought applying make up was easy. Minako snorted as she thought of her so called manager. Satchou said a lot of things. It had been his idea to hold this surprise concert to start with to show the world that Aino Minako was still at the top. Minako herself wasn’t really in the mood to sing or dance. Not after the events of the last twenty-four hours.

“When I sang your songs, Minako-chan, it would raise my spirits and help me to do my best!”

Her cheeks flushed red with shame at what she had done to Tsukino Usagi that day. Had she truly become nothing but a vassal for the Senshi of Love and Beauty or was there more to her than that? A lump formed in Minako’s throat at this thought. Had there been a different world and a different life, Minako would gladly give up her singing and career just so that she could become close to Usagi-chan and the others. As it stood, there would always be a thin line separating them from her. Minako appeared to have everything, but she knew deep down that she had nothing. That was the true reason for her trying to destroy Usagi’s memories and make her forget the person that she loved the most. Deep down Minako longed for what Usagi had with Mamoru. She wanted to revel in the knowledge that it was all wrong, that what she was doing was terrible and yet she wanted more of it. Usagi and Mamoru would bring about the end of the world with their love… Was this true? Who was the real villain here? Was it Beryl or was it Serenity? Minako couldn’t imagine Tsukino Usagi doing anything to harm the world that she obviously loved so much. But she was still the Princess of the fallen Silver Millennium. The Princess had powers beyond even her control. It was the Princess that Minako feared, not Usagi.

“Minako-chan?” Artemis murmured softly, coming up to nuzzle her hand, yet this comfort only caused her further distress. She recalled when she first met Artemis. She had been a struggling singer in a school full of other talented young girls. It was the cat plushie that encouraged her to become a huge star, thus drawing any attention away from Tsukino Usagi, the true heiress to the Moon Kingdom. It was all that Minako knew. She would throw herself into her Senshi duties so that she might not face the terrible truth; she was dying.

Shaking her head, not wanting to come to terms with this, Minako stood, accidentally knocking Artemis off of the dresser. The private trailer was small, even for her, and she could barely walk around with knocking into the bed or small sofa. A mini TV stood on a stand near the door showing images from the concert hall.

“An apology for today”

Minako recalled handing a stunned Sailor Moon the concert tickets, but she could not pick Usagi or Mamoru out from the thousands of screaming fans. It was no matter, she decided.

“Minako-chan? Where are you going?” Artemis called as she placed a hand on the door, “The concert will start soon.”

“My throat is dry” Minako replied, even as she twisted the handle and opened the door, “I am going to get a drink. I won’t be long.”

Artemis protested some more, but Minako ignored him and stepped out into the silent parking lot. She could see her bodyguards standing watch on the main gates and the fans that could not get tickets were massing there, eager to obtain a glimpse of Aino Minako. Usually she would go over to them, but not tonight. Instead Minako started off in the opposite direction, towards the cafeteria. She had been speaking the truth, her throat was dry, but it was to do with pent up tears rather than the dust and dirt of the trailer.

Under the cover of darkness, Minako felt invincible and in control. The darkness held a certain beauty about it. It was foreboding and at the same time comforting. When she died there would be nothing but darkness. Minako did not hold any delusions to do with another rebirth. She was reborn to stop the mistakes of the tragic past and that was it. Once the mistakes had been corrected that would be it. The Senshi would live out the rest of their lives as they should. Life would go on, for everyone but Minako.

She didn’t want it, Minako suddenly realised. She couldn’t live with it anymore! Tears again sprang into her eyes and this time she could not force them away, or even mute the sob that surpassed her lips. For that reason, she felt grateful for the distraction when a strong pair of arms grabbed her from behind.

Minako felt herself be propelled backwards against her attacker even as a hand clamped around her mouth. Reacting with instinct, Minako bit the hand that was pressed over her mouth and stamped her foot down hard upon her attacker’s. She heard a familiar yell of pain and a curse before she was thrown bodily to the ground.

“You!” Minako seethed as her gaze met that of the man standing before her.

“Venus, if I recall correctly we had an understanding” Zoisite said, stalking towards her. Minako scrambled backwards, even as she called out the familiar transformation:

“Venus power… make up!”

Nothing happened! Minako gasped in dismay as Zoisite smiled and held up her transformation bracelet.

The girl-idol stood and moved away until her back struck the metal link fence that surrounded the car park. The idea of calling out flashed across her mind, but she dismissed it in a second. Instead she took a breath and raised her eyes to meet his.

“I wouldn’t come any closer… I killed you once before.”

This amused the second king of the Dark Kingdom, but he did keep a healthy distance from the Sailor Senshi, “I was careless” he allowed, “It will not happen again.”

His gaze drifted down to her bracelet resting in his palm. He studied it for a few minutes, whilst Minako could do nothing more than stand still and listen to the wild beating of her heart knowing that she was completely helpless against him. His hand was bleeding; Minako noted with some satisfaction, she could see the blood through his white glove.

“Such a little thing” Zoisite spoke again, his voice did not sound threatening, only smug and arrogant to Minako’s ears, “is taken away and you are completely helpless before me.”

“Not completely!” seized by a sudden foolhardiness, Minako launched herself at the king, her fist mere inches from his face before he caught her wrist and threw her back onto the hard pavement. Minako struck the stone and could barely suppress a cry of pain. She sat up, very slowly, and wiped the grit from her cheek and then inspected the tear in her left trouser leg. Blood seeped through the tear and also ran down the side of her face. The ridiculous thought of how she was going to cover up this new blemish flashed into her mind before she stumbled up again, this time more carefully and wincing at the jolt of pain that ran down her leg.

“You have some nerve… it is a pity you didn’t the last time we met.”

Minako felt shame flushing her cheeks red at the mention of what she had done, even as Zoisite continued:

“I had thought we understood each other, Venus. We both know what will happen if the Master and the Princess are together, yet you nearly allowed Endymion to fall into Beryl’s clutches. We had the chance to save this planet and you threw it all away.”

Minako shook her head as she answered him, “I would rather risk the planet that break the Princess’s heart… even if it means going against my own.”

She expected Zoisite to argue, to perhaps even kill her, but he did neither. He simply tossed the bracelet at her feet and turned away, “Guard her well…”

“Guard her well?” Minako repeated softly, suddenly overcome by rage and hurt. How could she guard Usagi if her own life was ebbing away? What use was she to Usagi?

Still, despite herself, Minako snatched up the piece of jewellery, but as she turned to look back at the retreating king, he stumbled and then fell down onto his knees, gasping in pain.

She was suddenly seized by the same foolhardiness as earlier, but this time in a different sense. Minako felt calm descending over her as she found herself racing to his side, placing a trembling hand on his shoulder, even as she asked:

“Are you alright?”

Zoisite did not answer her, seemingly concentrating all his energy on staying conscious. Minako could see no wound, but that did not mean that there was not one.

“Come” she found herself saying, as she struggled to help him to stand, “You are hurt,” she snapped when he protested. “My private trailer is just around the corner.”

Minako wrapped both her arms around the stunned king and practically dragged him the short distance to her trailer. Luckily Satchou and her staff were already inside the concert hall so they would not be disturbed and even Artemis seemed to have vanished. Minako’s legs gave way as she flung open the door with a painfully loud crash. Zoisite stumbled onto the small white leather sofa that sat by the now open door.

Minako quickly locked it and drew all the curtains before turning back to the white haired king. He was unconscious now; his hair had become somehow freed from its usual ponytail and fell loose around his face in a messy cloud. Minako reached out with a hand, her heart suddenly thumping wildly in her chest as she entangled her shaking fingers in a few strands of his white hair. It was feather soft and Minako moved her hand further, to rest on his cheek.

“Minako-chan?” she started when she heard a rap on the door. Withdrawing her hand, the spell broken, Minako called out a reply.

“The concert is starting in five minutes!” Satchou called through the door, his angry tenor portraying his exasperation with the girl star. “Why are you still here?”

“I felt unwell” she called back, “Can you delay the start?”

Satchou pouted through the door, “Not really…” he sighed, “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you.”

Minako breathed a sigh of relief when Satchou left. Yet this was short lived. The talking had caused Zoisite to wake. His eyes opened slowly. He reached up with a hand and rubbed at them, his forehead creased up into a frown until his gaze rested upon her.

She struggled to look away from his stare, her eyes darting lower and to the flap on the jacket of his uniform that had somehow become dislodged. Minako blushed at the sight of his bare chest and was furious with herself for it.

Zoisite remained oblivious, or pretended too, and sat up, obviously annoyed that a Senshi (especially one that hadn’t transformed) had managed to capture him alive.

“How are you feeling?” Minako broke the silence by tentatively asking. Again, she was appalled at how nervous she sounded. She placed her hands in her pockets as she spoke and then changed her mind and folded them across her chest only to then start pacing up and down the small space.

Zoisite did not know what to make of this and instead stood and kept his attention on re-buttoning his jacket.

“What happened?” Minako asked next, “Are you hurt?”

He did answer this time, though his reply was somewhat guarded, “Beryl does not take kindly to those who go against her. She…” he broke off and stumbled again.

Minako couldn’t help herself. She dashed to his side, noting for the first time the bruising on his chest.

“Did she do that?” she enquired softly as she helped him to sit down.

Zoisite nodded, “I had thought it was nothing… I suppose I over did it. Congratulations, Venus, you defeated me again. Just hurry up and get it over with.”

Minako was stunned, not only by his assumptions, but her own answer as she recalled that day six months ago when she had struck him down with her crescent beam.

“I’m not going to kill you. I am still in your debt remember? You can rest here for a while. No one will disturb you.”

Then, turning her back on him once more, Minako decided to continue her warm up for tonight. Satchou, she knew, would keep the concert on hold for as long as she needed. That was what managers were for after all.

“I love you, baby baby! Turn off the lights. Baby baby, kiss me. Baby baby! Wake up to our romance. Don't hide. It's going to begin…”

“So I get a cabaret?” Zoisite remarked dryly and Minako found herself blushing again that evening.

“I said I would not kill you, but even I can change my mind” she warned, “Be lucky that I helped you at all.”

“And I do not doubt it. The word of a Senshi has never meant very much in this life or the last.”

His words stung and it was the only possible reason that Minako could think of for doing what she did next. She marched up to him and slapped him round the face. Zoisite was stunned; he slowly raised a hand to his cheek and gingerly traced the red mark that her hand had left on his skin.

Minako could only stare, not even registering when he lunged forwards, knocking her back into the closed door and pressed his sword to her throat, “If I recall, I did not make any such promise” he growled angrily, which was rare for the most composed of the four kings.

Dazed, Minako could only focus on the sudden closeness of the king, the warmth of his body against her own and the feel of his breath upon her cheek. Shaking, she reached up with a hand and placed it upon the reddening mark. Zoisite’s grip on her wavered and then went lax as she gently stroked his cheek and leaned forward to place a tentative kiss to his lips.

As they embraced a wave of vertigo crashed into her. Minako stumbled, leaning fully into Zoisite as the room started to spin and then completely faded away…

“Princess! Where are you going?”

Serenity halted in her tracks and turned around to face the Senshi of Venus as she quickly hurried down the marble steps of the palace towards her. A crimson blush adorned the Princess’s cheeks as Venus stepped up to her side and frowned disapprovingly when she replied that she was simply getting some air.

“You were going to see Endymion again, weren’t you?” Venus accused her.

“So what if I was?” Serenity snapped back hotly.

“You know how I feel about that” was Venus’s reply, her voice taking on a saddened tone as Serenity’s face fell. “I only care for your well being, Princess.”

“I know” Serenity sighed and leaned back against the marble pillar, “But I love him, Venus-chan. What can be so wrong with that?”

Venus did not reply and instead answered, “You know Metallia is gaining strength. It is dangerous for you to be alone.”

The Princess of the Moon Kingdom brightened at this, “I won’t be alone, will I? You’ll come with me, won’t you, Venus?”

Venus hesitated as once again Serenity started to hurry away from the palace. Then, knowing that Serenity’s mind would not be changed, Venus reluctantly followed her.

*****

Endymion’s Earth Palace was a lot prettier than the one on the Moon, Venus noted as she followed Serenity through the winding rose gardens that made up most of the palace ground. She could see Jadeite and Nephrite, two of Endymion’s royal guard, practicing their swordsmanship whilst Kunzite, the oldest of the Shitennou instructed them. Kunzite was well renowned throughout the Earth Kingdom for his skills with weaponry and Serenity had often said that he could even beat Endymion himself.

The Princess waved to the three kings and earned a disapproving glare from Kunzite. Her happy expression faded and she continued towards the palace with a troubled frown on her face. Kunzite did not approve of Endymion seeing Serenity and vice versa. Venus had heard that this had caused much discord between Endymion and his guardians.

“Endymion!” Serenity squealed when she saw the Prince of the Earth Kingdom sitting on the steps to his palace. The Prince was a handsome man, and Venus could appreciate why Serenity loved him so, but it did not mean that she agreed with what they had. Their love could only lead to disaster that she knew.

“Serenity” Endymion smiled, getting up to embrace the young Princess. Behind him, the forth of his royal guard, Zoisite, frowned in disapproval as Serenity leaned her head against Endymion’s chest and murmured a greeting.

Venus blushed as her gaze met that of the king’s. Zoisite lowered his gaze as Endymion drew back from Serenity and addressed her instead.

“Venus, welcome” he reached out to embrace her also, but she stepped back, a frown now fixed on her own face. Endymion was taken aback though he hid it well.

“I was just about to take afternoon tea” he now spoke to Serenity again, “Perhaps you would like to join me?”

Serenity nodded enthusiastically, until Zoisite voiced his own protests.

“But I am being rude” Endymion admitted with a coy smile, “Zoisite, perhaps you will take Venus on a tour of the palace grounds. It is your first time on Earth is it not?”

Venus nodded, knowing that it was just an excuse for Endymion to spend some time alone with the Princess. Zoisite had guessed it too, but ever loyal, he bowed in submission to his Prince’s commands and gestured for Venus to follow him back out into the grounds. Venus gave Endymion a look that suggested that she knew what his game was and followed the guardian.

Zoisite walked briskly, pointing out odd things of interest such as the statues of Endymion’s forefathers and the wondrous water fountains that bubbled up from seemingly nowhere.

Then Zoisite paused, the palace was just out of sight now, and Sakura trees enclosed their own private garden. Venus smiled as the guardian approached her.

“It has been a long time, Venus” Zoisite murmured, choosing not to look at her, but rather a point beyond her head. At first, Venus had found his demeanour rude, but soon came to learn that it was just Zoisite’s way. He often came across as being detached from the rest of the kings and perhaps a little colder, too, but she knew that he cared more for his duties than any of them, which was why Endymion’s refusal to listen to him pained him so.

“Too long” she echoed his slightly guilt ridden voice.

And it had been. They had only seen each other twice that year and it was already summer.

Zoisite took a step closer and leaned down to press a gentle kiss to her lips. Venus wrapped her arms around his neck and held him closer still, savouring every second of their embrace until they were forced to part to draw breath. The guilt was still there; she could see it in his eyes, mirroring her own feelings and thoughts.

“If only she knew,” Venus whispered softly, “That we are not that different after all.”

“This has to stop” Zoisite agreed, “What we have is wrong… as wrong as the Master and Serenity’s love. It has to be stopped. If Metallia…”

Venus placed a finger to his lips, silencing him, “I know! I have to look the Princess in the face each day and tell her how wrong it is and all the while we are… I wish I’d never met you!”

“And I you” Zoisite spat out, turning away with a flip of his cape, “Do you think I wanted to fall in love with you?”

“Y-you love me?”

Zoisite froze, debating his reply, “Yes” he admitted at last, “Though why I’ll never know.”

“It has to stop” Venus voiced her feelings at last and another silence passed between them. “This cannot continue.”

“That is what you said last time.”

“This time I mean it.”

Zoisite laughed, “You said that, too.”

“I do mean it this time! I can’t live like this! I would rather live a thousand lives without you than deceive my Princess for another day. Can you really continue to lie to Endymion?”

Zoisite looked away, but his silence on the matter said it all.

Venus knew that she had to be strong for the both of them, “It will end here. The fate of the Earth and the Moon matters than our own happiness. Perhaps one day, in a different life, there will be a chance to… for now we will go our separate ways.”

Zoisite nodded and started to walk away. Venus bit her lip so hard that she drew blood, keeping herself from calling him back, and telling him that she couldn’t live without him. Tears welled up in her eyes and she could do nothing against this onslaught. All she could do was watch the man she loved walk out of her life forever.

Minako fell, allowing herself to slowly slide down onto the floor, her gaze locked upon the white haired king. Zoisite moaned in pain, pressing a hand to his forehead as he stumbled backwards, speaking angrily even as he did so.

“Why is it whenever I make physical contact with you or Tuxedo Kamen, my life becomes even more complicated?”

“Well I’m so sorry for triggering more memories of the past” Minako shot back sarcastically, “Perhaps next time you shouldn’t kiss me back!”

“You really are a brat, Venus, do you know that?”

“Will you stop calling me, Venus? My name is Aino Minako.”

“Well then, Aino-san, perhaps you would kindly explain why you were kissing me to start with?”

“Maybe I pitied you? After all, you are the most pathetic guardian I have ever met!”

“Pathetic?” Zoisite grit out, “I should kill you for that”

“Then why don’t you?” Minako challenged him, “You’d be doing me a favour anyway!”

Zoisite paused, his gaze meeting hers, but Minako quickly looked away, “What do you mean?”

“Nothing… let’s just forget this, Zoisite.”

“Do you think what we saw was real?”

“It felt real,” Minako allowed, “But we have a mission. We have to stop the tragic past from repeating itself. My place is with the Princess and yours with Endymion. We are destined to fight each other.”

Zoisite nodded in agreement, “So that the past will not be repeated. That is why we were reborn. I must protect the Master and you must protect the Princess. When we next meet, we shall be enemies.”

“Then so be it”

Minako watched him teleport away with a strange kind of disappointment eating away at her heart. Had that memory been anything more than a life that she only remembered fragments of? Minako certainly did not feel anything for the arrogant white haired king apart from contempt. Given the chance, she would certainly kill him again. Then why couldn’t she erase the memory of his lips against hers from her mind? Why couldn’t she stop thinking how wonderful it had felt to be in his arms?

Minako scowled at her reflection, cursing Zoisite in all the languages that she knew. It was probably some kind of Dark Kingdom spell that caused her confusion! Who knew what kind of powers the Shitennou really possessed? That ‘memory’ was probably some kind of illusion as well! It couldn’t have any truth, even if she had admitted to Zoisite that it was real. She would never see Zoisite behind Serenity’s back, especially if she were telling her Princess how bad it was that she would see Endymion! It was all a pack of lies! It had to be…

“Minako-chan?” she jumped when she heard Satchou’s voice and the loud rap on the door that accompanied it. “What are you doing in there?”

“Nothing” she replied, hurrying to the door and opening it. Satchou pushed his way into the room, all the while moaning at her.

“Artemis?” Minako gasped softly when she saw the plushie under his arm.

“I found your toy outside” Satchou explained, “Though how he got there, I will never know.”

“Thank you” she took Artemis and set him down on the dressing table. The plushie made no sound, but it was clear that he was worried about her.

“What have you done to your face? And your clothes?” Satchou exclaimed loudly as their eyes met.

“I fell” Minako started to say as he grabbed her arm and forced her to sit down, whilst he looked at the wounds.

“You’re not in a fit state to go on stage! What will the fans think? What will the press think?”

Minako sighed, his fussing would have annoyed her, but right now she was grateful for the distraction.

At least for now, she could allow her thoughts to wander away from a certain white haired king.

 

contince on to Chapter 2.......