Chapter Two: Control

The mournful groan of the piano as its owner slumped down upon it was all that could be heard in the usually most inhabited room in the Dark Kingdom; that and the harsh sound of ragged breathing. Zoisite was alone for once and for this he was glad. The bruises inflicted upon him by the demon Queen of the Dark Kingdom had renewed their throbbing with an almost violent ferocity. In addition, Zoisite’s left hand was still bleeding and his cheek ached where Venus had slapped him. He scowled down at his most treasured possession and glared at his dishevelled reflection in the shiny black surface. His white hair was streaked with dirt and had decided to tangle itself into a mass of knots.

The second king removed his white gloves started to tease out the worst of the tangles with his right hand, whilst he studied the bite marks in his left and was surprised to find that he felt little anger towards the Senshi of Venus. Zoisite felt drained, physically and emotionally. His head, too, was starting to ache as it always did when he recalled parts of his past.

“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. Do you think I wanted to fall in love with you?”

“Y-you love me?”

“Yes. Though why I’ll never know.”

Zoisite frowned slightly, as though questioning this memory. It had to be false. He certainly did not feel anything for Sailor Venus except for annoyance and, yes, some respect for the leader of the Senshi. Hatred was not a factor. Zoisite had hated enough when he served Beryl and knew what that kind of emotion could do to a person. He had hated the Princess then and not even understanding why. Now he knew, he did not hate Serenity. If the truth were known, Zoisite feared her. Princess Serenity and her love for the Master had destroyed the planet once before, and if they were not careful, they would do so again.

Was love a factor? Zoisite’s confusion deepened. He did not know how to love, he told himself. Beryl herself feared such emotions despite her infatuation with the Master. Looking deep inside himself, Zoisite realised that he had felt nothing when Venus had kissed him. Indeed he had returned her kiss, but it was almost an automatic reaction. He did not feel anything more.

“Do you think what we saw was real?”

“It felt real. 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.”

She was right and Zoisite saw no reason to question this. He was reborn to serve Endymion and no other. The time would come when the Senshi and the Shitennou would fight each other. He could not allow any sort of emotion to hinder his protection of the Master.

Zoisite stood, shakily, finally managing to tie his hair back into the usual ponytail and quickly invoked a spell to rid his uniform and hair of the dirt and sweat. His forehead still ached and he decided that perhaps it would be best for him to retire to his private chambers for the remainder of the day. Beryl was still after the Master, after all, and with her shadow in the Earth realm, the blue planet was not even a safe haven for the Prince anymore. Zoisite knew that, to protect his Master, he would need to be at full strength.

Beryl had already summoned him after he returned from the Earth realm. She blamed him and Kunzite for her shadow’s failure to capture Endymion. She would strike again, Zoisite knew. Beryl desired the Master more than anything and that desire would lead to nothing but disaster for the Shitennou and the Prince.

“Have you yet to realise that it is useless to defy me?”

Zoisite cringed as her grating voice echoed in his mind. It was hopeless, that he knew. In this world a part of him would always belong to Beryl, but Zoisite had to try for the fate of the Earth and the Master were at stake.

He turned, brushing his cape behind him, when it took hold of him; it being an immense power. Zoisite gagged as it locked down on his own magics, even as, unwillingly, his sword appeared in his hand. What was this? Tears seared at his eyes as he staggered to his knees. The white haired king could barely breath as he felt the power slowly taking over his own, his free hand clenched tightly against his chest as the room started to swirl and the disappeared completely.

Zoisite opened his eyes, the harsh light of the sun invading his blue orbs and making the vision before him seem unfocused and slightly unreal. He frowned, realising that he was now standing, as his eyes slowly made out the Sailor Senshi standing at one end of a lush green meadow. Glancing to his right, Zoisite saw the other kings; Kunzite, Nephrite and Jadeite and standing between Jadeite and Nephrite was Beryl, a triumphant smirk etched across her face. It was only then that Zoisite saw the man standing between the two groups, seeming torn and somewhat horrified at the events that were occurring right before his very eyes.

“Master?” Zoisite whispered as Jadeite and Nephrite raised their weapons, readying themselves to attack.

*****

“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…”

Minako, in her element, continued to sing despite the slight throbbing in her temples that indicated that she had to rest. She loved singing, singing was her life and she was determined to continue to keep on singing until her illness finally took control of her ailing body. Singing gave her an escape from reality and after the events in her trailer she needed this escape. Which was why she ignored the throbbing in her head until it slowly overtook her and sent her sprawling to the ground.

Now, with Satchou buzzing around her, cursing the media circus awaiting them outside, Minako was regretting every second on that stage and every action before that, most concerning a certain white haired king.

Her private room was like any other hospital room on that ward. The walls and ceiling were painted a stark white and silk white net curtains were pulled across the small window in one corner of the room. The only light coming in was from an artificial lamp standing on a cabinet beside her bed. Already, dozens of vases of flowers stood on a table at the back of her room from well-wishers and fans alike. This meant nothing to Minako. Such things meant nothing to her since she found out that she was ill. In her bag under bed, she knew Artemis waited to ridicule her once Satchou was gone.

“I suppose I should go and talk to them,” Satchou pouted loudly, whilst seated on an over stuffed armchair under the windowsill whilst applying another layer of nail varnish, “Though I do hate such things. Minako-chan, if you were feeling out of sorts then you just had to say.”

“I know. I didn’t want to disappoint everyone” Minako struggled to put on a saddened voice, an act which was not hard considering the fragile state that her mind was in. As much as Minako hated to admit to it, she couldn’t do without help for very much longer. It was funny; her instant reaction was to turn to Zoisite. Indeed, when she felt herself swoon, she almost cried out for the king and all she could see when she closed her eyes was his face and all she could feel was his lips upon her own.

Stop it! Minako berated herself I had decided not to ever think of it again. It is nothing, but another part of the tragic past that must not be repeated. The Shitennou serve Beryl now and are our enemies, and, inevitably, Minako knew that she might have to destroy them.

But he doesn’t serve Beryl any longer! He follows Endymion once again!

He tried to kill me before. What’s to say he will not try again?

“That was when he was under Beryl’s influence” Minako whispered out loud, much to Satchou’s annoyance.

“Minako-chan?” he stood and came to her bedside, placing a hand on her forehead, “Are you sick again?”

Disgruntled, Minako brushed his hand away, “No. Just go and deal with the media. I am exhausted that is all.”

“Then perhaps you ought to get some rest?”

Minako shook her head, “I don’t need to rest.”

Satchou sighed and wandered to the door, “Fine. Is there anything else you need?”

Minako thought for a moment and made her decision, “Yes. There is a girl called Hino Rei in the hospital reception. You said that she came with three others?” when Satchou nodded, Minako continued, “I will see Hino-san, alone. Can you bring her here?”

Satchou voiced his disapproval, but Minako ignored him and he decided that he best humour her. As he left, Minako sat up, ignoring Artemis’s questioning look and reached for her laptop. Rei must have been waiting; as no sooner had it loaded did Minako hear a knock on the hospital room door.

“Come in” she called and the door was hesitantly pushed open and Hino Rei hovered in the doorway, her gaze uncertain as their eyes met.

“What’s wrong? Come in” Minako repeated as Rei continued to stare at her and the Senshi of Love and Beauty braced herself for voicing her biggest secret and despair.

“How are you feeling?” Rei started, her voice was unusually cold towards the leader and for this Minako couldn’t really blame her. After all, she had been putting a distance between for a reason. One should not get attached to a dying flower.

“I would like to say that” Minako tried to force her voice into one of indifference; she did not wish for Rei’s pity, “I asked you to come here so that I might tell you the truth, as I cannot do without your help for much longer.”

“The truth?” Rei’s voice had hardened and she looked at Minako as though suspecting another plot against the Princess to come from her lips.

“The truth about my sickness. It is probable that I will only live for another two or three months.”

Rei gasped slightly and Minako heard Artemis’s saddened whimper as he nuzzled her leg. Shaking her head, the girl-idol knew that she had to remain strong. There was still the mission to think about.

“I knew about it even before I became a Sailor Senshi, but that is not the issue. The chances are that when we have the final battle against the Dark Kingdom, you will be short one Senshi; me, the leader.”

“Why are you suddenly telling me this? Is there no chance that you might recover?”

Minako was stunned at the tears filling Rei’s eyes and a part of her longed to truly be a part of the team, but this could not happen. She would not allow any emotions, be they her own or Rei’s to affect the mission. The mission was all that mattered.

“I could have an operation” Minako admitted at last, “But the chances of success are near 0%. It is as though it has all been staged, almost laughable.”

Rei turned away, Minako’s attitude unsettling her and again the leader questioned her choice for successor, “It is nothing to laugh about!” Rei’s voice cracked slightly as though recalling her own inner demons. Minako tossed her head and continued:

“I will not use up time for unnecessary things. Ever since I remembered my past life, I have known that it is something I must do. I will use the remainder of my life to complete the mission.”

Rei argued, as Minako knew she would, but she had been resolved though this resolve was slowly weakening even as Rei spoke. Again, Minako pictured Zoisite and a lump formed in her throat. She had shared her first kiss with him; she had never had time for boyfriends, even before she became ill. Minako wanted someone to help her through this. She feared being alone. Yet this could never be.

“Such a pitiful face!” she exclaimed with the pretence of being cheerful as Rei turned back around to face her, “Do not worry, I cannot entrust it all to you just yet.”

Rei left; there was nothing more to say. As the door swung closed, Minako threw herself down upon the bed and not even Artemis’s presence was enough to comfort her. For the first time since becoming ill Minako had realised that she did not want to die.

*****

“Master?” Zoisite whispered, his gaze locking with Endymion’s as Nephrite and Jadeite pointed their weapons at the Earth Prince and the Senshi. The Senshi automatically took on a defensive pose whilst Kunzite only appeared confused by this turn of events. Zoisite glanced over his shoulder and stared uneasily at the smirk twisting Beryl’s lips. What was her game this time? He did not have to wait long to find out. Beryl’s gaze met his own as she snapped her fingers. The instant this happened, Zoisite felt his sword hand whip upwards, until the blade was just scratching the base of his throat, before his free hand clasped his wrist and attempted, to no avail, to pull his sword hand down.

Zoisite heard the Master’s cry of horror and glancing to his side again, Zoisite saw that his comrades faced a similar fate. Inwardly the white haired king cursed. He had known that deep down a part of him still belonged to Beryl, but this…

“The Shitennou are beings from the past that I resurrected. I only have to say the word and they will stab themselves.”

“What?” Kunzite snarled out, as he renewed his struggling. This did him no good, after all Beryl’s hold upon them all was strong.

“Endymion” Beryl said triumphantly, “If you do not wish to see the Shitennou die, come to me.”

Endymion’s eyes widened in disbelief even as Sailor Moon cried out:

“That’s terrible! Why are you-”

As she spoke, cut off by Beryl’s bitter retort concerning the tragic past, Zoisite realised that Sailor Venus had joined the four Senshi and was now taking a tentative step towards them. She had a strange light in her eyes. Zoisite frowned slightly as he recalled this look. It was the same look that she had given him in the gardens so long ago.

Venus…

Zoisite shook his head slightly and Venus paused, as though unsure of herself. Then the light died and she took a step backwards, entrusting the fate of the Shitennou to their rightful Master.

“You will come to me” Beryl continued, “You cannot throw away the men who pledged allegiance to you so long ago. You value them too much for that.”

“This is stupid!” Kunzite roared, “I am no longer…”

Beryl through him a look, irritated by his fury and disbelief and his sword began to glow a dangerous yellow and edged closer to the first king’s throat.

She will kill one of us regardless, Zoisite realised, and with this he knew that his own chances were poor. Again Zoisite felt Venus’s gaze upon him and sensed her despair, indeed it was beginning to mirror the pain in his own heart.

But I have no heart? I was reborn to server the Master and nothing more? I am…

“Stop this!” Endymion cried out and the glow on Kunzite’s sword faded. The look Kunzite gave him was pure poison, ignoring completely the fact that the Master had saved his life.

Beryl smiled, “Then come here, Endymion.”

“Wait!” Sailor Moon’s cry rang out across the field, “This is meaningless! You cannot change his heart! Not even if you threaten him.”

At these words, Zoisite felt the sword be removed from his throat; and this, he knew, was not a good thing. He felt his power, yes it was his own, yet it was not in his control, flaring up and his weapon began to glow blue.

“Silence her!” Beryl screamed as Venus cried out for the Senshi to protect the Princess.

“Venus!” Zoisite’s cry came out a whisper, though its tone had every characteristic of being a scream as the blue magics shot from his sword and merged with that of his fellow kings before hurtling towards the Senshi. They screamed as the blast enveloped them and in that second, Zoisite realised that the past was doomed to repeat itself no matter what and he would always be drawn to the Senshi of Love and Beauty. He could only watch, helpless, as she fell.

“Endymion! Do not keep me waiting any longer!” Beryl cried and with another snap of her fingers, Zoisite felt his the sword again scraping the base of his throat. There was nothing he could do. He would not allow the Master to give himself over to Beryl in return for their safety, but Zoisite remembered what lay in the Prince’s heart. Beryl had him, and they all knew it.

*****

Minako hit the dirt, screaming along with the other Senshi as the explosion rocked the ground. She gagged as thick black smoke invaded her nostrils, yet ignored the Princess’s cries and even Mars’s disapproving look. She should not be here, she should be resting, but how could she ignore Luna’s pleas? Luna had been adamant that, together, the Senshi protected their Princess. Now they were here, Minako wished that she wasn’t.

He had the sword pressed tightly against his throat again, fear reflecting in his blue eyes and more than anything, Minako wanted to blast a path through Beryl to help him. This idea terrified her as much as its stupidity. If she made a move in their direction Beryl would have him stab himself.

Venus! It is the condition of our exchange! Help my Master!

She had not helped Mamoru. She had left him to Mio and it was only Kunzite’s intervention that allowed the Prince to escape from Beryl’s clutches.

“Wait!” Mamoru cried out, torn between his Princess and his Shitennou. Then, his voice lowered and head bowed he murmured, “I’m coming.”

“That’s right” Beryl urged, “Come to me.”

“Why is he?” Nephrite whispered as Jadeite echoed with:

“Is he going to help us?”

Then, a movement to Mamoru’s right as Kunzite managed to break the hold that the magics had upon him. A spontaneous hope arose inside of Minako as Kunzite broke free, but he did not race to his fellow kings aide, instead opting to try and strike down his Master. With a snap of her fingers, Beryl halted him in his tracks, the black haired king gasping in shock as his limbs were frozen to the spot and Mamoru walked slowly passed.

“Master!” Zoisite pleaded as Mamoru passed him, “No, Master! Go back!”

He would give his life, Minako realised. He would forfeit his life to stop his Master. Did Zoisite truly care for no one but the Prince, even in this world?

Beryl extended her arms eagerly to Mamoru and as he stopped in front of her and she reached out to grab a hold of his shoulders before Minako heard Usagi speak again.

“Don’t touch him!” her voice was forceful, and, as Minako turned to look, the Princess of the Moon started to glow. Light pulsed out from her tiara to envelop the teenage girl in a liquid glow.

Dazed, Minako shielded her eyes from the sudden brightness and when she finally was able to look again, it was not Usagi that stood before her. Her fuku had changed. Now a light pink bow adorned the bodice of the attire, whilst another lace bow fanned out from behind her and trailed almost to the floor. Her skirt, too, had another lace layer underneath the blue and a tiara now sat upon her head. Slowly, Sailor Moon opened her eyes, her gaze locking on no one but Beryl and Minako saw the Queen tremble ever so slightly as she barked out:

“What is this?” before sending a wave of dark energy their way once more. For the second time, Minako hit the dirt along with her fellow Senshi. She heard Rei curse, but as the dust settled, they saw with amazement that Sailor Moon was still standing. Then, placing one foot carefully in front of the other, she began to advance towards the now panicked Beryl.

“Get rid of her!” Beryl demanded, forcing Zoisite, along with the others, to again turn his weapon on the Princess.

As the combined attack flooded towards her, Sailor Moon simply raised a hand holding up a blue and pink sword. The attack struck it and Sailor Moon flung it off to her sides, the fire exploded by the Senshi and in that second, Minako realised the true origin of Usagi’s new powers.

“That’s not Usagi-chan!” Jupiter cried as they struggled to their feet. Minako could hear Mars’s retort before voicing her own knowledge.

“It is the Princess. It is Princess Serenity.”

“Princess” Beryl sneered as Princess Sailor Moon drew closer still and pointed her weapon at the Queen, “Do not get so cocky. Don’t you know that I am equal to you in power, if not more so?”

“Usagi-chan” Mercury whispered, tears forming in her eyes as Princess Sailor Moon ignored Beryl’s threats and even Mamoru’s cries. Her gaze was focused on Beryl alone.

“How disrespectful!” Beryl screamed, sending one last attack her way.

Princess Sailor Moon’s sword met the attack and cut it into a star shape before drawing a line down the middle and sending the attack back at the Queen and the Shitennou. A gasp caught in Minako’s throat, but, to her relief, when the smoke cleared, they were unharmed.

“Stop her!” Beryl pleaded with the stunned Mamoru now, “Endymion, get rid of this girl.” As she said this, a dark look formed in the Queen’s eyes and Minako felt her heart skip a beat. “If you won’t…” she let the threat hang for a moment and in those seconds Minako felt as though her heart would break. It pounded in her chest so hard that it hurt. She turned her head to stare at Zoisite, tears filling her eyes as she realised the truth depth of her feelings for the man and that he was about to be taken away from her forever.

She whimpered slightly and almost took a step towards him when a movement to Zoisite’s right caught her attention as Mercury let out a choked cry.

Minako saw Beryl pointing, not at Zoisite, but to the king standing beside him. Nephrite’s eyes were wide with horror as his hands forced his own blade through his stomach.

“B-Beryl-sama!” he gasped, before falling lifelessly to the ground. Minako knew that she should be sorry, even when she saw the pained look in Mamoru’s eyes, but all she could feel was relief.

“Zoisite…” Minako whispered under her breath when she saw his weapon lowered to his side, Beryl having thinking that she had won the day after all, but perhaps it was not to be. Mamoru was walking towards Usagi and now paused beside her. Unsure of what to say, he simply pulled her into a loving embrace, one that stirred some jealousy inside the Senshi of Venus. Usagi had the courage, despite all the odds, to do everything within her power to be with the person she loved.

“Usagi” Mamoru pleaded, “You can hear my voice! Come back to me, Usagi…”

As he spoke, Minako heard Sailor Moon let out a soft gasp and another light pulsed out from tiara and engulfed them. When Minako could see again, Usagi had stepped back from Mamoru, a confused and somewhat crestfallen look etched across her face; Princess Sailor Moon was gone…

As Usagi stepped back from Mamoru’s embrace, the Senshi raced towards her, and Minako found herself following them. Again her gaze darted to the lifeless third king and then to Zoisite’s face. He did not appear very disturbed by Nephrite’s death, it was as though he had expected it, but Minako could still see some fear in his eyes.

“Endymion” Beryl barked out a warning and Mamoru’s gaze, too, flickered to Nephrite’s corpse, “Come here.”

Ignoring her, Mamoru gently placed his hands upon Usagi’s shoulders and an understanding passed between them, though the desperation was mirrored in both their hearts. Then he turned away, walking towards Beryl and the Shitennou.

“No” Minako heard Zoisite whisper, but they both knew that Mamoru’s mind was set. Not even Usagi’s tearful cries could stop him and Beryl smirked triumphantly as they disappeared, all returning to the Dark Kingdom.

Usagi stood alone, whispering his name to herself as she stared at the space he had occupied moments before. In her hand was clutched the pocket watch that Minako supposed had belonged to Mamoru. Then, slowly, Usagi fell backwards in a faint.

“Usagi!” Jupiter dove forward, catching the Princess before she hit the ground whilst Mercury knelt over her, placing a tender hand upon the tearstained cheek. “Usagi-chan…”

“This too?” Minako jumped slightly as Mars cried out, her own tears marring her face as she glared daggers at their leader, “This too? Is this also the burden that we carry from our past lives?”

Minako, disheartened, looked away, not replying and not meeting Mars Reiko’s angry countenance. She had no answer to that. She did not know anything anymore.

******

That evening, Minako sat alone in her hotel room. The wind blew a cool breeze through the slightly ajar window and caused the curtains to flutter in a billowing cloud of lace. Stars twinkled in the night sky, but even this beauty could not grant Minako her rest. Every time she closed her eyes she could see the events of the day unfolding behind her tightly shut eyelids. She could see Usagi falling to the ground, she could hear Mars’s voice accusing her almost and she could picture Zoisite, readying himself to throw his life away for his Master. The latter made her wince as again Minako wondered where the white haired king was now. What was he doing? Was he even still alive?

The girl-idol sighed. The hospital had been reluctant to allow her to leave, but she had insisted. She felt stronger and did not wish to be in that place of death for longer than she had to be. The hotel in central Tokyo was better, only marginally better.

Artemis had left, saying he wanted to take a look around. Minako knew the true meaning to his words. He wanted to find Luna.

“Minako-chan?” she frowned when Satchou again entered the room. He had been bothering her all evening.

“What is it now, Satchou?” she demanded, slightly icily as he took a step back, almost shocked at her demeanour.

“The hotel reception buzzed my room. Apparently you have a guest.”

“A guest?” Minako enquired, “Who?”

Satchou shrugged, “They didn’t say. He’s probably an over eccentric fan of yours. Shall I have security deal with it?”

“He?” Minako repeated; she had been expecting Satchou to tell her that Mars was here or even perhaps Jupiter or Mercury. “No” she decided carefully, her curiosity getting the better of her, “I’ll see him, in here of course.”

“In here?” Satchou echoed doubtfully, but he did not argue and disappeared from the room. Once he was gone, Minako questioned her decision. She did not see fans in her room, especially not male ones, but tonight she needed something to take her mind off of the events that had unfolded over the last twenty-four hours.

Picking up the phone, she dialled room service and ordered some coffee, which came just before Satchou returned.

He led the young man into the room and Minako nodded for him to be seated upon the small armchair opposite the bed that she sat upon. Minako gestured for Satchou to leave and he did, before she looked up at her visitor.

He was dressed in a pair of light blue jeans and a white shirt, a brown leather jacket slung over his shoulders. He sat neatly, his hands folded in his lap, almost as though he was unsure of what to do with them. His eyes were a very dark brown, almost black; a messy fringe just brushing them and his gaze seemed to bore into Minako’s own. His hair was a soft brown, falling just passed his ears.

“Coffee?” Minako offered when he did not speak. Ignoring this she reached out to pour a cup and handing it to him.

“The sugar is there” she indicated a small china bowl as she helped herself to her own cup, raising it to her lips as she said, “The least you could do is tell me your name. I do not usually agree to meet fans one to one like this.”

“Then I should be honoured” he smirked, mirroring her actions with the cup, “Venus.”

Minako choked, gagging on a mouthful of coffee. Coughing, she set the cup back down and for the first time really saw the man sitting opposite her.

“Zoisite?” the relief was too obvious in her voice and she hated herself for it.

He looked so different, Minako mused. So… cute… she blushed and tried to hide behind her cup once more.

“A glamour spell” Zoisite said coolly.

“I know that!” Minako sniped, “What do you want?”

It was now Zoisite’s turn to appear uneasy and Minako could only suspect it had something to do with his odd appearance, as the second king was usually so self assured.

“I came to see if… you were all right” he managed to get out.

Genuinely puzzled Minako asked, “Why?”

Zoisite shrugged, a manner that did not come naturally to him, “I do not know.”

“Does Beryl know you are here?”

He laughed bitterly, “She is delighted that the Master is a prisoner of the Dark Kingdom. She will not check up on me until she needs me again to manipulate the Master.”

Again Minako felt that pang; the agony that she had experienced when faced with his death still fresh in her mind.

“This too? This too? Is this also the burden that we carry from our past lives?”

“If anything I should be checking up on you” she whispered, “Beryl could have forced you to commit suicide.”

Zoisite shrugged, as though he did not care, “That she could have, but Beryl knows better. She needs me more than she will ever let on.”

“She needs you?” Minako echoed, “Did you know this at the time?”

“No” Zoisite allowed.

“I was glad when Nephrite died” Minako admitted, her blush again creeping across her cheeks, “Is that so terrible?”

Zoisite took a few minutes to reply, his eyes taking on a somewhat saddened expression as he, too, relived that moment when his fellow king had fell to the ground. “Why were you glad of this?”

“Do you think I wanted to fall in love with you?”

“Y-you love me?”

“Yes. Though why I’ll never know.”

“Do you still love me?” she murmured and Zoisite drew back, stumbling to his feet, his brown eyes widening in some horror as an understanding passed between them.

“I-I don’t… I can’t…”

He was speaking the truth. They couldn’t love. Minako knew that such a union was doomed to fail. How could she look Usagi in the eyes knowing what she herself longed for? But Minako envied Usagi for Usagi would have a life once this was all over. Usagi had a man to love her and was not afraid to be true to her heart, no matter what her friends said and no matter what the consequences of her actions. Minako had never had that and her life was running short. She would never have a chance for love, no matter how many songs she sung or enemies she defeated; there would still be this part inside of her that could never be fulfilled. And she was so lonely. She was tired of being alone.

Not knowing why she was doing it and not even caring of the consequences of her actions, Minako approached the stunned king and tentatively placed a kiss to his lips. Zoisite stood stock still, shock holding him immobile until Minako felt his arms around her, as he returned her kiss.

When they parted to draw breath, Minako realised that she had unshed tears glistening in her eyes.

“I love you” she breathed as Zoisite drew her against his chest, the glamour dispersing in a glimpse of magic, “I’ve always loved you” and this terrified her as her aching mind conjured images of that night so long ago when her crescent beam attack struck the white haired king down. “Can you ever forgive me?”

Zoisite hesitated before replying, yet his voice still wavered, “This is wrong…”

“I know… but I need you. I cannot explain it, but I need you. So will you stay with me?”

Silence answered her and Minako pulled free of his embrace, as bitterness entered her voice, “You will leave me again? Are you so afraid of our past lives?”

Zoisite scoffed at this, “I do not fear for myself, but for the Master.”

“Forget the Master! Why won’t you love me?”

Zoisite turned away, his glamour falling back into place as his hand rested upon the door handle, “I should go.”

“If you do, I’ll never forgive you.”

The tone of her voice and its almost desperate plea gave him cause to stop. Zoisite turned to stare back at her. “I can’t…” his voice was mournful, almost, as he was torn between loyalty to Endymion and his feelings for the Senshi of Venus.

It terrified Minako when she realised that if he left now then she would die long before her body succumbed to its fate. Her spirit would drown and without her spirit there was no hope for this planet.

“Our mission is to stop the past from repeating itself. The Prince and Princess are the ones who destroyed the Earth, not us” Minako said softly, “I think… I know this can work. If only for a little while. Life is short and who knows what will happen to either of us in the future. We can just live for now. When the time comes that we must stand once more beside our respective leaders then we shall do so, but why throw away a chance at happiness, be it short term?”

“As long as the past exists, everything will be repeated,” Zoisite took a step nearer to her, “That is how it is meant to be.”

“That is the past of the Prince and Princess. I am more than Sailor Venus. You made me see that without even knowing it! I am sure there is more to you than being one of Endymion’s guardians. You are human, too, no matter what you say.”

Zoisite smiled, ever so slightly, “You have earned the title of leader many times over. Will you risk throwing it all away?”

“I’m willing to take a chance if you are.”

“Then I concur, Minako-chan.”

She laughed, for the first time in an age. Zoisite frowned, “What is so funny?”

“You. Me. This situation” Minako giggled and then stared incredulously at Zoisite’s Earth attire “And who did you take fashion advice from this time?” she asked, referring to the brown jacket.

“I saw the Master wearing this once.”

Minako rolled her eyes, “That figures. First thing tomorrow I’m taking you shopping for some fashionable clothes.”

“What is wrong with my normal appearance?”

“If you are going to be my boyfriend then you need to look the part. Aino Minako is a huge star after all.”

“Boyfriend?” Zoisite echoed.

Minako nodded as he pulled her into another embrace.

Boyfriend… her boyfriend… For the first time in her short life, Minako felt truly happy.

 

contince on to Chapter 3......