Hello again! Thanks for coming back to read Chapter 5! I would have had this one out by last week, but I wanted to get the end part just right. (Though half of you are probably going to want to kill me after you read it...) Anyway, all Sailor Moon characters are property of Naoko Takeuchi and all others that own them. Almai and all other characters that don't belong to them, belong to me. Don't use them without my permission. If you'd like to post any of my stories on a homepage, feel free! (Just let me know, so I can go check it out. ^_^) I think that's about it... Thanks for listening!
Darien slowly paced the length of his chamber. Kunzite and Zoisite had been gone for almost two weeks now and he was beginning to really miss them. He had never realized how much he had come to depend on his four Guardians. Having Nephrite and Jadeite around was great, but to his mind it wasn't enough. He slowly sat down in the window seat and stared out at the gardens. His mother was down there, pruning one of the rose bushes. She saw him and waved. He smiled at her and waved back.
Darien's thoughts were confused ones. As usual, they were far older than his thirteen years. Probably came of the fact that his only friends were at least 14 years older than himself. He drew his knees up to his chest and leaned his head back against the wall. Whenever any of his Guardians left, he felt less than whole, as if he couldn't completely be himself. He had long ago figured out that he showed a different face to each of his Guardians, as if each aspect of his personality had grown to fit one of them.
Jadeite, he was the all-around father figure. Darien smiled at the thought of his closest friend. He could never stay angry with the blond-haired professor, and he'd like to think that Jadeite couldn't stay angry at him. Whenever he was punished, Jadeite would come visit with a smile on his face, a treat in his pocket, and a story to warm his heart. He had such a gentle soul that everyone he met instantly liked him. Of all of his Guardians, Darien felt most at home with him - and as a result, acted most like the child he was.
Nephrite was the older brother that he'd never had. Always willing to share war stories or bawdy jokes, Nephrite treated him like he was already one of the guys. It made Darien laugh to hear about all of Nephrite's narrow scrapes and disasters in the fields of love and war. When Darien had a question about girls, or some other such thing, Nephrite was the one he invariably turned to for advice. With him, Darien acted more like the young man that he was slowly becoming.
Whenever Darien though of Zoisite, he felt a tenderness seeping into his heart. The copper-haired Guardian was an unusual breed, that was for sure. Of all the Guardians, Zoisite was the one who was most different - cut from a far stranger piece of cloth. He was the one who'd taught Darien how to care for all things delicate and beautiful - the one who shared his love of flowers. In many ways, Zoisite was like a sister - and that fact always made the Prince blush. He'd heard stories, stories that Zoisite really was more like a girl - that he liked men. Darien felt his cheeks start to flame. He had asked Nephrite if it was possible for a man to like another man the way that most liked women. Nephrite had smiled and said that yes, it was indeed possible. Not common, but possible. Since that day, Darien had been a little shy around Zoisite, not quite sure how to act around him.
Then there was Kunzite. Of all his guardians, the Lord-General took his responsibility most seriously. It was from Kunzite that Darien learned about the ways of royalty - how to mediate and when to fight. He taught Darien about the little quirks of life in a Palace, how to avoid the hidden traps in a courtier's smiling speech. He taught him of the world and the people in it. And he taught Darien how to protect himself - physically and politically. Of the four, Kunzite was the most his teacher, his mentor. Darien would forever look up to him, and forever feel like a child and a student in his presence.
His roundabout train of thoughts eventually brought Darien back to the original problem - how much he missed his two Guardians. He got up and again started to pace. His fight with Zoisite still weighed heavily on his conscience. Zoisite gave everything he had to the Prince, and Darien had turned around and shunned him for needing a break. His hand clenched into a fist as he felt a sudden urge to hit himself. He forced the feeling down and slammed the wall instead. He didn't even notice the slight dent he'd left in the wall.
It had been two weeks since Kunzite and Zoisite had gone to the shrine. Two weeks that Darien had been without them - two weeks with no word. It was driving him crazy, that he wasn't able to talk to them. Wasn't able to ask forgiveness. Jadeite had suggested that he send them a letter, but he had refused - that was just too cold a way to do this. He wanted to apologize in person.
A small smile worked its way across his face - why couldn't he apologize in person? What was stopping him from teleporting to the shrine and talking to Zoisite? The distance, his mind reminded him. Darien sat down on the window seat feeling very deflated. He put his head in his hands, he couldn't teleport over that large a distance, and he knew it. Damn! he swore to himself. He got up and started pacing again, then abruptly, he stopped. He threw open his closet door and started rummaging through his clothes. In the back of the closet, he found what he was looking for.
Smiling, he stripped off his armor, and slowly dressed in his newfound outfit. He tugged the jacket into place and smiled at himself in the mirror. A young man in a tux and top hat smiled back at him, then frowned. Someone might still recognize his face. Concentrating on his store of energy, Darien formed a small white mask and placed it over his eyes. Finally, he draped his black and red cape over his shoulders and tossed his most debonair smile at the mirror. I don't look anything like the Prince, now!
He walked over to the window and looked to see if his mother was still in the garden. Luck was with him - she was nowhere to be seen. He smiled and opened the window. He leaned out, slowly swinging one foot over the windowsill. He swung the other foot out and leaned his weight on the sill, slowly calming his mind so he could levitate himself. He smiled, thinking that he'd have to thank Zoisite for teaching him how to do that when he got to the shrine.
Pushing away from the window, Darien slowly floated down to the garden, cape swirling out above him. He landed with catlike grace. After spending a moment to regain his balance, Darien strolled purposefully from the garden towards the city.
Darien was forced to jump back as yet another carriage driver nearly ran him over. He hated to admit it, but he was beginning to get scared. He hadn't been in this part of the city often, and never unaccompanied. He knew there were mages that you could buy services from - it was just a matter of finding them. He hoped that he could find one that would teleport him to the shrine. Unfortunately, he hadn't the slightest clue of where to look. He was beginning to get fairly depressed. Finally, he leaned himself up against a wall and sank into a crouch, putting his head in his hands, Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all...
"Hey, fella, you look pretty down in the dumps. What's eatin' ya?" asked a friendly sounding voice from above Darien's head. He looked up and stared. In front of him stood one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen in his life! She had ankle-length hair of the brightest gold he had ever seen - half of it twisted into a crown of braids on top of her head. Her eyes were the purest blue. He quickly stood up, noting how short she was on the way. Her head only topped his by about 3 inches. She smiled at him again, and Darien felt his knees start to wobble. He couldn't seem to get his vocal chords to work.
The girl took pity on him and held out her hand. She smiled as he slowly shook it, "My name is Usagi. It's a pleasure to meet you." She paused a moment and took in his attire, "Though you sure do dress funny. You going to a costume party, or something?"
Darien felt his cheeks growing redder with each passing moment. He managed to straighten himself up and proudly said, "I am Tuxedo Kamen - a warrior for justice!" To his ultimate consternation, Usagi began to laugh - she laughed so hard that she nearly fell down. Darien hadn't thought his face could get any redder - he was wrong.
When Usagi finally managed to calm herself down, she patted Darien's shoulder, "Sorry to get my laughs at your expense, but you look like you're not even old enough to have your own pet - much less protect the world."
Darien spluttered for a minute before he managed to say, "I'll have you know that I'm thirteen years old!" He winced as his voice cracked up an octave on the last word. Usagi smiled again, "Well, Tuxedo Kamen, in that case, I suppose I shouldn't laugh. I've known those who started being world protectors at only twelve." Her eyes twinkled with some private joke that she wouldn't share. Darien felt extremely tongue-tied.
Usagi raised an eyebrow, "So, if I might repeat my earlier question... What's a young man like you doing in this city alone?"
Darien's pride was beginning to sting. He assumed a superior expression and frowned slightly, "And who are you to talk? You don't look that much older than me!"
Usagi's eyes flashed, and Darien knew he'd crossed some unspoken boundary. His eyes widened as hers shone in anger. She backed him up against the wall, her face inches from his. Her voice was quiet, dangerous, mocking, "I'll have you know, ~Prince Darien~, that I am 25 years old and more than capable of taking care of myself. Now, should I call the local guards over, or are you going to tell me what you're doing in the middle of this part of the city without an escort?"
Darien's jaw dropped a little further with every word. When she was done, he whispered, "How did you know who I am?"
Usagi smiled, but it wasn't a humorous smile. Darien had a fleeting image of a crocodile's smile - just before it fed on a victim. He shivered. Usagi's smiled widened and she backed away a pace, "Your aura. Anyone who has felt it before will recognize it. If you truly want to disguise yourself, you need to have a matrix that will muddy up your aura. Something that makes it hard for people to read it - if you can cause the matrix to meddle with your physical aura, as well, it's even better. Now, we're going to try this one last time... What - are - you - doing - here?"
Darien slumped against the wall and mumbled, "Trying to find someone to teleport me to the Shrine so I can apologize to Zoisite for being mean to him before he left."
He didn't notice as Usagi's face immediately softened. She put a finger under his chin and gently lifted his face up to meet her eyes. She slowly pulled his mask off and looked into his eyes, then deposited a tender kiss on his cheek. Darien thought he was going to go through the proverbial roof. He almost missed the woman's next words.
"Zoisite is an old friend of mine, Darien. If your intentions are as honorable and mature as you claim, then I had no right to make fun of you as I did. Will you forgive me?" she queried.
He nodded, stunned. Then he quickly asked, "Can you teleport that far?"
She smiled and raised a hand in the air, magical energy already swirling around it. Two breaths later, they were standing on the road that led to the shrine, its humble doors only 200 yards away. Usagi grinned and asked, "Was that what you had in mind?"
Darien was so shocked and overjoyed that he grabbed her into a hug, even before he had thought about it. Upon sober reflection, he couldn't believe he'd had the gall to do such a thing. She merely chuckled a bit and patted his back, "There, there. It's OK. Why don't we go find the Priestess and pay our respects, 'kay?"
He nodded vigorously, feeling fairly lightheaded, "All right!"
Usagi smiled and led him towards the shrine.
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea... Zoisite thought for the tenth time. He had managed to avoid running into his parents for the two weeks they'd been here, but he was beginning to feel a little frazzled. Kunzite had reluctantly agreed to run interference for him, all Zoisite had to do was stay out of sight. But the constant running and hiding was starting to wear on him.
Like today. He had been having a quiet cup of tea with his Grandmother, when they had heard his father out in the hall. Since Zoisite didn't feel like trying to jump out the third story window (he didn't trust his mental state that far), he had no choice but to hide - or confront his father. He chose Almai's closet. Unfortunately, his father had been here for nearly a half an hour and showed no signs of leaving. Zoisite sank to the floor and tucked his knees to his chest. How do I get myself into these situations?
For a moment, he considered just walking out there, right past his father, and out the door. Then he shuddered, no, it was too much to ask. He couldn’t do that. Memories of his youth raced through his mind. His father - aloof and silent. Always fear-inspiring, always disapproving. The only time his father ever spoke to him was to tell him how worthless he was - he wasn't strong enough to plow out in the fields and he couldn't seem to bulk up no matter what he did. He stayed the same beautiful, willow-slim person that he'd always been.
He remembered once, his father had decided to drag him into a practice arena and teach him how to fence - probably looking for an excuse to beat him to a bloody pulp. He'd thrown a sword at his son, and before Zoisite even had a chance to put pads on, his father had attacked, fury in his eyes. Zoisite had had time only to register that the sword might cut his face, NO!, when his father was upon him. He brought up the sword to try to block his father's strike - and succeeded, stunning both himself and his father. His father had backed off, studying Zoisite's posture - it was perfect. He had figured out how to defend without being taught. That was the first time that Zoisite had ever seen something like approval shine in his father's eyes. Those months had been the best he'd ever had. His father taught him how to fence, how to fight, and slowly he began to warm to his son. Then Zoisite had gone to the shrine for a year, and when he came back, his father had gone back to being the aloof stranger he'd always been.
He didn't like to admit it, but that had hurt. More than he'd let on. He put on a brave face and went back to being the quiet black sheep of the family. But one good thing had come of his trip to the Shrine. The family's disapproval had shifted to another child - his seven year old sister, Krissy. Krissy who had raven black hair and mystical powers. Rumors abounded that she wasn't legitimate, that she wasn't his father's. And the fact that she scared the servants witless with her powers didn't help matters. A sorely hurt Zoisite had found comfort in the fact that he was no longer alone. He'd sought his little sister out and they'd been fast friends ever since.
Zoisite felt a dull ache begin in his back and stretched, trying to ease it. How long have I been in this damned closet, anyway? Checking his internal time sense, Zoisite let his head thunk back against the wall. Two hours?? When the hell is he gonna leave?? He decided to risk being seen and slowly pushed the door open a crack. Two seconds later, he shoved the door opened and ran across the room, "USAKO!!!"
Usagi turned when she heard the exuberant yell and held her arms open, laughing. Zoisite grabbed her in a hug and swung her around, lifting both of them off the floor. "Usako, Usako, Usako! What are you doing here??" He put her down just to grab her up into another hug.
Usagi, for her part, merely clung to Zoisite and waited for him to calm down. When he finally stop swinging her around, she planted a sound kiss on his lips. He made a face at her and stuck out his tongue. She promptly returned the favor and they both burst into giggles. This prompted another happy hug. Usagi grinned, "Zoisite, it's been far too long!" She pulled back away from him and smirked, "Now, I'd like to know exactly what you were doing in your Grandmother's closet..."
Zoisite blushed a little and scuffed his toe on the floor, "Hiding from my father..."
Usagi hid a smile in the palm of her hand - teasing Zoisite about his father was not a smart idea. She'd learned that several years ago when Zoisite had tried to plant an ice crystal in her back for doing it. She rubbed his shoulder a little, "I see." Then she smiled, "Well, my reason for being here is much more interesting. Wanna meet him?" She took a step to the side, allowing Zoisite a full view of the rest of the room. She watched with interest as his face went two shades paler and his eyebrows shot up into his hairline.
Zoisite's jaw dropped open, "Darien????? What in Gaia's name are you doing here??"
Darien opened his mouth to say something, then his eyes filled with tears and he threw himself into Zoisite's arms, sobbing incoherently. Zoisite immediately wrapped his arms around the boy and started rocking him back and forth, murmuring soothing nonsenses. He allowed himself a brief mental touch...
When Zoisite had pulled himself out of Darien's mind, he pulled the boy even closer to him, feeling an immense feeling of relief. He had only caught bits of Darien's surface thoughts, but they'd been enough to tell him the problem. The most commonly repeated thought in Darien's mind had been, "I'm sorry," followed closely by an immense fear that Zoisite wouldn't forgive him.
When Darien had finally calmed down, he pulled away from Zoisite and started wiping his eyes on his sleeves, embarrassed at his splurge of tears. He was a Prince, damn it! Why couldn't he act like one?? He looked up at Zoisite feeling a need to give in to more tears, but he squashed it down. He had hoped that Zoisite would read his mind and save him the trouble of actually having to say anything, but it didn't look like that was the case. Zoisite stood a few feet from him, arms casually crossed over his chest and an inquisitive look on his face.
Darien felt the heat rising in his cheeks. He took a huge gulp of air and managed to say, "I really feel awful about what I said before you left. I didn't even stop to consider your feelings and I'm really sorry that I hurt them. I was just so upset that you would miss my birthday, I didn't even think that you might really need a vacation!" He forced himself to meet Zoisite's steady gaze and was unable to stop the tear that trickled down his left cheek. He whispered, "Can you ever forgive me?"
He waited with baited breath as Zoisite tilted his head to one side, thinking the matter over. Darien began to get uneasy as Zoisite still didn't say anything. He started to shift his weight from foot to foot. He'd thought that his being forgiven was already decided - after all, why had Zoisite comforted him if he wasn't planning on forgiving him? He started to say something, but Zoisite held up a hand, then motioned for him to walk with him to the window. Usagi and Almai were frowning, not sure what Zoisite was up to.
When they got to the window, Zoisite sat down in the window seat and looked up at Darien, his voice a little rough with some unidentified emotion. He blinked his eyes once or twice, "I'm not going to lie to you Darien. You're old enough now that that shouldn't be necessary." He paused and Darien nodded. "The truth is that you really did hurt me by saying what you did. I would never desert you intentionally, and you should know that by now." Darien made as if to interrupt, but Zoisite held up a hand to forestall him. "I know that you didn't mean it, and I know that you're sorry. But sorry doesn't always help. You are my Prince and I love you dearly. But not everyone that you could potentially offend will have those feelings. You can't count on the fact that people will forgive you because you 'didn't really mean it'. Do you understand?"
Darien nodded miserably, he hadn't really thought about it that way. He began to feel a lump rising in his throat - maybe Zoisite really wasn't going to forgive him after all. "I'll understand if you don't want to be around me anymore. I guess it's really hard to forgive someone for doing such an awful-" He was cut off by the light cuff to his head that Zoisite laughingly delivered.
"Of course, I forgive you, Darien! What the heck made you think I wouldn't?" When Darien moved to give him a hug, Zoisite pushed him lightly away and continued, "But if you ever do this to me again, I reserve the right to beat you into a bloody pulp, understand?" Darien quickly nodded his head and threw his arms around his Guardian.
Zoisite smiled, then jerked his head up, his body going still with tension. He jumped up from the window seat, jerking his head around wildly as if looking for something. His eyes met Usagi's from across the room and she rushed over, "What's the matter?" He clutched at her wrists and managed to gasp out, "My Father!" His eyes betrayed the fear that was clutching his insides, "He knows I'm here! I don't know how, but he does!" Usagi pulled him into his arms, mentally asked Almai to take care of the Prince and teleported Zoisite away from the Shrine into the surrounding forest.
Darien stared after them, then started when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Almai's smiling face met his worried one. There was a slight strain around her eyes, but before Darien could comment on it, Almai said, "Come my Prince. Allow me to find thee some clothing. Thine attire is hardly appropriate for this holy place." She gently guided him out of the room.
Usagi watched as her friend slowly shook himself to pieces. His mind was paralyzed with fear and she didn't have the foggiest notion of what to do about it. She settled for holding him lightly against her and soothingly stroking his hair. He continued to shake. She was beginning to seriously worry when she felt the presence of another in the small grove. She couldn't move to defend them with Zoisite on her shoulder, so she cursed quietly. Suddenly Zoisite lifted his white face from her shoulder and whispered, "Kunzite?" The Lord-General's imposing form emerged from the trees and he knelt down to take Zoisite into his arms. This time it was Usagi's turn to shoot her eyebrows into her hairline.
Once Kunzite had had some time to comfort the younger Guardian, Usagi cleared her throat, desperately trying to remember when exactly, she'd met the Lord-General. He turned towards her, his eyes went wide, he put a fist to his heart and bowed his head - remaining in his kneeling position. Usagi frowned, Damn. I guess it was a bit to soon ago. She waved her hands at him, "Please. Don't do that. I really don't appreciate it."
He looked up at her, a very poleaxed expression on his face. Usagi's thoughts were whirling, Please don't say it, please don't say it, please don't, please don't, don't, don't, don't, DON'T! Kunzite gave her a wry smile and said, "Princess Serena. A pleasure as always. Might I inquire as to the purpose of your presence here?"
Serena promptly smacked him on the head and said angrily, "You said it!!!" She turned away from them and fumed for a moment.
Meanwhile, Zoisite had unsteadily climbed to his feet and was staring at her. "Princess...?"
Serena turned back to them and ran to Zoisite, hugging him to her, silently begging all the gods that he wouldn't react the way she feared he might. His arms slowly went around her. He suddenly felt awkward returning the hug, Princess... She could feel the uncertainty in his embrace and looked up into his eyes. Distance. That awful Distance. She turned away from him and crossed her arms over her chest. She would not cry. She would not. She'd do the next best thing... get Angry.
When Kunzite saw the look in Serena's eyes as she turned to face him, he took an involuntary step backwards. She followed him until she'd backed him up against a tree. She hissed, "How dare you! What right do you have to do such a thing to me?? Everything was fine before you showed up! I ought to kill you for this!" Kunzite's eyes went wide. He was unsure of exactly what he'd done to upset the Princess.
Serena felt a hand on her arm and a quiet voice in her left ear, "Usako... Princess. Please, he didn't mean it. I'm sure. Please don't hurt him." She turned to face him and looked up into his eyes. They were filled with love - but not for her. She turned back to Kunzite, then Zoisite. She shook his hand off and stalked a few paces away. She tossed a scathing comment over her shoulder, "I suppose I should offer my ~royal~ congratulations..."
Zoisite tried to answer her, "Princess, I'm sorry if-"
She laughed, "You're sorry? You don't even know why I'm angry!"
Zoisite frowned, "Well if you'd tell me... Princess?"
She turned back to him, all anger drained from her face, "That's just it. Princess. Not 5 minutes ago, I was Usagi - your Usa-chan. Little Usako. Your beloved little 'sister'. Now, I'm "Princess". An hour ago, you were swinging me around like a sack of potatoes and sticking your tongue out at me. Now, you won't even hug me right! Because of one word - Princess." She shook her head, bitterly, "In the space of 5 seconds, I lost my best friend! And you wonder why I'm angry."
Zoisite saw the pain in her eyes and his heart answered, "Usako, I'm so sorry..." He gathered her into his arms and kissed her forehead.
She swallowed her tears a second time, "I should've expected it. It's like, I can't have a real friend, like it isn't allowed or something. Even Venus - who's practically my sister - the Distance is in her eyes, too. Never for more than a second, but it's there all the same. But I never saw it in your eyes, and I needed that. Do you understand?"
Zoisite pulled back and looked at her face, mentally comparing his precious Usagi with the cold portraits of the Moon Princess. He smiled, "You still look like Usagi to me." He shook his head, "I guess you always will..." Usagi buried her face in his chest and squeezed him tight, "Thank you, Zoisite."
Kunzite cleared his throat, "I hate to interrupt, but what was going on here, anyway?"
Zoisite immediately went pale, "I'd forgotten..." he swallowed convulsively, "M-my father. He knows I'm here. I don't know how he knows, but he does. I felt him looking for me."
Kunzite frowned, "How could you know if he's looking for you? I'm assuming that you don't mean psychically."
Zoisite sat down on the ground and pulled his knees to his chest, "It's an old spell I created. When I was younger, my father liked to get his frustrations out by screaming at me. I created a spell that would warn me if he was looking for me so I could get away from him." He dropped his head to his knees and his audience almost didn't catch the next sentence, "I didn't remember it was there until today, and I most certainly didn't expect to need it again."
Usagi dropped down next to Zoisite and put her arms around his shoulders. He subconsciously leaned into the embrace. She smiled and dropped a kiss on his forehead, then turned to Kunzite, "Why don't you head back to the shrine and see how Darien's doing."
It wasn't a question, it was a statement. Kunzite’s eyes narrowed at the dismissal, for that was what it was. The Princess didn't want him here. He opened his mouth to protest, but was interrupted by a silky, sweet voice in his mind. He identified it, at once, as the Princess - not Usagi, not Serena, but The Princess (with a capital 'P'). She said, ~I understand your feelings, Kunzite. Under any other circumstances, I would agree that you'd be the best person to help him. Unfortunately this is the one case in which you are not. I am. Actually, his sister would be, but she isn't here.~ When Kunzite still radiated reluctance she added, ~I can make this an order...~
Before Kunzite could say something he would regret, another voice slipped into his mind, ~Beloved, when she gets this way, it's best to humor her.~ He looked down at Zoisite's smiling face and nodded. Seeing that Kunzite understood, Zoisite added, ~I'll meet you back at our room in a few hours.~ Kunzite nodded once again and headed back to the shrine.
Zoisite frowned at Usagi as he stood up and stretched, "You were very mean to him. You may have been right, but you didn't have to be right that rudely. I thought I taught you better than that."
Usagi smiled and stuck her tongue out, "I always was a rotten student."
Not about to get drawn into a tongue war, Zoisite started walking down the path, forcing Usagi to run to catch up. He smiled, not many adults could make him feel tall - Usagi was the only one that came easily to mind. She was forced to take three steps for every two of his. But with the ease of a long friendship, they were soon walking in step with each other, and Usagi breathed a bit easier.
Suddenly breaking the silence, Usagi asked, "So how is the Lord-General?"
Zoisite opened his mouth to answer, innocently enough, that he was fine. Then he caught the twinkle in Usagi's eyes and his jaw dropped, "Usako, that is private!" He shuddered, "Gaia, but you have a sick mind!"
Usagi's face assumed a pouting expression, "Aw, you're no fun."
Zoisite cuffed her lightly on the ear, "That's enough of that, Usako, and I mean it! I do not discuss intimate details of my sex life. Not even with my best friend."
Usagi rubbed her head lightly and smiled, "OK, so if you don't want to talk about that, I'll guess I'll have to find another interesting topic of conversation, like... your Father!"
Usagi could feel his mood darken, immediately. This time it was her turn to cuff him, "Enough, already! You're 27 years old, Zoisite! I understand that you have a reason to be scared, but grow up! Your father can't legally do anything to you. And if he does anything illegal, you're one of the Prince's Guardians and can arrest him!"
Zoisite stopped walking and stared at her, a mixture of anger and frustration lined in his gaze, "Well, what would you do??"
Usagi smiled and balled up her fists, "I'd beat him up!" She made a few mock punching movements in Zoisite's direction.
He began walking away from her, mumbling something about her being delirious. She hurried to catch up and put a hand on his arm, "Here me out! To my way of thinking, your Father only got away with treating you so badly because he didn't respect you. Between his training, and that that you've gotten from Kunzite and Nephrite, you are a much better swordsman than he is. One way to get someone to respect you is to beat them in a fight - or did you forget Krissy and the shrine bandits?"
Zoisite stopped walking again and thoughtfully looked down at his boots, "You could be right, but that's just not my style," he looked up at her, "You know that."
Usagi heaved a sigh of defeat and said, "I know. But one can always hope." She looked up at him and gave him a quick hug, "All right. This is too depressing. How about we leave the problems for another day and just enjoy each other's company and share gossip, OK?"
Zoisite smiled as he returned the hug, "You're on!" As they resumed they're walk, Zoisite said, "So, any new boyfriends, lately?"
Usagi laughed, "Let me get this straight - we're not allowed to talk about your sex life, but mine is open season?"
Zoisite smirked, "Au contraire, my friend, unless something unusual happened, you have no sex life to talk about! A love life perhaps, but you haven't had a sex life since..." he trailed off and stopped walking.
Usagi snorted in self-derision, "Been so long you can't remember?"
Zoisite waved her quiet, "No, that's not it. I just put two and two together and got five. I just never put it together, that's all."
Serena's heart skipped a beat when she realized what it was he had put together. As Usagi, she had told Zoisite everything about her life, including the man she had dated since she was sixteen - a 21 year old teacher on the Moon. A man who, when she was 18, she had asked to become her lover. And he did. They had grown so close that they began to talk of marriage. All of this was kept secret from her mother, but she had told Zoisite. When her lover had left the Moon on her 20th birthday, Serena had been heartbroken. If her mother had had another child, she would have given up the crown and followed him - even though it had been she who had forced him to go. She who had told him to take the position. She who hadn't wanted him to dead-end his career for her. And Zoisite knew. She backed a pace away from him.
Zoisite turned an irony-filled look her way, and gave her a sad smile, "So that's why Jadeite is so upset about this betrothal..."