22 December 2011 @ 09:40 am
Title: This Glorious Sadness
Verse:  Their Silent Reverie
Genre(s): Angst/Dark, friendship, action/adventure
Chapter Length: 4500 w (approx; both parts)
Full Length (to date): 28.5k w (approx)
Summary:
The Shitennou live, reborn to new lives but haunted by demons of the past.  Their task is simple: they must cleanse the Earth of the Moon Princess's taint.
Warnings: dark themes are touched upon, including (perceived) mental disorder, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, death and murder.
Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon and make no profit from this work.
A/N:   This will make no sense at all unless you've read This Sweet Madness, at the very least.
Status: Ongoing

Master Post
Chapter One - Part 1, Part 2 - Keanu
Chapter Two - Part 1, Part 2 - Nicholas



MAKOTO
October 2009.  Tokyo, Japan


Nothing had been right since that terrible night.  In a single moment, Makoto felt like their world had been tossed right back into the turmoil of their youth.  How long had it been since they’d seen a true enemy?  How long since one of their own had last fallen?

Not long enough.   

And yet, here she was, sitting in her best friend’s living room...watching television.  

It occurred to her that they hadn’t taken much of anything too seriously when they were kids.  Sure, those final few battles were met with appropriate stoicism, but up until it got to that point it was always light banter and day-to-day drama in between the little scuffles with the enemy.  Makoto couldn’t help but wonder if those battles might not have been so hard if they’d just put a little more effort into locating and destroying their enemies when they first saw them, rather than always waiting for the villains to force their hands.

That was the past, she reminded herself, you can’t change the past.  

She just wished there were more she could do than couch surf.  A sigh from the stairwell seemed to echo that sentiment.  Makoto looked up as Ami dropped onto the couch next to her.  “How is he?”

“Stable,” said the doctor, pinching the bridge of her nose between thumb and index finger.  “Sleeping again.”

Nodding, Makoto muted the TV and turned to look at her friend.  Dark circles rimmed Ami’s eyes, and her hair hung limp around her face.  Ami hadn’t been to work in days, though that was as much a part of her “sick leave” as the fact that she’d been guesting here since the attack.  Frowning, Makoto reached for her friend’s hand.  “Ami-chan.  Why don’t you go take a bath?  I’ve got dinner tonight, and you could use a break, ne?”

“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” Ami muttered, staring at the ceiling.  Then she got up and wandered toward the bathroom.  The question plaguing Makoto’s mind nearly sprung to her lips, but she bit down on it.  No.  Ami had enough to worry about without Makoto adding that to the mix.  Shaking her head, she rose in kind, and went for the kitchen.  She’d brought groceries in with her that afternoon, and had already set a pot of rice to cooking.  

It took a moment to get the ingredients out again and sorted.  Makoto knew this kitchen by heart, and her body moved around it of its own accord, taking a cutting board from its proper cabinet and finding a knife.  Soon there was no sound in the house but her steady chopping of vegetables.

Aotea.  The name had come whispered to her in the night, driving her from sleep as surely as the frantic beeping of her communicator.  It’d been driven again from memory when she heard Usagi crying, and the several days of fear and tension that followed.  But when no further attack had come, the dreams began again stronger than before, and sticking to her when she woke.

Were they dreams?  She peeled the seeds from a bell pepper and considered that.  No, she didn’t believe they were; not exactly.  If Rei were here...but she wasn’t.  Rei and Minako had gone to the States to try and track down the boy Minako believed to be Kunzite’s reincarnation.  It wasn’t much of a lead—no lead at all, really—but after scouring Japan for Zoicite and Jadeite had turned up nothing it was all they had to go on.  

And Mamoru...

Makoto glanced at the empty stairwell, listening for a moment to the quiet of the house.  Small Lady, accompanied by Artemis, had been sent off to her grand parent’s. Luna might have gone with Small Lady as well, but she hadn’t been feeling well lately and thought that Usagi might need her more.  She was right, of course.  Usagi refused to leave Mamoru’s side for all but the most necessary of reasons.  Probably not even that if Ami hadn’t threatened her with an adult diaper.  

Mamoru had woken two days after the attack, though only for a short time.  He’d been left weak as a newborn babe, and just managed to get down a good cup of hearty broth before returning to sleep.  Ami had hooked him to the Mercury Computer to monitor his vitals.  Somehow, despite all logic and reason, the ancient device did as good a job as modern hospital equipment, if not better.

For one thing, it only ever beeped if there was a problem.  So far there hadn’t been; other than what they could observe for themselves, Mamoru registered as being perfectly healthy.  Despite that, the man was bedridden, too weak to speak or move much.  He knew who they were, or sometimes seemed to.  Often, in the odd moments he was awake, Makoto wondered if he really saw them.  His gaze was unfocused, muddy, and not at all like the sharp-witted man she’d come to love as a brother.  

Setting the knife aside, Makoto dusted her hands off on a rag, and found a mixing bowl for the tempura batter.  

One might think she wouldn’t want to be in a kitchen after spending ten hours at the restaurant, yet this was the one thing she was sure of anymore—cooking.  It was so simple, so familiar.  In a world where they’d been betrayed by someone no one could quite believe had attacked them, where old enemies were being found in innocent children, and where her own head was attacking her with blasphemous visions of the past, Makoto could still be certain she made the best tempura on earth.  Jupiter, too.

“Is that octopus I smell?”

Luna hopped onto the end of the counter, keeping clear of the cutting board and it’s raw vegetables.  She knew very well how Makoto felt about cat hair near food.  

“Here,” said Makoto, as she cut a section of tentacle away and deposited it on the tile in front of the cat.  A loud, steady purr began as Luna nibbled at the meat.  Returning to her work, Makoto stared down at the batter as she mixed it in slow swirls.  “Luna...”

“Yes?”

“You don’t think Helios would really do this, do you?”  The question even surprised Makoto, but once it’d left her lips she couldn’t feel sorry for having asked it.  No matter that the cat sighed and left off on her snack.

“I don’t know what to think,” Luna said after a moment.  Her ears laid back, and she shook her head.  “I certainly wouldn’t have expected it.  I only wish Usagi would tell us why.”

They hadn’t gotten much out of Usagi, other than a name and something about the shitennou.  It hadn’t made any sense at all.  So far the senshi had concluded that Helios had come to the house in the middle of the night, prompted by the shitennou, and somehow caused Endymion to collapse.  

Once again Rei’s divinations had proven suddenly useless.  None of them was so frustrated with this failure as Rei.  Though the priestess hadn’t said as much, her stony silence when she’d returned from the shrine had said as loudly as if she’d screamed it that she blamed herself for everything.  They were all beginning to realize just how much they had relied on that power

Ami had tried using the Mercury Computer to analyze the room as well.  The computer had detected faint traces of Helios’ power, recognizing the imprint from their dealings with him many years before, but nothing further.  No hint of how he’d come, or gone, or what exactly had been done.  

“If she even knows,” said Makoto.

“I think she does,” Luna replied, softly.  Glancing up, the cat offered her a semblance of a shrug—as close as she could get, anyway.  “It’s just a feeling, but I cannot shake it.  She knows, she just doesn’t want to.”

Makoto wished that didn’t make sense.  As much as Usagi had a penchant for unreasonable amounts of trust, she also had a penchant to deny when that trust had been broken.  Besides, Makoto couldn’t believe she’d be in any better state had it been her husband.  Not that she had a husband...

The memory of a slow, kind grin across a handsome face intruded upon her thoughts.  With a fierce shake of her head, she cleared it again from her mind.  No, she told herself firmly, as an uncomfortable feeling rolled in her stomach.  No.

“Are you all right?”

Luna was staring at her, now, concern written in the cat’s posture.  It was strange how used she’d gotten to reading cat body language, wasn’t it?  Makoto smiled faintly, and shook her head again with less zest this time.  “I’m fine,” she lied.   She needed a pan.

Going to the cabinet for one, Makoto said, “How are you feeling?”

“Better, a bit.  Hungry.”  The cat laughed at herself, and if it sounded a little hollow Makoto couldn’t blame her.  

“Good,” Makoto pronounced with a grin.  When Luna finished the first tendril, Makoto gave her another with a wink.  Their conversation turned to much more mundane matters as Makoto finished the tempura, and they were both grateful for the respite.

Ami reappeared long enough to eat, before Makoto sent her right on to bed.  For once, Ami didn’t try to protest.  That done, Makoto made up a tray for Usagi and headed upstairs.  Balancing the tray on one hand, Makoto slid their bedroom door open.  

The princess was curled on her knees beside the bed, with her head pillowed in her arms beside Mamoru.  Usagi’s long, white-blonde hair was loose, streaming behind her and draped over her feet in a plush pile.   

“Usa-chan?”

Usagi stirred, then turned to blink owlishly at her friend.  “Is that domburi?”

“Good nose as always,” Mako smiled.  Dropping to her knees, she settled the tray beside her friend.  After gathering her hair away from the food, Usagi fully turned to face Makoto and settled, cross legged, before the tray.  A ghost of a smile flickered across her lips.

“Thank you.”  Raising the rice-and-tempura dish near to her mouth, Usagi stuffed a few hearty bites into her mouth.  At least her appetite was normal, Makoto thought.  She let her eyes roam up to where Mamoru slept.  As she watched, his brow furrowed and gave a soft moan.

Immediately, Usagi’s eyes riveted back to her husband.  He stilled again, and, after a long moment, Usagi returned to her meal with slumped shoulders.

They stayed that way until Usagi finished and set the bowl back on the tray.  Makoto picked it up and rose.  She was at the door before Usagi said, “I don’t understand.”

Looking back, Makoto found Usagi staring at her, her big blue eyes bright in the lamp light.  “I don’t understand, Mako-chan,” she repeated.  “He said Endymion did something.  That he wasn’t a prince anymore.”

For a long while the pair stared at one another as Makoto tried to wrap her mind around that statement.  Then, slowly, Usagi faced the bed again, and rested her cheek back upon folded arms.  “Thank you for being here, Mako-chan.”

“Of course.”  Makoto slid the door shut behind her.  

The hallway was hazy, lit only by the phosphorescent tendrils of vine that had been carefully sculpted into swirling patterns on the high ceiling.  Outside the arched windows was a freezing, inky darkness you’d lose your own nose in.  Such were the nights of the moon kingdom, at least this time of year.  How could something so familiar seem so...foreboding.

That was the question of the day, though, wasn’t it?  Jupiter’s gaze drew itself back to the double doors she’d only just shut.  In her mind’s eye she could see the chamber behind it, empty as the night.  There was no question of where the Princess had gone, and what she was duty bound to do now.  Arms wrapped about herself, Jupiter turned and went to find Venus.  

The tray clattered against the floor.  Makoto caught herself with a hand against the wall, her other pressed to her brow.

“Mako-chan?”  The bedroom door wobbled as it was jerked open.  Then Usagi’s hands were on her back and arm.  Luna came bounding up the stairs, ears pert, and stopped at the landing.

“What’s going on?”

“I’m okay,” Makoto said, and shook her head clear.  She stood upright, and offered a slight smile, “I just...was a little dizzy...”  

Her voice faded out as she stared into Usagi’s eyes, and it dawned on her that Usagi knew she was lying.  “I’ll clean this up,” Usagi said.  “Do you need help downstairs?”

“No, I’m fine.”  Makoto feigned a laugh, and would have bent to pick up the mess had Usagi not already sunk to her knees to do so.  For a moment, Makoto watched, then murmured a thanks and went down to the couch.  

“You’re not fooling anyone, you know,” Luna announced downstairs.  Sinking onto the couch, Makoto suppressed a sigh, instead favoring the cat with her best ‘I-know-but-I-don’t-want-talk-about-it-go-away-please’ look.  It either didn’t convey, or Luna didn’t care, for the cat jumped onto the couch beside her and stared.   

“Do I have to call Minako—”
“I’ve been having these—”

They each broke off, then Luna shook her head.  “Go on.”

Makoto’s cheeks darkened at Luna’s threat—Call Minako? Like she’s my mother?—but she repeated as steadily as she could, “I’ve been having these...dreams.”

Fidgeting with the hem of her sweater, Makoto settled back into the corner of the couch, and drew her feet up under her.  “They started the night Mamoru was attacked.  I’ve never had them while waking, though.  Not like that.”  She scrubbed a hand over her face.  “Luna, it was like I was on the moon!  For a moment I standing in a hall of the palace.  I could feel the air, knew my old thoughts.  I was...I was Jupiter again.  Completely.”

The cat’s eyes searched her own, then one of Luna’s ears flicked backward as she looked away.  “What was going on?”

A noise on the stair gave Makoto pause.  She looked up to find Usagi standing at the middle landing, watching her.  The woman descended after a moment, and set the tray she carried on the coffee table.  Luna moved over so that Usagi could take the other end of the couch.

Makoto hesitated another moment, but the others continued to watch her expectantly.  Suppressing a surge of annoyance, she pursed her lips.  “Not much was going on, exactly.  She—I was standing outside the Princess’s door.  The Princess snuck off to see Endymion again.  I wasn’t very happy about it.”

That got a slight smile from Usagi.  “You never were,” she said, and a tight, hard knot formed in Makoto’s stomach.  “At least not after we knew.”

“You remember?”

Usagi’s eyes widened at Makoto’s tone.  She shook her head, then winced.  “Some.  Small things.  I’ve...had a lot of time to think.”

“Why didn’t you mention this?”

“There’s been a lot going on!”  Usagi’s frowned, her eyes a little bright in the glow of the still-muted television.  She looked at the hands in her lap.  “I wasn’t sure it was relevant at first.  It’s just little, obvious things.”

“That we don’t remember,” Makoto said.

Usagi pursed her lips, then nodded.  “The others wouldn’t, it was just me and you at first.  You before me.”

“Me.”

Another nod.  As she began to relate the story, what part Usagi knew, something seemed to click in the back of Makoto’s mind.  Her friend’s voice seemed to drift away and in a sudden rush what had been alluding her came rushing back a frenzy of sights and sounds and laughter, of hidden smiles, desire, and treason.

It had begun with a dare.  

Attendance of parties and balls were quite mandatory for the princess and her guardians, no matter how boring they might be.  Not that they were allowed to express boredom.  This was especially the case for important holidays, where the princess and her retinue were expected to hop from one Noble's ball to another’s, often only able to stop long enough to make a toast and be on their way to the next highest ranking house.  This Saturnalia was no different, and the girls and their entourage shared plenty a joke at the stuffy nobles’ expenses over warm cider between houses.  

Finally, they were able to settle down at the home of the Duchess Tranquility.  While Princess Serenity was being waltzed about by various hopeful lords and ladies, Jupiter found herself, Mars, and several of the other sport-inclined young nobles in a corner discussing the best game trails.  It was a common enough occurrence during Saturnalia, when the prime hunting season was just set to begin.  

“The best hunting, of course, is found on Earth of all places.  There are deer there the size of a commoner’s shrine,” Lord Iolaus was saying in a low voice, leaned into their crowd so as not to be overheard by other parties.  His dark eyes twinkled mischievously in the candlelit ballroom, fastening upon Mars’, though the Senshi didn’t seem to notice or care.

“And how would you know?”  Mars arched a dark brow, gesturing with the wine he’d brought her.  For all that the pair got on one another’s nerves, they showed a fair amount of civility in public.  Jupiter thought that this was cute, and hid her smile with her own glass. Venus would be jealous, if only because she prided herself on how many men were swooning after her, and Iolaus only seemed to have eyes for his “enemy.”  “You’ve never even been there.”

Iolaus’ twin, Iphicles, smirked.  “Have we not?”  

A hush fell across the group as the twins shared a conspirital glance.  Save for very limited, very exclusive trade contracts, contact with Earth had been forbidden for nearly two centuries.  Lord Heracles, the twins’ father, was one of those esteemed few, but common knowledge was that the Lord himself had never ventured to the planet’s surface.  Jupiter glanced at Mars, catching her friend’s eye a moment, and frowned.

In a hushed voice, Lady Terentia asked, “You’ve been there, truly?”  She leaned forward and added in a terrified whisper, “With the barbarians?”

Iphicles nodded, and Iolaus answered, “Many times.  In fact, we just came back from our last expedition this past rotation.  There’s some new silks we’ve been discussing imp—”

He broke off at an elbow from his brother, then gave a sheepish grin.  “Well, there are important business matters a-foot, let us say.  But unrefined as the Terrans might be, I promise you their hunting is as we say.  Not that they’ll allow just anyone onto their best grounds.”

Mars’ eyes narrowed as she regarded Iolaus.  Finally, she scoffed and rolled her eyes.  “You don’t really expect us to believe such tall tales, do you?”

“My Lady, I’m wounded,” Iolas crooned.  He pressed a hand to his chest.  “Would I ever lie to you, sweet princess?”

“I’m not your sweet anything,” Mars reminded him, though a faint lift to the corners of her mouth belied her snappish tone.  “I know of the grounds of which you speak, and I cannot imagine their King, barbarian that he is, allowing foreign hunters onto his private lands.  Even noble ones.”

Especially noble ones, Jupiter thought.  The Earth’s distrust of foreigners was legendary.  Merchants brought back as many stories of slight and rudeness from the Terrans as they did any trade good.  No foreign dignitaries had been allowed onto the planet in over a hundred years, and every envoy the Queen had tried to send had been turned away.  Forcefully, at one point not too long ago.

The twins’ smiles did not flag.  Iphicles glanced surreptitiously about before he said, “What makes you think he knows?”

Silence once more drifted upon their corner.  No one dared breathe or move.  Until Mars snorted.  “You wouldn’t have dared.”

“Wouldn’t we?”  Iolaus lifted a brow.  “I suppose you would.”

Mars’ chin lifted slightly.  “It doesn’t matter.  We aren’t likely to get any such chance, the way things stand.”  

But the twins’ smiles, devilish and daring, said that they would.

Three days later, a small group of nobles snuck from the palace in the dead of the night.  Their target was a small pavilion in the ruins along the southern coast of the sea of serenity.  It wasn’t a terribly far journey, especially on horseback, but all six of those involved were chilled to the bone by the time that they arrived.

“This has been here almost as long as the palace.  Some old records we found say it used to serve as a transport between worlds.  This one, specifically, went to Earth,” explained Iolaus as he dismounted and tied his sorrel’s reigns to a low tree branch.  The others were doing much the same with their mounts, but Jupiter hesitated before she dismounted.  What they were doing felt all the more dangerous now that it was a reality and not mere boasting.  She caught Mars’ eye as they went up the snow-dusted platform together.  If her sister in arms had any doubts, they were well hidden.  “We found it while exploring the woods on Earth one day.  Surprised the hell out of us when it still worked.”  

A shiver of familiar power ran over her body when she reached the top of the pavilion.  There were two others with them, other than the twins:  Terentia and her beau, Cicero.  The other senshi, should they be needed, were back in their beds asleep, completely unaware of this journey.  

Looking up, Jupiter caught Iphicles giving her a knowing look, as though he sensed her hesitation.  She squared her shoulders.  “No hunter can guarantee a stag in a night’s journey.  You’ll have to give us a few days.”

Iphicles smirked.  “We’ll see.  Once you get back.”

He didn’t dare challenge her so openly, but Jupiter heard the taunt all the same.  “Fine.  How do we activate it?”

The woods were dense, dark, and freezing.  Winter set in earlier on Earth than it did on the Moon, and neither girl was prepared for the knee-deep snow.  Neither did they like the sound of wolves in the distance.   

“Wow,” said Jupiter, her breath forming a thick cloud before her.  The moon was huge in the night sky, silver and fat, and looking nothing like the home she knew.  Mars stared as well, and rubbed her arms to keep them warm.  They both fidgeted as another howl rose from the empty countryside.  “Where are we?”  

“Like I would know,” Mars murmured.  The moonlight was bright enough for them to see the pavilion they stood on, so like its twin upon the moon but for the fact that it was crumbling into time.   Close by was the distinct sound of water lapping at a shore, and wind through the trees.  Jupiter could smell no smoke, nor did she hear any sounds of civilization.  With a little more confidence, the fire senshi said, “I think we’re in a forest.”

Another howl sent a shiver down Jupiter’s back.  The two glanced at one another, then Mars nodded.  “We’ve made it to the surface,” she said, slowly, “lets find some proof of that and be done with this.”

“We’re supposed to bring back a buck,” Jupiter reminded her.  

“Damn their buck,” said Mars, with a roll of her eyes.  “It was a stupid bet.  We shouldn’t have even come this far, and you know it.  Besides, if they’re as big as the boys say we’d be hard pressed to carry one back.”

With a snap of her fingers a small flame appeared to hover over Mars’ palm.  The girl turn toward the forest, trotting smartly down the pavilion steps and into the snow.  After a long moment, Jupiter followed.

They returned to the moon two hours later carrying a stone from some ruins they’d found in the Terran forest.  The stone was covered in ancient Lunarian script, something that all parties were familiar with.  Though the boys teased them for not bringing back a buck, Jupiter could not help but notice how pale all four of them had gone.  None of them had really expected the senshi to go so far as they had.

The next time she returned to the pavilion it was daylight, and she was alone.  Equipped in the oldest armour she had, in hopes of passing for a simple huntswoman, Jupiter vowed she’d return with a buck or not at all.

“I followed you,” Usagi admitted, hands still clutched before her.  Her gaze hadn’t risen from the couch, but Makoto could sense that Usagi was still trying to gauge her reaction.  “I was curious where you kept sneaking off to, and we ran into him before you could turn me back.”

“Him?”

“Aotea.  Nephrite.”  Makoto’s blood seemed to turn to ice.  In her mind’s eye she saw those deep brown eyes, that slow smile, the way that the sunlight struck his sun kissed skin.  Clutching her arms to her chest, Makoto closed her eyes and fought against the sudden need to throw up.  

Heedless, Usagi continued, “You told him I was—”

“Ceylonese.  My cousin.” She swallowed thickly.  “It was my fault.”

“What?”  Now Usagi’s head snapped up, her blue eyes wide as plates.  “No, Mako-chan—”

“Mako-chan,” Luna said simultaneously, “You can’t be serious.”

“It was all my fault,”  Makoto whispered, but her voice was growing stronger with every word of it.  The truth was like lightning rippling across her skin, delving into her mind and bursting down the door to her memories that had stood far too long.  “Everything that happened.  If I had just let it alone, walked away from that bet when Mars told me to...”

She got to her feet, shaking.  Usagi began to stand as well, but Makoto held up a hand to stall her.  “No.  I just...I just need some air.”

Without bothering to see Usagi’s reaction, Makoto went for the door.  She paused only long enough to put her on shoes and grab a jacket.  It was freezing outside, and the horizon offered thunderheads.  There was a strange comfort in that, Makoto thought as she wrapped her jacket about herself and went to lean against the far side of the fence, out of sight of anyone within the house.  She didn’t dare go far, not with an enemy afoot, but how she wanted to.

What would it be like, she wondered, to run away and never look back?  

She’d been outside only about five minutes when a stiff wind sprung up, nearly knocking her flat.  Makoto pushed her hair out of her face and looked up.  Lightning cracked, nearly overhead now.  That was fast—too fast.  Electricity literally crackled down her arms now, like static cling visible to the naked eye.   

Makoto took a step back toward the gate, then turned and ran, all thought of the past pushed from her mind.  The door was barely shut before sheets of rain slammed against the house.




 
 
 
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