Bittersweet 2

@}~~}~~~~

Mamoru took a deep, cleansing breath.  "Let me get this       
straight.  The five of you decided to go exploring in the Negaverse--never       
minding the fact that there might be all sorts of dangerous traps       
there--and, while you were there, you managed to free Jadeite and run 
across Kunzite, who is not dead as we had thought.  Furthermore, you       
brought Jadeite back with you because he says he's on our side now, and       
he's going to be staying with Ami's."

Embarrassed, Usagi shrugged.  "Well, it seemed to make sense at the       
time--Ami was really keen on bringing him back with us."

Mamoru ran distracted hands through his unruly hair.  "But--he's Jadeite!        
He's the enemy!"

"Well, he was--at least once upon a time," Minako offered hesitantly.  "I 
think he really is on our side, Mamoru.  I think Ami's right to trust 
him."

"Where is he?" Mamoru asked.

"Ami's trying to fast-talk her mother into letting him stay," Rei 
muttered, still unhappy with the situation.  "It'll never work." That 
prospect seemed to cheer her up, slightly.

~*~

"Hi, Mom, how was your day?" Ami asked as Dr. Mizuno walked into the 
living room, dropping her purse on the coffee table with a tired sigh.  

Her mother dropped into a convenient chair.  "Too long, dear.  I'm 
exhausted--Is that dinner I smell?"

Ami nibbled her lower lip nervously.  "Yes... Um, I know you were sort of 
busy when I called you this afternoon..."

"Yes, about that call... What was it that you were wanting me to agree 
to?" Dr. Mizuno asked, slightly puzzled.  "You wanted me to let a foreign 
exchange student to live with us?"

"It's a little more complicated than that, actually," Ami said hurriedly, 
feeling guilty about lying to her mother so blatantly.  "You see, the 
family he was supposed to stay with backed out unexpectedly, and he can't 
stay in the country unless there's a family to take him in, so basically, 
he arrived in Tokyo and there's no place for him to stay.  He can't cash 
in his plane ticket to go home, at least not for a few weeks yet, and he 
doesn't have the money to stay in a hotel, and, well... I felt sorry for 
him.  He's in the kitchen, cooking dinner."

Dr. Mizuno stared at her in disbelief.  "He's already here?" Ami nodded 
silently.  "And he's making our dinner?" Her daughter nodded again.  "Ami, 
what have you done?"

"I couldn't just leave him--he had nothing--the airport lost his luggage, 
and he had nowhere to go, very little money..." Ami looked at her mother 
with wide, pleading eyes.  "It'll just be for a few days until he can get 
the paperwork straightened out, and he won't be any trouble at all, I 
promise."

Too tired to argue with Ami, and trusting her daughter to be her normal, 
sensible self, Dr. Mizuno nodded.  "All right, he can stay until this all 
works out... What's his name?"

Trying to conceal her surprise at her mother's acquiescence, Ami resisted 
the urge to confess everything.  "His name is Jadeite, and he seems really 
nice... I think you'll like him..."

~*~

To Ami's thinking, dinner had an awkward feeling to it.  Jadeite, no 
longer dressed in his uniform, seemed to fit Dr. Mizuno's conception of a 
student, with his newly donned modern clothes and (to complete the image) 
a pair of wire-rimmed glasses.  Secretly, and guiltily, Ami was glad that 
her mother was so very tired, knowing that she'd never have been able to 
pull off a deception on such a massive scale if she hadn't worked a double 
shift at the hospital.  By the time her mother rested enough to be able to 
think coherently, Jadeite would probably be settled in a place of his 
own... Suddenly weary from the day's many surprises, Ami did her best to 
stifle a jaw-popping yawn as her mother did the same.  Jadeite, thoroughly 
enjoying his role as a forlorn exchange student, politely pretended that 
he hadn't noticed.  "You must think us terribly dull, Jadeite, to see us 
this tired so early in the evening," Dr. Mizuno said with self-deprecating 
humor.  "I'm afraid we're going to give you a poor idea of Tokyo, and on 
your first day here, too."

"Oh, no, not at all, Dr. Mizuno," Jadeite reassured her.  "To tell the 
truth, I'm rather tired from all the traveling, too... If it isn't too 
much trouble, I wouldn't mind turning in a little early."

"That's right, it must be a long trip from--where did you say you were 
from?"

"Latvia," Jadeite said with a perfectly serious face. 

Dr. Mizuno smiled and nodded wisely.  "That sounds like a very long trip 
indeed.  Ami, have you made up the spare room yet?"

"I've already done that," Ami told her.  "Since I don't have school 
tomorrow, I'm going to show Jadeite around--maybe introduce him to my 
friends and all that."

"That will be lovely, dear," Dr. Mizuno smiled.

~*~

"This will be your room until we can get you established on your own," Ami 
announced, ushering Jadeite into a small, but comfortable, bedroom.
       
He looked around approvingly.  "Thank you, Sailor Mercury--and for more 
than just the room.  Not many would be this willing to give me a second 
chance," he said warmly.  "You and your mother are special people."

Ami blushed pink.  "It's nothing that any of the other Scouts wouldn't 
have done in my place," she scoffed.  Jadeite smiled, exhibiting polite 
disbelief.  "You can't call me Sailor Mercury, though," she warned him.  
"Mom's only this lenient because she's half-asleep--Eventually she'll rest 
up enough to start asking questions.  My name is Ami."

"Ami," Jadeite said slowly.  "A lovely name for a lovely girl..."

She went from pink to red.  "Well, good night, Jadeite," she said 
hurriedly.  "I'll see you in the morning." She exited quickly, leaving 
Jadeite to his solitude.

The ex-commander of the Negaverse flopped down on the bed with a sigh, 
staring up at the ceiling and glad to be able to relax finally after a 
long, eventful day.  So many changes, so swiftly... It was dizzying, to 
say the least.  After what had seemed like an eternity of nothingness, 
being released from Beryl's Eternal Sleep was almost sensory overload.

Jadeite snorted softly.  Eternal Sleep, his hind foot.  Beryl was as inept 
a sorceress as she was a commander.  Sleep implied a cessation of all 
activities, including those of the mind.  Being frozen in that crystal had 
hardly slowed his mind down--in fact, his mind, with nothing else to rely 
upon, had been his refuge from the overwhelming void. 

Yes, he had certainly had more than enough time to think during the past 
months, enough time to rail against Beryl's idiotic refusal to listen to 
what he might have told her about the Sailor Scouts' identities, enough 
time to move past the initial bitterness and consider exactly why he 
served such an erratic leader...

Enough time to remember the Silver Millennium, and the role he had played 
in its downfall...

"Damn you, Beryl," Jadeite murmured softly.  "I hope your ring of Hell is 
a hot one." 

~*~

//'Lady Beryl! Please, wait!' he shouted, cursing as the fleet-footed 
noblewoman fled through the dark garden.  'Damn it!  I order you to halt, 
in the name of Prince Endymion!'

That caught her attention, as she whirled around to face him.  Her 
startling yellow eyes gleamed fiercely in the light of the Moon above.  
Jadeite shivered slightly, seeing the spark of madness lurking within 
those narrow orbs.  'Yes, Commander Jadeite?' she said, her voice icy.  

For a moment, his glib tongue failed to provide appropriate words.  'Lady 
Beryl, what you just saw--'

Her chin lifted fractionally.  'Ah, yes, the Crown Prince of the Earth 
directly defying his father's command in order to consort with the Moon 
Princess.  What of it?'

Jadeite squirmed beneath that chilly gaze.  'For His Highness' sake, 
please, don't--'

Beryl smiled, revealing sharp teeth.  'Run to his father and repeat the 
whole sordid little story?' she asked mockingly.  'Rest assured, dear 
Jadeite, that I have no intention of humiliating myself in that fashion.  
After all, Prince Endymion is mine.'

Jadeite blinked.  'Lady Beryl-' he began cautiously, wishing to disabuse 
her of that notion. 

'Silence.  Endymion will be mine... and you will help me make him so,' 
Beryl announced.

Too late he noticed the corona of energy that she had gathered like a 
cloak around her body...//

~*~

Yes, Beryl had given him more than enough time to recall the net of 
treachery that had brought about the fall of the Silver Millennium.   
Inept as she might have been when it came to casting spells, she couldn't 
have tortured him more.  Reliving his memories was punishment enough... 
and, as the only way he had of avoiding the madness that so much sensory 
deprivation invoked, it was constant. 

Jadeite rolled over onto his stomach, banishing the demons of guilt as 
best as he could.  Like an angel sent from Heaven, Sailor Mercury had 
freed him from the torment and offered him a chance at redemption.  
Jadeite smiled crookedly at the comparison.  Yes, she was just like an 
angel, to trust him so quickly, even after their history together.  She 
obviously didn't remember the Silver Millennium... all she knew of him was 
the battles from Beryl's attempt to conquer Earth.  Jadeite smiled in 
wonder.  She had even offered her home and her name to him, willingly.  
Even during the Silver Millennium, before the betrayal, he had not known 
any of the Scouts' names... Only the closest friends and family members of 
the Moon Princess's guardians were gifted with such knowledge.  

/This time I won't fail,/ Jadeite promised himself.  /Prince Endymion, 
this time I will protect you and the princess... I swear it./

~*~

It had been a very trying day, Kunzite decided, welcoming the utter 
stillness that finally descended upon his abode after the Sailor       
Scouts--accompanied by Jadeite, he noted--had left.  He could have 
tolerated their invasion with indifference had they just had the decency       
to leave him alone... That insolent Sailor Jupiter, though, had possessed 
the gall to invade his sanctum sanctorum... The thought of that insult       
paled next to the memory of her scathing words, however.  To accuse him,       
Kunzite, Beryl's most powerful warrior, of being a spineless lackey!        
*That* rankled.  
"Annoying  Sailor brats," he muttered, disconsolately casting himself into a chair.        
"Jadeite is more than welcome to them."

That was annoying, too.  He had given a great deal of thought to releasing 
Jadeite in the past months, at the points when the loneliness had been 
almost unbearable, but he had never been able to discern the secret of the 
spell that held his comrade captive.  It took a feckless Sailor Scout to 
waltz in and "accidentally" break the spell.  That Jadeite had then 
blithely turned his back on all his ties to the Negaverse--Kunzite 
included--was also perversely exasperating.  It was perverse because, 
despite all his assertions to the contrary, Kunzite craved companionship 
of some sort.  

/It would serve them all right if I *did* decide to take over where Beryl 
left off,/ Kunzite thought petulantly. /I already know which mistakes to 
avoid.../ He shook his head, knowing that he'd never do it.  All his will 
for conquest had died with Zoisite.

*He* should have died with Zoisite.

Instead, he continued to exist in a barren limbo of the soul, unable to       
live or die.  Preserved by the instinct to live, he moved sluggishly 
through the motions of the life he had once known, able to do little more       
than mourn the ashes of dead love and live in the memories of meaningless       
victories and defeats.  While Beryl had lived, he had possessed more       
spirit, animated by his profound hatred of his queen-and Prince Endymion,       
the cause of Zoisite's downfall.  And yet--

The truth he had avoided facing for months finally battered at him       
mercilessly.  He had failed Zoisite in more than teaching him patience.        
He had not avenged himself upon Beryl--had vied with Prince Endymion for       
her favor, fawning upon her and allowing himself rampant jealousy when       
Prince Endymion had risen in her esteem.  So he hadn't aided Beryl in her       
confrontation with Sailor Moon.  His aid would have meant little enough;       
Jupiter had guessed the truth: it had taken weeks to recover fully from       
his final encounter with Sailor Moon, pain-filled weeks of delirium and       
fever. 

Utterly alone in his despair, Kunzite bowed his head and wept.     

~*~

"You shouldn't take it so hard, Rei," Makoto advised her friend, 
grinning as Rei pouted before the sacred flames of the temple.  "You've 
tried three times, and the flames aren't telling us anything Ami 
hasn't--Jadeite is on our side now.  Give it up."

Rei grimaced.  "It just isn't right!  The bad guys aren't supposed to be 
able to convert."

Minako, the third and final person to be sitting in on the fire 
reading, giggled.  "No one ever promised us that life was going to be 
fair, Rei.  If it makes you feel better, why not do a fire reading on 
Kunzite?  If you want an enemy, he's a sure bet."

"Well, we should find out what he's up to," Rei said slowly, cheering up 
at the prospect of being able to do a fire reading that would give the 
expected results.  Her mind made up, she settled herself in front of the 
leaping flames again.  

Still feeling guilty for the harsh things she had said to Kunzite, Makoto 
also prepared herself to listen closely to what the flames would be 
telling Rei.  She didn't know why she felt so bad about the little 
altercation.  Kunzite had never caused her anything but grief, and he was 
far too arrogant... Makoto shook herself from her reverie, realizing that 
Rei, instead of cheerfully expounding on all the dire threats Kunzite 
presented, was very quiet.

"What is it, Rei?" Minako asked.  "What's Kunzite planning?  Should we be 
getting ready for an all-out fight?"

Rei made a disgusted face.  "We don't need to worry about Kunzite," she 
grunted.  "He could care less about the Sailor Scouts." She bit her lower 
lip and then exploded.  "What was wrong with the way it used to be?!" she 
complained.  "What was wrong with the Sailor Scouts being the good guys 
and the Negagoons being the bad guys?"

"What did you see, Rei?" Makoto pressed, subdued.

"Kunzite was--" Rei stopped, unwilling to tell them.

"Yes?" Minako asked eagerly.

"He was-" Rei sighed.  "You guys aren't going to believe this."

Makoto sighed, exasperated.  "Why don't you tell us, and we'll decide what 
we do and don't believe."

"Crying." Rei pressed her lips firmly together.

The two stared at her, not quite certain if she was serious.  "Crying?" 
Minako ventured.

"You see?  I told you that you wouldn't believe me!" Rei retorted.  "I got 
the feeling that he envies Jadeite for breaking free from the Negaverse, 
and wishes he could do the same..."

Makoto shook her head.  "You're right.  I don't believe you.  I still 
think that the five of us need to be ready for him." She stood and left 
the room.

"I believe you, Rei," Minako volunteered quietly.  

Rei frowned.  "Why did it have to get this complicated?" she muttered.

Minako shrugged.  "I don't know, but I have a feeling that it's going to 
get worse."

Rei turned worried eyes on her blonde friend.  "I know... I have the same 
feeling."

~*~

The two males of the species eyed each other cautiously, each suspicious 
of what the other might do if provoked and thus sizing the potential 
threat.  Although it was not the first time their paths had crossed, it 
was the first time for them to actually meet each other.  The Sailor 
Scouts looked on with intense curiosity as Ami made the introductions.  
"Mamoru, this is Jadeite... Jadeite, this is Mamoru." 

Jadeite was the first to break the tense silence that filled the small 
temple room.  "It is an honor to meet you, Tuxedo Mask." To everyone's 
surprise, he bowed deeply to Mamoru.  "You were a worthy opponent in the 
past, and I hope that in the future I will prove to be a worthy ally."

Mamoru's eyebrows shot up.  "You knew that I am Tuxedo Mask?"

Jadeite smiled slightly.  "I've been told at times that I'm too observant 
for my own good." He shrugged.  "Besides, why else would the girls be so 
worried about us meeting each other?"

The Scouts blushed slightly and Mamoru grinned in spite of himself.  "A 
worthy opponent, huh?" he commented.  Jadeite nodded.  "Well, so were 
you."

Jadeite smiled modestly.  "Why, thank you." His face dimmed a bit.  "It's 
a pity that I didn't realize sooner that it was all pointless, and that I 
wasn't as important to Beryl as I had thought myself..." He shook himself 
back into cheerfulness.  "That's all in the past, though."

Mamoru looked at him with disbelieving eyes.  "It's that easy to forswear 
an allegiance to the Negaverse?"

Jadeite pursed his lips.  "Hardly.  It took a small eternity for me to 
realize that the damn place wasn't worth my precious time.  That was just 
after the eternity it took for me to stop hating the Sailor Scouts for 
causing me to fall from Beryl's favor and before the period in which I 
decided that I'd been fighting for the wrong side.  I didn't have much to 
do inside that crystal but think--and if I hadn't thought, I would have 
gone mad." He smiled broadly.  "I'm probably at least half-mad anyway, but 
I think it adds to my charm--don't you agree?"

"Couldn't say," Mamoru replied laconically.  "I'm not that kind of guy."

Jadeite blinked, then chuckled.  Nodding, he said, "You and I are going to 
get along just fine..."

@}~~}~~~~


    Source: geocities.com/jadeite_no_miko/enjoy/fics

               ( geocities.com/jadeite_no_miko/enjoy)                   ( geocities.com/jadeite_no_miko)