Bittersweet07
Part Three: But *I* Wanted the Top Bunk!

@}~~}~~~~

/Damn, this is awkward,/ Mamoru thought uncomfortably as Makoto and 
Kunzite stared at each other.  /Three's a crowd.../ He cleared his throat. 
 With remarkable casualness, he stood and remarked, "I'm going to go make 
some coffee." Then he fled for the safety of the kitchen.

/I must look terrible!/ Makoto thought, embarrassed.  She ran her fingers 
through her tangled hair, hoping to bring some order to the mess.  /How 
come I'm never at my best around him?  Oh, well, I guess I'll have to make 
the best of the situation.../ As Kunzite finally disentangled himself and 
scrambled to his feet, she smiled at him shyly.  "Are you feeling better?" 
she asked.

"Much better, thank you... And you?" he replied gruffly.

Her eyes sparkled with the gratification she felt for knowing that he 
cared enough to ask.  "Oh, I feel fine now."

Staring at the girl's face, which shone with hope, Kunzite felt guilt 
welling up in his soul-a different sort of guilt than he was used to 
feeling.  /I have to set this straight,/ he thought, although unwilling to 
have to destroy the castles she was building in the air.  "Sailor Jupiter, 
you and I have to talk."

"It's Makoto," she told him.  "My name is Makoto."

Kunzite closed his eyes briefly, sighing softly.  "All right... Makoto.  
Sit down." He pointed at the couch.  She willingly jumped over the back of 
the couch, settling happily on the seat.  Less eagerly, Kunzite also sat, 
careful to keep a conspicuous distance between himself and the Scout.  
"Makoto, I would like to apologize to you for what happened the other 
day..." He took a deep breath.  "I was not myself, and I used you for my 
own selfish reasons.  I don't want you to think that there was something 
there that was not... For some reason, I don't want to hurt you in any 
way.  Believe me, I would give a great deal to completely erase that 
entire episode--" He watched in consternation as Makoto's glowing smile 
turned into barely restrained tears.  "Damn it, I can't even apologize 
without hurting you--I'm sorry."

She shook her head slightly.  "It's not your fault," Makoto whispered, her 
throat too tight to do more.  "I'm just a fool, that's all." Angrily, she 
rubbed her eyes, trying to rid herself of the persistent tears.  "I knew 
better--" Her voice cracked on a sob, and she looked away.

Kunzite reached out, almost shyly, and touched her shoulder.  "Makoto, I 
truly am sorry," he said, strangely gentle.  "I never would have chosen to 
hurt you like this, believe me.  It's just--" He stopped, feeling helpless 
as he listened to Makoto cry softly, and then surrendered to what he knew 
was the right thing to do.  Scooting down the couch, he tentatively put 
his arms around Makoto.  She stiffened, surprised by the gesture, but as 
Kunzite did nothing but simply hold her, she relaxed and allowed the tears 
to flow freely.  

Kunzite stared silently at the wall as Makoto cried into his shoulder, 
wishing there was some way of lessening her distress.   "I hardly know 
you, Makoto," he commented quietly, as much to comfort her as to collect 
his own thoughts.  "Until just recently, you and I were enemies, but all 
that's changed... It seems to me that you're a good girl, and someday 
somebody is going to be very lucky to have you fall in love with them--I 
just can't be that person for you, Makoto.  I--there was someone else for 
me, and I'm not ready for a relationship again.  I don't think I'll ever 
be ready for another relationship, and you need to know that so that you 
can get on with your life."

"Why do you keep showing up, anyway?" Makoto asked, her voice muffled by 
his shirt.

He sighed.  "I wish I knew.  I have no choice--I just know that I'm 
needed, and then I go." Makoto pulled away from him; he released her from 
his embrace.  "I can't offer you what you want from me, Makoto.  I'm not 
that kind of guy." He looked at her with pain-filled grey eyes.  "I can 
only offer to be--your friend."

Makoto brushed away the last tear.  "A Negacreep wants to be a Sailor 
Scout's friend?" she asked wryly, knowing somehow that Kunzite was being 
completely honest with her.

A ghost of a smile tugged at the corners of Kunzite's mouth.  "Jadeite 
assures me that it's a worthwhile pursuit.  Friends?"

"Friends," Makoto sighed. 

~*~

"Wow, this is so totally awesome," Usagi sighed happily, busily attacking 
her fourth slice of cake.  "Who'd have ever thought that a new pastry shop 
would ever have a grand opening party like this?"

Chibi Usa, almost as busy with her own cake, nodded vigourously.  "This is 
fun.  I like it here," she pronounced, happily surveying the buffet of 
free samples.  "I want some more."

"I agree," Usagi said, still somewhat amazed that she and Chibi Usa had 
spent the day together without once getting into a single argument.  Chibi 
Usa had been strangely aloof--but docile--since Sailor Moon's true 
identity had come to light.  Not about to question a miracle when it fell 
into her lap, Usagi was more than content to accept the change in their 
relationship.  "Hey, wow, check out the lady with the green hair."

Chibi Usa craned her head to see the tall, elegant woman with vividly 
green hair who was enthusiastically shoveling cake into her mouth.  "She's 
even worse than you are," Chibi Usa observed, but without any real rancor 
in her tone.  

Usagi decided to let the comment slide.  "She must really like cake," she 
shrugged.

The woman became aware of all the stares that she was getting and flushed 
darkly.  Looking offended, she stalked to the rear of the restaurant.  
Chibi Usa sniffed.  "She should know better than to stuff her face like a 
pig in public."

Usagi's attention switched gears, and she waved happily at Minako, who had 
just walked into the restaurant.  "Minako!  Over here!"

"Oh, hey, Usagi, Chibi Usa... Guess I should have known that I'd see you 
here," Minako said brightly.  "I've never known you to pass up sweets, 
especially when they're free..." All conversations in the room broke off, 
however, in the face of pealing, high-pitched cackling.  "What on earth?"

A droid materialized in the midst of the trays of confections, its 
appearance evoking images of nightmarish, sugar-laden pastries.  Quickly, 
Usagi pushed Chibi Usa down, forcing her to hide beneath a table as 
frightened cake-lovers screamed and dispersed.  

Again came the mocking laughter as the green-haired glutton reappeared, 
floating coquettishly in the middle of the room.  "Droid Marzipan, fill 
this place with dark energy!" she commanded.

The frosting-encrusted droid bowed.  "As you wish, Lady Emerald."

"Stop right there, Negaslut!" Usagi shouted.  "MOON CRYSTAL POWER!"

"VENUS STAR POWER!"

Emerald rolled her eyes, amazed that the two Scouts would have the 
temerity to transform before her very eyes.  Then her eyes narrowed.  
"*What* did you call me?" she demanded, outraged.

"You heard me, Negatrash!  I don't know who you are or what you want with 
this innocent bakery, but I'm here to stop you!" Sailor Moon told her 
proudly.  

"Oh, I'm frightened," she drawled.  "I am Emerald, Prince Diamond's top 
officer, and how dare you call me-that-that--" So angry was she that it 
was impossible to finish the sentence.  "Marzipan, destroy them!"

Venus and Moon looked at each other and sighed.  "VENUS LOVE CHAIN 
ENCIRCLE!" 

The overdone excuse for a cupcake hit the ground with a thump; Sailor Moon 
didn't even dignify the droid by using the moon sceptre.  "MOON TIARA 
MAGIC!"

Emerald gaped, astounded that her droid could be so easily destroyed.  
Then she tossed her hair back proudly.  "You may have defeated my droid, 
but--"

Sadly for her, she never got to finish that sentence, because Sailor Moon, 
heartily sick of being considered inept, took matters into her own hands.  
"MOON CRYSTAL ELIMINATION!!!!!"

Venus looked as Sailor Moon, impressed.  "Wow, Usagi, that was really 
cool," she congratulated her.

Sailor Moon smiled proudly.  "Maybe I'm not so bad after all," she said 
smugly.  

~*~

"Emerald is dead," Prince Diamond announced abruptly, breaking the chill 
silence of the Negamoon family's stronghold. 

"She too has failed you, Your Highness," said Wise Man, hovering in the 
shadows as always.  

"Indeed, she didn't even last the length of one battle," Diamond observed. 
 "However, I feel slightly indebted to the Sailor Scouts for ridding me of 
that harridan of a hyena!" He shrugged philosophically.  "At least she's 
out of my way now."

Sapphire's eyes narrowed.  "Did you really believe that Emerald would 
prevail against the Sailor Scouts?" he demanded.

Diamond smiled lazily and sipped his wine.  "Of course not, dear 
brother...  Emerald was nearly useless to our cause, and was too 
persistent in her attentions to me.  Volunteering for a mission to the 
twentieth century was the best thing she's ever done for me."

  "You deliberately sent her on a suicide mission?" Sapphire's eyes 
glittered with chilly anger.  

"There was always the off chance that she might actually succeed," Diamond 
observed, smiling faintly.  "In which case, I suppose I could have found 
some other way to dispose of her."

"Is there nothing that you value, Diamond?" Sapphire demanded harshly.  
"Are our lives mere pawns in your great game of revenge?  Have you lost 
your mind, allowing your generals to waste their lives on futile missions 
just because they annoy you?"

Diamond frowned.  "Those are strong words, little brother," he warned him.

"Should I be frightened, too?  Should I ask to go to the twentieth century 
so that the Sailor Scouts will conveniently rid you of another problematic 
minion?" Sapphire exploded.  

"That will be enough," Diamond interrupted him, no longer as languid as 
before.  "My agendas and my plans are my own, Sapphire, and it is not for 
you to know what I ultimately have in store for the Sailor Scouts.  As for 
your going to the twentieth century, perhaps some time spent on the front 
lines will humble your arrogance."

"Is that an order, Your Highness?" Sapphire asked.

"Yes, it is," Diamond said curtly.

Sapphire clenched his teeth and bowed.  

As he turned to walk away, Diamond called after him, "Sapphire!"

"Yes, Your Highness?"

"Try not to get yourself killed.  You're the only brother I've got--I'd 
hate to lose you."

That being as close to an apology as Sapphire was likely to receive, the 
younger brother turned back around.  "I'll see what I can do," he 
promised.

~*~

"Usagi did what on her own?" Rei asked incredulously.  

Minako nodded.  "She sure did--didn't even need any help from Tuxedo 
Mask!"

Usagi sighed heavily.  "What makes it so hard for you guys to believe that 
I can manage on my own?"

Makoto giggled.  "No offense, Usagi, but we've never seen it happen 
before." Usagi made a face at her.

"Usagi, Minako, are you sure that this woman said that she was somebody's 
top officer?" Ami asked, more interested in potential enemies.

Usagi frowned.  "I think she said that she was Prince Diamond's officer.  
Whoever that is."

"We can deal with him when the time comes," Rei said confidently, 
"especially if Usagi's finally getting her act together..." Usagi lobbed a 
pillow at her, which, surprisingly, bounced off Rei's head.  "Hey, stop 
it, Meatball head!"

"So, Ami, how's Jadeite doing?" Minako asked while Rei and Usagi involved 
themselves in a pillow war.

Ami smiled brightly, perhaps the only one unaware of how happy she looked 
whenever Jadeite's name was mentioned.  "Mom sent him home yesterday 
afternoon.  She said that all he really needs is to take it easy for a 
while, but other than that, he's fine, and a surprisingly ideal patient." 
She paused and ducked a random pillow. "Guys, be more careful!"

"I don't think they care too much about innocent bystanders right now," 
Makoto remarked, tossing a pillow at the fray.  She hesitated.  "Did you 
guys hear that Kunzite didn't go back to the Negaverse?"

Minako's eyebrows shot up.  "He didn't?"

"He moved in with Jadeite--a temporary arrangement, or so Jadeite told 
me," Ami told her.  "I don't know why, though."

Makoto grinned.  "I talked him into it--Let's face it, the Negaverse isn't 
the healthiest of atmospheres."

Two sets of wide blue eyes gazed at her in shock.  "*You* talked *Kunzite* 
into moving in with Jadeite?" Minako gasped.  "But--how?"

"I just suggested it," Makoto shrugged.  "As his friend--" 

"As his *friend*?" Minako gasped.

"Sure.  He and I agreed to be friends." Makoto smiled complacently.  
"Between me and Jadeite, we're going to get Kunzite used to living in the 
real world."

Minako shook her head, confused.  "But I thought you liked--"

Makoto's face went slightly brittle, but she smoothed it carefully.  
"Well, all that was just a misunderstanding," she said, too glibly.  
"Besides, he isn't that kind of guy, y'know... still misses Zoisite, and 
all that."

Before the conversation could turn truly serious, a pillow thwacked Makoto 
in the back of the head.  This insult could not be ignored, and Makoto 
dove into the pillow war eagerly, laying about with great skill.  Ami and 
Minako, feeling left out, grinned at each other and grabbed their own 
pillows to join the fun...

~*~

"Tell me again why you get the top bunk and I have to sleep on the 
bottom?" Jadeite complained, watching Kunzite taking possession of his 
half of the bedroom.

"Because I can kick your ass," Kunzite replied, covering the awkwardness 
he felt about moving in with gruffness.

Jadeite considered this.  "Why don't you take the top bunk?" he asked 
brightly.  Kunzite merely grunted.  "So, how come you're moving in with 
me, anyway?  I thought you preferred the Negaverse." /I sure as hell never 
thought I'd find you on my doorstep like a stray puppy.../

Kunzite swung himself on to the top bunk easily and gave Jadeite a look of 
death.  "It's none of your business."

Jadeite put his hands on his hips and glared at Kunzite.  "It's my 
apartment that's been invaded--I think I should at least get to know why."

Kunzite flopped back onto his pillow.  "Why do you fight with the Sailor 
Scouts?" he asked, staring at the ceiling.

"I've got nothing better to do?"

Kunzite propped himself up on one elbow and stared down at his host 
fiercely.  "Is everything just a big joke to you?"

He shrugged.  "No, of course not... I just spent too many years being 
serious for Beryl.  Consider it all my repressed comments about her hair 
coming out at last."

Kunzite frowned at him.  "Seriously.  Why do you fight with the Sailor 
Scouts?"

"Because, without Ami, I'd still be in Beryl's eternal sleep," Jadeite 
told him.  "Every time Ami needs me, I will go to help her." The grim 
expression forbade Kunzite from commenting.  

Instead, he nodded, understanding completely.  "Makoto asked me to stay in 
this dimension."

"What is it with you and Makoto?" Jadeite asked, only more confused by 
Kunzite's explanation.

"Friendship," Kunzite said briefly, now the one who didn't need extraneous 
comments.  "What is it between you and Ami?"

Jadeite flushed red, but was saved from reply by sudden emanations from 
the Negaverse.  "Umm.... Why don't we go check that out?" he suggested 
quickly.  "If it's anything important, we can call in the girls."

Kunzite, more than willing and ready to change the subject, nodded 
eagerly.  "Let's go."

~*~

After stalling for as long as possible, Sapphire reluctantly departed the 
thirtieth century Negamoon headquarters for twentieth century Tokyo.  He 
had no plan of attack (reasoning that the four sisters, Rubeus, and 
Emerald had all had plans that had failed utterly) save to study the enemy 
before attempting to defeat them.  Bypassing the spaceship that hovered 
just out of alignment with reality, Sapphire transported himself to the 
coordinates of where Catzi and Bertie had died--curiously enough, they had 
both been in the same area when they met their untimely demises--wanting 
to investigate anything that would help him in his battle.

Materializing in a conveniently deserted area, Sapphire stopped short, 
amazed by what surrounded him.  He'd never seen such verdant green in his 
life, or felt such a warm, gentle breeze.  Amazed, he stood there, staring 
at the park--he hadn't realized that anyone could stand to fight in a 
park--and drinking in sheer beauty of a planet that was still alive.

A splash of color attracted his wide, incredulous eyes--in the gold and 
green dappled shade of a monstrous tree, a bed of flowers nodded in the 
breeze.  Fascinated, Sapphire stepped forward, only to be distracted by 
the springy grass beneath his feet.  Smiling in wonder, he lifted joyful 
eyes to see the deep blue summer sky above him before walking over to the 
flowerbed.  Kneeling in the soft grass, he carefully touched the petals of 
a pale pink flower, almost reverently, any mission for the Negamoon 
utterly forgotten.  

~*~

Jadeite looked at Kunzite quizzically.  "I give up, I have no clue what 
he's up to," he confessed, as they watched the blue-haired man carefully 
examine a rose.  He snickered quietly as the aspiring horticulturist 
pricked a finger on a thorn and looked at the flower reproachfully.  
"You'd think he's never seen a flower before."

Kunzite regarded the stranger from the Negaverse thoughtfully.  "I don't 
think he has."  He looked quizzically at Jadeite.  "So, he's from the 
Negaverse, and he's smelling a rose.  What do we, as defenders of love and 
justice, do?"

"You're asking me?  How the hell should I know?  Let's go ask him what 
he's doing here." Jadeite shrugged helplessly.  

"Well, you are the one who willingly signed on with the Scouts..." Kunzite 
observed.

"And Makoto grabbed your ear and made you fight Rubeus?" retorted Jadeite.

Kunzite made a face at Jadeite.  "So I'm a sucker for big, pleading eyes."

"A fact which Zoisite exploited shamelessly," Jadeite muttered before 
thinking.  He threw up his hands in defense.  "No!  Don't hurt me!"

Kunzite rolled his eyes.  "Come on, let's go see what Flower Boy is doing 
here."

~*~

Lost entirely in the enchanting fragrance of the flower that had bitten 
him, Sapphire never realized he had company until someone tapped him 
politely on the shoulder.  "It's part of the plan, I promise!" he yelped, 
scrambling to his feet.  "I'm not slacking on my mission--Oh." He found 
himself facing two slightly bemused, slightly amused men; one with short, 
ruffled blond hair and one with long, straight white hair.  Both were 
unfortunately familiar as the unknown allies of the Sailor Scouts, and 
both carried strange vibrations of energy about their persons.

"If that was being busy, I'd hate to see slacking," commented the 
blond-haired one.  "And if I were you, I'd look into getting some 
stain-removal detergent--Those grass stains are going to be hell, let me 
tell you."

"Who are you?" Sapphire demanded, annoyed to have been caught so unawares, 
but intrigued that he hadn't been blasted while so defenseless.    

"Who are you?" countered the blond.  

"Whoever he is, if he's on a mission, he's even more easily distracted 
than Nephrite," the white-haired one added, grinning slightly.  

Sapphire blinked, his studies of the history of the Negaverse suddenly 
making clear (in part) the identities of his two companions.  "I'm 
Sapphire," he admitted, wondering if it were possible that these two 
were--

"I'm Jadeite.  This is Kunzite."

Curiosity smothered the need to be reticent.  "How can this be?" Sapphire 
marveled.  "The two of you are supposed to be dead."

Jadeite looked mildly offended.  "Dead?  Hardly!  Down and out for the nap 
from hell, maybe, but dead?  Never." He peered at Sapphire closely.  "Do 
we know each other?  I can't say that I ever remember seeing you at one of 
Beryl's conventions... Kunzite?"

He shrugged.  "Zoisite and I always had better things to do than go to one 
of those things."

"Pity... There was usually some pretty good imported liquor to be had.  
Nephrite and I had some good times, us and the Doom and Gloom Girls..." 
Jadeite sighed nostalgically.  "The Negaverse never could match the 
Universe when it came to a good scotch...  What could be more fun than one 
of those conventions?"

Kunzite smirked slightly.  "Well..."

Quickly, Jadeite blanched.  "No!  Don't answer that!  I don't need to 
know!"

Intrigued, Sapphire entered the conversation.  "So, were those stories 
actually true about the lords Kunzite and Zoisite?" he asked, eager to 
plunder these pieces of the living past for information.  "The histories 
were never specific..."

"Don't hurt him!" Jadeite exclaimed, grabbing Kunzite's arm.  "Hey, 
whaddya mean, the histories?  We're not that old.  Just who the hell are 
you, anyway?"

Sapphire sighed heavily.  "I've been drafted, that's what I am.  Diamond's 
run out of real lackeys, so he sent me back here instead."

"Back here?  What does he mean, back here?" Kunzite asked Jadeite quietly, 
while Sapphire looked at the pastoral scene with resentment-filled eyes.

"I don't know... Who's Diamond?" Jadeite replied.

"He's my brother," Sapphire told them, amused by the verbal sparring.  For 
some reason, he liked the pair of Negaverse generals from the past.  
"Prince of the Dark Moon Nemesis."

Kunzite nodded wisely.  "That cleared absolutely nothing up for me.  How 
about you, Jadeite?" The other man shook his head.

Sapphire grinned.  "I'm from the thirtieth century.  No one lives on 
Nemesis right now."

"Well, that explains the bit about the histories," Jadeite snickered, his 
mind skittering away from the thought of the time travel.  "Just imagine, 
Kunzite, you and Zoisite are still hot gossip a millennium from now!  
Don't hit me!" He dodged away.

Kunzite ignored him.  "The thirtieth century," he repeated, gazing 
skeptically at Sapphire.  "So, what do you want with our century?"

"What does the Negaverse ever want, Kunzite?" Jadeite asked airily.  
"Total dominion over the Universe, of course... The reasons and methods 
vary, but the goal is always the same."

"Is he always this..." Sapphire searched for the proper word.

"Idiotic?" Kunzite supplied.  "Yes."

"Hey!" Jadeite looked indignant at the insult while Sapphire laughed.  
"That's not very nice."

"I'm not a nice person.  Live with it." Kunzite stared at Sapphire.  "What 
are you doing here?"

"He's smelling the roses," Jadeite answered.  Finally, annoyed to the 
breaking point, Kunzite punched Jadeite in the arm (not too hard, but 
enough to mean business).  "Okay, okay, I get the point!  I'll be good."

"Ignoring Beryl's court jester, let's get back to the point," Kunzite 
continued.  "What's the grand scheme this time?"

"Revenge against Neo-Queen Serenity, the destruction of Crystal Tokyo, the 
annihilation of the pathetic human race..." Sapphire sighed unhappily, 
looking at the park again.  "It all seems so pointless here in the 
twentieth century... I don't want to have to destroy this place."

"Then don't," Jadeite suggested practically.  "Earth wins hands-down over 
the Negaverse every time, in every category from most species to best 
nightlife.  Leave it alone... Hell, if you want, you can defect and come 
bunk at my place.  You'll have to take the couch, because Kunzite already 
has dibs on the top bunk, but it's a good couch, not at all lumpy."

"Being stuck in the rock made him go a little nuts," Kunzite confided in 
Sapphire.  "The couch is as hard as a rock."

Sapphire looked at them incredulously.  "You do realize that I'm here on a 
mission from the Negaverse, don't you?"

Kunzite shrugged.  "No, you aren't.  It's obvious."

"You've got 'I don't want to do this' written all over your face," Jadeite 
added.  "And the couch really isn't that bad, I promise."

Sapphire looked genuinely tempted.  "You two don't work for the Negaverse 
anymore," he said thoughtfully.  Then his expression changed to a look of 
surprise as the negative energy vibrations spiked.  Before Kunzite and 
Jadeite's very startled eyes, he disappeared.

~*~

"That, little brother, was one of the most interesting things I've seen in 
a very long time," Diamond drawled lazily, his mild tone doing nothing to 
hide his disapproval.  

"You were spying on me?!" Sapphire exclaimed, recovering swiftly from 
being pulled forward in time without a warning. 

"Actually, I wasn't," Diamond corrected him.  "I had been under the 
impression that I could trust you to deal with your assignment 
unsupervised.  Wise Man was the one to suggest that I check up on you."

Sapphire glared fiercely at the hovering robe.  "I should have known," he 
spat.  "That sneaking, conniving--"

Diamond raised an eyebrow.  "I should hardly think that you are in a 
position to be so vehement, little brother," he reminded Sapphire.  "Wise 
Man's loyalties have never been in question."

"And mine have?" Sapphire snapped.

"Just now you seemed to be extremely cozy with the allies of the Sailor 
Scouts," Wise Man chastised him.  

Sapphire flushed angrily, but thought quickly.  "I realize that to the 
observer my loyalties would seem questionable," he said smoothly.  
"However, with the knowledge that those two always appear promptly 
whenever there is an entry from the Negaverse, I set myself up as bait in 
a trap.  I've been curious for a very long time about these mysterious 
warriors and wished to gauge them before embarking upon my mission."

"You seemed to be less zealous for that mission than for admiring the 
scenery," Wise Man snorted.

Sapphire gathered his dignity into an impervious calm.  "I had to present 
a fašade of innocence.  Had they any inkling of my true capabilities, I 
would be no better off than Emerald or Rubeus," he replied.

"And I'm sure you would like Prince Diamond to believe that your wavering 
loyalty to the Negamoon was nothing but a sham," Wise Man snapped.

Coldly, Sapphire ignored Wise Man.  "The two warriors who fight with the 
Sailor Scouts are Lords Kunzite and Jadeite of the Negaverse."

This piqued Diamond's interest.  "But they're dead, aren't they?"

"Apparently not, Your Highness," Sapphire said gravely.  "I was attempting 
to win their trust and obtain information from them.  Unfortunately, I was 
interrupted before I could learn much of any import." His level voice was 
subtly reproving.

"Was sharing our plan with the enemy part of this information exchange?" 
Wise Man asked sarcastically.

Diamond laughed and Sapphire relaxed inwardly.  "Wise Man, it has already 
been pointed out that our plans are pitifully transparent.  Sapphire has 
shared no information that was sensitive to our cause.  You are a far 
better actor than I knew, Sapphire.  One would almost believe that you 
would have defected had I not retrieved you."

Guilt prickled Sapphire's conscience, guilt that he kept strictly away 
from his face.  "It was not difficult, Diamond.  Jadeite and Kunzite have 
been made soft by their contact with the Sailor Scouts.  They wished to 
believe that they could turn me from your side, and so I appeared willing 
to convert."

"I should not have doubted you, Sapphire," Diamond observed.  Return now 
to the twentieth century and fulfill your mission."

"Yes, Diamond." Sapphire bowed and transported himself away.

"I do not trust him, Your Highness," Wise Man announced abruptly.  "He was 
lying."

"Hush, Wise Man.  Don't slander my brother," Diamond told him. 

"As you wish, Your Highness," Wise Man replied gloomily.  "I merely wished 
to express my doubts.  Clever as your brother is, he has never been as 
deeply committed to our cause as he might have been."

"But he is devoted heart and soul to *me*, Wise Man," Diamond chuckled, a 
cold, brittle sound.  "As long as I am here to lead him, he will follow."

"Would that I could be as certain, Your Highness."


@}~~}~~~~


    Source: geocities.com/jadeite_no_miko/enjoy/fics

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