Chapter 3 - Wilted Roses: The Dark One Approaches

© 1998 by Renee Michelle Markowicz

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Author's Note:

OK - first things, first. I think people are probably going to yell at me for giving Jadeite a computer and an e-mail account - especially when poor Zoisite had to ride all the way to the capital in a coach. Well, Lita and her dad are starpilots and pilot spaceships, so I figured that the Moon Kingdom was a careful mix of technology and Medieval stuff. ^_^ Make sense? And I figured that Jadeite would be one of those people who would spend his free hours surfing the 'Net to supplement his research... OK, it's cheesy, but you should expect that from me by now!

Pronunciation: A name or two that I thought might be a little unclear as to how to pronounce them... Lanee = <LAY - knee>

I think that's about everything. The characters don't belong to me, I'm borrowing them from they're rightful creators, yada, yada. Except for Gregory and Lanee - they're mine. ^_^ Enjoy!

Prisms - Chapter 3: Wilted Roses: The Dark One Approaches

© 1998 by Renee Michelle Markowicz

Jadeite looked down at the stack of papers with a groan, *Why do I even try? Of all of Darien's Guardians, I'm the only one who feels the need to hold down a second job - why do I bother?* This batch of papers had been a hell of set to grade. He'd only been at the University for five years - five years on Earth. And never had he seen such a sorry lot of research papers. He shook his head and chuckled, *The kids won't be happy to get these back, that's for sure...* He stuffed them into their folder and plopped it on top of his stack of books. Then, picking up the whole stack, he headed towards his classroom.

The constant drone of noise reached his ears when he was but halfway to his classroom. *This is getting ridiculous...* He reached the room and opened the door - after a minute or so, all the murmuring ceased. One of the boys in the back yelled, "Captain on the Bridge!", and Jadeite winced. He walked over to his desk and put down his books, not saying a word. The students began to shift around in their seats - it wasn't like their fun-loving professor to be so quiet.

He took out the folder and placed it on the center of the desk, clearing all the other books off. He sat down in his chair and leaned back, glancing around the room. Even the wise-guys in the back of the lecture hall were silent, *Good, I'm intimidating them - now let's see if I can't accomplish something with this...* He tapped his hand on the folder of papers and spoke, "Well. I certainly hope that you are all proud of the work that you've done."

He let his eyes rove the room, looking for one girl in particular - *Ah, there she is.* The raven-haired beauty was slumped in her seat, her cheeks burning a deep red. A freshman - the only one in this particular history class. And the only student who had gotten an A on this paper. She had written something truly original, and Jadeite had been extremely impressed - she had a very good handle on the subject she had chosen. He smiled at her. She caught the smile and breathed a sigh of relief.

He turned back to the room at large, "Only three of you managed to receive a grade higher than a B+ on this assignment. And many of you who got those B+'s didn't deserve them." He got up from his desk and walked around to the front of it. He leaned his weight onto it, "You are sophomores in college, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the real world. This isn't high school - I'm not going to let you redo these papers." Unhappy murmuring started up all over the classroom, basically to the effect of 'But he always let's his students rewrite their papers!'

Jadeite turned to the source of the most muttering, "That's right. I do usually let my students rewrite their assignments - if they have shown me that they tried to do it right the first time. It's rather painfully clear that most of you did not put any time into the assignment." He got up from his perch on the desk, "This was not a difficult assignment, boys and girls! A four page paper doesn't take a whole lot of effort to research and write! That's why this is the first paper I give." He shrugged, "I can't help you, if you don't work with me. Since you all decided that you didn't need to do the work for my class, I'm certainly not going to do it for you."

He turned back to his desk and picked up the folder full of papers, separating them by last name. Jadeite put the 6 piles on the floor, then turned back to the students, "Everyone can come up and get their papers. Those of you that got a grade higher than a 'B+' should come see me after class - you didn't deserve the ratting out that everyone just got, and you deserve an apology. If anyone doesn't understand why it is that they got as bad a grade as they did - feel free to make an appointment to see me next week. He gathered up his books and left the room.

Upon reaching his office, he put his books back on the shelf and sank down into his desk chair, dropping his head onto his arms. *I have a headache...* This was the first time that any of his students had tried to take advantage of his easy grading policies. It had always been more important to him that the children learn the material, than pull good grades. That was why he gave such short papers and let them do rewrites. But, this had been ridiculous. There was no excuse for such shoddily down research. He picked up his head and turned to his computer - the message box was flashing at him. *Oh goody. E-mail. I just love technology...* He clicked on the little box and a message popped up on the screen:

 Date: Monday, October 3, 991 10:33:05
 From: Lanee <>
 To: Jadeite <>
 Subject: Need a TA?

 Hi!  Long time no speak, huh, teach?  ^_^ You'll never guess what
 happened...  I got accepted to grad school!  Here on Earth! 
 Isn't that awesome?  Anyway, I heard through the grapevine that
 you were teaching here, so I thought I'd look you up.  I haven't
 seen you since you taught history on the Moon!  Moving down- uh,
 up in the Solar system?  <g> Anyway, I'm going for a Masters in
 Earth History - yes this is the cheesy "You inspired me, to
 do - blah, blah, blah..." speech.  ^_^ What else did you
 expect from me?  Well, I'm supposed to TA a class as part of my
 curriculum, so...  need a TA? 

 Talk to you later!

Jadeite stared at the e-mail for a moment, then started to chuckle. Oh, he remembered this one, all right. She had been one of his brightest students, back when he was still teaching high school. A truly avid reader and writer, and she had a truly carnivorous desire for knowledge - she had historian written all over her. *She must be 23 by now! Holy gods! It wasn't so long ago that I was that young...* He clicked the reply-to button:

 Date: Monday, October 3, 991 10:56:43
 From: Jadeite <>
 To: Lanee <>
 Subject: Re: Need a TA?

 I guess it's true - the evil ones do follow you...  How are you? 
 It has indeed been a long time.  A TA, hmmm...  After the stack
 of papers I just graded, I'd be just as glad to have someone to
 do it for me...  :P I'll be free around 11:30 - why don't you
 meet me for lunch?  Come on over to my office, there's a pretty
 decent restaurant down by my end of campus. 

 See you soon! 
 Your poor, elderly professor,

After clicking the send button, Jadeite settled back into his chair. The response was an empty message with the subject header, "See you at lunch!" He shook his head, that girl had to learn proper etiquette - it wasn't nice to send empty messages. He heard a knock on the door and looked up. The raven-haired girl stood nervously in the doorway. Two of the boys stood ranged out behind her - the two who had gotten 'A-'s. He motioned for them to come in and sit down.

He smiled at them, "Sorry. I felt that I should apologize to you three in person. You really didn't deserve that screaming fit just now. You all did wonderful jobs on your papers - especially you, Krissy."

She blushed, "Thank you."

Jadeite smiled, "Now, I must confess - I'm familiar with most of the major texts on Earth's religions, and I didn't recognize most of the sources that you used."

She raised her eyes to meet his, "With all due respect, sir, I was trained as a priestess by my grandmother, since I was 12. She is the foremost priestess of our religion in the Solar System. It is more than likely that I have access to texts regarding my vocation that you have not heard of."

Jadeite raised an eyebrow, *Well, well! I guess it's true what they say of Shinto priestesses - what a fiery temper!* "Easy, girl, I'm not accusing you of anything. It's just that you brought up a few very interesting points in your paper and managed to tweek my curiosity. I'm not as well-read on the Shinto religion as I'd like to be. The Moon - where I'm from - puts more emphasis on the worship of the planet gods, such as Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, etc. Earth's religion is rather unique."

Krissy smiled shyly up at him, "I could bring the books by tomorrow, if you'd like to read them..." *And it would give you a chance to stare at him some more...* her mind whispered at her. She firmly told it to shut up. Writing about her own area of expertise had been a brilliant stroke. She had been determined to win the young professor from the moment she laid eyes on him - and the fastest way to this man's heart was through his intellectual curiosity... She smiled at him again.

He nodded, "That sounds like a wonderful idea." He stood up and shook their hands, "Keep up the good work, you three. Now, I'm sorry to kick you out, but I have an appointment for lunch. I'll see you in class on Wednesday, boys. Krissy - 'til tomorrow." She smiled at his mock gallantry and they left his office.

Jadeite smiled after the three and settled back in his chair to wait for Lanee. *I'm going to have to keep an eye on that girl. She's got quite an infatuation problem going on... I'll have to be careful not to lead her on.* He put his hands up to his temples, *And ye gods, do I have a headache!*

* * *

Darien sat on a bench in the garden, forlornly kicking his legs back and forth. He let out a huge sigh - being thirteen wasn't easy. He looked up, wondering where all his Guardians were. *Whenever I need them, they're never around!* He contemplated going to visit Jadeite at the University, then threw out the idea. Jadeite wouldn't appreciate him interrupting one of his classes - even if it was really interesting to sit and listen. Darien found himself more and more fascinated by Earth's interweaving history every time he sat in on one Jadeite's classes. *I can't wait until I can go to the University - classes at home are so boring. There's never anyone to talk to!* He kicked his legs again.

He heard footsteps behind him and spun to see who it was. *Oh, it's just Zoisite.* He went back to kicking his legs, then spun around, "Zoisite! Where've you been! I've been looking all over for you guys and I couldn't find any of you!" He got up and threw himself into Zoisite's arms, "I missed you!"

Zoisite patted the Prince's back, awkwardly. *What prompted this?* Then a worried frown etched itself across his features, *He's becoming too dependent on us for companionship. That's not good. He needs friends his own age.* "Darien? What's the matter?"

Darien pulled away from Zoisite, "Nothing! I just missed you, that's all. I've been bored to tears all day! There's nothing for me to do!"

Zoisite watched as Darien stomped over to a rose bush and started playing with one of the roses. *OK, I guess I've got to try to pull him out of this little melancholy he's indulging in...* He walked over and put a hand on Darien's shoulder, "OK, Darien, what's really bothering you? You saw all four of us at breakfast - that was only three hours ago."

Darien shrugged, "Yeah, but that's three hours that I've had nothing to do!"

"Studying?" Zoisite suggested.

Darien made a face and shuddered, "The stuff they make me learn is no fun! Jadeite's classes are a lot more interesting. And it's boring learning all by myself."

Zoisite frowned as he watched Darien play with another rose, then smiled. "How would you like it if you could go to school with other people your age?"

Darien jerked his head up to stare at his Guardian, eyes alight with joy and anticipation. Zoisite put his hands up, "Down boy! I'll look into it for you, if you'd really like me to." Darien nodded his head so fast that Zoisite thought he'd nod it right off his neck. He laughed, "All right. I'll talk to Kunzite. Now, in the meantime, let's see if we can't do something to alleviate this boredom of yours, hmmm?"

Darien looked shyly up at Zoisite, "Um, Zoisite? Do you think you could teach me how to make flowers? Like you do?"

Zoisite frowned in confusion, then realized that Darien meant the cherry blossom petals that he created when he teleported. *I've never tried to manifest a whole flower, before...* He looked down at the Prince's eager young face, "Sure. Why not?" He put an arm around Darien's shoulders and led him to the Practice Arena, "Let's see if we can't teach you how to make a rose or two." Darien's happy smile was all the encouragement he needed to know he was doing the right thing. He gave Darien's shoulders a little squeeze, *Don't worry my Prince - I won't ever let you down.*

* * *

Nephrite walked slowly down the hall, somewhat depressed. Lady Arenthea had just informed him that she never wanted to see his face again. He had known that she'd been irritated with him, but he hadn't known that things were this bad. He had just come back from an emergency meeting with one of the other Captains, looking forward to a romantic picnic lunch with his lady fair. He had entered her quarters and found her sobbing and crying because he'd rather "hang out with his friends" than spend time with her on their two week anniversary.

*I didn't even know such a thing existed!* Nephrite thought. He decided that from now on, he should stick to older women - Lady Arenthea had been a bit too young to handle a relationship of this sort. *Hello!* his head quickly followed his eyes - a young woman was walking the other way down the corridor. *Is that really blue hair that I see?* He moved to intercept her, his altercation with Arenthea forgotten.

Finally noticing his presence, the woman turned towards him. She looked him up and down as if trying to place him. She spoke - a hesitant voice, but clear and crisp, every vowel and consonant clearly accentuated. "Excuse me, but do I know you, sir?"

He smiled, "No, I don't think we've ever met. I am Captain Nephrite. And you are?"

She extended her hand, then when he took it to kiss it, she shook it firmly, "Amy. Sailor Mercury. A pleasure to meet one of the Prince's Guardians, Captain."

She let go of his hand and smiled at him, "Now, if you don't mind, Captain, I'm trying to locate the Prince- "

He cut her off before she could try to get away from him, "I was just trying to find him myself, my lady. Allow me to accompany you in your search." He held his arm out to her, the very picture of gallantry. She looked down at his arm, then up into his smiling face, *Oh dear. I believe I've given him the wrong impression.* Finally, not seeing a way out of it, Amy allowed Nephrite to tuck her arm in his and lead her down the corridor.

When they reached the Practice Arena, they heard a sudden burst of laughter. Nephrite opened the door, "Everyone OK, in here?" Looking inside, Nephrite found a rathered frustrated Darien staring down at Zoisite, who was rolling around on the floor laughing. He raised an eyebrow, "Zoisite?"

Zoisite put a hand over his mouth and sat up. Then when he saw Darien's expression, a giggle slipped out. In a strangled voice, he managed, "I'm sorry! It's just..." he dissolved into giggles again. Darien stamped his foot, "It's not funny!"

Zoisite gasped, "Oh yes, it is!"

Nephrite knelt down by his fellow Guardian, "Zoisite?"

In response, Zoisite handed him a rose and pointed at Darien. Nephrite held up the rose which promptly flopped down over his hand like cooked spaghetti. The flower itself was nearly perfect, if a bit - mushy? *Oh my. Limp flower.* Nephrite, being the sort to notice these things, caught the somewhat lewd implication, and he too began to laugh.

At this point, Darien looked like he was ready to cry. Zoisite saw the expression on the Prince's face and quickly clambered to his feet, grabbing the boy in a fierce hug. "I'm sorry, my Prince," he said, softly, "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings - for your first day trying this, you're doing very well! Honest!"

While Zoisite attempted to sooth the Prince, Amy picked up the forgotten rose. She pulled out her mini-computer and scanned it. It's molecular structure was almost perfect - she'd never seen such a nearly perfect conjuration. She turned to the Prince, "Your Highness, if I may say so, you are closer to getting this right than you think. The molecular structure of this rose is as nearly perfect as I've ever seen - even in nature."

As Darien gaped, Amy walked over to him and handed him the flower, "Next time you try it, concentrate on reinforcing the cellular walls and membranes within the stem and petals. That seems to be the only thing wrong with it."

He nodded, "Thank you, miss..." he trailed off when he realized that he had no idea who this young woman was. She smiled and gave him a small bow, "Amy, Your Highness. The Sailor Senshi of Mercury."

He smiled in response, "Thanks, Sailor Mercury. Lady Amy. I have but one more question... Is your hair really blue??"

Amy blushed as Zoisite began to laugh again, "Yes, Your Highness, I was born this way."

Nephrite made a snide comment off to her left about how they could tell if she was really a "natural blue", and her blush darkened. Zoisite slapped Nephrite for her. "Nephrite, that was just plain rude! Apologize!"

Nephrite slipped her a wink, "Sorry, Lady Amy. No offense, meant."

She laughed, shakily, "None taken, Captain." Then she shook herself, all business again, "Now, if none of you mind, I shall take my leave of you."

Nephrite frowned, "I thought you were looking for Darien?"

"I was. Now that I have found him, and found out what I needed to know, I take my leave of you." She smiled and disappeared in a flurry of bubbles. Zoisite whistled, "Boy Nephrite, you really do like to set your sights on the tough ones, don't you? The Ice Princess, herself?"

Nephrite blushed, "I think I'll take my leave of you both as well. I have troops to train - have to keep my hand in after all." He bowed to the Prince, "Good luck with your flowers, my Prince." He walked out, leaving Zoisite and the Prince to their roses.

* * *

Kunzite grimaced as yet another courtier stepped forward to voice a grievance to the King. He shifted around in his seat, trying not to let his boredom show. *Why, of all the Guardians, do I need to sit in on Court sessions? I don't get it.* The courtier stepped down from the lower dais and resumed his seat. A hush suddenly fell over the audience chamber. Kunzite squirmed around in his seat, trying to see what had caused the disturbance.

The great doors slowly swung open as the court stared in awe, and the King fumed in anger. Once the doors where closed on the Court, they were not permitted to be opened again until the King declared the session closed. And yet, they were opening. When they had opened wide enough to allow a person through, Kunzite saw the source of the disturbance. He felt his jaw go slack when he saw the regal grace of the High Priestess of Earth.

She flowed into the room and up to the lower dais, never taking her eyes from the King. When she reached the lower dais, she bowed her head, but not her body. "My liege," she said, "I bring thee grave news."

Kunzite frowned, *It would be grave news, to bring that Lady from her holy shrine.* He felt the sudden presence of his lover in the back of his mind. Zoisite's steady presence gave him the reassurance he needed. He stood and approached the dais, for the King sat there, dumbfounded. He did not look as if he would speak soon. Kunzite knelt to the King and the High Priestess.

"Your Holiness, I would ask that you tell us of this danger. If it concerns the people of Earth, it is of great concern to me," he said.

The old woman approached him and put one of her hands on his face. To his immense surprise, it was smooth, not yet wrinkled by the ravages of time. She spoke, "Ah yes. I remember thee, boy." *How can she remember me if we've never met?* Kunzite wondered. She spoke again, a smile playing at the corners of her lips, "I know many, who meet me not, child." She patted his cheek, "Thou hast a long and difficult road ahead of thee. If ever thou dost find thyself in need of a quiet place to regain thine equilibrium, do thou seek me out. I will aid thee."

The High Priestess turned to the Court, "I will now tell you what I know of this danger which threatens the people of this fair Earth. Her name is Beryl..."

* * *

Kunzite put a hand to his head, leaning his weight against his door. *I didn't need this. We have enough to deal with as it is! Damn it!* He walked across the room and threw himself on the couch. It smelled vaguely of cherry blossoms. Kunzite leaned his head back on the couch, deeply inhaling the fragrance, *I wish Zoisite were here. I need him right now.* Not even Kunzite was aware of how strongly he had begun to depend on his love these past years. He sank deeper into the pillows.

The past four years had taken their toll on him. Having to watch everything he did was a difficult task. It was hard for him to keep such a distance between he and Zoisite in public. Especially at the times when he wanted nothing more than the comfort of having his love safe in his arms. As if the thought had summoned him (which, knowing Zoisite, it might have), Kunzite heard the doorknob start to turn. Zoisite pushed the door open, and stood hesitantly in the doorway. Kunzite smiled and patted the couch cushion next to him.

Zoisite smiled and closed the door, slowly crossing the room to perch on the low table in front of Kunzite. "Kunzite?" he asked. "What's the matter? You don't look so good."

Kunzite made a face, "You don't want to know." Then seeing Zoisite's determined look, he amended, "All right, so maybe you do." He told Zoisite briefly what had happened in the Throne room. Zoisite, suddenly looking uneasy, moved to the couch and allowed Kunzite to pull him into his arms. He tucked his feet up onto the couch and pressed himself into Kunzite's side. Kunzite rested his cheek on top of Zoisite's waves of copper hair.

The door opened again, too soon for Kunzite to break away from the embrace. *Damn it! Why didn't I lock the door?* He stared in horror at the High Priestess who stood, transfixed, in the doorway. She shook herself, and walked over to where Kunzite had guiltily pulled away from Zoisite. She smiled at Zoisite and laid a hand on his head. Zoisite smiled up at her, then stood up to plant a kiss on her cheek. She embraced him, "I see that you have found love at last. That makes me more happy than you can know, child."

Kunzite frowned at the High Priestess' sudden lack of formal language, "I get the feeling that I'm missing something important here."

Zoisite laughed as he sat down, "Kunzite, I'd like you to meet my grandmother. Grandmother, this is Kunzite."

She shook his hand, firmly, then sat down on the chair opposite the couch. "Your lover," she amended, raising an eyebrow. She smiled at Kunzite's blush, then her face grew serious. "You, alone of the Court, understand the gravity of what I have told you today. This new enemy is a treacherous one. She is one that the Princess will be unable to stop on her own. And the Circle of the Senshi is not yet complete. One spot remains to be filled. The Senshi of Mars has yet to be chosen. This swings the balance heavily to the Dark One's side."

When she noted the open fear on Zoisite's face, she said, "Do not worry, my grandson. There is yet time to find the Senshi of Fire. The Dark One will not be ready to strike for many a year. But, your Four must be well rested when the last Senshi appears - for on her heels will come the Dark One." She stood, "If you have need of a place to regain your strength, I repeat my earlier offer. My home is always open to you both." She smiled at Zoisite, "You may someday feel a need to be where there is no need of illusions." She bent to kiss them both on the forehead, "And now I must return to my shrine." She smiled again, this time with a touch of memory, "You know how your Grandfather gets when I am gone for so long." With that, she left.

Kunzite resolved to have a long talk with his lover, soon. *Actually, now seems the perfect time...* He turned to Zoisite, "Now, we're going to have a talk - I want to know exactly how much more family that you're hiding in the woodwork..." Zoisite had the decency to blush.

The End of Chapter 3 - Goto Chapter 4

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