The Four Points

Chapter Seven: Marriages and Heartaches! Beryl's Beautiful Darkness

© 2006 by Shari


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"Nephrite-san! Are you touching my cooking?" Nephrite winced, quickly darting away from the aforementioned dish and quickly sat down in a chair over the opposite side of the small kitchen as Princess Makoto entered, a disapproving frown etched across her face. Emerald eyes narrowed when she saw the guilty look on her husband-to-be's face. "You didn't touch my cooking did you?" she asked hotly, placing her hands on her hips and regarding the man. Nephrite grinned and glanced up from the newspaper he was pretending to read.

"Of course not Makoto-chan. I wouldn't dream of it."

Makoto looked doubtfully at him and Nephrite's grin widened. Makoto was sadly not aware of just how beautiful she looked when pouting. As Nephrite took in the fire in her green eyes, the jutting out of her lower lip and the way wisps of mouse brown hair fell out from her ponytail, framing a boyish face he couldn't help but smile and then stand, sweeping his wife-to-be up in an unexpected embrace. Makoto squealed in surprise, a noise that was quickly silenced when Nephrite pressed his mouth to her's. Makoto returned the kiss with vigour before reluctantly pulling away.

"The stew will burn if I leave it for long" she said, trying her best to look angry. "And you distract me very badly."

Nephrite smiled slyly "Then I best leave until you have finished preparing the meal."

Makoto melted back into his arms at this statement and whispered softly "Just do not leave me alone for too long or some other handsome prince will come and sweep me off my feet."

"I'd like to see him try" Nephrite growled a little over protectively "I shall return in a little while. If that handsome Prince does come by belt him one for me."

Makoto winked and blew as kiss to her fiancÚ and watched him take his leave before turning back to the now boiling over stew. Sighing she turned the oven down and started to stir the pot. She may only be fourteen and Nephrite far older but she had never been this much in love with anyone in her entire life. Of course she had always known that she would wed the second most powerful man guarding Prince Mamoru of Earth but she never thought that she would actually grow to love the man as Mamoru loved Usagi. Sighing and now lost in these happy thoughts, Makoto did not realise that the stew was boiling over again.

* * *

"JADEITE GET A MOVE ON! A SLOTH MOVES FASTER THAN YOU!" Jadeite winced as the shrill voice of Rei; Princess of Mars reached his ears. Struggling with the suitcase he stumbled up the steps of the shrine and deposited it on the floor with a satisfyingly loud crash. Unfortunately this caused the suitcase to burst open and Rei's clothes and shoes fell out, littering the ground.

"What was that crash?" the fiery priestess demanded, poking her head out of the bathroom door, a white towel wrapped around her body and another around her raven black hair. Violet eyes narrowed into daggers when she saw the mess Jadeite had made.

"My clothes! My shoes! Jadeite I thought I told you to be careful?"

"You did" Jadeite admitted grudgingly "And I was," he added ruefully, "Until you started yelling and unnerved me."

"Stop with the excuses and pick it all up!" and with that the Princess withdrew back into the bathroom and slammed the door. Jadeite sighed and set to work on the task at hand. Why did he let Rei treat him in this way? He idly wondered as he gathered up the Manga's and arranged them in date order. Nephrite often told him that he should lay down a few ground rules, let Rei know who was boss in this supposed marriage. It was all right for Nephrite though. Princess Makoto doted on him. Of course Nephrite did not love the girl, he had admitted that much. He was simply trying to make the best of an awkward situation, as he put it. It had been five years since Mamoru's father, King Endymion passed away leaving behind contracts that bound them in marriage to a Princess of the Inner Planets, who protected Princess Serenity. Now that Mamoru had come of age (an uncle ruling in his place until he was able to take on all the responsibilities alone), he had insisted that Princess Serenity and her court come to Earth, so that he could honour the marriages agreed with the celestial court all those years ago. Of course Mamoru loved Usagi, the clumsy heir to the Moon Kingdom, the future Queen Serenity. Did Jadeite love Rei? Given time he thought he might be able to like her at least. Nephrite liked Makoto well enough as it was and perhaps Rei would grow up a little before she reached sixteen and the marriage could be legalised. Marrying Rei was, as Kunzite had put it, another duty they took on as the four kings of the Earth Kingdom guarding and protecting Neo King Endymion. Jadeite was not so sure. The age differences were enormous especially between Nephrite and Makoto and Kunzite and Minako. Still Rei was beautiful and this might explain Jadeite's reluctance to take a stand and defend himself against her. How did Rei feel about him? Jadeite again was not sure. They got on fine most of the time, when she wasn't yelling at him that was. The Princess was even occasionally nice to him. Jadeite sighed and stacked up the last of the Manga's. He would have to hurry and get ready for tonight Makoto had invited them to dinner. Though the Earth palace had its own chef, Mamoru had given him the day off and Makoto had volunteered to cook instead. Jadeite had heard lots of good things about Princess Makoto's cooking and again envied the second king. The one time Princess Rei had cooked Jadeite something he had been sick for three days. The blond shuddered at this memory just as Rei came out of the bathroom.

"Jadeite, aren't you ready yet? We have to be in the dining hall in half an hour" she snapped. He sighed, appreciating the fire and beauty that was Princess Mars. Daringly Jadeite stood, placing a tentative kiss on the girl's lips. She gasped as he pulled away.

"Jadeite-san" she whispered, smiling shyly and then adding, "It doesn't matter if we're late. Take all the time you need."

Jadeite smirked to himself, thinking that perhaps he should have kissed her sooner.

* * *

"Oh no you can't wear that! It totally clashes with my outfit" Kunzite rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to say something icy at this statement, the third in its kind from his wife-to-be, Princess Minako of Venus. Out in public they made a stunning couple to observe and Nephrite often told Kunzite, somewhat grudgingly, that he and Minako were the envy of the palace, save for Endymion and Serenity that was. In public they were the perfect couple, but in private Kunzite despaired. Minako was almost as big an airhead as the Princess of the Moon Kingdom. Mamoru-sama actually expected him to marry her? Perhaps that was what the other night had been about, a vague attempt on his part to simply escape marrying the Goddess of Venus, who whilst renowned for her beauty Kunzite could think of at least one person who surpassed her.

"What is wrong with his outfit?" he asked, a little coldly, whilst gazing down at the dark blue suit that Minako herself had insisted that he wear.

"Well" the girl pouted, emerging from the bathroom in a pink bathrobe, her hair brushed loose in golden waves as she struggled to fasten her usual red bow into her hair. "What if I want to wear my orange ball gown? That will not go with what you are wearing at all. Why not wear the white one that you had on earlier?"

Kunzite sighed, gritting his teeth and trying to withhold any really nasty comments, Mamoru-sama had been adamant that he did not say anything to upset the inner Senshi whilst they were here. Of course Mamoru only said that to Kunzite simply because he knew of Kunzite's objections to the marriage.

"You told me that the white suit would clash with your white ball gown, which I thought was the one you had decided to wear."

Minako blushed, "I know. I'm sorry love. I just want us to look our best that is all" the Princess skittered over to her frowning fiancÚ and planted a kiss on his lips. Kunzite allowed himself to return the kiss before breaking it and saying, "I think you look beautiful in whatever you wear"

Minako beamed happily "You really mean it?"

Kunzite nodded wearily and the Goddess of love and beauty hurried back into the bathroom, to change for the dinner.

* * *

"For a little while now, I haven't been feeling well...
The wind stands still at the road on the hill.
Never saying anything
I'm sad because you're troubled.
Just lean against my shoulder a little
Acting like a spoiled child doesn't help anything.

No matter... No matter...
...what gets in our way, it's OK if we're together.
In this way... in this way...
Sharing the same tears
Don't separate from me!
Let it stay like this..."

Zoisite paused outside Ami of Mercury's bedroom door as the soft sound of singing reached his ears. He mentally winced recognising the tune and looked down at the bunch of flowers in his hand. According to Minako of Venus, Ami had written the song with him in mind and thus made Zoisite feel even guiltier as he knocked on the door. The singing abruptly halted and moments later the Mercurian opened the door, smiling shyly at her husband-to-be and gesturing that he should enter. Ami was wearing a modest navy blue dress with a lace trim whilst Zoisite wore his usual uniform. He had seen no reason to dress up for the occasion but gazing at Ami and seeing how lovely the Princess looked made him wish he had, if not for his sake then for her's.

Shaking his head and leaning down to kiss her cheek, Zoisite presented her with the flowers, roses from the royal rose garden. Ami accepted them with a 'oh Zoisite-san they're beautiful!' and hurried to find a vase. He gently pushed the bedroom door shut, wondering if it were proper for him to be here, especially before they were married. Kuso he had tried so hard to be a gentleman, he had tried so hard to ignore his own inner turmoil and treat Lady Mercury with the respect she deserved and true they had become great friends. Friends... that was all they were for Zoisite had never attempted a proper kiss and Ami did not seem to expect it though Zoisite was not blind and knew her to be in love with him. This was why he kept at a distance, making sure he treated her as a friend, the odd kiss on the cheek and bunches of flowers now and again but never really anything to suggest that they were anything else. Hopefully with time Ami would come to realise that friends was all they could ever be. Zoisite, really did like Ami as a friend. Her intelligence surpassed even his own and it was nice to find someone who shared the same interests. Indeed it was Zoisite who taught Ami to play the piano she now sat at.

"I've been practicing," she said shyly when she saw where his gaze was directed. "Would you like to hear me?"

Zoisite nodded; already his mind was wandered to the events of the other night, events that he sorely wished that he could forget.

Zoisite surveyed the small table, littered with empty beer cans, playing cards and crisp packets at the end of another game. One glass had tipped over and steadily the few drops of brown liquid left in them dripped onto the lush white carpet of Kunzite's quarters. Zoisite hated these weekly poker games and he lost more money than he won. Jadeite had a unique gift for the game it would seem. Still Zoisite would rather lose to the blond than to Nephrite, whom he personally despised. The two kings had left, Jadeite declaring that he wished to quit whilst he was ahead and Nephrite deciding that he was not going to allow Jadeite to win anymore of his money that could be used to buy Princess Makoto presents. This left Zoisite with his teacher. Kunzite was seated on his white over stuffed sofa, seemingly fascinated by the empty cans upon the table. Zoisite had not drunk that night. He could not tolerate alcohol and barely drank even at social events with Princess Ami. Mamoru had not been present tonight, choosing to spend his evenings with Princess Serenity. They were very much in love and Zoisite envied them. Casting a wary glance at Kunzite he wished for this to be the same with him. Over the course of the year Zoisite had grown increasingly attracted to the older man, pausing from his training when Kunzite's back was turned to admire the man's long silvery hair, his broad shoulders and occasionally when Zoisite dared observe his front when Kunzite's attentions were elsewhere, the bronzed skin and well muscled chest clearly showing through the open flap on his uniform. Of course Zoisite knew that such feelings were forbidden in the kingdom and even being one of Mamoru's guardians would not grant him the freedom to choose the same sex to the company of the Princess of Mercury. Zoisite had kept a lid on these feelings, gradually distancing himself from Kunzite in an attempt to halt these emotions. Unfortunately avoiding Kunzite became a problem as they were both Mamoru's guardians and Kunzite was his instructor. Jadeite and Nephrite too noted the thin line that Zoisite drew between himself and the older man, thinking perhaps that Zoisite had grown resentful of his teacher. Yet now they were alone and Zoisite felt himself becoming increasingly agitated at being in Kunzite's presence. In an attempt to do something, anything, he jumped up from his seat beside the first king and crossed the room to the table, picking up the dripping glass and saying, his words stumbling off his tongue and coming out in a rush:

"I-should-clear-these-up-before-they-ruin-your-carpet-Kunzaito-sama."

"Leave them" was the slightly irritated reply, "A servant will deal with them come morning."

Zoisite nodded and turned his attentions to gathering the pack of cards up instead, aware that he was trembling. He did not hear Kunzite get up and jumped when he felt his teacher's hand upon his shoulder, the cards falling onto the carpet.

"Oh hell" Zoisite snarled angrily and then "Look what you made me do!"

Kunzite chuckled and indicated the sofa "Why are you so nervous? Sit down and relax, you shouldn't have to clean up, you never do before."

"I don't mind, really I don't" Zoisite protested, struggling as Kunzite led him to the aforementioned sofa and forced him to be seated.

"Princess Mercury" Kunzite allowed the silence to linger for a few moments before speaking, taking a seat beside his student. "What is she like?"

"She's very kind, very smart... we get on well" Zoisite winced at the indifferent tone in his voice.

"It saddens me" Kunzite replied to this, "To see such beauty wasted."

"Princess Ami is not really a beauty" Zoisite said nervously, "She is quite lovely when she dresses up but I think Minako-san and Rei-san are far the more..."

"I was not talking about Princess Ami."

"What?" Zoisite looked up just as Kunzite leaned forward, capturing his lips in a soft kiss. Gasping, a million thoughts racing through his head, Zoisite returned the kiss, struggling to force these feelings away and enjoy the sensation of Kunzite's lips upon his own. Then, when Kunzite broke off the embrace to draw breath, reality struck with a harsh brutality. This couldn't happen, Zoisite thought. He should never have kissed Kunzite back! Princess Ami's face flashed into his mind's eyes. Sweet Ami of Mercury. He did not love her but he was fond of her and they were to be married! Kunzite was engaged to Minako of Venus! This kind of behaviour, if they were found out... Mamoru's grip on the throne was already slipping and if this got out the scandal would be enough for an up rise to triumph. Zoisite started to shake as he felt Kunzite draw him into another embrace. He avoided this and stood, well aware that he was trembling worse than before.

"Zoisite?" Kunzite shot him a confused glance.

"We can't..." he turned, not saying another word as silent tears trickled free and rolled down his cheeks. Zoisite yanked the door open with a sudden fury and fled back to his own quarters.

He had not seen Kunzite since that day. Zoisite had not been to any training sessions or meetings with Mamoru and the others. Each time he was summoned by either his king or Kunzite he feigned a headache and stayed in his quarters, Ami at his side, diligently tending to her 'sick' husband-to-be.

Ami... she did not deserve this. Zoisite almost laughed at this thought. Since when had he cared what others thought? He did what he wanted with little or no thought to possible consequences of his actions. Why was it so different with her? Had she been Minako or Rei he would have had sex with Kunzite that night. Ami was impossible to hate, far older than her years she took her role of Princess seriously and strived to become the best she could be and excelled in everything she attempted. She was as pure as she was brilliant. Zoisite knew he may not love her but he cared deeply for her and that was enough... or so he hoped.

"Did you like it?" the blue haired Senshi asked, referring to her music.

Zoisite nodded, a twinge of pain flickering in his eyes.

"Do you have a headache?" she asked softly.

He nodded again, "It will pass Ami-san."

She stood, closing the piano lid and smiling at him "I do hope so. We should go. Mako-chan has been cooking all afternoon you know."

All afternoon? "Why? Surely she cooks too much for four of us?" though Zoisite had to admit dining with Nephrite was not an ideal way to spend his evening but it meant he escaped other court duties that might bring him into contact with Kunzite.

Ami giggled and shook her head "You know Makoto. I told her the same thing so she decided to invite everyone. I know Mamoru-sama and Kunzite-san were worried about you, you've had so many headaches recently."

Shit, Zoisite thought anxiously. He debated creating another headache story but Ami had been so looking forward to this.

"I wish you'd told me" he snapped at the girl, "I wouldn't have decided to come."

Ami looked a little taken aback at this and the forced another smile "Come on." She offered the guardian her hand "We cannot keep Mako-chan and Nephrite-san waiting can we?"

Zoisite sighed and took the offered palm. Ami smiled shyly "Thank you Zoisite-san" she whispered.

* * *

Princess Makoto, even Kunzite had to admit, was an amazing cook. Usually he dreaded these dinner parties as they were normally hosted by Rei-san or even worse Princess Serenity-sama and the Princess of the Moon Kingdom couldn't even boil water. The silver haired man dipped his spoon into the soup, keeping his eyes locked on Princess Minako and what she was asking him rather than casting a glance to his left where Zoisite sat beside him.

"Of course we're going to have a white wedding aren't we Kunzite-san?" Minako said between mouthfuls of her own soup.

"A white wedding" Serenity giggled, "How romantic!"

"We could have a double wedding!" Minako exclaimed, "Or what if we all got married together! We could give each other away," she giggled at this thought "What do you think Kunzite-san?"

All eyes, including Zoisite's, were now on the oldest king. Knowing he was out of line and not caring Kunzite suggested, icily that Minako should pay more attention to eating like a lady and not mimicking the habits of a pig unless she wished to become the only Princess of the Inner Planets without a husband to speak of. This stunned the table into silence, Mamoru giving Kunzite a furious glare and frantically gesturing for him to apologise. Kunzite scowled, he was not going to apologise to anyone, let alone Princess Minako.

The Princess of the Moon broke the suddenly icy atmosphere. Beaming she turned to Makoto and declaring loudly "Hey Mako-chan. This soup is really delicious" and with that she took a long slurp from her spoon. Kunzite, and the other kings stared incredulously at Usagi and her poor display of table manners.

"Serenity" Mamoru whispered, "What did I tell you about slurping your soup?"

Usagi giggled "But I can't help it Mamo-chan! It's just too yummy!"

"Makoto is the best cook," Nephrite agreed, planting a kiss on his fiancée's cheek after speaking. Makoto blushed and looked down at her plate. "You don't have to say that. It was no big deal really."

"She is right" Zoisite, who had been silent until now added, "It is nothing special. The only reason Nephrite says otherwise is to keep her happy, which a shameful way to treat a Princess."

Nephrite glared daggers at Zoisite whilst Makoto just looked hurt. She and Zoisite rarely spoke, Kunzite thought, but when they did Zoisite was most gracious towards the Princess of Jupiter though he was known for his foul temper throughout the kingdom.

Ami leaned over, her blue eyes narrowing and Kunzite caught snatches of the conversation between them. "Apologise" was one word and then "What is wrong with you tonight?"

"I'll bring out the main course" Makoto stood, trying to dissipate the tense atmosphere.

"We'll come too" Rei added, "You might need some help."

Minako and Ami, taking this hint also stood whilst Serenity simply stared and said "What? It doesn't take five of us too..." and then when Ami leant down and whispered the real reason "Oh! Yes we must all help Mako-chan. It is our duty as hostesses!"

"Such silly girls" Kunzite remarked acidly once they had all exited the room.

"What the hell was all that about?" Mamoru demanded fiercely, ignoring Kunzite's quip.

"That's what I would like to know" Nephrite added, "What the hell has Makoto done to you, Zoisite?"

The slender man shrugged toying with his food "She's marrying you, isn't she?"

Nephrite stood, knocking the chair down as he did so "Do you want to come here and say that to my face?" he growled.

"Enough!" Mamoru snapped, "Zoisite, you will apologise to Makoto and Kunzite, you will apologise to Minako. I have never been so ashamed in all my life. What has got into you all?"

Jadeite looked up, the blond had been keeping quiet until now. "Mamoru-sama is right" he agreed softly "You were both out of line."

"And being forced into an arranged marriage against my will isn't?" Zoisite snarled before also jumping up. The youngest king turned and left the room without another word just as the Princesses entered with the main course.

"Where did Zoisite go?" Ami enquired and then, seeing the tense expression in Mamoru's eyes she added "Would you like me to go after him, Mamoru-sama?"

"I will go" Kunzite surprised himself by saying and inwardly cursed. The best thing, the sensible thing for him to do would be to allow Ami to follow her fiancé after all Princess Mercury had a way of soothing Zoisite's terrible temper but Kunzite had to admit he was more than a little jealous of the blue haired Senshi. Jealousy was an ugly trait Kunzite thought uncomfortably as he stood, ignoring the glare of his king and hastily exiting the room before rational thought changed his mind.

* * *

She sat in her icy throne room, her hands waving about the crystalline ball set before her, red eyes narrowed at she gazed into the swirling pools. It had been so long... too long that she had been confined to this eternal darkness, a darkness that was both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Still with all the power at her fingertips and the grace of Metallia, Beryl's Youma armies had not been able to breech the security of the Earth palace since that day many years ago, when a single Youma had managed to mortally wound one of Prince Endymion's guardians. Of course, if Beryl's spies were to be believed the forth king had been found and healed the dying guardian. That very day King Endymion had ordered the palace mage to cast a spell upon the palace, binding the Shitennou's loyalty to its gates. No evil could cross over into the palace unless one of Mamoru's Shitennou betrayed him. Even the young king himself did not know what his father had done but Beryl knew. Metallia sensed every spell that was cast, every act of hatred committed in the galaxy was enough to feed her powers and she grew hungry for more. The day of destiny was soon at hand, Beryl could sense it and this was why she was alone in her audience room now. The Youma armies were assembling along the boundaries of the kingdom. Mamoru's hold on the Shitennou was weakening. A perfect amount of darkness was already in the hearts of the people Mamoru trusted the most. The Youma had brought more than death that day in the palace. Just a trickle of evil was enough to bend the wills of the kings. They thought they had their own minds, they grew resentful of the honour bestowed upon them and all was her doing she thought gleefully. They would soon defy Endymion and when that happened Beryl planned to strike. She would pour dark energy into the palace, instantly seizing control of all who dwelt there and then Prince Endymion would belong to her. The Queen of the Darkness smiled coldly, thinking of her next attack upon the Moon Kingdom. Then Serenity would know the true meaning of pain and suffering. She would endure all that Beryl had. The people of Earth already resented the people of the Moon for their long lives. Beryl would use it to manipulate these mortals into reshaping the destiny of the universe. A universe that Beryl would soon control. Nothing could stand in her way now... nothing.

The darkness was fast approaching. It would soon be time...

* * *

Kunzite hurried down the dimly lit halls of the palace, thanking the gods that there was hardly anyone about. He knew where he was going; he knew exactly what was going to happen when he reached his destination. Kunzite knew that this would be perceived as calculating, cold and ruthless even but he knew what he wanted and nothing, especially not some blue haired bitch was going to stop him from obtaining it. That thought stopped him cold. What of his duty? There had been a time when duty meant everything to the oldest Shitennou. Now it was nothing but a distant memory. Had Kunzite bothered to look inside himself and seen the true reason behind his discord and hatred he might have thought twice before stepping up to the redwood door with 'Zoisite' marked in silver lettering and rapping on it, softly but firmly. There was of course, no reply and Kunzite was not surprised. Gathering his powers he jumped the gap that separated him from his desired prize, even surpassing the wards the young king had set up, after all it had been Kunzite who taught him to do this and knew exactly how to get around them. The king sat on the edge of his four-poster bed, hands clasped tightly in front of him, his jacket, gloves and boots had been tossed carelessly to the floor, his hair loose from its ponytail fell in front of his face, obscuring it from view.

"Go away" was the response when Kunzite sat down beside him, taking a moment to smooth the pieces of hair back from that delicate face Kunzite knew he would have to choose his words carefully.

"Mamoru-sama requested that I speak with you. He was angered greatly by your display." This was not the entire truth but in part and Kunzite decided that it would do well enough.

This earned a bitter laugh "At least I did not alienate my bride-to-be. You really hurt Minako-san."

Kunzite snorted at this "Do you care about Minako?"

Zoisite shook his head and took a deep breath "I do not think it would be wise to upset the Senshi that is all. They are Serenity-sama's guardians after all."

"One would think you fear them."

This earned a reaction. Zoisite's head snapped up, hateful green eyes blazing "I do not fear them. They are 'such silly girls' as you so elegantly put it to Mamoru-sama earlier this evening."

That's it... that's good... become angered... hate me for this... let me see that hatred.

Kunzite shuddered slightly, a voice, not his own echoed his thoughts and feelings. He shifted his position on the bed and then suddenly, without any thought to the situation or possible consequences he grabbed a hold of Zoisite, wrapping his arms around the slender king's back and pulling him into an embrace.

Zoisite squirmed angrily and then, when Kunzite pressed a hungry kiss to his lips, he relaxed against the older king, returning the kiss with enthusiasm.

Away went all the feelings of doubt and/or guilt. Kunzite deepened the kiss; thoughts of Minako and returning to the dinner couldn't be further from his mind.

* * *

Zoisite woke early the next morning. Slowly, as he lay in his bed, the dark green sheet pulled up to his chin, the feel of the strong arms around him and the soft skin of his lover under his cheek, the memories of the night before attacked his mind with ferocity. The night in itself had been... amazing he thought, a blush creeping across his cheeks and given the chance to make the choice again Zoisite would not have done anything differently. He absently snuggled closer to Kunzite, enjoying the sensation of being in the other man's arms trying not to think of the consequences yet knew deep down that last night would never happen again. How could it? They were engaged, promised to others with no free will of their own. Zoisite struggled to force down the rising anger at Endymion for placing him in this situation. Mamoru was his friend as well as king... perhaps he could be reasoned with. Zoisite was stunned at this logic, he was not the kind of person to think things through but this was not a normal situation. He knew what he wanted and slowly a plan was formulating in his mind to obtain both these things. He was one of the four kings protecting Mamoru and Zoisite could think of no honour greater than this and certainly did not want to betray his king and best friend but his heart belonged to Kunzite. Mamoru would see this surely? The king would free them of their marriages, of course this would hurt Ami but Zoisite could explain could he not? Ami was always telling him the importance of love. In time she would understand.

Stealthily, Zoisite eased himself from Kunzite's embrace with a sudden determination to speak with Mamoru right away, to even perhaps sort out this mess before Kunzite woke. This last thought caused Zoisite to smile. Kunzite would be so proud of him if he spoke to Mamoru all on his own, if he solved this problem without losing his temper or doing something rash. Grinning the young king quickly located his uniform, which lay scattered all over the green carpet and hurriedly got dressed before leaving the room never guessing that it would be his last morning in the kingdom.

* * *

Mamoru had been up all night, pacing back and forth his luxurious bedroom, wearing a hole in the carpet. Indeed he had attempted sleep, but each time his head touched the pillows his mind kept replaying the dinner over and over. Now, as dawn broke over the horizon, he was at a complete loss. Mamoru knew his Shitennou resented the marriages but what could he do? His father had engineered it all. If he pulled out now...

A knock at the door startled him. Mamoru barely registered that he had replied with 'Enter' before he door was pushed open. Zoisite stood on the threshold, looking as glorious as ever even at this hour of the morning.

"Mamoru-sama" he began hesitantly, "I need to speak with you... about last night."

Mamoru nodded wearily, gathering his shields and armour he nodded in agreement "Not here."

He led them outside, into the palace gardens. They wandered in silence through the winding paths of the many rose gardens before Zoisite drew up the courage to speak.

"I meant what I said last night Mamoru-sama. I do not wish to marry the Princess of Mercury."

"Can I ask why?" Mamoru replied, keeping his voice steady and free of any emotion.

"I do not love her, Mamoru-sama. How can I marry someone I do not love?"

Mamoru sighed, wondering how he was going to put this delicately. "Zoi-chan. Love is a luxury not a duty. I am sure Princess Ami realises this too. I do, however, believe that you are fond of her at least."

Zoisite nodded and took a shuddering breath "I love another, Mamo-chan."

The young king started, stopping to stare at the youngest of his guard, his best friend "Who?" he demanded.

Zoisite lowered his gaze, a blush creeping across his cheeks "It would be improper for me to say, Mamoru-sama."

"Who?" Mamoru repeated, "As one of my guardians I order you to answer me."

Zoisite's head snapped up, his eyes narrowing slightly at this demand, knowing he would have to obey. Mamoru felt ashamed at this. He had never used his position to force a response from any of them before, respecting that to some extent they still had freewill. He squirmed uncomfortably under Zoisite's almost hateful gaze as the man replied, "Kunzite-sama."

"Kunzite?" Mamoru actually laughed, running a hand nervously through his short black hair. "Kunzite? But he's a... and you're a..."

"I beg forgiveness but I cannot help how I feel." Zoisite dropped to his knees, head bowed "I ask only this. Free us from the marriages. This I ask as your friend and equal, not as protector and servant."

Mamoru stared at the copper haired king for what seemed like an age, a million thoughts going round inside his head. How could Zoisite ask this of him when he knew it could not be done? Zoisite and Kunzite? How could this be? This would never be allowed anywhere else and if the relationship were found out by his enemies it could cost Mamoru the throne! With a heavy heart, the man knew what he had to do.

"Stand up" he commanded softly to which Zoisite obeyed.

Forgive me

"I cannot agree to this request. You will cease your relationship with Kunzite immediately and will marry Princess Ami as my father would have wanted."

Zoisite opened his mouth and then closed it again, no sound emerging, too stunned into silence to do anything else.

Mamoru trembled, more than anything else in the kingdom he wanted to tell Zoisite that it would be all right, that he could undo the engagement and he and Kunzite could be together. No... this could never happen.

"The Princesses have returned with Serenity to the Moon Kingdom" Mamoru continued, ignoring the gathering tears forming in his friend's eyes and with it a steeled look of determination... hatred. "They were very troubled by the events of last night and thought it would be wise that they leave. I will, of course, expect you to make amends with Princesses Ami and Makoto as Kunzite will have to make amends with Princess Minako."

"And what if we refuse?" Zoisite asked softly, his voice barely a whisper. "What if we refuse to give each other up?"

"I will not allow it. You are my guardians and you will do as I say."

"Then I resign."

"What?"

"I do not wish to belong to a court who dictates my love and a King who puts his throne above his friendships."

Mamoru's eyes blazed, red-hot fury washing over him. He barely realised he had drawn back his hand, when his fist struck flesh. Zoisite fell, landing on his back, huge emerald green eyes staring up at his Prince. He reached up, touching his face, blood spilling from his lip and dripping down onto his uniform.

"Mamoru-sama?" neither of the two men had heard the arrival to the other guardians. The soon king of Earth turned, his gaze meeting that of Jadeite and Nephrite's.

"How much did you hear?"

Neither answered, forcing Mamoru to repeat himself and adding again "I order you to answer."

"Enough" Jadeite said at last, "More than perhaps we wanted too."

"Leave us" Mamoru snapped, turning his back on them, "This is between the two of us and no one else."

"No" the blond guardian replied, daring to grab Mamoru's shoulders, forcing the Prince to turn around.

"No?" Mamoru actually laughed but pain was evident in his eyes "You cannot disobey me? I am your Prince."

Jadeite looked uncomfortable and the continued, "I know... forgive me."

Mamoru shrugged away from the contact "What is it you have to say here?"

"We are not your property. Hells we didn't even choose this path. Your father dragged me away from my family against my will." Jadeite was shaking as he spoke. Mamoru knew he could force them to be silent, to leave but something held his tongue... he knew deep down that Jadeite was right. "He told me I could see them again, that my mother would come and visit. The next day I was told she was dead, a terrible accident, or so I was told. Your father did not want any of us to have normal lives; it did not fit into his ideals, his images of us. We meant as little to him as we are coming to mean to you."

"Nephrite?" Mamoru turned to the older man "Do you think this way too?"

"You are blinded by your love for your father and now your love for Princess Usagi. Queen Serenity is using you all. You are being seduced by the Moon Kingdom's lies. Our creators live extended lives full of happiness where as ours is nothing but pain and suffering and still we are dictated too by them. You refuse to listen to even your own guardians."

One by one they turn... now is the time... feed the darkness you fools. It will be the ultimate cause of your own undoing.

Zoisite had stood now, surprised by his colleague's unexpected support. A feral smile washed across his delicate face as he opened the portal. "Here is another choice for you, Mamoru-sama. This leads to the Moon Kingdom and Serenity's court. Choose which you would rather serve. The Earth Kingdom or the Moon."

The earth slowly began to tremble; even the ground Zoisite stood on was shaking. He gasped and stumbled, falling once more on his back and even the portal flickered and threatened to die out like a candle in the breeze.

"W-what is this?" Mamoru whispered, his throat suddenly dry as he gazed upon the rapidly darkening skies. The palace, that had up until a few moments ago, been bathed the first dawn, was now clocked in a black cloud, and that cloud was moving nearer. Then it happened. The skies were torn open and demons rained down upon them all. Mamoru gasped and staggered back, even as Jadeite and Nephrite moved between their Prince and harm. The darkness was not darkness at all. It was a huge black tear in the fabric of their world. The fine line that separated the Dark Kingdom from the Earth Kingdom had come undone and now Youma poured forth and into the palace.

Your strength separates the dimensions, Mamoru. The bonds between you and your guardians keep the kingdom safe. If those bonds are severed and the trust broken, then Metallia will break free into this world. You must marry the Princess of the Moon and your guardians the Inner Senshi. It is the only way for our two kingdoms to be at peace.

"Metallia" Mamoru whispered, his throat suddenly very dry and his legs started to give way. Nephrite grabbed a hold of him before he hit the ground, "Metallia has awakened..."

The palace was now awash with darkness. Mamoru could see it pouring in through the windows, corrupting everything and everyone one in its path. As he stared, he understood everything.

"Kunzite-sama!" a scream burst from Zoisite's throat as the realisation of what was happening struck home. The little king sprang away from Mamoru and started to tear back down the path towards the palace.

"Zoi-chan!" Mamoru stumbled, taking a tentative step after his friend, "No! Come back! He is lost!"

And he was, that Mamoru knew. Beryl would have known that Kunzite was the only one of his guardians that would have had a real chance against her. The only thing now was for escape. Fear lending wings to his feet, Mamoru lunged after Zoisite, tackling the youngest king and slamming him to the ground. Zoisite struggled, lashing out at his Prince, tears stinging his eyes as Jadeite, too, grabbed a hold of him, keeping him pinned to the ground.

"He is lost to us!" Mamoru snarled, "Are you going to throw away your life, too?" and then, in a lower voice, he added, "I need you, Zoi-chan."

Zoisite's struggling ceased, but his tears did not and in those few precious seconds when they stood, Mamoru realised that Zoisite truly had loved Kunzite and the Prince's sorrow deepened.

"Endymion-sama" Nephrite broke through his bitter thoughts, and Mamoru felt the guardian take a hold of his arm, "We have to get back to that portal. It is our only chance."

"But my kingdom?"

"The Kingdom is lost" Nephrite spoke harshly, "The only thing now is to retreat. You are the future king. As long as you are alive there is hope."

Mamoru nodded and tore his gaze from the palace, turning his back on his home. As he did so he felt it; a presence behind him. Mamoru whirled back round in time to see a Youma detach itself from the main army and lung in his direction, a clawed hand reaching out towards him. The Prince could not move... his feet were rooted to the spot in pure terror. He had never seen a Youma this close up before. Hells, he had never been to war. He could not move, but his guardians could. Nephrite pulled the Prince back out of the Youma's path and they sprawled in the dirt, just as Jadeite blocked the demon's downward decent with his own body.

The both went down, Jadeite's blade skittered across the ground, out of his grasp. Yet, the Youma was not interested in the royal guardian. Its orders had been to get to Endymion. Nephrite leapt up, grabbing hold of Mamoru and pushed him behind his own body, but the Youma did not get that far. Jadeite struck again, reclaiming his blade and burying it between the Youma's shoulder blades. It screamed in agony and spun away from the Prince in a kind of wild dance. It writhed, wrapping a scaled hand around the hilt of the sword and violently ripping it free.

"Jadeite!" Mamoru screamed as the Youma lunged towards the weapon-less guardian, just as an ice crystal and star sword were let fly from the other guardians hands and imbedded themselves into the Youma's already bleeding wound. It went down, falling atop Jadeite and knocking him to the ground. Mamoru screamed again and pushed Nephrite aside; kneeling down he rolled the dead Youma off of his guardian.

"No" he moaned when he saw the guardian on the ground. Jadeite's sword had entered his stomach as the Youma had fell forwards onto him. The blade now impaled the blonde, pinning him to the ground.

"Endymion-sama" Jadeite croaked out, blood spilling from his mouth and mixing with the ever expanding spot of red welling out from the sword's blade.

"Nephrite" Mamoru whispered, not taking his eyes off of his fallen friend, "Find a healer... someone must have escaped... find someone!"

"Go" Jadeite pleaded, "I am lost... you must go... before its too late."

"I can't" Mamoru shook his head, "I can't."

But Nephrite could. Forcing his own sorrow down, he pulled the Prince to his feet. "We must get you to the portal" he whispered.

The young Prince shook Nephrite away, "No! How can I leave him? I can't!"

"Endymion-sama" Nephrite protested and turned to Zoisite for support. The little king, too, was knelt over Jadeite, small sobs racking his slight frame, but Nephrite knew that it was not for Jadeite that Zoisite grieved.

"We have to go!" Nephrite tried again and again Mamoru refused to move. At a loss and struggling to assuage his own emotions, Nephrite drew his sword and kept a guard on the Prince. He knew that they would not have to wait long.

He was right. When he looked again at his fallen comrade, Jadeite gave a small cry and shuddered once before the light died from his eyes. Mamoru uttered a strangled cry and more tears poured forth. Angrily, Nephrite grabbed a hold of the Prince, pulling him away.

"We can grieve later" he snarled, "Now we must flee."

Somewhere inside of him, Mamoru realised the sense in these words and took a step in Nephrite's direction. But they had lingered too long. The Prince was nearly at Nephrite's side when she appeared. Even the second most powerful guardian shuddered as she stepped between them. She was a demon of nightmares. Her eyes were blood red and sharp as they locked upon the terrified Prince. She towered above them, thick crimson hair cascading down her back and framing a cold porcelain face.

"Beryl" Mamoru uttered her name, knowing in his heart who the demon was. He stumbled, her dagger like gaze pinning him to the spot, even as Nephrite darted between them, his sword drawn.

"Zoisite" Nephrite addressed the youngest king, "Take Endymion-sama to the portal."

Zoisite's eyes widened at the true meaning to Nephrite's words and he hesitated, and in that hesitation Mamoru realised what was happening.

Beryl struck, dark energies pouring from her staff and striking the second king, even as Zoisite pulled Mamoru back, away from the path of the magics. Nephrite fell, his sword clattering to the ground. His sword hand was nothing but a mass of mangled flesh. Moaning, Mamoru stumbled towards him, until Zoisite pulled him back further.

"We must go!" he cried, tears still wetting his eyes as he dragged the Prince away. Beryl, angered that her much desired prize was escaping, lunged forwards, but again Nephrite blocked her path. He conjured a ball of crackling energy in his left hand and hurled it at the Queen. Instantly, she flung up her own defences whilst launching a counter attack. It slammed into Nephrite, knocking him down again.

Mamoru could not tear his eyes away from the battle. There was no hope... Nephrite could not defeat her... tears stung his eyes and Zoisite's grip on his arm did not falter, even as Nephrite was felled for a final time. The auburn haired man did not get back up. Now Beryl made after them again, but she would be too late.

The portal lay in front of them, and Mamoru almost wept when he saw it. It was less than ten metres away and in that space he had lost two of his most trusted friends and a third lay dying somewhere inside his own palace.

"Endymion-sama" Zoisite pushed him towards the slowly rotating gate between worlds, "Go first."

Mamoru went to do as asked and then stopped and turned to stare at his final guardian, taking in the tearstained face and bloodied lower lip. "I'm sorry," he whispered and he truly meant it, "I didn't want any of this to happen."

"I know you didn't. Now go"

Mamoru again hesitated, "You will be right behind me won't you, Zoi-chan?"

Zoisite nodded, turning his head away from Mamoru and back towards Beryl, "She is not going to be happy" there was a hint of a smile on his lips as he stated this.

"She won't be" Mamoru echoed his thoughts and stepped through the portal. As soon as his Prince had gone, Zoisite closed it, silently begging Mamoru's forgiveness.

"Kunzite-sama" he whispered, turning back towards the palace, "If you are alive I will find you. If you are dead then I will die beside you."

"You!" the little guardian froze as he felt a clawed hand upon his shoulder and Beryl locked down on his powers, stopping the teleport that would have taken him to Kunzite's quarters, "Where did Endymion go? Where did that portal lead?"

"I-I..." Zoisite stuttered, as her dagger like gaze bore into his own. Her hand dug deeper into his shoulder as she spoke again.

"Tell me and I will make your death a quick one" with this she released him and Zoisite fell to his knees in a dazed submission.

"The Silver Millennium" he heard a voice, his own, answer her. Beryl cackled in gleeful laughter.

"The Moon? This is perfect! Endymion will watch me triumph over that wench Princess Serenity and will finally choose to be at my side."

The spell was broken and Zoisite suddenly had the energy to stand. "What did you to do Kunzite-sama?" he demanded, his voice gaining strength as he spoke, "What did you do to him?"

"He got in my way" Beryl leered down at the remaining guardian, "He tried to stop me from reaching my Endymion."

"What did you do?"

Beryl saw the tears in Zoisite's eyes and revelled in explaining the fate of his lover, "He met me at the entrance to the palace. He was a fool. One man against my Youma armies. I let them take their time. You can imagine how embittered they were after spending thousands of years sealed deep within the Earth. But of course Youma get bored easily and Kunzite refused to even scream."

"Kunzaito-sama" if Beryl expected Zoisite to fall to pieces upon this revelation and give up, then she was wrong. Zoisite saw red as he conjured an ice dagger and hurled it towards the Queen. Beryl was too stunned to even react. It grazed her cheek, cutting into her delicate flesh.

"You bitch! I'll kill you!" she only just stopped the second blade, her hand closed around its end, as it was poised inches from her heart. A grin twisted Beryl's face as she lashed out with her staff once more and watched as he was thrown backwards, his body slamming hard against the iron gate of the palace. He tumbled forward and hit the ground headfirst. Beryl was mildly disappointed when he did not get up. She placed a hand to her cheek, feeling the blood trickling between her fingers as she eyed the guardian. The fall should not have been hard enough to kill him, but Zoisite had landed at an angle. He had broken his neck.

"Such a fool" Beryl shook her head as she heeded Metallia's commands and ordered a Youma to gather up the limp body of the forth king. Youma were already collecting the bodies of Jadeite and Nephrite, Kunzite had already been taken to the Dark Kingdom. Metallia would grant them life again for they were part of the reason that Beryl had struck the Earth. In order to obtain Endymion for her own, she needed to take everything that he held dear away from him. She now had his guardians; it would break the Prince to see them living once more and fighting for her. Now, only Serenity stood between Beryl and her very much-desired prize...


The End of Chapter 7 - Goto Chapter 8


Disclaimer: Once again I own nothing - if I did I would not be here but making my ficcies into anime, something that will sadly never happen *cries*


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