Theme: Red, Gold and Green (Post-Series)
He spotted her body quickly, with that red hair, how could he not, but she pushed herself onto her feet before he could even stretch out a hand to help. Not that she would have taken it. She prided herself on being independent. Still, he would have liked to make the offer.
She was tired, he could see that from the slowness of her movements, the way she breathed, very gently. She must have taken a hit to the chest. Her ribs were almost certainly bruised, maybe fractured or even broken. He pushed away the spike of panic caused by this idea and walked to her. He didn't run. That would have meant he thought she wasn't capable of standing on her own two feet. Very bad.
She turned her head slightly, waiting. The redness of her hair made her skin look even paler.
"Will heal." She put a hand to her side, belying her words. "I am alive, Jadeite. That is what matters."
He nodded, not bothering to point out that other things mattered, mattered just as much. He was tired, too. They stood in silence, the smell of death all around them. Black birds flew down to feast on the bodies of the fallen. Not crows. They were similar, but they were not crows. This planet had another word for these birds, which translated roughly as 'war eaters'. He wondered if he could introduce it to Earth. It was appropriate. Their presence reminded him.
"Phobos and Deimos?"
"They're here... somewhere... mercy killings." She shifted her weight. "It isn't over, Jadeite."
"Of course not," he said, gazing out over the slaughter. The sun was setting, laying a golden light over the green of their skin and blood. "We've won the battle, not the war."
"But it was an important battle," she whispered. "I felt it."
"Of course, you did." He was unfazed. "You are Mars, senshi of war, goddess of battle and strife. I'm sure you sensed every movement on this field." He paused, watching her face. "Did you enjoy yourself, megami-sama*?"
She looked at him. Her eyes, red as a senshi, held the gold of the sun and the green of the dead. They looked as if they were on fire. She was beautiful and terrible at the same time. For a moment, he thought she would strike him. Then she smiled.
"I am pleased," she said. "Pleased that it went our way... and pleased that it's not the last time. I have missed this feeling."
Jadeite knew that other people hearing these words would have been horrified. Perhaps it showed how twisted he was that he found them beautiful, even erotic in a certain measure. He didn't care. "So have I," he said.
Title: Boots for Walking
Theme: Leather (Post-Series)
It was when Usagi tried on the boots that she first realised something was... different. Having sloughed off the puppy fat that had 'plagued' her in her teens, she prided herself on remaining at a healthy weight, even if she still did have snack attacks occasionally. The boots were leather and she'd bought them specially so she could ride with Mamoru on his motorbike. Usually, she pulled the zip up in one quick stroke and the leather encased her leg, turning it shapely and smooth.
This time, it stuck just below the swell of her calf. Usagi frowned, peered, and tugged. The zip eventually obeyed, but slowly, reluctantly. And when she put the other boot on, it happened again. Usagi got up and looked at herself in the mirror and had to suppress a squeal of dismay. Her calves were bulging.
"I can't believe this! I didn't have that much ice-cream last weekend," she fretted, turning around in an effort to discover how bad the bulge seemed from other angles. But this didn't help: she only noticed that her bottom was bigger, too. At this rate, she wouldn't fit into the leather biking trousers either.
"That's it, detox diet, starting today!" she decided, grabbing her jacket, which fortunately still fitted perfectly, and then she raced down the stairs, trying to ignore the squeeze of the leather on her legs.
Trying hard to fit among you,
Floating out to Wonderland.
God, I'm pregnant,
Damn the consequences,
When I grow up,
I'll be stable.
When I grow up,
I'll turn the tables.
- Garbage, When I Grow Up
She stood before the mirror and put her hand on her back, staring at her body sideways. It helped that she was wearing only her underwear. Now she knew, she could detect the faintest bulge in her belly, not really enough to show but enough to make her trousers and skirts feel tighter. Her breasts definitely looked bigger. A smile slipped over her face: Mamoru had definitely noticed that, though he hadn't actually said anything straight to her face. Probably too nervous of being accused that he thought she was fat.
"Well, I'll soon be getting fatter," she murmured, placing one hand on the tiny swelling of her belly and looking down. "You okay in there? Because... if I go to all the trouble of telling everybody and then you just decide that you'd rather leave now, while the going's good... Mama will be angry!" She slapped a hand over her mouth. She sounded just like her mother. "Oh God, I'm not even properly started and I'm turning into her," she muttered, pulling her shirt back on and buttoning it up.
She had to tell Mamoru first, of course. If she told one of the girls first, the others might get offended: "Why did you tell her first and not me?" They were great friends, but they were still girls, after all. If she told Mamoru first, they couldn't be jealous. After all, he would be the father. Was the father.
But how was she going to tell him? Mamoru was going to be a doctor, of course, but Usagi knew that when it came to her, the doctor was usually put aside. Unless he decided to 'Join the Dots' on her body, which was always fun, if ticklish. In fact, that might be responsible for her present state, she thought, shaking her hair out and taking one last look in the mirror before going to the front door.
He was sitting on the university steps, reading a book, and she smiled. Just the sight of him brightened her day a little bit, even though she was nervous. It was only natural. She thought she knew how he'd react, but she couldn't be sure. "Mamoru!" she called, and waved.
He looked up and smiled, the gentle smile that was hers alone. "You look happy," he said, putting the book away in his satchel. "I was worried. You sounded strange on the phone."
"Oh... did I?" She scratched the back of her neck. "That's why I wanted to talk to you... I know I've been acting strange. I wanted to explain."
"Usagi, you act strangely every month, I've got used to it, I know why..."
"No, you don't," she interrupted. "Can we walk? I'd feel better if we were walking."
He blinked. "Okay..." He stood up and took her hand, secretly relieved when she didn't pull away. "Did you go to the doctor?"
She nodded. "Mm... but he only told me what I already knew."
He felt his heart begin to beat faster. His doctor's mind was already coming up with all the things that could go wrong with a young woman and they were many, so many, even if she was healthy. "You knew?"
"There were only so many things it could be."
He licked his lips. "Is it serious?"
She looked at him, her eyebrows moving together in that adorable confused expression. "Mamoru?"
"Usagi, just be straight with me. Is it serious or not?"
"Well, I'm having a baby, I think that's pretty serious!"
For a moment, the words didn't register in Mamoru's head. He could only stare at his wife, who now had her hands on her hips. "Baby?" he repeated.
"That's right. A baby. Yours and mine. I'm pregnant," she finished, just in case he hadn't got the message.
Mamoru could have collapsed with relief but he knew that would freak her out, so he grabbed her and pulled her into a hug, laughing. "Usagi... I thought you were sick! I thought there was something wrong!"
"Wrong? Why would there be anything wrong?" she asked, hugging him back.
"I don't know..." he sighed, burying his face in her hair. "Just the way you put it. I was worried."
"You're worried? You're not the one who's going to have to give birth!" she retorted playfully.
"Right," he agreed, holding back a smile. "All my worries are secondary. Have you told any of the girls? Your mother?"
"No. You're the first to know. I thought you should be, since you're the father. It's your baby, too." She smiled up at him, basking in his happiness. "I thought I'd tell Mama and Papa when you're there."
Mamoru's happiness short-circuited. "Oh..."
Title: Invisible Witness
Genre: General (True Drabble)
Version: Manga (Dream Arc)
They could not refuse the call of the power, that strong golden thread pulled them back to their ancestral land, where they saw their master in purple robes, a prince no longer. They stood slightly away from the group and knelt and only Elios noticed them. Kunzite nodded at him and he nodded back, the tiniest acknowledgement. Then the Queen and King raised their staffs, drew the darkness from the mirror, and destroyed it. The air shimmered with power and the four spirits breathed in, feeling heavy for the first time in years, as their prince was finally crowned king.
Title: Maiden to Mother
Theme: "All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another." - Anatole France
And it came, the change. She couldn't stop it, she didn't want to stop it, but oh... Usagi looked at herself in the mirror a few months later and she couldn't help her bottom lip pushing out. Just like her belly, white and round in the mirror. Even as she pouted, she ran a hand over it, marvelling at the firmness, marvelling that inside this curve was a living being, a completely new life, someone who had both her genes and Mamoru's.
"What's wrong, Usagi-chan?"
"I'm fat, Luna. Fat, fat, fat." She poked her belly for emphasis. "I'm like a doughnut without the hole. And I know this is natural and I'm healthy but at the same time..."
Luna peered at her warily. "At the same time?"
Usagi's lower lip now started to wobble. She sat plump on the bed (causing Luna to bounce slightly) and started to cry. Luna was not totally surprised by this reaction. She'd read up on pregnancy on the Internet and she knew that Usagi's hormones were jumpier than Mexican jumping beans in boiling water. "Usagi-chan," she said comfortingly, getting up and walking towards the girl she would always see as her charge.
"I don't... understand it... Luna," Usagi gasped in between sobs. "I'm supposed to be happy. I'm supposed to be glowing. I'm supposed to feel like this is the best time of my life and I feel miserable!" The tears came back with a vengeance.
Luna put a paw on her knee. "Usagi-chan... it's natural to feel this way."
Usagi gulped back her sobs, looking at her. "It is?"
"Yes. Being sad has nothing to do with wanting the baby. Of course you want the baby, but this is a big change. Your life will never be the same. It won't just be you and Mamoru-san anymore, you'll have the baby, too. You will have to think of her always. You will think of her before yourself." Luna pressed her head against the warm curve of Usagi's belly. "Of course you're upset. You're scared."
Usagi sniffed and touched her head. "I'm not a bad mother?"
"Of course you're not a bad mother! You're a new one... that's an entirely different thing. And you will be a different person after your baby is born."
Usagi nodded, looking sombre. "Sailor Moon... I'll never be her again."
"What do you mean, Usagi-chan? The ginzuishou was shattered, you couldn't transform before this."
"No, but... I'm leaving her behind. I'm leaving that part of my life behind forever. I never thought I'd miss that, but... I don't know. Even though that power was so dangerous, it still felt good to use it... to help people."
Luna nodded. Helping people, that was always the important thing with Usagi. "I understand. But Usagi-chan, you'll have a different power after this. A mother's power. Your baby will look up to you and depend on you for everything and you will help that baby for all of his or her life, even after he or she has reached adulthood. It's not like the Ginzuishou, but it's still a very important thing."
"Luna... do you think the Ginzuishou will reform inside my baby?"
Luna's eyes bugged out. The truth was, she hadn't even thought about that. "Wh-what makes you say that?"
"I don't know... I just wondered..." Usagi rubbed her belly, an almost unconscious movement that nevertheless radiated tenderness and protection. "I mean... I'm not Sailor Moon anymore, but if I had a daughter... there's no reason she couldn't be, if she was needed."
"She won't be needed," Luna said, with a great deal more firmness than she felt, "not like that. The only thing she - or he - needs to be, is a healthy baby."
Usagi smiled down at her. "You'd look after her, right, Luna?"
"Of course, Usagi-chan. Now, it's time for your afternoon nap."
"Hai, hai." Usagi went to the personal stereo and put on her Kaioh Michiru CD, then sat back on the bed and closed her eyes to the sound of beautiful violin playing, reassured by Luna's words. Luna, however, remained awake. Usagi's words had not reassured her. In fact, she thought she might go and do some research. Who knew what other changes were to come?
Title: An Honourable Life
Theme: "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." -- George Bernard Shaw
It had been a long, frustrating day. Recording in a strange studio was always difficult, no matter how often you'd done it, and Minako had done it hundreds of times. But practice never made perfect in this case. The acoustics were different, the position of the recording booth was different, the producer might be to her left, her right or straight in front of her... it all made her want to arch her back and spit, like Artemis might have done. Artemis was her centrepoint, her lodestone, the one reminder of home that she was allowed to carry wherever she went. After a day like this, she wanted nothing more than to retreat inside her hotel room and rant about everything that had gone wrong.
He knew that it had gone badly as soon as she walked in the door, head down, mouth tight. She threw her bag on the chair, ran forward and threw herself on the bed, face down, silent. Artemis uncurled from his position on the windowsill and jumped onto the mattress. He nudged her with his nose. "Minako?"
"What am I doing here, Artemis?" Her voice was muffled but her tone was unmistakeable. She turned on her back and gazed up at the ceiling, eyes hot. Even now, she found it difficult to let go and just cry. That would be an admission of weakness and old habits were the hardest to break. She thought of Usagi (Princess) who cried and laughed so easily. Her emotions were not cut off, ever. Minako envied her for that, but she would never say so. Usagi would not understand.
"You're recording your new album." His voice was gentle, soothing.
"What album? There's no theme, no coherent sound, the songs make no sense..." She rubbed her eyes. "All I've done today is make mistakes."
"But every mistake means you learn something." He moved closer and she put her hand on his head, stroking the fluffy ears. "Mistakes are useful."
"They don't feel useful," she muttered. "Look at all the mistakes I made when I was a senshi. How were they useful?"
Artemis refrained from sighing. Minako could get mired in pessimism if she wanted to; then she would spend the rest of the day drawing, withdrawn from him and the rest of the world. It was the dark side of her character, usually so driven. He put a paw on her forehead, feeling the heat of the skin. "Even if you made mistakes, you were still doing something, Minako," he said softly. "And those mistakes... helped you to become a better person. To open up. To understand. You did everything in the belief you were doing a right thing. Your mistakes were honourable."
Minako smiled. "You think I'm honourable?"
"A little too honourable, sometimes."
She stroked his ears, considering these words. "Artemis."
"Thank you." She curled up, hugging him to her. "Thank you."
And finally, the tears came.
Title: Beware of Sharks
Venus tucked a lock of golden hair behind her ear and made a few more notes. She had just one candidate left and then she could get on with the business of making the first cut. She pressed the intercom, asked her secretary to send him in, and took a look at his CV to memories his name: Donald Burberry. Obviously Anglo-Saxon, yet the kanji was perfect and he took care to write that he spoke fluent Japanese. Well, she'd conduct the first part of the interview in English, then see exactly how fluent he was.
The door opened and he came in, a smile already on his face. She looked up and felt as if she'd been shot in the chest. Oh God, no. She rose, feeling herself smile automatically and hold out her hand to greet him, but her mind was a roar of static. No .. not possible . . how ... HIM .. already, so soon . . . how could he? "Mr Burberry, welcome," she said in perfect English.
He took her hand shook it. Even though she was wearing gloves, Venus felt her skin crawl and shiver. "Thank you for meeting me, Lady Venus," he said respectfully. His eyes were exactly the same, a rich chocolate brown. She sat down almost abruptly and gestured to the chair in front of her desk. He sat in front of her and clasped his hands, that charming smile still in place.
"So, Mr Burberry, tell me, why do you want to be the palace lawyer? It's not an easy job."
"I like a challenge," he said directly and Venus swallowed a harsh laugh. "And I've always wanted to work for the royal family... I want to serve our country."
She pretended to make some notes, even though her mind was already made up. "I see. And what do you think you could bring to the job, Mr Burberry?"
"Determination. Passion. I'm flexible, I have good ideas. As it says on my CV, I've represented powerful people before, I'm discreet, I know how to handle the press."
Of course you do, you did all that last time! she screamed inside her head. You could play people like Neptune plays the violin!
"We'd be working together a lot of the time," she said, making herself look up at him, into that pretty face. "Would you object to that?"
His smile widened, his eyes warmed. "Not at all."
"No girlfriend? No wife?" She glanced at his CV. "They tend to get a little itchy about their men working with me."
"Well, nobody could compare to the senshi of beauty," he said softly.
Normally Venus would have lapped up that compliment and flirted with him for all she was worth, testing him out. But not with this man. This man made her feel sick. She could have asked him some more questions, but she preferred to get him out of the room before she did something stupid. "Thank you," she said and stood up. "We'll be in touch."
He blinked but he was too clever to show true surprise. They shook hands and he left. After he'd done so, she opened the window and took a deep lungful of air, eyes burning. She heard the door open and close.
"Finished already?" Mars asked, surprised.
"Yes." She pulled her head back in and took Donald Burberry's CV, glancing over it once more. Born under the sign of Libra. Ha.
"That last one looked pretty," Mars remarked, her voice deliberately casual. "Going to have him back for a second interview?"
She crumpled the piece of paper in her hand and then tore it up for further satisfaction. "No."
Mars watched her, violet eyes sharp. "No?"
Venus walked over to the bin and dropped the shreds of paper into it. "Hopefully, I'll never have to see him again." And if I do, Danburite, it will be too soon.