Damn, this mushroomed like nothing I've ever seen before.
Title: La Petite Mort
Author: Starsea aka sea_thoughts
Theme: "Sex is worth dying for." - Foucault
Version: Manga (Crystal Tokyo)
She was in Paris for a medical conference and had a free afternoon. Perfect for a walk down the Left Bank. Trying to appreciate the feel of the city and the people around her, speaking a language that was both familiar and foreign, Ami thought of how French was like water - it flowed like the Seine, the vowels and consonants like small rocks affecting the rise and fall of the voices.
Then she saw him, leaning on one of the many bridges that spanned the river, looking out into space as always. The afternoon sunlight turned his hair gold and there was the faintest smile on his lips. It had to be him, it couldn't be anyone else. Her heart thudding with shock, she walked up to him and touched him on the cheek.
"Que faites-vous ici, Zoisite?"
He looked at her for a moment, returning from his dream. The green eyes blinked, hardened. "J'étais regardant la fleuve jusqu'à maintenant, Mercure."
Ami flinched, even though they weren't in Japan and took her hand away. "Don't call me that," she said in a low voice, switching back into Japanese. She realised, too late, that she'd asked the wrong question. Why did he always do that?
He smirked a little and leaned against the balustrade. "You know what I'm doing here, Ami-san. I'm the European Ambassador. Surely Endymion told you of that."
"What are you doing here without a bodyguard?" she elaborated, glancing around at the crowds flowing by them. Anonymity was a protection but it also meant that if something happened, nobody would know. Not for a while, anyway.
"I may not be a senshi, but I can take care of myself," he said lightly.
Ami flushed. Another faux pas. It really was uncanny how tactless she became around him. That had been one reason why she was so glad when he left for his residence as ambassador. She couldn't afford to be tongue-tied. "That's not the point-"
"Why are you here without a bodyguard?" he countered. "Because it would draw attention and that's precisely what you don't want. Same here. Where are you going?"
"I was just walking..." she said, resiging herself to the fact that the subject was closed.
"The French have a verb for that, you know," Zoisite said, brushing the undersides of his sleeves free of gravel. "Flâner. And the noun is 'flânerie'."
She glanced at him with a small smile. "Are you going to give me a French lesson?"
"Do you want one?" His voice was just a little deeper, his eyes just a little darker. She felt her heart begin to pound again, for absolutely no reason. Something else that always happened around him.
"I'm always willing to learn," she replied, keeping her voice light, using his own trick.
"Then step this way, mademoiselle," he said, gesturing extravagantly. "I will show you a side of Paris you have never seen before!"
"I only have an afternoon free," she warned. "Then there's a conference dinner at my hotel."
"Oh, an afternoon will be enough time," he said carelessly. "And you don't have to stay for the whole dinner, do you?" He glanced down, his eyes still darker than normal.
Ami counted her breaths, in and out. "No, not the whole dinner. Why, do you have something in mind?"
"Perhaps," he said softly. "If you're willing to trust me."
It was strangely exciting to leave the dinner before coffee and mints. She knew that people were looking at her but she'd had enough of shop talk for one evening. She collected her coat from the reception and passed through the sliding doors, cold with anticipation, her fingers tingling with the urge to express this feeling welling up inside her.
Why are you getting so excited? What do you think's going to happen? And why are you assuming it will be good?
She thought of walking through the streets of Montmartre, slipping a little on the cobbles, his hand around her elbow, the sound of their laughter rising in the air, people looking after them and smiling. Paris is a wonderful city for couples and they were obviously a couple.
She flinched inwardly at that word and ice pierced her heart. They were not a couple. They had not been a couple for a long time. Why was she doing this? Why was she letting him lull her into a false state of security?
Then she stopped. Zoisite was waiting at the bottom of the hotel steps, dressed in a long wool coat, hands in pockets. His hair was neatly tied back and he was looking up at her, his face completely exposed to the hotel floodlights, caught in a look of wonder.
Ami felt a flood of warmth in her belly. Oh God. Don't do this. Don't do this to me. She walked down the steps, very aware of his gaze, feeling like Minako must do on the catwalk. The word hovered in her mind, unacknowledged.
"Monsieur," she said softly as she stepped off the last step and relinquished the experience of being taller than him. Even in heels, she only came up to his chin. Zoisite was the shortest of the shitennou, but 'short' was a relative term. As Minako had once said, "'Only just' over six feet is still over six feet."
He took her gloved hand in his and lifted it to his lips. "Mademoiselle," he said huskily. "Vous êtes prête?"
"Je te fais confiance," she replied, deliberately using the informal address.
His mouth curled upwards in a smile that lifted her heart. "Bien. Allons-y." And he took her hand and tucked it around his elbow.
Ami felt another twinge of alarm and battled it back. It had been so long since they'd seen each other; it had been even longer since he'd been a creature of the dark. She was allowed to enjoy herself.
He took her to a café down a side alley with an old-fashioned dancefloor at the back where couples swayed in the dark. They sat down and he ordered a bottle of wine with complete confidence. She smiled at his fluency and he took the wine menu and told her about each vintage, making her laugh with scandalous titbits about various wine merchants.
"None of this is true!" she protested, putting a hand over her mouth as her shoulders shook.
"Truth... lies... it's all in the story, Ami-san." His eyes gleamed in the light, gold in the green.
The wine came. It was full and fruity in her mouth with a pleasant bitter aftertaste. She told him about her dinner companions and their complete inability to make small talk; she told him about what was happening in Japan, in Crystal Tokyo. She told him about the Court and how Small Lady was getting on with the Sailor Quartet. He sat there, chin on his templed hands, listening. He seemed more interested in drinking her than the wine, she thought for a brief moment.
"Tu veux danser?" he said as she paused for breath.
Ami crashed back to earth and shook her head. "Oh... no... I mean..."
"If you tell me you can't dance, I'll know you're lying," Zoisite warned with a smile. He ran a finger around the rim of his wine glass and Ami thought she heard a faint sweet ring, although that was impossible above the noise and music. "Come on. One dance."
She looked at her glass and wondered where the wine had gone. "All right. One," she emphasised, standing up.
He took her into the crowd and their bodies locked, swaying in time with the sad beautiful piano.
Rien a beaucoup changé cette année,
Je t'ai trouvé pareil comme avant;
Et je fais toujours semblant
Que les jours se passent assez bien.
Ne dis pas que tu ne sais pas
Ce que tu me fais quand tu fais
Ce que t'en fais le mieux...
He sang in her ear. "Nothing much changed this year; you were the same as before; I still make out like everything's fine..."
Ami shivered and looked at him. "Why is this so sad?"
"It's been too long since we danced together," he answered, his eyes soft and dark.
"Take me home," she said immediately, turning away. She could feel the wine in her blood, blurring the edges of her mind, softening her resolve and the rules she'd made for herself.
They walked back to the hotel in silence, along the river. She shivered in the cold breeze that came off the water even as she fed on its presence. "Why did you bring it up?" she said, staring straight ahead. "The past is dead. It's gone. You can't recapture it or recreate it."
"No, it doesn't need me to recreate it," he said.
Her throat closed up. "Go to hell," she whispered.
"I already did that."
Ami stopped. The truth of those words took her breath away. He had been to hell. And back again. She bit her lip and looked at him. His face was white in the moonlight, ethereal, his mouth pulled tight.
"Sumimasen," she whispered.
He sighed. "I should get you back."
She looked at the river, rippling silver. "Will it be a long walk for you?"
"The Embassy isn't far. Want me to show you? Won't take five minutes."
She nodded, glad for his tact, glad that he wasn't going to hold a grudge. She was lucky in some respects. Rei's arguments with Jadeite were more explosive and longer lasting.
But they make up for it - stop that. She clenched her fists.
Zoisite led her through through some more side streets into a small square and there it was, a white town house, tall and calm in its power, most of the shutters closed for the night. "Home, sweet home," he said with a little smile. "It's not bad, ne?"
Ami breathed in the quiet, the geometric beauty of the building, the moonlight on the cobblestones and the shimmering presence of the man beside her. "What's it like?" she asked.
"Inside? Comfortable, as you'd expect. Why? Do you want to see?"
She tipped her head back and looked at the sky, the bright stars and the moon, watching. It was so infinite. Never ending space, beyond the comprehension of the human mind. She closed her eyes, dizzy.
He put an arm around her waist. "Ami-san? What is it?"
She looked at him, the lines of his face as perfect as those of the building. Her heart contracted inside her chest, aching at the beauty. She reached up and touched his cheekbone, traced it to his ear. "Why did you bring that up?" she asked. "It wasn't clever, especially since you were doing so well at seducing me. The music, the wine... it was all so well done, Zoisite-san."
He didn't look surprised at the fact she'd guessed his motives. "I wanted to prove to myself I could do it; I wanted to prove that you didn't matter," he whispered.
She closed her eyes. The same. We felt the same.
"But I couldn't do it; you make me stupid," he went on, a little bitter. "So... don't worry. I'm not trying to seduce you any more."
"Then we're even," she murmured. "Take me inside. I want to see your room."
He was silent for such a long time that she opened her eyes. He was watching her warily, his arm still around her waist. "My room," he repeated.
"It's not difficult to understand, is it?" She raised an eyebrow, resisting the urge to trace the lines of his face with her lips.
He shrugged and they walked forward. The security guard greeted him respectfully in Japanese and he introduced her as a friend. Ami noticed that he didn't mention anything about her being a senshi. As usual, Zoisite thought ahead. Mizuno Ami could stay the night and nobody would blink but if Sailor Mercury did that, it would be like dangling a bleeding limb in front of a hungry school of piranha, better known as the paparazzi.
She slipped off her heels with a sigh of relief when they finally entered his suite, not even bothering to put on house slippers because the carpet was such a relief to her feet. Royal blue. She smiled to herself.
"Would you like the grand tour?" He took her coat and slid it off her arms. She shivered as his fingers brushed against her arms and her belly tightened.
"As long as I have an escort... I might get lost, there's so much space," she joked, slipping her hand around his elbow.
He laughed, blushing a little and looking boyish in his embarrassment. "I forget how big it is... The kitchen's this way."
The rooms were old and big, with moulded corners and impressive fireplaces. Ami was enchanted by the bathroom with its marble tub sunk into the floor and the enormous wardrobe in Zoisite's bedroom. "Look at the wood," she marvelled, running a hand down one of the doors. "Pure mahogany. The colour's fantastic."
He laughed behind her. "I've heard of gold diggers but this is ridiculous."
Ami ignored him and crossed to the bed. She smoothed the counterpane. "Very nice," she murmured. She sat down and felt it give beneath her. Knowing the French, it would probably be feather-stuffed. The ultimate in luxury. She flopped back and looked at the ceiling, decorated with plaster. Then his face appeared in her vision.
"You should get back to the hotel," he said.
"Anyone would think you were trying to make me leave, Zoisite-san," she murmured, smiling slightly. "Who would believe it?"
His eyes had darkened again. She saw him breathe in and out. The silence filled with tension, the same tension that was inside her body.
"Do you know what the French say for 'orgasm'?" he said abruptly.
Ami widened her eyes. "It's not a subject that came up in my conversation class," she answered.
He bent over her, holding himself up by his hands. The pupils of his eyes had widened so much they'd almost blotted out the iris. "They call it 'la petite mort'. The little death. They say that when you have an orgasm, you die for an instant. You experience eternity."
She reached up and her fingers slipped one shirt button out of its hole. "And how do you know this?" she whispered.
"The same way I know about wine; tasting." He took a deep breath as she undid another button. "I killed you once."
That stopped her. She looked at him. "You really know how to ruin the mood," she said in a low voice, beginning to get up.
"I'd like to kill you again," he said, taking her breath away for the second time that evening. "But in a different way."
Ami opened her mouth and closed it. She was sure that her own eyes had darkened, her breathing had quickened. "You think I'm worth dying for?" she whispered, trying to make a joke out of it.
"You would make death very sweet," he murmured, planting a chaste kiss on her forehead even as his hand slid down her shoulder to the swell of her breast.
She put a hand on the back of his neck and pulled his head down, feeling their hips connect at the moment they kissed. Her body stiffened and pulsed with anticipation.
"Je veux mourir..."
Que faites-vous ici? = What are you doing here?
Zoisite's reply = "I was looking at the river, Mercury."
Vous êtes prête? = Are you ready?
Je te fais confiance = I trust you
Tu veux danser = Do you want to dance?
Zoisite translates the first verse of the song, which is by Margot Wagner and is called "Ne Dis Pas". The chorus literally translates as "Don't tell me that you don't know what you do to me, when you do that thing you do so well".
Je veux mourir = I want to die