Version: Manga (Crystal Tokyo)
Sequel to Denial Is Not A River
I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid steams in your china cup…
I like to think of your cupped hands as you sip,
as you sip, of the faint half-smile of your lips.
I like the questions – sugar? milk? –
and the answers I don’t know by heart, yet,
for I see your soul in your eyes, and I forget.
Carol Ann Duffy
Kunzite could always tell when she entered a room, because people stopped talking. Even before the smell of her perfume, or the warmth of her eyes on his back, people grew silent at her appearance. Nephrite was sitting beside him, wolfing down his breakfast, which was really more of a brunch. He never suffered from hangovers, so he was much more cheerful this morning, and waved at Venus as she strolled over to their table.
Zoisite pretended to shade his eyes and look away. “Ouch… I’m going to need shades to look at you.”
Venus was wearing a gold brocade shirt and a short red skirt with an edging of chiffon. “What’s the matter, Zoisite? Too bright for you?” She gave a little twirl. The shirt shimmered in the sunlight, reminding Kunzite of how her skin had shimmered last night during their lovemaking.
Zoisite smiled, his eyes teasing. “No, I just don’t know if I can handle you looking so good this early in the morning.”
“Don’t look then!” Venus said with a laugh, seating herself beside Kunzite. He felt her leg press up against his and smelt her perfume, Amaranthine from Penhaligon’s. “Anyway, it’s hardly early. And it’s not my fault you drank too much last night.”
He wanted to turn his head and bury his face in her neck. He knew how she’d catch her breath, how she’d rub her cheek against his head. He wished he could flirt like Zoisite, as easy as breathing.
“I ordered you a Viennese coffee,” he said, thinking how clumsy and heavy the phrase sounded after Zoisite’s compliments.
She looked at him, pretending shock. “Coffee and chocolate? But I’m trying to watch my figure!”
“No need, I’ll watch it for you.”
Her eyes darkened and the atmosphere between them grew golden and heavy with meaning.
“Oh God,” Jadeite muttered. “Please don’t, it’s too early in the morning and I’m too far away from Rei to just sit here and watch you two flirt.”
“So go somewhere else,” Venus murmured. She hooked an arm around Kunzite’s neck and drew his lips to hers. The kiss was chaste but full of promise. He felt her tongue dart out and lick his lower lip just before she let go. “Mmm, ginger,” she said.
He pointed at his tea, burnt sienna against the white of the porcelain. “Ginger and honey tea.”
One of her legs slid over his under the table. “What do you need ginger tea for when you’ve got me?”
Zoisite and Jadeite looked nauseated. Nephrite laughed. “At least one of us had a good night,” he said, finishing the last of his egg.
Venus looked at him, flirting forgotten in her concern. “Did you sleep well?”
He nodded. “Yep. Like a baby, thanks to Zoisite.”
“You shouldn’t be thanking him,” Kunzite muttered, watching Zoisite squirm.
“No,” Venus agreed in a light tone of voice. “But I talked to Jupiter.”
Nephrite stopped eating and stared at her, his eyes suddenly wide and haunted. “You what?!”
“Don’t look so surprised. I said I would, didn’t I? Anyway,” Venus went on, ignoring Nephrite’s attempts to interrupt her, “I finally managed to make her see that she can’t go on treating you like this. When you go back to Crystal Tokyo, she’s going to talk to you. Properly.”
Nephrite looked as if she’d told him that he would be executed. “And this is a good thing because…?”
“Because she can’t keep ignoring how she feels about you, never mind how you feel about her.”
“But she hates me!”
Venus shook her head, smiled at the dazed waiter as he brought her the coffee, and then took a dainty sip. “No. She wishes she hated you. That’s entirely different.”
Nephrite stared at her, dumbfounded. Zoisite and Jadeite elbowed each other, smirking.
“I don’t know why you’re looking so pleased with yourselves,” Kunzite said, raising his eyebrow. “This has nothing to do with you two.”
“If it weren’t for us giving Nephrite the absinthe, she wouldn’t have had that conversation with Jupiter,” Zoisite answered loftily.
“‘She’ would have found out soon any way, given how drunk Nephrite was, and maybe ‘she’ would have found out a bit sooner if he hadn’t been having terrible hallucinations,” Venus retorted. “Don’t even think about congratulating yourself, you’re still in trouble.”
Zoisite pouted. Venus wagged a finger at him. “I wrote the book on that.”
“They were only trying to help,” Nephrite pleaded. “Can’t we just eat and go and do something else?”
“Of course,” Kunzite agreed. “What do you want to do?”
Nephrite grinned. “I read about this equestrian centre in Beroun…”
“What an excellent idea,” Kunzite said, noting that Zoisite and Jadeite looked stricken at the idea of riding while hungover. “Zoisite, can you phone them? I’m sure they won’t mind booking in a two-hour ride for us.”
Venus drained the last of her coffee. “Count me out. I’m going to explore the city and then prepare for tonight.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, then whispered in his ear. “Stage door, midnight.”
“Have fun,” he said, kissing the corner of her lips.
“You, too,” she replied and waggled her fingers. “Bye bye, boys.” She turned and sashayed out of the door, knowing that all eyes were on her as usual.
Kunzite allowed himself to watch her go and then turned back to Zoisite, who was taking out his phone as slowly as possible. “Go on then,” he said, smiling. “I’m sure the fresh air will make you both feel better.”
Jadeite and Zoisite glanced at each other and hunched their shoulders. It was going to be a long day.
Venus slipped off her heels and flexed her toes with a sigh. “That’s better.”
“Remind me why you wear those things?” Kunzite asked, taking the cloak from her shoulders and hanging it up.
“Because they make my legs look fabulous, darling.” She pointed her foot to demonstrate.
“Your legs always look fabulous.”
She turned, stood on tiptoe and stopped him with a kiss, one hand trailing down his neck. “Don’t keep complimenting me, I might get used to it.”
“Doesn’t everyone compliment you?”
“Maybe, but not everyone means what they say like you.” She dropped back onto her feet with a little sigh and walked into the centre of the room. He followed, thinking that despite her fatigue, she was far more relaxed than she had been last night. There was a tray on the table with a teapot and two porcelain cups. She seated herself and gestured. “I asked for ginger tea. There’s some honey in that ramekin.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” he said, touched.
She lifted the pot and poured into one cup, her hand as steady as a rock. “I like doing things for the people I love.”
He sat down opposite and took the cup from her, trying not to burn his fingers. “Thank you,” he murmured, adding a spoonful of honey, then taking a sip and savouring the ginger that filled his mouth and throat. “Delicious.”
“I’m glad you like it.” Her eyes were soft for a moment, then they sparkled. “How was the ride?”
“Nephrite and I had a good time.”
She giggled. “You are so cruel.”
“Me?” He smiled at her over the rim of the cup. “Compared to those two, I’m a pushover. Did you have fun exploring Prague?”
“Yes, I took lots of photographs, got lost twice, and phoned Artemis to complain that he wasn’t here to help me.” She took a tentative sip of the tea, then dived for the honey and added four spoonfuls. “I didn’t realise it would be so strong,” she muttered, coughing.
He laughed and took her hand, squeezing it. “You could have asked for another blend.”
She looked down, cheeks turning red. “I wanted to share this with you…”
“Try it now you’ve sweetened the tea.” He let go of her hand, even though he wanted to drag her over the table and hold her to him.
She took another sip and blinked. “It’s really not that bad… still too much ginger though,” she added with a cheeky look.
“I drank it to remind me of you.”
Her eyes widened. “What?”
“It’s sweet but it also has bite and it makes me feel warm inside.”
It was nothing like the compliment Zoisite could have paid her, but she looked so happy that for once, he didn’t mind. Their lips met over the table and her fingers tangled in his hair, holding him in place as her tongue slipped into his mouth. “Come here,” she whispered.
He moved forward and she leaned backwards, taking him down with her. One of his hands wandered down to her thigh, where the garter still held her stockings in place. She heard a snap.
“You broke it!”
He lifted his head and smiled down at her, the smile that only she ever saw, playful and sexy. “You like it,” he whispered, the hand moving upwards now. “You love it when I play rough.”
She arched her hips as he brushed his fingers against her. “Yes…”
Top looks something like this. See the link for Amaranthine perfume.