The Gift of Love

by LadyKeren


* * * * * * * *

Zoisite sat in the garden, outside of the castle he shared with Kunzite and crossed his arms, sulking. He had taken out his bad mood on a bunch of black crows that had flown at him. Although it had felt good to hear the cries of anguish from one of his most loathed creatures, it did little to soothe his anger at being outsmarted by his rival once again.

'Oh, where is Kunzite-sama? I need him with me now.' He so longed to feel the arms of his mentor around him, and he was sure the older man would give him helpful advice on what he should do about the situation. He was at such a loss for what to do.

The sakura king was about to leave the garden to see if he could find Kunzite, but before he could, he felt a hand touching his shoulder. It made him feel warmth that only one person was capable of making him feel. He glanced up and saw the white haired young man standing over him. He looked into his icy pale-blue eyes. "Oh, Kunzite-sama, I am so glad to see you," he said, burying his head in the older man's chest.

Kunzite held his pupil close. "It pains me to see you in distress, Zoisite," he said.

"I know, Kunzite-sama, but I cannot help it." The younger shitennou rested his hand on the older man's chest.

"Tell me, what is troubling you this time?"

Zoisite looked into his mentor's eyes. As soothing as his voice and touch was, he was determined never to cry like a baby again, for he had been taught it was one of the signs of weakness. He also knew it was one of the reasons Nephrite never took him seriously and he wanted to prove to the older shitennou that he did not have a jelly fish-like spine. "I am concerned…my trio of plant youma never returned with the kurozuishou and I do not even sense their life forces…which could only mean Nephrite must have assassinated them." The thought of his youma dying at Nephrite's hands made his blood boil, mostly because he had very little patience for failure. 'Stupid incompetent fools! Everything I want done right I have to do myself,' thought Zoisite, clenching his fists and shaking with rage. True, the star shitennou was a fierce warrior, but the sakura king still felt the scheme should have worked as he had devised it when Nephrite was taken off guard. "Oh Kunzite-sama, why is it that I can never win against Nephrite?" He was aware of the fact that his tone was whiny and he had been trying his hardest not to sound that way, but he couldn't help himself.

Kunzite did not know how to answer that, as in the past he was sure he and his pupil could have easily done away with the former dark general, but it was obvious he had made the mistake of underestimating his capabilities. It was not in his best interest to keep egging Zoisite on, but he had to be honest without risking making him feel worse. "Nephrite has proven to be more formidable than I thought. I fear you will be seriously hurt if you try to go after him yourself. Let him be for now and wait on Beryl-sama's orders. "

As much as Zoisite was tired of waiting on Beryl's orders, he knew Kunzite was right when he said something terrible could happen, hence why he preferred to send his youma to do his vile bidding rather than get his own hands dirty. He also knew Kunzite would never steer him wrong. 'Perhaps Beryl will let me go after him, if I ask very nicely. Nephrite is more of a fool than I thought if he thinks I will allow him and his human wench to live in peace. I will dispose of those wretched youma of his, too.' Such a plan put a smile on the sakura king's face. He chuckled softly to himself at the thought of causing as much misery to his greatest rival as he possibly could.

Kunzite's head snapped up when he heard the chuckle. It was nice seeing a smile on Zoisite's face but he couldn't help but wonder what brought on the sudden change in mood, considering he had told the younger man something he was sure he didn't want to hear. "Huh? What's on your mind, Zoisite?"

"It's nothing, really. I'm just happy you're with me."

"Likewise. I hear Beryl summoning us. It is not wise to keep her waiting. Let's go."

"Right." Zoisite was sure he was in for a major chewing out and wasn't looking forward to it, but with Kunzite by his side, he didn't feel so nervous. He and Kunzite teleported to the witch queen's throne room together.

* * * * * * * *

(throne room)

Beryl sat on her throne as she waited for the two remaining shitennou to appear. She was in such a foul mood that her palace was filled with a dead silence. The lower ranked minions knew never to cross her. 'Those two had better show up at once. I do not wish to be kept waiting.' If they tested her patience that day, she would not hesitate to let them feel of her wrath.

Surprisingly, Zoisite and Kunzite showed up in a timely manner. The evil woman suppressed a sigh of relief. 'It seems these two are learning from Nephrite's downfall.' The two men bowed respectfully. "You summoned us, my queen?" asked Kunzite.

Beryl looked at both henchmen before her, with a very serious expression on her face. "Yes. Although it is Zoisite I want to see, what I am about to say to him is something you should hear as well."

Kunzite bowed again, while Zoisite asked, "What is it, your majesty?" He looked his queen in the eye, although he was afraid to just in case he was right and the queen would let him have it. His palms got sweaty and he squirmed a bit.

"It was quite brazen of you to go after Nephrite the way you did, considering his power, and without my permission, too. Because of your recklessness, you have failed to eliminate him." Beryl wondered if she was going to have that problem with Zoisite when he became commander; the way he did certain things she never gave him permission to do.

Zoisite gulped. He had a feeling the queen was displeased with him, but it took him by surprise that it wasn't for the reason he thought. He had figured Beryl would be pleased if he got rid of Nephrite as she had become extremely impatient with the star shitennou and thought he was doing her a favor. 'How am I going to explain that to her?' Also, the fact that he was reminded about how Nephrite managed to outsmart him once again made him seethe with anger. "I know, my queen. I am very sorry. I just thought you wanted him disposed of for his defiance and blatant disloyalty. Please, give me a chance, and I will kill the traitor right away. " He wasn't sure how, but he would assassinate his rival even if he sacrificed his own life in order to do so.

Beryl considered this for a bit. If Nephrite had appeared before her, she would also put him to death for his treachery, but at the same time felt Zoisite was not capable of accomplishing such a task. "No, let him be for now. There are more important matters to deal with. Wait to see what he does. If he or his youma interfere with my plans, they will fall along with the pathetic human race."

'Exactly what Kunzite-sama said to do.' Although the sakura king wasn't thrilled at the thought of more waiting, the idea of executing his arch nemesis along with the senshi and other earthlings sounded very good, as he would be killing two birds with one stone. 'If I can destroy everyone, this will make me twice the general Nephrite ever was and Beryl will give me a big reward! I just need to think of an extremely elaborate plan.' Zoisite held back a chuckle at the thought of being ranked as high a shitennou as his lover and mentor, Kunzite. "As you wish, my queen," he said, bowing.

"One more thing," said Beryl, addressing both Zoisite and Kunzite with her eyes this time.

"Yes, your majesty?" asked Zoisite, looking at the witch queen with curious eyes.

Beryl gave the two young men a stern look as she warned them, "If you even think about deserting the Dark Kingdom, you will be severely punished. Am I understood?"

"Yes, Queen Beryl-sama," the two shitennou answered, and Zoisite added, "You needn't worry about that. I would rather be turned into an ice sculpture than live among those human fools."

A corner of the queen's lip curled up a bit. "Good."

* * * * * * * *

Naru sat up in her bed, rubbed her eyes and took a glance at her clock. It read eleven thirty five. 'Geez, it's nearly noon.' She very rarely slept in that late, but it was to be expected considering how late it was when she finally had managed to fall asleep the previous night. 'I guess Ruby must have already left…I don't blame her…it is late, after all.' She looked around the room, and was about to get up and go to the bathroom to freshen up when she heard a female's voice say, "Ah, you're finally awake."

The young teen was so startled she nearly fell over. She gripped her chest in order to cease her rapid heartbeat and glanced to her left, although she was afraid to, as she knew it could be one of Zoisite's cronies waiting to kidnap her after she woke up. Thankfully, it wasn't. "Oh Ruby…you're still here," she said, relieved that it was her potential new friend and not some scary monster.

"Of course I am, Naru-san," responded Ruby, giving the young girl an amused look. "You didn't think I would leave you here all alone, after you went through such a horrific ordeal, did you?"

Naru looked sheepish. "No, I am just glad you are still here." She was embarrassed to admit that she didn't expect the youma to sit by her side for as long as she did. She imagined Ruby had lots of stuff waiting to be done. She wondered how long the red head youma had been awake or if she had even slept.

"Hmm." Ruby wasn't entirely sure what Naru meant, but she got the impression that the girl was grateful. "Did you sleep well?"

"No, not really. I had a nightmare that you had left and a man with blonde hair worn in a ponytail kidnapped me, tied me to a chair, and held a knife to my throat."

Ruby shuddered at the thought of such a nightmare. 'She must be talking about Zoisite…to hell with him and those annoying weed sisters, traumatizing an innocent human girl. I could just cut him into little pieces.' As disturbing as she found the nightmare to be, though, she had serious doubts that Zoisite would have the guts to do such things, hence why he opted to send his flunkies to do his dirty work for him. "I am sure you now see there is nothing to worry about."

"Yeah." Naru turned to face the older teenager.

"Aside from that, how are you feeling today?"

"Okay, I guess. I am still thinking about Nephrite-sama. I wonder how he's doing right now." She was still convinced that his little accident had happened on her account, and noticed he hadn't said much to her before he had left. 'Although he kept his cool about it, I could have seen from the look on his face that he was a bit angry…I should apologize to him.' But the question was, how should she find out? She had thoughts about calling him but decided the phone call would go too awkwardly. 'Maybe I could visit him...Ruby had said she would take me there today if I wanted to see him. But I don't feel comfortable asking her that yet.'

Ruby wasn't surprised to hear that. In fact, she had been wondering how Nephrite was dealing, too, as well as Miki and Yukari, since this had been her first time spending the night somewhere other than the mansion, and at an earthling's home. 'I hope he is taking care of his seemed to hurt him very much. I trust that the twins are taking good care of him.' "Would you like to see him?"

Naru gave a small smile at the fact that Ruby had remembered. "Oh yes! I'll go get ready right now. Thank you." Of course even if Nephrite hadn't gotten hurt, she still would have wanted to visit him as she enjoyed his company and wanted to get to know him more.

Ruby smiled. "Anytime, honey."

Naru got some clean clothing to change into. Not wanting Ruby to be bored while waiting for her, she went over to her bookcase, pulled out a novel and handed it to the crimson haired young woman.

"Thank you." Ruby examined the cover of the book. It certainly looked interesting. She wasn't sure if she would like it, but felt it was a good way to pass the time.

"You're welcome. I'll be ready in twenty-five minutes. " Naru got her bathrobe and went inside the bathroom, shut the door behind her and locked it. She could hardly wait to see Nephrite.

* * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, the senshi were having a meeting over at the Hikawa Shrine. This was one meeting Usagi was almost glad to attend. She was eager to talk about what had transpired the previous night and it would also give her some time away from her annoying little brother for awhile. And she certainly hadn't felt like tackling the bunch of homework waiting to be done, either.

There was a large plate filled with Japanese sweet cakes on the table. The smell of them was an overwhelming aroma that Usagi couldn't resist. Her stomach had been growling the entire time she was walking over to the shrine. 'Oh why does Rei have to torture me this way?' She wasted no time; she grabbed one of the cakes and started munching on it.

Luna groaned. "Oh Usagi…you really ought to learn to control your willpower." 'I must admit though, it is better than listening to her stomach growling.'

"But I can't help it. I'm so hungry. You expect me not to eat when something as delicious as cakes are in front of me?" The blonde grabbed another cake and started chowing down on it.

"Just don't eat too many," said Rei. "You'll make yourself sick or get fat." A part of her was annoyed with her grandfather for making so many to the extent where Usagi could afford to eat as much as she wanted to because there were too many for the 3 girls to share.

"Blah blah blah, I get the point. If you're trying to spoil my fun, it isn't going to work," said the moon senshi in between bites.

"No, I'm only looking out for your best interest."

"Guys, that's enough," said Ami firmly. Although the two teens were not having a catfight for once, she refused to let it get to that point. She watched as Luna climbed onto the table. "Luna, what is this meeting about? Is something wrong?"

"Yes, we have a potential crisis on our hands."

"Oh, what's the matter?" asked Rei, forgetting about Usagi and her voracious appetite. She was now all ears about what Luna had to say. 'If Nephrite is behind whatever the problem is, I swear I will turn him into a charred cinder…after all, I didn't get to teach him a lesson about nearly killing his energy victims when he drained their energy.'

"Nephrite has discovered that Usagi is Sailor Moon and he knows her name is Usagi, too," stated Luna grimly.

"What?!" Rei and Ami yelped.

"How did that happen?" asked Rei. She hoped the blonde hadn't done anything stupid like tell the shitennou who she was, for that would prove she was not leader material. 'However, if Luna makes Usagi step down as leader, it will give me a chance to prove what a great leader I can be. '

Before Luna could answer, Usagi explained, "He had tricked me into transforming by twisting the road while I was walking to Naru-chan's house. Please don't be mad at me for transforming in front of him. It was the only way to get him to stop." She didn't have any regrets as she had done nothing wrong, so it would be a big blow if the other senshi plotted to mutiny—especially Rei.

'Oh. That's what happened.' Rei's feelings of doubt and mistrust disappeared. 'I wouldn't put it past Nephrite to use that type of trickery.' She balled her hands into fists. 'One day I will make him pay.'

"Usagi, we're not angry with you," said Ami. "Nephrite had put you in a tight spot and so you had no choice but to do what you did."

"Yeah, you're too quick to jump to conclusions," chimed the raven haired teen.

Usagi bristled with anger. "I learned that from you," she muttered under her breath.

"What was that?"

"Oh, never mind," answered Usagi, not wanting to start an argument.

"Anyway, we just meant that Nephrite knowing your identity could spell disaster as he may have revealed that info to Queen Beryl. This would also give him the opportunity to come and attack you whenever he feels like," said Rei. "You should have taught him a lesson for tricking you like that."

Usagi breathed a sigh of relief that her friends were understanding about the matter, despite Rei's harsh way of saying so. "Believe me, Rei, those possibilities really scared me, but it turned out I didn't have to fight as he assured me that he would keep my identity a secret. "

Rei looked at her friend as if she had lost her mind. "And you believed him? Geez, you are so gullible, it's scary!"

Usagi pretended she didn't hear the last comment and continued, "Well, he didn't attack me like I thought he was going to. I believe he was only testing me when he did that. I honestly think he has begun to see the light." She decided not to admit she had pleaded with the former dark general to not reveal her identity. She was still slightly embarrassed about that.

Rei could tell Jadeite not being able to turn over a new leaf was still weighing heavily on the blonde's mind, through her words. "Hmph! I'll only believe it when I see it." She wasn't willing to grant forgiveness that easily.

"Oh Rei, learn some forgiveness, would ya? When it seemed like Jadeite was willing to change, Beryl killed him before he could. I would hate for that to happen to Nephrite, too. He deserves a chance, considering that it is because of Naru's love for him he has begun to change. "

Rei was about to argue with Usagi, but Ami interrupted by saying, "Rei, I understand your skepticism and do not blame you for it, but Usagi is right. Nephrite had rescued Naru last night and dealt with her kidnappers so we didn't have to."

"Yes, you're right…" Rei wasn't about to dispute the fact that Nephrite saved the red head, although she couldn't help but wonder about his motive for doing so. 'For all we know, he could be using her for something else.' "Even if it's true that Nephrite has begun to change for the better, can the same be said for those weird ladies who surround him? What if they try to harm Naru or something?" 'That cherry-haired lady better not have laid a finger on Naru last night or else.'

Ami thought that was a tiny possibility, but decided to give the youma the benefit of the doubt. "I don't think they would do that if they're truly loyal to Nephrite. Judging from their words about Beryl at the Princess Diamond ball, they don't seem to have any respect for her. I'm sure they will follow Nephrite's orders and protect Naru if he wants them to."

Rei considered what Ami said. She did recall when Miki had said Beryl was an idiot for sending Nephrite after the wrong crystal. "I suppose…however, we should still keep an eye on them and find out more information."

"Definitely. Perhaps we will cross paths with them again soon. We could find out their true objectives then."

* * * * * * * *

Nephrite had just finished soaking his sore ankle in another whirlpool bath and was now on the couch in the den, watching music videos. It was something he rarely did as of late since he hadn't had time to and he was very active—not a couch potato at all. But he was staying off his feet as much as he could so healing wouldn't be delayed. He could still walk on the ankle as it was only twisted, but he didn't think it was wise to overdo things. Just as he had expected, Miki and Yukari had been a good help when it came to helping him get around. He hoped things went smoothly while Ruby was watching over Naru. 'Speaking of Ruby, she is awfully late.'

Just then, he heard footsteps walking towards the den. He decreased the volume of the TV a bit. Ruby poked her head in the doorway. "Master Nephrite, I am home. I'm sorry if I have worried you. I have brought you a visitor. "

While Ruby talked with Nephrite, Naru looked around the living room, at how it was decorated. 'Oh my, so far the mansion is beautiful.' It wasn't plain, nor was it as ostentatious as other rich people's homes, yet she could tell the star king had a fondness for the finer things in life.

"Oh really?" The young man wondered if it was Naru. He could certainly use a visit from her right about now, to take his mind off of what had happened.

"Yes." Ruby whispered into Naru's ear, "You can go on in now."

'Whoops…I nearly forget why I was here. I'll have to let Ruby take me on a tour of the mansion later.' "Okay. Thank you so much for bringing me here."

"No problem." Ruby decided to give the two some privacy, and went to see what her comrades were up to.

Naru entered the den, and spotted Nephrite sitting down on a large sofa. She walked over to him. "Hi, Nephrite-sama," she greeted bashfully, sitting down next to him.

"Hello, Naru-san. It is a pleasure to be graced with your presence today. I trust you are well."

"Yes I am. Thank you for asking. How about you? Does your ankle still hurt?"

"Not too much." That was a welcoming change for the reformed dark general. He was afraid he would have had to go to the hospital and he wasn't keen on the idea. "I truly appreciate your efforts."

The young teen looked relieved to hear that. A part of her didn't think her efforts to soothe his pain were good enough, although she had tried her best. "I'm so glad." Her true feelings about the incident were beginning to become overwhelming. Tears stung at her eyes. 'Just great.' She looked down at her feet so Nephrite wouldn't see. No way was she going to cry like a baby in front of him…at least not for this.

Nephrite frowned upon noticing Naru sounded a bit sad, and also when she seemed distracted in the sense that she had barely given him any eye contact. Not like her at all. "Naru-san? Is something wrong? Look at me."

A teardrop fell from Naru's eye and fell onto the carpet. She quickly wiped the tears away and looked up at her male companion, into his eyes. "Oh Nephrite, it's just that you hurt yourself on my account. If you are angry about your injury, I want you to know I didn't mean for it to happen."

Knowing that the red head thought the mishap was her fault made Nephrite's heart ache. He was indeed displeased about it, but not for the reason she thought. He placed an arm around her and she rested her head on his shoulder. "It isn't your fault, so please don't think that. I will be all right."

Naru certainly hoped so. She still wasn't fully convinced she wasn't to blame, but since he wasn't angry with her, she would let it go. She decided to change the subject. "You know, right downtown, there is a café that serves delicious chocolate parfaits."

"Chocolate parfaits?" repeated Nephrite. He had never had them before, but the name definitely rang a bell and he had meant to try the rich dessert to see if it was as good as the cheesecakes he liked so much.

"Yes. I'm not sure if you ever had one or not, but it has always been a dream of mine to share it with you. Do you think it will ever happen?"

This was something Nephrite couldn't pass up. Not only would he get to try something new, but he would also get to know the girl even better, which he wanted very much. "Sure thing. Let's do it."

Naru's feelings of guilt disappeared and her eyes lit up. "Oh! I can't wait!" She was sure setting an exact date wouldn't be too hard for Nephrite, seeing that he was no longer working for the Dark Kingdom.

Yukari came out of the kitchen for a second to see how her master and Naru were doing. She smiled as she saw them so close to each other. 'Oh Master Nephrite looks so content…I will never be able to thank Naru-san enough for bringing so much happiness into his life.'

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return to Index / go to Chapter 4

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury