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Wisdom’s Departure

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Kunzite studied the chessboard as he pondered his next move. He tuned out the muted buzz of the waiting room; his opponent was no slouch and he couldn't afford any distractions. A corner of his mouth drifted upward, and he moved his knight to queen’s bishop three.

Artemis’ tail twitched, and he frowned at the chessboard. Kunzite crossed his arms and relaxed back into his seat. A woman stared at them, and Kunzite blandly gazed back, all but daring her to find anything extraordinary about a man playing chess with a cat. The woman dropped her gaze and moved to the far side of the waiting room, muttering under her breath.


He and Artemis snapped to attention as a nurse poked her head out of a side door. She smiled cheerily. “If you’ll follow me? Aino-san is ready to be released.”

Artemis jumped onto his left shoulder as Kunzite slung his jacket over his right, but the nurse blinked in alarm as they approached. “We don’t allow pets into the surgical-”

“This cat is a professional support animal,” Kunzite interrupted smoothly. “I have the paperwork.”

She pursed her lips, but allowed them to pass through the side door.

The money had already been settled, so the nurse ushered them into a small hallway with an exit sign at the end of it. She handed him a sheaf of papers about aftercare and medicine warnings before disappearing through the set of double doors leading to the oral surgery rooms. Artemis stretched, making sure not to snag his claws in Kunzite’s shirt. “I’m so glad you filled out those forms. I swear, if Mina had stuffed me into one more purse or backpack…”

Kunzite snorted, equal parts sympathy and sardonic amusement. He let out a quiet sigh as he stared at the double doors. “Once more, to get it out of our systems?”

The feline snickered. “After you.”

Smirking, Kunzite declaimed, “To think that our own dear Minako actually had wisdom teeth! How utterly unexpected!”

“I still can’t believe the dentist said that her mouth wasn’t big enough!” Artemis dutifully replied with affected shock.

After they stifled their remaining laughter at his girlfriend’s expense, Kunzite started skimming through the paperwork. “Does she have any allergies?”

“I don’t think so,” Artemis murmured, reading over- and from- his shoulder. “And as far as other medication goes, I can’t even get her to take a multivitamin regularly, so there shouldn’t-”


Artemis nearly launched himself off Kunzite’s shoulder as the roar echoed deafeningly down the hallway. Pressing a hand over his pounding heart, Kunzite stared at the sight that had erupted from the surgery center. Two male nurses were wrangling a familiar-looking blonde through the swinging doors, steering her like an intoxicated cow. The analogy wasn’t unjust; Minako’s movements, which heretofore had always exhibited the powerful efficiency of a natural athlete, were ungainly and sloppy, her long legs moving with the lurching step of a puppet. Her face was swollen and puffy, and when her eyes lighted on him, they were both unfocused and unusually bright. “KUN-KUN!” she screeched, launching herself out of the nurses’ hold and lunging toward him.

He didn’t even have time to cry out in alarm as he dove to catch her before she plowed face-first into the hospital tile. She giggled madly, slurring something about flying and bubbles. Hoisting her into a more upright position, he glared at the orderlies.

The older one winced in apology. “She’s a tough little lady; they had to use a larger dose of anesthesia to put her under. It might take a bit for her to recover.”

Kunzite rubbed one hand against his budding headache. “You’re saying she’s as high as a kite right now?”

The nurse’s look was sympathetic. “More like the Hubble Telescope.”

Kunzite closed his eyes, breathing deeply as he counted to ten. Slinging her arm across his shoulders, he circled her waist with his arm and maneuvered her towards the exit. Wisely, Artemis decided not to even try to ride along, but still had to dodge a few close calls with Minako’s shoes.

The bright sunlight hit them, and Minako recoiled. “NOOO! I’ll pop!”

“Pop?” Artemis echoed in bewilderment.

“EEK! A talking cat!”

Kunzite exchanged a look with the cat in question when Minako gasped and tried to lurch out of his grip. “OOH! Vending machine! I need a Coke!”

“We are not getting you anything with caffeine or sugar right now,” Kunzite bit back.

“But I’ll die!” she wailed, her sudden stop tangling their feet and making him stumble. “I,” she intoned in a suddenly deep voice, “am a vampire! A bubble vampire! I must dring frahm da blahd of a Cohk caan!”

It took him a moment to decipher the terrible foreign accent. Trying to convince him, Minako bared her canines, then clutched at her sore cheeks. “OWW!” she wailed.

Sighing deeply, Kunzite picked her up and carried her to his car. As he groped for his keys, her head popped up. “I want to drive!”

“If you like,” he replied agreeably, buckling her into the passenger seat. “But it’s a foreign make, so you’ll have to drive from this side.”

“I knooooow that,” she drawled in the dulcet tones of a know-it-all preteen, taking the stack of papers he offered her and twisting them back and forth like a steering wheel. “Vroom vroom!” she crowed, stomping in the footwell. 

Kunzite started to close her door, hesitated, then flicked the child safety lock into the “on” position. Artemis stared at his train-wreck of a mistress, looking like he’d lost five years from his lifespan.

It was a bizarre trip home, and Kunzite spent most of it trying avoid her flailing arms and slapping her hands away from various buttons and knobs. Artemis tried to keep her distracted, but even so, they were both very grateful that her door was child-locked.

They pulled up to Kunzite’s condo. His unit had two bedrooms- his brother knights frequently crashed there- and he and Artemis had agreed that it would be a more comfortable place for Minako to recover than her own cramped apartment. Getting out of the car proved too complicated for Minako, so Kunzite ultimately just slung her over his shoulder and marched inside, quite at the end of his rope.

Carrying her like that made it easy for him to peel off her shoes, and by the time they arrived at the second bedroom, Artemis had already pulled down the covers. Throwing a grateful glance at the cat, Kunzite dropped his girlfriend onto the bed, perhaps not quite as gently as he should have. Remorseful, he sat beside her and gently began removing her jacket.

As soon as her arms were free, they encircled Kunzite’s waist. “Mmmm,” she hummed in her throat with a lusty chuckle. She pulled the bottom of his shirt free from where it had tucked into his pants, her cool hands sliding underneath and running over his abdomen.

Kunzite’s throat closed up as his skin reacted to the feel of hers. “No,” he grunted, pulling her hands away. “Not today.”

She giggled. “Not today,” she mocked, thrusting her face into the crook of his neck, her warm breath spilling over his shoulder as she nipped his collarbone. By the time his higher functions managed to reassert themselves, she’d already undone his belt.

“Nope,” he yelped, his voice at least two octaves higher than normal. Fumbling away from her, he tried to lever himself off the bed, but her legs wrapped around his hips- golden pale, flawless, and impossibly long. He almost choked as her lean muscles pulled him down and close, his golden goddess as intoxicating as ever, even in spite of her swollen face. His sense of honor fought against every other instinct he had, and with one last, Herculean effort, he disentangled himself and pulled up the covers, tucking them tightly around her.

Minako mewled with displeasure and unsuccessfully tried to struggle free of the swaddling. Breathing heavily, Kunzite opened the window to let in a breeze; the room felt a number of degrees warmer than it had a few minutes ago. Having wrestled his hormones back under control, he looked back over to Minako, who was now contentedly wiggling back and forth in her bindings as she sang “Caterpillar, caterpillar!” to herself.

Still shaking from reaction, Kunzite unsteadily sat down on the floor just outside her door. Artemis stepped over. “The anesthesia might not have affected her energy or exuberance, but it sure has done quite a number on her inhibitions,” Artemis observed delicately.

“I didn’t know she had any inhibitions,” Kunzite muttered from beneath the hand that covered his brow.

“Well,” the other allowed, “I suppose you never appreciate a thing until it’s gone.”

They sat in companionable silence as Minako’s sing-song babbling echoed softly from the room. Kunzite leaned his head against the wall; even now, her voice was exquisite. As exquisite as her lovely body. As exquisite as her steel soul…

He sighed. The attraction they felt towards each other had always been strong, even from the beginning. It had only grown stronger in the years since, but the age difference between them was considerable. Kunzite and his brother knights had been (re)reincarnated from their soul stones as adults- the same age as when they first died- and he was the oldest of the group by a number of years. Despite her pleading and coaxing, Kunzite had refused to begin a relationship with Minako until she’d reached eighteen. Even then, he was reluctant; ten-to-eleven years was one hell of an age gap. He told himself that the only reason he’d finally agreed was because of the years of extra memories they gained from their previous lives, but he worried that it was nothing but a pathetic excuse for his own weakness.

Artemis was watching him closely. “Thank you for taking such good care of her.”

Kunzite smiled ruefully; there were days the cat was positively prescient. “Well. At least she’s quiet now.”

The realization of that statement sunk in, and Kunzite bolted to his feet. He burst into her room just in time to see Minako haul her other leg through the open window. “Minako no WAIT!” he blurted.

A futile effort. She was already running in circles around the lawn, flapping her arms. “Butterfly, butterfly, fly freeeee!”

Seeing that she was about take off down the street, Kunzite decided that desperate times called for desperate measures. “I’ll take off my shirt!” he yelled after her.

She skidded to a halt.

“Mmm, yessss,” he purred, slowly unbuttoning his oxford down to just above the navel. “It sure is getting hot in here…”

She stared at his chest for a long moment. Then her face broke into a wide grin. “Wheee!” she crowed.

And stripped off her own shirt in one quick motion.

“No!!” Kunzite all but screamed. He dove through the window after her, but got caught in the flowerboxes Makoto had installed and tumbled head over heels into the sod. By the time he got back on his feet, she was gone.

“No, no no no no no no…” he moaned, running his fingers through his hair as he jogged up and down the street, trying to figure out where she’d gone.

Unsuccessful, he returned to the house to find Artemis being chewed out by Minako’s communicator. “Painkillers?!” Makoto’s voice gasped. “And she’s loose?!

“You didn’t think to warn us that she was undergoing surgery?” Rei’s sharp voice demanded.

“It… it was supposed to be a simple outpatient procedure…” Artemis stuttered.

“You pair of utter idiots!”

“We might be able to make excuses for Kunsite-san,” Ami agreed sternly, “but you should have known better! Especially after what happened last time.”

“Last time?” Kunzite frowned.

“One year before your resurrection, Kunzite-oniisan,” Usagi’s youthful voice explained. “There was a blood drive, and energy drinks, and Minako-chan’s pure heart, and-”

“Never mind,” he groaned. He still had no idea what had happened, but the pieces only fueled his despair.

“I’m tracking Minako-chan right now,” Ami broke in, all business. “The signal from her transformation wand shows her heading west of your location.”

“Let’s go!” Makoto thundered.

Kunzite and Artemis were already on the move. “I don’t get it,” Artemis panted around the watch-like comm clenched between his teeth. “That’s an industrial sector. There are no spas, no shops, no popular celebrity haunts. Why would she go this way?”

“I think we’ve already established that she’s not in her right mind at the moment,” Kunzite growled.

A construction site loomed ahead of them. The workers had gone home for the day, but Kunzite vaguely recalled Minako prattling on about some singer who became famous (or famous again?) by performing a music video while riding around on a wrecking ball.

In her underwear.

Kunzite broke into a run.

As he neared the site, he saw a flash of gold as light from the dying sun streaked across her hair. She was climbing up the I-beam framework like a monkey and, as if sensing his thought, paused to swing back and forth by her fingertips.

“Mina!” Artemis cried out in horror. “Get back down here! You’ll hurt yourself!”

She stuck out her tongue and let go of the beam to land on a platform ten feet below. Artemis let out a choked sound, but Kunzite had had enough. Summoning his uniform with barely a flicker of thought, he leapt into the air. Earth allotted certain privileges to her Prince and his guardians, and one they all shared was an ability to defy her gravity. Gaining a better lay of the land from his new vantage point, Kunzite drew on his limited teleportation powers to appear just behind Minako.

She reacted instantly, anesthesia be damned. Even as his arms reached out to grab her, she disappeared from his line of sight, and before he could turn his head to follow her movement, his midsection exploded with pain. Doubled over and gasping, he hastily drew back.

Withdrawing her leg, she cartwheeled into a defensive crouch. “Too slow, too slow!” she crowed, pulling down the skin beneath one eye as she stuck her tongue out again. “You’re losing your touch, Kun-kun, leaving your center open like that!” She sashayed across the platform, wiggling her hips in an exaggerated fashion. “I could have hit lower and damaged the goods, but lucky for you I might want them later.”

I’m going to kill her, he thought with amazing calm. I’m going to kill her, hide the body, and never look back. He’d have to apologize to Tsukino-san, of course, but in the long run he’d be doing everyone a favor, really.

Twice more he cornered her, and twice more she escaped, delivering bruises and near-fatal misses as she cackled in delight. The fourth time, he actually managed to grab her. Unfortunately, she used his arm for leverage and flipped him over the side. He scrambled to catch the edge, but only managed to upset the pail of tools there. He landed heavily on yet another platform, and barely managed to teleport before being brained by a large wrench.

Shocked, he whirled around to glare at her. She shamelessly met his gaze, smirking. Kunzite felt his stomach sink in a way that had nothing to do with his bruised abdomen. Minako’s razor-sharp instincts were unchanged, her battle experience unforgotten. But now…

Artemis had called her behavior “uninhibited,” but as her exuberant external layers tangled and melted into her warrior core, Kunzite felt that the look in her unnaturally bright eyes was better described as feral.

He returned to ground level to regain his breath and his equilibrium. Artemis paced frantically beside him. He took a deep breath to calm himself-


He turned to see his Master and the Senshi running up with… Nephrite? Ah yes, he and Makoto had had a date this evening. His brother Knight looked up at the half-finished building and saw Minako gracefully swinging around one pillar and then another, pirouetting across gaps with a one-hundred foot plunge. “Holy shit,” he muttered.

“Indeed,” Kunzite muttered darkly.

Sailor Moon fiddled nervously with the Eternal Tiare. “What… what do we do?”

Nephrite shrugged. “We could sneak up behind her-”

“I’ve already tried that,” Kunzite snapped, far more testy and impatient-sounding than he’d have preferred. “It didn’t work. Nothing worked. If we’re not careful, someone will get badly hurt, and believe me when I say it is not likely to be Venus.”

Mars placed her hands on her hips. “If she’s medicated-”

“Her reactions and abilities are as formidable as ever,” Kunzite flatly interrupted. He pinched away the headache building at the bridge of his nose. “She’s not even transformed.”

“Yeah,” Sailor Moon winced. “Not being transformed has rarely stopped Minako-chan.”

“But if we’re fast enough…” Jupiter offered.

“I tried already,” Kunzite all but snarled. “It doesn’t matter that she’s less sober than a trust fund heiress! Even hopped up on pain pills, she’s still Venus!”

Sailor Moon’s expression shifted into thoughtfulness. “She’s still Venus,” she echoed softly.

Kunzite withdrew from the group before his temper failed him completely. Stopping when he could no longer distinguish the conversation behind him, he scanned the construction site and tried to figure out where she was hiding now.

A trace of movement flashed in the corner of his eye, and Kunzite glanced over to see Tuxedo Mask and the rest of the Senshi having a quiet shit fit at Sailor Moon. “Guys!” the latter said, just loudly enough to be heard over the others, “It’ll work. Trust me.”

Whatever was in her expression, the other Senshi reluctantly yielded. She cupped a hand over Endymion’s cheek. “Trust me,” she smiled.

His Master let out a long sigh, dipping his head. Sailor Moon gave him a quick kiss, then stepped back. She paused, evaluating. “Hold him,” she instructed the other Senshi.

He stiffened, but submitted as Jupiter held on to one arm while Mars and Mercury held on to the other. Nodding in satisfaction, Sailor Moon gave Kunzite a quick smile of reassurance, then turned to the construction site. In a flash of light, she reverted back to her civilian form. She cupped her delicate hands around her perfect rosebud mouth. “MINAKO-CHAAAAAN!” she bellowed.

Halfway up the edifice, Minako swung into view, upside down with her knees hooked over a girder. “Heyyyy, Usagi-chaaan!”

“Whatcha doin’?” Tsukino-san sang back, casually skipping over to the building.

“I’m a monkey!! Ooh ooh aah aah!” Minako responded, scratching under her armpits.

Kunzite buried his face in his hands, flushed with secondhand embarrassment. Usagi, however, had made her way to the framework. “Looks like fun! Can I try?”

Kunzite’s head snapped up, and he looked over to his Master in concern. Endymion only spared him a grim, anxious glance before his attention turned back to his wife.

“Don’t be silly!” Minako laughed. “You’re a rabbit! Rabbits don’t belong in the jungle! They can’t climb trees!”

“Well,” Usagi grunted and she swung one leg up onto the first platform. “You’re always telling me to try new things!”

Her shoe slipped, and she gripped the edge to keep from sliding back down to ground level. Kunzite could practically hear Endymion’s teeth grinding together, and the rest of the Senshi didn’t look any more at ease. Still, Usagi doggedly made her way higher, shaky and uncertain.

Minako’s head popped around a support beam. Her brow knit with concern. “Usagi-chan, you don’t have to be up here.”

“It’s fine!” Tsukino-san’s wavery voice answered. Her knees buckled as she slowly moved along a wide beam. “It’s… f-fun!”

Her knuckles were white as she climbed up the makeshift footholes of one of the steel shafts. Minako nervously started towards her. “Usagi-chan, I don’t think… why don’t you head back down?”

Trembling all over, Usagi gave Minako the sunniest smile she could manage with her teeth chattering as they were. “No, I want to be up here with-”

Her shoe slipped. Tuxedo Mask lunged towards her, managing to gain six feet before the Senshi could restrain him. With a sharp cry, Usagi slid half a meter. Then her grip failed entirely, and she fell.

Kunzite instinctively prepared to teleport, but a harsh scream, “USAGI-CHAN!” made him stumble, and before he could even recover, Minako leapt to her friend’s rescue. Moving so suddenly as to appear to teleport herself, Minako snatched up Usagi. In three sure, strong bounds, she carried their combined weight to ground level, and landed them on the hardpacked dirt with nary a scratch.

The whole thing had taken less than five seconds.

Kunzite sternly reminded his knees who was boss and managed to keep them from giving out. Endymion had shaken off his captors and the whole group was fussing over the pair of blondes. Nephrite walked over to Kunzite. “Well… that was something.” He was obviously trying to affect a blasé manner, but his face was pale.

“I need a drink,” Kunzite muttered. But he straightened and walked over to the group.

Tsukino-san seemed largely recovered from her shock, and was trying to get a word in edgewise as Minako berated her for doing something so stupid as climbing up a construction site. As she ranted about the dangers of such an action, and how only an idiot would try such a thing, Mercury pinched the bridge of her nose, Jupiter’s jaw sagged, and Mars… might have actually started smoking at the ears. Kunzite rapidly cut through the group to remove his girlfriend before she was murdered by her comrades.

Tsukino-san gave him a blinding smile. “It worked! Like you said- she’s still Venus!”

Kunzite stared at her. Once more, it struck him that no matter how many lifetimes he might live, Tsukino Usagi would always and forever be a one-of-a-kind miracle. He also desperately hoped that no one would blame him for her harebrained scheme. “I’d better take her home.”

“Kun-kuuuun,” Minako pouted. “I wanna snow cone!”

He reverted back to civilian attire and glared at her. “No.”

“Minako-chan,” Usagi offered, all enthusiasm, “if you go home with Kunzite-oniisan and rest like a good girl, I’ll bring you a snow cone tomorrow! My treat!”

“YAAAAY!” Minako crowed, pumping the air with her fists and almost giving Kunzite a black eye. Feeling the very last thread of his patience snap, he unceremoniously slung her over one shoulder and stalked for the gate. Minako giggled madly as her head bounced against his spine. Suddenly, he felt two slim, strong hands grab his buttocks and squeeze. “HONK HONK!” she cackled.

Kunzite froze.

Behind him, the chattering group became deathly silent.

For a long moment, nothing moved or even breathed, save for one addled blonde. Taking a deep breath, Kunzite gathered his dignity, forced an expression of serenity, and continued his way back to the condo.



Nnnnggghhh… Minako thought as she tried in vain to evade the sunlight pouring in through the window. What the hell was I drinking last night?

Her swollen, aching face provided an alternative explanation for her status, and Minako groaned. She considered cursing out the offending sunlight, but that would have required moving her still-tender jaw. Oral surgery was the worst.

Grunting, she turned her head away from the window. A glint on the dressing table caught her eye, and she forced her vision to focus on it. Sitting there was a full glass of water. Next to the water was a little propped up piece of paper with the words “DRINK ALL OF THIS” in dark block letters. There was another piece of paper next to it. It had an arrow pointing down and to the side, and the block letters said “TAKE THESE PILLS IF YOUR MOUTH HURTS.”

Well, her mouth did hurt. Specifically, it felt like it had been stuffed with cotton balls and used for drum practice. She reached over for the glass of water.

Her hand jerked to a halt with a clink sound. Frowning, Minako looked up at her arm to discover a set of handcuffs fastening her wrist to the headboard. “What the hell?!” she croaked. She tried to move into a sitting position, but one of her legs also jerked to a halt. Kicking off the covers, she discovered a second set of handcuffs trapping her ankle to the foot of the bed. “WHAT THE FU-”

“Awake enough to speak English, I see,” a familiar voice observed. Glancing over, she saw Kunzite leaning against the doorframe, a large cup of coffee in hand. “Good morning.”

She looked around, finally recognizing his condo. Taking another look at the handcuffs, her eyebrows shot up. “Those are not standard police issue.”

“No,” he responded, dryly. “They were intended to be your birthday present.”

She perked up, very interested. She gave him a coy look. “But I don’t recall giving consent…” she purred.

“No.” His voice was much, much too dry as he unlocked the cuffs. “Necessity dictated.”

“They were for your safety and our sanity.” Artemis hopped up onto the bed next to her. “You made my hair turn white yesterday.”

“Big whoop,” she grunted, reaching for the glass of water and chugging it down. She sighed in pleasure before remembering the pain pills. She gave Kunzite her most pitiable, Bambi-eyed look and held out the glass.

His mouth screwed up in exhausted annoyance, but he left to get her refill. Artemis sidled up, looking at her in concern. “How are you feeling?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Why? How do I look?”


Minako launched herself (and Artemis, incidentally) off the bed and ran to the bathroom. She took one look in the mirror and let out a piercing scream.

There was the distant sound of glass shattering and the pounding of feet before Kunzite tore into the bathroom. “What?! What’s the matter?!”

“My faaaace!” she wailed.

Kunzite scoffed and muttered something, but Minako was too miserable to listen. She sat on the toilet lid and buried her loathsome head in her hands. She barely recognized herself! Her cheeks and jaw were swollen, her skin mottled yellow, green, and purple. How in the world would anyone take her seriously? She was Venus, for heaven’s sake! The goddess of love and beauty!

Who right now looked like a freaking Mardi Gras parade.

A warm body brushed against her legs. She reluctantly left the protection of her fingers to see Kunzite crouched in front of her, and she braced herself for his ridicule. But while he had an expression of strained patience on his face, his eyes were gentle. “Everything should go back to normal in a few days,” he soothed.

Her shoulders hunched up. “I look hideous,” she muttered to her knees.

He captured her hand and tugged her to her feet. “You are Venus,” he replied with calm certainty. “You could never look completely hideous.”

She felt a rush of heat across her face and chest. Still unable to meet his gaze, she squeezed his hand, like a child seeking reassurance. “I don’t know how I’ll be able to show myself outside.”

His hand reached up towards her chin, hesitated, then both hands came up to grip her head and tilt it so she was forced to look him in the eye. “You are Venus,” he firmly repeated. “You can do anything.” A glint of humor flashed in his face. “Honestly, anyone who’s ever met you would probably just assume that whoever you were fighting with must be half dead in the hospital.”

Minako brightened. “That’s true.”

The doorbell rang. Minako hesitated, so Kunzite answered it as she hovered in the hall. “Good afternoon, Kunzite-oniisan!” Usagi’s voice rang.

“Tsukino-san,” he smiled. His focus shifted behind her, and the smile flattened. “Everyone,” he greeted with less warmth.

Nephrite urged Usagi through the front door so that the rest could enter. Minako ducked back into the hall as Shitennou and Senshi spilled into Kunzite’s condo. She peeked around the edge to see Kunzite glaring at the other knights, who all wore looks of fiendish delight. “We had to see how your poor patient was doing!” Zoisite simpered.

“And anyway, who could possibly say no to snow cones?” Nephrite grinned, unrepentantly gleeful.

Snow cones? Minako’s aching mouth started to water.

“Where is Minako-chan?” Usagi fretted. “I got her favorite- orange dreamsicle!”

Minako flattened herself against the wall, taking a deep breath. You can do this! she encouraged herself. Just own it and you’ll be fine! Letting the breath out in a huff, she breezed around the edge. “Did someone say snow cone?” she demanded.

“Yup yup!” Usagi beamed, holding out the gratifyingly large cup. “Just like I promised!”

Minako frowned in bewilderment. “Promised?”

“Oh, you know,” Nephrite drawled. “Right before you-”

He broke off with a gasp as Mako-chan drove an elbow into his ribs. Around the room, the amusement level skyrocketed, though the Senshi and Mamoru looked like they were trying to suppress it. Speak of the devil, he and Ami approached her wearing their “I’m a very serious medical student” looks. “How are you feeling?” Ami inquired.

“Like I want a damned snow cone,” Minako growled as she pushed past them and snatched up the orange-colored icy bit of heaven waiting for her. She shoveled a huge spoonful into her mouth. As the sweet coolness flooded her senses, she let out a long, low moan of pleasure that made Kunzite turn bright red, to the delight of the other Knights.

Rei crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. “You look terrible.”

Minako stuck out an orange-colored tongue at her. “Yeah, well, the dentist is gonna look worse when I’m through with him.”

“It doesn’t look that bad,” Mamoru hastily offered.

“Bruising is an inevitable result from this kind of procedure-” Ami began.

“Girl,” Minako interrupted. “You are killing my sugar high. Just let me enjoy it and plot my revenge in peace. After all,” she stabbed her spoon into the air for emphasis, “revenge is a dish that is best served coned!”

It got the desired reaction as various people groaned, massaged headaches, tried to correct her, or- in Usagi’s case- nodded vigorously. The group drifted towards the large living room, settling down on the floor or various pieces of furniture. Kunzite had fixed himself another large mug of black coffee, looking resigned. Minako wasn’t sure what his problem was, but she curled up on one end of the sofa and threw her legs across his lap.

“So honk Minako, how are you feeling? Did you sleep well?” Zoisite inquired.

At least three people in the room coughed. Minako frowned. She could have sworn she’d heard him say… “Well I woke up feeling like I’d spent the night downing tequila shots, so I guess I slept soundly, if nothing else.”

For some reason, Kunzite was glaring daggers at Zoisite. Rei piped up. “Yeah, thanks, I’d rather not remember Usagi’s bachelorette honk party. Remember when that song came on the radio after Usagi had finished honk her third jello shot?”

“Sounds like fun honk,” Nephrite grinned.

“Honk yeah, until your friend lets out a veritable rainbow of puke.”

“If somehonk had listened to me and stayed hydrated, they would have felt better the next morning,” Ami primly observed, eyes crinkled at the corners.

Kunzite stared at her, looking betrayed. He then sighed quietly and took a long, long drink from his mug. Minako shook her head slightly, trying to figure out what was wrong with her hearing. Usagi looked like she was trying to contain her sheepish giggles, and Mako-chan was bright red.

Her eyes narrowed. “All right, what’s going on?”

The room exploded with laughter, Usagi’s piercing cackle now free. Even Mamoru was chuckling, though he also gave Kunzite a decidedly sympathetic look. “What?!” Minako demanded. “What is it?!”

“What happened is that you were extremely high on powerful anesthetics and made Kunzite’s and my lives hell until you finally slept it off,” Artemis grumbled.

She did? She barely remembered anything. “So what’s with all the honking?”

The laughter, if possible, increased. Nephrite would have collapsed onto the floor if he hadn’t been settled there already. Mamoru coughed until he regained a certain degree of composure. “I’m afraid that in your, uh, compromised state, you somewhat injured Kunzite’s dignity.”

Minako’s eyebrows shot to her hairline. She’d injured his dignity? And she couldn’t remember?! That was just cruel! She gave her boyfriend an evaluating look.

Somewhere over the last minute, Kunzite had apparently reached his usual state of dry zen. “I suppose one could make the argument that your behavior ought to be interpreted as a compliment.”

“Open to interpretation, if you ask me,” Nephrite dismissively replied. “Couldn’t she have just slapped it like a normal person?”

“Did what? Slapped what?” Minako snarled around a mouth of dreamsicle slush.

“You grabbed his ass in front of all of us and honked like a circus clown,” Rei smugly clarified.

In a heartbeat, half-congealed orange sugar water spewed from her mouth.

She hacked and coughed while Kunzite and Jadeite (sitting next to him) recoiled from the spit she’d showered them with. As soon as she could breathe again, she laughed her ass off while Kunzite mopped up orange droplets from his trousers with a napkin. With that, Artemis began to recount the whole ordeal, with occasional commentary from Kunzite and the others. She listened, half-embarrassed, half-impressed at the sheer degree of chaos she’d managed.

When all was said, she shook her head in awe. “Wow. I’m pretty amazing.”

She saw the evil glint in Kunzite’s eye. “As they said, my poor dignity,” he said, voice as smooth as silk. “Flattering though your intentions might have been, surely you agree that I'm entitled to some bit of payback. It’s only fair.”

She grinned and licked her spoon, brazenly provocative. “Hey, my ass is a work of art. It would be an honor to touch it- in fact, I should charge you money or sell tickets for the privilege!”

He raised an eyebrow. “Who said anything about your ass?”

She blinked, and his hands reached for her chest. She shrieked and crossed her arms protectively over her breasts, but the attack never reached them. Instead, the hands took a sharp turn upwards, and gave her a simultaneous poke in each bruised cheek. “Beep.”

“OUCH!” She covered her abused cheeks with her hands.

“Now we’re even,” he smirked, settling back and taking another long sip of coffee.

She clambered onto his lap, gripping his shirt collar. “You bastard.” Just for that, she bit his ear.

His smirk deepened as ran his hands under her shirt, his thumbs stroking her stomach. “What are you going to do? Punish me?”

She smiled as she let her warm breath trail over his jawline. “Well, I do have handcuffs…”

His fingers wound into her hair and he pulled her head back to kiss her neck, working his way down. She shuddered and ran her own fingers under his collar, tugging the top few buttons open.

“Guys!” Rei yelped in alarm.

Jadeite had already launched himself off the sofa. “Geez! Get a room!”

“This is… my house…” Kunzite said between kisses, his voice rough. “It’s all ‘my room.’ If you don’t like it-”

“GET OUT!” Minako gasped.

There was a general stampede for the door, and she had no idea where the last of her snow cone had ended up as the two of them took over the whole couch. She couldn’t kiss him properly, but that was just an invitation to get creative…

After all, if even half of what they’d told her was true, he’d earned it.