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A Perfect World

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 In the world, people always strive for perfection, even if perfection always falls short. The people of Crystal Tokyo are no different. The citizens are just people, the palace is just a house, and the king and queen are merely husband and wife. In many ways, it is the normalcy that brings the flaws.

Neo Queen Serenity and King Endymion stood on a large platform addressing their people. A few guards stood on either side of the platform, but it wasn't at all necessary. The people of Crystal Tokyo were not a threat and it had been years since a youma had gotten into the city, but precautions made people feel safer. Guards put people at ease, something especially needed with the current topic of conversation.

"Let me assure all of you, the people on Nemesis are not a threat to our kingdom." Serenity's voice rang out clear and strong through the microphone. "I will not lie to you: they do not bare warm feeling towards us, but there is no need to fear war."

"We are keeping a safe eye on them, but they have yet to make any moves to suggest war," Endymion added. "For now, there is no reason to fear."

The two returned to the palace once their conference was done, moving to the inner halls. One of the senshi ran down the hall towards them excitedly. "King Endymion!" Mars called out, smiling at the king intimately. It was a moment before she noticed that her queen was also there. "Neo Queen Serenity!" The senshi of fire quickly dropped to one knee, bowing her head towards her queen. "I did not see you. I wanted to congratulate the two of you on your speech. It was very well received."

"Thank you, Mars," Serenity said. "You know, I have grown to truly admire you. Please, stand. There is no need to be so formal."

Mars stood with a cautious look on her face. She avoided Serenity's eyes without meaning to, one hand fidgeting behind her back. "Admire me, my queen?"

Serenity turned from the pair before she spoke. "Your ability for pretense merely overwhelms me," she whispered as she walked away from the two. She walked slowly at first, the way a proper queen would, but it was not long before she began to sprint. She went to the crystal garden that was located behind the palace. In this garden, which was one of many gardens that existed around or near the palace, stood every flower that grew on earth, frozen in crystal, each flower in various states of bloom or budding. This place had become a refuge for her over the years. The king preferred his roses and almost never walked among her crystal creations. But they comforted her in a way that almost nothing did nowadays. The garden was beautiful and unwilting... perfect, maybe. Some flowers, she had come to realize, were more beautiful in budding.

Serenity collapsed upon a bench, fighting to reign in her emotions and it was a few moments before she noticed that she was not alone. Standing among her frozen flowers, silver hair and white suit matching her perfectly amid the clear and almost colorless backdrop that the garden provided, was the crowned prince of Nemesis, Prince Diamond, with his violet eyes trained on her.

"Diamond," she said softly in acknowledgment. She straightened up as she did so, half a formality and half a conscious effort to hide the outburst of emotion he'd most certainly already seen.

"Serenity," he replied in greeting. He moved to sit on the bench beside her, taking her hand and kissing the back of it.

"I almost thought that you would not come," she said softly. She looked away as she tried to contain her sorrow.

"What is wrong, Serenity?" Diamond asked as her, voice as gentle as she had been.

"This... All of this..." She sighed. "That my Utopia, my perfect world, turned out like this. Sometimes I just... just can't stand it."

"If it were up to me, you would have your perfect world," Diamond told her.

"Hold your tongue and watch your wishes," she replied to him. "You never know what you will get with wishes like that. It is true that if the world were perfect now, you would be by my side. But if the world had been perfect then, I would still be happy with him."

"Did something happen?"

"It just makes me sick sometimes," Serenity choked out. "I have to fight everyday, every minute, to act like I'm alright. To act like things are normal. It takes so much effort just to smile sometimes, or just not to cry, and she acts like everything is normal. Like nothing is wrong. Like she isn't sleeping with my husband!" Serenity's voice became quieter towards the end of her speech, though the pain and passion in her voice intensified.

Diamond squeezed her hand. "I know what it's like to have to be strong for your people," he told her.

"It just hurts so much, Diamond. I have never betrayed our vows. Not one touch, not one kiss that did not belong to him, and he gives everything to my best friend in our bed!" Tears fell from her eyes. It was the first time she had said it out loud. She'd hinted to it, and Diamond already knew about the affair, but the words had never left her lips. She just could not utter it. Not to her friends, not to her family, not even to Diamond. Not before this moment. She had finally started to crack. Thinking of all the years that she'd known. Wondering how many more she had been blind. Maybe it had all started when she was still a senshi. The thought threatened to make her ill.

Diamond placed a hand under her chin and lifted her face to his, looking into the depths of her eyes. He loved her and he wanted her to know it, to see it, even if it changed nothing, even if it resolved nothing. And she did know it. Had known it, but she just couldn't allow herself to embrace the feeling. Not before, when hope still lingered in her mind. Hope that Endymion would return to her heart and all, hope that he would stop violating their bed, hope that he would seek forgiveness, but he had not. And Diamond had been by her side comforting her, listening to her, becoming her closest friend, never pushing her.

She allowed her head to fall upon his shoulder, taking  comfort in the feel of him. Yes, she loved Diamond, but she still did not know if she should let herself indulge the feeling. It couldn't be right, could it? Just because he had steeped out on her didn't mean that she had the right to do the same. But there was nothing else to do, was there? She would stand by Endymion for her people. They needed to see their rulers strong together. There was nothing else to be done about it.

"My Queen! My Queen, are you here?" The call was still far away, but she could tell it was Venus calling her.

Serenity broke away from him quickly. Her marital life was a secret. A secret that she held very tightly. Serenity had been too ashamed to tell anyone of her husband's adultery, too determined not to crack before her people. She had not been so naive as to bear a child in a loveless marriage, however, and she still had a hole in her heart that part of her knew should be filled.

"I'm here, Venus!" Serenity called. She dropped her voice to a whisper and spoke to Diamond. "Will you stay?"

"I should return to Nemesis," he told her regretfully. "I will be waiting for word from you. We should speak."

"Yes," she nodded.

He stepped around a corner and she saw the slight flash of his magic as he teleported away.

"There you are, Usagi," Venus said as she ran over to her. "You disappeared after you left the stage."

"I didn't mean to worry you, Minako. Were you searching for me long?" Serenity held a smile on her face. Of all the senshi, she was closest to Minako. Even though Venus was always a soldier and Serenity a queen, Minako and Usagi were still friends. Whenever they were alone, they liked to remember that they were still friends outside of their destiny.

"Not too long," Venus answered. "Whenever I need to find you, I know to look here first." Venus paused a moment. "Hey..." Her smile faded as she looked more closely at her queen and friend. Venus reached out a hand to Serenity's face, lightly touching her cheek. "Your eyes are all red."

"It's nothing," Serenity lied, moving her face out of Venus' hands. "How are the others? Mercury and Jupiter?"

"Ugh. Mercury's been locked up with her books all week on some discovery or another," Venus replied with an eye roll. "And Jupiter has started flirting with the new recruits. She's absolutely shameless."

"I don't remember you being so virtuous," Serenity giggled. "I forget how much I miss you all."

"It's only been a week," Venus laughed in return. "But at least you're starting to sound like yourself. I was worried there for a second."

"Being a queen is a lot more difficult than I used to think it would be," Serenity admitted quietly. Her eyes focused on the ground a moment, avoiding Venus' gaze as she spoke a truth more heavy than her friend would realize.

"Well, at least you aren't alone. Endymion is going through the same thing, right?" Venus replied.

She felt a small stab of pain remembering that the person that she should have been able to rely on the most, that should have been by her side, had betrayed her. That her best friend had betrayed her. She didn't answer, but Venus went on.

"Let's have a meeting with all the girls, today! Like old times."

A feeling of paralysis settled inside her, anticipating having to look Mars in the eyes. Serenity had to force her enthusiasm a little, though she did wish to see her friends. "Will you get everyone together? Talk over cake?"

"Sure. Just give me an hour," Venus promised before running off.

A tear slid down Serenity's check as she watched Venus' retreating form. She pressed her hand to her face, as if she could physically stave off more tears from falling.

In a perfect world, you didn't lie to your friends and your friends didn't sleep with your husband.