Love's Bitter Poison
|Title:||Love's Bitter Poison|
|Continuity||SSEU Earth 1337-B|
|Time Placement||The Silver Millennium|
|Synopsis||Doctor Xadium and the Goddess Venus witness the beginning of the greatest love story in history-- and the end of their own|
Mumbling and sighing, Doctor Xadium tossed and turned between the silk sheets of his bed, trying to do the impossible and keep hold of the last comfortable moments of slumber whilst forcing his body to awaken in preparation for the new day.
Exerting supreme willpower, he forced his eyes open. What met them was a majestic sight he had only seen a few times before.
Lying beside him was Aino Minako-- but not Aino Minako. Her hair was longer, somewhat curlier and more golden, her eyes a pale crystal gold. Her face was a touch older, more slender, with narrower eyes and fuller lips. Her complexion was flawless pale, with just a hint of rosy red allure. Her smile was radiant, as was befitting a goddess. Apt, really, since she was one.
"Good morning my love," the Goddess Venus said softly in hushed, honeyed tones, gently reaching over and stroking her husband's cheek with a touch that was at once delicate and electric.
"Venus," Xadium barely managed to exhale in a dry whisper as she pulled him to her and introduced herself more fully.
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
"Not that I'm complaining, mind," Xadium said with a bit of a grunt as he pulled on his jacket, watching as Venus donned her flowing golden gown and smoothed her long tresses, "but you so rarely appear... I have to wonder if there isn't some special significance to this."
Venus smiled softly, radiating a calm that was at once soothing and seductive. It was all Xadium could do to tear his eyes off her. Those myths about her were not for nothing, he noted.
"This is true," she replied at length, inclining her head towards the TARDIS console display. "We have come to a place wherein my power waxes."
"Venus?" The Time Lord enquired, implying the planet, not the Goddess .
"No," Venus responded, a light musical tone to her voice. She brushed past the Time Lord, barely grazing him, but leaving him dizzy her fresh, cool, honeysuckle and jasmine-scented wake. It was all he could do to avoid wrapping his arms around her right then and there. Was this her power as a Goddess of Venus, or his own attraction to her, or both? He bit down the impulse and took a deep breath, trying to focus on anything else.
"Do not feel bad," Venus laughed, not even looking back at him. "We are mates, are we not? That reaction is to be expected. Besides, I *am* Aphrodite. It would take a far stronger man than most to totally resist my charms." She said that last phrase with no hint of arrogance or conceit. To her it was as natural as breathing.
"You read my emotions," Xadium realized, his throat suddenly dry as he gazed at her unabashedly while she looked over the controls. The way her gold dress and hair glinted in the light... it was so-- arrgh. Catching himself doing the mental equivalent of *drooling*, he scowled and forced up his strongest mental defence, doing complex five dimensional equations just to keep the blood going to the brain.
"Earth," she indicated, pointing to the display. "8102 B.C. as we measure it. The time of the Silver Millennium."
Xadium looked at the screen and breathed in heavily. He was aware that Minako remembered her life during the Silver Millennium, but the memory of it was something she rarely discussed, no matter how much he asked-- not that he asked much. The look of hollow pain and hurt in her eyes whenever the subject came up was too much for him to hear. It was one of the most intimate of her secrets, and Xadium respected her too much to pry. But now, he was here, at last... he could know for himself."
"This is not the time of the fall," Venus said a little flatly, easily guessing her husband's thoughts. "But... it is the first movement of the final waltz." She looked at the displays a little sadly.
"I'll just take a quick reading and we'll be off, then," Xadium declared, hoping to bury himself in the technology in order to blot out the thoughts of burying himself in Venus' arms.
"You're not getting away that easily," Venus chortled, fluidly striding across the console room in one graceful movement and linking arms with her husband, dragging him to the door. It was all the Time Lord could do to keep his balance. "Now you shall see how the greatest romance in history began."
The irony of his wife playing historian was not lost on him. "But what of ours?" he joked dryly. Venus looked at him and laughed sweetly. Unable to restrain himself any longer, and totally enchanted with her, Xadium kissed her with joy. She responded gladly, and as is the way with such things, it took them quite some time to finally get out the door.
"Beautiful, is it not?" Venus asked, as she pointed to the silver-white moon which loomed large in the daylight sky. "There sits the throne of Serenity the First."
"Did you ever visit there much?" Xadium enquired a bit formally, still intimidated by Venus' title as well as her intoxicating presence.
"I was brought to that house at a young age," she mused, remembering back to a time long ago, even in this present. "I was raised along with the daughters of the imperial house. As a result, the ties between Venus and the Moon are strong, even now.... but for obvious reasons our people rarely travel offworld."
"Obvious?" Xadium asked innocently even as his gaze lingered over Venus to the exclusion of all else.
"Obvious," Venus chuckled as she enjoyed his examination for a moment. "Other races have a low... tolerance to our 'radiance'."
"Radiance." Xadium let the word play across his mind. It was apt. The Venusians were associated with beauty, light and gold, all radiant things. Venus, and even Minako did seem to shine with a light brighter than those around them. So enchanted was he by the concept, and the sight of the woman who embodied it, that he utterly failed to notice the arrow hurling towards his head.
With a blast of laser-thin golden light from her fingertip, Venus split the arrow in two, causing it to splinter away from Xadium's head in two directions.
"What the--" Xadium began, snapping back into reality. "That came out of nowhere..."
"WHO DARES ATTACK THE PRINCESS OF VENUS AND HER CONSORT?" Venus boomed imperiously, her tone at once filled with iron and cleverly feigned ire.
"Consort?!" Xadium hissed under his breath. "Consort?!"
"In this time I did not take *husbands*," Venus replied quietly with a wry smile. "Such monogamy was unheard of in our society."
Xadium coughed nervously. "Yes, well... I know of such arrangements in other socieities..."
"The requirement," Venus replied a bit quickly, as she eyed some oncoming guards warily, "was that those joining in the union of the flesh and soul do so out of shared affection and love."
"Some people still act like that today," Xadium noted as the guards drew near.
"Do not worry," Venus chuckled, stroking Xadium's cheek. "I respect the sanctity of our vow."
"I never doubted it," Xadium replied.
"Lady Venus!" the imperial guards exclaimed, averting their gaze and looking straight down at the ground. "Forgive us! We did not know of your arrival!"
Venus tilted her head imperiously, an unneccessary gesture since no one was looking at her. "I go where I will when I will. Make way for us." She held out her hand and a sigil of Venus leapt forth into the air along with some odd glyphs.
"Mi'lady!" The guards replied in unison, standing aside and doing their best not to look at her.
"Why aren't they looking at you?" Xadium asked as he began to see the air between the guards shimmer.
"They say that any man who gazes upon the Goddess Venus goes mad with lust," Venus replied with a chuckle.
"That's not far from the mark," Xadium muttered. "Your pheremones are... beyond potent."
"It is not chemical," Venus replied, saying no more as the air between the guards seemed to split, revealing a doorway into some kind of ornate hall.
"A cloaking device?" Xadium enquired. "A hidden castle?"
"A portal to a palace on the other side of the world," Venus answered, boredom in her voice at the technical query. "Come. Today is the day they meet." She yanked Xadium forward and through the portal as it closed behind her.
The couple found themselves in a vast, ornate ballroom ringed with hundreds of tables. Soft, elegant music was playing, and dignitaries from all the various worlds in the solar system were milling about, conversing, laughing and social networking. It was an imposing spectacle to say the least.
"Sit here," Venus said brusquely, shoving Xadium down into a seat in the rear corner of the massive hall. "I was not here for this event, even though I know of it."
"What is this?" Xadium asked Venus even as she leaned into the shadows, her golden eyes eerily cutting through the darkness. "Where are we?"
"This is the Imperial Palace of Earth," Venus replied, her voice a low whisper. "And here, for the first time--"
Venus checked herself as the entire crowd in the room stood and broke into thunderous applause. As the music swelled, a youthful noble looking young man in gleaming white and gold raiments, accompanied by a tall, regal looking young woman in a slim blue dress, with firey red hair, walked through the crowd.
"Endymion and his attendant, Beryl," Venus explained.
"Beryl!" Xadium hissed. "But wasn't she the one who--"
"Look at her face," Venus continued, ignoring her spluttering husband. "The rosy cheeks, the smile on her lips at all times, the warm flush about her body, the way she leans against him..." Her tone was clinical and yet somehow also reverent.
"She's in love..." Xadium remarked after a long pause. "Queen Beryl... in love."
"Not a Queen yet," Venus reminded her husband. "And is that so hard to believe? That one such as herself could have, at one time, felt the same stirring in her heart as the rest of us?"
"But the things she did..." Xadium began to protest.
"She dreams of a bright future with the man she adores, whom she has served faithfully from youth," Venus replied, feeling the emotions of the yong woman anew even as she remembered the history of them. "Endymion trusts her... even likes her... a man who respects not he boundaries of class or place, in time, love could have blossomed between them."
The clapping continued as Endymion smiled at Beryl and took her hand, preparing to do the scandalous deed of dancing with her. No one would have dared say anything to his face, and he knew it. The poor servant girl deserved it-- and she was so kind, and yes, even beautiful--
Beryl smiled as her heart skipped a beat. Finally, the moment she had been waiting for all her life!
Suddenly, Endymion dropped Beryl's hand, his gaze catching that of a slightly older girl in a sheer white dress who was standing in the corner. His throat ran dry as he found himself unable to tear away from her gaze. Something about her-- he knew... he jus knew he had to find out more about her. As Beryl watched in shock, Endymion walked past her quickly moving through the crowd to intercept her.
"And there--" Venus exhaled, her eyes hooded. "Can you feel it? That moment when love goes sour, when the bubble of joy implodesinto a bitter core of raw fury and rage-- the hatred within her born out of pain and grief?"
Xadium could not help but feel sory for Beryl as Endymion made his way to the blonde-haired girl with the twin ponytails and began conversing with her.
"And as one love dies in sorrow and growing cold rage.... another is bo--" Venus stopped suddenly, as did everyone in the room-- for in the next instant, a boy in a golden tunic had leapt forward and impaled Beryl through the heart with a golden spear. "YOU WILL NOT BETRAY THE PRINCE OF EARTH!" he boomed. In the next instant, Beryl was dead.
"That's not supposed to happen, is it?" Xadium asked Venus curiously. She shooked her head. "I know him..." she began slowly... "my cousin.... a young soothsayer who was always reckless and foolish..."
"A Venusian?" Xadium asked, as Venus quickly got him outside of the hall before the palace was locked down.
Before Venus cold answer, she vanished right before Xadium's eyes.
Xadium could not understand it. Checking the TARDIS databanks, there was no action being taken by the Time Lords. History had changed radically, yet no one was doing anything about it. The Silver Millennium had never fallen, and humanity was enjoying a peaceful and benevolent golden age. The princesses of the various planets ruled their worlds and aided in the perpetuation of a prosperity the likes of which the Galaxy had never seen. There was no strife, no war, no conflicts with the Darker sides of chaotic nature.
After going over all the data, Xadium had no choice but to accept the horrific truth. This was the true course of history. The timeline with the fall, and the ruin of earth, and the reincarnation of the senshi... it was the aberrant timeline. Everything... the whole society of Earth... the friends he had made... his marriage... it had all been founded on a monumental error of circumstance.
Xadium spent the next few days pondering the situation. In an instant his whole universe, both personal and existential, had ceased to be. His life... his love... gone. Neverweres from a universe of neverwhens.
Lying alone in bed between the silk sheets, he looked up at the ceiling and pondered, imagining her face above his, smiling. Imagined her touch, her soothing words, their union. Beyond that. Thoughts of Sakura-chan, the daughter never now to be. The friends on Earth-- Hotaru, Haruka, Tomoe and the others. The house in Japan. None of it there anymore. They would never exist, never form bonds of love and family forged out of the pain of war and grief.
Xadium looked over the timeline of the future again and again. Nothing but peace and love and tranquility for thousands of years. Who could argue with such a paradise?
As Xadium firmed his resolve, he knew that he could, damn it all. Damn the cost. Going over to the TARDIS console he set it to land him one month prior to its arrival, halfway across the planet.
"And as one love dies in sorrow and growing cold rage.... another is bo--" Venus stopped suddenly, as did everyone in the room-- for in the next instant, a boy in a golden tunic had leapt forward, making to impale Beryl through the heart with a golden spear. "YOU WILL NOT---" But in the next instant, he dropped to the ground, dead, a laser blast pattern in his back.
"My cousin!" Venus exclaimed, rushing over to her side as Xadium followed her, just as confused as everyone else.
Before Xadium knew what had happened, he felt a touch on his shoulder, and found himself looking into his own eyes as Time rippled and shifted, paradoxes smashing and colliding into one another. He collapsed, now only his slightly future self. The world went black.
Mumbling and sighing, Doctor Xadium tossed and turned on the cold hard floor of the TARDIS, finally opening his eyes and looking up into Venus' crestfallen face. Her look was distant and drained of life. Her ethereal, sensual beauty was gone, replaced by an emptiness that was just as striking.
"Why." The word was quiet, hollow and sad.
"History derailed," Xadium lied. "Had Beryl been allowed to die, humanity would have become weak and decadent, too fat on the spoils of peace to resist the onslaught of Chaos Galaxia in 1994." That part, at least, was true.
"So you set it straight to save humanity," Venus replied flatly. "You killed my COUSIN to save humanity."
"It had to be," Xadium replied. "There was no other way to intercept him, or Beryl..."
Venus swiveled and looked at Xadium, swiftly slapping him so hard his jaw broke. She knew EXACTLY why he had done it, and it had had NOTHING to do with the future of the human race.
She didn't know how to react past the slap. He had done it out of love. The damned bitter irony of it was too much. It made her ill. He ha done it out of love for her, their daughter, their friends and the future they knew. He had killed a member of her family.
Venus, not knowing what to do, simply retreated back into the psyche and form of Aino Minako.
And Aino Minako, for reasons she could not understand, no longer could stand the presence of her husband. Taking her things, she moved over a mile deep into the TARDIS, perfectly content never to speak to him again.
Xadium slept alone that night. But even as he felt the ache of his lonliness, he was glad. Glad that she lived. Glad that everyine else was safe. But the smile turned to a frown. He had killed Zircon. He had callously taken another life to preserve his timeline-- and that time the decision was even easier for him. What was he becoming? Down what path would this eventually lead?
After all, he pondered, the road to hell was paved with good intentions.