Saline at the Center
Author's Note: Esmeraude darling--you gotta love her. The girl's got spunk. We've all had those horrible gut-wrenching crushes, and so did she. Here's a trip into angst-land when good ol' Rubeus goes off to the 20th century, taking 'The Girls' with him, and leaving the Green One the only hen in the hutch. A short explanation of the title--at the center of every emerald is a tiny bit of salt water. I see Demando as Esmeraude's salt--her devotion to him is what really facets her character and drives her to be as she is. Do enjoy.
Esmeraude sighed and raked the hairbrush through her verdant tresses resignedly. He did not put her in charge of the mission as she had asked; she had promised to succeed! She bit her lip at the thought. Did he not trust her? Was not she beautiful and loyal? As if to hide the very doubt of her attractiveness, she tossed the brush aside and began to apply more make-up. Prince Demando had always been so supportive of her--he alone had believed in her enough to place her in such a high position in his vast legions, past even the protests of the one called Wiseman. As a young girl, she had always admired the Prince's natural charm and wanted to be by his side. Just a few years ago, at the beginning of the mission, it had almost been true.
Few parties were held on Nemesis, for it was a place mainly for scheming and competition; celebrations of selfish success were held with discretion and in private. But the Prince had announced the most ambitious plan of all: he and the Wiseman aimed to take revenge on the planet which had banished them. As always on Nemesis, the wine flowed freely and in great quantity, and the Prince took no exception in enjoying it. She wore a low-cut dress which flowed freely along her legs like a great black mist. She chose it because it made her look princess-like; because she wanted to be his princess. Music wove through the ballroom in fantastic crescendos which obviously stirred the blood of the Prince's subjects, for many of them seemed rather close to their partners: even the Prince's sulk of a brother Safiru, had Petz in his arms and lips. Seeing all the room coupled together irked her--why was she to remain singled out on the dance floor with no one to accompany her. For all the sadness she felt at the sight of it, Esmeraude showed no concern on her face; instead it contorted into an arrogant smirk. Never let them see you down. She drifted through them, suddenly fixated on the other side of the room. He was alone.
Prince Demando sat apart from his guests, idly swirling a glass of wine. Esmeraude approached, and bowed slightly in greeting. "Good evening, my Prince."
"Good evening, Esmeraude. I have saved a place for you in my plan. You will co-lead the attack on Crystal Tokyo with Rubeus."
She grit her teeth at the mere mention of Rubeus' name, yet she smiled just the same. "I am most gracious. My sincere thanks."
He replied with one of his charismatic smiles which grabbed her by the heart. "I am glad you came to me, Esmeraude, for I have no one to dance with, and it would be a waste of music not to dance to it."
Her heart quickened. Was he asking her to...?
"If it would please your Majesty, I would be delighted to dance with him," she breathed, trying to hide the excitement in her voice.
"He would be most pleased."
He then took her by the hand and led her to the dance floor. When he pulled her close, she knew that she would no longer be able to keep her composure. It frightened her that she may appear to be nothing more than a love-sick young girl, but then he gripped her waist and she could think of nothing more than him. "Your Majesty?"
"What is it that you want most from this war?"
"I want to be among the green meadows of Earth and to see it's beautiful flowers."
"Then I will be the one to bring you flowers, Demando. I will bring you lots of flowers," she whispered in his ear. The music changed to a faster-paced, more seductive tune: something to which one could really dance. Demando took advantage on it; even though he seemed to spend most of his time in introspective thought upon his throne, he was a skilled dancer. He drew her closer still, then spun her to arms' length and back again. The rest of the world dropped away, and Esmeraude could hardly believe her luck. She knew the court was looking on in disbelief at the troublesome young courtier in which no one believed. The same young girl who had been shunned by her own society now danced with the Prince. Then something horrible happened: the music stopped. Her heart dropped into her stomach, knowing she would leave his embrace; her breath left her as his arms slid from around her. Yet one stayed around her waist.
"Come, and have some wine with me."
She quickly regained her composure and smiled. "Yes, that certainly made me...thirsty." They walked to the bar to find all the wine glasses empty.
"No matter, we'll just go to my private collection. It's of far finer quality than this." They teleported to his storeroom, where musty wooden cupboards hung filled with dusty bottles. He let go of her and opened a cabinet. "I think this is a good one for celebration." He removed the cork and filled two wine glasses. "To friendship!" he smiled and raised a glass while handing Esmeraude hers.
"To flowers," she grinned, raising hers.
They clinked glasses. Esmeraude's eyes locked with Demando's. Their arms lowered, and the glasses were placed back on the table. She was never quite sure who was kissing whom first, but it did not matter. His kiss tasted like the wine he had been drinking earlier--oh how many times she had envied that wine! She was there with him, alone, together!
Esmeraude pulled herself out of the reverie, not wanting to remember what had happened next. In light of recent events it felt so painful. She knew that the Prince had many mistresses, but no matter what transpired between them, the Prince never allowed their friendship and trust to dwindle. The plan, the big plan! To conquer...but he had changed since they arrived at Crystal Tokyo. He was distant, and paid attention to no one excepting his own wine glass. She found him often staring into the distance, his eyes glazed over like a pathetic dog waiting for his master. She sat up and drew in a deep breath. No time to pine for him; she had a planet to conquer.
"Miss the girls?"
Esmeraude spun her chair to face the door, where Safiru leaned in its frame.
"Hardly," she replied. "Rubeus can keep them...far away from here."
His lip curled in a slight sneer.
"Oh, I forgot; I bet you're missing Petz. Well you know those time-distance relationships. They never work out," she crooned.
"Yes, the same is true for school girl crushes and one night stands," he hissed.
Esmeraude clenched her fist in anger. "What do you know?"
"Plenty. When you're excluded from your own family, you learn a lot by looking to the inside."
"Excluded nothing. The Prince adores you."
"Feh. He never shows it. I'm just baggage to him."
"Well, everything seems like baggage to him these days," she grumbled mostly to herself.
Safiru lowered his head and replied in a hushed voice: "I want him back, too."
"When I take command of the mission, you'll help me then. If we win, then with the ordeal over and the battle won, he will be himself again," she asserted.Safiru's sneer loosened. "It's a deal."
"Now if you don't mind, I was getting dressed," she sniffed.
He rolled his eyes and began to close the door.
"Oh, and Safiru darling-"
"Next time you come looking for a sympathy fuck, try flattering me a little. Poor darling, I don't think you could handle this," she posed.
"You are too much Esmeraude," he groaned. She produced her fan with a flick and turned toward the mirror, nose in the air and lips perked in a sly grin. He could not help but chuckle slightly. He left, and her laughter chased him down the hall.