Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko, Kodansha Comics, and Toei Douga. (“What!? So it's come to this at last?”)
Also, inspirational credit must go to the very short story “Leyenda”, which I read in AP Spanish IV during my senior year of high school.
It was a command, almost. Ordinarily, a man in the last moments of his life, run through by his own piercing blade, should have no place to order another; neither should a man addressing another who had been deceased some weeks. This man in particular fit both criteria, but since he was a Kunzite, and a Kunzite requesting something from a Zoisite, why, that his words were an order – or as close to it as was Kunzitely possible – was instinctive. Second-nature.
Even the “yuruse”, still fresh and poignant at the back of his throat so long after it had been spoken, hadn’t been a request, not really. Whether or not it had been heeded, though, had been keeping him up so many nights. It was all he could do to tell himself that it didn’t matter. It didn’t. Of course it didn’t.
(even if it was all. My. Fault.)
He’d never been so tired in his life. And he couldn’t stop thinking of him.
But then, days later, exhausted, shouting and lashing out cruelly just to keep himself awake and distracted, he recognized his chance.
He could have smiled upon realizing that, with a grand sweep of the Moon Stick and its glittering object of power, those endless nights and those persistent thoughts would cease. He could have smiled, easily; the thought did flit through his mind immediately after his arm had begun the reflexive throw
(can I do it? Of course I can; in battle, what can’t I do? And this is my will, not hers, and I am Kunzite of the Dark Kingdom no Shitennou . . .)
but the weapon came back at him so impossibly fast that it surprised even him. It hit deeply, with so much pain that his mind denied its existence, enabling him to rationally determine the speed at which the energy was draining from his body. If he took the time to smile he might not be able to say what he must.
He had never been sure if an afterlife existed; for centuries he had been positive that the answer was “no”, so positive that he had sold his soul to a demon to postpone the moment at which his life would end and his being would disappear forever. But Zoisite, his Zoisite, who had once sold his soul to the very same demon simply in order to postpone the moment at which Kunzite would leave him, had smiled in the last moment they’d been together, knowing that he was vanishing, disappearing from physical existence, and from that moment . . . Kunzite had begun to wonder.
(how could he have been so calm, unless maybe . . . he saw . . .)
And he’d had a lot of nights to continue that line of thought.
Just in case, just in case, he fought through the pain and the sudden intense weakness – no, he wouldn’t collapse, he mustn’t – to manage some last words. A last request. A last command. Because if he didn’t, if he couldn’t . . . . the consequences were unthinkable.
(just in case I’ve got to have somewhere to go I’ve got to know let me know)
(I don’t know why you’d want me but I’ve got to try)
From his mouth came first a stutter, insecure and confused, then, as time grew invisible, the second-closest to a scream he’d ever emitted, though it was an order nonetheless.
“. . . guide me there!”
And the world went dark.
When the light returned, it returned whiter than the sun, and brighter, too, permeating his eyes, his brain; he raised an arm to shade himself.
In vain, of course; he had no arm, and no eyes. He did, however, have a migraine.
Despite what every person who had once resided in the evil parallel universe known as the Dark Kingdom would believe with the little that remained of the heart and soul, life and fate and Divinity were not always cruel. Kunzite feared (and feared bitterly; he’d always believed the one great benefit of death was the end of such useless primal emotions) for too long that maybe this was all there was, maybe this was hell, maybe this unbearable light and strain made up his eternity.
(is this what you smiled for?)
He also feared – and strongly suspected – that maybe this was what he deserved. No one listened to his last words; why should anyone have? Maybe he was meant to leave this mortal coil a supreme commander unacknowledged.
It was the sort of irony that he would have loved to inflict upon someone else.
“Definitely deserved,” he managed to choke out, then paused.
Without any warning, the light had ceased to hurt, though a side of his head still pounded.
Right. Stifling the urge to clutch at his chest to confirm it, he knew he had a body again – and knew he shouldn’t have been so worked up; wasn’t that feeling what teleportation was all about? Completely familiar.
Unlike this place.
Nephrite had died in a park at night, and Kunzite, watching vicariously through his tracers on his young protégé, had taken in the scenery. This place was vaguely like that, but bigger: he saw no fences, no walls, no boundaries of any sort. Just greenery. It was strange—maybe funny. He’d figured that if Hell existed, at least it would be interesting to look at.
His shoulder twitched reflexively, and he moved a hand back to straighten the line of his cape. No one was around to see, but his impression of himself was still important.
Funny thought; a shame he didn’t want to smile at it. Lowering his head to make sure the terrain remained flat and safe, he started walking. It was something to do.
(I wonder how long vanity lasts without anyone to impre—)
The sound registered in one of his feet before the rest of him, and he half-stumbled. Biting his lip to keep his balance, he regained his composure quickly, and made sure to set his mouth normally before turning.
But that set didn’t last long; as the scene registered, his lips parted in a way he would have considered stupid and embarrassing had he seen a snapshot of it.
The tree to his back-left, which somehow he had missed entirely, stood tall, stretching to some feet above him, and some feet beyond him—that shade had not been there thirty second before; he would have sworn it on his life, ironic and meaningless as that may have been. But beneath it was the more important. Head bowed, hair and shadow hiding his eyes, dressed bizarrely in a white half-sleeved tunic and black trousers ending just above the knee . . . .
Kunzite’s headache fled; his mind was too busy drowning, overwhelmed, to notice.
(he . . . he’s . . . )
“Hello,” he said again, looking up, shadows leaving his face. Then he smiled, more openly than Kunzite could . . . than ever. Ever. It suited him well. “Thought you were going to walk right past me. Thinking?”
“Zo.” His voice caught so completely that what should have been a gasp became a sentence. He swallowed. “Zoisite. You . . . ”
(You heard me? You listened? After what I did?)
“There’s a stream over there, if you’re thirsty.” Zoisite cocked his head, elegantly gesturing to the left. “You sound as though you may be.”
And there was—a small whitewater stream tumbled over smooth stones some feet away. Absolutely idyllic, but attending to it would have necessitated breaking visual contact with the boy under the tree.
“That’s okay,” said Kunzite, feeling more out-of-body and disconnected than he had in the black nothingness. “Th- thank you.”
“Then, would you like to sit down? The grass is quite nice.” His fingers, slender and graceful, brushed against the turf, bending it amicably. “You can sit by me, if you like.”
(cool, yes, must keep it cool . . . collected . . . ice . . . )
When he tried to step closer, calm and smooth, his knees buckled a little, and his legs folded like a tired suspension device. So much for glamour. But somehow he ended up beside Zoisite, roughly, hands splayed in the vegetation, gaze on the ground. The latter he lifted, slowly, and through a white fringe he met the other’s gaze again.
“Careful,” his lover smiled, and reached out to brush his bangs away. Kunzite caught his hand.
“Where is this?” Pathetic, but he had to know.
The continued soft gaze did not waver, and did not show any comprehension. “I don’t know. Does it matter?”
He considered frowning, but didn’t: he couldn’t, not in this company. “I suppose not.”
Smoothly—as much as some baser instinct was screaming at him to be tentative—he released the slender hand, shifted his weight, and slid an arm around the other’s shoulders. Though it had been only a few weeks since he’d last executed this motion, Zoisite’s form beside his felt foreign, exotic. His heart beat just a little faster; he could feel it in his throat. Reflexively, he turned his face toward his lover’s profile.
(this is where usually I’d be kissing you. I should be. But how can I, knowing . . . )
(he probably doesn’t even want me to. And with good reason. )
Zoisite did not see his lover’s conflict, apparently: he seemed to be intent upon stretching his legs and watching his toes. But after some moments of silence, he glanced Kunzite’s direction, noted the turmoil in his intense stare, and his brows furrowed hesitantly.
“Is something wrong?” He leaned in closer to the embrace and rested his head on Kunzite’s collar. “You look . . . unhappy. Why?”
“Why?” He heard imitation in his voice, a trembling imitation, and cursed himself for it. “As though you don’t know.”
Closing his eyes, the younger sighed—though not sorrowfully. “You’ll tell me, then. Please?”
He had to fight not to be angry. “How could you not know? What I did to you . . . what I didn’t do . . . should have done . . . .”
“You’re too big to be feeling sorry for yourself. You don’t look to me like a little boy.”
“. . . how can you even let me near you?” He paused to register the interjection. “Sorry for me? I’m not . . . I’m not!” Losing the battle, his voice roughened bitterly. “I’m sorry because of the things I did to you—damn you, why aren’t you furious with me?”
And then, a sound, middle-high, throaty, chortling, familiar, and quite possibly what he’d missed the most. From Kunzite’s ears, Zoisite’s laughter moved to settle straight in his veins, shooting sparks through his extremities, even though he didn’t know what could be at all funny. The only reasoning he could come up with was that it was nerves, but regardless . . . his rage left him, suddenly, taking flight on wings as light as the atmosphere.
When his amused chuckles subsided, his lover shook his head, pushing marigold curls closer against Kunzite’s jaw. “Furious? Aren’t you silly.”
(he’s talking like that to me? to me?)
(. . . he has every right to be indignant. Stop that.)
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen anyone come through here, and even longer since I saw someone whom I wanted to be close to me; I’m so glad you showed up. I was lonely. And you . . . are so beautiful, and I’m so glad you’re here. I’d much rather you be happy, though. Otherwise . . . .”
“So you’re just going to forget all the things I did to you?” He could barely raise his voice above a mutter now. “How could you?”
“It sounds like you’re the one who needs to forget. Those ‘things’ couldn’t have mattered that badly.”
“D- don’t you even know what I’m talking about, Zoisite? Damn…”
Pulling away, the shorter cocked his head, curls slipping off his shoulder, and blinked slowly at him. Smiling. No stress in his voice, only benign interest. “It would probably help if I knew who this Zoisite was.”
After a moment of dead silence, pale eyebrows rocketed upward as far as Kunzite’s facial musculature would allow, and once their owner regained some semblance of voice, he choked. Working out an incoherent stammer as never he’d had before, he finally forced his words to sort by prefacing them with a sigh. “Now I understand why you don’t hate me.”
(but . . . he didn’t care enough about me to remember me, either.)
Oh no, he was not going to . . . .
“You loved him, did you? Your Zoisite.” His tone still tinged with concern, it read as surprisingly close to indifference. “But he died.”
“Dammit . . .”
“Was I the Zoisite you loved? I think I might remember that. Maybe that’s why you feel so good sitting next to me.” He pulled close again—closer, even; he scooted the rest of his body to run alongside Kunzite’s as well, though Kunzite’s peculiar crouch made that much a bit difficult. “How lucky I am.”
The larger man caught himself half-laughing. “You definitely must be suffering from amnesia, if you can say a thing like that.”
“Amnesia? I don’t think so.” That was his lover’s voice at its most serious, there. “I don’t feel as though I’m missing anything, after all. I still feel something for you, and . . . it seems to me like that was the only thing that was important enough to stay.”
“Zoisite . . .” he paused a moment to realize his sentiments—after all, how long had he tried to keep them from himself? But there was no need for that now, and Kunzite was nothing if not pragmatic. “. . . you can’t just forgive me like that. I just can’t forgive me like that.” The truth to his words came so suddenly that his voice dropped short.
Quietly, Zoisite murmured, “Is your guilt so strong that it’s going to be the only thing you end up remembering? I’m sorry to hear that. It hurts me, because I like you. You shouldn’t feel so bad about something that no one but you here is keeping in existence, really.”
That felt like the most real thing he had ever heard. It obviously required some contemplation, and he, being the Kunzitely person he was, accorded to what was demanded of him.
He said nothing, because he had nothing to say. The two of them, therefore, sat in quiet, side-by-side in a position of casual physical affection and support. The water behind them continued splashing over the smooth stones; it was the only sound in their world.
That was the case for some time.
Then he sat straighter, shook his long white hair, and blinked hard. Turning to his left, he admired his companion—such elegant features, long-lashed green eyes and burning-gold hair, wiry pale athletic body—and smiled. He shifted, stretching out his legs in a position identical to that of his partner’s, and their knees brushed. His legs were bare, now, and he smiled as he realized the matched pair they must have presented, dressed as they were.
His shoulder twitched reflexively, but he didn’t notice, didn’t afford it any responsive action. Not only did he not recall the appropriate vain response, he was also too busy watching the other, continuing his silent appraising admiration.
The scrutinized blushed lightly, and looked down toward his toes again—their toes, now. “You know . . .” Such a nice tenor-range voice; it was a pleasure to hear him speak. He’d just been wondering what his voice sounded like.
“Hm?” His own, too . . . lower than he'd expected.
“What was your name?”
(such a ridiculous question. of course, I am . . . I . . . it should be second-nature, shouldn’t it?)
(it . . . )
He laughed. “It’s not important,” he told the lovely young man, whom he knew he liked very much.
“Ah, well,” the boy said. “Will you kiss me now? I’ve been waiting for you to.”
(. . . okay.)
It was nice, that place, wherever it was.
Author’s Note: This didn’t quite end like I thought it would, but since I wrote the beginning in June and the rest in December, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Didn’t realize how much this would remind me of my first DK fics till I finished. Oh well. I hope at least I’ve grown up a little in nearly three years. Or maybe I've just gotten weirder.
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