Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko, Toei Animation, and Kodansha Comics. Translation of the anime dialogue used in this text is the property of Studio Chikashitsu.
Green Eyes in the Dark
By Gita Toronjil-Lee
It is too quiet.
Even the weather outside his stalactite window has settled; as far as the eye can see (though in the dark, admittedly, this is not a great distance), all is still.
Perhaps if he were in battle commanding his troops or speaking in front of his queen he could be considered a lord, or even a king; in the here and now, despite his age and experience, he is remarkably human, perched atop his bedroom dresser and kicking his booted heels against the side in an irregular thumping rhythm. This sound is the only one that fills the still room, occupied by no one but himself and by the ghosts in the walls who haunt every inch of his forsaken land. His fingers grip the edge of the dresser, and though he is gloveless, his knuckles are white.
This position allows him to lean forward and peer out the window. Outside, the sky looms overhead as it always does there, dark and almost opaque, parting only briefly to reveal the twisted purple-blue landscape. But he is not looking at the sky. He has seen it a million times, and it does not interest him now. Rather, his eyes trace the trickling stream that meanders through the gardens below into the flowers, a silver glimmer threaded through a blotchy darkness.
"Beautiful…" he murmurs aloud to himself, analyzing the thick foliage below. A person unused to the area's natural flora may not have considered this as such; the flowers bloom over a surreal violet-black rock rather than soil, and the blossoms themselves are not delicate but hardy, with leatherlike thick petals, textured like an amphibian's skin, colored in orange and yellow, contrasting sharply against their backdrop. Gray-green vines connect the plants, stretching out rotting fingers to clutch at the landscape; these are barely visible in the field except in places where the night-growing fungi bathes them in their eerie pale light.
But the kingdom of darkness in which he lives has never been one to nurture, and so any form of vegetation is a rare commodity in itself. No matter how bizarre it may look to a stranger's eyes, to him the garden is magnificent.
It is his, after all, one of his very few places of retreat.
He slows the pattering of his feet against the dresser, and eventually brings them to a stop, looking away from the window and raking his gaze over the dimly lit furnishings of his bedroom. The lights are off and the room is pitch black, but still, he can see. His eyes are well accustomed to darkness.
And the scene playing out in his head is better lit, though his Queen's throne room could not at any time be considered bright.
"There are seven nijizuishou in all. We must have all seven for the maboroshi no ginzuishou. You understand that, do you not?"
"Yes, your majesty."
"We have one in our hands now. However, you allowed Tuxedo Kamen to take the second one."
"I have no excuse."
"Do not be concerned, Queen Beryl-sama. Tuxedo Kamen will certainly appear to steal the other nijizuishou. When he does, we can regain the one he stole."
This frightens him, because despite the seemingly-casual words of reassurance from Her Majesty's highest officer in reference to the mission of her (by default) second-highest, the third nijizuishou had been lost.
The fingers of his right hand uncurl from the ledge, and he wipes his eyes tiredly. He knows he should not be thinking of this.
He turns his attention again to outside his window, trying to lose his worry by observing the rare tranquility there. He pauses to briefly entertain the sudden realization that he would be able to relax so much more if only there were some animal life outside, birds or small animals darting in and out amongst the flowers or splashing in the stream.
There are not any such things, and his rational mind quickly quashes this inappropriate thought as it had his momentary worry about the imminent necessity of success. But he has lost the ability to look outside.
The rippled black walls of his room seem to be closing in on him, and he is dizzy. He clutches the ledge again with both hands.
I'm such a fool, he thinks, but he will not say that aloud, even though it does not appear that anyone is looking in upon him.
Suddenly, spontaneously, he swings his feet forward and launches himself from his place on his dresser, his boots thudding heavily to the floor as he weaves to maintain equilibrium. He has tired of sitting.
It is cold in his room, but he peels off everything he had been wearing on his torso nonetheless, and shoves the discarded garments across the dresser, slinging them over what had five seconds ago been his seat. He casts one look of regret to his window and to the thought of his garden, but he knows that he is only hurting himself now.
Topless and fatigued, though it is not yet nighttime, he massages the back of his neck with his left hand and groans. He knows that he should do some sort of exercises to relax, be they physical or mental, but he refuses. Not right now. Instead, he slouches against the wall, not noticing the way the cold stone scratches his bare back, and leans his forehead against his knees. He closes his eyes and wills himself strength.
The room sits in silence as he becomes just like any other piece of inanimate décor, motionless and lonely.
Some time goes by, though he is not aware of its passage.
At length, several slender cottony stalks wrap themselves around his right shoulder and squeeze it gently.
Immediately his eyes snap open and his head jerks backward, startled. His vision darkens for a moment as pain shoots blinding fireworks through the back of his skull. He has forgotten his position against the wall.
"Oh…" he hears. "I'm sorry." And soft lips brush his cheek, then withdraw quickly, as if they are embarrassed.
When his sight returns, gentle green eyes meet his in the dark; for the moment that it takes for his night vision to return, these are all he can see, and, as he knows in his deepest of hearts, all he has wanted to see.
Zoisite removes his gloved fingers from his lover's shoulder, pauses, runs them down the bare arm to just above the elbow. Then he pulls away and takes several steps back. The look in his eyes is so questioning that Kunzite does not at first realize that a vocal query has been made and is expecting an answer.
"Kunzite-sama? Were you sleeping?"
Was he? He blinks twice in an attempt to hide his confusion. "N… no…"
But he is not sure.
He rubs the back of his injured skull, then, denying the pain, he places his palms flat against the walls behind him and pushes himself up off the floor, looming over the smaller newcomer as he always would when they stand face-to-face.
"Zoisite," he interrupts. "What did you do?"
A brief puzzled expression, visible clearly now despite the shadows, crosses the smaller man's face; then it brightens to a grin.
In Kunzite's eyes, though they outwardly remain mirrored and expressionless, that look lights up the entire Dark Kingdom.
Zoisite raises his right hand, and indeed, there it is -- matching his shining eyes, the green nijizuishou glimmers within the whiteness of his glove. Without warning, he giggles, the giddiness of achieving his necessary goal finally setting in. "I did it, Kunzite-sama, I did it. I…"
"You shouldn't be laughing," Kunzite admonishes. "You need to go inform Queen Beryl-sama right away, before she decides to put you in eternal sleep anyway for being too slow."
"But…" The giggles flee hastily, and he sobers. "I mean, Kunzite-sama…"
The green eyes waver a bit, before their owner draws himself up to his full height and puts more confidence into his voice, as befits a junior officer recognizing a command from his senior. "Yes. But…"
Kunzite turns away and walks toward the window, but he does not look outside. "I'm…" He breaks off and changes the dangerous thread into something a bit safer. "You've done well for your Kingdom, Zoisite. You've redeemed yourself."
Zoisite blinks. "Th- thank you."
This is not what he wants to hear, and they both are aware of this. Nevertheless, Zoisite realizes the dismissal and begins to initiate his teleport. Delicate pink sakura petals materialize around him. Kunzite does not watch.
Instead, he says quietly, "And when you're done, don't dawdle afterward."
Right before he disappears completely, Zoisite hesitantly smiles at Kunzite's back. "I won't."
Only when he is certain that he is alone again do the tensed muscles in his bare shoulders loosen, finally letting the sweet tranquilizer that is relief ease the enormous weight that he has been bearing.
You've redeemed us both, is what he should have said, and I'm proud of you. He will never amend it in words. He cannot. But there are other ways to communicate.
Now he looks out the window again at the landscape, at the silver stream dancing through the dark, empty countryside. The air outside is still clear; the night is calm and peaceful. And so he decides that when Zoisite returns, he will invite him on a walk in their garden.
Notes: I can't seem to break out of the "quiet empty room and contemplative, worried kings" mindset, can I? (or, for that matter, kings stripping out of their clothes at every available moment... but let's not go there...)
Anyway, I've thought a lot lately about how worried Kunzite must have been, watching Zoisite go after the nijizuishou, knowing the price of failure, unable to do anything about it. This is not a concept I'm going to drop easily, believe you me. Oh, and if anyone didn't realize that the "he" was Kunzite till I disclosed it... well, I deliberately left some ambiguity in order to avoid any assumptions or pigeonholing the story before it even started, so that's all right.