Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko, Toei Animation, and Kodansha Comics.
The Price To Pay
Part II: The Cost
By Gita Toronjil-Lee
Zoisite slid off Kunzite's unmoving form quickly and stared into his passively peaceful face. He reached across and shook his shoulder frantically.
His mind clearing suddenly, he reached out with trembling fingers to check for a pulse. He pressed against Kunzite's neck several times, and after adjusting his position several times, found a soft but steady pulse to reward his efforts. He sighed in relief.
But he's not breathing!
Laying his hands on his lover's chest, Zoisite amplified his senses to see if he could discern where the problem was and what he could do about it, to no avail.
Wild-eyed with fear and close to giving up or possibly to screaming, he straddled the prone form and pressed his mouth to the larger man's. He'd seen humans do this in like situations (usually because the harmed person was suffering from a lack of energy; he'd done his share of gathering over the years), but he wasn't quite sure what it would do.
Before he could give Kunzite a single breath, however, he felt his body move with a slight motion of the torso beneath him. He sat upright quickly, as Kunzite's arms sleepily raised and slid up his back.
"Mmmm… Zoisite…" he groaned, "you definitely know how to wear me out." He pulled him down so that they were face to face, Zoisite still bestride him, and kissed his forehead gently. "How are you feeling this morning?"
Zoisite swallowed hard. Damned overactive imagination… where did you come from? He forced a smile. "Much, much better, thanks to you."
"Well, you won't have me for long."
He jerked up, drawing in a sharp breath. "What?"
Kunzite looked puzzled. "I said, it was my pleasure."
"Oh." He slipped off of his lover, trying his hardest to ignore his distress as he cuddled back into Kunzite's side.
Just my imagination?
Kunzite was sleeping again. He had been sleeping awfully hard lately, far from the man who'd wake at the slightest creak or rustle that he'd been in the Kingdom. Well, Zoisite knew full well that his lover's energy reserves had recently lost a fairly decent amount when the psychic bond that had once linked his mind to Metallia's dark power had been abruptly severed a few weeks ago. This breakage in the older king's mind was not a drain on his powers per se, but more an imbalance in his psyche that had not repaired itself yet.
One that apparently made him sleepy.
Of course, the frequent screaming, thrashing nightmares of his bedmate didn't help much either.
And Zoisite was certain that those had nothing to do with the Kingdom, either. He could feel -- feel! -- the absence of Metallia's influence from his mind, but he also knew that unlike Kunzite, his mind didn't feel the loss, thanks to the ginzuishou, his resurrection, or maybe just the wholeness that he felt from the confirmation that he was really loved, the finally knowing that Kunzite really did care for him as more than merely his ambitious, fiery protégé who willingly shared his sexual pastimes.
Whatever was upsetting him so at night, it hadn't anything to do with what was affecting his lover.
And perhaps the not knowing of exactly what it was was the scariest thing of all.
Hell with perhaps; it most definitely was. No sense beating around it.
He shut his eyes against Kunzite's chest, but he'd be damned if he would fall asleep. He didn't want to, and though the night's rest, what little there had been, was uneventful, given the circumstances so far of this day of the missed sunrise, he didn't trust his luck any farther.
~"You,"~ the voice snarled. ~"you conniving murderous queer son-of-a-bitch. Why can't you stay dead?"~
He couldn't see anyone around him -- he couldn't see anything. All around him was an inky blackness.
I'm dreaming, he realized with relief. Now I'll finally get to know that I've been dreaming about lately. Unless I wake up screaming again and forget. Damn.
That was not an appealing idea.
Plus, this means I've fallen asleep. Oops.
~"Pay attention to me!"~ the voice demanded.
Shaking inside, though right now in this dream-state he had no body, he had to scream back.
"I don't know what else I can do! Where am I, and who the hell are you?"
The voice paused, and came back quieter and far saner, though it also now absolutely oozed with malevolence.
~"I don't think you're in much of a position to ask, Zoisite."~
"Wh-" the sound of the voice striking his own name maliciously was both unexpected and unpleasing. "What else can I do?"
The all-consuming darkness frowned at him, if such a thing were possible. ~"Don't get smart with me, you impudent fool. If you're here, that means that you have moved closer to me, which you surely should be. And I will see to it that you stay here where you belong!"~
"Listen. Voice, ghost, whatever the hell you are, I can't possibly fear your threats being that I don't understand what you're talking about."
Good, Zoisite, rationalize with the insane, evil-sounding voice that sounds like if it had a body, it would be much larger than yours. Smart… I'm sure we most definitely did not learn that in Kunzite-sama's lessons.
~"You…"~ the voice started again, outraged, ~"you had better not condescend to me, boy. I will KILL YOU!"~
Large invisible appendages closed around his being, constricting him in what was akin to a throat-hold, except that he had no throat. His eyes that didn't-quit-exist in this dream state would have bulged had they been there.
A piercing light, a yellow laser, cut through the blackness suddenly. The seeming-hands freed him, and Zoisite got the feeling that the voice was screaming, though he didn't hear anything. The yellow filled his vision, giving him a sense of… eyes… compassionate… knowing… strangely familiar… eyes…
He came to his senses startlingly, feeling a sense of peace and freedom, despite the fact that someone had just tried to murder him in his sleep. He could deal with this enemy, now that he knew (or was it a dream?) that one existed. He'd dealt with people who wanted him dead before.
~"Who the fuck are you to interfere with me?!"~ shrilled the voice. ~"Don't you know who you're dealing with?"~
"Yes I do," answered Zoisite's benefactor nastily, "and I know that you can't touch me. You can spout and fume and raise all the hell you like, but you know as well as I that you can't do anything to me. I'm exempt from your power."
~"DAMN YOU, SHUT UP!"~
"Ooh… empty curses! I'm frightened!"
~"You insufferable… you were not like this when you were alive."~
"And you have a point?"
~"Why do you care about that boy? You never liked him."~
"That doesn't matter. You can't deny that he and I share something, and since we both have pissed you off so, you hate both of us. Don't you?"
~"I hate you."~
"Exactly. And I'm sticking up for poor Zoi because you're taking out your aggressions over me on him."
~"Go to hell."~
"Don't you wish. You know, you've got an awful lot of other things you could be doing… can't you forget about one little cheater?"
~"I've got an assignment to do and I intend to see it completed. No, I must get it completed -- no exceptions, despite what that selfish Lord Kunzite may think."~
"I’m an exception."
~"I hate you."~
"And the senshi are…"
~"They have the ginzuishou, and they should have it. Don't argue with me over matters of fate, mortal."~
The voice paused, waiting for a response from its equally disembodied companion.
But he was gone.
For an immortal, ethereal, almost-god, it was clearly upset, something that really hadn't happened at all until recently, when it seemed to be occurring on a regular basis.
It cursed loudly, though there were no echoes in the void where it resided.
Watching quietly on the sidelines was actually more fun than one would expect.
To Nephrite, though, who had always preferred to watch as things he wanted got done and to make his moves through much planning and the consultation of heavenly bodies, it was quite an ordinary sensation.
He watched his once-associates quite carefully lately. They were vastly easier on his mind than watching her.
Plus, it was far more interesting than he'd thought it would be; after all, in the Kingdom, they bored him to tears. Kunzite with his always haughty, superior attitude, Zoisite with his teasing and his constant ill temper, and Jadeite with his silly need for manipulations of humans and youma.
In the Kingdom, he'd often ask the Stars, "How did I get stuck working with two obnoxious queers and an idiot?" They answered always the same.
*Once you did not care what they were. Once you did not think that of them, and now you cannot see with the clarity that you once had. Neither can they. What do you suppose they see of you?*
Sometimes the damned things would communicate with the comprehensibility of badly-written Chinese fortune cookies.
Now was different. It was Zoisite he was focusing on in his watching. Because the young man who was responsible for his death seemed to know…
Something. And he needed to know what.
Kunzite and Zoisite were both different; he had to acknowledge that. They were fools, yes, in their ridiculous love, but he couldn't help but feel just a little jealous of how they'd managed to escape. He'd escaped, too, but he had no way to really celebrate or to fully enjoy his freedom.
Well… poor kid. He still had problems.
As did Nephrite. But it wasn't yet the time to face his. The Stars had told him to wait, and then he would know what to do and what part was his to play.
And now they were speaking to him unbidden. That meant that something important was to happen.
"What's going on?"
*Something important. Be prepared -- your part may soon be at hand.*
Zoisite had woken up.
Kunzite was not there.
Instead, on the pillow, was a note on a piece of yellow paper.
If you wake up while I'm out, I'm sorry, but this damned mansion had an accident. Some pipe somewhere burst, and I'm currently outside trying to repair the thing and remembering a time when such accidents never happened and, on the off-chance when something did occur, we had youma deal with it. You, lucky you, slept through the explosion, and I would have ignored it, but I was afraid it could turn dangerous, and also, the incessant hissing noise was driving me crazy!
I love you.
Smiling at the scrap covered in Kunzite's bold, precise handwriting, so unlike his own sprawling, almost sloppy print, Zoisite blushed a little and ran his hand contentedly over his face.
He loves me… he's admitted it in writing, even!
He giggled at his foolish thinking. Damn, but this morning -- afternoon? he'd lost his sense of time, but sunlight was streaming through the windows -- felt good. Most sunny mornings did, actually, and this one was no exception, even though it had gotten off to a less-than-wonderful start. How could he have lived so long in the darkness of the Kingdom without this sensation?
Well, he had had Kunzite-sama, after all, and also, he had been…
"A few soldiers short of a legion? A few kings short of the Shitennou? A few nijizuishou short of the ginzuishou?"
Zoisite started, sitting upright in bed and crumbling Kunzite's note in his hand. "Who's there?"
"Tsk-tsk, Zoi-kun, you really shouldn't think to yourself out loud. Keep it in your head, keep it in your head, keep it for the dead." The voice -- most assuredly not the voice that had been hurting him in his sleep -- stopped itself in its singing and giggled crazily. "Oh, sorry, I've found myself doing that so often of late. About the insanity thing -- I've got a million of 'em. You want to hear some more? A few…"
"Who are you?"
Calming down considerably, the voice said, "Again, sorry. I suppose I was a little excited… I haven't spoken to a soul since… well, a long time ago. Time works differently when you're dead, as I'm sure you know, and the same principles pretty much apply for the Confined… they just get screwy. I sincerely apologize for my enthusiasm."
It was one he knew…
He just couldn't believe…
"I know you, don't I?" Zoisite asked suddenly, realization dawning. The voice just chuckled. "Why can't I see you?"
"Do you know who I am yet?"
"I have my suspicions. But I thought you were…"
A black hole appeared in front of Zoisite's bed, and he nervously clutched the blankets tighter about his waist.
A booted foot stepped its way out of the void, followed by the rest of a man, dressed in a familiar gray uniform with red lining.
"My, my, Zoisite," said Jadeite, "you didn't think that an oversized ice cube could keep me down forever?"
End chapter five
On to Chapter Six
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