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
nightmares tend to linger…
Too shrilly for his soft tenor voice. It cracked, then broke completely, but still, he kept his hoarse screaming.
"Zoisite? Zoisite, wake up!" Kunzite's worried voice cut through the sound. The scream died, and Zoisite's dark green eyes snapped open -- not dull and sleepy, but bright and gleaming, though it was obvious that he wasn't instantly aware of his surroundings.
"Kunzite?" he whispered, his smooth voice roughened by strain. Furrowing his brow, he asked, "Was I doing it again?"
A nod, and he sighed. It wasn't the first night he'd woken to find himself sitting upright in bed, Kunzite holding him in his lap, rocking him, stroking his hair, and shushing him like he was a colicky infant. He couldn't remember anything about being asleep -- no bizarre or frightening dreams, no pain, no feeling of illness -- all he experienced was the abrupt awakening by Kunzite nearly every night. Well, that, and the scared look in his lover's eyes every time this happened.
Maybe the "old" Kunzite would have been quickly annoyed, but this Kunzite, the far more patient and affectionate man who had been so humbled by Zoisite's death, the Kunzite that had given up everything for the Zoisite's resurrection, the one who had finally let Zoisite see the extent to which he returned his love, this Kunzite never complained, and rather worried about and feared for him instead.
"These nightmares or night terrors or whatever are really getting frightening, Zoi," he said gently, running a soothing hand down Zoisite's long hair.
"What… what did I do this time?"
Kunzite shook his head. "The usual -- kicking and thrashing," he said slowly, "and raving. I couldn't understand what you were saying, but you sounded really upset, or hurt. I picked you up and tried to calm you down. You went completely stiff in my arms and started to scream."
Wearily closing his eyes and raising his left hand to his throat, Zoisite murmured, "Oh. I'm sorry."
Not saying anything, Kunzite gently pulled Zoisite's head to his chest. He laid them both back down, softly kissing his beloved's forehead.
"Please rest," he breathed.
Even in eternal darkness, as is the Dark Kingdom where they had lived all their lives that they could remember, there is still a concept of morning, of night versus day -- a time to be sleeping, a time to be waking, a time to be busy (and this was the time that dominated all others), and a time to relax. However, there is one very significant difference between the kingdom and the earth.
A morning beginning with a sunrise inspires peace -- a dissipation of the night and the dangers that could have lurked there…
But not all dangers are outside.
And not all dangers fear the sunlight.
The sun came up the next morning, barely piercing the thick pine forest and the ever-present blanket of heavy fog that surrounded the pseudo-mansion.
The black sky changed with the rising of the sun, turning, for a few moments, a cloudy orange to an opaque, fluorescent pink, before it settled on a dismal gray. However, even this minimal display of colored light had the ability to shine through the mansion's stained-glass window, illuminating parts of the dull house in an exotic rainbow.
Zoisite smiled at the sunrise from where he stood, on the mansion's great balcony overlooking the forest and the horizon. He couldn't seem to get over the concept of experiencing something like this almost every day, barring, of course, the days that were too overcast even in normal, natural areas, and the days when he overslept.
Shading his eyes, he sighed contentedly, his nighttime problems banished to the furthest reaches of the back of his mind.
He turned around, still grinning, to go back into the house and see if Kunzite had woken up yet.
There was a man sitting at the table on the balcony, but it wasn't his lover. It wasn't a stranger, either. The smile melted off Zoisite's face, replaced by a look of horror.
"Hello, Zoisite," said Nephrite. He leaned back in his chair and vanished. Not in a teleport, just… vanished. The empty chair toppled over backwards, the sound echoing through the forest.
Kunzite yawned and stretched out in the only piece of furniture that had never been Nephrite's -- the wide, comfortable bed that he and Zoisite shared. Zoisite wasn't there, but that really didn't bother him -- he knew how sunrises enthralled his lover, and although watching one together made for some wonderfully romantic and intimate moments, sometimes liked to use the time to watch alone and meditate.
He was a sunset person himself, anyway.
Shaking his head slowly, Kunzite prepared to get up when Zoisite walked back into the room.
"Good morning," he greeted the lovely young man, "was there a nice sunrise?"
Zoisite didn't say anything, and with a start, Kunzite noticed how ghostly pale he was. The emerald eyes were almost glassy and unseeing as he crossed the floor oh-so-calmly, flopping down on the mattress, fully dressed and with his boots on.
Wordlessly, he snuggled up to the larger man, who put his arms around him and noticed that he was shivering.
"What's the matter?" Kunzite brushed some hair away from Zoisite's face and tried to further inspect his eyes. Zoisite was clutching at him so desperately that his fingernails were digging into his bare torso, almost to the point of drawing blood.
Then, quite suddenly, he snapped out of it.
That didn't really happen, dammit. And anyway, you're not afraid of ghosts, are you?
Zoisite shook his head against Kunzite's chest and straightened up.
He smiled. "I'm okay. I just… felt sort of weird for a moment there. Maybe we've stayed in this house for too long, and I'm going a little stir crazy. Yes… that's probably it…"
His uncertainty was obvious.
Kunzite picked up on this, and noted that they had lived in his castle for many years in the Kingdom and neither of them had ever shown any signs of going 'stir crazy'.
Or maybe back then they were already both too crazy to notice.
Did it matter?
"Well," the white-haired king said, "the only solution that I see is to go out… I know you don't like being around humans and their facilities, but…"
Zoisite interrupted Kunzite by grabbing his face between his hands and kissing him happily.
"Oh, thank you, Kunzite-sama!" he proclaimed. "I… isn't the term 'a night on the town'."
That wasn't quite what he had meant, but Kunzite shrugged anyway. "Would that make you feel better?"
Smiling and maneuvering himself into Kunzite's lap, Zoisite buried his face into his neck, whispering little admissions of love with soft hot breaths, occasionally scattering kisses, but though his lover didn't realize it, this was more of a reaction of relief than a burst of passion.
I've got to get out of here…
They didn't go out and mingle with the humans at first after all, but instead opted to stroll the grounds and later the streets of Tokyo.
Zoisite looked up at the tall man, whose arm he clung to as they walked down a semi-deserted, moderately lit avenue in a less populated part of the city.
"What are we doing here?"
"Hmm? Oh. Walking."
"Look at me." He was annoyed that Kunzite walked with him staring straight ahead, looking for… something. People? Hazards? Enemies? Potholes?
Or something else?
He didn't know.
But it scared him.
"Kunzite-sama, look at me!" he insisted again. Now Kunzite looked, curious.
"Is something wrong?" he asked. Zoisite's eyes, dark green blackened by night, glittered supernaturally up at him from the streetlight. Kunzite caught his breath.
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing," the unshakable one said quickly, and covered up his momentary discomfort by nuzzling Zoisite's golden bangs. "Sometimes you're just stunningly beautiful, that's all."
Zoisite smiled prettily at the compliment.
Then, unexpectedly, he scowled.
"Why would you not look at me, Kunzite-sama?" he asked in a low voice.
Frowning and, though he'd never admit it, nervous, Kunzite suggested, "Why don't we go home, Zoisite?"
"I don't want to go home. I don't want to go back there right now. I get… scared… and I'm afraid that… that…" his voice steadily rose, becoming more and more hysterical, his eyes still dark and empty-looking.
He suddenly darted in front of Kunzite and looked at him with an expression that he could have considered pleading if not for the narrowed eyes.
No longer glimmering, they were a dead black.
Nothing. Kunzite swallowed hard and tried again, a little louder and almost a little frightened. "Zoisite?"
The smaller still stared up at him for a moment, then glanced at the deserted street, filled with nothing but small houses without porchlights and peopled only with one or two stray cats.
He looked back at Kunzite and his eyes gleamed again, this time only playfully. He stepped up to his lover and looped his arms around his neck.
"Take me dancing?" he asked. "I've always wanted to try."
Well, they were on the receiving end of some strange looks, and were the subject of more than one whispered conversation behind cupped hands, most of which ran along the lines of:
"Is that over there with the ponytail a boy or a girl?"
"Don't be silly. It must be a girl -- see, she's dancing with that good-looking guy with the funny hair."
"Doesn't look too feminine to me -- I mean, look at the face, and, come on, that's not much of a figure."
"Look who's talking, Helen."
"And anyway, they wouldn't allow… that… in here, right?"
But they danced, often close enough to groups who looked as if they may have been gossiping about them, so that their voices -- and gender -- were noticeable.
It was fun. No, better than fun -- it was distracting.
Afterward, well after midnight, they materialized in the mansion's master bedroom.
"Kunzite-sama," giggled Zoisite, more than halfway tipsy and thoroughly contented, "you never told me you could dance."
"Zoisite," he mimicked, "you never asked."
Stifling his grin behind one hand and pulling his hair over his shoulder with the other, Zoisite rearranged his features into a solemn mask. When he had accomplished this, he dropped his hand and stared though his hair at the tall man.
"Oh, wise sensei," he said, running a hand seductively through his bangs, "please instruct me in your great knowledge."
Kunzite let a crooked smile grace his features as he bent down to kiss his lover. "Anything for you, dear child."
They finally fell asleep a little before dawn.
It knew exactly what he was doing.
How he was enjoying his newly given gift of life so.
That was not meant to be.
He was not meant to be in this time, at this place.
It felt mocked.
No, more than that.
It felt mad. Even more than it had been.
How dare he ignore the warnings it was giving!
Well, if that young pretty fool was going to behave this way…
Time to intensify the warnings.
And then… it would be time to make things right again.
If it could have, it would have smiled.
By the time he woke up, sunlight was already spilling through the parts of the bedroom window that lacked the cover of the lush magenta curtains. He frowned a little, none too pleased at having missed the sunrise.
As he contemplated getting out of bed, Zoisite yawned and decided against it. Instead, he chose to climb on top of Kunzite and rest his head against his chest. Always something he enjoyed doing.
But Kunzite didn't wake up or react to this.
He wasn't breathing.
End chapter four.
On to Chapter Five
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