Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko, Kodansha Comics, and Toei Animation.
The Price To Pay
Part I: Decision
By Gita Toronjil-Lee
to have you back again...
The cherry trees were blossoming again in Tokyo. Children played beneath the falling blooms, adults sat and watched their gentle majesty, people used the occurrence as an excuse to drink and party, and everywhere, lovers walked hand in hand, finally finding a place beautiful enough to mirror the way their love made them feel inside.
Somewhere in the back of one park, a solitary figure sat beneath one of these trees and stared at something he held in his hands. He didn’t look at any of the people -- there were none in his visual vicinity -- one of the main reasons he’d chosen this spot to sit by himself and mourn.
Kunzite stared at his photo and choked back a sob. Since the queen had ‘adopted’ Endymion as one of her officers, he really hadn’t much to do. He had never been alone in his duties and was more than used to not having a job, but then, he had never been bored. He had had his Zoisite. But now, Kunzite wished in vain for more jobs assigned to him…
When he was busy looking for the ginzuishou, or trying to find and destroy Sailormoon, he found it possible to ignore the searing pain of grief that cut through his chest, trying its damnedest to rip his heart in two.
But when he couldn’t busy himself in work, all he could do was think, his thoughts revolving on a golden-haired, green-eyed axis. And when he thought this way, he felt hot tears welling up behind his eyes. He couldn’t let anyone from the kingdom see him cry.
The beautiful pink cherry trees in bloom on Earth both drew and repulsed him because of the memories they brought of his own beloved sakura. He didn’t want to forget what was lost, though, and so he cherished these memories, no matter how much they hurt.
And the only cure for this hurt that he could think of, besides perhaps the destruction of Sailormoon, Beryl, Endymion, or himself, was to spend some time alone with his thoughts of Zoisite and his pain.
He sat under one such tree away from all the humans, escaping the prying eyes of darkness to hide in the hated light of Earth that… somehow… didn’t feel quite so bad anymore.
Seeing people around him, though, every last one of them happy and carefree, filled him with anger and an urge to destroy them all – especially the ones who walked together in love, reminding him of all he had lost. But despite his jealousy, he realized that he hadn’t come to kill but rather to heal, so he solved his bitterness toward the humans by staying away from them.
He twisted the photograph in his hands and cried. He’d never shed tears before in all the time that he could remember, but they came so easily now.
"I don’t see why I have to carry all this! It’s heavy!" wailed the girl sometimes known as the soldier of love and justice and sometimes known as the Princess of the Moon Kingdom but right now known as the biggest crybaby alive, Tsukino Usagi.
"Well, Usagi, you were the one who insisted we take all this stuff on our picnic! I just can’t believe Mako-chan spent all that time making lunch when she should know you’d just scarf it down," retorted the fiery Mars senshi Hino Rei.
"I thought you guys promised not to fight," reminded the ever-logical Mizuno Ami, senshi of Mercury.
They continued walking through the park in semi-companionable silence, save Usagi’s grunts and groans as she lugged the enormous picnic basket behind her.
They were looking for a nice, isolated place where they could have a fun picnic and still be private enough to discuss their planning as sailorsenshi. They turned off the beaten path and wandered somewhat toward the back of the park. Suddenly, Rei stopped dead in her tracks.
"I sense something up ahead," she said. The only thing in view was a figure of indiscernible identity crouching -- no, more huddled -- under a particularly pink sakura.
"Uh, it’s just some guy under the tree -- let’s go somewhere else," said the sailor senshi of Jupiter, Kino Makoto.
"No!" insisted Rei. "I think he’s dangerous. Dangerous and evil."
Aino Minako, codename Sailor V and a.k.a. Sailorvenus, strained to see ahead. "I can’t even tell if it’s a person. Are you sure it’s not a dog, or something like that?"
Rei nodded emphatically. "Positive."
"We should transform, then," said Minako, looking at Usagi, who shrugged.
"I guess," she said, putting the picnic basket down.
Sailormercury, after her transformation, brought out her visor to identify the figure. She gasped.
"You were right, Mars! That guy up there -- it’s Kunzite!"
"I knew it!" crowed Sailormars. "What’s he doing? Setting a trap for us?"
Mercury squinted. "I can’t tell. Let’s get closer."
They walked up nearer. Kunzite did not move to attack, and in fact did not even seem to notice them.
"He… he looks like he’s crying…" whispered Mercury.
"Gotta be a trap," replied Jupiter.
Sailormoon nodded. She ran up ahead and prepared to go into her poses.
"So much for a tactical plan of attack," whispered Venus.
Mars snorted. "Haven’t you figured out yet that there never is one? She’d just screw it up, anyway."
"Kunzite! Fighting for…"
He looked up. "Sailormoon. What luck," he sighed. "Go away. I’m not harming anyone. I’m off duty."
"That doesn’t matter," she insisted. "For all the bad things you’ve done, Kunzite, especially for kidnapping Tuxedo Kamen, you deserve to be punished. Fighting for love and justice, I am the pretty sailor-suited soldier Sailormoon, and in the name of the moon, I’ll punish you!"
"Sailormoon," he said, his voice thick, "I’m being punished enough without you. Go away, and I won’t kill you right now."
His words were menacing, but his tone was full of tears, and his huddled body was not at all fear inspiring, especially in comparison to the tall, arrogant figure he’d been seen as before.
Sailormoon looked at the chief minion of her greatest enemy, who now appeared as nothing more than a man in pain, his head bowed, his long hair falling in his face.
His position struck something in the young warrior. Something like… how she felt, what she wanted to do, because of her recent loss -- not by death, but almost worse, due to the recent conversion and brainwashing -- of Tuxedo Kamen, Chiba Mamoru, her long-lost earthen prince Endymion. Rather than attempting to attack the broken figure of a man, she walked slowly up to him. He didn’t move or look at her still.
"Are – are you really crying?" she asked with a noncharacteristic gentleness, as she tried to approach and look at what Kunzite was holding in his hands.
She leaned over and got a glimpse of the photograph before he snatched it away. She had, however, had time to identify the subjects of the picture -- Kunzite himself standing tall and looking proud and… happy? The expression on his face seemed out of place… and the person whom he had an arm around, who was holding him…
"Kunzite, what happened to Zoisite?" she asked. He looked up and his eyes flashed. But looking at the genuine concern in her blue eyes, he didn’t attack as he had threatened, but, before his rational mind could stop him, answered.
"He’s dead. Beryl killed him." He glared at her with a sudden, bitter hatred. "Not that you'd care. I don't believe you have the slightest realization that even though we are your enemies, we still are living beings, with thoughts and... and... tell me, Sailormoon, fighter for love and justice, did you even consider when Jadeite and Zoisite never came back that those of the Kingdom can suffer injustice? Or did you celebrate the fact that they were gone?"
Taken aback, the girl stammered, "What's this really all about?" She turned indignant. "You're the bad guys. You've done a lot of nasty things to us and never cared, so why should we?"
He looked away momentarily. The child had a point, though in his eyes it didn't make her any less hypocritical.
"What's this really all about?" Kunzite echoed. Really, what? Only one thing in his mind; the one thing that mattered. "I miss Zoisite. That's all. Can't you just get the hell out of here and leave me to be as alone as I feel?"
She thought about the way she’d seen them act together, the way they’d talked, and the picture she’d just seen.
"Were you and he close?"
His eyes flashed again, a cold silver, but he covered his face and nodded into his hands. The other senshi moved in nearer, but Kunzite ignored them, murmuring his pain almost-but-not-quite inaudibly to his white gloves.
"Oh, god, how I loved him… why didn’t I tell him, why couldn’t I tell him that I loved him as much as he loved me…"
Wearily, he stood up and looked around, finally realizing how he was letting himself show his only weakness to his enemy. But, then, as much as he tried to blame the foolishly-dressed teenage girl in front of him, she was not the one who had blasted his lover into death. No, that privilege belonged to his so-called ruler, the woman whom he still continued to obey.
The senshi looked at him warily -- they knew him as a dangerous, ruthless villain who had come oh-so-close to killing them several times, but right now he appeared to be too consumed in his grief to pose a threat.
Suddenly, his eyes lit up and came to rest upon Sailormoon. Or, more specifically, his eyes focused on her while his mind a thousand miles away.
Kunzite, Beryl wants the ginzuishou, right? Why does she want it?
It can bring her great power so she can free Empress Metallia-sama.
Can’t it bring you great power too, Kunzite?
Me, personally? Why would I want the power myself? Maybe if I destroy Sailormoon and bring Beryl the blasted crystal, she can revive…
She won’t. You know that. But can’t you do it, Mr. First King of the Shitennou? No. Three are dead, so it’s not the Shitennou anymore. It’s just you. And Endymion. Do you want that for eternity?
Kunzite acknowledged his logical inner voice, straightening his spine and stance, squaring his shoulders, and dramatically swirling his long cape.
"Sailormoon," he demanded, "give me the ginzuishou." He extended a hand, his eyes determined.
She took a step backwards, first rolling her eyes then scowling with the rest of the senshi.
"You’re a good actor, Kunzite. I actually felt sorry for you a second there, and then you go and show your true colors. I should’ve known it was a trap, but I didn’t think you’d be able to cry like that if it wasn’t true. And for…"
"Sailormoon, don’t you realize the power your crystal holds?" his voice broke unexpectedly, and he muttered, "I could use it to bring back my Zoisite."
The girl stopped and bit her lip at the intensity of the raw honesty and suffering in his voice.
"Don’t do it, Sailormoon -- he’s lying for sure, and even if he’s not, Zoisite was a horrible, mean bastard and it’s good he’s dead. He was mean and he was psycho and an evil monster," pointed out Sailormars, with the other girls nodding emphatically.
"But I loved him, and he loved me, and he only was acting for the queen’s favor." Kunzite turned his gaze to the other senshi, each in turn, imploring. "No, I take that back. He liked success and promotions, but what he really wanted was my approval…"
Here he sighed and shook his head.
"Why am I even bothering?" he asked himself, staring straight up into the pink sakura overhead in exasperation and more than a little embarrassment. He started to shimmer, ready to teleport away.
"Wait!" Sailormoon cried out. He stopped and stared evenly at her.
"What are you doing?" asked Sailorjupiter incredulously.
"How – how could you bring someone back from the dead?" the blonde girl asked Kunzite.
"Frankly," he said, "I’m not sure. But I know that the ginzuishou is both a power source and amplifier, and I know that it is how Beryl is planning to resurrect Metallia…"
The girls frowned. They really didn’t understand what Kunzite meant -- the true reasons behind most of the motives of the Dark Kingdom, and even the way the Kingdom was run was a mystery to them.
"…and so I believe that I’m skilled enough to use it in a similar manner. Or at least for a similar reason. I don’t know how, but Zoisite is just a person, not an inhuman mass of hatred, so it should be easy." He swallowed, his throat visibly constricting. "Relatively speaking."
"Give me a second," the young lunar warrior in a ridiculously short skirt muttered, and motioned the other senshi to step off to the side.
"You’re not actually considering this," whispered Sailormars angrily.
"But maybe we could trade -- Zoisite for Tuxedo Kamen! It might…"
"Or," cut in Sailormercury, "at least we wouldn’t have to worry about Kunzite when we attack the Dark Kingdom. I mean, helping bring someone back from the dead is a big favor… he’d definitely owe us one in return, like… stepping out of the fight… and then we’d be able to get Mamoru back easier, and didn’t Kunzite say that he was the most powerful of Beryl’s warriors? We’d defeat her much easier if she lost the strongest of her fighters. And, if Beryl was the one who killed the person he loved and we were the ones to save him, wouldn’t that make Kunzite change his loyalties?"
"That’s wise," said Sailorjupiter softly, her eyes downcast, "but do we really want to help Kunzite – especially by reviving Zoisite? I mean, say we give him the ginzuishou and it works and they turn against us… the two of them almost defeated us once. And Kunzite could still be lying… I really have my doubts that anyone from the Dark Kingdom would know love even if it went up and bit them in the rear end."
Sailormercury was giggling unexpectedly at her choice of words.
She wiped her eyes. "Sorry… I was just thinking that I always figured that Zoisite was way too pretty and feminine to be straight, and I always wondered about the way Kunzite keeps the top of his uniform unbuttoned… I thought that was kind of… you know…" she dissolved into giggles again.
The other girls shook their heads at their usually completely sane, serious, and often completely solemn friend. Noting their stares, she sobered up and amended:
"Not that I’m prejudiced, of course. I only thought it was funny that it turned out that my suspicions were accurate." She blushed, embarrassed.
"Anyway," said Sailorvenus, "thank you, Sailormercury, for the interruption, but I think you need to make a decision, Sailormoon. It’s your call… unless you want to wait and ask Luna?"
Sailormoon shook her head emphatically and left the huddle.
"Kunzite," she said, "what would you do for our – er, actually the ginzuishou’s help?"
Kunzite looked at her confusedly. "What do you mean?"
"Could you bring us Tuxedo Kamen?"
He thought a second, leaning against the tree and folding his arms. He sighed.
He shook his head. "I don’t think so. Beryl doesn’t trust me alone with him… as I’m sure you’ve noticed, he and I do not get along, despite the fact he’s brainwashed. I know she’s afraid that I will harm or kill her beloved Endymion if I ever get him alone, and so whenever he and I are in the same vicinity, she keeps a careful eye on me, watching every move I make, no matter where. She would know if I took him anywhere, and then all of us would be out of luck. Trust me, it’s not feasible."
Her face contorted when he referred to Endymion as the queen’s beloved, and then fell when he finished his explanation. Seeing this, Kunzite continued:
"But it isn’t impossible that you may be able heal him if you can get him when he’s attacking you alone. You’ll have your opportunities."
"Well," Sailormoon said, obviously disheartened, despite Kunzite’s somewhat less than encouraging attempt at reassurance, "will you agree to get out of our battle with Beryl? I mean, would you leave the Dark Kingdom?"
Leave the Dark Kingdom?
After all his endless years of servitude, his finally making his way to the top, she was asking him to give up his position, his rank, his status, his privileges?
For the one person in his long life that he had actually loved with all of his heart and soul? For the one person that provided the only evidence that he was in possession of these? For the one person who kept him holding on to the barest thread of any noble virtues at all?
"I would, Sailormoon," he said softly. "For Zoisite, I would."
"If you don’t want to do this now, we could meet tomorrow at m- er, the Hikawa Shrine, like, at three in the afternoon, or something," Sailormars volunteered hesitantly, receiving grateful looks from her teammates. "There’s an abandoned shed way in the back away from where all the people go, if you know where that is."
Kunzite frowned, impatient and nervous -- his heart was pounding, though outwardly he retained his cool -- but grateful for the gift of time to think and prepare. He was a thinker by nature, after all, even if his latest plots had been less than successful, or even practical, for that matter -- he blamed them on a combination of that moron Endymion and his emotionally depressed state. After a moment of silent contemplation, he shook his head in a negative fashion, though his voice spoke otherwise.
"Yes. I could find it. Yes."
It felt so easy, almost a relief, to say. He looked at the senshi, and for the briefest moment, considered smiling. He quickly disregarded the notion, but he did lower his head towards them in almost -- almost -- a show of respect.
The senshi merely stared at him, obviously uncertain and probably more than a little confused. Finally, Sailorvenus shrugged and turned around.
"Until tomorrow, then," she said, waving a hand over her shoulder. The others, thankful for her boldness, murmured similar sentiments and disappeared as well into the pink and green of the thick trees in the park.
Kunzite watched them go, unsure of what he’d just consented to.
"Blasted emotions… Kunzite, you’re going soft," he whispered to himself, though his heart told him that that Dark Kingdom-influenced mindset had no dominion over what the rest of him knew what must be done. Once upon a time, Metallia and therefore Beryl had held sway over all his thoughts and feelings, but this, over the years and with Zoisite’s help, had begun to fade, and the sense of freedom had almost completely become predominant after Zoisite’s death.
Going soft? Maybe, but only a little. Going sane was more like it. Or even, as much as he was loath to admit it, going human. He wasn’t too happy with that, but really, the logical Kunzite who thought these things hadn’t any better idea on what to do to end his misery.
He knew that even if he used the ginzuishou, bringing his love back from the dead would not be easy if it was even possible, and so he should not get his spirits up so. But though he knew this in his mind, as he teleported away back to the Kingdom in a rush of blue streaks, his previously heavy heart felt so much lighter due to a strange, unfamiliar sensation.
End chapter one.
On to Chapter Two
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