Writen by: Shari
Beta Read: SailorTerra
"What are you doing here?" Kunzite demanded softly, "Jadeite explained that you deserted your post" he added as an afterthought.
Zoisite raised his head slightly to meet Kunzite's gaze, but still did not speak.
Kunzite did not understand this reaction. Over the course of the time that they had spent together, he had come to recognise every single one of Zoisite's conflicting emotions and moods, and now… he was completely at a loss. Then Zoisite spoke: "I'm sorry."
"Sorry? Sorry for wha--" Kunzite broke off mid-sentence, his eyes widening in shock and horror as Zoisite raised his hand holding the ice crystal and embedded the weapon deep in his own chest.
For Kunzite time itself seemed to have stopped at that precise moment when Zoisite fell to the ground, still clutching the hilt of the ice crystal that was deeply embedded in his chest. His field of vision narrowed until all he could see was his Sakura lying on the ground, bleeding… dying…
This last thought snapped any kind of restraint that Kunzite may have had and he raced forwards, forgetting about the battle and even, for the time being, Beryl.
Kneeling down beside his lover, Kunzite placed his hands on Zoisite's slender shoulders with the intention of moving him, but Zoisite's moan of pain stopped him in his tracks. It was then that Kunzite saw the look in his eyes. Shining through the pain was something else; a vicious source of triumph and Kunzite did not like this look one little bit.
"Why?" Kunzite snarled out, shaking the smaller frame beneath him despite the cry of agony that came from Zoisite at such treatment.
"It was… the only way…" Zoisite managed to grit out, "The only way I could see if you cared more for me than just a source of pleasure. I had to know… I had to know if you were truly that cold to me because you hated me. I see that I was proved wrong. I am glad. I wouldn't want to die knowing that you hated me, Kunzite-sama."
"Baka" Kunzite clenched his right hand into a fist as he struggled to resist striking the dying Tennou. What foolishness was this? Surely Zoisite should have known that he…
He didn't Kunzite knew. He had never given any indication as to his own feelings for the youngest king. Hells, Kunzite hadn't even been sure of them himself until this moment. This moment when it was too late.
And it was too late, Kunzite knew. Even before he felt Zoisite shudder in his arms, even before the hand clutching onto the ice crystal gently released its grip and fell limply at his side. His eyes suddenly lost that sense of triumph and became dark and empty. He was gone. He was gone and Kunzite hadn't been able to give him any words of comfort, not even at his end.
His final word to his lover had been to call him stupid, to let him know how much of a fool he was.
Kunzite inhaled deeply and allowed the Sakura's body to fall back to the ground as he choked on a sob. He would not break down. He would not show any weakness. What was the point now? When Zoisite was gone.
"Kunzite?" he looked around to see Jadeite watching this display. The blonde's face was a picture of utter shock and disbelief and Kunzite hated it. He didn't want anyone to see him this way. He didn't want anyone to see him so weak…
"Go. Away." He grit out but Jadeite did not move. He could not move until Kunzite lashed out, an energy sword narrowly missing embedding itself in the third king's shoulder.
Jadeite's eyes widened and, after giving several minutes pause, he did as Kunzite requested.
Now that he was alone, Kunzite drew in a shuddering breath as he wrapped his arms around Zoisite and then stood, cradling the body of his lover in his arms before teleporting back to their chambers.
Materialising in a flash of red light, Kunzite set Zoisite down in their bed. His hand then moved to the
Sakura's face, brushing some wisps of coppery hair from his eyes and then moving lower to touch his cold cheek.
"It was… the only way… The only way I could see if you cared more for me than just a source of pleasure. I had to know… I had to know if you were truly that cold to me because you hated me. I see that I was proved wrong. I am glad. I wouldn't want to die knowing that you hated me, Kunzite-sama.""Baka"
Even now, even now that his lover lay dead before his eyes, Kunzite could not bring himself to shed a single tear. He was the most powerful of the Shitennou. He was the Ice King and would not show such weakness.
The battle… Kunzite withdrew his hand. His place was leading the remaining Tennou. How could he have forgotten his duty?
He couldn't do it. He couldn't leave Zoisite. Each time he made to teleport away, something held him back. A memory, a vague recollection of the time that they had shared. He just couldn't abandon his lover, not in death as he had in life.I wouldn't want to die knowing that you hated me, Kunzite-sama
"Zoisite" Kunzite whispered, inhaling shakily as these words, the final words that his lover spoke. "I didn't hate you," he murmured fondly as he stared down at the little man, "You were very dear to me, Zoisite. More so than you'll ever know."
That was it, Kunzite reminded himself. Zoisite had never known. He had never known how much Kunzite had come to care about him and now he never would. He hadn't died knowing that Kunzite hated him, but he hadn't known that Kunzite had loved him, either and this hurt more so than any wound.
Kunzite simply stood stock-still at this realisation and even time itself appeared to have ground to a halt. He couldn't have moved, even if he wanted too. How could he with the realisation that he had failed his lover in the end?
Beryl was in a frenzy. The Senshi, together with the Princess and Endymion, had retreated to the Moon, leaving her Youma to fight what remained of the Earth army. This opposition was rapidly diminishing in size with each passing moment but her Youma were now caught up in a blood lust and even Jadeite and Nephrite were having trouble keeping them at bay. No amount of Beryl's shouting could get through to the beasts.
Yet what had angered her more than this was the fact that Zoisite and Kunzite were nowhere in sight. She couldn't even trace their aura in the Earth realm at all. So, very reluctantly, Beryl had returned to the Dark Kingdom once more with the intention of making them pay for this kind of insubordination.
The scene that she was met with, however, when she surveyed her kingdom through the eyes of her Queen, was very different.
It was obvious from the onset that Zoisite would fall. The youngest and most inexperienced king would not have been able to survive a battle on this scale, and so Beryl had known from the beginning. Still, he was one of her favourite servants and to see him lying so still upon Kunzite's bed, it would have tugged at her heart had she one. Instead her face creased up into a frown of annoyance that his death should be enough to tear Kunzite from his post.
Then she noted that fact that Kunzite's right hand was clasped tightly around Zoisite's own, that he was leaning over the younger man to gently shut his eyes and then, to Beryl's fury, press a kiss to the dead king's forehead.
Now, she had long since been aware that such a relationship had existed between them and Beryl had minded that much. After all they worked well as a team and Kunzite seemed to be able to keep a rein on Zoisite's furious temper. Thus she had been content to leave the matter be. Now this, on the other hand, was a completely different matter. That little rat, even in death, had made Kunzite defy a direct order; not to leave his post. This gave cause for her frown to turn into a twisted snarl of rage and Beryl blasted a direct summons into the first king's mind.
Report to the throne room. Immediately.
Kunzite raised his head, giving the indication that he had heard his Queen, but did not choose to act upon her calling. Instead he settled at Zoisite's side once more.How dare he? How dare he defy me?
To some extent, the first King had never truly obeyed her every command. Slight variations to her orders had not gone unnoticed, but were not punished simply because he was skilled at what he did. And powerful. Beryl knew that, if he so desired, he could turn upon her. Metallia also could not be trusted. If this war did not go her way then Beryl might be the one to suffer for it. She needed the Shitennou but, more importantly, she needed them onside. She needed to be able to control them. Jadeite and Nephrite she controlled through fear, Zoisite through Kunzite and Kunzite through empty promises. He would start to see through those, she knew. For years Beryl had sought another way to keep the strongest of them doing her bidding and now, at last, she had found it when it had gone; Zoisite.
She cast another poisonous glare at the dead king, angered that this way now was no longer an option for her. Beryl could not bring back the dead. She did not have that power. She could only take life away, not give it…unless…
Before, when a Tennou had fallen, their essence had been returned to the Dark Kingdom, trapped in the hellish world that they had chosen. Why else did the living here yearn for the Earth and Moon so? In death this did not change and Beryl, imbued with Metallia's powers, could sometimes hear an eco of these such essences wandering the halls and depths of the kingdom, searching for a way to freedom.
If she concentrated hard now, she could sense the same of the forth king. He was nearby, perhaps even at Kunzite's side. His raw agony was easy to detect. Most spirits had resigned themselves to their fate but not him. Not when he still had a reason to want to live. Beryl closed her eyes, extending her mind to call out to this reason, to tap in to his pain. She felt his suffering increase ten fold at her presence and a smile played across her lips at his cries.
As she made this connection, forcing his spirit to yield to her spell, the body of the man on the bed began to shimmer, much to Kunzite's horror, and then disappear, leaving behind a few petals in its wake.
He stood, anger and pain flashing across his features before Beryl's spell took hold and he crumpled to the floor.
He would not recall any of this, Beryl knew. All he would think, when he awoke, was that he became injured in battle and that his Queen teleported him here to heal and now expected him to join the other three Tennou as they took their battle to the Moon.
Beryl's spell was a simple one. One that gave a soul form. To all eyes other than her own, Zoisite would appear to be living and breathing, although even he would not know it. Because he was alive, to all that saw him, he would invoke a reaction upon whatever he touched unaware that the spell would take hold of anyone one who laid eyes on him.
Beryl smiled, pleased with her work. Zoisite would be unaware of his own death. He would remember nothing but she had the ability to cease the spell whenever and if she chose to. She could control her strongest king through threatening the life of his lover, his lover who was already dead.
A thousand years later
The sharp yell of his lover was enough to jolt Kunzite back into full wakefulness. He snapped open his eyes, struggling to gain some kind of grip on the situation that he now found himself in. He was back in the Dark Kingdom. Frowning, Kunzite ignored Zoisite's angry shouts and called up hazed images to the surface of his mind, trying to recall just how he had gotten here.
The battle… Beryl had taken her war to the Moon. She had killed Endymion and Princess Serenity in a fit of rage when the Prince rejected her. Seeing her daughter dead and her Kingdom destroyed, Queen Serenity had given her life whilst using the Ginzuishou to seal them away back in the Dark Kingdom once more.
The last thing that Kunzite could remember was the light of the Ginzuishou approaching rapidly. He could hear Zoisite and the others screams echoing in his mind, even now, before darkness had enveloped him.
Now the Dark Kingdom had been revived once more. The dead Queen's spell had been broken.
Kunzite pushed himself up, wincing at the jagged rocks that his palms pressed against in his efforts to regain his footing. His white hair hung in a tangled mass and obscured part of his vision. He raised a gloved hand and brushed this hair aside, detesting the fact that he looked this way and that others could see him like this.
Off to his left, Jadeite stood, in a similar dishevelled state. His head was cocked to one side slightly, a frown marring his face as he met Kunzite's gaze.
Kunzite opened his mouth to speak but could only manage a dry cough, which went unnoticed by the other Tennou.
Kunzite felt immense relief, although he did not outwardly show it, when he saw that Zoisite was also present. The Sakura was with Nephrite and the two of them were involved in a heated exchange, which ended with Zoisite poking his tongue out at the auburn haired king in a childish manner before uttering a cry of: "Kunzite-sama!" before racing to the older man's side.
With minor discomfort on Kunzite's part, he felt Zoisite wrap his arms around his waist and press his face to Kunzite's chest, breathing heavily on bare skin as he murmured that he was glad that his lover was here, too.
Feeling awkward, Kunzite placed his hands on Zoisite's shoulders and gently pushed him away. A pout started to form on the Sakura's lips until Kunzite enquired to know of this health.
"I'm fine, Kunzite-sama, thank you" he seemed ecstatic that Kunzite had asked this question, before throwing a glare in Nephrite's direction and adding:
"Well as fine as I can be considering I had to wake up to that oaf looking down at me."
"I was merely checking to see if you were alive" Nephrite grit out, "And, most unfortunately, you are."
For some reason this exchange made Kunzite uncomfortable and he announced that he was going to check his own quarters and suggested that the others do the same. Instantly Zoisite was at his side and
Kunzite called upon a teleport to take them back to his chambers.
Once there, he performed a brief inspection and found everything to be in order. Satisfied, he reached out and pulled Zoisite to him, pressing his lips to the little man's in a hungry kiss. After all, Beryl would wake up soon and, still fuming from her defeat, Kunzite knew that she would start looking to the Earth once more, eager to have her revenge.
Jadeite frowned as Zoisite and Kunzite made their leave. Nephrite also left, not speaking a word to the blonde, as he was also eager to check his own quarters.
Jadeite was not as keen. His mind ached as a result of the Ginzuishou's curse, but he could still recall those moments in the Earth Kingdom. Whatever spell had been forced upon his fellow kings, Jadeite appeared to have been spared.
Zoisite lying dead in Kunzite's arms. That had been no dream. The little king had died that day. Beryl did not have the power to raise the dead, but her spells could manipulate the living and Jadeite had no intention of becoming enthralled by her games.
So he turned away. He cast any desires of comradeship, or even rivalry, with the other Tennou from his mind. To become involved in such a thing… that path would only lead to despair, Jadeite knew.
It would be better to feign ignorance, to isolate himself completely than play along with Beryl's game.
A/N: And so, after two years, I finally finished. I hope you enjoyed the concluding chapter. Massive thanks to my beta reader, SailorTerra and to everyone who read and reviewed Fire and Ice.