Chapter four

Zoisite loved to watch the shadows dance, their forms macabre parodies of beauty twisting and twirling under what little starlight that penetrated through the smog that shrouded the Earth. At times he would just lie in his room and stare mindlessly at the shadows, letting the spirits within them take over the sane, conscious part of his mind.

He didn't have to work that night, and Minako – no, not mother, never mother, always Minako, had gone out to do Metallia-knew-what with Metallia-knew-who. So he was there, alone, all alone, completely on his own with the shadows, the stars and his twisted thoughts, just the way he liked it best. Sometimes he despaired for humanity, just wanted everyone on this world either dead or prostrating themselves at his feet, so it was good to be alone, at least for a while.

He tore his gaze away from the shadows and looked up at the sky, the tainted grey mass that sprawled forever onwards outside his window. Books he had read before had said that the sky wasn't always so putrid a colour as it was now. It had been black as sin then, even though the world was not so sinful; velvet-sheets embrodied with diamonds acting as a drape to hide the world away from all that lay beyond it.

Zoisite sighed and stood up, wondering what use such thoughts honestly were to him; to brood on such things was nothing more than a waste of time after all. The world was far too polluted for them to do anything about now; but then again what was purity but another, more twisted form of corruption?

He frowned, wondering where he had heard that statement before; god only knew where, and besides it didn't really matter, did it? Then again what did matter in a world like this? Was there any reason for him to be here anymore?

Stepping out onto the balcony attached to his room, which Zoisite honestly didn't think was that safe for him to be standing on any more, ruined as it was, he shuddered as the cold hit him and stared up at the sky. It was polluted, ruined, just like he was.

He felt sick suddenly, choking and falling down to the ground. Wasn't it possible for anyone to live life now, or were they all imprisoned by fickle, stupid glass vices? Then again that was the only way for most of the people to be able to survive; it was either this or death, and something called out to him, telling him that death would be the preferable option by far. This wasn't life; this was just trawling through a pointless existence waiting to die, wanting death and wanting peace.

Why was he thinking like this? The world had always been broken… hadn't it? There was a voice plaguing the back of his mind, telling him that something can't be broken unless it was once whole, but the reality of life begged to differ with that statement.

'You were whole once, a long time ago,' a voice in the back of his mind whispered.

Zoisite laughed, "I was born broken, fool." He knew he would have looked like a madman, sitting on that crumbling balcony in the middle of the night, talking to himself: an insane insomniac, plagued forever by shadows of his dreams and nightmares.

'Maybe you have always been broken in this life, but you were whole in the ones that came before it.'

He knew that voice wasn't going to leave him alone, not while he was sitting out here brooding like a fool. Zoisite stood up, planning to head indoors, then an image struck him, as clear in his mind's eye as though it had been burned into his retina. A man while hair and eyes so pale he could have been a ghost – it was him; that strange man he had quite literally run into a few days earlier.

Zoisite slammed the door behind him and sat down in the living room, wondering how long it would be before the sofa he was sitting on broke. It wasn't much better than the floor really, especially now that all the springs in it were broken.

He turned on the television in front of him, slamming a fist into the top of the old piece of junk to see if he could get a signal. Luckily it worked for once, and it wasn't long before Zoisite found himself staring mindlessly at the stupid, brightly coloured images that were flashing endlessly across the screen.

No matter how intently his strangely coloured eyes seemed to be watching the screen, Zoisite was far from concentrating on it. The fact that it was up at full volume had done nothing to prevent it from becoming little more than an annoying background noise while he lost himself to his thoughts once again.

No matter how hard he tried, Zoisite couldn't seem to get that enigmatic silver-haired man from his thoughts. He hadn't felt anything like that around anyone before, much less around someone who he didn't even know. Hell he didn't even know the man's name! But still, there was just something about him that seemed… strange… familiar almost. He supposed that might have been why he had been so unusually rude to him; Zoisite didn't know what he was feeling when he had seen that strange man, and whatever it was had caught him off-guard. He didn't like that feeling one bit.

"Maybe he was an enemy of mine in a past-life," Zoisite laughed to himself. It sure would explain a lot.

'Or a lover,' the voice in the back of his mind piped up. Zoisite felt a blush paint itself over his normally white cheeks. A lover? Don't be stupid, 'love' and 'lovers' were just stupid things made up to be included in those ancient fairytales his mother had told him when he was a lot younger. When he had still been young and almost innocent, Zoisite had believed in those fairytales, in that stupid thing called 'love.'

'You still believe in it, don't lie to yourself.'

"Shut up!" Zoisite yelled. "You're wrong! You're wrong! Only a fool would believe in such an idiotic thing! It's about as real as peace; that never existed either!"

'It did, and well you know it. Stop this stupidity, Zoisite. You know he wouldn't have liked to see you become so jaded as this.'

"Who wouldn't?"

'Him. You know who I mean.'

Cold, silver… ice king: the man's face seemed to have etched itself permanently into Zoisite's mind now. The boy briefly wondered if he'd had some sort of spell cast on him that was making him feel like this, but he laughed that off too. No human could use magic – only gods like Metallia and demons like the senshi. But then how had the man disappeared so completely like that? Was he a god or a demon?

'He's both. You know that better than anyone.'

"But who is he?" Zoisite was beginning to get frustrated. He punched the wall, knocking yet another hole through its flimsy surface. This place was such a ruin that he didn't need to worry if Minako would notice one more dent, didn't even have to think about things like that.

'You should try and find him.'

Zoisite smiled, "Yes. Yes I should!" He knew it was an extremely stupid idea, but finding the man seemed to give him some sort of purpose. And if he knew who this man was, if he knew for certain that magic existed, maybe he could get him to remove this stupid curse.

'It's not a curse, stop denying things.'

But Zoisite didn't listen to the voice anymore. His mind was made up; he was going to go and find this man, find out who he was, no matter how long it took him. He had to have something to do after all; and besides, everything happened for a reason, right?

It was then that the power cut out, switching off the television and silencing the irritating noise it had been making. Zoisite groaned – why did the power have to die like that and break his train of thought?

He quickly glanced up at the clock on the wall, squinting to make out the numbers on it in the blackness, and was quite shocked to find how late it was. Deciding immediately that he should go to sleep, Zoisite walked back into his room, locking the bedroom door behind him, and flung himself down onto his bed.

He hadn't felt at all tired before, but now his eyelids were beginning to close of their own accord. He couldn't actually remember the last time he had felt so exhausted – maybe years of sleep-debt were finally catching up with him. He didn't really have much time to dwell on this though, as almost as soon as he had closed his eyes, Zoisite found himself drifting off into a deep sleep – a sleep that was not so much for resting but for dreaming, for remembering things that had until then lain forgotten for thousands of years and were in truth never meant to be remembered.

As soon as he saw it Zoisite knew that he was dreaming. The garden was full of lush green vegetation of flowers of every shape and size imaginable, and even some that weren't. Things like that only existed in fairytales, though he had always been sure that they had been real once, a long time ago. The world had been beautiful then, before it was broken, before it became the bloodstained concrete jungel that he knew and despised so much.

Even if it was a dream, Zoisite didn't care. The feeling of the damp grass he was sitting on, the scent of wildflowers and greenery, even the way the light was being filtered through the trees, making it seem as green as the stone he was named for… all of this was far too real to be just something his mind had covered up. Besides, Zoisite didn't have a vivid enough imagination to conjure up magic like this; he had never seen the need for pointless fantasy.

Nonetheless he couldn't deny that it was beautiful, almost too beautiful. He got to his feet and began to walk, though he had no idea where he was headed. But he knew he had to go to this one place, had to go to the water's edge and wait for something… or rather someone.

As he walked Zoisite noticed that the trees were in full bloom, something he remembered Minako telling him about when he was younger but something he had never seen so fully with his own eyes. Cherry trees grew in abundance there; all he had seen before were pitiful half-dead things that hardly brought any splendour with them, but nevertheless they did colour the grey world for a short time each year. Ironic that a tree with connotations to death was seemingly the only life in Neo-Tokyo…

Soon enough Zoisite came to the banks of a shallow brook, which sang a calming melody as it ran across the stones and eventually out of sight. He had never seen water so crystal clear; it was almost entrancing. Zoisite knelt down by the river's edge and was slightly surprised when he his own reflection staring back at him. Yes, he saw himself in the river, but he looked somehow different than normal. He looked slightly older… and more alive. His eyes were no longer dead, and he couldn't remember if he'd ever seen them so bright as they were now.

"Vanity is unbecoming of you, my beautiful young Narcissus," a voice spoke and Zoisite started, nearly falling backwards into the river.

He turned around and saw a pair of cold grey eyes looking down on him, an amused smirk on a face he somehow knew to usually be filled with nothing but apathy and sometimes hatred. But that was only a mask, not that anyone but Zoisite knew that.

It was only then that Zoisite realised exactly whom he was talking to – the man he had met the other day in the real world, the silver-eyed, silver-tongued magician. But he looked different somehow (not surprising, Zoisite assured himself, because this was only a dream.)

Instead of being surprised, Zoisite found himself smiling. This was obviously who he had been waiting for.

"Narcissus, Lord Kunzite?" he asked, speaking without actually having any control over his words. It was almost as though he had been thrown into memories from a past life, absurd as that seemed. But 'Lord Kunzite?' Was that who this man was? Kunzite, how peculiar… another man named after a gemstone, just like he was…

Kunzite nodded and sat down next to him. "Narcissus is a figure from an old Venian legend. He was beautiful, loved by many, but vain and cruel. To cut a long story short the king of the gods decided to punish him by making him fall in love with the first thing he saw – namely his own reflection. He was so entranced by his own image that he eventually died. That's where this comes from." He picked up a small flower that littered the banks of the riverbed and handed it to Zoisite.

"It is indeed a beautiful flower," Zoisite mused. "But why would I do something so stupid as to fall in love with my own reflection? I have you after all…"

A small smile played on the older man's face. "True, but you do have your vain side at times, sakura."

Zoisite stuck his nose in the air. "What's wrong with wanting to look your best? How else am I going to impress you; I'm no good at anything else after all." Zoisite blushed upon realising what he'd just said aloud, clamping a hand over his mouth as if to prevent himself from letting anything else slip.

Kunzite laughed quietly, much to the boy's surprise. "Don't be a fool, Zoisite," he said. "You've already done more than enough to impress me already. And think about it, you're not even seventeen yet and you're already one of Endymion's top-ranking generals."

"Only thanks to you," Zoiste found himself whispering. "I'm too weak to get anywhere on my own, Nephrite was right about that…"

Kunzite sighed, "Don't listen to Nephrite, he's only trying to upset you when he says things like that. But then again maybe you shouldn't have made that comment about his star-readings."

"He deserved it," Zoisite huffed. "And he was insulting me, the bastard, what else did you expect me to…"

Zoisite found himself cut short as the other man pressed their lips together, though he drew back quickly, leaving Zoisite blushing even more deeply than before.

"You talk to much sometimes," Kunzite stated. "Or have you forgotten the real reason we decided to meet here?"

Zoisite scowled, "Of course I haven't forogtten. It's because only we can find this place; that way there's no risk of us being caught. God knows what they'd do to us were that to happen…" He felt himself paling with fear of whatever would have happened to them, though Zoisite did not consciously know what it was.

"That's exactly why we need to keep this whole affair secret," Kunzite replied. "The Terrans have never been the most accepting of people."

Zoisite sighed, "Back of Venus, no one would have cared."

"That's because only the Venians recognise love for what it is," Kunzite stated. "Empathy is their greatest skill – in that way they may even be more powerful than the Marians or the Plutonians at predicting people's futures."

Zoisite leant his head on the older man's shoulder, for once feeling nothing but contentment. If only all of life could be like this…

Kunzite cupped the boy's face in his hands and kissed him again, leaving Zoisite somewhat flushed by the time they broke apart. Zoisite then realised that there were tears in his eyes, something that felt strange to him after not having cried for so long. Life just wouldn't allow such things.

"Why?" he found himself asking. "Why do we have to hide away like this? Is it really that much of a crime to have fallen in love with someone? Are people really that unaccepting?"

Kunzite sighed and shook his head, "We're warriors, Zoisite, generals of King Endymion. We're not supposed to have emotions at all, you know that; the King sees such things only as weakness after all.

"Besides, isn't it better for things to be this way, for no one else to know? It would just be another thing for Nephrite to use against you…"

"And another reason for me to want to kill him," Zoisite muttered darkly.

Kunzite shook his head, "Don't be a fool, Zoisite. You have to put up with him for a little longer."

Zoisite smiled slightly, "I'm lucky to have you, aren't I?"

"What makes you say that?" Kunzite asked, frowning.

"Well I probably would have been locked up for murder or some other such thing if you hadn't been here," came the reply. "I'm not going to pretend any differently."

"It was obviously intended to be like this. No one can escape fate's plans," Kunzite replied.

"Now you're starting to remind me of Nephrite with all that talk about fate," Zoisite snickered.

Anyone else would have rolled his eyes in exasperation, but Kunzite wasn't surprised, and he knew Zoisite was joking anyway.

"Promise me one thing, Zoisite," Kunzite abruptly changed the topic.

"For you, anything, Lord Kunzite," Zoisite replied.

"Keep this a secret," Kunzite whispered. "Just do it for me if nothing else."

Zoisite nodded, "I suppose we have to anyway."

"We've worked so hard to get this far, I don't want to lose it all now," Kunzite said. Zoisite nodded again. Kunzite pulled him into a close embrace and they just sat there together, watching the cherry blossoms fall in silence.

Zoisite blearily opened his eyes as the cold light of morning began to creep in to his room. It was dim compared to the sunlight in his dreams, almost like he was seeing the sun from the bottom of the ocean, but it was still brighter than the smog-grey nights. The room smelt of cherry blossoms, which was odd for that time of year, especially considering the fact that only the smell of death would usually creep in through open windows.

Zoisite lay still as he slowly let himself wake up. He hadn't wanted that dream to end: he had just wanted to sleep and never wake up again. The dream had been comforting in a way, almost like a memory rather than a fantasy. Maybe there really were deeper meanings to it than he would have guessed. That didn't really matter though; all that mattered was that he somehow knew the man's name.

"Kunzite," he whispered, the word feeling both foreign and familiar on his lips. "Kunzite."

He shook his head, sighed and sat up slowly, half intending to shut the window he had left open and then go back to sleep, but as soon as he stood up he realised something: the floor was coated with cherry blossoms, and indeed the room was full of them, the pink petals even somehow managing to have entwined themselves in his hair.

Cherry blossoms… it had something to do with that dream, he knew it did. That was what Kunzite had called him, wasn't it? Sakura… beautiful sakura…

A disembodied voice whispered, 'For you, sakura,' and for some reason Zoisite wasn't scared at all.