by: honey

She wants to make him talk about it. She spouts off psycho-babble about ensuring that his psyche and mindset are appropriately placed. She wants to take him apart, make sure everything's running smoothly and efficiently, and piece him back together methodically. She needs to know for herself that he's in working order.

Because they both know he's not.

But she'll never know how much.


He startled himself awake again. His body twitched, and his eyes flew open. His heart beat fast, and as he drew himself up, he ran a hand through sweaty hair, stopping to clench long fingers when he encountered too many tangles.

Next to him, she stirred in an effort to wake up but was simply too tired. Her body shifted slightly as she reached out a hand to stroke his back gently. Turning, he grasped her hand lightly and bent to kiss it softly, appeasing her.

"Go back to sleep," he whispered. She murmured some sort of reply that was more an instinctive urge to respond than an actual reply.

Slipping from the bed, he headed for the bathroom, blinking rapidly when the halogen lights blinded him. He didn't mind though. He no longer held any taste for darkness.

Too many memories laden with guilt weighed him down. It was too engulfing while allowing too much thought.

Light permitted distraction.

'Shiny objects,' Zared thought wryly.

Stripping his boxers off swiftly, he stepped under the spray and allowed the water to wash over him.

He was taking up to three showers a day, sometimes four.

Sometimes, it was to get rid of the blood he swore lined his fingernails. Sometimes, it was to rinse away the scent of death he now likened to red meat; he had long since become vegetarian. Other times, it was to drown out the faint screaming echoing in his head.

The water would never purify him, but it would clean him momentarily, would help him feel as if he was washing away the sins he felt within.

But like a stubborn splash on a pristine shirt, it refused to come out completely. The remnants only faded in the wash to dry darkened once more.

He wouldn't stop trying though.

So, he stood underneath the splashing water, droplets running down his lean form, head bowed, praying . . . praying . . . praying for something, anything.

Forgiveness. Penance. Punishment. Death.

But when he received, he didn't know which one had come.

His body had stiffened the moment she had entered the tiled room. He watched her blurry figure through the foggy tempered glass. She stripped down, her silhouette growing larger as she approached. She slid the door open and stepped in fluidly.

Before he could even turn to look at her, her small hands were upon his tense back, trailing to his chest as he fully rotated. Her hands slipped upwards, pushing his hair back and pulling his face downwards.

He lost the moment their lips touched. His arms reached out to grab her and pull her towards him.

She wanted him to talk? To express his feelings? To find out what was going on inside?

She was about to find out.

His hands moved constantly, touching her back, squeezing her bottom, stroking her breasts, scratching her stomach, cupping her face, grazing her thighs. They strayed over her body desperately, and she could not help, because she did not know what he was looking for or what he wanted from her.

He was rough one moment and then gentle the next. Angry, then repentant.

His neck had long bent so his lips could settle on the curve of her neck, gnawing on the same spot, over and over.

Lick, bite, suck, kiss.

He was trying to mark her. Or hurt her. She had a strong feeling about which one it was, but she just let it hurt so good.

Her splayed fingers moved firmly over his back and his shoulders. When his teeth clenched down hard enough to make her flinch and he still managed to finger her clit lightly, her hand slipped between his legs. His teeth dug even deeper to bruise her and his fingers stroked harder, and her grip tightened, and-

He refused to spend any more time in the cycle. Pulling away, he twirled Ami around so she faced the wall, hands on her hips to keep her upright; she reached out her hands to steady herself against the tile.

She could feel the grime against her palms. It'd been a while since he'd cleaned.

His quick breaths kept his heart pumping fast, and he paused, staring at her briefly. She was doing it again.

She offered herself, quietly accepting his abuses and comforting him afterwards.

He angered at the thought.

'Why should she put up with it?' And then he remembered he was supposed to be punishing himself, but he was too cowardly to, so he punished her instead.

'The sacrificial lamb.'

He cupped her briefly, rubbing her as fiercely and as swiftly as he dared. When he felt her wetness himself, he clutched her slim hips and slid inside.

He closed his eyes as a sound of satisfaction escaped her.

God, it always felt so good.

He slid in and out, easily and rapidly. Her body stilled, rocked only by him. She was his to use, subject to his pain and fury.

And that's what it was.

Because it wasn't sex and it wasn't love. Hell, it wasn't even fucking.

It was emotion at its worse.

He was trying so hard to forget, he could barely concentrate on his own satisfaction, much less hers. But without turning to him, she choked on his name. "Za-red." It was soft and strangled and enough to help him finish.

She held herself still, while he flexed his fingers into her pale skin, and thrust his hips compulsively a few more times. With something akin to a sob without the tears, he put an arm out to support himself against the wall, and he trembled.

Without saying a word, he slid himself from her body coldly, and she turned to him. Water beat down his shuddering body. He looked at her with guilt and shame and slowly descended to his knees.

What kind of man was he? What kind of man was he that he would use the woman he loved to take out his anger? That he would be unable to satisfy her? That he would not even try because his emotions-

Damn them! Because he was weak inside! Because she didn't know and he wouldn't tell. Because he was afraid. And he didn't know any other way.

Ami reached out and pulled his head to lie against her stomach, understanding that tonight had been worse than others. She finger combed his hair soothingly, murmuring to him gently, easing him from his emotional and physical high. His arms encircled her waist tightly, needing something solid to hold onto. Something soft and gentle and not the nightmare that was his life.

He closed his eyes. He would not tell her that he remembered.

He remembered the horror of Jadeite dying. The smell of hell that he had called home, filled with random rotting corpses whose deaths fed Metallia. Screaming Nephrite's name.

He did not ever remember crying over the Silver Millennium.

He cried remembering a period of brimstone in his life and the deaths of his comrades.

And of being unable to avenge them properly.

He cried for regretting not being able to kill the woman he now loved. The woman who loved him and tried to heal him. The woman who offered to pay the price for his transgressions.

He had been unable to kill her, and her friends. His master's friends.

The guilt, the shame, the anger, at who, and what-

Zared could hardly stand it. It weighed heavily on him.

Did he truly regret failing? Even now, knowing what he knew? But wouldn't a good friend? A true friend and brother-in-arms? Even if it meant hurting his master? His lover?

His allegiance to Earth and the shittenou, to Endymion and Mamoru, to Ami and his own consciousness. They fought battles within him, and they came out like this.

Hidden behind shower doors in rooms of steam.

He nuzzled his face into her once more, moving slightly to kiss her hip bone remorsefully.


He hurts her, and he soothes her.

She'll only put up with it for so long.

But he doesn't know how long, and she probably doesn't either.

Because neither knows how broken he really is.

Written for 2006 ficathon (Assigned Pair - Free Choice), organized by the lovely Wyse!

Completed: 7.4.2006