Brothers in Arms
by Dark Amethyst

Chapter 12

* * * * * * * *

= = = R = = =

The next morning, if morning it is – I can’t tell – I wake up with no idea where I am, or even ‘when’. I lie here for a long time, trying to remember, trying to rally the mental strength to get up.

Jadeite’s gone. And the house is no longer shaking. In fact it’s eerily quiet. I suppose I should find Nephrite.

I stand and stretch, still feeling weary despite my sleep. Leaving the room, I check various doors along an empty hallway and, to my delight, discover a huge luxuriant bathroom.

I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and change my mind about finding Nephrite. I’m going to hell. I need a shower. At the very least. If Nephrite needs or wants me, he’ll find me. Time for a little upkeep.

I spend nearly an hour soaking, showering, and scrubbing. And when I at last leave the steaming room, I feel slightly more myself…more prepared to deal with whatever life is planning to throw at me today.

I head down a flight of stairs and step into a huge empty room serenely lit by beautiful stained glass windows. Distant voices and smells float to me, and I follow them. Turning a corner, I find a large kitchen and also Nephrite and Jadeite who are sitting at breakfast, talking.

“Good morning, Rachael,” Jadeite says, smiling as he sees me. Nephrite looks up and echoes him, but without the smile.

“Good morning,” I answer, stepping over to them. I look at the table, specifically at the stack of buttered toast, my stomach grumbling. I stand here a moment, unsure whether I am interrupting…whether Nephrite wants me here…dying of hunger.

“Sit down,” Jadeite invites me, pulling out a chair.

“Yes, sit down,” Neph agrees, shortly. “We’ve got a lot to talk about.”

“Like Naru?” I ask him uneasily, obeying. “Have you checked on her?”

“I saw her last night.”

“How was she?”

“Insensible,” he says quietly. “She must have taken something.”

“I’m sorry,” I reply sadly. Poor Nephrite. He’d wanted so much to save her that suffering. And now he’s had to watch her go through it all over again. Harder for him than for her, I suspect. “But…you have the future now. The rest of your lives.”

But Nephrite shakes his head at me, taking up our argument as if we’d never left it.

“You forget, Rachael. Or you pretend to. We’re right in the middle of things. In the middle of a war.”

“Have some toast, Rachael,” Jadeite interrupts, putting a plate firmly in front of me. He hears the sternness in Nephrite’s voice, and must see the defiance in my eye, and is trying desperately to change the subject. I ignore him and the toast.

“It’s not your war. Or Naru’s. Or Jadeite’s. You’re the fallen. You’re out. Why the hell go back into it? Take Naru away somewhere and be happy. Jadeite can get a job…selling encyclopedias – whatever! It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t concern you anymore. You have a second chance!”

“Wasn’t it YOU who was so damned insistent that I remember things? Remember who and what I was? And now you expect me to forget it all?” Nephrite slams his hand on the table, rattling china. “Well I can’t! I can’t forget what Beryl’s done to us. And I can’t stand by and live happily ever after while Kunzite and Zoicite die for her.”

He pauses a moment, calming himself, then continues, not looking at me, speaking more reasonably.

“Besides. I’ve been thinking…about what you said about time lines…about changing the past. We already have. Changed things, I mean. Just by being here. And I’m afraid that if we change too much, we might seriously alter events. What if we change it so that Beryl isn’t defeated after all? What if she finds out we’re here? Re-recruits us? It’s all so dangerous…”

Beside me, Jadeite’s face tightens in fear…at the mention of returning to Beryl. My own stomach knots and writhes.

“I had thought of contacting Sailor Moon…trying to help her,” Nephrite continues, talking as if to himself, looking down into his coffee cup. “But we can’t do that either, I think. We can’t let anyone know we’re here. Except for Naru.” Neph looks up at us then, and shrugs helplessly, explaining. “I can’t not tell her. I left her a note last night, letting her know something of what’s happened. I can’t let her suffer anymore. I’ve told her she’s not to let a soul know I’m alive. I’m going to have trust her.”

“We all are,” Jadeite clarifies grimly.

“We can. It’ll be all right, Jed. We have bigger things to worry about. We’ve got to get a plan together. And I have one.” Neph sits up straighter now, the commander returning, glancing at Jed and me to make sure we’re paying attention.

“We,” he begins, indicating himself and Jadeite, “will keep tabs here on Earth…on Sailor Moon’s movements…learning what we can of events. But it’s not enough. Not to save the others. We need to find out what’s going on back home. Back in the Dark Kingdom. And we can’t go back, obviously, or Beryl would sense us.”

Nephrite pauses then, and looks expectantly at…me!

“That’s why I’m sending you, Rachael. To be our eyes and ears there.”

. . .

I can’t believe it…can’t believe I’m here. I can’t stop shaking.

Here I sit, in Nephrite’s empty cold chamber, on his huge bed, shivering in fear. It’s been at least a quarter hour since I materialized…my borrowed ‘memories’ to guide me. It’s still all I can do not to be physically sick at the fear within me…and at the oppressive, tangible evil pulsing all around me.

How could he do this to me? My god…

Jadeite argued with him ‘til they nearly came to blows, but Nephrite wouldn’t relent. This is the best plan, he insisted…the best strategy. And it is, if you look at it coldly – like a game.

You’re a pawn, Rachael. There it is. A pawn to him. Completely dispensable.

But he made me believe differently. He spoke to me so respectfully, I thought…said he needed me, trusted me…knew I’d help him…obey him. He knew I could do it. And I blushed like any recruit would – to hear such things from their general. My honour…it would be my honour. I actually said that.

I actually felt it, with his eyes on me. But little effect it gives me now, so far from him – so deep in this place. I could be squelched like an ant, and no one could do a thing to save me.

I look around the room, trying to catch some essence of Nephrite lingering – but there’s not much here. A decanter and glasses on the darkly ornate bureau. A sombre blue silk coverlet on the bed beneath me. A penchant for sombreness – that’s him, perhaps. Or is that more the creature he became? Do I even know him at all? Here – risking my neck, for the sake of a man I don’t even know…about whom the only fact I know for certain is that he’s in love with someone else.

Don’t go there, Rachael. Not now. And as for that, you’re not ‘risking your neck’ – you’re hiding in a bedroom.

I suppose that’s true. I suppose…I must…get to work.

I stand, very hesitantly, still fighting with the distinct nausea this place gives me. I look down over myself, flushing and uncertain. Nephrite has decked me out all in tight-fitting black – bike shorts and a half shirt, and for some reason – black fingerless gloves, and my high-heeled boots.

Lucky me – my super-hero costume – bought in a hurry at a sporting goods store.

I glance at myself in the bureau mirror – through my left eye – my right one obscured by my bangs. Nephrite’s idea once again. Perhaps he feels I’ll only see half as much to frighten me. My bizarre cyclopean reflection stares huntedly back, trembling. My eye falls on the decanter. Without questioning ‘permission’, I pour myself an unsteady glass and take a hearty swig – my eyes watering – my throat burning…and at last my trembling stilling. One more swallow, then I set the glass down.

Let’s go get this over with .

Kunzite’s chambers are some distance from Nephrite’s. And my recollection of Nephrite’s memories are not strong enough to allow me to teleport there. I move uncertainly down quiet dark corridors, desperately remembering the directions Nephrite gave me before I left. They – Kunzite and Zoicite – are alone, in a sort of tower – set apart, thank god, from much else…particularly Beryl’s throne room.

I see few ‘people’ on my journey, and none of them notice me. I’m relieved, in one sense, as I arrive at the tall foreboding door at the base of the tower. Yet quickly I stiffen in the dread of knocking…and of who or what might answer.

I reach up to strike the door, but as I near it I feel my hand pass through an invisible barrier…an energy field. It doesn’t hurt, but it startles me and I pull my hand back a moment, considering. I’m about to ‘knock’ again when the door opens and my heart comes into my mouth.

Kunzite. Tall…even taller, I think, than Nephrite. Eerie greenish platinum hair, and eyes the shade of ice…with all ice’s warmth. I’m suddenly shaking so badly I can hardly breathe. It’s not all my own fear…it’s also Nephrite’s, passed to me. Nephrite feared him, despite all his own strength. How powerful this man must be. What am I to him?

He is staring down at me, one silvery eyebrow raised – probably torn between anger at the affrontery I’ve shown in disturbing him, and curiosity over me.

Remembering belatedly, I drop my gaze and bow my head to him, crossing my right arm over my chest.

“Forgive me, Kunzite-sama,” I manage to beg. “Forgive my disturbance. But…please. I don’t know where else to turn…”

“Who are you?” he demands, looking me over, mystified - his voice low…icy like the rest of him.

“I’m…Nephrite’s servant. His warrior. He took me from Earth…and trained me. Please, Lord Kunzite…I’ve heard nothing from him in some time now. Can you tell me – please? Do you have news of him?”

Here I lift my down-turned eyes to regard him pleadingly. He smiles…very unkindly.

“I do indeed. He’s dead.” His cold tone is lightened now by amusement. “Zoicite finished him. He died horrifically…pathetically. Over some girl, no less. Some other girl.” The latter is added with a raised eyebrow.

I ignore the implication, pretending massive grief, without much difficulty. This, Nephrite’s comrade…these - his allies…and listen to how they mourn him. Bloodthirsty bastards.

I lower my tearful eyes and mumble thanks and repeat apologies, turning blindly, hopelessly back up the corridor.

“Come back here,” Kunzite snaps, all levity gone. “Did I give you leave to go?”

“Your pardon, my lord,” I respond quietly, head down, stepping back over. “I did not think it mattered.”

Kunzite leans on his doorframe slightly, arms crossed, regarding me thoughtfully.

“What did you say you were to Nephrite? His warrior?”

“Yes, my lord.” Quiet absolute obedience. The only path that might not get me killed.

He regards me with naked doubt.

“He taught you…what?”

“What he knew, my lord. The stars. Their power.”

Up goes the eyebrow again. He considers a moment, scanning the depths of the chasm on either side of the short bridge I stand upon. He points suddenly to a figure moving some distance below us.

“Prove it,” he orders me. “On her.”

I stare down a moment at the barely visible creature walking along, minding her own business. I’ve never even punched anyone…let alone killed them. But Kunzite’s ice-silver eyes are on me, and I realize very clearly, it’s her or me.

I raise a hand, summoning, and in a moment bring the power down upon the unfortunate youma who disappears in a noisy explosion of light.

Kunzite looks impressed…bemused…certainly not regretful. Who was she? How did she get roped into this whole business? Was she created here, or stolen from another life, as Nephrite was. As this man was. I must remember that. This…person…is not Kunzite. Not anymore. But just maybe…he will be again.

“Interesting,” he reflects, looking me over far more intently now. So intently that I want to turn away…run away, to be more accurate.

He breaks off his stare at last, to give a brief, slightly hunted glance over his shoulder at his ‘castle’, then steps suddenly towards me, seizing me harshly by the arm.

Before I know what’s happened, I realize that I’m back in Nephrite’s chamber. Kunzite is here too, and he pulls up a chair unhurriedly, claiming the half-finished glass I left on the bureau. He leans back as he sips appreciatively, then fixes a malevolent eye on me.

“Take off your clothes,” he orders flatly…and my heart stops.

Please god…no? I can’t. I won’t. I…I never even considered this…that he might do this. I thought he was…with Zoicite. Isn’t he? Could that be…a defence? Maybe even…a threat?

“Now,” Kunzite clarifies, his tone several degrees colder.

“Forgive me, my lord,” I say, trying to keep my voice from shaking. “I fear that I would not survive Zoicite’s…retribution. Would you, do you think…should he find out?”

In less than a heartbeat, I find myself flung across Nephrite’s bed, my cheek throbbing from the blow Kunzite has dealt me – the shatter of his crystal glass still ringing in my ears. He looms threateningly over me – his large hands tightly encircling my throat.

Unwise, Rachael. Terribly terribly unwise.

“You are blind to the main concern,” Kunzite mutters, teeth clenched. “That you live or die by MY word now…and you’re exceedingly close to the latter.”

He removes his hands after a moment, his icy calm returning to him. He yanks my shirt up and over my head, and tosses it onto the floor, then repeats this with the rest of my clothes – ‘til he’s running his hands aggressively over my trembling flesh.

Pausing a moment from his tormenting touch to stand and disrobe, he taunts me.

“What else did Nephrite train you to do?”

“I did what he asked. He was my master.” I try desperately to keep my voice unemotional. I see now that it was a mistake to show fondness for Nephrite. Kunzite seems obsessed – less with my body than with my feelings.

He falls back upon me then, pulling my naked chest against his harshly. He’s handsome, to be sure…breathtakingly so. In another life, I’d swoon…but not just now.

He drives himself cruelly within me, and chuckles nastily as I whimper despite myself. As if encouraged, his next thrust is harder and even deeper, and I bite my lip, wincing, turning my head away.

“What’s the matter?” he asks with mock sympathy, lowering his mouth to my upturned ear, and emphasizing his words with a harsher thrust. “He asked this of you, did he not?”

I don’t answer, thinking that he doesn’t expect me to, but he seizes my face in both his hands, yanking it round to face his and demanding a reply.

“Yes,” I gasp, thinking to myself – he did indeed. But it was never like this. Nephrite…I wish you could hear me…

“I don’t know why,” Kunzite sneers. “I don’t know what he saw in you. You’re not much of a fuck.”

Nephrite…please. Help me, please… Can you hear me?

Kunzite rises and flips me over abruptly onto my belly. God no…he won’t…

He will. And I cannot hold back a shriek as he enters me, struggling beneath him, despite my resolution to obey. He grabs my hair in one fist, pulling my head back.

“Come on…don’t pretend innocence. He did this too, didn’t he?”

“No,” I breathe, eyes shut tight, tears running down my face. In truth, he did…and because it was him, I welcomed it. I conjure Nephrite in my mind’s eye, clinging mentally to him.

“Pretend it’s me,” I hear him telling me gently. I feel his warm lips against my cheek…his strong hands claiming my body. “It’s me. It’s only me…”

“He did,” Kunzite corrects harshly. “And you loved it, didn’t you? You loved him?”

“Yes,” I whisper, my mind full of my master. I cannot deny it. It’s what Kunzite wants to hear, it’s the reason he’s shaming me so. He could smell my love the moment we met – an ugly foreign fragrance here in this place. And he mocks and hates me for it. He may well kill me now that he knows, but I will die with my master’s praises on my lips.

“You were right to fear Zoicite,” Kunzite tells me now, releasing my hair to fall onto his hands, pressing his chest against my back as he continues to slam punishingly into me. He speaks close to my ear, his breath warm but his voice an icy growl. “You belong to me now. You are my slave. And if you put even a foot wrong…if I ever have any cause to question your loyalty…then Zoicite shall learn how you feel about Nephrite. And I’ll give you to him. And even I shudder to think how he’ll use you.”

Kunzite’s words are nearly a buzz to me…a blur of sound. My mind is full of Nephrite…so vividly I wonder if it’s purely my imagination or if he is somehow here, having heard my entreaties. Whatever the cause, the pain is receding as my passion grows. It is no longer Kunzite within me, however sadistically he thrusts…it is my lord, and I moan despite myself.

“Oh so?” I can hear Kunzite’s surprised smile in his tone. He moves his hands around beneath me to squeeze my breasts, almost gently, in a nearly sensual fashion. His rhythm at once changes, from halting and rough, to something smoother and entirely more pleasant. I moan again and toss my head.

“That’s it,” Kunzite encourages me approvingly, his breath short, his scathing tone vanished.

In my mind, or in reality - I know not which - a warm hand slides down between my legs and ecstasy seizes me. I cry out in bliss and relief just as Kunzite comes himself, and I cannot tell when my consciousness ceases. I am only aware, when it returns, that I am in Kunzite’s arms still, and that he seems reasonably pleased.

“You’ve shown proper respect, at least,” he tells me in his soft low voice, a hint of a smile in his tone. “Perhaps you’ll make an acceptable servant after all.”

“Thank you, my lord,” I respond in monotone, reflecting. A lucky thing. I’ve convinced him, and perhaps now I’ll live. But I should be dead. For in my passion, I cried out ‘Master’, purely from habit…and thank god…Kunzite thought I was speaking to him.

= = = N = = =

The vision fades from me, but my last feelings were peaceful…calm. No longer tormented, at least.

“Well?” Jadeite presses me, having been silent for some time, while I tried to reach Rachael’s mind.

“She seems alright for now,” I tell him briefly, unclenching my fists surreptitiously. No need for him to know the whole truth. Guilt is threatening to overwhelm me, but I must remember what I told her. This is all necessary. “We’ve got to leave her to her business, and get on with ours.”

Jed glowers at me somewhat, still angry over my sending Rachael. But he sighs and shrugs.

“Which is what?”

“As I said, we can’t do very much without interfering. But we can keep an eye. I found out Sailor Moon’s real identity.”

“So did I,” Jed says somewhat smugly.

“Well then. It should be easy enough. We watch her. And we stay hidden. We’ll see what we can learn.”

* * * * * * * *

return to Index / go to Chapter 13

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury