Brothers in Arms
by Dark Amethyst

Chapter 15

* * * * * * * *

= = = N = = =

I’m dreaming of Rachael, again. I watch her die nightly, in a myriad of ways. Tonight it is by Kunzite – his large hands wrapped around her throat, his naked body upon hers. Her face is turned to me, as if I lay by her watching.

“Nephrite-sama,” she begs me hoarsely, her voice far away, her eyes on mine. “Nephrite-sama.”

My body tenses as her urgency increases, imploring me, repeating my name…until at last I wake in a startled rush, a cold sweat covering me.

“Nephrite-sama!” Rachael’s voice again, sounding desperate – in my mind, but not merely imagined.

“Rachael?” I wonder, and I’m filled with a rush of her relief.

“I’ve been trying to reach you. Big things are up here. Zoicite has challenged Tuxedo Kamen for all the nijizuishou.”

She fills me in quickly, including where and when, and when she’s finished I thank her sincerely, making an effort to be kind.

“You sit tight, Rachael. And let me know if anything else happens.”

Hurriedly I find my cell-phone and send Jed a message – telling him to meet me now, at the Starlight Tower.

I dress hurriedly and transport myself there, to find Jed already waiting. The tower has transformed into the nightmare-scape of the Dark Kingdom. So much for keeping a low profile. Beryl must be pretty damned confident to allow a show like this…

“Endymion is already inside,” Jed tells me quickly. “And Moon is with him. What can we do?”

“Zoicite is after the nijizuishou,” I answer, gnawing my lip in doubt, scanning the heights of the monstrosity. “If he gets them all… He can’t get them all.”

“But we can’t go in, can we? Surely Beryl is watching?”

“Surely she is,” I agree grimly. “She’d sense us for certain. But we can’t just do nothing…”

As we stand around fretting like women, the senshi appear, the newly-joined Sailor Venus among them. We disappear before they notice us, then reform behind them, in the shadows. They stand around briefly, as we did, then I hear from the chorus, “How do we get in?”

Jed and I exchange a look. They can’t, of that we’re certain. Perhaps we can help, with at least that aspect. It takes Dark Energy to fight Dark Energy. We raise our hands, in tandem with an angry Sailor Jupiter, and lace her thunder with our strength, unseen. She’s cocky as her attack succeeds, and I half-grin a moment, in memory of her…so long ago. Always like that – deadly stubborn and headstrong.

“What’s going on in there?” Jed complains frustratedly as the senshi disappear within. “Is there no way we can find out? Maybe Rachael can tell us?”

“I told Rachael to stay where she is,” I tell him. “But there’s a way we can watch. We’ve done all we can do here anyway, I’m afraid. Let’s go home.”

Back in the cathedral, I call upon the stars to show us, and Jed and I watch in horror as events unfold. Tuxedo Kamen, in a fit of incredible naiveté, loses his nijizuishou to Zoicite…then nearly his life…several times. We watch as Moon reveals her identity, both to Zoicite and to Endymion, and then…we writhe in horror as Zoicite hurls his ice crystal…into Endymion’s back. We cry out…stunned with disbelief. Zoicite has killed our master?

“He’s not dead, is he Nephrite?” Jadeite demands of me, as if I know more than he. “He can’t be dead. This can’t have happened. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to go – is it? Is this what happened before? Or is it because of us?”

“I told you,” I snap, distraught myself. “I don’t know what happened before. I don’t know.”

We both watch lifelessly, miserable, even as the ginzuishou appears and Sailor Moon is revealed as the princess at last. Have we failed our prince?

She bends to him, and to our relief he speaks to her, briefly, before passing out. Moon then distractedly deals Zoicite a lovely attack, in which I can’t even take any pleasure. I cannot forget. It’s Beryl we must blame, not Zoicite. If Zoi knew what he’d just done, and to whom, he would surely kill himself.

Time passes and memories return all around – Moon having passed out in her typically indomitable fashion. Zoicite struggles back to his feet, clearly shaken, but determined, and I shudder in dread, knowing too well what a determined Zoicite is capable of. But he’s interrupted by the arrival of Kunzite, who’s looking grimmer than usual. Zoicite leans heavily on him, perhaps weaker than I guessed, and I fear for the senshi – facing Kunzite without the ginzuishou to defend them. But there is no battle. Kunzite disappears with Zoicite, and…to the consternation of everyone concerned…Endymion as well.

Jed and I barely hear the senshi’s ensuing pandemonium, staring at each other, eyes wide with horror. Moon awakens and learns what’s happened, and within moments there is conflict – her and Mars. It sickens me. I’m distracted from my despair for a moment – longing to appear and knock their empty heads together.

“What’s going on?” Jed mutters restlessly. “Why doesn’t Rachael report?”

“She will when she can,” I defend, but my mind repeats his question. What in hell is happening there?

= = = R = = =

I’ve never been more frustrated. Sitting here in the dark, watching Kunzite teleport in and out, doing who knows what - first bearing all the nijizuishou – and then watching awestruck as they vanish in a blur of colour. I feel helplessly angry, desperate to know what’s going on.

Five minutes ago Kunzite and Zoicite both appeared, looking riled and miserable, Zoicite especially. And then came the head-piercing call from Beryl, demanding their presence. And now? I have no idea. I’m pacing in the darkness, unmindful of the youma. Do I alert Nephrite? Something is clearly up. But what do I tell him? I don’t know anything. I’m about to bother him anyway, thinking perhaps he can enlighten me – when they return, Kunzite bearing a nearly lifeless Zoicite tenderly in his arms, speaking softly to him…miserably…mourningly.

My god. What’s happened? He isn’t…dying? He can’t die. Nephrite’s whole plan is to save him. He can’t die.

I’m nearly vibrating in place, dying of frustration, knowing that every second counts but not knowing what in hell to do. No time to contact Nephrite. No time to ponder consequence. There’s only one course that I can see, and throwing all caution aside, I take it – running from the darkness to hurl myself onto Zoicite’s prone body – throwing us both desperately into a teleport spell – praying to god that Kunzite won’t prevent me.

My body reforms, thankfully with Zoicite still beneath me, on the cold floor beneath the stained glass windows, and I look up into the startled faces of both Nephrite and Jadeite.

. . .

An hour, I’d guess, has passed since I brought Zoicite. The three of us – Neph, Jed and I – have poured out our energy to save the dying man, but we’re growing frantic now. It’s not working. His energy is draining faster than it can be replaced. He’s still breathing…but barely. It’s clear that we three are not enough. Nephrite sighs at last, and opens his eyes to look at me fatalistically.

“There’s no choice. You’ve got to go back, Rachael. And get Kunzite.”

He’ll kill me. I’m certain he will – before I can even get a word in. I want to say a long goodbye – but time is critical…and I’m supposed to be a warrior. I stand up and vanish without a further word.

Kunzite doesn’t notice me materialize, sitting in his chair, his face buried in his hands. An idea strikes me. Perhaps it will save my skin. I edge up to him, as quiet as quiet – approaching him from the side…then at the very last moment, reach out a hand to touch him, willing us both desperately back to Nephrite. But…nothing happens. Kunzite turns his head so slowly to glare at me that I realize he’s been aware of me the entire time. He grasps my forearm, then stands unhurriedly, twisting my arm behind my back.

“I didn’t think you were stupid enough to come back here.”

“Nephrite sent me,” I tell him, breathless with pain.

“Communicating from beyond, is he?” he mocks, shoving me hard so that I fall at his feet. “You can speak face to face soon enough.”

Before I can do anything my body is enveloped in an all-too-familiar agony – robbing me of speech and even breath. I curl like a shrimp.

Just as I’m certain my heart will explode or my mind will crack, the pain is gone.

“Please,” I cry with the first breath I’m able to draw, trying to beg despite my sobbing. “Please. This isn’t necessary. I’ll tell you the truth. I’m telling the truth.”

“Where is Zoicite?” Kunzite demands coldly, glaring down at me.

“With Nephrite. And I don’t mean dead,” I amend, holding an imploring hand towards him to stay his temper. “They’re alive. And Jadeite too. But Zoicite not for long. He’s fading fast. They sent me to bring you. To help save him.”

Blinding pain again, suddenly. Maddening, mind-destroying torment. Kunzite’s voice floats through my brain, explaining unnecessarily.

“I don’t believe you.”

When I’m lying spent again, released - I am ready for death. Hopeful even. Please kill me. Please.

“Where is Zoicite?” Kunzite repeats, nudging his foot in my ribs to get my attention.

“I told you,” I reply, not opening my eyes. “He’s probably dead by now, with all the time you’re wasting. I hope he is. I don’t care. It’s only Nephrite who wants to save him. And save you. God knows why. If you’re too afraid to risk going then forget it. Kill me or let me go. Please.”

He doesn’t speak and I drift away peacefully, only to wake abruptly a moment later as I’m hauled to my feet.

“Take me there then,” he growls, his fingers digging into my arm. “Now.”

I barely have the energy, will, or desire, but I manage to obey. The world wobbles and dissolves, then reforms. Nephrite and Jadeite still lean over the prone Zoicite, looking exhausted. Neph looks up at our appearance and wastes no words in explanation.

“Quickly – both of you. He’s nearly gone.” I stumble over and lay my hands upon Zoicite, summoning my energy, and…

. . .

…and I come to my senses lying on the floor. I blink a moment stupidly, looking up at the three men sitting above me, their eyes closed, their palms resting on Zoicite’s chest. I gaze a moment, appreciatively. They look like Pre-Raphaelite angels, their faces flawless marble in the glow of coloured light spilling in through the windows. It’s day. The last thing I knew, it was dark. I sit up awkwardly, embarrassed, and find Nephrite watching me.

“Sorry,” I say, by way of explanation.

He gives me a small smile of understanding.

“It’s alright. You were exhausted.”

“You must be too,” I sympathize, moving closer to look down over the unchanged Zoicite. “Isn’t he any better?”

Nephrite shakes his head at me.

“He’s stable. We’re giving him back the energy he’s losing. But it’s a losing battle. Like baling a boat with a hole in it. He’s sick. Beryl’s drawing out his energy. We’re giving it back, taking it back from her. And we can keep it up, as long as we can stay awake. But that can’t be forever. So she will win. She’ll keep draining him until he’s dead.”

I’m feeling dismally hopeless, staring at Zoicite’s pale lifeless face, but Jadeite surprises me.

“Unless someone heals him.”

I look up at him, startled.

“You mean me?”

He nods calmly, half his attention still fixed on Zoicite. “You can try.”

It’s true. I can try at least. I lay my hands on Zoi’s chest, closing my eyes, feeling out with my senses as I did when I healed Jadeite…willing whatever is wrong to be righted. But this is not the same. There’s a hole within this man…a well of hungry darkness, and every ounce of energy I throw into him is drained away into it. It’s hopeless.

I look up again at Nephrite and shake my head miserably.

“It’s no good.”

“It’s alright,” Nephrite sighs again, looking unhappy but grimly determined. “You know what we need to do now. Who we need. There’s no other choice. She’s our only hope.”

He lifts one hand from Zoicite to reach into a pocket, then tosses me his keys.

“Go to Naru-chan,” he says, resettling his hand and closing his eyes. “She’s her friend. Usagi, she’s called. Go and find her, and bring her back here.”

Life and death. So much at stake. And I’ll I can think?

I get to drive the car!

. . .

After my initial adolescent reaction to the Ferrari, I have to deal with yet another mundane matter – my clothes. Hard enough to convince Sailor Moon to trust me without looking like a freak.

After I’ve made a short stop at a mall and outfitted myself in something more human, I pull up outside Naru-chan’s house. Familiar – the route known to me, though I’ve never actually been here. Like deja vu guiding me.

I step up to the door and ring the bell, wondering what I’m to say if her mother answers. But the door is opened by Naru herself.

So young. Incredibly young. Far too young…but that’s none of my business. I throw mental ice water over my feelings as jealousy and who knows what other evil emotions ignite within me.

“I’m Rachael,” I say, praying that she knows me and I don’t have to explain.

“Nephrite’s friend,” she says, nodding slightly. Her brows draw together. “Is he alright?”

“He’s fine. He couldn’t come himself. There’s an emergency. He needs you to take me to your friend Usagi. Nephrite needs her help.”

She gets into the car with me and gives me directions. She gnaws her lip as we drive.

“I don’t know about this. Usagi doesn’t trust Nephrite. I don’t know if she’ll go for it.”

I don’t know what to answer. She knows her – I don’t. All I can think is perhaps I can transport her by surprise. But you’d think Sailor Moon could resist such a thing. I don’t know…

We arrive at Usagi’s house and sit for a moment, just watching and thinking.

“Can’t you just tell her there’s a friend that needs help – and that you can’t say anymore? Make her trust you?” I finally suggest with a shrug.

She shrugs back, in abandon.

“I guess so. I’ll try.”

I watch her as she climbs out of the car and heads unwillingly up the steps. From this angle, I can’t see who answers the door – only Naru. I can see her gesticulating, pleading with her hands. And after a few minutes more she turns, and following behind her is Usagi – blonde and leggy, smilingly vacuous, very young. It’s hard to believe that this girl can be responsible for, capable of, so much.

Usagi’s blissful bubble breaks as she notices the car, and she asks Naru something, suspicion on her face. Naru shakes her head, eyes pleading again, urging Usagi forward. Naru opens the car door and climbs in the back with Usagi. I shuffle over to pull the door closed, casting the nervous girl a reassuring smile.

“Hi,” I tell her. “I’m Rachael.”

“Hi,” she responds gingerly as I slip the car into gear and roar off. “Are you the one…?”

“No.” I shake my head, meeting her round blue eyes in the rear-view mirror. “It’s a friend of mine. Please don’t worry. Everything will be alright.”

She’s quiet as we drive, and I’m certain that’s not normal for her. We’re all tense and it’s not helping. But I can’t think of any small talk either.

At last we pull up to Nephrite’s, and I park thankfully. As Usagi climbs out, I watch her. She’s looking over the building doubtfully.

“What is this place?”

“It’s just a house, Usagi-chan,” Naru reassures. “My friend is inside. Please - come on. It’s important.”

She resists Naru’s tug on her arm for a moment, no doubt sensing something wrong. What could it be? Perhaps her four arch enemies right inside the door? Dear god, don’t let her balk now.

“Please,” Naru says again, pleading with her eyes.

And at last, Usagi begins walking slowly forward.

= = = N = = =

It’s so hard to stay awake, despite the dire circumstances. I haven’t slept in so long. And nobody speaks to allay the boredom. Kunzite’s animosity is palpable. He’s only here for Zoicite’s sake, that much is clear. He’s stared at me now and again, eyes narrowed, speculatively aloof. It must be killing him, wondering why I’m doing this. But he’s never spoken…very clearly my enemy.

Still…whatever he’s plotting, he’s tied here for now. I should use this fact to talk with him – to try to explain things. But I’m too exhausted.

I’m half dozing, only conscious enough to keep up my connection with Zoi, when the door opens. All three of us snap to our senses, turning our heads as Naru-chan walks in the door, her arm around Usagi. The latter manages to take several steps forward before she sees us. Her eyes, if it is possible, grow even bigger as she looks from Kunzite to me to Jed.

She backs up frantically, then turns to run. But Rachael has wisely closed the door and stands calmly blocking it.

“It’s alright,” Rachael says softly. “Calm down.”

“What the hell is going on here?” Usagi squeals as Naru grabs her shoulders, trying to soothe her.

Usagi’s arm shoots up, and she summons energy - preparing to transform. I yell at Rachael, who’s reaching to interfere.

“No, Rachael. Let her be.”

She’ll be more dangerous, of course. But we need Sailor Moon. And suddenly – there she is. She stands slightly prouder, slightly calmer, clutching the ginzuishou close.

“What is this?” she demands, looking towards us now, meeting my eye. “I thought you were dead. And Jadeite too.”

Her words sound brave, but her voice quavers tellingly.

“It’s complicated. And it’s not important. We need you. Zoicite’s dying.” I bend my head to look down at him. Thank god he can’t hear this. To beg Moon’s mercy. It would kill him. I know it’s killing Kunzite. He can’t decide whether to glare daggers at me or at Moon. “We need you to heal him.”

“You must be crazy!” Moon shouts at me. “Or you think I’m crazy. Why would I do something as dumb as that? Heal him so he can kill me? He tried to kill Tuxedo Kamen-Sama!”

“I know he did. But you don’t understand. He’s not himself. Neither is Kunzite. Neither were Jadeite and I. Beryl enchanted us…long ago. In the Silver Millennium.” I keep my voice quiet and even, trying to lull her, to keep her from fight or flight…long enough to believe me. “Can’t you remember? You should. We served your love – Prince Endymion.”

“Filthy lies!” Kunzite hisses at me, eyes afire. “Blasphemy!”

“Ignore him,” I tell Moon, my eyes not leaving hers. “He still belongs to Beryl. But Jadeite and I have broken her spell. We’re free now, and we remember what has happened. Zoicite did not choose to be the creature he became. He doesn’t deserve to die. He deserves another chance. He was good. Heal him, and he will be again.”

“Why should I?” she asks sullenly, as if I haven’t already given her a very good reason.

“To save an innocent man isn’t enough?” I growl, my voice rising. I calm myself and begin again, more gently. “Then how about to help your beloved? He is our master. And Beryl has taken him. He needs help. And you need us to help you. Do it for Endymion.”

“I don’t believe you,” Moon states, but she sounds at least uncertain.

“If it weren’t true. If we were after you, or the ginzuishou…don’t you think we’d have it by now? Do you really think you could stop all three of us?”

“But you need me – to help Zoicite. Once I do, then you’ll have no reason to pretend.”

I glare at her. I’m getting frustrated and angry. Lack of sleep and too much of this girl.

“If I was the same man you knew before, the man who fought for Beryl, do you really think I’d be trying to save Zoicite? He killed me, if you’ll recall.”

“But you’re standing here,” she says, perhaps with less ice. “You’re alive. It might have been a trick. An act.”

“Do you think I’d do that to Naru, just for an act? Do you think she was acting?”

She stares a moment, meager gears grinding.

“No,” she finally sighs.

“Then?” I prod her. “I’m telling the truth. About everything.”

She nods, pondering, squinting at me as if in pain.

“I think…I do remember you…from all those years ago. I remember you…in court. Endymion’s guardians. His friends.”

“That’s right,” I tell her softly. “And you owe it to him to heal this man. You owe it to him.”

She nods slowly, a determined look growing on her face, and at last raises the ginzuishou. I feel the power building in her as she chants, a warm wave of energy rising rising…and then falling over us like a shower of stars…a power of light, an anathema to our chains of darkness.

I find that I’ve closed my eyes…and when I open them I see Zoicite blinking…blinking from the daylight, blinking back tears.

“My god,” he is murmuring, his breath catching in a sob. “My god…what have I done? Kunzite?”

He looks about, searching for him, but Kunzite has vanished - afraid that what we said was true. Afraid Moon might heal him too, and make him believe it.

I glance from his empty place to Jadeite, who’s looking panicked.

“He knows all about us. He’ll tell Beryl.”

“I don’t think so. She’d capture Zoi again, maybe kill him again. Or reindoctrinate him. I think Kunzite has enough doubt now that he wouldn’t risk that. I hope not anyway.”

I look over and notice Sailor Moon still standing there, looking uncertain.

I finally take my hands from Zoicite and get up, walking over to her.

“Thank you,” I tell her sincerely. “And if Endymion were here, he would thank you too.”

Jadeite steps up to us, half-grinning.

“Sailor Moon,” he greets her. “A different sort of meeting, ne?” His smile grows and encourages one from her. He continues then, speaking more seriously.

“I hope you’ll forgive me for what happened before. And I hope you’ll let me make it up to you. And to my master. I’ll do everything I can to help you, and to save him. I swear.”

“I swear as well,” I say quietly, crossing my arm over my chest, bowing my head, while Jadeite does the same.

And then…a determined voice that causes us all to look up. An unsteady figure, standing up to make an unsteady bow, his golden head bent in submission.

“And I swear too.”

* * * * * * * *

return to Index / go to Chapter 16

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury