Brothers in Arms
by Dark Amethyst

Chapter 16

* * * * * * * *

= = = N = = =

So much time has passed… Long days slipping into longer weeks. And still, we do nothing.

I’m sitting on the terrace, sipping a brandy and watching the wind toy with the trees. The sun is going down, staining the sky lemon and cherry Both very good with gin, I reflect cynically.

Jadeite appears, inhaling the cool earth-scented breeze with appreciation. Gazing at the sunset. Frowning as I refill my glass. I pour out more than I’d intended, just to spite him.

He sits down without speaking, leaning his chair back easily, still watching the sky. It’s night in earnest, the stars shimmering down, when he finally speaks. But he doesn’t condemn me, as he should.

“It’s hard, isn’t it?” he sighs. “Doing nothing. Waiting and seeing.”

Hard? It’s killing me. Knowing that our master has been turned. Not being able to do a damn thing to help him. Watching Zoicite flagellate himself every waking moment – hating himself for what he’s done – suffering more than any of us over Kunzite. And I burn with guilt over Rachael. I have no words for her. Not even any work for her. I know she’s around, but I avoid her, and she must avoid me also. A bloody bloody mess, all of it.

I take another large gulp of brandy. The coward’s way, I know.

“It is,” I finally answer Jed. “I feel…utterly fucking powerless.” I exhale, and fury builds in me. Fury at myself, and at this whole miserable situation.

“Is this how we serve Endymion?” I shout. “Doing nothing? Waiting and waiting? For what? For a safe chance? Cowardice!”

“We’re biding our time. There’s a difference between bravery and stupidity – you know that. We can’t just charge in and rescue him.”

“Excuses,” I dismiss. “An excuse to do nothing.”

“We’ve done what we can,” Jed insists, making me feel slightly better by pouring himself a brandy of his own. He tips his chair back again and sips, reflecting, refusing to get angry. “If we go in there, we’ll either be killed or reclaimed. That doesn’t help Endymion. It’s just not in our hands. If anyone can help him, it’s Sailor Moon. And we’ve done all we can for her.”

It’s true. There have been holes in Endymion’s ‘conversion’ – spasms of memory, inexplicable mercy, flaunting of orders – all brought on by Sailor Moon. And once she even brought him back – healed him and returned his memory. We might have saved him then, perhaps – but did not. Could not. Beryl took him back too quickly. But still…it could be done. If only we could get her to him somehow. Perhaps bring the battle to Beryl? Force her hand before she’s ready?

I look at Jed, thoughtfully, with at last, perhaps, the ghost of an idea.

“Perhaps we can do one thing more.”

= = = R = = =

So - that’s the plan, is it? Show the senshi a secret entrance to the Dark Kingdom? And this helps what? And how?

Yes, I was eavesdropping. I claim no shred of moral fibre anymore. I’m losing my mind with this waiting. With these people. With having no life, no role, no purpose. I have to do something. I can’t stop thinking about Kunzite. The other night, with Sailor Moon – in the great failed deception – he was as cold and merciless as ever. Did nothing he heard here sink in to trouble him? Does he ever wonder about Zoicite? As Zoi does about him?

Zoicite is upstairs, probably already in bed. Sleeping is mostly all he does now. Besides cry. Nephrite and Jed are still out on the patio. No one knows I’m here, or likely cares. Certainly they won’t miss me. It will only be a minute…

And then I do it, before I lose my nerve. I do the unthinkable – and return to Kunzite.

His chamber was always dark, but it seems darker than usual. It takes me a moment to discern Kunzite’s figure – sitting immobile, a hand over his eyes, rubbing his temples.

“Headache?” I ask gently, and he drops his hand to glare at me.

“What are you doing here?” he growls. I feel like I’m ahead already. He didn’t kill me on sight.

“Wondering about you. Worrying about you. As is Zoicite. He’s in a terrible state.”

The hand returns to his temple and he grimaces.

“Zoicite is dead.”

“You know that’s a lie,” I rebut, calmly.

“To me, he’s dead,” he says, voice rising. “You’ve filled his head with lies. I don’t know him anymore.”

“You do know him – your heart knows him. Your heart knows the truth. This whole life you have here is the lie!” Kunzite is now holding his head with both hands, as if afraid that it will explode. I decide to push him, trying to turn him…not much caring what happens to me as a result. “What is it that keeps you here? The cold? The loneliness? The misery? Serving a woman who as good as killed all your comrades – and who will kill you at her earliest convenience, on her slightest whim?”

“No!” Kunzite shouts, dropping his hands and advancing on me. “I live for the glory of the Dark Kingdom. To serve Beryl, and Metallia. To see goodness defeated and darkness reign.”

He has come up to a stop before me, since I have not backed away. His fists are clenched, his jaw tight, and suddenly his eyes close and his voice drops to a quiet snarl.

“Even if my loyalty means nothing to them…even if I have been outed by a know-nothing pretty boy. Even if she killed my…love.” He spits out the last word, as if it’s a curse, and he looks at me with narrowed eyes. “It’s the only world I know. My duty is all I have left. Now get out of here and don’t come back.”

My eyes are filled with tears…of pity, of frustration. He’s so alone. I want to hold him…to comfort him, despite everything he’s ever done to me. But he turns his back on me, striding off into the darkness. There’s nothing I can do. I dry my eyes, and go home.

I find ‘home’ much busier than I left it. All three generals are here, in the main room, and I’m not too surprised to learn that the senshi have suddenly discovered a mysterious tunnel leading to the Dark Kingdom. No one asks about my disappearance, and I fall in quietly with the others, watching the vision Nephrite has summoned of the senshi’s progress down the corridor. When they run into Kunzite, my stomach turns over. Some mood I’ve left him in. He’s out for blood now – no small voice of conscience has a hope of making itself heard. He attacks…but chaos ensues. For a moment, Nephrite’s mantra about the stars knowing everything is proved wrong – the stars are obviously confused. We’ve lost the senshi…but we finally get a fix on Kunzite. He has come upon the guardian cats at the end of the tunnel – in a world of ice and snow. Familiar. Snow might all look the same, but I think it’s suspicious coincidence. I have been there before.

Kunzite is feeling sufficiently bloody-minded to attack defenceless cats, and I’m very relieved when the senshi suddenly appear from wherever they’d gone and put a stop to it. It’s an ugly battle. Kunzite is so angry, and so powerful. I’m afraid this might be the end of Moon and company, right here and now. But there’s something in Sailor Moon’s eyes I haven’t seen before. A look of determination. She isn’t cowed. She raises her wand and to our delighted relief, sends of wave of healing energy over Kunzite…bathing him in sparkling light. We all wait a moment, breathless with hope. But Kunzite only snarls, producing more energy knives…hurling defiance, along with his energy, in what looks for all the world like a deathblow. But miraculously, Moon reflects it back at him – and he is hit. He falls to his knees, calling to Zoicite, telling him he’s coming to join him. An unstoppable rush of joy floods over me. I think I’m the only one who isn’t surprised at all to see Kunzite suddenly materialize at our feet.

We rush to lay our hands on him, all concern. But Kunzite is smiling, albeit weakly. He plucks the energy knife from his cloak, and absorbs it back into his body.

“I’m alright,” he admonishes us, finding Zoicite’s eyes with his.

I close my eyes, sensing out…he is very wounded…but it is a wound of the flesh. I think I can heal him, if I have the energy. I look up to Nephrite and tell him so. In a moment, he, and Jadeite, and Zoicite lay their hands upon me, and I’m filled suddenly with a miraculous strength – a rush of so much joy and love and hope…I could heal the world.

. . .

I wake up feeling rested from a long much-needed sleep. The senshi decided to put off any further action for a day or two, and we were all very grateful. But I can’t sleep any more. Thoughts and worries already are beginning to nag at me. Will it be today? What will happen? And afterwards? What becomes of me?

Like Pygmalion. Nephrite molds me, changes me…all to suit him…then casts me aside. What has he left me fit for? I can’t even remember my other life now.

I stifle tears, yet again. No point in thinking that way now. Good chance we won’t even be alive tomorrow to worry about it.

I dress and go out into the quiet house. Everybody still asleep, it seems. Good.

I head down, through the empty ‘sanctuary’, into the kitchen, putting on some coffee.

Five people here now, they need to eat. I’ll have to go out and get more groceries. Maybe a nice dinner would be a good thing. Just typical – I finally have some people to cook for, and I’m not in the mood for it. Nothing fancy. Nobody’s in a party mood. Pasta, maybe. And wine. A salad. Calamari linguine? A garlic cream sauce?

I’m so abstracted with thoughts of food that I jump, startled as a voice behind me says, “Good morning.”

I turn to see Kunzite, standing in the doorway, leaning slightly against the frame in that relaxed easy way of his.

I echo his greeting, nervously, looking only briefly at him, keeping my eyes down. So tense. Scared, almost. Feeling the large kitchen is now too small…feeling trapped. Not really knowing why.

“Your name’s Rachael, ne?”

“Yes,” I smile quickly at him, and then look away again, collecting dirty dishes from yesterday, getting ready to wash them.

Kunzite moves into the kitchen, looking around, then gestures to the French doors.

“What’s out there?”

I look where he’s pointing.

“A garden. Sort of a park,” I answer.

He steps over to me and puts an arm firmly behind me, pulling me inexorably with him.

“Let’s take a walk then,” he says.

“I was just going to…,” I attempt to argue, but there is no arguing. We’re already through the door and outside.

Once we reach the lawn, he stops pushing me and strides unhurriedly along, looking appreciatively over the grounds. I keep pace with him, silently, wondering what this is about.

“I remember everything that’s happened, you know,” he finally states, glancing at me over his shoulder.

“I know,” I nod, my stomach knotting now in fear of something…

“I remember everything I did to you.” He stops now, and turns towards me. “And I want to apologize.”

I can feel my cheeks burning in the cool morning air, and my vision is starting to blur with tears. I try to push the emotion down.

“You weren’t yourself, Kunzite-sama. It wasn’t your fault. Please don’t apologize.”

My voice is cracking, like an idiot. Kunzite grabs my arm, perhaps realizing that I might run off.

“We both know what happened. I can’t look at you, knowing what I did, and not tell you that I’m sorry,” he insists.

“It’s alright,” I tell him, crying now, despite all my efforts. I can’t understand this sudden overwhelm, all this emotion. I didn’t feel so ashamed about it before, but now I’m awash in humiliation…feeling violated afresh. I want to cover myself.

He pulls me against his chest and holds me immobile, letting me cry against him. And I do, stormily…letting it out, letting who knows what else out…feeling tension drain out of me like air from a deflating balloon.

“I wasn’t myself,” he agrees softly at last, when I’m finally merely sniveling. “But I know what you’ve endured. I wanted you to know I was sorry. I wanted to clear the air between us.”

“Thank you.” My voice is muffled against his chest. I feel like a weakling. A pitiful excuse for a warrior. But…I do feel better. I can look up into his face…his gorgeous well-boned face…and smile.

= = = N = = =

“A lovely dinner, Rachael,” I say, raising my wineglass to her across the table. The others do the same, and I smile to see her blush, embarrassed at the attention. It was a fine meal – it could have been a celebration. But everyone is feeling too anxious. Too solemn. Thinking of our prince. Thinking of the battle tomorrow morning. I had a call from Usagi earlier today, telling me the hour, and I told the others. But we haven’t spoken of it during the meal. Haven’t spoken much at all.

“Tomorrow…,” I begin slowly, my thoughts drifting, the word floating ominously over us all. “We ought to have a plan. Do we have one? Is there anything we can do?”

We look to Kunzite without thinking – so quick to fall back to our patterns of a thousand years ago – when he was merely our superior, not our rival.

Kunzite considers, putting his glass down empty and bringing his palms together, steepling his fingers.

“Beryl has chosen her five ‘girls’ to meet the senshi, should they attempt an assault. Leaving the rest of the youma to guard the palace.”

“We can’t help with Beryl’s own warriors,” I sigh. “But we could get rid of the others. We could do at least that much.”

“Would that be safe?” Zoicite worries. “Being that close to her? Won’t she notice us?”

“It’s a risk,” I acknowledge. “But I, for one, am prepared to take some risk, after all this waiting around.”

“And maybe,” Jadeite reasons, “She’ll be too focused on Sailor Moon and the senshi to notice us.”

“How can she not notice you if you have to fight every youma in the place?” Rachael asks, misunderstanding.

“We don’t have to fight them, Rachael,” I explain. “They’re ours. We trained them. Created them. Molded them from dark energy. They have to obey us. They know no other way.”

“So you’re going to order them to fall on their swords?” Rachael asks dryly.

“I think not,” Kunzite replies, with a slight smile at her words. “To kill them would be to free a massive amount of energy. Energy Beryl could use too well.”

“I agree,” I nod. “So? We lead them away. Post them far enough back that they’re out of action. Agreed?”

There are slow nods all around, except from Rachael who is frowning at me, disappointed.

“And I do nothing?” she asks me. “I want to help. I’m in this with the rest of you.”

“Rachael, you’ve already done more for all of us than I could ever thank you for,” I tell her sincerely, glad for an opportunity to finally say it aloud. “And you won’t be doing nothing. You will go and get Naru and bring her here. Keep her safe. I want her here with me at the end, whatever happens.”

= = = R = = =

A miserable dark day. Fitful wind and grumbles of thunder. I park the car carefully outside Naru’s house and sneer up at it through the pelting rain. My mission. My grand mission in the last glorious scene. To fetch the girl he loves and keep her safe. No fucking irony there.

A part of me argues that it’s possible he’s trying to keep me safe as well, but I dismiss that voice, determined to be cynical…as miserable as the weather.

I get out, walking slowly to the door, ignoring the rain that soaks my clothes through. I ring the bell once, and wait, trying to wipe any expression off my face.

“Hello again,” Naru says as she opens the door and sees me. I can hear the worried voice of a news reporter coming from her TV. “Some crazy stuff happening, ne?” She looks scared, in spite of her laugh, then looks hard at me. “Is it to do with Nephrite? All these horrible things?”

I nod, unsmiling.

“It’s the end. Or the beginning,” I say grimly. “Either way, it’ll be over. Nephrite asked me to fetch you. Will you come?”

= = = N = = =

Good enough. We’re miles and miles from action here.

I order my youma into guard formation, facing outward, as the other generals are ordering their youma now…forming a tight, secure ring…against an enemy we already know is within, fighting at this very moment. I step back from the motionless figures, and I’m satisfied. They will stand there 'til they fall to dust, if necessary. I turn and look behind me, my eyes following the rise in the endless-white landscape, to where the palace lays hidden….where my prince is a prisoner. But we can’t risk that much…going within. We’d be more of a risk to him than any help. Sailor Moon…it’s in your hands now. There’s nothing more I can do here, and I want to be with Naru, whatever happens. It’s time to go.

Back home, I find Naru and Rachael in tears, watching events through the stars, as I’ve taught Rachael to do.

“What has happened?” I ask breathlessly, stepping forward, just as the other generals materialize around me.

“The senshi are dead,” Rachael tells me hollowly. “Sailor Moon has gone on alone to face Beryl.”

I reach to gather Naru against me, to calm her tears, but my eyes…all of our eyes are on the unfolding events. We watch, unspeaking as Beryl transports Moon to her throne-room…to find Endymion waiting for her…waiting with an attack. She evades him, and each of us is breathless with hope as she raises her wand and heals him at last.

But…it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work.

You can feel the change in the room as we watch now, eyes glazed, spirits broken, our one hope gone. Endymion torments her, despite her pleas. How can this end? How can it end in any way that is bearable, now? Should she die – there dies all hope. Yet could she defeat him, how could we ever go on…having failed so badly?

I barely notice the events…Moon is lying as one dead, her ginzuishou within her reach, but unsought by her. She seems as I feel…beyond caring. Selfish of me. So selfish, to come back here and meddle with history. Moon defeated Beryl once. The world was safe. And I altered it…for what? To save my comrades, but in the end, to fail my prince. To fail the world.

Beryl orders Endymion to finish her, but Moon surprises him and myself by hurling her Tiara…catching Endymion a terrible blow. He collapses, but gets up again, determined…perhaps driven by Beryl’s power now. He stands above her, sword drawn, eyes lifeless. She doesn’t bow, nor fight him – but kneels before him, arms upstretched in supplication – some golden trinket flashing on her upturned palms. His dead eyes widen, and as he touches it, he is visibly jolted by some power unseen. A spark, then a glow of humanity is kindled in his eyes.

“Usagi,” he murmurs.

As powerfully as we are suddenly overjoyed, Beryl is overwhelmed with rage. To see them together, like this, despite all she’s done – it’s plainly unbearable to her. Is this what fired it all, all these thousand years? All this destruction and torment, all these wasted lives? One woman’s petty jealousy? I can’t believe it…

Beryl, past hope or reason, lifts and hurls a great slab of rock towards the couple, but Prince Endymion anticipates her, hurling a rose, striking her…but a moment too late. He is hit. Mortally. And this time, there is no rescue.

Naru shakes in my arms, sobbing, tears streaming as she watches her friend collapse in grief over my prince’s body. I hold her tightly, then lower us to sit on the floor, cradling her in my lap, rocking her like a child…comforting myself somehow, by comforting her…my own tears running down my face and into her warm soft hair.

The others, their faces desolate, sit also…hope gone from their eyes, indifferently watching the small figure of Sailor Moon, standing outside the shattered palace. She is dwarfed by a demon-Beryl, the woman within gone now…a mere shell, a carrier for the great Metallia, released at last to wreak her havoc upon poor Earth. I hold Naru more tightly against to me. I’m happy to face death myself, but I’d do anything to keep it from her.

The trees outside are screeching and moaning, threatening to snap in a sudden vicious gale…the dawning of a new Dark world. Zoicite hides his face against Kunzite’s shoulder with a muffled sob, and Kunzite gathers him close, bending to rest his pale head again Zoicite’s golden one. Jadeite stares at them for a moment then looks at me…bowing his head infinitesimally…a farewell salute. I return it sadly, then notice Rachael, sitting between Jadeite and I, staring at me with wide tear-filled eyes. She tries to smile as I meet her gaze, but the tears spill over and she finally buries her head in her hands, her back shaking as she silently weeps.

I glance fatalistically back up to see Sailor Moon wielding the ginzuishou – a small circle of pure light, waning…about to be snuffed out by Metallia’s awesome darkness. Such courage…such tenacity from such a young, brainless child. I would give everything to help her. Power of the stars, give her my strength…give her my strength…

Without realizing, I find I have chanted my wish aloud, and I’m surprised to find it suddenly taken up by Rachael, then by Jadeite, then by the rest…all of us willing it, like a desperate prayer. Give her my strength.

Rachael slips her hand into mine, and I put out my hand for Kunzite’s…all of us making a circle of power, except Naru who stays pressed against my chest, watching bravely now, chanting with us. Give her my strength.

It might be us. It might be her mother, Serenity. It might just be Moon’s strength alone. Or it might be something I’ll never understand. But for whatever reason, the sputtering small globe of light starts to swell again, then suddenly pulses with blinding brightness – an explosion of white. A sudden amazing levity comes over my soul, like tight chains finally unbound…and I could cry out in an ecstasy of freedom. It’s Metallia’s destruction – it could be nothing else. The banishment of evil. But…it’s something more than even that. This force, this light…I can feel the power of it growing, even from continents away. A power of renewal…a power of rebirth…frightening in its intensity…threatening to wash away everything in its path.

I drop Kunzite’s hand and reach desperately for Naru, twining my fingers in her hair, pulling her mouth hard against mine, kissing her like I’ve never kissed her – with head-swimming passion, trying to fill her mind with only me…filling my own senses with nothing but how much I love her…need her…

…and at that moment, the wave hits us. Senses, thoughts, dreams and fears, all churn and tumble like dry leaves in a hurricane, torn from their hosts, echoing in a dreamy timeless void.

What have I done? I can’t live like this. I can’t forget.

Only she matters. I can live with it all…if I can stay with her.

I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to go on.

I am content. I’m at peace. Let me only make her happy too.

I love him. I love him. He’s my whole world.

No…please no…don’t let me forget…for god’s sake, please…don’t make me go back.

* * * * * * * *

return to Index / go to Epilogue

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury