The Shi-Tennou Return
by SanjouinDaCapo

Chapter 3

* * * * * * * *

His attack failed. Not wanting to turn coat on Beryl, despite what she had done to his beloved, Kunzite made the decision to lash out at Sailor Moon. Feeling himself fading away, he cried out to Zoisite:

"Guide me to where your soul wanders!"

Kunzite fell through a dark void, bravely waiting for what he would see at the end. There was nothing nothing but darkness and silence. Where was Zoisite? Had he missed his lover? Kunzite knew he had heard Zoisite's voice.

"Zoisite, are you here?" Kunzite called out for his lover.

There was no answer not even an echo. The place was completely dark, and he was still falling. When the former Dark Lord reached the bottom of the pit, he stood up and began to feel for a way out. The walls were solid and made of some cold, smooth material that he could not identify, and there was no door, no opening at all.

"Zoisite!" he called again, "Zoisite please tell me where you are!"

Those damned Senshi, he thought, Had they not interfered, Zoisite would still be alive, they would be together. Now he was alone. Even company with Dark Endymion was preferable to this. Even the presence of the one who replaced Zoisite... Kunzite had been so utterly desolate in the weeks after Zoisite's death that nobody could comfort him, and still the universe saw fit to give him something worse.

* * * * * * * *

For days, the solemn Dark Lord waited, pacing the room, crying out for Zoisite and the others. He grew hungry, thirsty and tired, yet sleep was impossible. Even with the silence and darkness, Kunzite was very much awake. He was very much aware as well of the hunger clawing at his stomach. Sweat and tears caked his skin, yet Kunzite waited.

"Zoisite... oh Zoisite," he whispered, "I do not deserve you. Please... I hope you are somewhere beautiful!"

Was this the fate of Jadeite? Kunzite had not had much to do with the arrogant lord, much preferring to simply watch things as they went on, biding his time and staying with Zoisite. It wasn't until that traitor Nephrite's death that he started becoming more actively involved in assisting Queen Beryl. Had he assisted Jadeite, that eager volunteer, none of this would have happened.

Still he waited for what seemed to be ages, wondering how Beryl was faring. Regardless of what she had done, his loyalty did not waver. As guilty as Kunzite had felt for not protecting Zoisite from that blast, he still would not betray the Dark Kingdom. The best he could give Zoisite was his last wish: to die beautifully.

That sparkling meadow full of flowers was a poor illusion, yet it made Zoisite smile. It was a smile Kunzite knew he would miss. The memories of his beautiful face were all the former Dark Lord had left, and even those would eventually fade, he feared. He would never see Zoisite again. That would be his punishment for blind loyalty.

Giving up on hope, Kunzite lie down on the floor, which stank from the filth which had accumulated, longing to die, to fall asleep and never awaken. Sleep would not come, nor would death, despite his aching, empty belly. It was useless to even try. No dreams, no escape nothing to keep him sane.

"Please," he croaked, "Somebody... kill me... please kill me."

* * * * * * * *

Kunzite's body was growing weaker with the passing time, and he felt like he would shrivel to nothing and still be tormented in this place.

"No. I will not let myself be humiliated," he decided, righting himself.

Feeling for a wall, Kunzite took a breath and lunged, bashing his head against it, and screamed from the excruciating pain. Again and again, he bashed his head against he wall, but it did no good. Thick blood ran down his hair and neck, and still, Kunzite was conscious and aware.

"You cannot... even let me die?" he breathed.

Banging his fists against the wall, he screamed and cried for death, and the only reply was silence and despair. Finally, Kunzite gave up and just lie there on the ground, staring into the void of his prison, all hope abandoned.

"Zoisite," he whispered, "Please... oh if anyone guards this place, please be kind to Zoisite... please... tell him... that I love him."

With that, Kunzite began to weep loudly.

I never kissed you enough, my dear one, Kunzite thought, I wish I could have given you so much more... so many more kisses... my dearest Zoisite... I failed you.

The darkness had become familiar, yet no less oppressive. Kunzite just lay in the same spot, wishing for mercy, for a crust of bread, a little water. He wanted out, yet knew he deserved this dark place.

"Please... help me," he mouthed, giving up the last trace of hope for an escape.

A soft glow lit up the room. Kunzite was too weak to respond, so he just waited. Someone lifted him up gently, and a piece of wet cloth was placed to his lips. Kunzite drank the water gratefully, letting it soak his parched mouth and throat.

Was this hope, or had he finally succumbed to madness? Who was singing to him?

* * * * * * * *

Kunzite felt himself lying in an impossibly soft and comfortable bed. After seemingly an eternity in that awful place, the sheets and blankets felt so delightfully soft that he couldn't stop running his fingers over them, even when just moving took an incredible effort.

Someone lifted his tired body and scooted it back a little, propping the former Dark Kingdom lord on what felt like a home-sewn pillow. A piece of wet cloth was held to his lips, and something warm and salty trickled into his mouth. It was the first nourishment he'd had in what seemed to be an eternity. A few more mouthfuls, and Kunzite fell asleep again, while a hand stroked his. After so long, he finally was allowed rest.

He awoke to find himself leaning against the hard sides of some kind of furniture. Kunzite still was too weak to move, but as a piece of wet cloth touched his face, the white-haired dark lord opened his eyes. All he could see were a few fuzzy shapes. It was clear, however, that someone was bathing him. The water was pleasantly warm, and the contact was more than welcome.

Soon, Kunzite felt himself being lifted out of the tub, his head resting on the rescuer's shoulder. Could he trust whoever rescued him? Regardless of his wariness, Kunzite had no choice but to let the mysterious rescuer lay him down on the bed again, and wrap him in a soft, cozy blanket. He felt like a swaddled infant, content and warm.

* * * * * * * *

As the days went by, Kunzite began to notice things about the place, his rescuer, and himself. He was in a dimly-lit room with wooden furniture and a metal tub. It was by no means luxurious, but that didn't matter. The rescuer was a woman dressed in a white gown, and her platinum blond hair was done up in a familiar odango style. Had Sailor Moon rescued him?

Kunzite had a good look at his arms and hands they were skin and bones, and wrapped in bandages. Reaching up to feel his head, he found that parts of it were dressed with bandages as well. Why would Sailor Moon treat him so well?

"Zoisite," he whispered, speaking for the first time since his rescue.

"He is already back on Earth," the moon woman said, smiling warmly at Kunzite.

"Impossible," Kunzite breathed, falling asleep in the warm cocoon.

* * * * * * * *

He didn't speak much for awhile after that, just letting the moon woman feed and care for him. Maybe it was all that time spent in that prison, and the realization that Jadeite was likely going through the same thing horrified Kunzite to no end.

The moon woman placed a tray on the former dark lord's lap. On the tray was a glass of milk, a slice of bread, and a bowl of broth. The food was becoming more varied now, and humble as it was, it tasted impossibly delicious. As Kunzite dipped his bread into the broth, he thought about what the moon woman had said. There were so many questions he wanted to ask, but he felt it would be inappropriate to impose on her.

"Zoisite is waiting for you," the woman suddenly said, as she emptied the tub.

"Where is he?" Kunzite asked, taking a bite of his broth-soaked bread.

"I cannot tell you where he is," the woman replied, "You must find him yourself."

"How will I?"

"You too will return, once you are strong enough and ready to pay the toll."

"Toll?"

"You were rescued from your hell," the woman explained, "Because you had realized that you were powerless to escape. You were humbled, though for you it took much longer than it did for Zoisite."

Kunzite let out a scream of rage, throwing the tray and its contents against the wall and lunging at the woman.

"HE WAS THERE TOO?" the former dark lord yelled, grabbing his rescuer's neck and squeezing with all his might.

She choked and gasped for air, but did not struggle instead just going limp and gazing up at Kunzite with sad, remorseful eyes.

"Yes," the woman managed, "I am... so sorry. Please... forgive me."

"You sent him there!" Kunzite growled, squeezing harder in his fury, "WHY DID YOU DO IT?"

The woman tried to shake her head.

"N-no," she croaked through the angry man's stranglehold, "I... did...n't."

The burst of energy did not last long, and soon Kunzite passed out by the side of his bed. When he awoke, the woman was tilting his head up and feeding him a spiced apple cider.

"I'm sorry, Kunzite," the woman whispered, "I know you loved Zoisite... but I didn't condemn him to that hell... he made that place himself."

"What?" Kunzite managed between sips.

"Those dark places are made by those who die with evil in their hearts," the woman explained, "Sometimes they are reincarnated before they leave, but you create your own hell. Everything you wish for, it denies, except for help. You cannot escape by yourself, but knowing that you are helpless on your own is what opens you to accept assistance from others."

"I don't... understand," Kunzite whispered, looking down at the hands he had used to hurt the kind woman.

"You have to be humble; you have to recognise that you are not strong enough to escape on your own, and you have to recognise your sins."

"My... sins," Kunzite breathed, "I... I let Zoisite die... I was so devoted to the Dark Kingdom's cause, that I let him die. I killed him."

"No you didn't," the moon woman replied, "You did kill a lot of people in the past, but that was in another lifetime. You didn't kill Zoisite, did you? Who killed him?"

"I did," Kunzite repeated, "I killed him. I hesitated, and he died. I even could have given my energy to restore him... but I didn't."

"You hesitated," the moon woman insisted, "That was not murder. Who murdered him?"

"I did!" Kunzite sobbed, "I KILLED HIM!"

"WHO KILLED HIM?" the woman asked again, some sternness in her voice, "Who caused his death?"

Kunzite just wept loudly, and felt himself being shook by the Sailor Moon look-alike.

"WHO KILLED HIM?" she demanded.

"B-Beryl... she... she killed him," Kunzite replied, shaking and sobbing.

"She did," the woman whispered, holding the crying man close and rocking him, "She killed him, Kunzite. She killed him. And why did she?"

"He... she said he disobeyed her... he tried to kill..."

"He tried to kill Tuxedo Mask."

"So he was... completely at fault?"

"We all have choices," she said, "Beryl, Zoisite and everyone else in the Dark Kingdom were all under the influence of Metallia, but everyone still could make a choice. Beryl recognized Tuxedo Mask as the one she had been in love with those millennia ago, so she killed Zoisite for trying to get rid of him. She also killed many others out of jealousy toward my daughter... my daughter and Tuxedo Mask then known as Prince Endymion were in love with each other. Beryl's love was one-sided, and Metallia used her to destroy the Earth and Moon Kingdoms."

"Who was your daughter?" Kunzite asked, trying to blink back some of his tears.

"Princess Serenity," the woman replied, "Tsukino Usagi... Sailor Moon."

With that, the woman placed a finger on Kunzite's forehead, sending him a barrage of memories. They shocked and disgusted the former dark lord... the one who had once vowed to protect Prince Endymion. He had betrayed the prince, and with him, the Silver Millennium.

"I deserve hell," Kunzite said, not wanting to look at the one he now knew as Queen Serenity.

Lifting up his head gently by the chin, Serenity smiled at Kunzite.

"I forgive you," she told him, "And so does Zoisite. You must go back to join him, for your time here is growing short."

"What... good can I do?" Kunzite asked.

Serenity drew the former Earth lord closer and kissed away his lingering tears.

"Spread light in this world," Serenity replied, "There are still many enemies that need to be defeated, and her latest battle will soon end in triumph, but there is another that has been biding its time. You and the other Earth lords need to help the Senshi. You, Zoisite, Nephrite and Jadeite will become the Four Tuxedos. You all have Star Seeds, which give you great powers."

"Star... Seeds?"

Serenity nodded.

"These Star Seeds had been corrupted by Metallia, but they will now be pure and clear. You have repented of your sins, Kunzite you, Zoisite and Nephrite. You must help Jadeite, however. The three of you can find him, and I will free him from that prison."

"Zoisite," Kunzite mouthed, thinking about his beloved.

"Zoisite is happy and safe on Earth," Serenity reassured him, "But there will be something he will not want to discuss for a long time. Something terrible happened to Zoisite after he left this place, and he will need you to just be there and ready to listen. I can't tell you what it is... I'm so sorry, Kunzite."

Kunzite's heart sank. So this was one of the consequences.

"I still feel at fault for this," he sighed, "Had I... accepted Sailor Moon's gift of healing..."

"You would have been able to bring Zoisite back," Serenity finished, hugging the heartbroken Earth lord, "You would have become friends with her and the rest of the senshi even then, after all the atrocities you had committed."

"I rejected the light."

"Because of this, the light of the sun will be your enemy for the rest of this life," the queen explained sadly as she broke the embrace, "You will no longer be able to walk outside during the day uncovered, but you must bring light to the world where you previously brought only darkness. This is your toll."

Kneeling and bowing before the queen, Kunzite simply said, "I accept my fate."

Serenity bent down and cupped Kunzite's face in her hands. His entire body glowed for a moment.

"Is this how the others paid their tolls?" the Earth lord asked.

"In a way," Serenity replied, helping Kunzite to his feet, and walking him to the door.

"Close your eyes," she instructed.

He complied, and she led him through to a place filled with bright light that shone through the Earth lord's closed eyelids, and air that smelled like fresh wildflowers. Despite longing to see what had to be a beautiful place, Kunzite dared not open his eyes. He began to feel sleepy, and the world began to spin. Someone placed what felt like a stem into his hand.

Kunzite was holding Zoisite again, hugging him tightly and kissing the slight young man all over his porcelain face. The sounds of his laughter filled the air.

"Oh Zoisite," Kunzite whispered, "I love you."

* * * * * * * *

The sound of shouting jerked Kunzite from his dream. Stumbling to the window, he looked out to see what was going on. A rash began to form on his face, reminding him of his toll. Kunzite got dressed and covered his head, then put on a pair of sunglasses, before going to investigate the spectacle.

Two men were being led to a gallows in the town square, and the man standing on the platform announced that the two men had committed a grave crime: Sodomy.

Kunzite felt his blood boiling. It reminded the Earth lord all too much of Zoisite being ripped away from him.

"Habib," a man next to him whispered, "What do you think of these animals?"

"Which animals are you speaking of?" Kunzite Habib replied.

"You know what I'm talkin' about!" the man laughed.

Habib just nodded, realizing the danger he was in. He reached into his robe, then slunk away into an alley. There, the Earth lord took out a chrysanthemum, which glowed white. His shadow enveloped his body, turning into a tuxedo with white trim. Then, Tuxedo Kunzite stepped back out into the crowd as the nooses were being placed around the mens' necks.

"STOP THIS!" Tuxedo Kunzite roared, throwing a chrysanthemum at the executioner.

The crowd grew silent and turned to see who had interrupted their cries for innocent blood.

"Who are you?" the judge and executioner demanded.

"Never mind who I am," Tuxedo Kunzite growled, "Stop this AT ONCE!"

"Allah demands that they die!" the angry judge shot back.

Tuxedo Kunzite made a leap toward the platform, a leap impossible for normal people. For some reason, the sun did not harm him. Taking out a bouquet of chrysanthemums, Tuxedo Kunzite threw them at the judge and executioner, and at several people in the front of the crowd. Then, knowing he had to act quickly, Tuxedo Kunzite took a small knife that was hidden in his jacket, and with it, cut the nooses and bindings from both prisoners. He removed their blindfolds as well, and then grabbed them both by the arms.

"There's no time to waste!" he told them, "We must get out of here, and quickly!"

The three ran for dear life until they cleared the town. Smuggling them out of the country was not an easy task, but Tuxedo Kunzite had to do it.

* * * * * * * *

Over the next year or so, he rescued others from outrageous punishments. Tuxedo Kunzite had become a worldwide celebrity, breaking prisoners out and spiriting them away, though he also had a price on his head. They wanted him dead or alive. Habib didn't know why he suddenly cared for these people. It was a mystery, though maybe Nephrite would be able to explain it. Before his death, Habib had only cared about was Zoisite.

"Be ready, Kunzite," he heard Serenity tell him one night, "It will soon be time to journey back to Japan."

"How will I know?" Habib asked, suddenly feeling torn.

"When you hear of a strange epidemic in Japan," Serenity replied, "One involving mirrors."

"Hmph," Habib grunted, "Japan seems to be a target for the strange."

* * * * * * * *

Three months later, Habib heard a report on the radio describing what Serenity had told him. It was time. Boarding the plane under the pretense of setting up a research organization for skin disorders, Habib thought only of holding his beloved Zoisite again and never letting go.

* * * * * * * *

return to Index / go to Chapter 4

The Nephrite and Naru Treasury