24 Hours to Life
by Moon Momma

Nowhere, No Time

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There was nothing around him. Not even his beloved Zoisite. When Sailor Moon's fatal attack struck him, he had almost been glad, thinking that he was going to join Zoisite in the afterlife. Instead, he had found himself alone in this void, with no sight, no sound, no sensation, no sense of how much time had passed. There were no solid floors or walls around him; he seemed to be floating bodilessly in the middle of nothing. And, as far as he could tell, this was all there would ever be.


After the endless silence, the voice took him by surprise. It sounded as clear as if someone was really standing right next to him, speaking in his ear, but he sensed no one near. The voice was feminine but low for a woman's voice; for a brief, heart-stopping moment he had thought it was Zoisite's light tenor, but on reflection he realized it was definitely a woman's voice. And Zoisite would have called him "Kunzaito-sama." Who's there?

I am here to present you with an opportunity, the voice said. You have had time to ponder where you went wrong, and the crimes you committed.

Where he went wrong... He hadnít really thought about it before, but now he realized that Metallia's influence over his mind was gone and he could see clearly the things he had done. How could he have been so stupid as to fall for Beryl's grandiose vision and promises? She had told them they would be rulers over a unified solar system and that power and glory and riches beyond measure would be theirs. He should have known these were promises that a former mistress of the king, banished after she attempted to seduce the young prince, would never have power to make and keep on her own.

But as soon as he asked the question, he knew the answer. He loved Zoisite. And, more than anything else, Zoisite was attracted to power. The youngest Guardian didn't crave power for himself; he longed to be favored by one who was powerful. The way to win Zoisite's undying love and loyalty was to be the most powerful Guardian of all. Kunzite himself preferred to be left alone; he disliked dealing with other people and the other tasks and responsibilities that came with leadership. But Zoisite had a hold on his mind and heart that made any other personal desires and preferences irrelevant. He would have done anything to be what Zoisite wanted most in the world - and so he had sold his life, his will, his soul to Beryl and Metallia for promises of supreme power. And Zoisite, fascinated by the new aura of power and strength that surrounded him, had followed him into the Dark Kingdom.

More than anything else - the betrayal of the prince they served, the crimes he had committed in the service of Beryl - he could never forgive himself for leading Zoisite into darkness and damnation. He wondered where Zoisite was now; probably in a lightless, timeless void like this, alone for all eternity with his thoughts and regrets.

He answered the voice. More than enough time.

Because you were seduced and misled and now regret the wrongs you did, here, then, is your opportunity, the voice said. You will have twenty-four hours of Earth time to make restitution for the wrongs you did, including full refunds to those you cheated out of money. And you must learn to accept Zoisite's unconditional love for who you truly are. If you can do this, you will have a second chance at life.

Zoisite's love for who he truly was? The thought had never occurred to him before. Could Zoisite possibly love him if he wasn't the most powerful of the Generals, the first among equals of the Guardians? He had never seen any sign that Zoisite was capable of loving unconditionally. I'm not certain I believe that such a thing, Zoisite's unconditional love, is possible, he replied. As for refunds, I don't have any money. It wasn't wealth that Zoisite had lusted after; if it was, the young Guardian would have set his eye on Nephrite. Who was relentlessly and exclusively interested in women, so Zoisite wouldn't have gotten anywhere with that, anyway. The point was, though, that Kunzite had never pursued wealth, only power.

You will have to figure that out for yourself. It must be your money to use, gained through lawful means. Remember, you will have twenty-four hours. If you do not meet the terms you have been given, you will be sent to the damnation you deserve for the things you did in the Dark Kingdom.

A chance to live again; a chance to truly win Zoisite's love... It seemed hopeless, but it was more hope than he had had before. He didn't know how, but somehow he would find a way to win that chance. I accept, he said.

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The Nephrite and Naru Treasury