24 Hours to Life
by Moon Momma
Nowhere, No Time
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He floated in a sea of nothing. Lots and lots of nothing.
He had never been so bored in his life. Or death. Whatever. He had never been so bored in his entire existence. So bored that there was nothing to do but actually think about things. What he had done. Where he had gone wrong. Why it was, in the end, he still hadn't been able to say what he truly felt.
At first it had been all about power. He had picked out Kunzite-sama as being the one of the other three Guardians who was smart enough, strong enough, and ruthless enough to become first among equals, and had set his sights on him. Fortunately, Kunzite also seemed to share his... inclinations. Jadeite and Nephrite, as far as he could tell, were exclusively ladies' men. Of course, Zoisite could do feminine as as well as any female, but when it came down to business between the sheets there would be no mistaking that what he had wasn't what they wanted. But, luckily, this wasn't a problem with Kunzite. He suspected that Kunzite didn't care how the body he was making love to was configured as long as it did what he wanted.
So, power and sex. Zoisite had thought that was enough for him. He was under the protection of the most powerful of the Guardians and could indulge his need to be weak and dependent with Kunzite when he never would have dared show that side of himself to the others. And then he had seen Nephrite and the young human girl together. He had seen how the weak could be willing to give everything to protect the strong, had seen the strong trust her enough to allow himself to be weak in her presence. He had seen the bond that could exist between two people who accepted each other entirely for who they were, a bond that could endure even when everything else was lost. And more than anything else, he had suddenly longed to have that kind of bond with Kunzaito-sama, something that transcended power and sex, something that they could hold on to when there was nothing else left.
He had tried to tell Kunzite, as he lay dying in the older General's arms, that he had grown to feel something more for him, but he hadn't had the words. His life had always been so focused on the things that were visible, the things on the surface, that he hadn't known how to put his deeper feelings into words. He had barely even been able to articulate those feelings to himself. I want to die beautifully had been the closest he could come to saying how he felt at that moment, at being held so gently in Kunzite's arms as his lover shed tears over him. Despite the pain, despite the cold of death creeping through his body, it had been the most beautiful moment of his life.
He had died beautifully, in the arms of his love. But this afterlife was far from beautiful. He would rather have ceased to exist entirely than to languish here, remembering and regretting with nothing to distract him, unable to do anything about it.
When the voice spoke his name out of the nothingness around him, he was too grateful for the sudden change in the unending tedium to be startled. Yes! Talk to me! Who are you?
I have come to offer you an opportunity.
Finally, an alternative to boredom and regrets. What is it? he asked eagerly.
You may, if you wish, have one more chance to live and gain what you truly desire.
Kunzite, he thought immediately. What do I have to do? He would do anything; but if there was one thing he had learned, it was to not tip his hand too soon.
You must make reparation for your sins, including the wrongs you did to Nephrite and the girl. And you must speak your true feelings honestly to Kunzite, and get him to believe and accept them.
He had longed for the chance to speak honestly to Kunzite. That wouldn't be so hard. But the other requirement... What sort of reparations?
Sincere apologies, and reimbursement for psychotherapy and veterinary bills, damage to cemetery headstones, and any other material damages you caused.
Apologies? To Nephrite? And the human girl? And the others - the arcade game boy, the priest, the young student, the little girl with that dreadful cat... He couldn't do it. Apologize to humans? And to Nephrite? He couldn't imagine anything more galling than that. Never mind the money, which he didn't have anyway. Just the apologies seemed impossible. I don't think I can do it.
If you truly love Kunzite the way you think you do, wouldn't you do anything to be able to have another chance with him? Couldn't you find the strength to humble yourself for his sake? Don't you want to escape this limbo you've been trapped in since your death? How much does that mean to you?
The thought of escaping this terrible existence made the prospect of humbling himself a little less unpleasant. Well, if you put it that way... I suppose I can try.
You will have twenty-four hours. You must decide how badly you want to redeem yourself, earn a second chance at life, and gain your heart's desires, and then act accordingly. You must commit no more wrongs, and any money you use to repay your debts must be your own, honestly gained. Should you fail in your assigned tasks, you will go on to the damnation reserved for those who have committed such sins as yours.
Twenty-four hours, commit no more crimes, apologize to Nephrite and a number of humans, pay back his victims with money he came by honestly... It was better than where he was now. Even true damnation would be better than this. If it meant he could get free of this place and see Kunzite, even if only for a few hours, he couldn't pass up the chance. I agree to the terms.
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The Nephrite and Naru Treasury