The New Shinma

© 1998 by Hiyami

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Author's note before reading:

This is the 1495138517th version of Zoi and Kunzite's story, and if you're expecting a ecchi/lemon stuff, you'd better be patient... 'cuz they are immortal so they have time to waste, unlike us! Well I just thought that I'd warn you that even though they'll of course end up as lovers, it took them long, for reasons that should be clearly explained in the text (and not only because I'm a sadistic author who likes to see characters tortured by unsatisfied desire for centuries) ^_^ ... Some Japanese terms throughout the story are explained at the end.

The New Shinma

© 1998 by Hiyami

Japan, XIVth Century. The usual territorial wars have stopped for a while, blown away by a conflict of much greater importance. Devils have appeared from nowhere, and have gathered around their queen an army of rounin. They became allies with Beryl, a young miko eaten up by jealousy and ambition, who has abjured Amaterasu's cult to serve the devil-Queen, Metalia. Helped by Metalia's sorcery, Beryl has cunningly manipulated the population of her native place to rouse them up against all her enemies. Methodically, devils and humans have started to conquer Yamato. Their strength is so obvious that a lot of independent warriors have joined them willingly. Shiro is one of those.

Despite his youth, he's an experienced and ruthless fighter. Since his childhood, he knew he could never become a peasant or remain a simple soldier. Though his family was never dedicated to war, he'd always used all the opportunities to learn fighting, asking advice from all the traveling warriors that crossed his village.

He was only a young teenager when he'd killed his first victim, one of those rounin without much skill or honor who had stopped by in the small village. Shiro had skillfully beheaded him, with his own sword, the only possession of some worth that he had with him - and which caused his death because Shiro wanted it. Horrified by his treacherous murder, since the man was sleeping when Shiro had attacked him, the villagers had banished him. They'd renounced to punish him when they'd seen him playing with the saber like if it was a natural extension to his hand, smiling like they'd never seen him smile for years, a threatening grin. His eyes were sparkling of an insane joy as he looked from their disgusted faces to the blade still dropping with his victim's blood.

Shiro was gone without regret, only taking with him what was now his own weapon. He got the rest of his equipment along the road through the fights opposing the minor lords of the country. Before he'd joined his first corps, he'd experienced his blade and skillfulness many times. Both had given him plain satisfaction, and allowed him to find new weapons. He liked shuriken for their precision, but blades kept his preference.

With years, he'd learned to use the spear to compensate his small stature. Experienced warriors always laughed when they saw a young boy trying to use both the spear and the saber, until they would see him in action. He also kept several tantou in his clothes, and daggers to throw. Within some years, he'd changed saber and faction several times, traveling from north to south of Yamato, keeping the best of his fights.

When he found out the generals of the devils' army, he finally knew where he belonged to. Their leader, whom he depended on, too, wore a human shape, but it was obvious that it was only an illusion. He radiated a darkness and a power that nearly showed, as well as a highly charismatic authority.

Shiro's comrades nervously murmured each time this dark lord appeared, but the young man only observed him with utmost admiration. Each fight by his side was a new lesson of tactics and technique for the young soldier, Kunzite's sword finding its way across the bodies with an astounding easiness. Whether he used his powers or not didn't change a thing to his abilities.

Even though Shiro had never felt anything but despise for everyone, Kunzite gained his respect. Shiro had finally found a leader up to his talent, a cause to fight for. As a matter of fact, he didn't care more for the cause itself that he'd done for all the other ones he'd fought for, but as far as Kunzite was faithful to Beryl and Metalia, it was enough for him...

Soon yet, he experienced troubles again. Like in most of the important armies, this one applied the practice of wakashu. Shiro was gorgeous, his natural grace highlighted by his fighting skills, and he soon caught the attention of his comrades in arms. It always happened sooner or later, and that was one of the reasons why he frequently changed corps. But this time, he didn't want to leave. So he had to find a way or another to resist to the experienced warriors' insisting proposals.

* * *

Coming out of a strategic briefing with his human lieutenants, Kunzite heard screams and a stifled agitation not far away, in the camp prepared for the night. Thinking of an unexpected attack, he teleported to the place and found out a strange scene.

Two of his soldiers, and not beginners by the look of their outfit, were lying on the ground in a pool of blood. One had a dagger stuck in his throat and another in the eye, while the second one, beside a deep wound caused by a tantou in his chest, had nearly been cut in two. His head, his left arm and shoulder were only kept linked to the body by a flap of flesh. All around them, other warriors were gathering with obvious disapproval, some had already unsheathed their swords to avenge their comrades.

At the center of the circle they formed, standing beside the corpses, a bleeding tantou in his belt, his reddened saber at hand, Shiro was on his guards, even though he knew that he didn't have a chance, alone against them all. All he could hope was to take the most of them in death with him - and above all, not let them catch him alive.

The silent appearance of Kunzite enlarged the circle of soldiers.

"Why do my soldiers fight between themselves?"

Shiro dropped to one knee, bowing before the only lord he recognized as his master, hoping against all probabilities that he'd spare him, or at least allow him to proceed to seppuku rather than leaving him to the others' hands.

"I implore your pardon, Lord Kunzite, I didn't want to fight against them, but they wouldn't leave me the choice. I had to defend myself."

In the disapproving murmurs caused by this declaration in the crowd of soldiers, Kunzite heard enough to get an idea of what had happened. Still this old silly use of wakashu. It was amazing, Kunzite thought, the amount of energy, time and now blood that was wasted by humans for such pointless desires. It was no wonder that Metalia's children could overpower them so easily. Obviously, most soldiers here thought that Shiro should obey to his elders, and not kill them.

Watching the golden-haired soldier, Kunzite realized how young he looked. Now he remembered having seen him fight on his side. He'd noticed his skillfulness and ferocity, that nearly matched his own. Qualities that were confirmed by this double murder, considering the experience of his defunct opponents. The weirdest point was what he could read at this very moment in the eyes of the young man. Devotion and contrition, not for the death of his comrades, but for having gone against Kunzite's own commands. That made an unexpected contrast with the contempt and rage aimed at his fellows, and the distrust that they held towards Kunzite himself.

Kunzite took his decision and silenced the comments.

"If these two have been stupid enough not take notice of a warning, they didn't deserve to live any more. The case is closed."

A wave of disagreement, half contained by fear of the General's reactions, ran through the soldiers. One of them expressed the opinion they shared.

"My Lord, this betrayer is wrong. All the novices must have a trainer, that's the use. Shiro can't refuse it, and he doesn't have the right to fight the masters who award him the great honor to teach him what he has to know."

Kunzite took a brief look at Shiro's dark face and coldly smiled to the one who had talked.

"It seems to me that he knows more about warfare than most of you... I don't want to lose other soldiers for silly reasons, but if he ever has to prove you his worth again by an example, I won't blame him. You've been warned."

The soldiers broke up growling, casting murderous glances at Shiro who ignored them.

* * *

The day after, Kunzite paid some more attention to Shiro during the fight. As usual the young man had managed to move close to his lord, but he showed less energy than the previous days. Caught in the action, Kunzite lost sight of him.

The battle was reaching its end, one more victory for the devilish armies. The noise of weapons and wounded was already decreasing when he realized that Shiro was still out of sight. Even though he'd looked tired, Kunzite doubted that any of their poor opponents of the day might have defeated him. Other warriors missed beside him, too, to begin with two of his lieutenants who should now have been by his side for their report.

Perplexed, he mentally reviewed the battlefield. Some distance apart, he found the trace of several of his soldiers. The rage of seeing his commands ignored made him materialize himself above them without thinking more, blowing them around in a black whirlwind.

Shaking, Shiro tried to stand up, resting on his blooding leg. He fell down on the ground under the pain, tightening on him his outfit, half-torn out.

His aggressors were not all safe either, Kunzite noticed with a bit of satisfaction through the irritation caused by this waste. The boy was as determined as ferocious, and he'd defended himself ruthlessly. If they hadn't attacked him all together, he surely would have killed some of them. Fortunately for him, they'd waited for the end of the battle, otherwise Kunzite would have found them too late. As a punishment and a warning for others, he smashed the ones who had disobeyed him with a simple thought.

Kunzite landed near Shiro, and after a quick look at his wounds decided to take him back with him into the Dark Kingdom. It would take him weeks to recover with the only care that was available in the Earthian camp, if only he didn't grew infected in between, and Kunzite didn't want to leave his warfare unused for so long.

What's more, he started to think of other projects including this young man. It might be wise to put him in debt towards him. By the look of the way he was hanging to Kunzite's arm, it wouldn't be hard to increase his gratefulness.

Since he had to come back quickly to the battlefield, he only told him where to find medical care for his wounds before disappearing. Shiro remained alone, completely puzzled by the situation, a bit anxious in this peculiar underground place, dark and damp, but feeling safer here than among his brothers in arms.

* * *

When Kunzite came back later after his report, he found him floating motionless in the warm well that crossed his domain. He thought for a while that his wounds were more grievous than he'd seen and had made him unconscious, but he was only sleeping.

Watching in silence the young pale face darkened with hits, he guessed that the weariness he'd noticed during the day was caused by a lack of sleep. Shiro probably knew that Kunzite's decision wouldn't be enough to keep him safe. He hadn't dared to take a rest for fear of being attacked. Kunzite hadn't thought that the soldiers would hold such importance to their revenge or their lust to go against his commands.

He might at least correct this mistake by giving Shiro some care. He concentrated his mental power to carefully lift Shiro in the air and transport him to a place where he might sleep without drowning himself. He absently noticed that Shiro's skin wasn't much scarred for a warrior. His youth and skillfulness probably explained that. It seemed that he'd received more wounds today that during all his short life before, and few were due to their enemies. Shiro had cleaned up the injuries yet, but Kunzite thought it would be wiser to help the healing. He stole some of the healing balm that Jadeite used, hoping that it would work since the younger King had been a human before Metalia had made him a member of the Shitennou. The substances used by the Youma would probably poison Shiro otherwise.

Kunzite might have used his power to heal Shiro, but he was far from even thinking of wasting his energy on this, especially when he had material help at hand. What's more, he wasn't sure that he could turn any of his offensive spells into a healing charm. After all he'd never tried to use his powers on humans for anything else than hurting.

He was reaching this point in his thoughts, becoming quite skillful in plastering the balm on the injured flesh, when Shiro awakened and sat up in a jump. He watched Kunzite with surprise, having obviously forgotten where he was. Then he saw the cure in the general's hands and the distress filling his eyes faded a little.

Kunzite did his utmost to talk as softly as possible, which wasn't an easy task for him who'd only received and given commands during his whole life as Shinma, born to fight.

"You should finish to heal your wounds before falling back into sleep."

He gave him the cure and went back to his personal quarters. Having repelled his youma at the very borders of his wide domain, he'd never occupied even half of the rooms of the underground castle, but he'd finally found some use to it. This human's presence wouldn't even be noticeable.

Shiro watched without seeing it the ointment he held. He finally remembered what had happened before his awakening is this weird place, and his fears disappeared as did the pain with the effect of the cure. Finding Kunzite so close to him, he'd had a moment of panic, but his hand's touch had nothing from the sickening lust of the soldiers. He looked neither embarrassed nor interested by Shiro's bare flesh. His indifference was rather reassuring in the situation, and Shiro was too tired to wonder why he felt vaguely disappointed.

* * *

After a restoring night of sleep, Kunzite woke him up to check if he felt good enough to fight, and decided to give his power a try to achieve the healing. Perplexed, Shiro saw the Shinma's platinum eyes radiating more and more light. His silver hair were floating around him in a wind coming from nowhere that thrilled Shiro. Then the young man was caught in a blue aura that lifted him up from the half-plant niche where he'd slept, haloing him in soft and pulsing light. Astounded, he saw the scars left by his wounds disappearing from his skin without even leaving a trace.

The wind decreased, Shiro was slowly brought back to the floor, and the light faded. He watched once more his flesh that the day before showed open injuries, unbelieving.

Before Shiro could say a word and express his gratefulness, Kunzite gave him a Dark Kingdom's uniform, to replace his ripped outfit. He added an armor taken from Queen Beryl's regular army, light enough not to hamper Shiro's swift moves, but protecting him quite well. Between this gift and his previous interventions, the soldiers would probably get that it would be safer for them to forget any idea they held towards Shiro. The young man overflowed with gratitude and sworn again that he'd be his most devoted warrior. Kunzite had actually planned he'd become so.

* * *

This time, Shiro stayed by his side the whole battle long, tracing a bloody way throughout the opposite army, with just more eagerness than before. Their enemies, having heard of the presence of devils among their foes, believed that Shiro was one of those minions blessed with magical powers, for he made his best to prove Kunzite that his pain hadn't been lost. His nearly childish enthusiasm brought some amused smiles to his lord's lips, who found out that not only he was useful but also very entertaining.

Yet he grew a bit irritated when after the battle, Shiro asked him to bring him back with him in the Dark Kingdom. Kunzite was known not to care about his soldiers, like the other generals as a matter of fact. Thus the soldiers would probably still attempt to make troubles to Shiro, assuming that once dead Kunzite wouldn't bother to chastise the murderers. For them as well as for the young man, it was obvious that only Shiro's high-ranked warfare had persuaded Kunzite to rescue him.

The Shinma quickly made up his mind. His schemes were getting more precise, and Shiro would be an essential pawn in them. He'd need to be familiar with the Dark Kingdom soon, still devoted to Kunzite, and of course to be alive and safe. All that might be easily ensured if Kunzite brought him back in his domain as Shiro asked for, for minor bother. So the choice was done.

* * *

Some time later, Kunzite's inferior, the second general in the Shinma hierarchy, was killed in a suicidal attack by a well-prepared commando. Well informed, too. Kunzite had provided them under cover all the required information to reach him, persuading them that his rival was the guy to kill to strike a fatal shot to Metalia's army.

During the war council that followed, Kunzite reminded Metalia that she might spare her energy by using a living human to create a Shinma, instead of seeding a dead soldier with a sprout that would need years to grow up. It had proved to be successful with Jadeite, who wasn't a real Shinma but more of a magically enhanced human, like Beryl had later become. Metalia naturally asked Kunzite to look for a possible host to transfer her energy.

Kunzite didn't go very far to find this precious host. He knew from long that Shiro had all the required qualities to become one of them. Following his advice, Metalia judged the same, despite his youth and innocent look, for she could perceive the hatred and bloodlust in his soul. Fortunately, she only recognized negative feelings, as Kunzite knew it, so she wouldn't notice the part of Shiro that made him useful for her High King's schemes. She accepted to give him a part of her power.

Shiro didn't even argue before giving up his human past as well as humanity. It wasn't a great loss for him, compared to the thought that he would become Kunzite's equal - or at least closer than a mere human scum.

In a dark process, Shiro vanished forever to be replaced by Zoisite, the new Shinma. Pleading that war would soon enter a vital phase, Kunzite obtained from Metalia that he was placed under his command, unlike the two other generals who were at Beryl's and Metalia's direct orders. He would also have to train him so that the young general would control his new powers as soon as possible.

* * *

Actually, this was more of a way to control Zoisite himself in Kunzite's mind, otherwise he wouldn't have bothered to lose so much time. As expected, Zoisite heartily practiced to please his mentor, quickly achieving to be more skillful than Jadeite.

On the other hand, Kunzite noticed rather soon that his relationship with Zoisite turned into a peculiar way. Even though Zoisite himself didn't realize it, his martial devotion grew tainted with much more confused feelings. Kunzite gave a more attentive look to human behavior on Earth, so that he might also use Zoisite's human weaknesses to control him. It turned out to be easier than he'd thought.

Zoisite didn't seem to notice his unusual indulgence or to wonder about his reasons, thus Kunzite was the first surprised of his reaction, when he finally attempted to compliment him in a more personal way.

Jadeite had made a major mistake by deploying his forces on that day. Kunzite had let him struggle for a little while, then had finally sent Zoisite and his troops to rescue him and save the day. His young apprentice had achieved his mission with honors, so much that Metalia had personally praised him and his mentor, while Jadeite had to face Beryl's rage for the uselessly heavy toll.

Master and pupil had then teleported to Kunzite's domain, where they usually trained. Willing to reward Zoisite for his perfect work and his quick improvement, Kunzite decided to give a try to one method he'd witnessed on Earth. He drew him closer and planted a quick, soft kiss on his mouth.

The touch of his lips didn't disgust him as much as he'd expected, he found, but he didn't have the time to question his own impressions. As soon as he'd released him, Zoisite stepped back in utmost shock. Without a word he disappeared in a whirl of cherry blossoms, the signing he'd chosen.

Kunzite wondered why he'd looked so upset, nearly offended. He was quite sure that he'd found the right meaning to his behavior, as confused and complex that were the feelings of any human for him. He was born from a race who only touched to fight and hurt, and certainly the idea to do it for other reasons had never occurred to him, before he'd found out by witnessing humans that it might be a way to keep a close control of Zoisite.

Back safe in his own quarters, where he only slept since he spent all his free time to train with Kunzite, Zoisite tried to gather his confused thoughts. He didn't understand why his lord, usually so cold and far from human desires, had suddenly given up to the same lust as his previous comrades. Recovering some quietness, he corrected the thought. It wasn't exactly the same thing. He knew that the others only wanted to possess him, and wished to destroy him as much as they desired his body. They were jealous of his beauty, his skills, and they were furious that he always kept some distance between him and the rest of the world, like if he was born for something more than normal life.

Kunzite was different. Zoisite couldn't put a word on what he'd seen in his eyes, but for sure it didn't have much to do with that. He only recognized a growing respect for his skills, and some peculiar feeling born from their common ruthlessness, bloodthirst, and dark humor. Even though one had grown into the darkness, from a plant race modified by Metalia's power, and the other one on Earth Realm, from the same humanity that the youma had been fighting against for centuries, they'd found out they felt more familiar with each other than with their respective kind.

And even more. Zoisite blushed in the darkness of his bedroom when he realized that his feelings for his lord went far beyond mere loyalty.

Some moments after he'd left in a rush, his face still colored with confusion looking younger than ever, Zoisite reappeared in front in Kunzite. Shyly, he stepped towards him and gave him back his kiss, causing him another time of deep puzzlement. Kunzite thought that at least, he hadn't been completely wrong in his guess, but he'd need some more time to understand Zoisite's previous reaction.

And on a second thought, touching his soft and warm skin wasn't unpleasant at all.

* * *

Hereafter, Zoisite's behavior somehow changed. He was still more than eager to fight, wary towards his own troops, and utterly devoted to Kunzite. That caused the other Shinma irritation and questions about them both, since all they could think about was to overpower them.

Yet as soon as Zoisite was alone with Kunzite, he became softer, always trying to move closer until he would touch him. Kunzite didn't object as long as Zoisite still proved his skills at work. It was a good way to finally get some insight about human weirdest uses, and he watched his young lieutenant carefully.

He then noticed that as long as they were among soldiers, Zoisite kept this wild mask he held from their first meeting, this combination of grave scheming, playful cruelty and fresh enthusiasm that looked so peculiar on such a young face.

But in private, it wasn't only deceptive smiles that showed through his mask. His martially efficient moves took some grace that he didn't allow to show outside. If Kunzite had known about the word, he'd called Zoisite's new attitudes more sensual. As he ignored it, he kept on gazing at him, wondering why the hesitant smile enlightening his face pleased him more than his warrior demeanor.

* * *

Then, finally arrived the day before the final fight. They would lead their troops to charge the Moon Kingdom, their ancestral enemy. At last, their immense powers might be used to fight the Senshi protecting the Queen and her daughter, who all possessed magical abilities as well.

Kunzite had dismissed Zoisite without the usual training course, preferring to save their energy for the next day's battle. Yet, in the middle of the usual cherry blossoms whirling, his young trainee materialized beside him in his quarters.

"...? I told you to get some rest. Tomorrow's battle will be far more dangerous than all the previous ones."

Perplexed, Kunzite watched him shyly cast his look down. That didn't look like the Zoisite he knew. Respectful to him - and him only, actually, for he was always looking down at everybody else, including Beryl herself -, yes he was, but that?...

"I know, my Lord, that's the reason why I thought that... you might let me..." He took a deep breath, looked up to him and abruptly finished: " ... let me stay here for the night?"

Zoisite instantly turned away, too embarrassed by his own daring to bear Kunzite's look.

Kunzite watched his shoulders knotted by tension, wondering what this phrase really meant. Oh he knew what it might mean, of course. But considering the events that had led Zoisite here, it was somehow hard to believe from him.

Yet he softly wrapped his hand around Zoisite's shoulders to lead him to his bed, and laid him by his side. He didn't want to upset him by his ignorance or to weaken him just before the final battle, and he vividly hoped that Zoisite wouldn't ask for more. Now some day he'd really have to take some real insight on how to satisfy a human heart and body...

Zoisite's heart was beating so loud that Kunzite heard it pounding, and all his muscles were tightly contracted, but he slowly relaxed as he understood that Kunzite wouldn't do anything else. He snuggled a little closer from him, not daring to disturb him. But Kunzite gently put an arm around his waist to draw him closer and whispered in his ear a soft "Oyasuminasai".

The formal expression sounded peculiar to Zoisite, but he got the message. He relaxed for a replenishing sleep as wished his beloved lord.

Kunzite was thinking of his own former reluctance to Zoisite's attentions, and realized how much his presence he'd feared a problem had become pleasant to him. He even enjoyed this moment when Zoisite's lithe body was tightly cuddled against his.

* * *

The day after, the battle followed their expectations, and they'd nearly conquered and destroyed the Moon Kingdom when the accident occurred.

Furious that her beloved Prince Endymion had decided to fight for the Moon Kingdom, for the love of Princess Serenity, Queen Beryl killed them both.

Seeing her daughter and her senshi dead, her kingdom ruined, Queen Serenity gave her life to call the most dangerous power of the Silver Crystal. Metalia was banished from this material realm with her priestess Beryl, and her army of youma and shinma with her. For some centuries...

* * *

Kunzite half-awakened floating in a slimy substance. He reached out, felt an elastic membrane and shot a blast of energy into it. He was set free and fell on the ground of a desert Dark Kingdom's corridor. Recovering some control over his numb body, he watched around. Expectedly, the Kingdom seemed fully quiet, empty of any life but him. Standing up, he stepped closer to the wall where three opaque cocoons were seen next to his. Conjuring up his sword, he ripped in a swift cut the central one's membrane. Zoisite fell unaware in his arms in a spray of the greenish sticking fluid that had kept him in stasis.

After some seconds, he awakened and asked what was going on. Kunzite explained him shortly that they'd probably been banished from Earth again, as it had already happened several times before. The power that kept them prisoned and sleeping had started to weaken, allowing him to free himself. He'd experienced that quite often so that it had become automatic to him.

As a move showed in the cocoon between his and Zoisite's one, he drew Zoisite backwards and added as Nephrite rushed out from it in a combined flow of energy and liquid:

"Of course, going out then becomes rather messy..."

He exchanged a mocking smile with his young lieutenant, while Nephrite tried to stand up with as much dignity as possible, without spending time to recover his full balance. He glared at them, noticing that Kunzite followed Zoisite's habit to tease him. He was still more irritated to see that this little human rat had gotten out of his cocoon before him, that supposed that he'd become way too powerful.

He wondered if he might get rid of him before the Queen would promote him, and if Kunzite would let him do without stepping in more than for other fights between inferior Shinmas. He knew the Shitennou's leader too well to believe that he might actually feel anything for Zoisite, no matter what the young man thought.

* * *

When Jadeite finally awakened from his stasis too, they were surprisingly called by Queen Beryl, not by Metalia. The bonds that sealed Metalia's energy were not broken, and she'd only been able to tell Beryl that she needed more energy to break free, or the magic amulet that had prisoned her, the Silver Crystal.

As soon as the Youma awakened too, Jadeite went on Earth to steal human energy, while Zoisite explored the Moon Kingdom ruins with his youma in search for the Silver Crystal.

But Jadeite encountered on Earth Realm some senshi that looked exactly like the Moon warriors. After his failures led him to be sealed in an ice crystal by Beryl, Nephrite replaced him, then tried to look for the Silver Crystal on Earth Realm.

Zoisite found his chance to get rid of him, and finally remained alone with Kunzite to gather the seven Rainbow Crystals that would lead them to the Silver Crystal.

In a revengeful move of his, Zoisite tried to kill the reincarnated Prince Endymion, even though Queen Beryl had expressly ordered them to bring him back safe to the Dark Kingdom. Furious that Endymion was badly injured, she condemned Zoisite to death and instantly blasted him.

Since he wasn't from youma's lineage, his body wouldn't vanish after death like Nephrite's one, so she told Kunzite to get rid of him. The Shinma brought his young lieutenant back to his quarters, making his death softer by the last gift of an illusion spell surrounding them with flowers. Zoisite died quietly in his arms, and Kunzite destroyed his lifeless body.

* * *

The fight against Earth wasn't over yet, and Kunzite was left alone to achieve their task. Except that Endymion had been brainwashed and now was on their side, but it didn't help Kunzite to the least.

The senshi certainly weren't powerful enough to worry Kunzite, but somehow he wasn't sure that he still wanted to help Beryl in any way. He missed something, and he knew what it was, now. But it was too late.

Maybe he was even relieved when the senshi finally found the way to the Dark Kingdom, and when the Silver Crystal protecting SailorMoon returned him his own energy weapon.

His last thought was for Zoisite, pleading to join him in the dimension where his soul rested. He didn't think that his prayer would actually be heard.

* * *

After a time impossible to evaluate, losing all perception as his Shinma body dissolved within ethereal plan, he suddenly recovered all his senses. His eyes closed by reflex under the bright light of a clear sky, replacing obscurity from the Dark Kingdom.

Only forgetting the pain from wounds that no longer existed, his body bent under the unexpected weight of a warm form rushing at him and crying a "Kunzite-sama!" broken with emotion. The voice was familiar, as were the golden locks in his sight, and unbelievingly he watched Zoisite moving back from him, recovering some quietness and a more proper soldier's attitude.

"Zoisite... So there is really a realm for the dead?"

Zoisite tried to keep his tears of relief, and denied without losing his dazzling smile.

"I don't know. It's not really what this place is. I'll explain to you."

At this time, Kunzite saw someone behind him, equally smiling in a heavenly landscape - too bright and too colored to Kunzite's liking. Zoisite noticed his look, and his face shadowed, but before any of them would say a word, the creature disappeared after a cheerful: "Take care of him..."

Kunzite had a perplexed look at Zoisite, who seemed relieved that she was gone. The young Shinma provided some unenthusiastic explanations, hoping that his lord wouldn't think anymore of the feminine creature, and rather focus on him. She looked too much like Queen Beryl, and Zoisite feared that Kunzite would be interested in her beauty and her power, like he'd been by their Queen before.

Kunzite noticed his distress, and looking at his emerald eyes hesitating between happiness to see him again and sorrow, he put aside the questions he still had in mind about this new situation.

Passing his arm around Zoisite's waist, he drew him closely against him, eagerly taking his mouth for a deep kiss far from his usual distant embraces. He relished the soft warmth of Zoisite's body until he felt him reacting and responding. He slightly released him and Zoisite tried to move away, his face colored by confusion and surprise. Kunzite smiled to him with so much tenderness that he remained bewildered, then the Shinma drew his face back to him in a whisper: "I missed you..."

Zoisite gave up to him, understanding that Kunzite would never more protest against his outpouring affection, and he snuggled against him with tears of relief.

Kunzite replied to his untold question by staying with him while outside, Aracan's golden moon, Shizala, was spreading its darkness cone on this world.

Zoisite was too glad of his attention to resist, but he moved aside when desire turned about to overwhelm him. He knew that being not human, Kunzite didn't feel the same urges. For that reason he'd never asked him more than what he offered, no matter what his body longed for.

This time yet, Kunzite watched him long, thoughtfully studying his face, and finally smiled. His hand slipped behind Zoisite's neck to draw him back against him, and opened his uniform jacket. The young shinma had kept it in this place beyond the Dark Kingdom, as a reminder, not of the evil Queens, but of his mentor. Shinma created their clothes on themselves as soon as they controlled their power, and the black belt couldn't be opened, so Kunzite cut it right away in a glimpse of magic.

Zoisite let him do all along without quite figuring if he should stop him or not, puzzled by his unexpected attitude, but trustful. There was nothing that Kunzite could do him that he didn't wish anyway, and he turned out to be surprisingly sweet out of a sudden. Yet Zoisite had a little move when Kunzite, losing his patience, cast a spell to disintegrate both the rest of their uniforms.


- Isn't that what you want?

- ...I want what you want...

- Stop talking like a soldier. There is no more Dark Kingdom and no more Kings.

- But I am...?"

Kunzite didn't reply, he didn't handle the words to describe what he meant well enough yet. He could only imitate what he'd witnessed of human behavior, relying on Zoisite's reactions to avoid mistakes. These feelings were too new for him, even though he was drawn to his young mate since he'd been killed under his eyes.

But his shinma nature wasn't fully impregnated with humanity yet and finally reappeared as sensations overwhelmed him. His arms embracing Zoisite suddenly crisped when their skin ripped, making way for the slender fibers that composed most of his inner body. Lianas started to creep on Zoisite's skin when Kunzite recovered their control and retracted them under his skin.

Apprehensively he watched his young mate, whose face yet didn't show half of his own uneasiness. Zoisite was only half surprised of what he'd just witnessed. He knew for long that Kunzite's human features, if they were as genuine as was Zoisite's body that he'd kept when he'd been turned into a Shinma, were hiding his unhuman origins.

He had never minded to the least, since human scum was nothing he cared about, and in many ways he was glad that his lover wasn't. So he only wondered what would have happened if Kunzite hadn't stopped the process, and why he'd done it.

" Kunzite...

- Don't worry, I'll take care not to lose control again.

- Why not?"

Amazed, Kunzite locked his eyes to his. Zoisite, made bold by their new intimacy, was smiling as if he'd offered him some gift.

"I knew you'd love me in your own way. I don't mind... how it is. I am a Shinma, right? So you can go on.

- You don't know what you're talking about... I don't even know myself how it might turn. It's not what you hope, I guess that it's... only a reflex, to steal your life energy. It's dangerous...

- I don't think you might hurt me... And even if you would... It won't be so dangerous. I can't even die here now. Kunzite..."

He'd told his name in a burning voice, drawing his face closer. He was utterly resolute and Kunzite deepened his kiss, fulfilling his wish, liberating some fibres born from his head. Smooth and glossy as prickles, they looked somehow threatening. Zoisite shivered when they started to creep on his skin and twined around his neck, but soon he closed his eyes to relish this weird caress. Their touch was sweet and tender like a young shoot, insistent like ivy. Lianas stretched to enlace his head, his throat and his shoulders, keeping their faces closely touching.

He seemed to be pleased by this embrace, so Kunzite didn't hesitate to go ahead when Zoisite tied his fingers to his own. The shinma joined their arms in a similar tangle of rustling bonds, soft as petals. By slow waves, the lianas crept up along the arms, joining the fibers descending from the shoulders. Zoisite bent, lifting one shoulder after the other to let the moving net encircle his body.

His eyes snapped open when Kunzite liberated other lianas to spread around his legs and creep up to the tangle that now covered his chest. The shinma slowed them down, but Zoisite's look expressed a wish before he closed his emerald eyes again, giving up to the throbbing tangle sliding on his skin. Each fiber added its persistent caress to all others, around him and inside him, overwhelming his senses. He'd lost control of his powers and they levitated among a whirl of darkness combined with cherry blossoms, their energy increased to the max.

Then, as Kunzite had foreseen it, a myriad of tiny prickles finer than a hair stuck out of the lianas, taking roots in Zoisite's flesh to suck his energy, conveying it to his lover in a flow of pleasure. Struck by a convulsion, he torn away from Kunzite's lips to cry, then collapsed against him, unaware.

As shocked as him by this issue, the devil-lord recovered his self-control without letting go his young lover, that he worriedly kept in his arms, floating above the bed. He was still bonded by the arborescing tangle now slackened, that Kunzite retracted sweetly.

After some minutes of an anxious wait, Zoisite got out of unconsciousness. His skin was covered with tiny red marks, where the plant fibrils had taken roots, and his first move made him moan. Kunzite spread the lianas again, to extend his healing power this time, blaming himself to have complied with this desire. But if Zoisite showed a pensive face, he looked more worried about Kunzite's reaction than about what had occurred.

"I'm sorry Kunzite... Maybe next time I won't faint."

Unbelieving, Kunzite watched him erase his own guilty feeling in a soft batting of his silky eyelash.

"Next time? Are you serious? You would really do it again?

- Of course..."

He snuggled against him, entwining him more closely than lianas, while Kunzite relished this weird thought that he was genuinely accepting him.

- The End -

Author's notes about the Japanese words, by order of reading:

Shinma: the name I give to the Kings, it means something like "god-devil", as opposed to the youma, who are less powerful creatures than the Kings. Just because I preferred to use a Japanese word that would fit more with the rest. I first found this word in the manga and anime "Vampire Princess Miyu", actually. BTW, I also sometimes call them "general" because that's how their title was translated in the French version, and it suits more with the military background than "king" in fact.

Shitennou: it can be understood in various ways, from "the 4 emperors" to "4 kings of heaven", sort of. It's the group of the 4 Shinma/Kings, and it's used on many other anime/manga. (Note 2 for those who are not used to read Japanese words: the "ou" writing is said like a long "o" sound, something like the ending of "war")

rounin: independent warriors, much like samurais.

miko: religious servant, though I'm not really sure that it's historically correct that they served

Amaterasu (the Goddess of Sun who gave birth to Japan) especially at this time... -_-;,,,

Yamato: the old name of Japan.

Shuriken: uh... You all know what it is, I guess: the small metal stars that the ninja send on their enemies. Small but efficient.

Tantou: that's a short version of katana, sort of. A knife with quite the same design.

Wakashu: errm. How can I explain that? Well it seems that in some armies of the old Japan, around this period or before (maybe around the XIIIth century), the old warriors taught what they knew to the young ones, much like apprentices. And you know how it is, lack of women during the wars, anyway, women are here for giving heirs to the males, etc... Well, sort of, it wasn't rare that the wakashu (young warriors) and their "trainers" were lovers.

Seppuku: another way to say hara-kiri, more in use in Japan

Oyasuminasai: it's the word to say "good night". Though it would mean more something like "have a good sleep" - in this situation the difference is important... ;)

Kunzite-sama: Lord Kunzite (yeah yeah, sorry, I sometimes say it in Japanese, like "Zoi-chan" is way more cute than "my little Zoi")

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