Prisms

Chapter 1 - What Difference Does Age Make?

© 1998 by Renee Michelle Markowicz


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Author's Note:

Hi, folks! I'm glad that you came back to read the next part! *^_^* Now, before you start reading this and get all confused, there's a couple of things I should clarify. First of all, this started out to be a strictly Kunzite/Zoisite piece - it's become a little more than that. Jadeite is now playing a major role, as well. As for Nephrite... I'm not sure, yet. Anyway, this 'fic is turning out to be a bigger project than I originally thought it would be, so forgive me if I neglect "Generals' Hour" for a bit.

The other important thing is that there is a huge gap of time between the Prologue and Chapter One (a year to be exact). I'd like to say I planned it that way, but that's not the truth. There's two reasons - a) if I plan to take this story from 10 years before the Moon Kingdom's destruction to the "present" day - I can't include every day in the course of the plot. b) I hit a writer's block and couldn't think of anything to write for immediately after the Prologe. *blush* Ahem. I will probably go back and write little interludes between the main chapters if the desire strikes me - you know, to round out the story a bit.

I think that's it...

Anyway, on to the legal stuff... the characters of Sailor Moon do not belong to me, I am using them for nonprofit purposes. Don't sue me. ^_^ The only character in this story that belongs to me, so far, is Gregory - Kunzite's Father. I'd say that this is rated PG-13, there is a bit of same-sex stuff going on (Kunzite and Zoisite) - a little kissing, that's about as explicit as I care to get, Thank You. :) I hope that you're all enjoying this and I'm not making a total idiot of myself. Please e-mail me at flare@UDel.Edu and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading!


Prisms - Chapter 1: What Difference Does Age Make?

© 1998 by Renee Michelle Markowicz

Jadeite looked up from his book with an irritated frown. *Who would be banging on my door at 3:00 in the morning?* He placed a convenient book mark in between the ancient pages and closed the book. The pounding came a second time. "I'm coming!" he yelled. He levered himself out of his chair and made his way to the door. Reluctantly, he pulled it open. A young boy immediately collapsed into his arms, crying hysterically.

Jadeite swiftly drew the boy into the room and locked the door. He picked the boy up, carried him to the armchair, and sat back down. He held the boy tightly to him, rocking him back and forth and making soothing noises, "Easy, it's OK, easy..."

Finally, the dark-haired boy stopped crying and rested on Jadeite's shoulder. Jadeite held him for a little longer, then pushed him back so he could peer into his eyes, "What is the matter, my Prince?" he asked.

Darien put a hand up to his nose and inelegantly wiped it on his sleeve, still sniffling. Jadeite made a disapproving noise and put a handkerchief to the Prince's nose, "Blow." That done he said, "And what have I told you about carrying a handkerchief?"

Darien pouted, "That I should, 'cuz it's not polite to wipe my nose in my sleeve."

Jadeite smiled, "Right. Now what's the problem, Darien?"

Darien sniffled and looked like he might begin to cry again, but he held it in. After a few deep breaths he finally got the words out, "Father's making me get married to some girl!"

Jadeite's lips twitched as he tried to hold in his laughter, "Darien, you're only nine years old. I hardly think that the King is going to make you marry anyone this young." The words sunk in and Darien's cheeks turned bright red when he realized how stupid his complaint must have sounded to Jadeite. He climbed off Jadeite's lap and curled up on the little footstool that was his very own. He proceeded to sulk. "You're old. What d'you know, anyway?"

Jadeite put his hand on Darien's head, "Someday you won't think 26 years is so very old - Lord Kunzite still calls me a kid."

Darien looked up in startlement, "But you're not a kid!!"

Jadeite smiled, "I know - but age, like many things, is relative. To you, I seem old - I'm 17 years older than you are, after all. But Kunzite is nearly 10 years older than me."

Darien's eyes widened, "Then he's really old!"

Jadeite couldn't contain his laugh, "Yes, I suppose he is, Darien. So, do you want to tell me what this girl's name is?"

Darien frowned, trying to remember, "Ser- uh, Sere- uh, Seren-something or other."

Jadeite paled slightly, "Serenity? Princess Serenity? Of the Moon Kingdom?"

Darien jumped up, excited, "Yeah! That's it! Serenity, or Serena, or something! You're good at this!" Then noticing that his favorite guardian looked slightly ill he said, "Jadeite? Are you OK? You don't look so good..."

Jadeite took a moment before he answered, "Yes Darien, I'm fine. I just didn't think... Oh well. It doesn't really matter, I suppose. Why don't you get a book and I'll read you a story, OK?"

"OK!" Darien ran to the vast shelves to pick out a book, finally selecting one of his favorites, Sleeping Beauty. He settled back into Jadeite's lap, and waited for the story to start. Jadeite, numbly opening the book, thought, *King Endymion, what were you thinking? Princess Serena of the Moon Kingdom is nearly 21 years old! I wonder what Kunzite's going to have to say about this one...*

* * *

"Is he crazy?!?!?!" Kunzite yelled, fuming.

Zoisite looked up startled from where he was curled in a chair, polishing his boots. "Kunzite?" he asked. "What's the matter? Is who crazy?"

Kunzite glared at the paper he was reading for a moment longer, then threw it on the desk. "Endymion," he growled, "Promised Darien to the Princess of the Moon."

Zoisite resumed his polishing, no excuses for dirty boots, after all. He said mildly, "So? What's so bad about that? He and Queen Serenity have been after an alliance for years. This oughta do it for them."

Kunzite sunk back down into his chair, "Zoisite, how old is the Prince?"

The younger man looked up at him as if he was crazy. "Nine," he said slowly.

"The Princess is twenty-one, Zoisite," Kunzite stated, matter of factly.

Zoisite's eyes went wide, "Is he crazy??"

Kunzite chuckled a bit, "My words exactly. Now, granted, there's nothing wrong with a husband and wife having a huge age gap between them if neither one minds the difference," he blushed suddenly, then continued, "But the Princess will mind. I know what Darien's like, I can already see how he'll turn out. And if he turns out the way I suspect he will, it'll be a wonder if Serena doesn't kill him the first time she meets him!"

Zoisite's eyes widened again, "Oh boy..."

* * *

"...and they lived happily ever after. The End," Jadeite finished to the sleeping boy in his lap. He closed the book and let his head fall to the back of the chair. *Finally,* he thought, wearily. He set the book down on the table and picked up the Prince. He teleported into the Prince's rooms, then sagged against a wall as he waited for the world to stop spinning. *I've got to stop using telekinetics to get around...* He walked over to the bed and lay the Prince down, tugging off his shoes as he did. Darien stirred and mumbled something in his sleep, then settled down. Jadeite swiftly got him into his bedclothes and tucked him in.

He looked down at the boy, *Poor kid. I don't envy you your future - it won't be an easy one.* Hearing footsteps in the hall, he hurriedly teleported back to his own rooms. This time the dizziness overwhelmed him, and he collapsed onto the floor, *Damn.* He put a hand to his head, trying to still the pounding, *It's never been this bad before... Maybe it's because I'm so tired...* The pounding in his head continued.

Through the pain in his head, Jadeite heard another pounding. He willed it to go away, *It's 4:00 in the morning! What is with people tonight? Doesn't anyone sleep??* Too weary to get off the floor and answer the door, he unbolted it with his mind. Unfortunately, that increased the glaring pain in his head, and the nausea in his stomach. "Come in!" he managed to yell.

Kunzite opened the door and poked his head in. When he saw Jadeite curled on the floor with his head clutched in his hands, he rushed over and knelt by the young man's side. "Jadeite? Are you all right?" he asked, worried.

"I'm fine," Jadeite growled through his teeth, "Peachy keen, dandy,... Have any other stupid questions?"

Kunzite was greatly taken aback by this. Jadeite's stalwart calm and even temper had been all that had kept their team together at times - the glue that kept them from breaking apart. It wasn't like him to snap at anyone - no matter what the reason. Hell, Zoisite had accidentally broken Jadeite's leg once, and poor Zoisite had nearly been hysterical with guilt. And Jadeite had calmed him down. "Jadeite, you're not being rational- " he began.

Jadeite looked up at him, eyes blazing, "Really? Ya think? Aren't I allowed to be irrational once in a while? Or is that against the rules?" he finished bitterly. He closed his eyes in pain and put his hands back up to his aching head.

Kunzite held a hand out to him, "Come on, there's more comfortable places for you to sit than the floor." Jadeite took his hand, warily, and let Kunzite help him back over to his armchair. He collapsed into its embrace and closed his eyes again.

Kunzite got a handkerchief and wetted it in the sink. He draped it over Jadeite's head and sat back on the desk, wondering what he should say. Before he could open his mouth, Jadeite cracked an eye open, "You're sitting on my papers," he mumbled. Kunzite got up and looked at the spot where he'd been sitting. A stack of papers lay there, most with some corrections in red ink.

"I'd forgotten that you're still teaching. I'm sorry," he said. He moved the papers and sat back down. When he looked up, both of Jadeite's bright blue eyes were open. He spoke, "No, I'm the one who should apologize," he cast his eyes down, "I had no write to speak to you like that. I'm sorry."

Kunzite frowned, "I'm sure you had a reason. Are you OK, now?"

Jadeite pulled the cloth from his head and rubbed his temples, "I overreached myself, I think. I used my powers to teleport twice. Normally, that doesn't affect me this badly, but..."

Kunzite frowned again, "Why were you teleporting around?" Then he thought for a moment, and traced the teleports - to the Prince's rooms and back. He chuckled a bit, "Oh. I should have known. You surrogate father, you."

Jadeite stuck out his tongue, "Laugh it up. It's not my fault he trusts me more than the rest of you. And I'll bet I found out about this betrothal sooner than you did." A flash of pain worked it's way across his face.

Kunzite's eyes narrowed, *Maybe...* "Jadeite, maybe the teleporting affected you more than usual, because your emotions got involved. Whenever your emotional state is topsy-turvy, it affects your magic. I know you're upset about this betrothal."

Kunzite wasn't sure of how close to the mark he had hit, until Jadeite looked back up at him. He was reminded of the time that he'd seen the eyes of a terrified deer caught in carriage-lights. Too terrified to move. He put a hand on Jadeite's shoulder, "Easy. We all know how bound you are to the Prince - more-so than any of us, including Endymion. It's natural that you should be upset." Jadeite closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. Most of the tenseness left his shoulders. "I'll tell you what, kid," he said, using the old nickname in a hope to get Jadeite to relax, "Read a book, or go to bed. Sleep in tomorrow - I have a feeling you haven't slept at all, tonight. Whenever you get up and finish breakfast, come find me. We'll see if we can reason with Endymion about this, OK?"

Jadeite nodded, still affecting an aura of relief. He forced his taut shoulder muscles to relax a little further under Kunzite's hand. The older man smiled and patted his shoulder, "There's a good lad," allowing a bit of his old accent into his speech. "And as me father would say, 'Git yerself off te bed, youngin'!'" Jadeite smiled again, "Thanks," he whispered. Kunzite smiled, "If you need me, you know where I'll be." He left.

Jadeite immediately buried his head in his hands, every muscle going tight with tension when he released his hold on them. *Damn, I've got to do something to calm down.* He looked over at the stack of still ungraded papers on his desk, *That should do it.* He pulled his chair up to the big oak desk and set to editing the rough drafts with a vengeance, losing himself in his students attempts to explain the flow of history. After he was halfway through the first, he paused, *Gods, am I pathetic.* He shook his head in resignation and continued grading.

* * *

As Kunzite left the room he could hear the beginnings of a scratching sound - pen on paper. *He's grading papers? That kid is nuts!* He almost barged back in on him, but his small gift of empathy allowed him to pick up on the churning, emotion-racked confusion of Jadeite's thoughts, so he wisely decided to leave him to his own devices for a while. *He'll handle this, he always does.*

Trying to gather his own thoughts was another matter. He blushed self-consciously. His emotions had been so tangled and confused of late, that he was surprised he was getting any work done. He really had wanted to talk to Jadeite - the young man was very perceptive and his clear head and teacher's personality gave him a very unique way of viewing problems. And boy, was this one a doozy. Falling in love usually was. *At least I think I am...* his poor thoughts again lost the fight to his raging emotions. He felt his cheeks get hot again.

Pushing himself away from the wall, he started to walk back to his quarters. Trying to reason this out on his own was obviously not working - it hadn't been working for nearly a year. He needed to talk to someone who hadn't been emersed in this problem for forever and a day. *I can't talk to Endymion - like his son, I'm sure he still thinks girls have cooties and storks deliver babies.* He snorted in derision, *And I obviously can't talk to Jadeite.* He looked down the hall at the wing of the Palace that housed his former Captain, *I suppose the person I should really talk to is Nephrite...* He blushed again - the Captain's exploits with the opposite sex were legendary, he doubted he'd get anything useful out of him.

He found himself back in front of the door to his rooms, still with no solution. Quietly unlocking the door, he walked inside and threw his white cloak over the chair Zoisite had occupied earlier. This time the blush overwhelmed his entire face and both of his ears. Zoisite, the young man was at the heart of his problems.

When Zoisite had come here a year ago, he had been very shy and uncertain. The two had been on very uneasy terms - though his father had hit it off well enough with his "lassy". Zoisite had even started staying at his house for dinner on the weekends - when Kunzite was sure to be there. At first, Kunzite had been a bit angry at this intrusion - weekends were his private time with his parents. Then, as he started to train Zoisite, he'd begun to see the young man on his own merits, and he liked what he saw. The two had become very close friends, often spending their evenings in each other's company, like tonight.

Kunzite poured himself a glass of wine and sat down on the couch. Of course the problem didn't stop there. He didn't know who had started it, though he was certain that Zoisite never would have found a female lover, he certainly hadn't thought his own preferences fell that way. He'd had several happy relationships with women - they just hadn't lasted. But Zoisite, he was another story.

Now that he'd decided to tackle the problem, his face had taken on a permanently pink hue. If Zoisite had been a woman, there was no doubt in Kunzite's mind that they would have been in bed together at least six months ago, and well on the way to a permanent relationship. *But he's not a woman...* he thought miserably. He downed the rest of his wine and frowned, *Maybe this is a night for something stronger...* He got up and was reaching for a bottle of scotch when he heard a knocking on his door. Seeing the clock read 6:00 AM he cursed as he realized that that was Nephrite coming to check in for the day. He rubbed his head as he called for Nephrite to come in, *That's one more night down the tubes...*

He looked up to find the man lounging in the doorway, legs and arms crossed, his outfit the very height of fashion. His wavy mahogany hair was the envy of most of the woman at court, and he knew it - so he kept it at least at waist length. He shook back his mane of hair and smiled cooly at his superior, "So, what's up, sir?"

Kunzite nearly growled in frustration, *I'll bet that if he spent all night drinking and worrying to death over politics and emotional problems, he'd still look perfect in the morning!* Nephrite noticed the strain in his old comrade's face. He immediately dropped his pose of suave indifference and sauntered over to Kunzite, where he stood - his hand still on the bottle of scotch. Nephrite slowly raised an eyebrow. Kunzite blurted out, "Do you even realize that when you're not even trying to look good, you still do??" Nephrite's eyebrows disappeared into his hairline. He plucked the bottle from Kunzite's grasp and poured a generous amount into his friend's glass. He shoved the glass into Kunzite's hand and shoved Kunzite down onto the couch. Taking up a perch on the low table he stared at Kunzite, "Spill it. It's obvious you haven't slept, and you're just as obviously upset about something. So, talk." He crossed his arms over his chest and waited.

When he saw Kunzite's cheeks and ears turn bright red, his eyebrows climbed back up into his hair. "O-ho!" he said, "It's a girl, isn't it? Come on, Kunzite! This is me, you can tell me! Who is it?"

Kunzite took a large gulp of scotch, "You don't know 'im," he muttered into his glass. Nephrite was about to make some witty comment when his mind caught up to his mouth, *Did he say, 'I don't know him'???* He frowned, "Kunzite? Uh - I hate to be rude, but I'm not sure that I caught what you just said. Could you repeat that?"

Kunzite's blush deepened, *In for a penny...* He clearly enunciated, "I said, you don't know him."

Nephrite grabbed the glass of scotch and finished it off. "That's what I thought you said," then grabbed the bottle and another glass, refilling both. He swirled the drink a bit as he thought, *A him, is it... Now that's something that I never would have figured! When it comes to womanizing, Kunzite's reputation is only slightly less infamous than my own! What a turn-around!* He traced Kunzite's odd behavior back a few months then smiled, "It's Zoisite, isn't it?"

Kunzite nearly choked on his drink. Nephrite jumped up and whacked him on the back. He took the glass from him and set it down on the table as Kunzite attempted to regain his equilibrium. "Easy there, Kunzite. I'm not going to tell anyone if you don't want me to." Just then, they both heard the door open and spun to see who it was. Jadeite still looked like hell, but he was dressed and showered and looked ready to take on the day. He looked from one to the other, "I didn't mean to interrupt anything..." He started to back out the door, but Nephrite shot up from the couch and grabbed his arm as his military training kicked in. "How much did you overhear, Jadeite?"

Jadeite frowned at him, "I didn't need to overhear any of it. The fact that Kunzite and Zoisite are in love with each other is practically obvious. At least it was to me..." he muttered.

Nephrite's jaw dropped. "I think we all need to sit down and talk..." He drew the young professor inside and closed the door.

* * *

Once Jadeite was seated, Nephrite took a deep breath, "OK, it's obvious that we have a problem here."

Jadeite interrupted him, "Maybe to you it is. What problem?"

"Uh, Kunzite and Zoisite..." he drawled.

Kunzite, having been silent since his stunning admission earlier, looked over at Jadeite. The pink hue of his face had turned a deeper red, "You said that he loves me, too?"

Jadeite frowned, "I'm pretty sure of it." Nephrite offered him a glass of scotch, "Not this early in the morning, thank you, Nephrite. Besides, I've had enough headaches in the past few hours to last me a lifetime..." Nephrite frowned, concerned, but Kunzite was shaking his head, no. His color seemed to have returned to normal, but turned red again at Jadeite's next statement, "If you're interested in him at all, Kunzite, I'd say something in a hurry. He's pining over you now, but there are several people waiting in line to get a chance at him, so to speak. He won't wait for you forever."

Kunzite managed to squeak out, "How can you be so calm about this?"

Jadeite raised an eyebrow, "Kunzite, if I can handle Endymion wanting to betroth his son to a woman who is 12 years his senior, I can handle the fact that you love Zoisite."

Nephrite blurted out, "What?????"

All eyes turned to him. "What did you say about Prince Darien?"

Kunzite hung his head and buried it in his hands, "You tell him, Jadeite. I don't think I have the mental capacity at the moment."

Nephrite sat down on the couch and motioned at Jadeite to continue. Jadeite filled him in on the details and finished by saying, "And the only allies we really have are the Princess and Prince, themselves - and they don't know it." Nephrite nodded and downed another glass of scotch. Looking back and forth between Kunzite and Nephrite, Jadeite sighed, "It's gonna be a long day." Then he muttered, "I knew I should have stuck to teaching..."

* * *

Zoisite stood in the practice ring, scuffing his toe around in the dirt. *Where is he? He should have been here hours ago!* he worried. It wasn't like Kunzite to be this late. *I mean, if I can get here on time after being up until 3:30, he certainly can!* Zoisite's dislike of early hours was already a legend at the Palace - he'd nearly dismembered a servant for trying to wake him at 7:00 once. He'd been horribly upset afterwards, and the man had forgiven him... but no one had dared try to wake him before 9:00 after that. He smiled, *Should've thought of that when I was at home...*

Home - the thought of home still stung like an unhealed wound. Not that he'd want to go back there, no sir. His life at the Palace was much more gratifying, and he had real friends here. He'd finally figured out what loyalty and devotion meant - watching Kunzite and the others had taught him that. Kunzite's fierce overprotectiveness, Nephrite's racuous brotherly attitude, and Jadeite's quiet, but no less loving, attention towards the young Prince had finally shown Zoisite what true friendship and caring was all about. No, he certainly wouldn't trade all of that for a chance to show his father how well he could handle a plow. Thanks to Jadeite's careful tutelage, Zoisite now understand the importance that farmers had in this world, but he still snorted in disgust at the thought of being one.

He scuffed his toe around again, *Man, where is he?* He glanced at his watch, Kunzite was nearly 20 minutes late! Zoisite felt a solid nervousness settle in the pit of his stomach, with a start he realized that he was actually worried about Kunzite. *I hope nothing happened to him.* The truth was that he found the older man very attractive. He had never lied about the fact that he preferred a man's company to a woman's, he had thought that he'd made that clear to Kunzite. And he knew that Kunzite was intelligent and observant enough to pick up on the unspoken signals he'd been sending, but Kunzite had yet to respond to a single one!

He sighed in exasperation, kicking a huge clod of dirt into the air. He'd heard nearly as many stories about Kunzite's adventures with women as he had about Nephrite's. None of those affairs had lasted. Zoisite had dared to hope that it was because Kunzite wasn't really interested in women and just didn't know it yet. *Maybe I'm just fooling myself,* he thought bitterly. He could feel himself getting upset, whenever he thought about this too hard he started crying - which he was determined not to do in the middle of the practice arena. He swallowed the tears.

Finally, he'd had enough of waiting and left the arena to find Kunzite, *And he'd better have a damn good explanation!* He threw open the door to the main hallway and stomped down to Kunzite's area of the Palace. When he finally reached Kunzite's door, he stopped - he'd heard voices in there. *Well, if you don't listen, you'll never find out anything.* He put his ear to the door and listened...

"...but he's completely wrong for the Princess!" -Jadeite's voice.

"I know, Jadeite. I already went and made an appointment with Endymion, but he's determined that this betrothal should go through. There may not be much more we can do until the Prince is of age and can protest this himself." - Kunzite's voice.

Zoisite was floored. Kunzite had spent the morning talking to the other two and trying to do something about Darien's betrothal and they hadn't even included him! He hadn't sent a servant to tell Zoisite that he wouldn't be coming to his scheduled practice, he hadn't left a note. He could feel the tears gathering in the corners of his eyes and tried to banish them, but to his horror, he couldn't. He nearly choked on a sob when he tried to muffle it in his sleeve. In the temporary silence from Kunzite's room, the single sob sounded like a cannon shot. He felt so betrayed - he'd trusted these people!

He heard Nephrite say, "What was that?" and someone getting up. Terrified, he ran away - he didn't want any of the three of them to see him eavesdropping - especially not Kunzite. He'd be so disappointed. As he ran, Zoisite was amazed that he even still cared what Kunzite thought - but that didn't stop his mad dash back to his chambers.

* * *

Kunzite opened the door to his room and cursed - the rapidly retreating figure of Zoisite was easily distinguishable from this close distance. Jadeite and Nephrite stood behind him, hands on their weapons. He spoke shortly, "Zoisite. We were scheduled to practice this morning. He must have come by and overheard us." His heart was overcome with guilt, *Poor Zoisite! He must've thought we left him out on purpose! Damn!!* The conflict must have shown in his face, because he was immediately shooed out the door and Jadeite and Nephrite yelled, "Go after him!" He went.

* * *

When Zoisite reached his room, the tears were already blurring his vision. He opened the door, only barely realizing it was unlocked and threw himself on the couch, still trying to hold in the tears. He heard a voice and sat straight up, his recent training kicking in and he readied a blast of cherry blossom-accompanied energy. His trademark. Then the accent of the voice penetrated - Kunzite's father. The energy dissipated and he nearly started crying with that reminder of Kunzite.

"Here now, lassy - ye look like ye're about te bawl. What's the matter?" Gregory said as he laid a hand on Zoisite's shoulder and sat down next to him. It was too much - Zoisite threw himself into the older man's arms and began sobbing violently. Strong arms went around him, stroking his back. The soothing voice murmured little nonsenses in his ears. No matter what he tried, Gregory couldn't get Zoisite to stop crying.

The door opened and Kunzite's father looked up to find his son standing worried and unsure in the doorway. He looked down at Zoisite and back up at Kunzite and gave his son a little smile and motioned for him to come over. He handed Zoisite over to him, Kunzite taking his father's place rather uneasily. Zoisite didn't even notice the change. His father gave Kunzite a pat and a thumbs up. He mouthed, "Go for it!" Kunzite made a face as his father left, then looked back down at Zoisite whose tears were slowing. He took a deep breath, *I sure hope I'm doing the right thing...*

Zoisite's tears slowed somewhat and he was vaguely aware that the person holding him was not Kunzite's father. When he realized that the shirt he was sobbing into was one of Kunzite's, he blushed a deep red and jerked out of the comforting embrace. He quickly scooted backwards on the couch, keeping his eyes downcast, *I can't deal with this now! Does he even realize what he almost did to me?* Zoisite was very uncomfortably aware of every spot on his back where Kunzite's hands had touched him, *This could get very embarrassing, very quickly, if I misread his intentions just now...*

Kunzite cleared his throat, "Are you OK?"

Zoisite stared at him, "A-am, I OK? N-no, I'm n-not OK."

Kunzite blushed a bit, "I'm sorry. I know that that's a horribly lame thing to say, and nothing is going to excuse my behavior this morning, but... Well, I'm still sorry."

Zoisite took a deep breath, trying to steady his voice, "W-why d-didn't you t-t-tell me, you w-wouldn't be th-there?"

"Quite frankly? I forgot that I was supposed to meet you. I didn't get much sleep last night," Kunzite's blush deepened.

Zoisite felt hope rising in him when he saw that blush, *Do I dare let myself think?...* "B-but why d-didn't you l-let me help you with D-D-Darien's problem? D-don't you trust m-me?" he stuttered, cursing his unsteady voice.

"As I said, I forgot where you were, and Nephrite and Jadeite just sort of showed up. We weren't trying to leave you out of anything," he finished lamely. *Well, I certainly can't tell him the real reason that we didn't let him in on that early meeting!* His blush deepened again.

Zoisite looked up at him, finally getting his voice to stay steady, if quiet, "You really mean that? You weren't trying to hurt me?"

Kunzite reached for him and took him into his arms, softly stroking his hair, "No, Zoisite, I wasn't. I'm terribly sorry if I did. I would never hurt you intentionally."

Shocked beyond belief at his position, Zoisite was too stunned to move. He felt his heart start racing, *Next thing I know, I'll wake up - like usual.* But he didn't. Kunzite's arms remained strong around him, his heartbeat strong in Zoisite's ear. Zoisite let his own arms wrap around Kunzite's waist. He could feel Kunzite's startlement thanks to his gods-cursed gift of empathy. He held his breath, praying to whatever god might be listening that he hadn't misread the older man's intentions. He squeezed his eyes shut, not wanting to know if he'd guessed wrong, *If he isn't ready, then I really blew it, just now. Please, please, please let me be right!*

He felt a hand under his chin, gently tilting his face up - and a tender pair of lips met his own. He nearly melted with relief and joy, *Thank You!*

Kunzite felt an echo of such utter joy coming from Zoisite that he nearly broke off the kiss. But he didn't. Unfortunately, he soon felt a need to come up for oxygen. He looked down at Zoisite. His green eyes were bright with such sheer happiness and joy, that he smiled in response and gently brushed a tear from Zoisite's face, cupping his cheek in his hand. Zoisite leaned his head into Kunzite's hand, eyes closing in relaxation.

Suddenly realizing what he was doing, Kunzite tried to pull away. Zoisite's eyes flew open in alarm, and twin tears fell from both eyes, "No please don't!" he pleaded. Kunzite felt the awful, empty ache in Zoisite's heart and quickly took the younger man back into his arms - there would be no turning back from this. He finally let himself say aloud the words he'd held in his heart for nearly a year, "I love you, Zoisite."

Zoisite smiled up at him, "*I love you, too,*" he added mentally. Zoisite ran a hand threw Kunzite's silver hair and laughed in sheer delight, before throwing his arms around Kunzite again. Kunzite grinned at the younger man's passion, *Something tells me it'll be a while before we get back to Nephrite and Jadeite...*

Zoisite caught the thought, as Kunzite meant him to, and blushed, "If I have anything to say about it..." Kunzite silenced him with another kiss, but Zoisite still got in the last word as he drew the curtains shut and bolted the door with a thought, "*Oh, it'll definitely be a while!*"

* * *

Awareness returned slowly. Kunzite's eyes fluttered open, then he shot straight up in bed when he realized where he was. His mind took a minute to catch up to the rest of him. When it did, he sank back against the pillows, *So it wasn't a dream...* He looked down at Zoisite, curled on his side and sleeping peacefully. He smiled and pushed a lock of hair away from his lover's face. Bending down he kissed Zoisite's forehead, then the tip of his cute little nose - trying to wake him.

Zoisite wrinkled his nose like a rabbit and his eyes fluttered open. He smiled up at Kunzite with such heart-stopping sweetness that Kunzite caught his breath, "Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?" he asked.

Zoisite blushed and wrapped his arms around Kunzite, "No, but I like the sound of it - tell me." He laughed when Kunzite made a face. *I can't believe this is really happening. It's like every dream I've ever had my whole life is finally coming true.* He looked back up at Kunzite and smiled again, then made a face as Kunzite sat up, "Where are you going?"

Kunzite frowned, "Did you see what time it is?"

Zoisite turned his head upside down to peer at the clock, "Lunchtime. So?"

Kunzite climbed out of bed and began pulling on his clothes, "So, I have a meeting with Endymion in ten minutes. I seriously doubt that he'd be happy if I was late." He sat down on the bed to pull his boots on.

Zoisite sat up and draped himself over Kunzite's back, wrapping his arms around Kunzite's chest, "Tell him you had a more pressing engagement - I'm sure he'd understand."

Kunzite turned to face Zoisite, "Zoisite, we have to talk about a few things - mainly concerning us." Zoisite made a face, but Kunzite put a finger up, "Let me finish. Other than the people who already know, no one can find out about this."

Zoisite looked up at him, eyes blazing. He wanted to run down the halls shouting to everyone the good news, and Kunzite wanted to keep it a secret?? Why? He cast his eyes down, "Are you ashamed of us?"

Kunzite tilted his head up and kissed him, "Never, my love, never. Unfortunately, Endymion and Serenity don't have the same liberal minds as we do. If either of them found out, there could be serious trouble - and I have no desire to see you get hurt."

Zoisite frowned but nodded, seeing the wisdom in this, "I guess this means we've still got to live in separate rooms, huh?"

Kunzite laughed, "We'll see what we can work out - maybe if all of the Guardians had their own wing in the Palace - no one would know whose room who was sleeping in. And with all Nephrite's comings and goings, no one will pay much attention to us."

Zoisite laughed, a ringing laugh that made Kunzite's heart feel that much more like soaring. He gave Zoisite one last kiss and said, "When you feel ready to face the rest of the world, go find Jadeite and Nephrite - I'll join you all as soon as I can."

Zoisite threw a pillow at him, "All right, already! Get going!"

Kunzite laughed as he ducked the flying pillow and left to go to his meeting with the King. Zoisite lay back against the pillows for a minute, thinking over the events of the morning. Finding a newly formed mental bond between himself and the older Guardian surprised him at first, then pleased him to no end, *I guess he really is the one.* He sent a wave of love down the bond and smiled when he felt Kunzite stop in the middle of the hall, trying to figure out what he had just felt. He sent a thought with the next wave of emotion, "*I love you!*" Kunzite sent him back a pulse of love which warmed his heart as nothing had before. Finally feeling strong enough to face the Palace on his own, he thought back to his first day here and laughed, "Look out Earth - here I come!!"

The End of Chapter 1 - Goto Chapter 2


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