Marley is Dead

Chapter 3: The Last of the Three Spirits

© 1998 by Sardonyx

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Kunzite found himself standing in the middle of a graveyard. He cursed Nephrite under his breath -- more suited to my temperament, indeed -- and glanced warily around. If the youma had been correct, he should expect another spirit. Unless, of course, she had been counting herself; or unless she couldn't count.

The latter was more likely. Youma on the whole weren't very bright.

But somehow -- he had a sinking feeling that he wasn't getting off so easily. He could feel something watching him, something eerie and not quite natural...

In the dim light, he could barely make out a cloaked figure seated on the ground, leaning casually against a headstone.

"You," he said, and he could barely detect the rarest quiver in his tone, "You're the third Spirit."

It nodded slightly, not enough to shake the dark hood back from its face.

"The..." Kunzite twisted a piece of his cloak around his fingers nervously, "The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come?"

The spectre nodded again.

Kunzite stood in silence for a long time, shifting his boots uncomfortably.

"Well?" he finally said, trying to muster a note of sarcasm, "Aren't you going to drag me to a dinner party, or have me play a Peeping Tom?"

It shook its cloaked head.

"Well, can't you speak? Some Spirit you are." He badly wanted it to say something; the deathly silence was quite unnerving.

The Spirit did not respond.

"I suppose," he went on, quite aware that he was beginning to babble, "that your goal is to drive me insane by pushing me into a long, wandering monologue. I can do that well enough by myself, thank you, and even if I couldn't, I've already had the assistance of two former colleagues, one of whom was a few geese short of a gaggle. So if you don't mind, I'll just be leaving now."

He got the feeling that, if he could have seen its face, one of the eyebrows would have been raised. It shook its head once more.

Kunzite did not leave.

He couldn't, somehow. He was intensely curious, although more than a little disturbed. Having decided that trying to start a conversation would prove to be fruitless, he wandered aimlessly about the cemetery, never straying too far from the hooded figure, whose gaze seemed to follow him wherever he went.

"Bah, humbug." Kunzite muttered to himself, darting a glare at the silent spectre. "I refuse to believe I'm doing this. I'm not standing in a graveyard talking to myself while some damned apparition watches my every move. I'll just wake up, that's all, wake up."

He recalled, as if from the mists of the distant past, Jadeite's parting words.

Turning, he looked over the Spirit, who, as ever, returned his mute gaze. He found himself becoming intensely curious about the stone upon which it was reclining. Circling around to the other side, he found, to his disappointment, that the cloaked ghost leaned against the inscribed side. Taking a deep breath, he circled around again, to face it.

"Whose grave is this?" he asked.

It seemed to blink.

Then it rose gracefully to its feet, and sidestepped, allowing Kunzite to see the faded lettering.

He felt as if a cold hand had risen up and choked him. Shaking, he tried to step backward, but he found he could not move.

He managed a small, unintelligible, strangled noise, but nothing more.

The Spirit's unseen eyes now bored more painfully into him, and he managed to tear his gaze away from the engraving, to stare into the void where its face must be.

Slowly, slowly, almost against his will, he stepped forward towards it, until they were -- not quite -- face-to-face; as the Spirit was a good head shorter than he.

Kunzite's heart pounded in his ears, and he knew he must have been shaking, as he raised a gloved hand to draw back the spectre's hood.

Verdant eyes stared up at him from a deathly-white face.

"Kami-sama." was all Kunzite could say, as he stood riveted to the spot, not wondering whether to run away, cry, or pull the Spirit close and kiss him.

"Why did you do that?" Zoisite asked quietly.

"I wanted to see who you were..."

"You knew."

"...yes." Kunzite pulled off one of his gloves, twisting it about his fingers, "Well... I just wanted to see... you."

"Did you?" the sad wisdom in the wide, unblinking eyes tore Kunzite just as surely as the ginzuishou had, that once, long ago. "Have you forgotten that I said I'd always be there...?"

Kunzite could no longer hold the steady gaze. "No." he mumbled.

"I think you have." the Spirit sounded vaguely sad, "It's true, you know. ...You don't have to do this."

Turning back, Kunzite shook his head mutely, unable to explain. His voice sounded hoarse and broken, even to his own ears. "Why? Why are you doing this to me?"

"Because I love you." Zoisite replied quietly, "I don't want you to do this to yourself."

"But --" Kunzite made a hopeless gesture, in frustration throwing the glove to the ground, "That youma -- Nephrite -- Jadeite --"

The Spirit shrugged a little, "We... wanted to help you. You... possibly... misunderstood..."

"It's the only way..." he muttered in reply, looking down to the snow-covered ground.

Zoisite looked at him sadly, and reached up a to touch Kunzite's face, his hand surprisingly warm. He nodded slowly.

And as Kunzite opened his mouth to ask -- the slender figure was fading, fading, molding away into the cold stone letters upon the headstone; or perhaps it was Kunzite himself who was only being pulled back to the waking world. He heard a cry, perhaps his own, and saw no more.

But he thought he heard the Spirit sorrowfully say, "I'll be seeing you."

The End of Chapter 3 - Goto Epilogue

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