Fire and Ice

Chapter Thirteen

© 2004 by Shari

Beta Read by SailorTerra

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"I had thought" Kunzite said slowly as he paced up and down in front of Zoisite, allowing no emotion into his voice as he spoke as it made his mood that much harder to gage, "That you were the forth Tennou of the Dark Kingdom. You are supposed to be calculating, ruthless, a great swordsman, unfeeling as though you are made of ice and, instead, I find you lowering yourself to trading blows with the Earth Kingdom's Prince."

Zoisite studied the tips of his boots, knowing better than to say anything to defend himself. He had acted foolishly, but he was still only a student and Endymion had wrong footed him by guessing that he was from the Dark Kingdom. Of course, giving his real name hadn't been the smartest move, but Kunzite-sama seemed to forget that Zoisite had never been to the Earth Realm before and, as much as he hated to admit to it, he hadn't been a Tennou for as long as the rest of them.

He meekly pointed out this fact to Kunzite, causing the older man to pause directly in front of him.

"Then you must learn quickly. Beryl will not tolerate such failures again."

Zoisite shrugged and looked away. What did he care what Beryl thought anyway? She couldn't kill any of them just before the war and they both knew this.

The war... it would begin in a week's time and already Zoisite was thinking of how best to use this to work towards his own personal goal; killing Nephrite. Kunzite-sama was definitely right about having to learn quickly. Endymion had always been an incompetent fool and had only earned the title of the Prince of Earth by the sheer luck of his bloodline and, as it was, he risked losing it all for that blonde and rather clumsy Moon Princess. To have Endymion humiliate him in such a way was unforgivable and Zoisite already had thoughts about Endymion befalling a similar 'accident' as Nephrite when the final battle came.

"Kunzite-sama?" Zoisite ventured quietly when he realised that his lover had ceased berating him and was now standing by the window, staring out into the darkness of their Kingdom. The occasional flicker of lightening danced across the blackened sky and Zoisite couldn't help but shudder as he edged nervously to Kunzite's side.

The Ice King did not react when Zoisite snuggled up beside him and the younger King gazed up at him, biting his lip when he saw the concerned frown upon Kunzite's face. He feared for the Dark Kingdom, Zoisite knew. Kunzite feared that the war was coming too quickly and that Metallia wasn't ready. If the Silver Millennium destroyed them... Zoisite shivered and pressed against Kunzite, and the older man subconsciously wrapped an arm around him. For a few blissful seconds Zoisite closed his eyes and leaned further into this contact, reminiscing the same sort of calm he had felt when they had first slept together. The morning when he had woke up in Kunzite's arms simply because he wanted to be there and not because of his want for rank and power.

"Do not think I have forgotten your own mission" Kunzite's voice broke through his revue and Zoisite felt him pull away.

"My mission" he repeated weakly.

"When we go to the Moon," Kunzite said slowly, as he walked towards the door leading into their own private chambers, "When we go to the Moon we will be the Shitennou for the last time. If Nephrite returns then I will consider your life forfeit for his."

"Kunzite-sama!" Zoisite couldn't help but cry out, but his lover paid him no heed.

Would he truly kill him? Did Zoisite really mean nothing to Kunzite? But the older man had saved his life! Still Zoisite had suspected as much but to have it confirmed in that way... Then why did he still want to prove himself? He... he loved Kunzite-sama and wanted desperately for the older man to return his feelings. Wasn't proving his loyalty by denouncing rank in return for staying at Kunzite's side enough? Zoisite supposed not.

Scowling in defiance at Kunzite's retreating form, Zoisite teleported from their quarters in a flurry of Sakura petals.

* * *

Jadeite sighed to himself, running once hand through his short blonde hair whilst he nursed a glass of brandy in the other. With the battle fast approaching, Beryl had been especially tetchy and had incinerated a good proportion of the Youma Court when Jadeite had informed her that his division of the army needed a little longer than a week to prepare for war against the Earth. Of course, on seeing their charred bodies, Jadeite had quickly backtracked and explained that the army would be ready in three days time. How Jadeite was going to turn the vicious back stabbing creatures into a invincible fighting force in three days time, he did not know.

"You won't find the answer in the bottom of a glass you know"

Jadeite scowled, subconsciously gripping the glass tighter when he recognised the slightly feminine tenor of the newly appointed forth Tennou. Turning around, Jadeite saw his former pupil leaning casually against his open bedroom door, twirling a lock of his dark blonde hair around a slender finger, a sly smile flickering across his lips when he detected the irritation that his mere presence had caused his fellow king.

"What do you want, Zoisite?" Jadeite grated out, wishing sorely that his plan to kill the younger man had succeeded after all. Zoisite was the epitome of annoying, after all.

His reply, however, was not what Jadeite had been expecting.

"Your help, of course."

Jadeite had, at first, thought that Zoisite had come to get revenge upon him for trying to kill him, but wanting his help?

"My help?" Jadeite did his best to appear disinterested, but in actually fact what Zoisite was saying intrigued him greatly and he, subconsciously, found himself willing Zoisite to hurry up and explain.

Zoisite crossed the room, taking to pacing up and down in front of Jadeite as he always did when he was nervous. "Queen Beryl has ordered an attack upon the Earth Kingdom in a week's time" Zoisite started, "Kunzite-sama, of course, will be leading the army into battle and against the palace itself."

Jadeite nodded, pretending that this didn't surprise him but, in actual fact, he had not even heard Beryl's plan as of yet. He could only assume that Kunzite had told Zoisite this, although he wouldn't put it passed the little rat to lie to him.

Still, despite his curiosity, the little king's presence and constant pacing was starting to irritate the blonde so he snapped, "Is this conversation actually going anywhere, Zoisite?"

Zoisite ceased pacing, suddenly agitated as he replied, "I want you to tell Nephrite that Beryl-sama has ordered that he tackle the security on the eastern wing of the palace."

Jadeite frowned, "But that's the servants wing? Surely they will have all fled the fighting."

"That's my point."

"Then why send him there?"

Zoisite shot Jadeite a cruel grin and conjured a perfect, and deadly, shard of ice in his left hand, letting it fly from his fingertips and strike the wall behind Jadeite's head.

So he planned to kill Nephrite. Somehow this didn't surprise Jadeite in the slightest, but Zoisite was considerably weaker than the second Tennou and Jadeite secretly feared of being a party to this attempt on Nephrite's life.

Still, letting none of this on, Jadeite said instead, "And why should I help you?"

"Because I didn't tell Kunzite-sama about your part to play in our attempt to overthrow him"

"How do I know that you won't after Nephrite is dead? How do I know that I can trust you?"

Zoisite gave him another cruel cat grin, "You don't."

Jadeite stood, slowly walking towards the younger man, crowding him and forcing him back against the closed door, "Why doesn't Kunzite kill him?" Jadeite paused, searching through his memory and knowledge of the first king and smirking when he found the answer, "He's given you an ultimatum hasn't he? If you don't kill Nephrite then he will kill you."


Jadeite shrugged, "You can deny it if you like, but it won't help your case. If you fail then Nephrite will discover that I helped you and I'll be dead. If you succeed then I will automatically go up a rank, thus making myself a target for your next hierarchy ambitions and then I'll be dead."

Zoisite pouted and stamped his foot on the ground, a childish act really, Jadeite thought to himself, yet he had to admit that he liked Zoisite a lot more than he liked Nephrite and was inclined to agree to help Zoisite with his plan, though it would be best to let the younger man sweat for a moment or two long about it first and to perhaps get something more out of it, too.

"What if I promise not to kill you?" Zoisite offered.

Jadeite shook his head, "Can you keep that?"

"Probably not" Zoisite admitted craftily, "But as I said before, if you don't help me then you know what I'll do."

Jadeite silently considered his threats for a few moments, but he realised that they truly meant nothing to him. He had heard rumour that the Dark Kingdom was not strong enough to take on the Earth and the Moon. If that were true then they would all be dead by the end of the week and any power or rank that were to be gained by helping Zoisite was meaningless. There was, however, one favour that Jadeite could think to ask, though it meant potential humiliation and embarrassment on his behalf.

"I'll tell Nephrite to go to the east wing of the palace" he agreed, "But on one condition."

"You are in no position to make demands of me."

Jadeite shrugged again and answered casually, "I'll be dead if you fail and dead if you succeed so any demand I make for selfish reasons will be pointless."

Zoisite looked up, obviously slightly intrigued by where this conversation was heading. "What do you want of me?"

"Nothing. You said that Kunzite is leading the Youma army. There is a particular Youma, Tetis, whom I believe you've met. If you have any sway with Kunzite, have him position her away from the worst of the fighting."

"Why would you care about a single Youma?"

"That does not concern you."

Zoisite, to Jadeite's surprise, decided to leave out any teasing that the blonde had expected would come with his display if obvious affection towards one of Beryl's strongest Youma. Jadeite, however, was at a loss as to how exactly to explain the empathy between himself and Tetis. Their relationship wasn't sexual, simply more of a mutual understanding and for that reason, if there were any chance at all that she could be spared, Jadeite wanted to make sure that she was given it.

"I'll speak to Kunzite-sama" Zoisite confirmed, suddenly agitated for reasons that Jadeite was unable to fathom. He had at least expected a snide remark from the little king.

Then without another word, Zoisite teleported away in a cloud of Sakura petals, leaving Jadeite even more bemused than before.

"Zoisite" he whispered to himself, "What are you really up too?"

Kunzite winced at the slam of the bedroom door that signalled Zoisite's return. Lost in his own thoughts, Kunzite had barely been aware of the time that had passed since his lover left him in a storm of Sakura fury.

Zoisite's temper, however, seemed to have calmed slightly as he crossed the room and sat himself down on Kunzite's lap, peering at the map of the Earth Kingdom's palace with interested.

"When we go to the Moon we will be the Shitennou for the last time. If Nephrite returns then I will consider your life forfeit for his."

Of course, Kunzite hadn't meant these words. In truth, his own feelings for Zoisite would not allow him to harm the younger king, but Zoisite had to understand that he did not get to being the first of the Shitennou without hardening his heart against such feelings just as Nephrite had to understand that any attempts to usurp him could not be allowed to go unpunished.

"What are you doing?" Zoisite asked softly, drawing Kunzite from his thoughts.

"Looking at our strategy for the battle" Kunzite answered him. With Zoisite's reappearance, Kunzite went to shove the map aside and concentrate on greeting his lover properly when Zoisite said suddenly:

"Have you decided upon where to position Beryl-sama's Youma?"

Kunzite frowned, and indicated on the map where he had marked on each one in turn. To this Zoisite shook his head and pointed to one in particular "I'd station her here" he placed a slender fingertip on a point on the map, far away from the main battle, "That way she can make sure that the enemy don't manage to sneak up on us."

Kunzite turned sharply to look at Zoisite. His lover had never been interested in the strategy of the battle before, let alone to start making suggestions. Still, he had to admit, that Zoisite's words made sense and he decided to heed the younger man's advice. What was one Youma less after all?

Marking this change on the map, Kunzite leaning forward to press a hungry kiss to Zoisite's lips, deciding to spend a few hours with his beautiful lover rather than concern himself with the impending battle.

The End of Chapter 13 - Goto Chapter 14

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