Wounds

© 1998 by Zeth


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Author's Note:

This is a Kunzite/Zoisite fic, something of a companion piece to the earlier Divided Hearts, although each can stand alone. Wounds is set during the last days of the Dark Kingdom, when Zoisite and Kunzite were working together against the sailor senshi.

Thanks to those who took the time to send in comments about my previous piece. I hope you enjoy this one. Comments are always welcome.

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. They belong to Naoko Takeuchi (and to each other). This is a non-profit work made solely for the enjoyment of fans. Please don't sue me.


Wounds

© 1998 by Zeth

He won't let me do anything for him.

He wouldn't even show me the wounds on his hands; he flatly refused my offer to tend to them. I could hear his stupid pride talking, so I bit my tongue and said no more, quite pointedly. But the gloves he peeled off were stained with red. He crushed them up in his fists when he saw me watching.

Now he's gone, without even bandaging them properly; gone off to report to his queen. His queen, not mine, though we both profess to serve her. But I know now there is only one whom I will ever follow.

She won't be pleased. Often he insists on going alone to these meetings. I tell him I don't need him to protect me. He says I am his responsibility. His burden, perhaps. I don't know what happens at these private conferences. For all I know he could be blaming our failures on me.

But he wouldn't betray me like that. He could have done so already a dozen times over, if he so wished. But he won't. He loves me, after all. I love him, and he loves me back.

Sometimes, in my heart of hearts, I start to wonder - but it doesn't matter, does it? We're together; everyone knows it. Even she has to acknowledge it.

But he won't tell me anything about what transpires at these meetings. He evades my questions, brushes aside my demands, presents me with a conjured rose, delivered with a flourish. It's so transparent, it's laughable. Does he really think I can be distracted so easily?

But it pleases him. So I smile, and I kiss him, as if one small flower can wipe away the shadows that cling to us these days. And his shoulders relax, a little, and I wonder what the hell she's doing to him. She doesn't care what he goes through for her; she's grinding him into dust.

Some days I hate her face.

He's always been the one closest to her, the oldest of us all. The most loyal, the most committed. Each reprimand she delivers cuts him like a whip. He, who never flinches from the hurt of any foe. He comes when she calls, goes when she bids. Beryl's faithful hound.

I stalk around our quarters, hurling pillows about in silent fury. I wish Nephrite were still around to vent my anger on. But he's gone now; his chambers stand empty. I'm not sorry for his death - I always hated him. I know he held me in scorn, considered me an upstart who had won my position through bedroom politics. Well, I showed him I wield enough power of my own.

But even when I took my vengeance upon him, I was serving her purposes. She uses us all as her tools. The knowledge galls me, that I have to be her puppet. My fingers close around a green velvet cushion. With a snarl I fling it across the room as hard as I can.

It sails further than I intend, striking the mirror on the far wall. It rebounds onto the dresser, scattering the accessories atop it. A silver portrait frame is knocked to the floor with the sound of tinkling glass.

I stare at it, stricken.

Before I am aware of it I am on the other side of the room, kneeling before the fallen portrait frame. I turn it over; my hands are shaking. There is a hairline fracture in the glass, just above his heart. I look into his smiling eyes. His arms are around me.

"Damn you, Beryl," I whisper hoarsely.

Slowly, carefully, I replace the portrait on the dresser.

I sense the pull of a dimensional gate opening. I turn around, to see him standing there amid the scattered pillows. He quirks an eyebrow at the mess. "Having fun without me?"

He won't put off my questions this time. "How did it go?" I demand. "What did she say?"

He sighs quietly, as he removes his cape and folds it. "She is not satisfied with our progress. She is growing impatient."

"She's always been impatient. If she thinks she can do better, she should get out there and hunt for her precious crystals herself."

"Zoisite." He sounds tired; the word is only a shadow of a rebuke. Maybe he too wishes the Queen would go out and take care of her own missions.

"I don't like the way she treats you," I mutter. "I wish you'd let me come to the debriefings more often. I'd tell her exactly what I think."

"That's the last thing you should do," he says, a warning in his voice. "You can't afford to rouse her ire now. Keep that temper of yours leashed."

"Why do we always have to defer to her whims? She doesn't appreciate what we go through for her. We would have had the crystals this time if that other senshi hadn't turned up. I almost nailed Tuxedo Kamen, too."

"The Dark Kingdom doesn't reward near misses." His fists clench by his side, then release. There is blood on his trousers when he moves his hands away. "Another thing. The Queen doesn't want us going after Kamen anymore. He is not to be harmed."

"What?" I stare at him in astonishment. "Why the hell not?"

He pauses to frame his reply. "She considers him to be valuable to her. She has plans for him."

"That's ridiculous. He's a threat. He needs to be eliminated." And this is one mission I would relish taking on, with or without her command.

"Well, we have other orders. So don't touch Kamen. Beryl has her reasons." He seems reluctant to discuss the subject in more detail.

But I am tired of always being shielded from the truth. "Reasons? What reasons?"

"I'll tell you when you need to know." He places a hand on my shoulder, a lukewarm attempt at placation. "Don't you trust me?"

"Don't you trust me? I thought you said you loved me." It comes out sounding plaintive and insecure. Not the way I intended.

He releases a frustrated sigh, letting his hand fall. "Of course I do, but you try my patience sometimes!"

"Well, I'm sorry I'm such a bother!" I snap back. "I don't mean to make your life difficult! Is that what you've been cosying with Beryl about? My poor behaviour?"

"Not everything is about you, Zoisite," he says in disgust. "I can't believe how self-centred you are. I might end up being the next to go!" His mouth twists in anger. "Is that what you want? Or don't you care, as long as you can claw your way upwards?"

I can't believe he just said that. "Is that... is that what you really think of me? Is that what I am to you?" There's a sick feeling in my stomach. We never used to fight like this. "You do belong to her after all. You've never been anything else."

"We all belong to her." His voice is cold. "If you forget that too often, I won't be able to help you."

"I don't want your pathetic lectures! And I don't give a damn about her! All I want is - I only wanted you to -" The words catch in my throat. "I'll always be second-best, won't I? You'd even give me up, for her sake." I ignore the stinging in my eyes. "You'll only ever be her dog!"

His face drains of all blood. It is like the face of death. He could kill me outright if he let himself. I know we are not as evenly matched as I would like to think. His eyes pin me motionless, cut me to the bone, as his hand closes over my throat.

I can't look away. I can't move. My pulse beats loud in my ears.

"Kunzite..." I whisper.

A choked sound emerges from his mouth. The pressure against my windpipe eases, as he slowly releases his grip. Then he steps back, all rage collapsing. The desolation in his eyes is more terrifying than any anger. "This is the road I must walk. There's no choice. It's who I am." He reaches out a hand to me, open, torn. "You have to understand."

He's bound to her more closely than a shadow, and it's devouring him. Why does it have to be this way? Wordlessly, I wrap my arms around him. He buries his face in my hair. "Let's go to bed. I don't want to think about these things anymore tonight."

I lie awake, even when he has drifted into sleep beside me. The rift between us grows wider each day, no matter how much I pretend. So many things he does not tell me anymore; so many questions I am afraid to ask. I hate it. I don't know what to do about it, and I hate that even more.

Someone - someone's going to suffer for this. A masked face flashes before my mind's eye, the swirl of a black and red cape. I want things to go back to the way they were before. Our failures are eating away at the man sleeping beside me.

I'll bring them down before they destroy him - the senshi, Tuxedo Kamen, Beryl herself. I'll kill anyone who hurts him. I kiss his hands, my mouth brushing over the jagged scars.

I'll do anything for him.

I swear it.

- Fin -


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