There he hung from the latticed metal, looking for all the world like a drowned rat after Mercury's frankly spectacular outburst of power. Zoisite was hurt, certainly. More than that, he was absolutely incensed -- this was a humiliation, this was a worse humiliation than Jadeite or Nephrite had suffered, and Kunzite had been watching, and Queen Beryl had been watching. And even though he'd flattened the girls with a surprise burst of cheating, it was embarrassing --
He felt the disturbance in the sky as surely as the Senshi did, and Zoisite's heart fluttered in mixed dread and relief; he was out of power, and if the Senshi realized that, he was finished. But he might well be finished anyway, unless he could prove his worth to his Queen somehow, prove he was good for something other than just needing to be pulled out of a fight after failing his mission.
The opportunity came when Beryl's powering up of her attack was interrupted by Sailor Moon's arrival and justice speech thing, and Moon started spinning up her haircopter glowstick-rave particle accelerator attack. He'd make it worth her while to bring him back to the Dark Kingdom, to let him rejoin his brothers. It was clear Moon was aiming for Beryl, and as weak and silly as Moon was, there was a painful purity to that light of hers.
Just as Moon loosed the attack, Zoisite leapt from where he'd landed, face very nearly serene in its determination. He jumped in front of the escalation, and it hurt more than anything he could possibly have imagined, and everything was changing--
--everything was changing, and Beryl would save him just like he'd saved her--
--she would, any second now--
--and at his back, beyond where he could see, Zoisite felt the portal close and the miasma of Dark Energy that'd been clouding the air dissipate.
He'd been abandoned, and the world was on fire -- fire not of his own making.
Maybe, he thought as everything faded, there wasn't enough left for her to save .
It surprised him a little that the thought relieved him.
Tuxedo Kamen stood on the impossibly slender metal supports, watching in wonder as the girl he'd just encouraged drove Beryl off and took out the boy the other three Senshi hadn't managed to blast to kingdom come. He supposed it was a bit like not being able to open a jar, and finally handing it off to someone else, who opened it with ease because of all the work you'd just done-- which was not, of course, to belittle Sailor Moon's accomplishment; even now she was using her remaining power to awaken the rest of Tokyo's citizens.
Using her remaining power--
He'd need to awaken her again, but he hesitated for a second before jumping off of the thin metal framework, gaze landing on the collapsed Zoisite, so fragile-looking.
All of a sudden he heard the voice of Sailor Mars, ringing out in the warm night. " STOP RIGHT THERE! "
He turned to look at her, eyes wide behind his luminous white mask; for a moment, he looked startlingly young.
"Yes you! Tuxedo Kamen, this was your fault in the first place! If you want to help us like you seem to claim, if you want to prove to us that you didn't do this on purpose, don't you DARE run off!" she yelled, violet eyes flashing and red high heels clicking on the rooftop as she stalked toward him, one hand on a hip and the other pointing at him imperiously.
He glanced back over his shoulder at the silently floating Usagi, leaving a glimmering trail of falling stardust in her wake. "But--" he started, then paused to be even more startled at the fact he was listening to her.
In the meantime, she'd half-turned her head, eyes still on the mysterious boy, and was calling out. "Mercury! How's Moon doing?"
The Senshi of Wisdom already had her computer out. "She's still okay, but with her rate of expenditure, she's going to exhaust herself in approximately thirty seconds."
"Jupiter--" Mars started.
The Senshi of Courage was already moving. "On it!" she called back as she jumped off the rooftop, bounding off to chase her leader and catch her when she inevitably fell.
Tuxedo Kamen's mouth opened, then shut, and he jumped down to the rooftop, eyes flickering between Mars, Mercury, and the pile of drenched and collapsed Zoisite. "Jupiter won't be able to wake her up, and Moon is still transformed..." he said hesitantly, then trailed off.
"So she'll stay at Jupiter's place until she wakes up on her own," Mars said impatiently, waving a hand dismissively and stepping right up to him. She poked him in the chest. "We have a prisoner now, and he's a boy , so there is no chance any of us is taking him home, and likewise no chance we're taking him to our base, because he can teleport . So you're taking him home, tough guy."
"What, so he can know where I live?" Tuxedo Kamen protested, ire rising-- but not as much as it should be.
"It's not like you don't know way too much about us, and we still don't know anything about you," Mars hissed, eyes flashing dangerously. "You should do something about that. If you want to be safe with an enemy in your house, hadn't you better tell us where you live, too?"
"He lives in the penthouse in the new highrise three streets north of mine, same cross-street," Mercury piped up, eyes on her computer screen. "His name is Chiba Mamoru, and he's a second year high school student. No guardians--"
"Excuse me!" Tuxedo Kamen said, his insides clenching into a tight knot at the invasion of his privacy, hands closing into fists at his sides as he stepped back, staring at Mercury, and then looking to Mars, whose face was a strange mixture of smug and a little ashamed, maybe even sympathetic.
"I'm sorry, Chiba-san," she said, her expression evening out into something practical and hard. "But no parents or guardians also means no awkward questions. If Zoisite wakes up and gives you trouble, call us and we'll come right away."
"If you can't do it for us-- or because it'll make up for causing this trouble-- or because it's the right thing to do-- then do it for Sailor Moon," Mercury told him gently, stepping closer. This time, she glanced down at the escalated heap of drowned rat puddle, and her face held a strange shadow of an indefinable emotion as she regarded him. "He doesn't look much older than us..."
Mamoru's heart was beating fast, too fast, and his face was red, and all he could think was that there was no reason he'd listened, no reason he'd stayed when Mars told him to, no reason...
Zoisite's breathing was shallow, and he didn't move. Mercury was right-- he looked even younger than Mamoru himself, if not by much.
Wordlessly, the masked boy crouched to pick the unconscious General up, and it was the Senshi of Passion's turn to be startled at how gentle he was being.
Tuxedo Kamen gave the two girls one last look, and instead of accusing, it was something lost and small and young.
He leapt into the night and vanished.
On a rooftop several buildings over and several floors up, Sailor V crouched next to her best friend, watching Sailor Jupiter jump back to the scene of the fight, carrying a very unconscious twintailed superheroine in her arms.
"This is going to get complicated really fast," she told him, sighing through her teeth. "If they know he's not dead, they're going to try and kill him. Or get him back, depending on how much sway Kunzite actually has with Beryl."
"He couldn't protect his Prince and he tried to kill you," Artemis pointed out, grooming himself. "Twice. What makes you think he can protect Zoisite? Especially if the purification actually worked?"
"He's persistent," Minako said, her voice short. She stood up, long hair blowing loose in the breeze. "You've seen. Even if Beryl took everything else from him, it couldn't take his dedication to his men."
"Either way, you can't worry about it. Mars made sure he at least won't be anywhere near the Princess."
Minako shot him a disparaging look. "And what did the Princess do the last time something happened to the Prince? It's all my problem."
"Mina..." sighed Artemis.
She scruffed him and dropped him on her shoulder. "Shut up," she grumbled, then jumped off the roof.
Morning broke, and the hours dragged on.
Rei and Ami kept texting Makoto from their respective schools, and Mako finally just texted back an irritable 'I'll let you know when she wakes up. You're not helping.'
She sighed, watching Usagi sleep, an unhealthy pallor to her skin and deep circles under her eyes. Her leader-- her friend-- had de-transformed sometime overnight, and Mako'd put her in a spare pair of her own pajamas. Usagi was swimming in them.
"Wake up, Usagi-chan," she murmured as she reached over to brush the blonde girl's hair from her face. "I'll make you the biggest breakfast... do you like pancakes?"
There was no sign of Usagi having heard, and Mako took her phone out again to call Usagi's mother.
"Hi, Tsukino-san-- this is Kino Makoto, one of Usagi's friends from school. --no, she's not there, she's at my place. I was, um-- no, no. She actually made it to school early today, but got sick as soon as-- yes, that early! She didn't leave a note? Silly. Anyway I took her home with me because she had a fever and couldn't remember where the key was, and she's in bed now... yeah, we'll be fine. She's asleep. I'm keeping a close eye on her-- if you want to pick her up after work, my address is..."
Morning broke, and the hours dragged on.
Zoisite woke up, which was the first surprise. The second surprise was that he could feel the sun on his face and he was in a bed-- a really comfortable bed. He couldn't hear anyone else nearby, and...
Nothing hurt. Nothing hurt at all.
He remembered blue hair, angry, pained blue eyes, a rush of freezing water and ice. He remembered fire and lightning, he remembered a gut-wrenching ocean of foul energy overhead and someone coming to get him--
That wasn't right. No, it was --
The strawberry blond boy sat up in the bed, scrubbing at his eyes and wishing desperately that Kunzite was there, but he couldn't feel him anywhere. He couldn't feel the presence of his other brothers, either. There was something nearby that called to him on a level he didn't remember ever feeling, something bright gold and warm, but--
Fuzzy pajamas? He was wearing fuzzy pajamas. He looked down, mystified. As his eyes focused, he looked around the room he was in: bright, spacious, decorated pretty blandly, to be perfectly honest. Floor to ceiling windows, from one wall to the other, with the curtains drawn back -- and outside them, a vista spreading out below. Tokyo, sparkling in the daylight, alive with busy people.
There was a table across from the end of the bed, and there were clothes he vaguely remembered, folded neatly atop it. Jeans, a t-shirt, a white button-down oxford; socks, Docs.
There was no way Zoisite was going to be able to figure any of this out without more information, because all his memories were in conflict, and he wasn't someone who panicked, especially not when he had no idea where Kunzite was or even where he was -- aside from Tokyo -- and he was one of the Shitennou of the Dark Kingdom, and they don't panic. Ever. Even when they're Jadeite.
The Dark Kingdom...
Zoisite shook his head and slid out of the bed, padding over to the clothes on the table. The pajama bottoms were way too long, and he scowled down as he hiked them up, then pawed at the t-shirt and jeans, undoing the perfect shop-style folding. The t-shirt had a design on it, something pretty that he didn't really recognise but half-remembered, and before he knew what he was doing, he was checking inside the collar to see how much judgement he could levy on whoever bought it. Threadless . Well...
Defiantly not making the bed, and even more defiantly flinging the pajamas across it, Zoisite got dressed in the table-clothing, and his heart constricted a little when everything fit perfectly.
To keep from thinking about what that could possibly mean, he started inspecting the room more closely. Books stacked on an end table -- all with bookmarks in, several fiction and several non-fiction, all admittedly fairly interesting; in the cabinets, all the things that didn't decorate the room. A stash of CDs, hidden bookcases, a really nice sound system, a large-screen television behind double cabinet doors, a closet with some seriously hipster clothes and some school uniforms in it... an underwear drawer.
Zoisite stood there and stared at the underwear for a second. He was in someone's actual bedroom. He'd been sleeping in someone else's actual bed. Someone who had clothes that fit him, that he vaguely recognised, and someone who'd presumably taken off his uniform and done something with it and put him in fuzzy pajamas what the actual fuck.
The door opened.
An overdressed black-haired boy in a white tie and a goddamned wing collar and suspenders was standing in it, staring at him wide-eyed, frozen in his tracks.
Zoisite stared back.
"How--" started the black-haired boy, then swallowed. "How are you feeling? Do you want breakfast?"
The room blurred comfortably and a split second later, Zoisite was holding a crystal knife to the overdressed boy's neck, gripping the front of his shirt and glaring up at him. " WHY ARE YOU SO TALL. "
That was literally not what he meant to say.
He tried again. " Where am I, " he hissed. "Who are you. Where is Kunzite? Why can't I find him? What have you done with him? And who's fucking GLOWING in my HEAD."
This time it wasn't the room that blurred, it was the boy, and the boy was holding his knife way up high over his head. His blue eyes were reproachful. "I was born six feet tall. You're in my home. I'm Chiba Mamoru. Who's Kunzite? I don't know any of the answers to your other questions. So, do you want breakfast? Since I take it you feel fine."
At some point during this, the knife had disappeared somewhere, and Zoisite was surprised to find that he was letting the boy -- Chiba -- unlatch his hand from his shirtfront.
It was too much. His hand dropped nervelessly to his side. "Uh-- yes. Thank you."
All of a sudden, Chiba's face was transfigured by the warmest smile Zoisite had ever seen, full of an inexplicable affection and relief. "Good. Come on, I made it already. It's in the kitchen."
Zoisite trailed after him, a little lost. Also a little plaintive as he asked, "...why are you wearing a tuxedo in the morning?"
Chiba just laughed.
Rei was frustrated. She couldn't text Makoto anymore -- Makoto'd made that very clear -- and she couldn't text Usagi because Usagi was still unconscious, and Ami wasn't answering, but she was spamming her phone anyway.
REI: well he hasn't called or texted yet
REI: so either zoisite is still out cold or he woke up and killed him
REI: what do you think
REI: i think probably zoisite killed him
REI: except for the escalation thing i mean i legit did not sense any more dark energy
REI: so probably he didn't kill him unless he was an asshole beforehand
REI: which given the givens is probably true i mean like
REI: who would the dark kingdom want to grab that was nice?
REI: besides the fact that he didnt just disperse means he must be an actual guy
REI: i actually kind of hope chiba is okay
REI: i mean usagi does like him and he hasnt been entirely useless
AMI: you're noisy and you're making my phone noisy, please stop
Rei sighed and jammed her phone in her desk. Sister Sakura was coming up the aisle anyway, and even though she'd finished the page of problems didn't mean she was allowed to be texting in class.
Instead, she propped her chin in her hand and looked out the window, deep in thought. Tuxedo Kamen had said Jupiter couldn't awaken Moon, implying he could . He also didn't show up until Usagi did, last night, either. In fact, he'd done a lot of showing up when she did. Luna had been keeping an eye on him, too-- his face had been on the monitors in the Catcave. Ami must've been able to align scans of Chiba with scans she was taking last night of Kamen, is all, and she had scary access to public and semi-private record.
But that still didn't explain what he meant by waking Moon up.
She and the other girls would have a LOT to talk with Luna about after school. Provided Usagi was awake. On the other hand, half the time she was sure Usagi was sleeping through Senshi meetings anyway, so maybe they could just have it around her bed or something.
Rei looked down and started doodling absently on her assignment, just waiting for the day to end.
His face was shuttered, expressionless, even to Nephrite and Jadeite. They were avoiding him anyway, ever since last night, when Zoisite didn't come back and Beryl did.
He'd given her a chance to explain what happened. She was taking too long. It was going to be a lie.
The last thing he'd ever do was confront her, though, because he knew it would be the very last thing he ever did.
So Kunzite waited.