The Shame In Your Defeat (Kunzite)

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The Shame In Your Defeat (Kunzite)
Date of Cutscene: 13 February 2016
Location: The Past
Synopsis: Content warning: unpleasant. The fight in Jadeite's palace triggered a surge of memories in those reborn from the Silver Millennium. Kunzite is not an exception. Nor are all of the memories he regains from that life.
Cast of Characters: Kunzite

He is seven, and permitted to hold his sister for the first time; he is too young to know the words for it, but for the first time he knows he would give his life to keep someone else safe.

He is eight, and grieving.

He is eight, and it is thirty seconds later, and he has put aside grief in favor of surviving to kill the ones who caused it.

He is nine, and he is at war.

He is ten, and he is hollow at heart; and the touch of a prince barely more than a toddler fills the silence in him, wakes the urge to protect again. It is a cold passion, but it is his, and it will never burn out.

He is in his teens, and for the first time they are Four; his sharp strength and empty focus are balanced out by a mingling of distant starlight and physical presence, by a gentle brightness that shapes itself in ice, by a temperamental flare of burning flowers. A circle of strengths he could never dream of having, all tethered by oath and by choice to the point at their center. The one that melds them together, keeps their natures from separating them, brings them into an unlikely harmony and lets it resonate with all their world.

He is in his twenties, and for the first time in his life he sees the same passion that drives him in someone not of the Four. Hers burns hotter, flares brighter; but it stirs recognition in him all the same.

It is near the end, and he is making a desperate search - forsaking his magic, lest it be used to find him; setting foot outside only when the moon has set, knowing what a princess whispered to him. Praying that he will once, just once, find a place about which his prince's sense of the land is correct, and his own intelligence is wrong.

It is at the end, and the darkness is strong in him, and he can feel it using him to smile; and he looks ahead, to finding and taking the girl, and the boy following, and -- and they would be safe, prince and princess, and the Kingdom would fall. And their Leader is pleased.

And then the memories lose the faint golden haze, become solid and palpable and real, touched with a strange heat and an immediacy that he cannot at first understand. Places are changed. He is changed. Everything is changed.

He is seven, and it's a warm night, but his hands are icy, he can't find enough covers. His father thinks he's sick. He isn't wrong. The conviction that wells up inside the boy is sourceless, slow, but unyielding and terrible as the tides. He has no context for it. He has no experience. He lies still, sweating and shaking, writhing under a self-imposed compulsion he does not know how to understand or to obey.

You're not done.

He is thirteen, and the attacks are just a part of life. Some people walk on crutches. Some people need to read Braille. Some people have a ticking schedule of medications that they can never part from. He has the cold sickness in his chest, and the discipline it's spurred him to build, and the absolute care never to be sleeping anywhere that anyone but his father can see him. (It was his father or the doctors, for a while. But he's finished with doctors. They think he's making it up.)

Never sleep where anyone can see him, never show anyone more than the practiced surface, never never skimp on sleep in case the next night is the night that it comes, never let other boys come near him without noting who might be in a group with them. It's tapering off, it has been for years. But children prey on the weak, and it is a weakness. So he practices, every day, to be sure he has strength enough to fend them off.

It works. It's worked for years.

And then the day comes when

YOU'RE NOT DONE

it's still afternoon, dammit, it's not supposed to happen in the day, and it hurts, it hurts so damned much, he's doubled over and he can't breathe and it feels like

YOU'RE NOT DONE AND YOU'RE NEEDED, YOU'RE NEEDED NOW

like there's something stabbing into him, tearing at him when he tries to breathe, like his leg is -- like his head --

YOU'RE NOT DONE

he can't think, he can't bring anything to bear; there is only the hideous certainty that he's failed everything that matters, that he is failing everything that matters even now, that there is somewhere that he must be, was born to be, or everything that's gone before will go to waste --

When it finally stops, it's all at once, leaving him lying still and dazed and wondering why he's in a bed, why his arm hurts, why the light is different, why he feels so cold.

They've been putting saline into him for hours.

The doctors don't think he's faking anymore, and he really doesn't care.

When they let him out, he starts running.

As long as he's moving, as long as he's searching, it's not as bad. It stays a constant low ache in the back of his head, in his gut, in what he used to use for a heart. Everything else is mechanical: the process of sustaining himself day-to-day, of getting through school and dealing with his family so he'll be left alone, of enduring training that feels less like learning than like waking knowledge he's forgotten ... all of those matter only in that they support the search.

It goes on for years. Hunting through streets for a face he doesn't know. Dropping into bed exhausted only to open a book and page through history, searching for the occasional brief sparks of familiarity without meaning.

He is nineteen, and for more than half his life he's known that there was something he was born for, and for six years he has known every second of every day that he was failing to do it. Failing everything. That he would give anything he had, body or soul or mind, to put that right.

He does not remember how it ends.

After that, all that he remembers is that he has served the Dark Kingdom forever.

And when he surfaces from the memories --

For the first time, he remembers what it felt like to be human.

For the first time, he has contrast to what he feels now.

For the first time, he knows what it feels like to be living in this body Beryl gave him.

The only things that keep him from trying to strip his own flesh from his bones are the certainty that the bones themselves would remain, and be no better -- and the sick conviction that it would not be enough to kill him.

It's not Metallia's darkness that banishes those memories, that locks them away where they can't intrude on his current thoughts. It's himself. He cannot let himself understand what Beryl has made of him. Or he won't be any use to anyone; and without him --

Without him, who would keep the Senshi from doing to his surviving brothers what they did to Jadeite?

Without him, who would protect them long enough for the darkness to rise?