Title: One Last Favour
Theme: Running Away (Shitennou)
Version: Manga (Silver Millennium)
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold.
- Sting, “Fields of Gold”
It was like those games they’d played when they were younger, running through the fields and the golden grass, shrieking out each other’s names. The grass felt the same against his hands, feather soft. The hills surrounding the valley were the same. But he was not the same and they were certainly not the same. They had changed.
They were coming for him and they were not going to let him escape this time.
Endymion stumbled on the ridge of earth but his momentum kept him going. He’d already sent everyone else on to the moon but he’d stayed, he’d had to stay to make sure that Elysion was safely guarded, all the barriers raised, both visible and invisible. The power was locked away, they couldn’t touch it. He shut his eyes tight against the pain in his chest. How had it come to this?
“Are you giving up?”
The call was distant and yet it was as if Jadeite was standing at his shoulder, whispering in his ear. Endymion gritted his teeth, pushing himself harder, heading for the tower on the hill, the designated meeting point. He could hear them now, running behind him through the grass, the swish and crush of their footsteps. They were silent. Perhaps it hadn’t been Jadeite’s voice but who else would ask that question? He hit the beginning of the slope and dragged the air into his lungs, chancing a look over his shoulder.
There they were: Jadeite in blue, Nephrite in red, Zoisite in green.
Endymion’s heart dropped in alarm. Only three of them? Where was Kunzite? If they were here together, then Kunzite must be with them. He swept his gaze over the horizon, but there was no gleam of grey or white.
He heard Nephrite laugh, the clear sound corrupted with cynicism. “Looking for somebody?”
The others laughed as well, high and mocking. Endymion felt his whole body shudder. My brothers. When did this start? Why didn’t I see I was losing you? He wanted to scream at them, beg them to stop this joke, stop teasing him, but there was no stopping now. They had gone into the dark and there was no way to bring them back. He would have to leave them here. He would have to leave them alone, just as they’d left him alone.
Endymion turned and ran up the hill, his chest and eyes burning for different reasons. He saw the doorway yawn wide and stumbled inside, head down, blinded by the darkness. Then a figure stepped out in front of him, sword held out.
“You always were predictable.”
Endymion stopped and stood straight, waiting as his eyes adjusted to the light. There he was, the leader of his guard, the man who had once been his closest friend. Losing him was the worst thing of all, Endymion thought. The other three were bad enough but to know that Kunzite was lost to him as well, after everything… He wouldn’t accept that. “Come with me,” he begged, even though he knew it was pointless. “Please, Kunzite, come with me. You’ll be welcome up there. I don’t care what you’ve done, just come with me now.”
Kunzite watched him, his eyes in shadow, his face unreadable like the stone walls around them. Endymion wanted to punch him, make him say or do something, but he knew that if he made any movement, Kunzite would run him through without another thought. So Endymion clenched his fists and stayed still, grateful for the darkness that hid the emotion in his face.
“Even now, you are willing to forgive?” Kunzite said and there was wistfulness in his voice. “Even now, after everything that has happened?”
“Yes!” Endymion answered, his chest tight with hope. “I know the others won’t, but you… just having you with me would mean so much to me, Kunzite. We could fight together… with the ones we love.” He lowered his voice. “You could see her.”
Kunzite moved so quickly that Endymion only had time to gasp as the tip of the sword touched his stomach. “You know nothing!” Kunzite snarled, the sudden fury in his face making him unrecognisable. “You know nothing about us.”
Endymion swallowed. “That’s true… I didn’t know. I didn’t see and I’m sorry, Kunzite. But you can’t say she means nothing to you now. You wouldn’t react like that if you felt nothing for her.”
“It is rather late for you to interest yourself in my feelings, your Highness,” Kunzite said coldly.
Endymion’s heart sank again but he wasn’t going to give up after such emotion. “She’s waiting for you,” he repeated, watching Kunzite’s grip tighten, the hope turning his voice hoarse. “Come with me and you can see her, Kunzite. I know you still feel something for her, what you’ve just said proves it.”
Kunzite dropped the sword but shook his head. “What did I tell you before, Endymion?” His voice was tired but recognisable. “You can’t play favourites.”
Desperation clawed at Endymion’s stomach, cold and vicious. “Kunzite, you’re the only one left—!”
“It’s all of us or none of us,” Kunzite said, talking over him as if this were old times. “How many times have I told you that? You either take all of us or you take none of us. That applies just as much in this situation as any other.”
“No!” Endymion gripped the pommel of his own sword so that he didn’t scream the word. “I’m not leaving you here! I’m not leaving you behind—!”
“You’ve already left me behind, Endymion,” Kunzite interrupted, steady as ever. “You left me behind a long time ago and you never looked back. It’s too late for you to try and make amends.”
The words hit Endymion like a punch in the stomach and he sagged a little, too upset to speak. He could feel Kunzite watching him. He took a deep breath and looked up. The least he could do was meet Kunzite’s eyes. To his surprise, Kunzite had a compassionate expression on his face.
“Would you have me leave them alone? Would you have them betrayed twice?” he asked. “That is how they will see it. You know that.”
Endymion shook his head. “No… no… but…”
“This is the way it has to be,” Kunzite said. “There is no room for ‘but’, not anymore. I stay here, with the others.”
“But you’re not swallowed up yet,” Endymion said, stepping forwards. “You could still…”
“I am staying here. Just as you are going to the moon. Now, are you going to injure me or will I have to do it myself?”
Endymion stared at him. His brain moved sluggishly, refusing to absorb the words. “What?”
“They will come to see what happened soon,” Kunzite said, glancing at the doorway. “I must be injured in order to make your escape look convincing.” He paused, his expression becoming very sombre. “This is the last thing I will ever ask of you, Endymion,” he said quietly. “The next time we meet, we will be enemies. Will you grant me this one last favour?”
Endymion couldn’t speak. He unsheathed his sword. Kunzite turned to expose his side and Endymion made a long sweeping motion, gritting his teeth as Kunzite fell on one knee. He sheathed the sword once more and then looked at his former guard, his fingers itching to stop the blood that was now seeping through and turning the material of Kunzite’s tunic black.
“Go,” Kunzite said, teeth gritted. “They will have felt that, they will be here very soon. What are you waiting for? Go!”
Endymion ran to the bottom of the steps and then turned, his vision blurred. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.
Kunzite just looked at him. “Run,” he said and Endymion ran, up towards the sky and away from the darkness, choking on tears of regret.