Kunzite froze in place and slowly turned his head towards the other three. The look on his face could have plummeted the Antarctic into absolute zero.
"I heard a rip."
"Really?" Zoisite asked nervously from the back. He was standing behind everyone, having quickly teleported to the rear after accidentally stepping on Kunzite's cape. "I didn't hear anything."
"That's funny," Nephrite said slyly. "I could have sworn that you were in front of me a second ago."
"Well I wasn't," Zoisite insisted.
Jadeite opened his mouth to agree with Nephrite but Zoisite cut in.
"Nephrite is obviously drunk. Don't pay any attention to what that lush is saying."
"I am not drunk!"
Kunzite ignored their little spat. He had more important things on his mind. Namely his precious cape. He was gathering the sacred cloth in his hands to assess the damage. The tear was very large. His heart skipped a beat. It took all his mettle to prevent himself from hyperventilating.
Kunzite's voice was calm yet so frightening that everyone else was frozen in place. Including Zoisite, who had to pin this on somebody. He couldn't let his beloved Kunzite-sama forever associate him with the destruction of his most precious and treasured possession. But before he could accuse Nephrite, who Zoisite felt had it coming to him anyway, the dark haired Shitennou spoke up, ruining his moment.
"It was Jadeite! I saw him!"
Now Nephrite had meant to say Zoisite. But he really was a little tipsy. And since Jadeite was standing right next to him the name just sort of popped out. He immediately felt a little bad about this slip up. But at least he himself wasn't the one getting into trouble. He wouldn't tangle with Kunzite right now for all the power in the Dark Kingdom.
"Sorry Jadeite," Nephrite thought. "Sometimes you just gotta take one for the team."
Kunzite turned to Jadeite, speaking through clenched teeth. "How could you be so clumsy?"
Jadeite threw his hands up. He was terrified. "It wasn't me! I swear!"
Zoisite was a bit disappointed. He really wanted Nephrite to fry for this. Literally. Nothing would have brought him more satisfaction. But now that Nephrite had accused Jadeite instead, Zoisite figured he might as well roll with it. After all, Nephrite was already onto him. It was too bad for poor Jadeite. But at least Zoisite wouldn't have to suffer the shame of ruining his lover's cape. So he chimed in with his own accusation.
"I saw him too! He wasn't even watching where he was going. What a klutz. He has no respect for you Kunzite-sama. None at all."
"I didn't do anything!" Jadeite cried. "I'm innocent!"
"Two witnesses say otherwise," Kunzite hissed. "Are you calling my beloved a liar?"
"No!" Jadeite cried, turning white with fear. "Of-of course not! I would never do that! You know, you could fix it with magic. Good as new!" He laughed nervously, thinking he'd be lucky if he made it out of this alive.
"Magic?" Kunzite roared. "That's not the point! The point is that my cape has been torn! I've had this cape as long as I can remember and never once has it ever been torn, tattered or stained. And now because of your inability to walk down a flight of stairs properly it has been defiled! Defiled!"
Jadeite backed up into the wall, letting out a squeak of fear when his body hit the stone surface with a solid thud. There was nowhere left to run. "Well maybe you could get a new cape then? You know, start out fresh."
Jadeite immediately regretted that suggestion.
"New cape?" Kunzite cried, eyes glowing. "There is no new cape! It's irreplaceable! How dare you suggest that it can simply be switched out for another? How dare you!"
Grabbing Jadeite by the throat, Kunzite began to throttle him as dangerous amounts of energy poured from his hands. It was coursing all through Jadeite's body, which was now alight with blue as if he were being electrocuted. "You worthless vile dog! You ruined my cape!"
Nephrite swallowed hard, backing up a bit. He was really going to miss playing checkers with Jadeite. But if he intervened now he wouldn't live to see tomorrow.
Zoisite felt a little guilty. But he had never in his life seen Kunzite so infuriated. It was really sexy. He was getting turned on. "Dear sweet Metalia, he's unbelievably gorgeous when he's about to commit cold blooded murder!"
Suddenly Kunzite got a hold of himself. It was rather unbecoming to waste so much power punishing an idiot several ranks below you. Even if he was a clumsy cape mangler. After all, Kunzite had his pride. Silently he let go of Jadeite, who was now propped up against the wall motionless. His face frozen in fear.
"That should teach you! Now do you realise the severity of what you've done?"
But Jadeite didn't answer or even move. He was still frozen against the wall, mouth wide open and eyes full of terror and pain.
"Answer me!" Kunzite demanded. "I will not tolerate insolence where my cape is concerned!"
Nephrite cautiously tapped his shoulder. "Umm, Kunzite?"
"Don't bother me! I'm teaching this moron a lesson. And apparently he needs to be taught another."
Kunzite was about to reach out for Jadeite's neck again when Zoisite spoke up. As hot as it was to watch his lover in action this had gone far enough. Plus Jadeite had given him a coupon for a free frozen yogurt yesterday. The poor guy deserved a freebie.
"Kunzite-sama, I think he's comatose or something. That's why he isn't answering."
Kunzite seemed surprised. He was so caught up in his torn cape induced rage that he didn't even notice the sorry state that Jadeite was now in. "What? Are you sure?"
Zoisite nodded, pointing at Jadeite's terror frozen face. "Pretty sure. He's not moving."
Kunzite tapped Jadeite on the shoulder. There was no reaction. So he started shaking him. "Jadeite? I command you to answer me! If this is a joke then the punishment you just received will seem like a mere bee sting compared to what shall come next."
Actually, he's allergic to bees," Nephrite said.
"Then it will be like the sting of a thousand bees!" Kunzite roared. "Killer bees!"
That threat should have been enough to rouse him if he was playing possum. But there was no sign of consciousness at all.
"Is he dead?" Nephrite asked.
Kunzite shook him some more. "I don't know."
"Take his pulse," Nephrite suggested.
"You take it," Kunzite replied. "I think I've done enough damage." He was a little shell-shocked now. It's not as if he meant for this to happen. But you just didn't mess with the cape unless you wanted to feel the wrath.
Nephrite reached out for Jadeite's wrist and felt for a pulse. "It's weak."
"What do we do?" Zoisite asked.
Just then Nephrite let go of Jadeite's wrist. He stepped back and accidentally knocked into Zoisite, who stumbled on the stairs.
"Hey!" Zoisite cried. "You almost sent me tumbling down!"
"I did not! You're fine!"
"I was nearly killed by your drunken staggering!" Zoisite spat, hoping that Kunzite would take this opportunity to get hot and angry again. Maybe render Nephrite comatose as well. That would be wonderful.
"For the last time I am not drunk!" Nephrite yelled, still feeling a little intoxicated.
"Stop it immediately!" Kunzite ordered. "We have more important things to-"
But it was too late. Nephrite and Zoisite had gotten into a shoving match. Zoisite was so angry that he had lost all composure around his beloved Kunzite. He send a flurry of petals at Nephrite causing him to stumble sideways into the silver haired man.
Kunzite reached out for the wall to keep his balance and in the process elbowed the still comatose Jadeite, who began to tumble down the stairs.
Everyone was too stunned to do anything. They just watched in horror as Jadeite rolled down the stairs, his frozen expression never changing. He hit the bottom with a thud, staring straight up at the ceiling.
"How many steps was that?" Kunzite asked, swallowing hard.
"About 80," Nephrite answered. He was shaking a little.
"This is bad," Zoisite whispered. "Very bad."
It had just occurred to them all that they didn't exactly have permission to kill Jadeite. That was a pleasure reserved solely for Queen Beryl, who had been very disappointed with his performance lately. She had been filled with glee thinking up the ultimate punishment for Jadeite if he continued to fail her. If they took that away from her then one of them may have to take his place.
Kunzite teleported to the bottom of the stairs and tapped Jadeite a few times with his boot, trying to rouse him. But he just continued to stare at the ceiling, eyes wide and mouth agape.
Kneeling down, Kunzite held his hand above Jadeite's mouth. "He's breathing."
Nephrite and Zoisite sighed in relief. At least he wasn't dead. And that greatly upped their chances of staying alive. They nearly knocked each other off the stairs trying to go down before Zoisite simply decided to teleport right next to Kunzite, kneeling down beside him. Nephrite just walked slowly down the stairs. He couldn't teleport with any decent accuracy under the influence of alcohol. When he got to the bottom he joined his comrades in their vigil.
It wasn't that they were so broken up over Jadeite's state that they were at a loss for words. They just needed to find a way to resolve this while remaining punishment free.
After a few minutes Nephrite spoke up. "We could just leave him down here. Say that he tripped. We'll send a youma to 'discover' him."
"Well he is clumsy," Zoisite added.
"He sure is, Zoisite," Nephrite replied sarcastically, casting a knowing glare at the green-eyed sneaky snake.
Zoisite stuck his tongue out while his lover was distracted and still trying to shake Jadeite out of his comatose state.
"Well," Kunzite finally said, "That sounds like the best thing to do. We'll just say we haven't seen him. We'll wait awhile and send a youma down here. That way if he dies it's not on us. Hopefully he won't remember what happened. I was rather rough. He might even be brain damaged. That would definitely be in our favor."
"Who do we send?" Zoisite asked.
"Someone who would go looking for Jadeite anyway," Nephrite replied.
- - -
Queen Beryl called for Jadeite over and over again with no reply. She was starting to get really mad. If he didn't answer soon there would be hell to pay. So the Queen summoned Nephrite, who she knew liked to play some stupid game called checkers with him.
"Nephrite!" She screamed, "Where is Jadeite?"
Nephrite bowed his head and spoke in a calm and respectful voice. He had to make this sound really convincing. Luckily for him he was very good at lying. "Forgive me my Queen, but I have not seen Jadeite since yesterday. I assumed he was out gathering energy. If you want I can send a youma to investigate the matter."
Queen Beryl nodded. "Good. That would be satisfactory. If he doesn't show up by tomorrow he's a dead man."
Little did she know, Jadeite had already been 'found' by Tetis. Nephrite had told her that he was missing. Naturally poor Tetis was devastated. So Nephrite consulted the stars for her. They of course revealed the truth. That Jadeite had an accident involving a certain flight of stairs. Well that wasn't the whole story. But it was all she needed to know. Tetis rushed to the place where her crush was. Still comatose from the incident that had occurred only hours before.
Nephrite thought it was only fair to give Tetis a little alone time with Jadeite. After all, she tried so hard to get his attentions. And she could keep him until tomorrow too. As long as she kept her mouth shut about Nephrite's little prediction. And she had already promised to say that she found him all by herself. She'd do anything to be with Jadeite.
- - -
"I don't want any more soup!" Jadeite yelled. "Stop trying to feed me that sludge!"
"But Jadeite, you need to get all better," Tetis cooed.
"I don't even know how I ended up here. What happened? Did you drug me? It's the soup isn't it? You're insane!"
Tetis held another spoonful of seaweed soup up to Jadeite's mouth. "I told you darling, you fell down the stairs."
Jadeite, repulsed by the taste of seaweed soup, tried to push her hand away. But his body was so sore that he didn't have the strength to do it. "I don't remember falling down the stairs. And I'm not your darling. Now let me go!"
"But you hurt all over!" Tetis protested, shoving the spoon into his mouth. "Now eat up. There's plenty more where this came from."
- - -
As for Kunzite, he begrudgingly mended his cape with magic. It looked as good as new but it just felt so wrong. After he put his cape back on Zoisite snuggled in beneath it, making a point to nuzzle the cloth and remark how warm it was.
"Well if you like it...," Kunzite said sweetly, embracing his love, "I suppose it's good enough for me too."
Zoisite didn't feel the least bit guilty. It was too bad that Jadeite would get reprimanded for not showing up when summoned. He wasn't even sure if being comatose and critically injured was a valid excuse in Queen Beryl's eyes. But that was Jadeite's problem. Zoisite on the other hand, had gotten away with murder. Cape murder. And his beloved Kunzite-sama would never know. Sure it was dishonest. But to Zoisite it was more shameful to be known as the one who ruined Kunzite's cape in the first place. It would only hurt his lover to think of him as a cape ripping klutz. And Zoisite just couldn't have that. Pinning it on someone else was, in his green eyes, very commendable.
It was just too bad that Nephrite wasn't the one who landed in the hot seat. But there was always next time.