Alright! It only took me seven months to get this chapter out! I'm so sorry.

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Previously in chapter 44:

Everyone was retrieved from the battle with Kallen and his henchmen. They were taken home and are in the process of recovering…

Vegeta cut in, "Don't talk to us until we're done eating or you'll wish that Kallen had finished you off."

Serena slapped Vegeta's arm. "Just eat your food already, Grumpy."

Vegeta snorted and shoved more food into his mouth.

Serena felt bad for her mate who had yet to let her out of arms reach. Even though it slowed him down, Kakkarrot was eating with only one hand. The other was holding her leg close to him since she needed her arm to eat as well. When she felt a quick squeeze to her inner thigh, she knew it wasn't going to be any time soon. Who was she to complain? Her sisters in the galaxy were here, her family from this world surrounded her. There was nothing more Serena could want for except for Bulma and Arem's return. Life was almost perfect.

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CHAPTER 45: Out of time

The Saiyan patriarchs finally finished their meals and moved into the living room to be with everyone else. Their hunger was satisfied and now it was time to relax.

Much to Serena's irritation, Goku had waited until she finished eating to pick her up off the bench and carry her bridal style into the living room, only to plop her in his lap once he sat down. When she tried to pry his arms open, they tightened around her and Goku growled in her ear.

"You would deny me the pleasure of holding my mate after being separated all this time?" When he nuzzled the back of Serena's neck, Mina 'aw'ed and Michelle commented on how cute it was.

Serena sighed and melted into his chest. She pushed his locked hands to rest on her stomach where she could comfortably rest her arms on his.

"Well, I suppose you all want to know what happened, huh?" The looks on everyone's faces confirmed it. Where had she disappeared to?

"It all started with Raye. I was told that I had lost my temper with my mate and that was a catalyst for Raye to come forward. You see, my body couldn't handle separating in the way it had been doing for Lita, Ami and Darien. I didn't have enough energy and so I was locked down while Raye was set free. It all worked out fine because then I was able to find the answer to my problem with extracting everyone.

"As many of you know, white light is made up of many different colors. Prisms can separate white light into its various colors and that's what the jewel did for me, it helped to pull out the remaining senshi from my life-light."

Serena smiled. "It was actually Amara's idea that made me realize what I could do. Having many different souls in my body was really tiring. I don't regret it at all," Serena added when she saw the tired looks of her friends. "It was just a little hard for me to concentrate my energy while five other people needed the same energy to be kept alive. Let me tell you that using the jewel was a lot easier than doing it the other way. I don't know why we never thought of it before.

"I'm really sorry for all the horrendous things this motley family of ours has had to experience. All I can tell you is that I must still fight one last battle against the entity that killed Kallen for us. He, It, spoke to me briefly before it left the battle field and told me that I had until the full moon to recover."

"We'll be ready by then," Gohan said, resolution and determination coloring his face.

The tired smile on Serena's face unsettled everyone that could see it. Lita commented on it. "What aren't you telling us, Serena?"

Serena sighed and felt Goku's arms tighten around her waist. The exhaustion never quite left her anymore. "I will be fighting for the life of the galaxy."

"And we'll be right there with you. Don't worry. With all of us at full strength-"

Serena felt Vegeta's eyes on her and lowered her head.

"What my dear sister is failing to tell us is that this is the last battle of the war."

Several voices strained to be heard but were silenced just as quickly with a wave of Mina's hand, a woman that looked as though she could have been a twin of Serena's.

"It's not our fight, is it?" Mina asked.

"No, it's not." Serena couldn't help but feel heavy, even in such strong arms. "This battle is unlike any before it. It is more personal than any fight will be ever again and it is mine to wage alone. One on one, the age old fight between good and evil." A mirthless chuckle left Serena's lips. It was funny but not at the same time. Two life times. She had lived through two life times and still she could find no peace for herself or her friends and family.

No one could say anything that would lift the mood in the room. Instead they sat for a while and let it all soak in. Goku was the only being in the entire room that did not accept the fact that Serena would have to fight alone. Why couldn't she understand that a Saiyan's mate would never be allowed to fight alone? Why hadn't Vegeta let her know either? He was her brother.

Serena let everyone know that they had three weeks until the next full moon. In that time she requested that they celebrate life every day, which led to several hundred pounds of barbecued steak and hot dogs.

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Many times, Serena's sisters had tried to convince her to train but Serena just shook her head. "I'm tired of fighting," she would tell them. "I only want to fight one more time and be done with it. I have learned all I can learn in the forms of physical fighting and now I just wish to enjoy the rest of my time together with you."

Time had fluttered away until there was only one week left before the coming of the full moon. No one had heard from the entity Serena was to fight and there was no sign of Arem anywhere. Nerves were on end in the group. For the most part, everyone was at a loss of what to do. None of them were rooting for Serena to lose, naturally, but what would happen if she couldn't win? How would life be for them? Would they even be alive?

The men-folk had taken to doing what they do best. The fields past the forest were being used for sparring grounds and with all the frustration of not being able to do anything, the land had taken a sound beating in their wake.

Back at home, the Sailor Senshi had several meditation sessions throughout the past two weeks, figuring out ways they could help Serena when she would need it the most. Everyone had different ideas on how to help her the best but in the end, Raye was the voice of reason.

"She told us that it was not our fight, you guys. I know we really want to help her and fight with her but we would only get in the way."

"I think the only thing we can do is be ready to feed our power into her when the time comes that she may need help," Mina said. "If we concentrate the rest of our meditation on transferring power during the battle."

Ami spoke up next. "Normally in battle, one would draw their power from a source. I say we first need to find out where Serena's source of power is and then figure out how to direct our power into it. I would like to recommend Raye to teach us how to focus energy."

Raye was taken back a bit by the suggestion. "Me? Why me?"

Lita smiled. "Well, you're the priestess. Isn't that what you used to do all day at your grandfather's temple? We used to catch you meditating all the time and interrupt. Remember that guy who worked there? You know, the one that had that crush on you-"

"Chad," Mina supplied.

"Yeah, Chad. One time I came over to the temple and I saw him waiting outside your fire room, kneeling, waiting for you to move or to need something. I swear, I wish I had a man like him…"

Amara was not impressed by the direction in which the conversation had turned. "What about that purple-haired guy I always see you with?"

Lita blushed and the conversation turned back to planning on what else could be done to help their sister.

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Serena woke up from her nap with Goten and Trunks. She loved nothing more than spending time with the two boys who had loved her unconditionally since she first arrived. They were under a tree in the forest and they slept on either side of her, using her numb arms as pillows. Tears formed in her eyes as she worried about their futures and what the outcome of the fight would be.

Rolling as gently as she could, Serena kissed each boy on their foreheads before falling back into a troubled sleep.

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It was dinner time and no one had seen Serena and the boys since earlier that morning. Goku and Vegeta landed outside the main building and walked in sweaty and filthy, each sporting a variation of bruises and swollen flesh.

Ami, the meekest of all the Sailor Senshi had approached Vegeta as he walked through the living room. "Excuse me, Vegeta. Have you seen Serena? We haven't seen her or the boys all day."

Vegeta looked at the frail woman with blue hair and muttered, "weakling," under his breath.

Ami straightened her back and folded her arms across her chest. The temperature in the room dropped a few degrees. Literally. "Don't take out your anger on me, Vegeta. Now have you seen Serena or not?"

Only a few noticed the way Vegeta's eyes slightly widened at Ami's tone before they took a softer look to them. Vegeta's heart ached in remembering Bulma. He didn't know where she was but had to have faith in his sister that she would be home soon. Bulma. What he wouldn't do to have her here and yelling at him, ready to rip his face off for walking in her pristine home covered in dirt and filth. The pain in his heart grew stronger.

"Hmph," he grumbled. "If you weren't so weak, you would have noticed she's in the forest only a little ways from here. They're on their way home."

The other women had never seen Ami stand up like that to anyone and to see her talk to Vegeta like that…what dimension were they in?

"Thank you, Vegeta," Ami chirped before resuming her position on the couch.

Vegeta ignored her and yelled for Sam. "Get a move on with dinner. I want it done by the time I get out of the shower."

"Yes sir," came Sam's digital voice over the intercom. Vegeta ignored the conversation taking place within his hearing range as he walked towards his room.

Raye, the most fiery of all the sailors spoke first. "Who are you and what have you done with Ami?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Ami said as she turned to grab Gohan's hand. Gohan in turn lifted her hand to his lips and placed a light kiss on her knuckles. He stood and pulled Ami behind him, her bubbly giggles floated throughout the living room.

Lita who had spent the most time with Ami in this dimension had all eyes on her. She was sporting her own Saiyan who looked like he was ready to make an exit as well. All the Jovian could do was shrug.

"Don't look at me. I had nothing to do with it. Mirai?"

Blue eyes took stock of several females staring at him, waiting for an answer. "I guess my father has a soft spot for her. Ami reminds me a lot of my mom who hasn't been here for a very long time. In fact, I don't think that my parents have ever been apart for this long. Yeah..." he gave a nervous chuckle, "she sounded a lot like my mom just then. If you're waiting for my dad to lose his attitude, just keep in mind that what you just saw was his version of pleasant."

A round of 'oh's and 'ah's filled the room.

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One week turned into five days, which turned into three days, then two and finally it was the day before the full moon. Serena's energy spiked all over the place, she could hardly sit still. What does one do on the last day of their life? What should she have done differently?

Faith was the only thing that would pull her through this, it was the lifeline keeping her from falling into the dark abyss of fear and despair. She would triumph. That was her only option. There was no other way.

Serena had never felt so alone in her life.

A sense of selfish pity washed over her. How many times had she done this? How many times would she have to fight to save the world, or the galaxy, or all creation as she knew it? Who decided that she, Serena Son, mate and wife of Goku and mother of none, was the one to save humanity as she knew it? The years she had lived in past and present lives weighed on her shoulders. She felt so old. Why wasn't her face wrinkled yet? Why did she still have a young body?

What was the point of fighting anymore when all winning meant was she would be alive to fight another battle. Fighting was pointless, why couldn't everyone see it? What would happen if she were to wave a little white flag and ask her enemy if they could just come back another time, she would call them when she was ready. Serena would never call. Where was the justice for her? Who would fight for her?

Serena knew in an instant who would fight for her and wiped her eyes. Her brother, her nephew, her step-son would all be in line behind her mate. The senshi would be fighting their way into the line, proclaiming they knew her first and seniority would get to be first in line. A smile broke through the tears when Serena thought of how Raye would be yelling and Mina would join in. Lita, Darien and Ami would be standing off to the side shaking their heads. Amara and Michelle would probably follow the Saiyans into the fight, while the sailors stood oblivious to what was going on outside their spat.

The pity churned itself into a healthy anger, the slow steady burn of coal into a blazing inferno. Who did all these aliens think they were to come over and declare war? Why couldn't they just find another planet or stay on theirs. What was so damn appealing about earth that made everyone want to come after it! Seriously? Where was the appeal?

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Goku knew that the strain and pressure of the upcoming battle weighed on Serena's heart and mind. He had known since the day they sat in the living room three weeks ago and she had made her announcement about the details of how it would go down. The smile never quite hit her eye and the sagging of her shoulders gave away just how much she was affected by the knowledge of what was to come.

He could sense the sorrow on his end of their shared bond and it had sent him into the air to find her. Goku had never been good at comforting anyone but when he felt the stirring of her anger, he knew exactly how he could help her. It was in that state of mind that Goku found his mate.

"Come with me," Goku yelled from above the trees, into the clearing where Serena sat. He waited until she moved and flew through the skies to a bare patch of land where they could be alone.

Serena landed behind Goku in the wasteland that the boys sparred in. Why did he bring her here? "Did you want to show me something-" Serena's question was halted as she jumped backwards to get out of the way of an attack. "Goku? What are you doing?"

"How could they do this to you, Serena? Why do they always come after you?"

Serena shook her head. "What? Why are you saying-" She nearly stumbled over a rock trying to dodge another unexpected attack. "You're starting to make me angry, Goku. Stop shooting those things at me."

But Goku didn't stop. He kept aiming energy balls for her. "Fight me, woman. Be angry, it's okay. You have a right to be angry."

Serena shook her head. "No, I don't want to fight you. Please don't make me fight."

Goku stopped shooting energy balls at her and landed in front of her. "You need this Serena. You can't fight angry tomorrow. It will slow you down and make you sloppy. Fight me now. Be angry now so you can fight with a clear mind tomorrow, so you have no reason to hold back. Fight me so I know I have helped in some way, the only way I can. I can't fight tomorrow so I need you to fight for me today."

Serena understood what Goku wanted and knew he spoke from experience. She trembled as he wiped the tears from her cheeks with rough thumbs and told her he loved her with a steady gaze. A soft, chaste kiss was placed on her lips before the warmth of her mate left her. Kakkarot's strong yet gentle voice called to her from where he stood several yards away. "Take your stance." Ever the warrior, his Saiyan eyes were hardened over with flickers of concern placed there for Serena to see he was doing his best to help her and they began their last dance on the earth as they knew it.

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Authors Note:

I'd like to dedicate the speed at which this chapter came out to WildIrishRose31, who unbelievably read the whole story in one day. I don't even have that much time on my hands, which makes it all the more amazing!

Thank you so much to everyone who had so faithfully and wonderfully stuck with me through this entire story. I can't believe it! I have a total of two or three more chapters depending on how I want to divvy them up. Woohoo! Almost done!

Seriously though, thank you to all the people who have stuck with this story since it came out in ...are you ready to hear when it came out?

Drum roll please...

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November 05, 2002.

Yeah, that's what I said! It has taken me a little more than SIX YEARS to finish this story. I promise never to do another one like this and can I tell you how excited I am that we're almost to that ending point? At the end of this story, the overwhelming weight of guilt will be lifted from my shoulders and put onto the other baby stories that I've started.

For all the readers who have started reading in the last two or so years...you're so lucky you didn't find this story until a lot later... lol.

Echo