Four days later Serena was lucky to get out of the house. She may have been ready to take on the world but she had grossly underestimated how overprotective her parents could be. Granted, she had disappeared for a couple of weeks without word and came back with a story of being in the Feudal Era, and being not only Sailor Moon but also the Moon Princess and dating a guy six years her senior that she had quite a past with. It took a lot of convincing (and a few transformations and demonstrations) to make her parents believe her. They did not like the idea of her being a warrior - and her Dad hated Darien already, even though he was yet to meet him - but they promised to keep an open mind.
It was amazing she was not grounded, but she just as well had been because she had not been out of the house since returning - not even to see her friends. In fact, no on knew she was back yet. The reason being - a couple of weeks worth of homework to catch up on by Monday - two days away.
But she was now at the arcade, ready to see Kagome again. Even though it was only a short while since she had seen her, she was really looking forward to the meeting.
Looking around the seats she could not see a lone girl sitting in a bench waiting for her as had been planned, but she did see a bench with four familiar heads of hair.
Giddy excitement filled Serena as she made her way towards her friends. She had missed them so much over the weeks and she had so much to tell them. Thoughts of where to begin and what exactly to say filled her head, so when two arms shot out and pulled her into an unfamiliar lap, all she could do was let out a tiny squeak.
Serena looked into the face of the man whose lap she sat in. It was familiar - very familiar. Looking around the table she was more familiar faces. Her mouth gaped open as the tried to form words that just would not come out. Finally she just threw her arms around the man's neck and hugged him tightly. He hugged her back, just as tight.
"I missed you, Lady Serena."
"I missed you too, Miroku," Serena mumbled into his neck. Then she pulled back and looked at the woman next to him.
"Sango! You look wonderful! But how are you two here? I thought you guys couldn't get through the well."
"They can't," Kagome said from across the table.
Serena turned to look at her. She stared for a long moment and slowly things began to fall into place. Sango and Miroku did not appear out of place at all in their modern clothes. Inuyasha seemed to have an aura of calm and contentment he had not had four days ago. But the final piece was Kagome. She held herself in a way Serena had not seen her do before. And she also seemed to gave aged ten years in four days - making her look like a twenty-five-year-old.
"You never made it back through the well, did you?" Serena asked, and saw a flash of grief in Kagome's eyes.
"No, I didn't."
"So - you have all been alive for… five hundred years?" Kagome nodded. "But - how?"
"When I was talking to Midoriko, she said she could grant me one wish. And the wish I held dearest in my heart was to be able to be with my friends forever," Kagome explained.
"We didn't realize until years later that forever truly means forever," Inuyasha added.
Serena turned to Inuyasha and took a good look at him. There was something not quite right with him. His silver hair was tied at the nape of his neck and his golden eyes stared at her curiously. Then it hit her. "Your ears!"
He grinned at her. "They're still there, it's all just an illusion."
"Good," Serena grinned back. "Because I love your ears!"
"So do I," Kagome said, and Inuyasha grinned at her.
"So, what have you all been up to for five hundred years?" Serena asked, unsure of what to say. She knew she was taking this amazingly well, but she had seen enough strange things lately to be able to take even this in stride.
"Oh, you know… traveling…" Sango said.
"…getting married…" Kagome said, looking at Inuyasha with a loving smile.
"…having kids," Miroku ended with a self-satisfied grin.
"You two have kids?!" Serena squealed.
"Five," Sango said proudly. "Three of them are grown - we even have some great - great - grandkids. One is getting married soon and the last is just five-years-old."
"We have six pups," Inuyasha said proudly.
"Two grown, one getting married to Sango and Miroku's son, one is just traveling the world and we have three-year-old twins at home," Kagome said.
"Wow!" Serena said. Even though she knew her friends were old, they still looked way too young to have grown kids.
"So did your wish extend to your children too then?"
"Yeah," Kagome said. "And it encompassed our kid's mates and their children and so on. And beyond."
Before Serena could ask what she meant by that, a man stepped before her. She looked at him - at his auburn hair and teal eyes. It took a moment for her to realize who she was looking at.
"Shippou!" she shrieked and launched out of Miroku's lap and into Shippou's arms.
That one shriek got the attention of four girls in a bench in the back of the arcade and soon chaos reigned.
"Serena!" her friends shouted and ran to her. They practically attacked her - throwing themselves at her and pulling her into a hug. Mina stood back since she did not really know Serena, but she had a big grin on her face.
"Where have you been?!""Why didn't you contact us?!"
"How could you leave us like that?!"
"How long have you been back?!"
"Who are these people?!"
"WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!"
The questions came at her so fast that she was not sure who was asking what, except for the last one, which was yelled by three girls at once.
"Calm down!" Serena said, waving her hands, trying to placate her friends. "I'll explain everything later, I promise," she said. "But first, introductions are to be made. Girls, I want you to meet some close friends of mine. This is Kagome, Inuyasha, Sango, Miroku and Shippou. Guys, these are my friends I was telling you about. Rei, Ami, and Lita. And this is Mina, although we haven't really met yet either."
Everyone waved to each other, and Rei was about to say something when a commanding voice stopped her.
"Aren't you going to introduce me?"
Serena whirled around to find herself nose to chest of an - obviously - tall man. She looked up to find a human-looking Sesshomaru looking down at her. He had retained his long, silver hair and his piercing golden eyes, but his markings were hidden, except for his crescent moon, which even then was visible only to her.
Before Serena could speak, Sesshomaru was down on one knee and had her hands in his, his forehead bowed - touching her hands.
"My lady, I wish to thank you for freeing me from my frigid bonds of cruelty and unmoving emotions. If it had not been for you, I would not be happy today. I owe you the world for your kindness." With that he tilted his head and looked into Serena's eyes. She could see a softness in his eyes that she had never imagined could exist in the cold Lord. She could also see the sincerity behind his words.
Serena gently removed her hands from his grip and adopted a serious face. "Lord Sesshomaru of the Western Lands, I hereby release you of your duty to me and my kin. You and yours are to be forever free of servitude to the Kingdom of the Moon. Go forth and be free, my Lord."
The gratitude on his face was thanks enough, but when the crescent moon on his forehead faded away, he stood and pulled her into a crushing hug. It was a quick hug and after a smile and a kiss to the cheek, he swept out of the arcade.
"Well, that was a quick exit," said a familiar voice.
"Muffin!" Serena squealed, leaping into Darien's waiting arms. She pecked him on the lips before turning to Inuyasha.
"Why did Sesshomaru leave so quickly?"
Inuyasha grinned. "He has a pregnant wife in France who can't travel right now. He came here just to see you," he told Serena.
"Wife? Sesshomaru? Who?!" Serena asked, shocked.
The four seated friends looked at each other with secretive grins before Kagome answered.
"Kagura?!" Serena and Darien said in disbelief.
"For some reason, I always figured he'd end up with Rin," Serena added.
"Well, it's all a long story, but Sesshomaru and Kagura ended up together, and Kohaku and Rin ended up together. They're all good friends. In fact, Rin's pregnant too," Sango said.
"You guys have some stories to tell!" Serena said, causing Sango and Kagome to giggle and nod.
"And so do you!" Rei shrieked, upset to be forgotten in the chaos. "To begin with, what is going on, who was that guy, why were you spouting the proper stuff to him and why did you kiss Darien!?"
"And, uh, how did you know my name?" Mina piped in with a confused grin.
"All a part of the story," Serena said to Mina. Then she turned to Rei. "Rei, can we all go to your shrine? We need a private place to talk."
With Rei's permission the rather large group began to walk to her shrine. Along the way Serena kept looking ahead of her to her friends and scouts, and behind her to her friends from her literal past. They were all so different from one another yet she was friends with all of them. Even though the two group's age differences were so vast, she knew that they would all eventually be friends. And who knew? Maybe they now had a few extra fallback fighters in a pinch - if they're fighting days had not been left with the adventures of parenthood.
"What are you thinking about so hard," Darien whispered into her ear, breaking her thoughts.
"I'm thinking that I have never been happier and that I am really thankful that I got onto the wrong bus that day."
Darien smiled down at her, pulled her to his side and kissed her temple. Even though she had not really thought about what she was saying as she was saying it, she suddenly realized that it was true. If she had not gotten onto that bus, she would have never fallen into the Feudal Era with Darien and met Kagome and her friends. She may have never discovered she was the Moon Princess, and may have never fallen in love with her enemy. Yes, she would forever be thankful for having such a bad day that day.