A/N: It's finally here! The last chapter of this story, I'm almost sad to say, is finally posted. I've really enjoyed this story, and I'm so terribly sorry it has taken me so very long to complete it, but here it is. As I believe I hinted at before, I've decided to write a sequel. It will contain more battles (including one where Sailor Moon is captured, which I had intended for this story, but wrote out because it makes the story flow better), and of course, some Serenity/Endymion development. No promises on when it will be out - I have ideas for it, but I want to at least wrap up Acting Out before I start another project. Please let me know what you think of this chapter, and again I am very, very sorry for it taking so long. I hit a wall here, but I've climbed over it and I'm ready to tackle many more. I'm back, and I think I'm here to stay for awhile. Please review, it always helps to feed the authors at the petting zoo (as long as the signs say it's ok).
Epilogue: Still on Foreign Soil
It was dark, probably past midnight. She had lost track of time, and it felt like she had been running for ages. Her boots clicked softly on the rooftops and her hair streamed out behind her as she leaped gracefully from roof to roof. It probably wasn't a good idea for her to be out here on her own like this, but she couldn't sit around anymore, and she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep. There was no particular destination, and she wasn't even consciously moving her feet – they had taken over and were whisking her away all on their own.
Images flashed across her mind as she ran, memories of the past few days. They had gotten home much earlier today, and she had spent much of the time since in her room, trying to sort out her thoughts and feelings, not that it helped any. She felt just as confused as she had on the plane home. It was like she was held in some sort of suspension on the edge of a knife – she couldn't go forward or back and was just trying the best she could not to slip and cut herself in the meantime.
He hadn't contacted her. In a way she had almost expected him to show up outside her window that night when they had gotten home, dazzling her in his cape and mask, lifting her from her room and taking off with her into the night. Ok, so that was kind of unrealistic and overly-romantic but a girl could dream, right? She had still harbored a secret, furtive hope somewhere in her heart that he would have come to see her, but he didn't. Not last night, and not tonight. Sighing, she shook her head and focused harder on her flight through the city, trying not to slip on railings or rooftops.
The anxiety had been proving to be too much. Well after dark she had snuck out of her room, transformed, and took off along the rooftops. At some point it had seemed like a good idea, but now she was just tired, and felt no better about the situation. He hadn't even really talked to her as they left the plane, or in the airport. She hadn't seen him after that. She slowed down, noticing she was running out of rooftops in front of her, and that she didn't have any clue where she was. The city was quiet, offering her no answers, so she hopped down to the pavement below.
The moon was full and huge as she tilted her head back to gaze at it. Her eyes fell closed, and she stood there for a minute just letting the moonlight wash over her. With renewed energy she walked forward along the street, seeing the archway up ahead which told her she was entering the park. An odd feeling was rising inside of her, one she couldn't quite name. It gave her a shiver as she stepped through the archway, and as her feet moved her onto the soft grass, she had the strangest sense of anticipation, almost like she knew something important was about to happen. Her feet carried her onward, past the rose gardens, over the footbridge, and to the banks of the lake, where he was waiting.
He was looking out over the lake as the moonlight glittered off the still waters, his back to her. For a moment she stood there, just watching him, but again her feet carried her forwards. His cape whispered softly as he turned to meet her, as if he had known she would be there. Her feet stopped a short distance from him, and they faced each other in the dark of night with only the moon to bear witness. He broke the silence first.
"I see you couldn't sleep either." She paused. Then she rolled her eyes and pushed past him to look out at the lake herself.
"Don't think you had anything to do with it, I just had too much candy before bed." His laughter made her tremble the slightest bit, but she hid it by crossing her arms.
"What else is new? You pigging out on candy is old news." She whirled to face him, a retort on the tip of her tongue, but under his gaze it turned into a soft smile. After an increasingly uncomfortable moment of just looking at each other, Usagi spoke first, her eyes darting away.
"We need to talk, we need to sort this out." Mamoru nodded slowly, and for the first time in what felt like hours, Usagi relaxed a little.
"I agree. We didn't really work anything out before. I guess," he watched at her closely, "we need to decide where we stand. With each other." Usagi didn't answer for a long time. Finally, she released her transformation, reverting back into her civilian self. After a moment of her looking at him he released his as well and she nodded.
"This isn't about who we become when the world needs us. This is about us, about Usagi and Mamoru. As for where I stand," her blue eyes met his, deep with an intensity he hadn't known her eyes could hold. Very suddenly she stepped forward, reaching up and pulling him down for a soft, delicate kiss. Surprise quickly faded, and he wrapped his hands carefully about her waist.
The thundering of her heart was so loud that it was blocking out the sounds of the night. Never in her life would she have believed she would do something so bold, but it was as if this night someone else had taken over and was piloting the controls. She felt herself shaking, and hoped he didn't notice. When she finally pulled away, breathless, she looked up into his surprised eyes, waiting for her answer to an unspoken question. He chuckled, and that was answer enough.
"Well, I guess that answers that." A huge weight was lifted from her, and she led him to a bench, where they sat and talked for a couple hours. Eventually they walked out over the lake on the footbridge that had been erected there sometime ago. Usagi trailed her hand along the handrail, looking out at the moon, which was touching the horizon. It was late, but she didn't care. They came to the middle, and stopped. He turned to her, and she smiled up at him. He pulled her into a tight embrace, and placed a chaste kiss on her lips.
"Usagi." She looked up at him. "You know this is going to be very hard, don't you?" The moon reflected off of her bright blue eyes, which made her face seem to glow as she smiled softly at him.
"And you know that the enemy can use this against us?"
"It's not like they haven't tried that already. Besides, I'm sure the senshi won't be very happy either." He nodded.
"Most likely they won't, but hopefully we can help them understand. After all, it's just like you said. This is about us, not the costumes we put on. I just hope you can keep Jupiter away from me in the meantime." Her musical laughter twinkled in the darkness.
"I think I can probably restrain her." Her voice grew serious. "I'm just worried about what's going to happen, what's in our immediate future for you and me."
"What do you mean?"
"The wand." He raised an eyebrow. "Oh, I forgot you were kind of dead when that happened." Which provoked an eye roll. "Well, when I was trying to save you I kind of, I don't know, reached within myself and it appeared. I told the girls that I felt like it was waiting for me, waiting for when I needed it so badly…but that's not the entire truth." Now she was pulling away so she could look up into his eyes without having to crane her neck, and he waited patiently for her to continue. "I felt like it was waiting for us, for something to happen. I don't know how to explain it, but I felt like something very close to that had to happen for me to find it. I don't know what it all means." He frowned in concentration for a moment before shrugging.
"I don't know either, but the only thing we can do is wait and see. If something is supposed to happen, I'm sure it will and there's not a lot we can do about it. We just have to keep on going." She nodded, knowing he was completely right. "We'll work this out. I don't know how, but it will work out in the end for us. I can feel it." She squirmed out of his grasp, giggling. She felt more at peace now than she had for over a week. She smiled up at him.
"You know, despite all of the strange things that have happened I'm glad I wound up sitting next to you on that plane." He laughed, nodding.
"Lucky for us you dumped a whole cup of coffee in your lap, or this week might have turned out much differently." A gasp was followed by a punch in the arm that he barely felt, and he grinned at her. Suddenly she remembered something, and a huge smile crossed her face.
"Oh! Mamoru I almost forgot! I have a present for you; I've been saving it for a few days." He smiled back.
"What is it?"
"Well, I've been saving it for just the right time. Close your eyes so it will be a surprise!" He closed his eyes, wondering what it could be. The next thing he knew, she had shoved him in the lake and was running off down the footbridge.
"That's for dumping me in the pond, punk!" Her cackles resounded through the park as he slogged to shore and chased after her.
Venus turned away, hopping to the ground from the tree she had been crouched in. The girls had all been concerned about Usagi, and they had agreed to post a watch outside her house in case anything should happen. Only half an hour after she had relieved Jupiter, Usagi had snuck out her window. It seemed they had been right in worrying about her. Venus stood in contemplation for a moment, then headed off to the temple. They would have to call a meeting tomorrow to discuss the night's events.
The next day, the four senshi sat in Rei's room in civilian form, discussing what Venus had witnessed. Rei had been outraged at Usagi's carelessness, and the other girls had been trying to calm her while they discussed Mamoru. Ami spoke up quietly.
"He hasn't done anything to us in the past, it's logical to assume he's not going to do anything harmful now. He has competed with us at times but he has never openly tried to harm any of us, and has saved Sailor Moon on many occasions. While he may have been doing this to gain our trust he has constantly remained an enigma, running off after fights so we couldn't ask him questions, thereby leading to distrust – he obviously wasn't trying to get close to us. I don't think he means any ill will at all." Rei stared openmouthed at her, usually the one so quiet and last to speak up about anything. Before she could retort, Mina held up a hand to quiet everyone.
"We know nothing about him as Tuxedo Mask. We have no idea what his objectives are, or why he's even here. Luna said he's definitely not one of us; she wasn't sent to awake him or his powers and we can't even know where they come from. Perhaps in the future he might even become a rival, or interfere with our events. We have to seek to know what we can about him, for right now he's incredibly dangerous for any of us to be around." As the girls began to murmur quietly Mina held her hand up again.
"That said, we have each known Mamoru for quite some time. Usagi has known him longer than any of us, even Rei who tried to go out with him on more than one occasion." Rei blushed and looked away, the anger not fading from her eyes. They all knew that the cause of her upset had more to it than Usagi being careless. "I have never once found him to be a bad person, no matter how much he has teased Usagi. I would think that before the trip to America any of us would have trusted him with some pretty important things, even if it was because he just seemed so dependable.
"We know that he didn't know our identities before this week, and yet he has still remained in our lives somehow. I think to turn him away now would be foolish. Surely the man behind the mask counts for more than the clothing he puts on at night. I would hope that I am not defined by the person who is Sailor Venus, just as I know you all aren't defined by your uniforms. We can't let these circumstances keep these two apart. I know that I'm willing to protect a budding love regardless of the circumstances."
In that moment, as the three others sat around Mina and listened to her speech, they all felt an almost ancient deference towards her, as if they had always listened to her word this way. Even Rei felt put in place by her, and she knew that despite her protests and her personal feelings regarding Mamoru, she was going to defend the two of them to the death if she needed to. She turned away, her raven hair obscuring most of her face.
"I guess we'll do what we can. We should still keep an eye on them."
Usagi felt elation creeping into her slowly. She had come to see Rei and the others, and maybe they had forgotten that they had all agreed to meet today, but she hadn't, and she had been leaning against the wall just outside Rei's room for most of their conversation. The sounds of four girls standing up and shuffling around spurred her to make for the front door. They didn't need to know she had been there, but she felt immense relief knowing that they trusted her, and they trusted Mamoru. Maybe they had been sneaking around, but at least they had decided the way she had hoped.
They sat together in the arcade, her sipping at a milkshake and him enjoying a cup of hot chocolate in favor of coffee for once. Usagi smiled up at him, and reached across to squeeze his hand gently. She had relayed everything to him, and they had been celebrating in their own way. Suddenly a chair clattered as it was placed at the end of their booth, and Motoki sat down backwards in it, concern etched on his face. He looked first at Usagi, then at Mamoru, and then down at their clasped hands. A long silence stretched out before he finally spoke.
"Ok, so I get that stuff happened that I don't know about. I know that sometimes even a week can make a huge difference, and have a lot of turning points, especially for two young people such as yourselves." Usagi raised an eyebrow at Motoki, who was now frowning as he spoke. He looked them earnestly in the eyes. "Just answer for me this one vital question. Is there any chance – meaning even the slightest possibility, even on par with a cow falling out of the sky and landing on my store, or of a cat walking up and asking me the time of day, is there any chance that your plane went through an alternate dimension where you two get along and somehow the wrong pair of you guys came back?"
They stared at him for a moment, looked at each other, and then burst into laughter. Of course, Motoki had no idea of what had happened – they had left hating each other and returned completely chummy. Motoki was looking incredibly perplexed at their laughter.
"Ok, well I'm going to take that as a no, but can someone please explain this to me? I'm expecting it to start raining ice cream any time now." Mamoru held up his hands in surrender, and Usagi grinned at him. She reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder as he slumped down in his chair.
"Motoki, suffice it to say this has got to be the weirdest week I've ever had."