Disclaimers: Sailor Moon doesn't belong to me, regardless that the first two season uncut on DVD do. They belong to Naoko Takeuchi, who is blessed with a brilliant imagination. You go, girl!
Notes: This is my first visit to the world of Sailor Moon in... I think about four or five years. My first fanfic was a huge bust, so I thought I'd take a break and try again later. Hopefully, those out there who remember my name will forget my past associated with it. Please?
As for the title, it's inspired by Ken Watanabe's line in The Last Samurai. I mean, I could have called it 'Reflections', but then I'd have two stories with the same name, which sounds kinda dumb. Anyway...
Dedication: This one's for my friend Kate, who never fails to engage me in great conversation about anything and everything - from our walks in life, to our dreams and our tough times.
By Sean Montgomery
It wasn't the best idea for him to be up and around. The injury on his leg could be reopened at any time. It wasn't good that it wasn't propped up, that it was angled instead of straight. It also wasn't a good idea that he wasn't wearing his mask, but he knew everyone in the palace knew who he was, so what was the point? It wasn't the best idea for him to be sitting in a room by himself staring at his wife through the crystal barrier that prevented him from going to her like he ached to, but he didn't care.
King Endymion cared about few things anymore.
His fingers dug deeper into his hairline, his eyes never straying from her face. With a weary sigh, he leaned back in his chair, fighting back a groan when his leg protested the movement. His right hand gripped his leg, hoping somehow that the pressure could be contained and he could sit there for a bit longer. When the fire inside his leg died, he removed his hand and placed it on the arm of the chair. The room fell into ominous silence. He closed his eyes.
He had no reason to care.
He could imagine her face if she knew what he was thinking. Her eyebrows would furrow, her hands would fall on her hips and she'd glare at him defiantly. 'You have no reason to care?' she would say. 'Our kingdom is at peace, our daughter is growing like the healthy girl she is, and you say you have no reason to care?' He could only imagine his answer, though it had nothing to do with how he would have. Instead of a smile with a following, 'You're right.', she'd get a frown, a reserved husband who refused to care because his daughter was in danger, the kingdom was in turmoil and his wife was fighting for some reason he didn't know and couldn't help with.
He had no reason to care at all.
Even the Senshi, the longtime guardians of the Queen, gave no response at a call of any kind. They only stood, every bit of energy in their bodies used for protecting the Crystal Palace with the barrier. They had no time to talk, no time to distract themselves with meaningless things.
Was it all meaningless, this fight for a future that seemed bleak? Was there really a purpose in giving all that they had when nothing had been gained? He shook his head, distressed at his thoughts. Of course there was something to fight for. If nothing else, it was the citizens that needed to be freed from this... darkness that had fallen over Crystal Tokyo. It was the people, who relied on him and his wife for so long, that needed to know that things were going to be okay.
He opened his eyes and looked at his wife.
He couldn't even give them that anymore.
If there were any to give hope to.
He turned his head at the sound. Standing by one of the curtains, a gloved hand to her mouth and her eyes wide in surprise, was Sailor Moon. His heart constricted and he froze. His wife, though not his wife, stood there before him. It was the strangest feeling.
"I thought you were in the control room." she said, her eyes boring into his.
His eyes widened. The 3D image of him was still on to show the Senshi the substance that had covered Tokyo. He shouldn't have moved until all the Shenshi were gone, or at least until they were outside the palace. How could he have been so careless?
She must have taken his silence for something else. She began to back away. "I'm sorry if I..."
"No." he said, snapping out of his daze. "No! You... uh..." His tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth. How did he explain this to her? "You aren't intruding on anything. Come in, if you'd like."
Hesitantly, she stepped into the room, the clack of her boots an odd sound in the once dominant silence. She stood by him and stared at her future self. "I can't believe this is myself in the future."
How his hands itched to touch her! His wife standing before him, just inches away, much closer than she had been since she'd been locked away from him. His eyes were glued to her. "It truly is. Make no mistake, Sailor Moon: that's you."
"It's so weird," she said, shaking her head. "I always tried to imagine what I would look like in the future. But this," She reached out a hand and gestured to her future self. "this is beyond what I imagined."
His brow furrowed. "How is that?"
"For one thing, I'm taller. I never imagined that would happen. I mean, I'm short and I've still got time to grow, but I'm... you know, tall!"
He couldn't help it. The first grin that spread on his face in what seemed like years covered his depression. Even before her future husband, she was still the same, never hiding who she was inside. That was his Usako.
"I'm insanely beautiful, too." she whispered, as if to hide the detail from his ears. The silence was deafening, however, and he heard every word, almost distressed that he had even heard them. He turned to her fully, or as much as his seat would allow. "You've always been beautiful, Sailor Moon."
She was obviously not expecting that. "Not really. I've always thought I was kinda plain."
Plain? Was she trying to fool herself? "I've always thought you beautiful."
He nearly smiled again when she dropped her head to hide the blush that stained her cheeks. It must have been odd to hear something like that from her future husband. Literally. "Thank you."
A lull came in their conversation. He turned from one version of his wife to another, smiling at the differences he could see. She was taller, her baby fat gave way to curves, her limbs were longer and graceful. Unwillingly, another sigh escaped from his mouth. Sailor Moon turned to look at him. "Are you alright?"
He didn't answer. She looked back at her future self. "That's a stupid question. Of course you're not. I'm standing here and your wife is a few feet away from you, and you can't touch her. This has got to be horrible for you. I'm sorry for intruding."
She began to turn away. Quickly, as much as his leg would allow, he reached out and grabbed her hand, thankful that she was wearing gloves. Feeling the flesh beneath would have shaken him to the core. "You aren't intruding." he said firmly.
"But... you look miserable."
"I've been miserable since she was locked inside there. It's nice to hear her voice again, even if it's from her younger self."
He hadn't noticed that since he had grabbed her hand she was staring at him strangely. He followed her gaze to their joined hands and realized his mistake: he had never told her he wasn't the 3d image. She was feeling the grip of her future husband when she shouldn't have been.
"It's really you this time." she whispered. "I thought you were injured and couldn't move."
He couldn't say anything. He knew he was guilty, but he had no idea how to tell her anything. He could only stare into her eyes and hope that she'd understand somehow.
"If you couldn't move, how did you get this chair here?"
A valid question to which he had no answer. He wasn't about to tell her that it seemed to take him forever to get from his bedchambers to this one spot, not to mention the effort it took adding the chair to his adventures. He said the first thing that came to mind. "I'm Tuxedo Kamen, of course."
"So you jumped here?"
He wasn't expecting that. He stared blankly at her. "It took me a while." he said.
She pouted at him, the same pout he saw in his memories, the same pout that hadn't changed even in her maturity. "You need to take better care of yourself. My future self would agree with me."
His smile returned. She had no idea how right she was. Releasing her hand, he turned back in his seat to face the aforementioned woman, taking in her features as he had a million times before. He folded his hands in his lap and absently wondered where his gloves were.
"What am I like in the future?"
His gaze never moved from his wife's face. His eyes seemed to glaze over, lost in a million distant memories. "What would you like to know?"
"Did I... did I ever do well in school?"
He never moved. "You passed."
"So there's hope for high school."
He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. A grin climbed on his face. "I didn't say anything about high school."
He saw her shoulders drop. "Please don't do that."
He winced, hating that his joke hurt her. "I'm sorry. Yes, there is hope for high school. You started going to study sessions with the other Senshi. Slowly, but surely, your grades went up."
"Do we have any more enemies to face after this?"
"You know there are some things I can't tell you."
"Is that one of them?"
"Oh." She stared at her boots, thinking for a question, her bottom lip caught between her teeth. He watched her for a moment, wondering if she knew how powerful it was for her to be standing next to him and speaking with him. Something inside of him was waking up with every word from her mouth.
"How was Chbi-Usa born?"
He smiled at the mention of his daughter. He was still lost in a memory, unwilling to leave. "It was in the early summer. You had some complaints about how your stomach hurt, but you refused to say anything to me about it. The Senshi were visiting us at the time and you gave them every detail of what was going on. I was completely oblivious that anything was happening. You said you didn't want me to worry, that it was going to be a waste of our time rushing to the hospital over a false alarm. We were preparing for your birthday, so I was in the kitchen cooking while you spoke quietly with the Senshi. I had no idea anything was happening until you all of a sudden screamed. I was frightened, of course, and I sped into the living room to find that your water had broken and Ami and Rei were trying to help you out so you could get to the car. I came over to you and asked you if you needed anything. You simply took hold of my shirt, pulled me close and said," here he paused, waiting to see what she would do. "'Mamo-chan, if you don't get me to a hospital, you're going to regret it for the rest of your life.' Knowing you were Sailor Moon meant that was a valid threat. I rushed you to the hospital and Chibi-Usa was born six hours later."
"Six hours?" Sailor Moon gasped between laughter. "That long?"
"Well, considering most fist time pregnancies, that was pretty fast. I was the first to point out that she was born at twelve-thirty a.m.. Your birthday."
Her laughter stopped. Her expression was priceless, shock mixed with disbelief and faint traces of humor. "We share birthdays?"
"You do. If I remember correctly, you defined Chibi-Usa as your birthday gift to yourself."
She sighed. "I'm sure that played out well when she got older."
"Well, you redeemed it in your mind by saying that sharing birthdays was a good excuse to have more birthday cake." His sentence ended in a smile, hoping she would see the humor in it as well. His face fell when she didn't laugh with him. He resisted the urge to touch her hand. "What is it?"
"Do I still eat a lot?"
"You have a soft spot for sweets, but I wouldn't say you eat a lot. Actually, the more that I think about it, there's no reason for you to not eat as much as you do now. You are a growing young lady, after all."
The weight of that admission settled in the room. Sailor Moon, who had been greatly admiring the company of the man she would call husband, suddenly had a clash with reality: the man next to her was not her Mamo-chan. Not really. She shouldn't be enjoying his company as much as she was. Really, she shouldn't be having this conversation with him.
"This is weird." she said finally, refusing to meet his eyes.
"It is strange," he agreed. "but no matter what you may think, you will be Neo-Queen Serenity, and I'm still Mamoru."
"But... I'm not. You're not!" She took a step back. "You're not Mamoru and I'm not your wife!"
He didn't move or say anything. His eyes were glued to hers, and his stomach seemed to drop when she finally met his gaze. Her light blue eyes, swimming in confusion, knew who he was. Somewhere inside, she had realized that he really was who he said he was. She was having a hard time dealing with it. Ignoring the pain that shot through his leg, he stood and limped over to her, thankful that she hadn't stepped too far away. It was strange to see her from a different height. He had to crane his neck to get a good look at her.
"You're right." he whispered, close enough that her hair fluttered under his breath. Her scent consumed him. "You aren't her, and I'm not Mamoru. I know more about you than Mamoru does, and you'll learn more about me in the days to come. But beyond that, we're still the same, aren't we?"
She seemed to take his answer into consideration. With a sigh, she bent her head. "I guess you're right. But that doesn't mean that I have the right to ask you all these questions, and you have no right to answer them."
"You don't think a King can make decisions for himself?"
"You know that's not what I meant." She looked up at him. The stormy blue eyes above her rang with familiarity, memories of Mamoru entering her mind. Suddenly she felt completely at peace with the man before her, future self or not. She stood her ground, however, resolved to not be moved.
His eyes softened. Staring straight back at her, his voice dropped a bit, suddenly sounding much more like the Mamoru she knew but with a hint of age and wisdom added to it. "It's incredible. It appears I've forgotten what the warrior of love and justice really was like. Maturity has been a wonderful thing to you, Sailor Moon."
She was shaken by the simplicity and power in his words, not knowing fully what they meant and not really caring that much. "Was I beautiful on our wedding day?"
The question threw him off for a moment. The explanation only came to him when he remembered the dreams he had given his past self and, eventually, the woman before him. The dreams were nothing like reality.
"Stunning is the more appropriate word." he whispered, his eyes never leaving hers. "There are some things that I won't reveal. Details like that are better lived and not shared. But rest assured - you are as beautiful that day as you are this day. Mamoru would tell you as much himself. I only tell you because..." he stopped, a smirk lifting a corner of his lips. "I can."
Tears began to form at the corners of her eyes. She blinked them back while he resisted brushing them away. "I didn't expect to hear this. I honestly didn't expect anyone to be in here. I just wanted to see the Neo-Queen one more time."
She turned her face to stare at the Queen shielded inside the barrier. Even while she did so, his eyes never left hers. The ache inside grew til he couldn't bear it. He took one of her gloved hands in his, effectively bringing her gaze back to him.
"I've always looked out for you, Usako. Some things never change."
His words brought more tears that she couldn't contain. She let them fall, torn between crying in front of him, knowing she should leave, and her resistance to do so. She closed her eyes and gulped loudly. "Endymion..."
The name, long unheard from her mouth, undid him. He lifted his hand and brushed away her tears, leaving his hand on her cheek, amazed how it only felt slightly different from that of her future self. Her eyes stayed closed and more tears poured onto her face that he collected with the pad of his thumb. She took a shaky breath and continued. "You have no idea how much it means to me to hear you say that."
Both hands covered her face, slightly larger from what she remembered, but with the same warmth and tenderness that Mamoru possessed. His face moved closer to hers, forcing her to open her eyes. The stormy blue, deep and fathomless as the ocean, gazed back lovingly at her. "I've never denied you anything. Even if you ask my younger self, I would tell you again and again how beautiful you are, how protecting you is a privilege to me. You're the most important thing to me."
Was it because he felt as though he was saying these things to his wife that he said them so freely? Even then, bent close to her shaking form and holding her warming face in his hands, he felt as if all was right with the kingdom, as if they never had a foe to deal with in the first place. His words and actions felt as natural to him as they did years ago when he was younger. She was his wife, regardless of what she said. His heart knew that to be true.
"If you never deny me anything, can I ask you to do something?" she asked, looking into his eyes. His words obviously affected her more than he thought.
"Would you kiss me?"
His stomach once again dropped. Holding his composure as much as he could, he bent his head... and brought his lips to her ear. "You know I can't grant that wish." he whispered.
"But... you just said..."
"I said that I can't grant that request." He brought his face back to look at her. "But there is a young man in this palace that would willingly do so."
She shook her head. "I wasn't asking for myself."
His eyebrows twitched. "What do you mean?"
She covered his hands with hers. "I walked into this room and saw how defeated you looked, how miserable it made you to... to be alone. Yes, I was surprised when I saw you, but I thought you could use some company. Now that I know more about you, I feel like this is the only thing I can do to help you out."
He blinked. "But... all the talk about how you weren't Serenity and I wasn't Mamoru..."
"I thought I believed it. But then you touched me, and you spoke things to me that just felt... right. I knew, even with my eyes closed, that Mamo-chan was the only person that could say those words and mean them as much as you did. That's... when I thought that... maybe a kiss or something...could help you out."
And he had thought that she was caught in some romantic mood. Her confession made his heart swell like it hadn't in years. She was being completely selfless for his sake, hoping that something as intimate as a kiss would bring his battered self to life. With a smile, he brought his lips to her forehead, holding her a bit closer. "I would feel like the luckiest man alive." he whispered. Then he bent his lips to her ear. "But it wouldn't be right."
Deciding it would be better to be further away, he released her and limped back to his chair, fingering the wedding band on his hand. The lack of warmth nearly made him shiver. He tried to remember it in his mind, but already it was slipping away from him. It was for the better, it seemed.
But Sailor Moon was still in the room. She made no movement, no gesture, only stared at him. Then suddenly, her mouth in a firm line, she pulled her gloves off of her hands and took a step towards him. "Endymion no baka." she whispered.
The sound shook him out of his thoughts. When he turned to look at her, she had already kneeled next to him and put her hands on his face. His heart leapt at the contact.
"You might not think it's what's best, but I do." With that she leaned forward and kissed him full on the mouth. He was in shock for a moment, then gave in, instinct taking over where rational thought couldn't. The one thing he craved above all others was in his arms, holding his face firmly so he wouldn't move. When she pulled away she held his gaze, the slightest of blushes the only thing giving her away. "You can be so stubborn sometimes."
His smile returned, slowly at first, then wider than she had seen it this whole time. It was the exact same thing she would have said to him now. He lifted his hands and put them on hers. "You can be too."
"I have to be. How could I be anything else? I am Sailor Moon, after all."
"You're more than that. You're Tsukino Usagi, the girl who puts others before herself - even depressed old kings."
They stayed that way for a moment, both wondering how they got into their present situation and, at the same time, not really caring how it happened. After a moment both their faces broke out in smiles. Sailor Moon made the first move, standing straight and putting a glove under one arm. "I'm sure the others are worried about me by now."
"You should head back to the control room. In about two minutes, Mamoru is going to come flying around that corner wondering where you are."
She stopped. "You know that for sure?"
"Of course. I lived it."
"Of course you did." she said, rolling her eyes. Suddenly the glove under her arm was removed. Endymion stood and held the glove in one hand, the other grabbing her glove-less hand. He raised it to his lips. "Thank you for everything." he whispered. He held out the glove for her, watching it stretch when her fingers pulled the material. He tugged it to her elbow. When he pulled back she had already reached forward, enveloping him in a hug. He couldn't do anything else but put his arms around her, thankful for her generous spirit and the feeling of life in his arms again.
"You're most welcome." she whispered back. Then, without meeting his gaze, she turned and walked out of the room.
Moments later he heard her exclamation and his voice - younger, but undoubtedly his - question where she had been. He smiled at her excuse, saying she had gotten lost and couldn't find her way back. His younger self said something in reply he couldn't hear, followed by their footfalls echoing in the large corridor. The silence met him again, but this time he didn't hate it as much. He turned back to his wife, still unmoving, still in the crystal barrier, and felt more love for her than he did when he first entered the room.
"You really are full of surprises, aren't you? Just when I think I've got you figured out, you show me something new." He leaned back in his chair, playing with his wedding band and smiling at the face of his wife. "I think that's the thing about you I love the most."
Suddenly, the king of Crystal Tokyo did something that he hadn't done in years. He had heard a rumor that a person in a coma can hear others voices if one is willing to speak. Though he didn't know where his wife was, he felt as though he could reach her somehow, which made him all the more willing to speak for as long as his voice could hold out.
Suddenly, King Endymion found he had more to care about than he realized.
So... how was it? I'd love to know from anyone!Later!