"I'm sorry, Serena."
He flicked his wrist and his cane extended out of his sleeve, the cold metal hitting the floor noiselessly. With a speed that frightened her, he drove forwards and she found herself dodging his rapid strokes.
"You tricked me," he said coldly between stabs.
Sailormoon suddenly threw herself backwards and jumped up into the air. He barely dodged her Sailor kick in time and she landed on the floor next to him. Before he could react, she had gripped his cane and bent it sharply to twist his arm.
He groaned and dropped it on the floor.
"You lied to me too at the hospital!" she accused as she turned around and attacked him with fists and kicks, "If it weren't for Mina's warning I would have believed you, and you would have stolen our crystals!"
He shielded himself with his cane and backed towards the door, finding himself out on the temple courtyard. He jumped into the air and landed on a lamppost, looking down just in time to see the Tiara hitting the pole, creating a small explosion.
Sailormoon stared up at the smoke with a mixture of triumph and guilt, when a rose appeared from the explosion and struck the ground next to her foot, making her fall backwards and land hard on the floor. Her shoulders hit the ground forcefully enough to leave bruises.
She gasped when Tuxedomask's cane came into view, stopping close to her neck. She lay frozen, looking up at him.
He stared at her with unmoving eyes.
To his disbelief and shame, tears filled her eyes.
"I loved you!" she burst out, "I loved you, you baka! Even before the girls got me to seduce you I was in love with you! But you're just so stubborn and distrustful that you can't believe for one second that I had real, genuine feelings for you!"
He held the cane in its place as he looked away slightly, "It doesn't matter what you say. I'm not giving back you the crys-"
"I'm not talking about the crystals!" she said angrily, "Why can't you just believe that I really don't want us to be enemies?"
Her crying was reduced to self pitying wailing now and he could feel his heart melting.
She sniffled, "And now both you and Tuxedomask, my two biggest crushes in the world are holding a stick to my neck ready to finish me off. I can't believe we would end up in a fight to the death."
"I don't want to fight you..." he said with a sigh and as much gentleness he could muster. He could still feel the adrenaline running on overdrive in this system.
"Then what's with the came!?" she demanded shrilly.
He quickly retracted his weapon and knelt down next to her.
"I'm sorry, Serena," he said softly, "I should have believed you. I just... I really need the crystals. I guess I was so consumed with getting them that I… I'm sorry."
She held out her hand and he extended his to help her up. She rested her back against his arm and he looked guiltily at her when she winced from her bruises.
"I... have these dreams," he said quietly, "There's this girl in a white dress... she says I have to get the seven crystals in order to free her."
He smiled inwardly at the jealous look which appeared on Serena's face. Only Serena could be envious of someone who may or may not exist.
"Maybe we can both use the crystals..." she said.
"Maybe..." he said hesitantly.
"Can we just win the other three crystals from the Negaverse and then decide what to do?"
He nodded. "All right."
She sniffled again, "And you... you believe me now?"
He held her a little closer, "I do."
"Good," she said timidly and he wrapped both his arms around her protectively. She snuggled closer and he tightened his grip, scared that she may slip away.
Only with Serena could he have a fight-to-the-death and then a heartfelt moment all within five minutes.
"Man, it's freezing!" Sailormoon exclaimed.
Five Sailor soldiers and Tuxedomask hurried down the snowy trenches of Arctic tundra en route to find Beryl.
"Does she always complain this much?" Tuxedomask muttered to no one in particular.
"Hey!" Serena, who was walking ahead, turned around to face him, "You're my boyfriend now! Can't you be a little nicer?"
He shivered. Truthfully, anyone out in minus thirty would feel miserable, and he did want to protect Serena. It's just that she had been complaining since they'd arrived an hour ago.
"Yeah, I'll be nice," he shot back before he could stop himself, "I'll book an appointment at the psych ward for you at my hospital!"
Sailormoon scoffed, "Seriously, Darien, we all know you're a medical intern and you're going to be a hotshot doctor someday. Are you capable of not bringing it up every five minutes?"
"Hey, just because I seem arrogant doesn't mean-"
"You don't seem arrogant, Darien, you are arrogant."
"You want me to throw you and your meatball buns over that icy cliff!?"
"You don't have to! I'll jump down myself. I might break a foot but it's better than being up here with you!"
"Yeah, well, I'd rather spend time with Negaverse generals than be here with you."
"I'd rather taste some of Mina's disgusting cooking – sorry Mina – than be here with you!"
Sailormoon and Tuxedomask turned to look at Raye who had clasped her hands together with a fireball emitting from her fingertips. The snow beneath her was starting to melt under the fiery blaze.
"The next person who speaks gets burned in the face," she hissed.
Serena swallowed nervously and Darien crossed his arms over his chest as they kept walking.
"Guys, my computer's picking up something approaching at rapid speed," Amy interrupted the silence, "It's… some kind of dimensional rift, moving at at least 2000mph."
Without warning, a black ball larger than Darien's height came into view. The girls cried out and covered their eyes while Tuxedomask shielded himself with his cape. The surrounding snow formed a snowstorm and they all felt a heavy force crash around them.
It disappeared just as quickly as it came. When their eyes cleared, they noticed that someone was missing.
"Serena!" Tuxedomask shouted, "Where is she?"
Amy typed furiously on her computer, "That dimensional rift took her."
Sailorvenus stepped forwards, "Girls, we have to Sailorteleport to Sailormoon. Tuxedomask, with just the four of us, we don't have enough energy to take you. Stay here and stall the Doomsday Girls."
He watched helplessly as the girls joined hands and summoned their powers. In a moment, the four of them were flying overhead following the dark energy which had taken their leader.
Darien hurried forwards along the path they had chosen, thankful that it followed the direction where Serena had been taken. Worry gripped him as he ran.
A moment later, he heard a noise behind him. Five shadows appeared in the snow and he turned around to face them.
The Doomsday Girls.
He extended his cane.
"Let's see what you've got," he declared.
"Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus!" Serena said gratefully as her friends appeared behind her. They found themselves in a cave where a red-haired queen sat at the center, stroking a crystal ball.
Beryl sneered at them.
"You think you can defeat me? You don't even have the crystal!"
"Don't need'em," Mina said, "Ready, girls?"
The girls called out their respective attacks.
"Too slow!" Beryl snarled as she summoned a gust of piercing wind which took the girls by surprise.
The Sailor soldiers cried out as the energy lifted them off the ground and crashed them against the walls behind them.
"Four down, one to go," Darien said breathlessly to himself as he pulled his cane from the fourth Doomsday Girls' chest. It screeched in pain before disappearing into dust.
Suddenly, the crystals in his shirt pocket flew out and disappeared into the sky.
The final Doomsday Girl used the distraction to ambush him from behind. He dodged the attack and rolled several times on the floor. To his surprise, the enemy jumped into the air and, with her sword extended, prepared to pierce into him from above. He produced a rose from his wrist and with one eye closed for precision, took careful aim.
One hit and the rose struck the enemy in between the eyes. The Doomsday Girl cried out in alarm and exploded, leaving only a pile of dust.
Tuxedomask got up and brushed the snow from his jacket.
He starting running towards the cave again when suddenly, an explosion emerged from his destination. To his horror, the explosion continued to expand, consuming the landscape around it.
Eventually, the energy enveloped him as well.
Instead of the painful impact he expected, the pink glow made him feel warm and tired. Letting his eyes close, his last thought was not of the moon princess who had plagued his dreams for months.
It was of a certain meatball head who had plagued his daydreams for even longer.
Two weeks later…
"Another 30!" Serena screamed in anguish.
She crumpled the paper into a ball and threw it into the air. It fell lightly on to the sidewalk and she stared at it with a frown.
"That's weird…" she muttered, "I kind of expected it to hit something… Must be that weird deja vu people keep talking about…"
She sighed and resumed her pouting, turning to continue on her way home.
Behind her, a man in a green blazer stared longingly after her.
"She defeated Beryl with that Silver Crystal," the black cat on his shoulder explained, "But now she doesn't remember anything. It really is for the best."
"I know," he said as he bent down to pick up the abandoned test paper, looking at the messy handwriting affectionately, "I want her to have a normal life too. It's just-"
"Hey, what are you doing!?"
He looked up to find Serena staring at him.
She stomped up to him, "That's mine, you creep!"
Darien frowned, not sure what to do. He looked at Serena and then at the test paper. He turned to Luna for help but she had already jumped soundlessly off his shoulder.
He took a deep breath and gave her the haughtiest look he could muster.
"A thirty?" he said, "Are you stupid or just incredibly lazy?"
Her mouth fell open, and she ripped the paper from his hand, "How dare you!?"
As she walked away, he heard her mutter, "The nerve of that guy, what a total jerk!"
He sighed and looked at her retreating figure. What was he going to do without her? Was he meant to be her enemy forever? Could he get her to fall in love with him even without their secret identities?
He frowned when she stopped walking abruptly.
She turned around slowly and he felt his breath caught in his throat.
A look of recognition appeared on her face. She gave him the tiniest of smiles as her eyes watered, filled with emotion.
He could barely hear her soft voice.
"Listen, Serena, dating a guy is like taking medicine."
Serena frowned and took another sip of her iced tea. The five girls sat around the living room table in Darien's apartment, a pile of untouched textbooks lying in front of them.
"If the medicine stops working, try another!" the brunette said.
Raye frowned, "Lita, is that philosophy of yours the reason you have so many ex-boyfriends?"
Serena ignored the glare that Lita shot Raye, "You're saying I should break up with Darien? He's really annoying sometimes but he's not that bad. I mean, based on looks alone, Darien is probably a 90. Add on the future medical career, that's a 95. The romantic roses bump him up to 96. The motorcycle, a 98. Super cool apartment, 99. That's almost a hundred."
Lita was about to answer when a male voice interrupted their conversation, "Can you refrain from talking about breaking up with me in my own apartment? Besides, my looks alone are at least a 98."
Serena's mouth ran dry as she stared up at Darien, who had just come out of his bedroom in a white T-shirt that revealed his broad shoulders and flat stomach.
He was probably right. At least a 98.
"Oh yeah, I forgot," she announced as she turned back to her friends as if he weren't there, "Arrogance. That drops him back down to a 90."
"How's this, Meatball Head?" Darien countered, "Your looks, 60. Klutz attacks drop you down to a 55. Failing grades, 54. Manga reading, 53. Eating out of control, 51. You're a bare pass, Miss Tsukino. I should be the one leaving you."
"You take that back right now, Chiba!" she stood up defiantly as she glared at him, "Or I'm walking out that door right now!"
"You don't have to," he declared, "I'll throw you out the window!"
Serena's mouth fell open, "Did you just threaten to throw me out the window? I'm telling Sister Joy you said that!"
She grabbed her cell phone from her purse.
"Hey, no, that woman's like a mother to me," Darien exclaimed, "Put down the phone, I'm not joking around!"
"I'm dialling," Serena declared as she dodged Darien who lunged at her. A moment later, he was chasing her around the apartment trying to grab the cell phone from her hand.
"It's kind of hard to imagine they're dating," Mina said awkwardly as the couple continued to run in circles around the living room table.
"Yeah, I guess some things don't change," Raye mused.
Amy sighed, "Well, we can't study like this."
"Yeah, let's get out of here," Lita agreed as she started to gather her books.
Meanwhile, Darien had grabbed Serena's wrist, forcing her to drop the phone on to the carpeted floor.
Serena gasped, "You broke my phone, baka! You'd better pay me back!"
"Your phone? I bought you that for your birthday, Meatball Head!"
"So!? You gave it to me so it's mine, and now you broke it so you have to pay for it!"
"How do you know it's even broken?"
Amy was hurriedly tying her shoes when a series of steel-tipped roses hit the air-sofa next to her and it quickly deflated. She gasped as Darien's cane flew across the room and tore a hole into the bookcase.
"Let's get out of here!" Raye cried.
"Moon… Tiara… Magic!"
The others screamed and ran for the door.
AN: Ouch, record low number of reviews for the last chapter. Hope the ending delivered!