Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon.

A/N: Well, this is it. Enjoy! Thank you to my prompt reviewers, seeing as chapter 7 was only up for a few days before I decided to post the final installment: empty-spaces, Chrystal, anokas2757, Kitkino86, thunderbird, PriestessHelene, RaeyaKimani, mlcoolc86, sarahr85, sailormoon0630, and mae-E.

Learning To Let Go

Part 8: "Letting Go"

Seiya opened his eyes, feeling disoriented and vaguely dizzy, as if he'd just spent the last hour in someone's dryer. He collected his wits, remaining dorsicumbent so all burgeoning of nausea was kept at bay. When at last the world ceased to spin before his vision, the star sat up and observed his surroundings.

It was the Tsukino attic room, still softly illuminated by the lamp. Seiya realized that the soft thing cushioning his body was the bed. He scrambled up, rummaging around in his pocket for the key as memory after memory flooded back. He had to find it; prove what had happened was real...

The key was gone.

Seiys remembered a weight being relieved from his pocket; Sailor Pluto must have swiped it before sending him home.

He sighed, falling back onto the mattress. His raven head somehow found a place to nestle between his hands. It seemed a good place to brood.

He knew he had to get out of this tempting house. The full brunt of his actions hit the man, and the stupidity and foolishness of what he had been attempting to do assaulted him. Breaking and entering? Stalking? What was he, some pedophile? This wasn't right; this wasn't the way one went around scoring a girl. If all men did it this way, then jails would have been overflowing with sex predators by now.

Give it up, Seiya. She's already made her choice clear. Stop being an idiot and go home.

Seiya stood resolvedly, tiptoing to the window and slipping out. The descent was as treacherous and perilous as the climb up had been, but irrationality was not clouding his mind anymore. Concentration became easy when young blondes with odango were not flitting through one's brain constantly. He did not fall this time.

The walk back to theThree Lights studio was a blur. No ponderments waltzed across his thoughts, no inner noise pounded against his skull. Time meant nothing to the ebony-head. The night was quiet, and his conscience was mercifully quiescent as well. It seemed all of his energy was being conserved for the heartbreak that he would have to initiate tomorrow.


He found her at the dock, alone and doleful-looking. Her visage was rather ashy, and Seiya flagged as he approached her petite figure. She was gazing down at the water with a sort of sorrowful rapture; dazzled by its beauty yet saddened by some inner quandary. Seiya didn't have to guess to know what was eating her up inside. She was probably still upset after yesterday (had it only been that short a lapse of time?), and missing her Mamoru... like always.

Why didn't I see her constant despression before? Seiya berated himself as he snuck up behind the contemplative Usagi. His snippy conscience provided the wry response.

Maybe because you were so quick to get lost in the outside that you failed to delve into the true girl within...

All too speedily it seemed, he was next to the sun-kissed blonde. She didn't seem to notice his propinquity and continued staring out over Juban lake, with its miniscule rivlets and jeweled reflections. He chose not to say anything; instead, he turned his head up to the morning sun and just basked in its warmth. Best if she begin conversation. He was afraid that if he did, he might just break down right there.

Usagi seemed to pull out of reverie, and her rigid figure came back to life. She swiveled and jumped.

"Seiya! Oh, wow, I majorly spaced out there! Sorry," she rambled wildly, a certain awkward undertone lacing her voice. "Have you been standing there for long?"

"No," Seiya said softly, not averting his eyes yet to meet her angel's countenance. Seeing her pain just made his fester more. Silence reigned for a few seconds, and as the hiatus grew, the one called Fighter knew it was time to say something. He faced her.

"Listen, I'm sorry for yesterday. It must have been... overwhelming for you, to say the least. I shouldn't have dumped all that on you; it wasn't fair. If I could take back what I said, I would."

"Thank you," Usagi whispered, "for saying that. I was taken aback. But Seiya, please understand that I am not going to give up Mamo-chan. He's... my life."

Seiya touched her shoulder, features twisted. "I do understand, more than you know. I've come to say... I'm sorry, and I'm not going to pressure you like that again. I respect your feelings for Chiba-san, and I'm letting you go."

"Go? You're not... leaving, are you?" Usagi suddenly burst out desperately, clinging to his sleeve. "Not on my account! Seiya..." Her voice went tight; gurgled. As if she were fighting back tears. "Don't leave. Everyone I love... they always end up disappearing from my life. You're one of my best friends now. I can't lose you over some stupid estrangement!"

"O-Odango, calm down," Seiya pleaded, reminding himself not to crack in front of her. He blinked the obstinate moisture clogging his eyes away. It would only make matters worse. "I didn't say I was leaving, just letting this... crush... I have, go."

"O-oh," Usagi choked. She settled down, relinquishing his sleeve and fiddling with her own. She sniffed, then added, "You don't know how much this means to me. Our friendship is special... you're special, Seiya..."

He gulped, watching as her glittering eyes swept over his face and her footfalls brought her closer. Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry...

"I love you, Seiya. N-not... romantically or anything, just... I love you. You're such a good friend and this must be so hard for you..."

You have no idea.

Seiya couldn't breath. Her face was inches from his. She reached up on tiptoe and swiftly kissed his cheek before backing away. Oxygen returned to the Starlight and suddenly, he felt as if a great burden had been eased off his shoulders. He touched his cheek and watched as Usagi smiled once at him, then twirled round and walked away.

He did love Usagi. He always had. But his love had changed; grown deeper. It was suddenly not romantic, but he knew from the recesses of his heart that he would protect that little Odango, no matter what. He would protect her in Mamoru's place; keep her safe until her real love- her future husband- returned. Because it dawned on him: he had a duty to his own Princess. And no amount of imagination would make Usagi that woman. On top of that, he could not find it in himself to destroy Usagi's happiness.

He had finally realized what true love was, even if that love required releasing her to a different man.

A/N: The end! I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. It was a long way in coming, especially for so short a story, but I thank all those who remained with me the whole way. Well, enough of my cheesy sentiments! Review, and don't forget to check out my other stories. Already, the number is in the forties and only increasing!

AngelMoon Girl