AN: This is it, the last chapter. This is offically the first story I have ever finished, and I owe it all to you all, the readers. It was a pleasure to write, although there were times I wanted to pound my head into the computer screen. But I hope you all have enjoyed the ride, because I sure did.
There was a tingling feeling racing up her arm, like thousands of insects crawling on her skin. She ignored it, instead burrowing deeper into the abyss of darkness she craved so deeply. She attributed the sensation to passing over into whatever existence there was after death.
The feeling intensified, and she wrinkled her nose in annoyance. How could her arm be asleep when she had no physical body? And for that matter, why did one of her legs feel so cold? Even as she willed the feelings away, the was something buzzing in the back of her mind, almost like a voice trying to talk to her.
Why can't I get any rest even when I am dead? Usagi thought to herself bitterly. Haven't I done enough for everyone else?
The buzzing in the back of her head turned into a chuckle. You've been sleeping for days, Usa. Isn't that enough?
The girl's eyebrows drew down in confusion, and her mind grew fuzzy as awareness approached. She was dead, wasn't she? After killing Metallia, her soul had drifted away, hadn't it?
It had, the voice affirmed, but we got you back; sucked you back in, as it were. It helps when you have a soul bond with someone. You couldn't run away even though you had no body.
Usagi couldn't decide whether that was a good thing or not. Now that she was back, she would have to deal with more baddies, more sleepless nights….
Well, there was that, and the blonde had to admit that was a very big plus. Can't I stay in bed just a little longer? she whined.
Serenity chuckled again. Now that sounds like the Usagi-chan I know. But unfortunately you and I both know you have a audience, and your restless twitching has caught someone's attention.
Usagi mentally pouted. Then I'll stop moving and they will go away.
Sure, but your arm will fall off from lack of circulation soon, and the feeling cannot be pleasant.
Usagi growled softly to herself and cracked open one eye, only to squeeze it shut again when too much light filtered in. Was my room always so sunny? she asked her mental companion.
It has, Serenity laughed. Why not ask Mamoru to make it cloudy?
Isn't that against some sort of planetary rule? No messing with the weather unless needed?
Usagi could almost feel her former self shrug. I think one rule can be broken today.
The blonde freed her arm from under her side and shifted herself onto her stomach, burying her head under her pillow. "Mamo-chan?" She mumbled from it's depths. "Can you turn off the sun for me?"
One side of her bed shifted as Mamoru no doubt plastered himself next to her. "I can't turn it off, but I can hide it. Will that be good enough?"
Something akin to a grunt answered him.
A minute later Usagi started flexing her hand as the tingling intensified, signaling that she really had lost circulation in the limb. She lifted a corner of the pillow from her eyes and peeked out. Thankfully the light filtering in was dim and grey.
"How long have I been asleep?" she asked, her jaw cracking as she yawned.
"Five days, seven hours, thirty-two minutes and fifty-six seconds," was the reply.
The girl blinked. "Don't tell me you've been here all that time," she mumbled, sneezing as a feather from her pillow escaped and landed on her nose.
Mamoru smiled at her and brushed her bangs away from her eyes. "You are important," he drawled, "but there are other people in my life that I had to see to."
She then remembered something. She sat up suddenly, groaning as her body protested the movement. "How is everyone? Are they okay? Are my parents alright?"
Her boyfriend gently pushed her back down into her pillows. "They're fine, Usako. The majority of the district is still asleep, slowly gaining their energy back. We only just figured out how to take down the stasis shield you put up. Luckily my power was tied to it as well, and I was able to unweave it."
Usagi frowned. "You mean I've been sleeping nearly a week, and I still didn't miss any school? Will I ever get a break?"
Mamoru chuckled. "You've been lucky. I've had to deal with four very annoying generals clinging to my side like a second skin. I thought one was bad. At this rate I'll be insane by the end of the week."
"Before then, if I have any say," a slightly feminine voice suddenly added, as Zoicite slipped silently in the door, a sly smile on his face. One cheek was a yellowish purple, a grim reminder of their fight with Beryl. He was once again dressed in Mamoru's clothes, obviously the castoffs, because both the shirt and pants fit better.
If it hadn't been for the bruise, she would have thought he looked pretty attractive. But of course she would never tell the egomaniac that. Or Ami for that matter. She was pretty possessive of her textbooks; Usagi could only imagine what she would be like with an actual boyfriend.
His prince growled. "What did I tell you before about coming in unannounced?"
Zoicite shrugged nonchalantly. "I highly doubt Usagi-chan is up at any of your more vigorous attentions, Mamoru-sama."
Usagi blushed darkly. "Where is everyone?" she asked hastily, seeing Mamoru's eyes darken in anger.
Zoicite smiled wistfully, obviously thinking about Ami. "They are all out making rounds through the district, making sure everyone is okay and keeping calm. We're hoping there won't be a mass panic when everyone wakes up and finds out it's nearly a week later."
Mamoru nodded. "Luckily Kunzite said that the populace will remember most of what happened, and because youma attacks weren't that rare before, a larger one wouldn't seem so out of place."
Usagi turned to him. "Are my parents and Shingo awake?"
The dark haired young man shook his head. "They're still asleep I think. At least last I checked."
The blonde looked up to see a very tired looking Ikuko walk in her door as if on cue, dressed in her purple bathrobe. She looked over Mamoru and Zoicite questioningly, but shook her head as if brushing it off for later. "Are you alright honey?"
Usagi nodded vigorously, overjoyed to see her mother okay. She had come to terms with the fact that she would never see her of her family again when she proposed her plan to Serenity. She only now realized how much she would have lost.
Mamoru stood up to let the older woman take a seat by her daughter. "What's going on here?" she asked, taking the spot with a smile to Mamoru. "I feel like I have been asleep for ages."
The blonde reached over and took her mother's hand. "It's been days actually, Mama. Do you remember anything?"
Her mother's eyes narrowed in thought. "A little," she admitted. "Did it have something to do with those ugly monsters that keep attacking everyone?"
Usagi nodded. "There was a big fight between them and the Sailor Senshi. As you can see the Senshi won. I think we were drained of our energy, and that's why we are only now waking up."
Ikuko gave her an appreciative smile. Not a look that said 'thank you' for clearing things up, but for something else. Serenity gave a thoughtful sound, but Usagi ignored it. "How are Papa and Shingo?"
Her mother patted her hand. "Still sleeping dear." She glanced at Mamoru and Zoicite. "And it seems I'll have to keep it that way for a little while." She raised an eyebrow. "Are you going to introduce me to your friends?"
Usagi gulped at the suggestive and sly tone her mother used. She'd been waiting, and begging, to meet a boy her daughter was potentially dating. She obviously hoped now was the time. Although her husband Kenji constantly told their daughter she was forbidden to date, Ikuko had secretly hoped Usagi had broken that rule.
"Mama, this is Chiba Mamoru."
Ikuko's eyes widened. "Is this the young man Shingo told me about?"
Usagi nearly choked. When had that twerp of a brother met him?
"Shingo said he met you while picking up Usagi from the arcade some time ago," Usagi's mother explained, raising a speculative eyebrow at Usagi's possible boyfriend. "Said he admired you for being able to annoy Usagi as well as you did. You are his idol."
Mamoru coughed nervously at the strange glint in Ikuko's eyes. "Things are different now, Tsukino-san."
Ikuko winked at him. "I'm sure it is." She turned to Zoicite. "And you are?"
Zoicite gave her a dazzling smile and a courtly bow. "My name is Zoicite. And may I say that I would never have pegged you as Usagi-chan's mother. You look like you could be her sister."
Ikuko giggled into her hand like a little girl. "Oh, you are a charmer, aren't you?" She didn't mention the obvious wound on his face.
Zoicite's reply was cut off by an elbow in the ribs from Mamoru.
Usagi's mother placed a kiss on her daughter's forehead then stood up, yawning as she did so. "I'm sorry none of us could be proper hosts, gentlemen. Had we been in better health you would have been greeted with tea and a mass of snacks."
"And a shotgun pointed at their heads the entire time," Usagi muttered.
Ikuko laughed. "True enough. But I can keep Kenji-papa handled, don't you worry. He needs to understand that his little girl has grown a lot these last few years. She can easily protect herself."
Usagi blinked, for what seemed like the millionth time since she'd woken up, although it was only the first. Her mother was showing some insight that was bordering on scary. She couldn't know their secret, could she?
Mothers have a way of knowing every little thing that happens under their roof, no matter how secretive you are about it, Serenity said, her own voice tinged with curiosity. My mother used to know if someone dropped a glass halfway across the palace.
"I trust that you all can take care of yourselves," Ikuko continued with an apologetic smile as she neared the door, "because I would like to go back to bed. I can tell that my daughter is in capable hands." She gave Usagi a stern glance. "And when Shingo wakes up, I expect you to take care of him Usagi, okay?"
It wasn't really a question, so the blonde didn't answer except with a nod.
As the door clicked softly closed behind her mother, Usagi flopped back down on her bed with a sigh. She felt odd, almost like her body didn't fit. She assumed it was because she was without one for so long.
"What happened with Metallia?" she asked, rubbing the heel of one hand over her eyes. "I don't recall much after she started breaking apart."
Mamoru reclaimed his spot by her side. "She couldn't contain all the energy we were pouring into her, and she exploded," he told her, fingers lightly tracing her arm. "The Earth swallowed her up as she was crumbling. Even if some part of her remained, the planet would have to disintegrate for her to reform."
"And after that?" she asked quietly. The main feeling she remembered was like a free fall. Only there was nothing to catch her. No asphalt, no Mamoru. Only empty air. Yet she wasn't scared. She was past the point of where emotions were possessed.
Mamoru's fingers stilled for a moment, then continued their path. "At first we thought you were gone. That you ceased to be. But then Mercury picked up a trace reading of energy in the air."
"Mamoru-sama was a mess," Zoicite added in helpfully and happily. "Almost incoherent."
His prince shot him a glare, to which his friend only grinned. "Once I got my wits about me," he ground out, "I realized that Ami was trying to tell me that it was you. Using the link you and I have, we chased you down, because by that time you had drifted rather far away. Serenity managed to get you back into your body"
Mamoru's eyes closed tightly, as if he were in pain. When he opened them, they were glassy as if he were holding back tears. "You were calling to me," he whispered hoarsely. "Pleading for me to find you, like you did in my dreams."
Usagi studied those eyes, so dark with repressed emotion they were nearly black. Tenderly she reached up and moved his bangs from his gaze. "Why didn't I cease to be?"
"I can answer that question."
The three glanced up to see a small orb floating gingerly above Usagi's desk. A figure was inside, dressed in a black and garnet sailor fuku with long forest green hair trailing down her back.
"Pluto!" Usagi exclaimed, sitting up and extending her hands as the orb floated closer to her. "What are you doing here?"
Zoicite exchanged a questioning glance with Mamoru, who only shrugged, equally confused.
Pay attention, Endymion instructed his host. You may never see this Senshi again, because it is forbidden for her to leave her post. She holds the most important position in Serenity's court, next to her personal guardians.
Pluto smiled and tipped her head to the side, her emerald hair cascading over her shoulder. "I came to congratulate you, Usagi-sama. What you did shook the very foundations of the Time Gate I guard. The very future trembled at the thought of losing you."
Usagi's brows rose to her hairline. "What do you mean by that?"
The solitary Senshi smiled, but it was only a small upturning of her red lips. "You know you are important to not only the world, but the galaxy. You and Mamoru-sama both." She gave a nod of reverence to the prince, her eyes softening slightly. "That is why you are still here."
When she turned back to Usagi, her ruby eyes were deadly serious. "You are blind to me now, Usagi," she warned. "I can no longer see the path you take in the fabric of Time. You have left the course that Fate has planned for you."
The blonde grinned. "I never was one to follow the rules."
Pluto's staff swung around to point directly between Usagi's eyes, and the girl flinched. "This is no laughing matter," the older woman snapped, the veneer of calm crumbling under the seriousness of the situation. "What you have done has awakened things far beyond our imagination and scope. Everything you do changes the future." Her staff swung around to aim at Zoicite. "He and his fellows are not supposed to be here. Endymion's Shitennou no longer exist in the future."
"Mistakes made in the past have no bearing on what they mean to me and mine now," Usagi replied, her tone equally serious. "You know my depth of mercy Pluto, it encompasses all, no matter their previous deeds. Their deaths in that time line would not have been by my hand."
Pluto studied her for a moment, then shook her head as if abandoning the argument. "It matters not. I have lingered here too long. I have only come to warn you that you must not let your guard down. Your powers have hastened the arrival of beings we have not yet faced in the future. I pray you will be ready for them. Farewell, Usagi-sama."
After Pluto's orb faded from sight, Zoicite whistled through his teeth. "Well, she was pleasant, wasn't she? Glad she wasn't part of your court on the Moon, Usagi-chan. I'd have hated to end up with her."
Usagi sat staring at the place where the soldier disappeared. "She has lived a solitary and lonely life, Zoi. You would not be the most pleasant either if you have spent centuries alone."
There was a snort from the doorway, as Rei, with Jadeite behind her, sauntered in. "Solitude does not excuse lack of manners. She should never speak to her princess that way."
Usagi raised an eyebrow at her friend as she leapt onto the bed and into Usagi's arms. "I seem to recall you being less that polite to me on many occasions, Rei." she retorted after she regained breath in her lungs.
The girl sniffed and raised her nose in the air haughtily. "That's different, and you know it, Usagi. I am the only one allowed to do so. My title affords me the right."
Mamoru broke out laughing, a 'I told you so' look on his face. Usagi frowned, remembering the conversation they had about exactly this situation.
Can Mamoru predict things Usa? Serenity asked, and Usagi couldn't tell if she was being serious or not. Because he seemed to nail that one right on the head.
"What title is that?" A new voice asked, as Makoto, Minako and Ami came in. The stylish scarves that were Luna and Artemis were also present. Makoto grinned ferally. "The 'I can annoy anyone I please and get away with it because I am Queen of my world' title?"
Usagi laughed as the other girls piled on her bed as well, effectively shutting up Rei's counter and shoving Mamoru onto the floor. His three new shadows helped him up and onto the chair by her desk, chuckling as they did so. Somehow, they had all received new wardrobes, though how, Usagi had no idea.
She knew she should feel overjoyed at the fact that they had all survived what could have been a world ending situation. Elated at the fact that she was still alive to take pleasure in the fact that she had so many people who cared for her.
But she couldn't. Pluto's warning wouldn't let her.
She didn't like the fact that something she did or had done was effectively changing the course of all life itself. Or the fact that everyone was helping her to do so, unaware as they were. Except for Mamoru, who wouldn't care either way. She didn't think he would believe that she could in effect bring about the destruction of his planet.
She knew for a fact that her being alive would herald the deaths of all those she cared about. Believed in it with the surety of knowing the sun would come up tomorrow.
But it's not going to stop you, Serenity interrupted lightly. If it were me, I would have given up everything and fled. Having the deaths of my people on my conscience would be the end of me. But you are so much stronger than I am; you are what I wanted to be when I was growing up.
Usagi smiled sadly as Minako tackled Rei onto the floor with a pillow, only to bring about a wrestling match. Three years ago I would have done the same. And even now the thought of losing them is killing me inside. But I can't give up on the millions of people that count on me to protect them, even if they do not know I exist. It would be completely selfish to think of and put my own feelings before everyone else's. She sighed. But I can't help but think that it also makes me selfish to not care about my friends.
There was a tingling feeling on her back, almost as if Serenity were rubbing it comfortingly. You know that's not being selfish. That's being strong in the face of adversity. None of your friends would want you to back down if they were hurt. That would make their deaths in vain. What would be the point if they gave it everything they had, only for you to lay down and let the enemy walk over you?
Besides, she added when Usagi didn't reply, you and I both know that after everything was said and done, and after you'd bawled your eyes out for days, you'd find some way to bring them back.
Serenity's talk had done nothing to lighten Usagi's mood. She glanced up to see Mamoru watching her intently.
Mamoru-sama must be wearing off on you, Jadeite mind-spoke to her, his blue eyes glittering with mirth as her gaze snapped to his. Brooding is his forte.
She raised an eyebrow at him. And how do you know I was brooding?
He winked at her over Mamoru's head. Even if Mamoru hadn't asked me to find out what was wrong, one can easily see the proverbial wheels turning in your head. His tone turned serious. When the Senshi were chosen to guard Princess Serenity, they knew that one day it would mean their death. But it mattered not to them, because perishing in the line of duty was the greatest achievement. Each of your friend's as they are now follows that same code, and you seem to have forgotten that.
Usagi frowned and ducked as a star shaped pillow flew past her head. I have not forgotten. It's just a terrible burden to bear.
Jadeite shrugged, his blonde curls bouncing slightly. It is only a burden if you make it so.
She was silent a moment. Would you willingly die for Mamoru, even without knowing what you had done in the past?
The other blonde's eyes lit up fervently. In a second. I and my brethren owe everything to him, and you, for allowing us to atone for our past transgressions against you. But against all of that, Mamoru is our friend, because he accepts us as we are. You would die for your friends, would you not?
Usagi blinked at him, astounded at his insight. Wow, Jade, I must say I am surprised. Everything I've heard about you led me to believe you were nothing but a clown.
The former general looked affronted, even as he slapped the back of Zoicite's head playfully for some remark. I may act like an ass, Usagi-san, but I do have brains. After all, how else could I keep up with Miss Rei?
It seemed that Jadeite was having quite a time winning over Rei. Although it did seem just for show. Usagi noted how Rei would look his way when he was occupied elsewhere.
"So, what do we do now?" Minako asked after the fanfare died down. "Do you think we have some time before the next baddie shows up?"
Although everyone had overheard Pluto's warning, her appearance hardly seemed surprising. With all of the events in the last few months, nothing could shock them anymore. After all, their talking feline friends were contradictions themselves.
"We do nothing," Luna answered from Usagi's lap. "You all have deserved the time off. We need to spend it with our loved ones; it keeps us in the right frame of mind."
Makoto raised a eyebrow. "Taskmistress Luna is going easy on us? Are you sure we aren't all dead?"
The black cat raised a threatening paw with claws extended the brunette's way. There came and eep from Zoicite, who huddled behind Nephrite.
Mamoru stood up, each of his generals instinctively standing straighter as he did so. "We will not worry about when the next attack will come. Because by then we will be weary from looking over our shoulders all the time. However I must stress that what is coming will have made Metallia look like child's play. None of you is required to lay down your lives for a cause you do not believe in. Usagi and I my be your monarchs, but we will not make you commit an act you do not desire to do. It needs to be dealt with now; we cannot risk falling apart when the threat is upon us."
"Are you calling into question our devotion to Usagi and the defense of this planet?" Ami asked, her voice and eyes hard. "Because you know that we will lay down our lives gladly in protection of everything we hold dear."
"The eight of us will die before the enemy gets even a glance at either of you," Kunzite added. "We will carry on until the very last breath leaves out bodies."
Nothing more needed to be said after that. And Usagi felt content. After all, it wasn't just for her that her friends were fighting. It was for everything they believed in.
Gotten a little bit of an ego, huh Usa? Serenity quipped.
Usagi was about to reply, but she was cut off by Shingo whining from the outside of her door, "Usagi-baka, mom says you have to make me something to eat. I'm hungry!!"
There you have it. Tell me what you have thought about it. Critisisms are welcome, to a degree of course. This time, I demand reviews! Well, not demand, just ask really nicely. I will now be starting Crystaline Tears, the spinoff I told you all about. But, I want to know, would you all like a sequel? Let me know!
Thanks again for reading!!