Never Gone

Chapter Epilogue:

Never Gone

The full moon. It was finally here! The excitement in the air was electrifying. The Senshi watched their respective men with amusement as each kept an eye on the time in their own way. It was universally understood for all five of them that time would slow down if only to spite them. But, finally, it was here. And they were gone.

Into the woods and wilderness, they disappeared, laughing and hooting and howling and running with all their might, gloriously free of everything! They ran until they were completely lost, then they began their play. Wrestling. Hiking. Swimming. Racing. Hunting. Laughing triumphantly; they were the rulers of Terra and to their domain they charged. It was their ritual, here and then and forever forward, never to be missed, always to be revered. No one would intrude on this, their sacred hour.

And, as the moon rose to its zenith, Mamoru felt the magics of Terra surge around him, begging him not to deny her any longer. He had cruelly chosen to wait until now; his planet begged him to release her from her torment. She wanted her kings.

"Men!" Mamoru called. His Shittenou gathered, giddy and dirty and musty. Truly men of the earth. Mamoru smiled. "Brother. It is time."

A wave of relief rolled over them, shown in each in their own way. Seiya looked to the sky in gratitude. Tamaki leapt up with a whoop and a pumped fist. Ryu clenched his fists in anticipation—he may have been bounded to his lord, but he was not bound, not truly, not yet. And Kyouya…Kyouya stood tallest of all, more than ready to do this.

Mamoru looked at them, one by one, caught in a moment of disbelief. Had someone told him a month ago that he would have his Shittenou restored to him, he would have condemned them a liar and shown them his wrath. Yet, here they were, in their full glory, restored to him. And soon, they would be bound to him, as they had so long ago.

Helios ascended from Elysian.

The full moon bathed the clearing in its light.

It was time for the ritual.

Mamoru summoned the Golden Crystal to his hands. An ancient wind whipped up around them as he released his powers. The crest of the Golden Throne flared on the ground around them. The Shittenou stood at the edge of the circle, waiting. They had done this once before, long ago, in a time of peace and secrecy. Twice vowed, twice bound, they formed their covenant that night upon the eve of Endymion's sixteenth year. Now, they would renew that vow.

Mamoru pressed his right hand into the Golden Crystal and closed his eyes, drinking in the moment, imprinting it forever into his memory; then, he slid his hand down and out. The sharp edges of the crystal cut open his skin and royal blood spilt upon the sacred artifact. It flared. The circle flared.

It was time.

Kyouya stepped forward. He was the First Chosen; the High General; the Tiger Lord and the Shield Barrier. It was his duty and his right. With a wave of his hand, he produced the Tiger's Fang Blade and knelt before his liege. He placed his right hand on the blade and cut deep. Hot blood poured over the folded steel. And he spoke with all the convictions of his heart. "I, Hatake Kyouya of Japan, do so vow to serve you, Chiba Mamoru, once Prince Endymion of Terra and future King Endymion of Crystal Tokyo, for eternity of eternities." He placed his bleeding hand on the Golden Crystal. It flared and turned, for a moment, twilight white. The shadowed light swarmed around him, drinking in his magic and binding him on that level. "I swear by magic." He looked up at his lord. "I swear by blood." He raised his hand. "I swear by covenant made." He clasped bloodied hand with bloodied hand with Mamoru. "And I swear by my true name, Byako." The name resonated with power; spoken by one; heard by one. "I am yours."

Ancient magic sealed him to the Golden Crystal. Blood sealed him to his brother. And his sacred name sealed him eternally to Endymion, the ruler of Terra.

And Mamoru could not be happier. "I accept your vows, Byako. Rise, now, Lord Kunzite, High General of Terra, Shield Barrier of the King, First Adviser, and Tiger Lord of the Central Plains."

The seal of Terra burned in brilliant twilight white on Kunzite's forehead, sealing him in his vows.

Then it was Seiya Unami of the United States who knelt, drawing forth this blood upon the Dragon Tail Staff. He vowed upon the Golden Crystal. He clasped bloodied hand to bloodied hand. And he swore by his true name, Seiryu, to forever serve his lord. And Mamoru accepted.

"Rise, Lord Nephrite, Second in Command, Herald of the Mysteries, Second Adviser, and Dragon Lord of the Western Skies."

Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, it was Ryu who was in the circle. His eyes never left his lord as he sank to his knees, the Phoenix Claw Swords already in his hands. The sheer magnitude of Endymion's grace caused tears to fall from his eyes as he spoke his vows, hand sliced open upon the very blades Endymion had commissioned for him so long ago. He nearly choked as he vowed on the Crystal, and he his words did stick as Mamoru clasped his hand, swearing them brothers. And finally, as he once again whispered his true name, Suzaku, he knew that he was free; finally, truly free. Looking deep into his master's eyes, he vowed with all of his heart, "I am yours."

"I know," Mamoru said. "And I accept. Rise, Lord Jadeite, High Priest of the Sacred Order, Keeper of the Sacred Fires, Third Adviser, Phoenix Lord of the Southern Fires, and returned brother." He pulled Jadeite into a powerful embrace, welcoming him back forever.

Tamaki could not help the teasing jab at the anticlimacticity of his vows after that. But, he was nothing but serious as he knelt, Tamaki Yukino of England, one of his Crystal Serpent Daggers in his hand, ready to vow. He spoke eloquently, rejecting his previous life, his apathy, and his misguided hubris for the humble garbs of the servant. His blood flowed pure from his hand as he bound himself by magic to the crystal, by blood to his brother, and by sacred name, Genbu, to his master.

And at Endymion's command, he rose, "Lord Tanzanite, Imperial Spy, Leader of the Terrian Defense, Fourth Adviser, and Tortoise Lord of the Northern Seas."

Tanzanite joined his brothers on the other side of the circle, and as one, they bowed. "We are your Shittenou," they swore.

Helios walked forward, a golden bowl in his hands. He walked to each, sprinkling water from the Temple of Elysian upon their heads, and commissioning them. "Be blessed by Terra," he said. "Be vigilant in your vows. And serve well." Stepping back, he said to Endymion, "I present to you your Shittenou."

"I accept thee, Shittenou." The Golden Seal surrounded them once more, burning on each of their heads and sealing upon each of their hearts. "Thus concludes the binding," Endymion said, a smile forever on his face. He could feel Terra rejoicing. Her kings had returned.

Yes, he thought as he gazed upon his men, his guardians, and his dearest friends. They were finally returned.

Then, the solemnity of the moment was broken.

"'Bout time," Tanzanite said as he stood and stretched. "Look at the moon. We need to get Jadeite to his wedding."

THIS IS A BREAK IN THE SCENE! THIS IS A BREAK IN THE SCENE!

Rei knelt in the forest clearing, veiled, nervous, elated. It was finally time. After years of separation, she would finally get to see and touch and unite with her husband. She never thought she would be married. Not in this lifetime; not even back then. She had sworn to be celibate, a shining example of purity to be looked upon with envy by all who could not uphold the rules of the Order as high as she. How he had brought her down. He had humbled her. Broken her. Rebuilt her. Freed her. He had saved her.

And, a little more than two weeks ago, she had saved him.

The Senshi stood around her, each dressed in special robes designed by Rei and sewn together by Makoto and Minako especially for this night. Garbed in their respective colors, each girl looked the epitome of a Maiden of the Order. They were to stand as her representatives. She was grateful for their presence.

There was a rustle in the brush, followed by loud laughter.

Rei's breath caught in her throat. He was here.

The Senshi quickly took their places in front of her, separating her from her once and future husband.

Rei listened impatiently as the ceremony began. Usagi stepped forward, asking the questioned required of the Head Maiden; it was her duty to ascertain the worth of this man. Should he pass, the Maidens would separate, revealing his prize.

He would pass, of course. He was Jadeite, the Keeper of the Sacred Flame and Leader of the Sacred Order. He would not fail. She just wished he'd hurry up!

"Correct," Usagi chimed.

The tension left Rei's shoulders. Finally.

The girls parted. Rei stood and turned.

Their eyes met.

And suddenly, they were back in the past, on that night when they tempted fate by binding themselves eternally in the lovers vow long before there was ever talk of peace between their peoples. He had looked so nervous then. He looked equally so now. Dressed in the ceremonial robes of the Order, his hair a little mused from his lunar ritual, he looked so very wonderful. Her heart sped up in her chest as he approached, the scent of him washing over her senses. He took her hand. The electricity of his touch had not lost its potency. She shivered in delight. And together, they turned to face their priest.

Kuzon smiled at them both, pride in his ancient eyes as he commenced to bind them for a second time. He had been pardoned by the grace of Terra and been restored to his place as Head of Terra's Priests. He was second only to Jadeite and now his granddaughter, the mystical and powerful Lady Mars. And he preformed his duties perfectly. "By the exchanging of vows and the sharing of sacred names, I now bind you by the will of the Sacred Fire. Never shall you part. Forever may you love. So shall it be."

"So shall it be," echoed the witnesses.

Rei bit her lip. It was time.

Ryu lifted her veil. His breath caught in his throat. And he grinned like a fool as he steeped to finally taste her lips.

A cheer rose from the crowd. Mamoru held Usagi close, both recalling their own wedding day. So much had happened since then, and it only made them stronger. And now their family was complete. Neither could ask for more.

Minako looked up at Kyouya, her eyes shining in the moonlight. Kyouya could not help himself. He stole a kiss from her teasing mouth, promising more later, and returning his attention to his brother.

Makoto snuggled again Seiya, knowing she would be next.

Tamaki hugged Ami from behind, whispering something that made her giggle and blush and swat his arm.

Ryu pulled up to let out a whoop of joy. Rei laughed. His brothers echoed to sentiments. And the Phoenix Lord lifted his wife into the air and spun her around, reveling in their union.

The celebration would last until the moonset, and the lovers were well on their way to a beach somewhere. And as the rest dispersed back into their lives, they cherished the peace they felt. After thousands of years of waiting and dreaming, the Silver Millennium and the Golden Court were finally united. And, one day, there would rise a new kingdom for them to rule, but for now they were content in the knowledge that their love—of soul mates, lieges, brotherhood, and sisterhood—had never and would never be gone.

The End

AN: And I'm done! Ow, my fingers hurt. Yes, I powered through this. Four chapters in one day, two hours per chapter. I've been writing since two o'clock. Ow...I did this because I was sick of making you guys wait. Life has been so busy; I wanted to reward you all for being loyal readers. I hope the ending was to your expectations. A few things. First off, whenever a sacred name is whispered, it is protected; so, for instance, when the Shittenou were each given their sacred name to Endymion, only Endymion could hear them. And when Rei and Ryu were exchanging names in front of Kuzon and their friends, no one could hear them. Secondly, in the vowing ceremony, I didn't want to write out each and every vow. Done that already in Here without you. Go read that if you need a vow fix. Thirdly, also in the vowing ceremony, Kyouya's name was presented in the proper Japanese form of last name first because he is Japanese. Tamaki and Seiya are not, so I did theirs in the Western style of first name first. Lastly, I am taking a break from Sailor Moon fics for a bit. If any of you are Doctor Who fans, wait I am planing two or three of those. Yeah! Oh, and for those of you disappointed in not having an actual trial of Kuzon, sorry. I tried, but after all the drama of Tamaki and Ami, I felt throwing the trial in at the end was kind of like the end of the Return of the King movie. Huge battle! Victory! Oh wait...thirty more minutes. Hm...Not that it was a bad thirty minutes. I just tend to skip it cause the movie is long. Love Lord of the Rings! Anyway, when the mood arises, I do plan to write a fun little snippet ficlet called "Never Gone: Deleted Scenes." Because there was a alot I had to cut out (Like Artemis and Kyouya meeting in this lifetime. Never got around to that.) So, be on the look out. Thank you again to all my readers, especially syahsyira for the detailed reviews and pressing questions that helped me make Never Gone the amazing conclusion of an amazing universe. Lots of love to you all!

Until Next Fic,

Jecir