Chapter 10

Another place, another time
Another hand to touch, another sun to shine

Tsukino Usagi tilted her face to the warm sunshine of the afternoon and stretched her arms above her head as she reclined on the hill. The park surrounding her was awash with colors and fragrances, spring blooming into Summer with a vengeance and she couldn't help but smile. Inhaling deeply, she closed her eyes and let the sunshine kiss her face.

Life was good.

Life was very good.

Usagi had been left to her own devices and since she didn't have detention once again, she now took it as a sign to relax and enjoy herself. Normally, given the opportunity, she'd be down at Crown blowing her allowance and ogling her gorgeous Mamo-chan; except she'd already done that this week. Spending her money; ogling her gorgeous boyfriend was something she did every day.

Except right now he was staying late to finish a project and wasn't supposed to meet her until later. She wouldn't have the money to spend on arcade for at least another week - so she was left with the necessity of filling her time without being able to spend her money. Not that she minded with such a beautiful day!

The sun was shining and Metallia had been defeated. Her friends, love and memories had been returned to her and she hadn't failed a test since peace had resumed.

Another day, almost identical to this one, several weeks prior flitted through her thoughts. It was the first time she'd seen her Mamo-chan. She hadn't known it then, but he was her soul mate; her other half - and he was, literally, her knight in shining armor. He was also the man of her dreams - funny how she'd know that well before she'd actually met him. Maybe her memories from being Serenity had been trying to surface, telling her just what to look for, but as much as she wanted to believe that, she knew it was untrue.

Mamo-chan could have ended up being blonde haired and blue-eyed like Motoki-oniisan and it would have shot her dream of her perfect guy straight down the tubes. Not that it mattered if he was gorgeous or not, but being a Prince he almost had to be beautiful. Handsome, she corrected herself with a giggle. Mamo-chan hated it when she called him beautiful.

Regardless, he was beautiful - and all of her friends agreed. Of course, they'd all regained their memories too - and they'd been told about the sacrifices their soul mates had made for their Prince. Fortunately the other Princesses - her protectors - were different enough in this life they would be able to look beyond the ties of old to try and find new loves.

Usagi hoped it was true. All of her friends deserved to be happy the way she and Mamoru were.

"That's about the same pose I first saw you in, Usako."

Her heart skipped a beat at the teasing, affectionate note in that deep timber voice - a voice that wasn't supposed to meet her until later. "I thought you were studying."

"I decided it could wait." Gentle fingertips brushed against her cheek. "Are you objecting to my company, Princess?"

Finally fluttering open, she turned orbs the color of the spring sky towards his touch and was rewarded with that heart-stopping half-smile that always made her knees weak. "Hmm... my handsome Prince decides he wants to spend his time afterschool with me instead of his books - I don't think I have anything to complain about, do you?"

He chuckled. "Only if you dislike my company."

"Never." She reached up to touch his cheek in greeting. "I missed you today, Mamo-chan."

Catching her hand, he placed a kiss on her fingertips, a silent testament to his feelings on the matter. "Did you have a good day at school?"

"I didn't get detention," she responded with a grin, still staring up at him from her prone position. "You?"

"Too long," stretching out beside her, he propped his head on one hand and watched her intently. "I've been looking forward to this all day."

"Me too. It's a wonder I didn't get detention for daydreaming in class."

"Only you, Usako."

"Is that a bad thing?"

He pushed a strand of wayward hair off her face. "I don't think so. You have a... unique way of breezing through things. Like sunshine."

"Sunshine?"

"What, you don't like the comparison?"

"Sunshine gives you burns." She wrinkled her nose, disagreeing with him.

Bending over her, he smiled secretly - just for her. "I've already been burned by you - and I'm glad."

A blush bloomed on her cheeks. "Really?"

Mamoru nodded and dropped a light kiss on her nose. "Really. Sunshine is warm, welcoming and carefree, Usako - just like you."

"Except when I have to be... to be her."

"Which hasn't happened for a while. I, for one, am enjoying the peace."

"Me too."

"But?" Regarding her curiously, he heard her unspoken addition.

Usagi pushed into a sitting position, forcing Mamoru to sit back, and wrapped her arms about her knees. "A part of me misses it. I mean, I'm still Usagi, Mamo-chan, but I'm also Serenity - just like you're Endymion. Don't you find it confusing sometimes?"

"Never."

"Never?"

"Never." His confirmation was as intensive as his look. "Endymion loved Serenity, yes, but I loved you as Usagi before we regained our memories. My mission then is the same as it was now. The only difference, my love, is that I don't have a kingdom to rule."

"Just the Earth to protect."

"The same as you," he smiled. "We're two sides of the same whole no matter our names."

"Then you don't think the mannerisms you gained from Endymion make a difference?"

He shrugged, reaching out to pull her close - barely dragging her across the grass as he tugged her into his lap. Cupping her face in his hands, he searched her gaze. "The only difference they've made, is that I have a confidence in you and I that I once questioned due to unknowns."

He kissed her then, gently and sweetly, his thumbs brushing over her cheeks.

Usagi sighed softly as he pulled away. "What about in me, Mamo-chan? You were already very princely, but I... I wasn't exactly Princess material."

"You've always been a Princess Usako. You talk a little more like one now, and you have a better sense of your responsibilities, but those could also be attributed to your time as Sailor Moon, not because you're Serenity. I love you, as you are now, not the image you seem to have of your former self."

A brilliant smile lit her lips as she threw her arms about his neck and squeezed tightly. "Thank you, Mamo-chan. I needed to hear that."

"No more than I needed to say it. Just as you said, the same is true for me; I love you. I've always loved you - and I won't let you go this time, Usako."

Life was better than very good, Usagi decided as she shared another kiss with her beloved. Life was just about perfect.

fin