AN: And this is the last chapter. Thanks for reading.
Motoki was toying with the rose Usagi had made him as he paced Mamoru's living room when it shattered. Only wisps of magic and the scent of roses remained. "What happened?"
Luna raced over to examine a few of the remaining shards. "Usagi-chan freed Mamoru-san!" she exclaimed. "He's reclaimed his own power! I can feel it in the Earth!"
"That's great!" Artemis smiled. "Maybe there's hope for everyone after all."
"I don't know," Luna whispered as she gazed out the window once more. "The sun is covered. I fear Usagi's trials may have just begun."
Beryl's eyes burned with rage. "I will not forgive you, Princess!" she whispered, holding a long crystal full of dark powers. "Trying to steal Endymion from me again! I will not forgive you!"
Endymion turned when he heard her yelling the last few words, bracing. Once he saw what was coming, he leapt to his feet and threw a rose. It went cleanly through the center of the weapon and embedded itself in Beryl's chest as he knocked Sailor Moon down and shielded her with his own body.
One of the shards hit him in the back, sliding through a gap in his armor. She screamed as he gritted his teeth.
Beryl wavered, her hand coming up to the flower. "Endymion, why do you protect that girl? If you had married me, you could have been king of all the worlds!" Cracks formed across her breast. "Impossible!"
"Mamo-chan, hang on!" Sailor Moon pleaded, placing his head in her lap.
"How can something like this defeat me?" Beryl asked, not really addressing the room's two other occupants. She was beginning to sink into the floor. The blossom smoked, and sparks danced around it. "Energy? Is Endymion's love for that girl destroying my body? I won't accept it. I will never accept it…" She vanished from view, only ripples in the ground marking where she had been.
"Mamo-chan! Mamo-chan!" the Moon Senshi cried.
He shuddered. Too many wounds had been inflicted on him recently. He knew this one would kill him, and he didn't want her to see that. "Hurry, leave this place."
"And go back to being an ordinary girl, and find a cool boyfriend or something."
The blonde blushed a little, just reddening across the nose. "You're the coolest, Mamo-chan."
He smiled at her one last time, unable to hold on. In her mind's eye, she saw a rose being stripped of its petals. She gasped, tears immediately welling up. He didn't move. "Mamoru… Mamo-chan!" She wailed, too upset to even attempt to be quiet. She wrapped her arms around him tightly as the tears came. It was too much, losing him on top of everyone else, especially when she had just gotten him back.
Beryl knelt in front of Metallia's place. "Queen Metallia-sama, please lend me your power. Please give me the power to defeat that hateful girl!"
Slowly, it responded. "Very well. The time has come to bestow hatred and suffering to all living creatures in this universe. Queen Beryl, kill everything and everyone and turn the world pitch black!"
Whatever it was that kept the evil power contained shattered as the sun was completely coated in spots, and liquid poured from the shell. The energy pulsed and moved, then dropped down and engulfed the witch as she screamed.
Eventually the tears ended, though she still felt as if she could cry for days. The human body couldn't keep up with her grief, so the supply was exhausted. She focused on calming herself, knowing that it was no help to her now. She still had to deal with the hell-born witch that called herself a Queen.
"I'm sorry, Mamo-chan," she whispered. "I can't stay with you. I have to go fight Beryl. You have to know you'll always be in my heart." Slowly, the princess rose, not releasing her fallen love's hand until she could no longer reach. "I love you, Mamo-chan. I'll beat her, for your sake and the others. I won't let this be the end."
She held herself as a princess should, straight and proud. Without looking back, Sailor Moon walked out of the Dark Kingdom to find the source of all her unhappiness even as tremors shook the place. Beryl would rue the day she ever crossed Princess Serenity, Sailor Moon, and Tsukino Usagi.
Maybe we are the same, she thought. In some ways. In others, we couldn't be more different. In this though, we all feel the same. She'll pay for what she's done.
Sailor Moon watched from an alcove in the ice as a giant flower burst from the ground and Beryl unfolded herself. The dark Queen looked different. Her hair stood on end, no longer the bloody red of before but a bright turquoise. Her skin took on a lighter shade of the same color. Her gown had changed too, turning from blue to red. At first the warrior just watched, concealed from her enemy's view.
It was her soldier's instincts that dictated her actions now. She had divorced herself from her grief, knowing her task had to come first. When it was complete, she would take the time to cry again and mourn the loss of so many people that were important to her.
There was no way to approach Beryl stealthily. She was surrounded only by open fields of snow and ice. Her best chance would be to come up behind her and hope she wasn't noticed too soon. Her Wand came to her hand with only a tendril of thought, the Ginzuishou dancing with power. She studied it for a moment, allowing herself to enjoy the comfort in its magic. With a sigh, she began down the side of the crater. Through that area, she could at least remain unseen. At the base, things would change.
Darkness completely covered the skies above Tokyo as the two cats and Motoki watched from Mamoru's balcony.
"The seal on Metallia is undone," Luna said in a low voice. "Her power already begins to spread."
"Isn't there any way to stop it?" Motoki asked.
"I don't know," Artemis told him. "Queen Serenity could only seal Metallia's power, and the Queen was fully trained with the use of the Ginzuishou. Usagi-chan never had that chance."
They all stared to the north, sending their hopes and prayers.
Don't give up, Usagi-chan, Luna urged mentally. There's always a way.
A faint smile flickered across Sailor Moon's face as she heard her guardian's encouragements. "Thanks, Luna. I know. I won't give in. Not now."
She didn't run at her enemy, or even move quickly at all. She walked, graceful and elegant even in the bitter cold. Any onlooker would think she was something very special, even if they didn't know the leader of the Sailor Senshi when they saw her.
The warrior was almost to the base of the flower when Beryl finally noticed. "So the little moon brat wasn't smart enough to flee," the woman sneered from her impressive height. "You've come only to your death, Princess Serenity. I'll make you pay for everything!" The dark Queen, imbued with the full force of Metallia's power, fired a massive bolt of energy at the girl. She didn't even blink before it impacted.
A giant plume of ice formed from the explosion, large and pointed. Beryl laughed.
"Long live the Princess."
"Maybe I will," the girl's voice answered. The top of the ice splintered open, forming a platform in the plume. The princess stood at the pinnacle, level with her foe. "Don't look so disappointed."
"You can't win!"
"Do you think so?" Serenity replied. "I think I can." She leveled the Crescent Moon Wand as a huge amount of energy pooled around the Crystal in its base. The light was so bright that her fingers on the handle of the Wand were barely visible for the intensity.
"Die!" Beryl screamed, attacking Serenity with as much power as she could muster. Energy sprang from the Ginzuishou to meet it and the attacks collided midair, neither gaining ground.
Serenity struggled to push the energy at Beryl while keeping it under control. The gem was emitting too much power, and any restraint shattered without warning. If she couldn't rein it in, there was enough magic already built up to level the entire Pole. Beryl wouldn't survive, but neither would she or any other creature caught in the blast. More power continued to pour in, fueled by the grief she was trying to contain. She was only vaguely aware of Beryl screaming at her.
A ghostly hand laid over hers. She glanced up in surprise, right into Mamoru's laughing eyes. "Need some help, Odango Atama?"
"Mamo-chan…" she nodded. The spirit turned to Prince Endymion. He placed himself at her back, arms wrapped around her. She sighed at the comfort his spirit brought her.
"Don't forget about us," Mars drawled. "You still aren't containing it well, Usagi. We'll help too."
She saw the ghosts of her Senshi change to orbs of colored light, the shades of their powers. The energies circled around the Ginzuishou, forming a barrier to channel its power in the proper direction as Endymion helped stabilize it. He was slipping though, his spirit exhausted from the darkness that had plagued it.
"Perhaps we may be of assistance, my prince."
Prince and Princess looked up to see five men there as well. Mamoru's Kunzite, and the four Shitennou that had come at Usagi's desperate wish. Kunz was the one that had spoken. He laid a hand on his prince's shoulder, steadying him and offering him more strength. The other Shitennou followed suit.
As they did, the Ginzuishou momentarily pulsed gold, and Usagi felt a second Crystal fall into her subspace pocket. She gasped, recognizing it, but she didn't say anything. The Kinzuishou could wait until Mamoru was ready for it.
The surge of power continued to grow, but now it could be utilized instead of running wildly out of control. It just needed a final push.
Serenity nodded her thanks. She took a step forward. "MOON PRISM POWER!"
The colored beams joined the silver until the light was rainbow brilliant. It formed a sphere and with a yell, Serenity thrust it forward. It left the Wand incandescent, barreling through the dark energy that still sought to harm the princess. The darkness anywhere the light flared.
Beryl leaned away a little, shocked. "It's not possible!" she screamed as it got close.
"It is," Serenity replied. "With only darkness in your heart, you could not defeat the love in ours. Light will always consume the night. Our friendships and teamwork are more than enough to stop the likes of you."
"No!" the evil Queen shrieked as the brightness bit into her hands and arms. With a ripple, it surged forward and devoured her all at once. With a final scream, she shattered, bits of dust falling to the ice below.
She fell back as the princess peeled away, exhausted. She collapsed against the ice of her pillar as Sailor Moon. She knew, with the abrupt clarity of an end, that she would not last long, that she would be joining Mamoru and the others shortly. With their mission complete, there might not be a reincarnation. The ghosts that had saved her vanished. Her eyes fluttered closed.
I wish we could be together again, forever.
The last thing she felt was the sensation of falling, falling without a care as Death took her.
The blonde shuddered as someone shook her, refusing to allow her to rest peacefully. "Go 'way," she muttered, brushing ineffectually at the hands.
That name she recognized, and the voice that said it. "Mamo-chan?" Reluctantly, she opened her eyes and looked around. They seemed to be in a chamber of the Moon Palace, made of brilliant white marble. That couldn't be, though- the Palace had been destroyed. "Where are we?"
"I'm not sure," he replied, "but I think a choice is waiting for us."
"Correct," a new voice rang through. A Sailor Senshi strode forward, holding a long scythe-like weapon.
The younger Senshi smiled. "It's nice to see you, Princess. What you see here is a halfway point between life and death. As Prince Endymion stated, there is a choice to be made."
For the moment, Usagi brushed aside the choice. "How are you here?"
"Until the time comes for the Soldier of Destruction to rise, my Senshi spirit lingers in this place. It's a terrible thing, to be permanently between life and death. All I can do is assist those that come here and watch over my incarnation on Earth," Saturn explained. Her weariness was easily seen in her ancient violet eyes. "Endless years have passed, and I am unable to leave for more than a few moments. I grow tired of my prison. However, now I do not have to end everything, as I would have in the event of your failure. A prison this may be, but I would rather remain here than destroy the world again."
"Oh, Saturn," the blonde sighed. "This must be terrible for you. I don't want this for any of my Senshi."
The black-haired girl laughed. "With the death of the Queen, the choice is yours. If you one day find the power, I would very much like to live a normal life instead of being bound here for an eternity."
"I will," Usagi swore. "I won't leave you trapped here."
Mamoru laid a comforting hand on her shoulder while addressing Saturn. "What is this choice?"
"It's a turning point," Saturn told them. "With the defeat of Beryl and Metallia, you have finished the task that brought you to this time. Now you can choose a final rest, or you can return to your lives. It will be without your memories, though. If for some reason in the future you retrieve them, they will have been altered so that you remember these times only as they were meant to occur. You will not recall the appearance of the four Shitennou, for example."
Mamoru looked at Usagi with curiosity. She gave a guilty laugh. Before he could question her, she pressed on. "What about Venus' Kunzite? We saved him, fair and square. He needs to be remembered so they can repair their lives. She's already been alone too long."
Saturn sighed. "Some exceptions will have to be made due to the unusual circumstances you have created, Princess. Sailor Pluto has already declared that should you choose to linger, Sailor Venus and Lord Kunzite will be granted their memories for one day in a month, during which they may not speak of it to any other. She would have come herself, but she said she was busy repairing another timeline you had altered. In time, you may all regain of your true memories, but it will be after they will not affect the course of your future."
Usagi glanced at Mamoru for support. He nodded. "We can't just go," the blonde decided, "if our task is done or not. We have families and friends that mean too much to abandon. All of us will find each other and become friends again. And… maybe someday the Senshi will be needed."
Saturn gave her first true smile, undimmed by the weight of her responsibility. "I had hoped that would be your decision. A light like yours has no place going out." She raised the Silence Glaive. "I will return you to your lives. Each of you will be given three days with your memories before everything is forgotten, including the Shitennou you have befriended. They will return to their lives with their memories intact, however. Their time is at a turning point as well. Perhaps with that, they will be able to avoid a similar catastrophe. Go now and live happily, Prince and Princess."
A violet wave pulsed from the weapon. A new sensation of flying gripped Usagi as she felt life in her again. With a thud she landed on Mamoru's bed, laughing. He joined her moments later.
Three days passed so quickly. As soon as everyone revived, Usagi and Mamoru told them of Sailor Saturn's choice. All had agreed that the remaining time would be spent together, though allowances were made for the couples. Minako and Kunz often wandered off, or Usagi and Mamoru. The rest of the friends just enjoyed the short time they had to be together.
"They're leaving today," Usagi told Mamoru as they stood on the balcony. "Once they're gone, we won't know each other. You'll be alone again."
He wrapped his arms around her waist. "It won't be forever. We came together before, so I think it will happen again. We need each other."
She smiled, snuggling further into the embrace. "I'm just worried you'll go back to hating me and not talking to anyone but Motoki-onii-san. You're not mad about what I did, are you?"
"With Motoki-kun taking my place? Of course not. You needed someone to protect you and I couldn't be there. I would have been worried about both of you, but things worked out."
"He was mad that Kunzite wouldn't let him fight with them at the end," Usagi sighed. "We may need to find a way for him to join the group permanently. If the Dark Kingdom could have sub-generals, why can't you?"
"I'd need the Golden Crystal."
Usagi thought guiltily about the gem she had hidden. "You're not ready for it yet and besides, there's no time."
He nuzzled her throat. "I know. I would love to permanently have Motoki-kun with us, though. I felt like I was beginning to exclude him from my life."
"I feel the same way about Naru-chan, but there's nothing to be done for it now. We're all going back to our old lives in a few hours."
"It's not the end of the world."
"I'll miss you though. What if we don't come together again? I could never love anyone else."
"I know," he repeated. "Believe me, I feel the same way. There's this… instinct that tells me it's not over. I don't have my Crystal, and neither do your Senshi. Only one of my Shitennou are here. If this was all there would ever be, there would be no need to keep them away. There's more to come."
"Maybe you're right," the blonde admitted. "It's just hard to think we'll be forced apart when we finally could have been happy together."
"I'm sure Pluto and Saturn have their reasons. We just have to wait to find out what they are."
She just nodded. "I don't really like waiting, though."
They shared a laugh as the clock ticked inexorably to the end.
The Shitennou's exit was a somber affair, overshadowed by the knowledge that it was the last moment everyone had together. More than a few had tears in their eyes.
Rei was a bit gruff. "Take care of yourself, Jadeite," she muttered.
"Ah, firebrand, I didn't know you cared," the man quipped, then dodged a punch. "Temper, temper…"
Nephrite laughed. "We'll miss all of you. If you ever need us again, we'll be here."
Usagi looked away. "If we need you, we'll call. Good luck in your time. Hopefully you'll save everyone in a way we couldn't."
"We shall try," Kunzite confirmed. "As soon as we return, I am going to find Adonis. He will not be left free to betray anyone."
"Don't hurt him," Minako sighed. "He was just misled, like so many others. He doesn't realize what he's doing."
Kunz muttered something that sounded distinctly unflattering. She elbowed him.
"Good luck to all of you," Mamoru said. He surprised them by embracing each of them in turn. "I can't thank you enough for helping Usako when I couldn't."
"You do not have to thank us," Zoisite assured him. "Your princess is a delight and the kindest person I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Her wish may have saved our world as well. If anything, we should be thanking her."
Makoto laughed. "We all should be thanking her. Without her, there's no way we could have won."
"Mako-chan…" Usagi murmured, embarrassed.
"Definitely," Ami nodded. "We needed her more than anything. She keeps us together as a team."
Mamoru shook his head. "It's true, Usako. Just accept the praise."
She smiled and quickly hugged each general. "Thank you for helping me; I couldn't have done it without you. Go, and may Selene guide you."
Sailor Pluto appeared. "Is everyone ready?" The Shitennou nodded. "Good. As per Queen Serenity's orders, I'm guiding you personally through the time stream. You'll be home soon."
She waved her Time Staff. A purple vortex, identical to the one that had started Usagi on the path that changed everything, formed behind her.
"Before we go," she added dryly, "someone has a few things she'd like to say to you, Princess."
A little pink-haired girl that looked very familiar stepped out, head bowed. "I'm sorry I screwed up everything here," she said softly.
Usagi knelt and folded her into a hug, tugging on Mamoru's hand to have him join them. "You didn't. Chibiusa, thanks to you, Mamo-chan and I actually had time to be together. In every other timeline it wasn't possible, but your coming gave us a rare chance. We're grateful to you."
The child nodded hesitantly. "Thank you… Mama." She dashed back into the portal, vanishing.
Usagi laughed until tears came, her arms wrapped around Mamoru's neck as she cried into his shoulder. "Will we ever be able to see her again?" she asked.
He smiled. "Of course. She's our daughter, remember? It's got to happen sometime."
The Shitennou watched with the Senshi before each began saying their good-byes. Once they were finished, Pluto gestured.
"It's time to go," she stated. "Your world needs you."
They nodded and followed the Time Guardian into the vortex. At the last moment, Jadeite decided to be cheeky just one more time.
"I know you'll miss me, firebrand!" he called with a chuckle.
Rei shouted a string of curses at the closing vortex. The only response was a lingering laugh. "I am going to miss that idiot," she admitted, muttering.
Ami glanced at her watch. "We've only got another hour. I guess we should head home." She quietly walked away, not wanting to look at her friends with tears in her eyes. Rei, Makoto, and Motoki slowly followed her.
Minako and Kunzite, and Usagi and Mamoru, just stood there, unwilling to relinquish each other. Arrangements had been made to send Kunzite back to the human life he had led before Beryl resurfaced, courtesy of Pluto's efforts. There was no family to question his absence anyway. His records stated he had been traveling over the past year.
"I'll walk you to your place," Minako sniffed. "Let's go." Kunzite nodded, taking her hand. She smiled slightly. "Good-bye, Usagi-chan, Mamoru-san. I hope we meet again."
"We hope so too. Good-bye."
Until everyone was out of view, they were silent. Eventually, Usagi reached up and brushed back a strand of dark hair from his eyes. "You'll be careful, won't you?"
"Of course. You?"
"I can try, but I don't think my klutziness is going to go away any time soon. It'll be weird not having you to catch me."
He kissed her. "One last time, for luck. I'll miss you."
Tears beaded up, and she couldn't bring herself to stop them. "I'll miss you too. I don't want to forget. Fighting, maybe, but not you."
"You'll be all right. You're strong."
"I'm not," she shook her head. "Not without you. How could I?"
"You are," he repeated. "You're the strongest and bravest person I know. You'll be all right." He glanced at his watch. "It's time for you to go, Usa."
"Can you take me home again?" she asked. "Like you did when I was injured that night. Please, I want you to carry me before…"
He nodded, holding up a rose. Tuxedo Kamen took his place. She smiled, glad to see the proper man behind the mask again, not Motoki or the dark Endymion. He lifted her up and raced over the rooftops, all the way telling her about how much he loved her and was going to miss her. She couldn't bring herself to speak.
Reluctantly, he set her down at the end of the block. "Go home, Usako. Go back to your family and your life. Be happy."
"I'll try," she promised. "I love you."
"I love you, too," he told her before he leapt away.
Tears poured down her face as she climbed the tree and jumped through her bedroom window, since she'd forgotten her key. Luna rubbed against her, purring. "I miss him already," she wept.
"This won't last forever, Usagi-chan. You'll see him again."
"But will it be the same?" she stared out at the moon as it climbed over the horizon. She shook away the melancholy thoughts as best she could. "I'm going to sleep. When I wake up, things will be back to normal. Mama and Papa and Shingo-kun are coming home tomorrow. School starts next week. Mama will yell at me for being a sleepyhead and Shingo will play pranks. I'll always be running late for class. When I fail a test, Haruna-sensei will yell at me and give me detention. After that, I'll go to the arcade and play Sailor V. It will be as if this never happened."
"Just sleep, Usagi-chan. You've been through a lot. You only have to remember to never give up hope."
The blonde nodded, sliding between the sheets. "Good night, Luna. I'll miss our talks."
So will I, the little cat thought as her charge fell asleep almost instantly. I'll miss everything about them.
AN: This story took me about a year to write, and while I did it caused so many heartaches and headaches. Those of you that do things like this must understand, but for those of you that are only here to read, let me put it this way: this is a piece of my soul now. I feel what the characters feel, I go through their pain right next to them. More, this was my first really big, quality story. I was and remain exceedingly fond of this piece. I hope you enjoyed it.
The series' continuation, 'Can't Let Go', 'Entwined', and 'Heartbound', respectively parts one and two of R and the entirety of S, are completed. The rest of the series are in the works, but no definitive times have been decided on. Please review, and I'll be happy to see you again on the others. Till next time!