It was barely after midnight and the atmosphere in the penthouse hallway of Mamoru's building was still and uneventful. A spark of golden light materialized directly in front of Mamoru's front door and instantly inflated to form a seven-foot mass of golden energy. The blinding light dissipated to reveal a very regal looking Eternal Endymion holding his gorgeous, giggling bride in his arms. Upon powering down Mamoru fumbled awkwardly to place his key in the lock.

Usagi laid her head on his chest, "You could have just teleported inside your apartment you know."

Mamoru smiled playfully at her as he bumped the door open and hoisted her up further in his arms. "I'm only getting married once Usako, so let's just keep with tradition," and he walked over the threshold.

Usagi blushed furiously but was thankful that it was hidden within the darkness. Mamoru shut the door, nudged the light on and carried Usagi into the living room to place her delicately on the couch. After staring at her briefly Mamoru bent over and kissed her lips reverently a few times.

"Welcome home," he whispered to her, "Chiba Usagi."

Mamoru smiled and walked away to put his jacket up in the hallway closet. Usagi sighed, delightfully sinking into the couch while staring dreamily at the Tokyo skyline. She sifted through two lifetimes of memories reminiscing about the literal blood, sweat, millennia, and tears it took for them to reach the altar. Usagi was overwhelmed with emotion and knew that she would remember this moment vividly for the rest of her life.

/

Mamoru carefully draped his tuxedo jacket on a hanger to put it up in the hallway closet. The seemingly calm exterior he was projecting was completely at odds with the chaos churning inside him. Mamoru was sinking in his thoughts.

"Should I make love to Usako tonight? Is she ready for this? Is making love the furthest thing from her mind right now? Is it acceptable for me to even attempt it after what just happened to her?-" The stream of mental chatter was endless.

Mamoru shut his eyes, suppressing his fantasies of consuming her. "For God's sake Mamoru! She was just held captive while being molested constantly! The thought of being touched must seem repulsive to her right now."

He glanced over to the back of her head, "How could I have even thought that she would be up for this?" he denounced miserably.

The cloud of hopelessness surrounding Mamoru was so dense and oppressive he could not see that every reason he conjured to not consummate their love was a lame excuse; no matter how valid it seemed to him.

Mamoru was subconsciously drowning in his own rampant trauma due to witnessing Usagi's torture in addition to years of self-imposed guilt buried beneath that. He had been so busy fretting over Usagi, being her protector, and thinking solely of her well being that Mamoru was completely blind to the fact that he himself was just as traumatized as Usagi had been prior to the Queen's healing. In truth Mamoru was irrevocably damaged and barely holding himself together, though outwardly he was functioning, seemingly normal, and now married to the love of his life. None of the cosmetics could change the fact that a gargantuan disaster loomed within him desperately seeking an outlet to relieve the increasing pressure. Due to the freshness of the Prince Cirius ordeal and his deep feelings of failure, Mamoru had subliminally convinced himself that he did not deserve to be with Usagi. This deep-seated unconscious belief was the reason why Mamoru's assessments were heavily skewed.

He automatically tried to justify his warped decision, "It's very late anyway and I can tell that Usako is tired. She probably just wants to crash."

/

Usagi stared fixedly out at downtown Tokyo. She was Mamoru's wife! Usagi could scarcely believe it but she glanced down to the third finger on her left hand where her wedding ring glittered brilliantly. It was solely comprised of a collection of various shades of blue and white diamonds gleaming brightly like clouds in the summer sky. Mamoru had coincidently found the ring inside the breast pocket of Eternal Endymion's coat, knowing that it belonged to his first mother.

She heard Mamoru call to her, "Usako, do you want anything from the kitchen?"

Usagi was still grinning wistfully, "Surprise me."

Mamoru froze instantly and cursed himself. He had been soaring so high due to marrying Usagi that he had forgotten to stock up on groceries for their honeymoon. He dismally opened his fridge and was greeted by a sight straight from heaven. His fridge was fully loaded with gourmet food ready to prepare and throw together at a moments notice. Makoto and the girls had given him three days worth of fantastic meals, snacks, champagne, wine, deserts, and everything you could imagine. Mamoru noticed a folded pink note standing on top of a meringue pie. He picked it up and read it.

Mamoru, you are such a guy. Do we have to think of everything?! Consider this our wedding present to the both of you. (Even Usagi's appetite won't be disappointed ; )

He glanced down to something small written at the bottom,

"Don't do anything Mamoru would do."

He frowned in confusion at the last part then scanned over all the food once again. Mamoru was so relieved that the girls had covered his ass and was even more relieved because he wasn't apprehensive anymore as to what it was they were up to.

Mamoru smiled, "I guess that was what they were hiding."

/

Usagi heard Mamoru open the fridge door then immediately shot up and bolted to the bedroom. She casually called out, "I'm just going to change out of this dress."

With his head buried in the fridge Mamoru smiled pleasantly at that. Dancing with Usagi all night in that knockout dress had built up massive sexual pressure and he wanted so badly to believe that she just wanted to go to sleep. He noticed a few things in the fridge tied with red ribbon: a bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, fresh oysters, exotic cheeses . . . completely missing the point Mamoru formulated his own distorted idea.

/

Usagi opened the door to Mamoru's darkened corner bedroom and shut herself in. Once the lights were on she covered her mouth in stunned silence at the sight before her. Strings of tiny, soft glowing, crescent moon shaped lights draped across the ceiling and hung over the bed. The ambiance was immediately very soft, low, and seductive. The balcony door sat slightly ajar showing the Moon creeping its way above the horizon through curtains billowing gently in the cool breeze. The bed was a brand new, majestic king underneath creamy-white down covers dusted with red rose petals that spilled onto the floor. The stereo was on very low but emitted pleasant, suggestive sounds. It was absolutely surreal and Usagi tried not to burst with excitement and sudden nervousness. This was rock solid confirmation that Mamoru was sexually attracted to her and he was going make love to her tonight, she was sure of it. Why else would he do something so obvious and amazing?

Usagi spotted her bag and skipped over to it in a frenzy to rummage inside. She immediately noticed a pink envelope on top of all her things. Curious, Usagi picked it up and instantly recognized Minako's handwriting scrawled on the front. It read:

If all else fails . . .

Usagi furrowed her brow in confusion but opened the envelope, took out the note, and unfolded it. When Usagi read what was written inside she could only stare at it in puzzlement wondering what something so strange could mean. Why would the girls mention something like that, of all things? And what do they mean if all else fails? Usagi couldn't understand what they were talking about or why they hinted for her to do something so peculiar. In any case Usagi shrugged her shoulders and remembered the choice she had to make. She had two options for her wedding night attire. One was sexy, but safe, and the other was borderline scandalous. She breathed deeply for a moment and took in all the romantic details that Mamoru had attended to in his bedroom, immediately finding the courage she needed. Turning to the scandalous option Usagi held up the white lace, barely two-piece and could easily see through most of it. She blushed excitedly while grabbing her toiletries and darted for the bathroom.

/

Mamoru brought out the tray of snacks and champagne to the living room, "This is perfect." He thought.

Mamoru was shamefully hoping that a little more food and champagne would put Usagi right to sleep. He knew her well and had put her to sleep through food before when her cavalier attitude to his personal space pushed him to the point where he could pin her beneath him and rip off her clothes.

Mamoru sat gingerly on the edge of his couch while carefully rolling up the sleeves of his shirt thinking, "We're finally married. I really don't deserve-"

Before his self-critical thoughts could drag him into oblivion his ears picked up Usagi's squeal of delight behind him.

"Mamo-chan!" Usagi gasped. She spied the champagne, the oysters, the chocolate strawberries and the exotic cheeses. Usagi was now fully ecstatic and her breathing continued to intensify from anticipation though she tried to conceal it.

"What would it be like," she wondered, "Making love to Mamo-chan?"

"I love everything!" Usagi blurted out and couldn't believe how romantic he was being. It was turning her on unbelievably.

Mamoru finished rolling up his sleeves while grinning to himself picturing Usagi in her typical nightwear of pink shorts and a long sleeved shirt. He turned to face her just as Usagi migrated towards the couch distracted by food, completely forgetting about the entrance she intended to make.

As Usagi's eyes darted over the spread of delicacies before her Mamoru was struck completely dumb, gaping at her like a deer caught in the sexiest headlights imaginable. His eyes locked onto Usagi's almost nude body as if he was seeing her for the first time and could not blink, unwilling to interrupt the sight of her delicious physique for even one moment.

With food being her only concern Usagi cheerfully bent over to grab a few strawberries and some cheese while Mamoru took intricate, detailed notice of her white, low-cut lace thong irresistibly covering only the upper portion of her ass to reveal her naked and supple round bottoms.

Usagi obtained her munchies and happily plunked herself down next to Mamoru. Mamoru watched intently as her perfectly rounded, exposed butt cheeks reached out to him, full and glorious, before descending into the cushion on his left. Mamoru swallowed dryly as Usagi absentmindedly ducked under his arm and plastered herself to one side of his chest staring up at him through her dusty eyelashes.

"Mamo-chan! Everything is absolutely perfect!"

Mamoru was barely listening as he stared down the immaculately soft bed of cleavage about to burst from the confines of her strapless, white lace bodice that wasn't even long enough to reach her navel. It was as if her breasts were perched there presenting themselves only to him, luring Mamoru in like a gravitational field. Every natural instinct in Mamoru's body coursed through his veins like a potent drug, compelling him to reach out and consume his wife like any normal man would.

Mamoru however was a far cry from normalcy. Usagi's trauma dissolving into the mists of time was indeed a fortunate blessing, but such a thing did not happen to Mamoru. For him everything was fresh, raw, and powerful.

Mamoru wasn't even remotely conscious that he was dangerously close to a total psychological collapse underneath the weight of pain created from witnessing Usagi suffer.

The surface layer of Mamoru's misery rippled violently and was the only aspect of his grief that he could sense. It became a gnawing feeling of self-hate, though he managed to tune that out expertly. Festering in the fathomless depths beneath this hatred was the burning belief that he did not deserve to touch her. Peppering his subconscious were scenes of Usagi's torture. Visions of the vacant, hopeless look on her face and memories of her wretched, desolate voice and trauma-induced screams were burned so deeply in his psyche that he truly was not the same. This belief of unworthiness had manifested into Mamoru subconsciously resisting every opportunity to be one with her. Regardless, Mamoru's natural sexual instincts pounded him relentlessly. The fierce effort to withstand caused his palms to sweat madly and his breath began to lose rhythm.

Usagi had her eyes closed nibbling happily on a chocolate strawberry as she sat glued to Mamoru's side completely content in the present moment.

She smiled, "Mamoru has a fantastic body," she thought to herself. "It's practically all muscle." Usagi could feel heat eagerly spread throughout her.

Mamoru sat rigid and tense, his gaze never leaving her many exposed curves while inhaling her wonderfully sweet scent. Despite the myriad of emotions boiling inside Mamoru he snaked his arm around her, holding Usagi tightly. There was nothing he could do about that because it was natural and instinctive.

Usagi sighed and melted even more into him upon feeling his embrace while Mamoru traversed the beginning stages of insanity. She was plastered to him in pretty much a thong and half a bra. His hand could feel nothing but the soft skin of her stomach and her practically bare hips. Mamoru experienced the strongest impulse that he was going to snap and devour her any second but he resisted strongly, instantly leaning forward to jolt Usagi out of her bliss.

"Some champagne?" He gushed, now fidgeting with the bottle's wire pin a little too aggressively.

Usagi did a double take at his abruptness but remembered the romantic picnic in the living room.

Usagi responded, "Yes please," and couldn't help but blush like crazy looking down into her lap.

As Usagi's gaze dropped she received a full glimpse of the lingerie she had completely forgotten she was wearing the moment she spotted the food. Usagi recalled all of her actions in the last few seconds and died of embarrassment, flaming beet red. She had planned to walk in seductively and knock his socks off, but instead she shoveled her mouth with food and adored him like she was fifteen years old. Usagi sighed inwardly, beyond upset with herself. All she wanted was to appear sexy in Mamoru's eyes and Usagi firmly believed that she was consistently failing at that.

/

Mamoru proceeded to ease the cork out of the bottle and willed his heart to slow down its rapid pace if only a little. The parts of his body that Usagi had pressed up against were burning fire hot and he was having difficultly controlling the swelling that was threatening to make his pants uncomfortably tight. His mind burned with images of creamy soft skin, more than ample cleavage and white lace. The cork popped out and Mamoru shakily poured two foaming glasses. He took a courageous breath and turned to face her, now fully concentrating on keeping his eyes above her shoulders.

"Cheers Usako." He enthused now somewhat composed while handing Usagi's glass to her.

Now that Usagi was paying attention she took her glass and became very aware that Mamoru did not steal even one glance below her neck.

"Wow." She dejectedly thought to herself beginning to feel absolutely ridiculous and very self-conscious. She hugged an arm to her body as if she could hide her embarrassment and apparent childishness. Mamoru noticed this and a little too eagerly grabbed the blanket on the back of the couch and draped it around her shoulders covering up her gorgeous lingerie.

"You must be cold." Mamoru stated rather than inquired.

The fabric felt especially heavily upon Usagi's shoulders, as if it single handedly botched her efforts at seduction.

". . . Wow," was all she could think for the second time.

Suddenly the most ear-splitting crack of lightning and thunder ripped through the silence, striking the building. All of the lights immediately went out.

Usagi yelped in fear and attached herself to Mamoru like a magnet causing them both to fall to the couch. Usagi was now on top of him clinging for dear life and Mamoru could have sworn that there was not one cloud in the sky.

Upon ploughing into him Mamoru wrapped his arms around her naturally due to his protective instinct. He felt every part of her scantily clad body wiggle delightfully against him as she trembled, her face buried in his chest. He tried his best to concentrate and rubbed her back gently.

"It's alright Usako."

Knowing that thunder storms were near the top of Usagi's phobia list Mamoru continued to whisper comforting reassurances in her ear, his Adam's apple twitching with strain and the swelling in his pants worsening underneath her soft trembles. Mamoru shut his eyes tightly, his sexual self-control slipping out of his grasp like a fistful of helium balloons though he jumped for them desperately, still believing that he was not worthy of her love.

As soon as Usagi calmed down she opened her eyes and soaked in the current situation. She had just tackled Mamoru out of her fear of thunder. Usagi became strikingly aware of how childish she had acted. Again. Her cheeks flushed with mortal embarrassment and she couldn't believe how stupid and immature she was being, and on their wedding night too! It was no wonder to her that Mamoru didn't show any interest in her sexually . . . he obviously didn't see her as a woman yet. Usagi's self esteem took a steep nosedive.

/

Mamoru's thoughts were slipping fast. As he caressed her back the dam of mental self-control collapsed. Barreling into the forefront of his consciousness were Mamoru's forbidden fantasies. He was imagining pinning her forcefully to the floor in astonishing detail. He could see himself grip the back of her thigh tightly in his hand, diagonally spreading her legs for her. As soon as that scene played out in his mind Mamoru instantly felt himself become rock hard in his pants. There was nothing he could do about it now and two layers of clothing were the only things keeping him outside of her. With zero control he continued mentally indulging his desires, imagining tasting every succulent part of her body. Mamoru's eyes scrunched even tighter and he forced himself to take a long, deep breath in an attempt to remain still while his thoughts provoked him mercilessly. He could picture himself descending into her, completely enveloping her world and erasing their boundaries with waves of intense pleasure.

/

Usagi remained obliviously lost in her own nonsense. Her self-esteem lacking perspective picked up his secure hand tracing warm circles on her back, almost as if comforting a child. She became even more mortified and scolded herself for not being seductive enough to make proper use of the lingerie she had paid good money for and not being the sexy woman that Mamoru deserved. Usagi wished intensely that she could be as exotic and strikingly beautiful like Rei, or graceful and voluptuous like Makoto. If only she was classically gorgeous and bright like Minako, or delicate and sensual like Ami. If she could be any less 'ditzy Usagi' she would be happy. She peeked upwards from where her face was buried in Mamoru's chest and could see nothing but the underside of his jaw. She watched his Adam's apple constrict and felt him take a long, calming breath.

Usagi felt even worse. She perceived this as irritation, Mamoru placating her childishness yet again. "He must be so tired of this," she lamented, "probably wondering when I'm going to grow up."

/

Mamoru felt Usagi stiffen against him. Upon her stillness he panicked and automatically began pulling his hips further into the couch so that she couldn't feel his massive hard on. Mamoru would rather die than ruin the comfort that he believed Usagi obviously felt around him. To Mamoru's delusional mind the fact that Usagi could put on lingerie like that and prance around in front of him clearly showed that she had no clue how her actions, clothes, or lack thereof pushed his limits.

The raging pain eating Mamoru alive would not allow him to see how desperately hard Usagi was trying to get him to surrender.

/

While wallowing in her self-loathing Usagi felt Mamoru subtly try to pull away from her even though he was the one pinned underneath. Even more humiliated Usagi instantly straightened up and sat further away by herself. With her legs held tightly together she hugged her arms around body then slightly turned away, hiding her eyes behind her twin odangos and cascading hair. Usagi's body language mirrored her desire to cover up her embarrassment and not appear any more like a child.

/

As Mamoru tried to focus on hiding the obvious sign of his undeniable attraction, he felt Usagi stiffen even more. In the span of one breath she had vacated the space immediately on top of him to sit silently an arms length away. In the same startled motion Mamoru had propped himself up on his forearms staring at her inquisitively, wondering what caused the sudden change. He instantly took notice that her legs were clamped together, her gaze was turned away from him, almost shameful, and her arms were draped around herself. His face constricted with knowing pain. She must have felt his hard on, he was sure of it. She must have felt it raging against her and freaked out, now feeling nervous and unsure.

"Fuck!" cursed Mamoru. He flooded with hatred for himself and his lack of self-control, hanging his head in immense shame.

Usagi fought hard to hide her embarrassment and spoke in a small whisper, "Mamo-chan?"

Mamoru heard her small voice full of uncertainty and wanted to stab himself, "Yes . . . Usako?"

Silence swelled between them for a few intense moments until she tried not to choke on her words.

"Why . . . Why did you propose to me Mamo-chan?"

Mamoru's face flashed with agony as she continued, "Why did you marry me?"

/

Mamoru internally crucified himself, "You can't do anything right can you?" he mentally spat, "Look at how uncomfortable she is. She felt it right through your pants and now Usako thinks that you only married her to get her in bed! Have I shattered her trust in me?"

He stared at Usagi's small frame, her silken golden hair hiding her eyes and cascading in a pool of curls on the couch between them. He leaned towards her with an overwhelming longing, stress racking his entire body. His hand reached out, wanting to pull her aggressively back on top of him but he watched helplessly as his hand robotically touched her shoulder and squeezed . . . almost as if attempting to do anything more would finally cause Mamoru to spontaneously combust and incinerate within his guilt until there was nothing of him left.

/

Usagi was astounded that she had just asked that question but sat still in her position. She remembered Mamoru's words the night he proposed to her at Rei's.

"I really believed that you were lost to me forever . . . Life without you is not worth living."

Usagi shuddered to think that perhaps he rushed to propose to her because he had no clue what would happen next week.

"We could all die very soon," Usagi recalled, ". . . or not. Who knew? Did Mamo-chan just want to make it official in case anything else happened, regardless that he doesn't see me as sexually desirable yet?

"Is that why we are married right now?" She startled herself, "Some sort of insurance policy?!"

She didn't want to consider any of these things though she couldn't help but see the pattern glaring her in the face and tried her best to ignore it.

The silence between the newly weds lingered causing the distance between them to expand. Usagi became more and more alarmed at the continued silence. Was the question really that difficult for him to answer?! Then she felt his warm, gentle squeeze on her shoulder.

"There it is again," She thought, "that condescending squeeze."

She might as well be sitting next to her brother. It was at this moment that Usagi felt resentment rise within her.

/

Mamoru felt saturated with shame, "Usako," he began pathetically, trying to hide the pain in his voice as he stuttered. "You-Of course you know how much I love you . . . You know that I would never do anything to make you uncomfortable . . ." Mamoru struggled for words, now becoming frustrated. "I can't help it . . . I mean . . ." he finally belted out the truth, "Look at yourself! Can you blame me?!"

/

Usagi's facial expression melted away to leave her features empty and blank. Since her self-esteem as a woman was so volatile when it came to Mamoru she could perceive only one meaning from what he had just said.

Usagi was convinced that her childish behaviour bothered Mamoru so much that he snapped at her in his mounting frustration. She couldn't believe that he would explode at her like that as if the irritation had been building up within him for years.

Usagi's eyes flushed immediately with hot tears and her blood boiled with anger at him, though it was mostly at herself. She rose heatedly from her seat, still not facing him.

/

Mamoru watched his new bride quickly rise to her feet. He hoped that she wouldn't hold his natural instincts against him and started to feel relieved that he had finally brought it up.

As she stood there frozen Mamoru longed for her to say something . . . anything. His nerves settled, taking faith in the fact that she was without a doubt the most understanding person he knew.

"Usako?" he asked cautiously.

Usagi slowly turned around. Her hot tears, quivering eyes, and angry expression delivered a nauseating punch to Mamoru's gut.

Usagi's voice dripped with sarcastic fury. "Well, excuse me for trying to hold on to some of my youthful innocence!"

The look that flashed across Mamoru's face almost made her falter. It was a mixture of stabbing pain, self-hatred, and collapsing sorrow but she was much too angry to comprehend it.

Usagi glowered at him. "Allow me to apologize for not being as mature as you Mamo-chan."

Fuming mad and totally embarrassed Usagi wanted desperately to escape, not wanting to have a conversation that made her feel even more of how she did not want to feel.

"You know what?" She suddenly interrupted herself, fervently holding back her tears. "It doesn't even matter. It's probably past my bedtime anyway." With that Usagi stormed towards the bedroom.

Mamoru remained on the couch frozen in a moment of intense grief. The amount of anger he witnessed on her face distressed him. What had come out of her mouth absolutely collapsed him. Mamoru firmly believed that she had just accused him outright of wanting to steal her innocence.

Despicable, self-hating tears appeared in the corner of his eyes but they would not spill. Mamoru was now teetering on the brink of a complete mental breakdown but evaded it temporarily as he launched after Usagi on instinct.

Catching up to her in the hallway he grabbed her wrist, "Usako, please . . . forgive me."

Without even turning to face him Usagi wrenched her wrist away from him. Her voice trembled, "I really just . . . don't want to talk to you right now."

Those words were equivalent to a dull knife plunging forcefully into Mamoru's chest. His eyes glazed over and the misery residing within him was becoming too much, forcibly pushing against the mountain of denial trying to keep it firmly buried.

Usagi opened the bedroom door as Mamoru tried to find his voice.

"Usako," he barely sounded like the man he normally was. His voice became small and pleading, "please try to understand-"

Mamoru then caught a glimpse of his bedroom.

Usagi was curious as to why Mamoru stopped speaking so she swallowed her pride and turned to face him. Mamoru stood dumbfounded looking around at his bedroom. He surveyed the intricate lights draping across the ceiling and hanging over a bed that was not his covered in rich fabric and red, rose petals.

Mamoru couldn't help but implore, "What happened in here?!"

Usagi felt like she had been slapped in the face, "You . . . You didn't do any of this?"

Mamoru could barely comprehend what was happening, "It's completely different!"

The moment Usagi realized that Mamoru was not the one responsible for the romantic transformation in his bedroom her mouth went bone dry. She had been so excited . . . so sure that Mamoru wanted her that she chose the scandalous lingerie based upon what she thought Mamoru had done, but he wasn't responsible for any of it.

Like a bolt from the blue she thought of her friends. Usagi felt so stupid. Of course it was her Senshi, how did she not see it before? This had Minako's name written all over it.

Usagi's mouth quivered, now fully believing that she had been right all along. Her big, feeling heart shattered when Usagi wrongly concluded that she was Mamoru's wife at that moment not because he wanted to be one with her, but because they had never made it to the altar before disaster had struck.

Usagi felt embarrassed and cheap, extremely hurt, and very stupid. All of these emotions converged together like the various colours of a rainbow to become white-hot fury. The rage she felt had to be directed at something and Mamoru was a locked target.

Once Mamoru overcame the shock of his bedroom he turned his attention back to Usagi. He found an incomprehensible amount of hurt on her face, and before he could begin to comprehend where it came from he witnessed a single tear slip from her eye followed by the door slamming violently in his face.

Mamoru stood motionless in the hallway with his bedroom door so close to his nose he could smell the varnish. Usagi had locked him out. For a few moments Mamoru was unable to move, staring into a door he could not see. All that consumed his vision was the look of hurt and sadness on Usagi's face. The solitary tear that dripped from her eye just before she shut him out was sure to be sobs by now. Mamoru surmised that all he was good at was hurting her.

He could hear Usagi's muffled cries inside his room. The sound proved to be the very thing able to dissolve the seal holding back the torrential trauma eating him from the inside.

Usagi's quiet sobs pierced right through his eardrums and seemed to increase in intensity. The sound kept rising and her cries became more desperate and miserable. He covered his ears but her sobs, now turned into wretched screams continued to get louder and more traumatic. Mamoru stumbled backwards unable to cope and kept distancing himself from the door as if it would lessen the noise.

Mamoru pressed his hands even harder over his ears, trying in vain to mute it out but Usagi's tortured screams kept getting louder. When Mamoru opened his eyes his apartment was no longer visible. Instead, he saw Usagi chained to the floor at his feet, malnourished, and broken. Prince Cirius had her cradled in his arms while Usagi moaned in despair, realizing that he would never let her die. It was such a disturbing sound.

Mamoru shook his head back and forth, "No!" his hands still clamped firmly on his ears.

The scene suddenly changed and with a loud crack Prince Cirius had kicked Usagi in the centre of her chest. Usagi flew into the air until her chains brought her down to collide with the floor.

Mamoru trembled, "Please . . . stop."

Prince Cirius kept beating her, each blow harder than the last. Mamoru wanted nothing more than to look away, to eradicate this sick vision but it felt all too real and he couldn't tear his gaze away from the desolate emptiness on Usagi's face.

While these hallucinations of torture consumed him Mamoru continued to stumble backwards haphazardly with the ghastly scenes following him like a shadow.

Mamoru heard Usagi plead, "Just . . . let me die."

New scenes came bulldozing in, things that Mamoru had suppressed for years. He saw himself treating Usagi like shit, trying to force her to hate him so that she would stay away, evading her dismal future foretold in a dream. He remembered fragments of her being abused by Nehelenia because Usagi was determined to save him. He could see himself as Prince Endymion attacking Sailor Moon in Beryl's lair, tossing her around with no mercy while she pleaded for him to remember and would not lift a finger to attack him. He saw himself raise his sword over her with the intent to kill.

Mamoru groaned, "Stop . . . Please! I'm sorry Usako . . . Forgive me . . . I don't deserve you . . ."

Mamoru could not endure any more. The strength in his legs vanished causing him to collapse unceremoniously to the floor with hands secured over his ears.

/

After slamming the door in the face of her new husband Usagi stripped off her lingerie as if it were burning her skin. Tossing it violently aside she pulled on a pair of panties and a tank top and collapsed onto the bed. The cloud of rose petals she sent up gently rained down on Usagi as she sobbed quietly. This was not how she pictured her wedding night at all. Here she was, finally Mamoru's wife . . . and all to ensure their marriage before anything else could separate them. Usagi cried a little harder.

As she lay there weeping Usagi could feel the sorrow in her heart deepen rapidly. When the pain in her chest continued to increase Usagi stopped crying and sat up, now confused. Her tears subsided and she began to recognize that the sorrow she was feeling was not her own . . . it was coming from someone else. Usagi wiped her eyes and after a moment of silent contemplation and lingering anger at Mamoru she relented and reached out with her heart so that she could sense him through their strengthened eternal connection. The amount of pain and despair she felt emanating from him was so overwhelming, so powerful and unbearable that she was forced to pull back almost immediately.

Usagi gasped as if she had been drowning. Covering her mouth with her hand she was barely able to breathe from the suffocating shock. Mamoru was in immense pain . . . much more pain than she would have ever imagined. Her heart immediately thudded for him but she was absolutely baffled. What could have Mamoru hurting this deeply?

Usagi instinctively flew to the door propelled by her fathomless love for Mamoru but strangely stopped dead before opening it. Feeling unsure of what to do Usagi continued to grip the handle, unmoving. She knew very well that there was an obvious gulf between them at that moment, and Mamoru could put up a twenty-foot wall in front of the truth if he felt he needed to spare her pain. In an attempt to get the truth of what was going on with him she tried something different, relying on her newly heightened powers.

She closed her eyes and reached out as far as she could in her connection with him. For the briefest of moments Usagi shared his mental and emotional space. Like a blunt force to the head she was bombarded with every image relentlessly trashing through his mind. She saw visions of herself being tortured and degraded by her uncle. She heard her voice pleading for death.

Usagi's entire body jerked with shock. She had no clue that Mamoru had been forced to watch Prince Cirius torment her. The idea that Mamoru had successfully hidden something so unbelievably staggering to spare her pain caused Usagi's stomach to lurch.

She then saw images of Endymion beating her while under Beryl's control. That was quite a blow. All these years Mamoru had sworn to her that he couldn't remember a single thing from that experience. More importantly, in addition to the visual images she could feel the wretchedness of Mamoru's misery. It was absolutely unendurable but at least now she understood . . . All she could feel coming from Mamoru was unworthiness. Mamoru fully believed that he did not deserve to be her husband; that he did not deserve to have her love or deserve to be her protector. For the first time Usagi knew implicitly that Mamoru was engulfed by failure and guilt.

After intruding on Mamoru's personal space the intensity of his feelings caused Usagi to involuntarily succumb, weeping in his deep-rooted pain. She clutched the place in her chest that felt like a gaping black hole, feeling emotions so powerful that it took her a few minutes to regain control once again.

Usagi was rocked by this revelation. Had she not felt him out Usagi would never have guessed that Mamoru was suffering as much as he was. But how could she have known? Mamoru's number one concern was only her safety and her happiness; his own needs always falling by the wayside. In the first few seconds Usagi was honestly confused as to why Mamoru would feel this way but it soon became obvious. Usagi was heartily ashamed that she hadn't realized it before. As if lifting a dense fog Usagi recalled for herself the months of torture under Prince Cirius. Her mind knew that this had only occurred three days ago, yet for some reason it felt like years back. Usagi's intuition hinted that she had her mother to thank for this, but there was a very negative side effect. It put an immeasurable distance between both of their realities. Mamoru's, raw, fresh, and all consuming, and hers, distant and manageable.

Usagi's healing meant that the debilitating events would not dominate her mind, allowing her to focus on normal, everyday things. On top of that Mamoru had proposed to her almost immediately after the ordeal and then the whirlwind of dealing with her family, answering a million questions, and fantasizing about her wedding night took over. How could she have been so blind, insensitive, and selfish? Here she was passing judgment on Mamoru and becoming angry with him when he was absolutely destroyed while struggling to make her happy.

What killed Usagi was that Mamoru did not understand that he hadn't failed at anything. Ever. Mamoru was her strength and quite literally the source of her power. How could he think that he was unworthy? How could he believe he was a failure?! Usagi's heart bled for him and she was determined to put an end to all of it.

Usagi twisted the handle and cautiously exited the bedroom. She took a deep breath and with slow, delicate steps made her way through the darkness to find him. As Usagi entered the living room her eyes could pick up nothing but shadows when she heard him.

"Forgive me . . . Usako."

Usagi's heart constricted upon hearing his scratchy voice, but that was nothing when she found him cross-legged on the floor behind the couch. Mamoru sat there with his face buried in his hands rocking slightly back and forth, completely consumed by his visions.

Tears spilled from Usagi's eyes the second she saw him. This picture of Mamoru was so foreign to her and felt horribly wrong. Mamoru was the strongest man that she knew. He was her pillar of strength. To see him this way sent spasms through her so strong that she collapsed down to the floor next to him.

At that precise moment the Moon had risen high enough in the sky to peek over the back of the couch and sparkle off the ebony of Mamoru's hair. As each second passed the moonlight embraced him more and more as Usagi reached out to her husband. Her hands brushed over his hair, caressed his cheeks and lifted his head to face her.

/

Mamoru continued to suffer under the onslaught of Usagi's trials to the point that he wasn't even aware that she had found him on the floor.

Mamoru watched Prince Cirius beat Usagi mercilessly when an unknown force smashed through the mental images like glass to reveal a sight from heaven. Instead of pain and suffering Mamoru looked into Usagi's beautiful face staring back at him infused with empathy and hope.

Upon seeing her Mamoru's hands inched slowly along her outstretched arms, desperately reaching for her, needing her, but resisting that same desire with everything he had. Torn between both emotions and his eyes burning with shame Mamoru grasped Usagi firmly and without hesitation pulled her into him as if she was the only thing that could keep him alive. He could not manage to speak but groaned quietly instead, squeezing Usagi strongly. Usagi hugged him back feeling the rawness inside of him flow through her in dark waves.

Usagi's heart shuddered under the strength and vibrancy of his pain. Without being able to speak herself they sat awkwardly on the floor, clinging to each other roughly . . . urgently; words loosing their usefulness under the onslaught of raw emotion. Usagi willingly breathed in Mamoru's torment and was barely aware that her powers activated in response. Hidden in her subspace pocket the Ginzuishou sensed his suffering through Usagi's heart. Due to her unconscious intent it poured its healing light back through her and into Mamoru.

As they embraced on the floor the power of the Silver Crystal and the power of Usagi's heart pierced into Mamoru's darkness. It cut through the layers of rotten earth burying him alive to shine into the core of his being. As the seconds ticked by the aching in Mamoru's chest began to slowly subside and the constriction in his throat relaxed. Mamoru's hold on his wife lessened so that he wasn't crushing her but remained holding her tightly nonetheless. The pace of his lungs gradually regained a rhythm of control and the atmosphere settled within and around them though they were both unaware of what was truly happening. The healing was automatic and unconscious but very much effective, the only physical proof being a slight tingling throughout Mamoru's body.

Usagi's sweet smell broke through Mamoru's senses causing him to release a pent up sigh, exhaling the last of his guilt and pain. Mamoru relaxed his weight into her, burying his nose deeper into her hair now completely content in the present moment.

Mamoru hovered outside of reality, which was why he instinctively shifted Usagi's position pulling her directly into his lap. He held her closer, lost in what felt like a lucid dream.

/

Usagi floated in the serene, thoughtless aftermath until she felt his strong arms lift her effortlessly into his lap followed by Mamoru closing around her with her hips now locked into his. Their navels pressed firmly together and her breasts smeared against his chest. Usagi was unsure if the lowest of moans escaped Mamoru's throat . . . It was probably just her imagination. Regardless, the sudden shift in his mood and the feel of him against her shocked Usagi back into reality.

Usagi's cheeks couldn't help but flood with pink heat as she realized that his pulling her closer forced her legs to encircle around Mamoru's waist, straddling him. The weight of his body melding into hers caused Usagi's heart to quicken its pace and the heat in her cheeks raced throughout the rest of her body. Usagi felt his steady, hot breath filter through her hair and sweetly tickle her neck. A shiver ran up Usagi's spine like a chain reaction followed by Mamoru shifting his weight underneath her, rubbing himself against her panties ever so slightly. An involuntary gasp escaped Usagi's throat.

The sharp sound caused Mamoru's eyes to flutter open. After a few short seconds he took everything in.

Even though Usagi had just healed Mamoru's misery, though they didn't know it, his automatic patterns of behaviour were not so quick to disappear. With eyes wide-open Mamoru could not recall for the life of him how Usagi ended up firmly in his lap on the living room floor. Without even grasping the reason for his actions Mamoru habitually created a distance between them.

Just before Usagi could raise the courage to take advantage of such an opportunity, Mamoru gravitated away. Unlike every other instance Usagi pulled herself back towards him, though not close enough to be against the hard warmth of his chest.

"Mamo-chan?" Usagi squeaked out as her eyes darted back and forth between his. She could not detect anything distressing in his eyes or his demeanor. She was wary and perplexed. Usagi couldn't tell if Mamoru was putting up a wall of normalcy around the suffering that he seemed to be drowning in moments ago or if something strange had happened.

As they stared at each other unmoving Usagi had a hard time discerning what to do. Mamoru's emotional health was her only concern, of course . . . but it was becoming difficult for Usagi to concentrate when the heat in her cheeks spread rampantly throughout her body. The palpable attraction to the man in front of her was suddenly overwhelming, and then a feeling of guilt washed through her. How could she be feeling and thinking these things at such a moment?!

"Well, it's not my fault!" Usagi mentally defended. "He's the one that pulled me into his lap holding me so tightly that I practically fused to his chest!" A sudden flash of what it felt like when her hips pushed down into his caused a wave of pleasure to involuntarily ripple through her body, followed by another wave of guilt.

There was no more room for argument. Usagi wanted Mamoru and she wanted him now but her mind told her that this was not the time.

"Maybe Mamoru needs a few days," She thought.

As compassionate as that sounded her logic was not quite strong enough to tame the rampant need for Mamoru to touch her, kiss her, and make love to her right there.

Finding a tiny bit of courage where she thought she had none, Usagi pulled herself just a little closer to Mamoru. Given the circumstances Usagi couldn't convince herself to just lunge for his chest once again, desperately wanting to feel him. Instead, reflecting her self-doubt she only moved close enough for her breasts to brush timidly against his chest. Once she had done that Usagi became delightfully aware that her nipples tingled with electricity when they touched. Another wave of guilt washed through her as she finally admitted that she was willfully coming on to him, more so than any other instance before.

Usagi's cheeks bloomed with colour upon this revelation even though she forced herself to remain concerned for his emotional state. What Usagi couldn't realize was that she was fighting against an idea that wasn't relevant anymore. She could see for herself that there was no sign of trauma in Mamoru's eyes, face, or heart. Yet, Usagi couldn't know that she had just healed him so she remained cautious, trying to hold on to her empathy and concern when her instincts were telling her to forget it.

/

Mamoru continued on autopilot. He instinctively created a safe distance between Usagi and himself without consciously knowing why. He felt a slight resistance in Usagi's interlaced fingers at the back of his neck as she pulled herself back towards him. Usagi inched slightly closer and Mamoru felt the arousing sensation of her nipples grazing across his chest. The tingling warmth spread like wildfire throughout his body. In wordless silence they stared at each other, Usagi's eyes searching his in the moonlight trying to find the courage to express what she wanted to convey. Mamoru was very much aware of every part of her body that touched his yet he felt this inexplicable urge to resist.

The dense fog in his mind suddenly lifted for him to vividly recall Usagi accusing him of wanting to steal her innocence. A small jolt of pain shot through his stomach and he broke their gaze in order to hide his shame. Mamoru leaned further back forcing his chest to separate from hers.

/

When Mamoru couldn't meet her gaze and pulled away from her Usagi rolled her eyes in supreme annoyance. As much as she loved this man, boy was he a piece of work! She had never met anyone with such a strong sense of responsibility, no matter how far gone his sense of responsibility was. Usagi could understand that Mamoru still felt some type of guilt but she was beginning to get impatient. Something inside of her was suddenly desperate to get this man on top of her. Two long years of not making a bold move had to stop now. If Usagi waited for Mamoru she would wait forever . . . but what exactly to do? Could she really force herself on him? That thought did not appeal to her though it remained an alluring option if the end result worked out.

Like a distant echo Usagi heard words in her head that sounded like her own voice but not quite.

"If all else fails . . ."

Like a bolt of lightening Usagi recalled the cryptic note the girls had left in her bag. She remembered what it had said inside.

"Should I do that?" Usagi hesitantly thought, "Right now?"

She honestly didn't understand the suggestion but for some incomprehensible reason she felt that she should do it.

While Mamoru remained in a confused state of resistance Usagi bit her lower lip, digging up the determination she needed while not knowing what good the performance would do.

"Well . . . Here goes nothing."

/

Mamoru was fragmented. The heat of attraction and desire burned strongly in his body but he could not look at her, feeling shameful that Usagi thought he wanted to force her into sex. Mamoru wanted to quench his unquenchable thirst and make love to Usagi, the only experience remaining unexplored between them. The flame burned within him, growing hotter each second because the years of guilt and pain that used to keep it in check were now nonexistent.

Usagi's natural perfume pushed against his senses and he felt a pulse of hot blood flood his veins. Mamoru could detect the rise and fall of her chest with each breath she took. He subconsciously licked his lips but remained focused on her legs wrapped loosely around him, trying stubbornly not to visualize the paradise nestled between.

Unexpectedly, Mamoru began feeling a mystical but very familiar sensation that caught him completely off guard. He knew this feeling very well yet it didn't become real until he watched it happen.

Translucent, shimmering pink ribbons encircled Usagi's legs, winding tightly up to her knees then materialized into bright red high-heeled boots with white trim. His now wide-eyed gaze lifted to see her panties and tank top dissolve away. For a lingering moment he caught sight of her beautifully nude body. The full swell of her breasts, the soft pink of her nipples, the small tuft of golden curls crowning the entrance to his own personal nirvana.

The ribbons wrapped themselves intricately around Usagi's torso becoming a bodysuit that flashed into bright white. The pink ribbons tied themselves into a bow on her chest and popped into bright red. When the ribbons snaked around her forearms Mamoru finally comprehended that Usagi was transforming into Sailor Moon . . . the original Sailor Moon in blue, white, and red whom he used to fantasize about constantly before he knew her true identity. In the few short seconds where the ribbons tightened around her skin Mamoru caught a whiff of the most glorious scent wafting up from between her legs and his body began radiating an uncontrollable lust.

Something inside Mamoru, something that had been building for a long, long time . . . snapped.

/

"Well . . . Here goes nothing."

Usagi threw caution to the wind and willed herself to do what the girls had instructed within the note, which had read:

Transform into the original version of Sailor Moon (red and blue) in front of Mamoru . . . and slow it down a little ;)

As instructed, Usagi concentrated on slowing down the transformation. She immersed herself in the old sensation of shimmering ribbons entwining up her legs and encircling her body. As each piece of clothing flashed into existence a playful gust of wind would swirl her hair around them, magically weaving itself into odango sprouting pigtails once again. Usagi's heart shaped lips pouted irresistibly and sparkled with newfound colour, her glamour now emanating from her face. Sailor Moon's deep blue fuku skirt folded its way around her waist and her tiara condensed into solidity over her crescent Moon birthmark.

Sailor Moon exhaled and leisurely opened her eyes wondering what she would see on Mamoru's face. Usagi entertained the lingering belief that she had just embarrassed herself yet again.

Sailor Moon's eyelids had barely begun to part when Mamoru's desperate lips assaulted hers aggressively and hungrily, his tongue immediately plunging into her mouth exuding a heavy, persistent groan. The instant his lips collided with hers Sailor Moon felt herself fly through the air to collide heavily with the wall, Mamoru enthusiastically pressing himself into her. Usagi felt Mamoru everywhere because he was all there was to feel and her senses were thoroughly overwhelmed. Due to Mamoru's sensual roughness Usagi's breasts had spilled out of her fuku with her rosebud nipples absolutely begging him to be put in his mouth. Without even a hint of hesitation he gripped both of her ass cheeks and hoisted her up further so that he could bury his face in her chest, nuzzling every inch of her, tasting her, drowning in her. His hands wandered possessively along her body, gripping and caressing everything he could while his mouth gravitated all over her though never strayed from her lips for too long.

It all happened so fast that it barely registered in Usagi's mind that it was really happening, though it did not stop her from moaning instinctively. All Usagi was aware of was the powerful sensation of how intensely Mamoru desired her. It was immediately obvious to Usagi that Mamoru had been sitting on a mountain of suppressed sexual energy raging out of control only for her. Each stroke of his tongue and deep ripple from his throat in addition to the eager pressure of his hips and the urgency of his hands made it crystal clear to Usagi that Mamoru wanted her just as badly as she wanted him, if not much more.

Now that her brain finally caught pace with the situation Sailor Moon snapped out of her stupor and responded. Mamoru felt Usagi kiss him back ravenously, her delicate tongue aggressively dancing with his. Sailor Moon's arms clamped around his neck as her gloved fingers wove roughly through his hair, gripping and pulling it in earnest. The moment Mamoru felt Sailor Moon dynamically respond he whimpered in infinite pleasure, now pouring more of himself into his wild new bride. The rock hardness in his pants forcibly rubbed against the soft cloth of her bodysuit and the sweet, swollen flesh beneath it. As Mamoru rubbed against her Sailor Moon felt herself swell even more, throbbing overtop of him. Mamoru fervently bit her bottom lip when he felt her damp heat through their clothes.

Usagi could sense an intense pressure building inside Mamoru; it felt like he was about to loose all control. While massaging her breasts and tasting every corner of her mouth Mamoru gripped her behind the knee to pin her leg vigorously against the wall, Usagi's leg naturally hooking over his shoulder. Barely able to contain himself Mamoru reached for his pants, frantic to free himself from the tight confines of his clothes. Mamoru was pleasantly surprised when Usagi's hands fumbled with his, quickly unfastening and unzipping them in record time.

Now free from its prison Mamoru pulsated against her and Usagi moaned powerfully. Mamoru's warm lips traveled up her neck and with barely a hint of patience his anxious fingers grasped at the soft cloth of bodysuit blocking his way to where he wanted to be the most. Mamoru hastily pulled the fabric to one side. His lips made his way back to hers moaning,

"Usak-" in a deep baritone just as she pleaded,

"Mamo-ch-"

And he slid into her, both of them unable to finish the other's name because a titanic injection of pleasure unlike either of them had ever experienced exploded within both of them. Mamoru groaned deeply and Usagi could only inhale in sharp ecstasy. The moment he entered her Usagi was unable to hold on to her transformation, which promptly erupted in a vibrant explosion of ribbons and feathers. Immediately frustrated at the sudden barrier created by her tank top and panties, Mamoru's strong hands ripped her underwear clean off. He then slipped her tank top off in one smooth motion so that Mamoru could resume his love making deeper and deeper, his satisfying murmurs reverberating across her tongue and into her throat. Usagi's eyes rolled into the back of her head and the energy around them ignited. She had no idea that he would feel this phenomenal, the most exquisite sensual oneness that made every other experience obsolete. She knew she wanted to feel this way forever . . . it was absolutely glorious. Their lips fervently kneaded together, both of them moaning recklessly with tongues intertwined while Mamoru repeatedly found his way inside her.

The sound of Usagi's all consuming pleasure caused the most explosive shock of arousal to tear through Mamoru's body. He hurriedly pulled Usagi away from the wall. Usagi's legs remained encircled tightly around him, his hands gripping her back and moving her sensually onto him with Usagi's whole-hearted participation. With their lips locked together and hands migrating everywhere the newly weds clumsily stumbled towards the bedroom. Usagi's delicate fingers ripped Mamoru's dress shirt apart and pulled it unsympathetically down his arms. Mamoru impatiently tossed the shirt somewhere behind him with Usagi moving her hands along his chest and abs. His mouth found its way back to her breasts as he grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled on it achingly. Usagi's head obediently fell back while murmuring sounds of unintelligible pleasure. Stumbling through his apartment the frantic couple knocked over a lamp, a chair, a side table, and kicked over two plants. As they passed the kitchen Mamoru paused their journey. He impatiently plunked her down on the first hard surface available so that he would be able to loose himself in her fully once again, the bedroom seeming too far away. Usagi's naked rear end smacked down on the countertop with her head whipping back as she pulled Mamoru forward.

With hands now free to migrate at will Mamoru grasped at Usagi vitally, now lost within every sensual movement. Unable to think Mamoru focused all of his attention on how it felt every time he entered her, feeling her tighten around him in every way while kissing him passionately. She was so wild, warm and sweet that Mamoru shuddered in uncontrollable delight. After the brief interlude near the kitchen he suddenly remembered his goal.

The bedroom.

Mamoru eagerly picked her back up and continued devouring her while they stumbled down the hall. The buildings electricity magically returned but neither of them noticed. Mamoru pressed Usagi up against the wall and they clumsily steamrolled over each other, haphazardly making their way to their destination with Mamoru making love to her all the while.

Once at the doorway Mamoru whisked Usagi to their new bed and his frenzied, uncontrollable behviour gradually slowed as he gently laid her down. Mamoru paused and looked over her ethereal beauty underneath the soft glow of the crescent moon shaped lights dangling above them. Atop the white down covers, the velvety soft red rose petals, and her silken blonde hair Usagi lay there blinking slowly and seductively at him in all her nude glory. A long, satisfying sigh escaped Mamoru as he kissed her softly along her face and across her mouth. Mamoru traced his butterfly kisses down her neck to brush delicately over her nipples, pausing there for some time before slowly making his way down the trim line of her stomach. As Mamoru teasingly migrated down her body Usagi's breathing grew louder and more erratic, then paused in blissful silence when he approached her crowning glory. Mamoru tried in vain to remain teasing and delicate but it was only seconds before he buried himself with abandon between her legs stimulating her in ways Usagi didn't even know was possible. Usagi and Mamoru's moans soared higher and higher, the young bride not even being remotely conscious of the explicit words spilling out of her mouth.

/

A group of drunken twenty-something's laughed and stumbled their way down Mamoru's street when the ground rumbled and the Moonlight briefly intensified.

"Did you feel that?" One of them implored as he steadied his feet.

"That's the sixth time tonight." Replied another. "We're gettin' hit with an earthquake soon for sure."

/

Three Days Later . . .

The inner Senshi were forced to collect Mamoru and Usagi themselves since the newly weds hadn't shown up at the temple that morning as planned. With each passing day their unknown future weighed heavier upon them and a lot needed to be done now that the honeymoon was officially over.

Outside Mamoru's front door stood Ami, Makoto, Minako, and Rei, the latter of which knocked persistently.

A few seconds passed without any response until they heard a heavy thud followed by Mamoru's baritone cursing through the door.

"Who is it?" He demanded in irritation.

Rei planted her hands on her hips, "Who do you think it is?!" She bellowed back.

They could have sworn that Mamoru mumbled in surprise it being Thursday already when the bolts unlocked. Mamoru barely pulled the door open to peek his head out. All they could see of him was his face beneath heavily tousled black hair as if he was trying to hide himself.

"That time already?" He sheepishly asked.

Seeing his disheveled state the four of them grinned uncontrollably but nodded in silence.

Ami blushed, "We hate to interrupt but we only have a few more days and a lot needs to be taken care of."

Mamoru looked to the floor in full Senshi seriousness, "Of course."

Minako had the hardest time hiding the triumphant grin just begging to break through her casual smile. She began leading the girls away from the door, "Okay, we'll be at the temple."

The girls smiled innocently at him as they retreated down the hallway. Makoto tilted her head with a smile, "No need to rush too much."

Mamoru observed their Cheshire cat grins and his mouth pursed in irritation. He would not let them leave without a good scolding.

"Wait."

They paused.

Over the course of their honeymoon Mamoru and Usagi had been completely open with each other and had eliminated all of their misunderstandings. Due to their absolute honesty Mamoru learned of the note they left in Usagi's bag. What followed was the clarity of 20/20 hindsight; a fridge full of aphrodisiacs, a romantic bedroom revamp, notes for himself and Usagi . . .

Mamoru looked at them disapprovingly, "You guys have been busy haven't you?"

The very real hint of accusation lingered in the short silence where no one flinched.

Minako broke the guarded pause and shrugged dumbly, "Well, we have a million things to do Mamoru, so I would imagine."

Mamoru raised an accusing eyebrow, staring at them with scrutinizing suspicion. Mamoru tried to believe that they couldn't have known about his early days fanaticizing about Sailor Moon as consolation for denying his feelings for Usagi . . . but still.

"Motoki told you, didn't he?" Mamoru offered.

The girls remained neutral appearing lost when Minako looked at him as if he had just said something ridiculous, "What are you going on about Mamoru?"

Mamoru wasn't buying it, "Do you even know how much trouble you got me into due to your attention to detail?!" he chastised, recalling the hurt on Usagi's face when she realized he wasn't the one who redecorated.

Rei tilted her head in what seemed to be mock confusion, "Trouble?"

"Yes!" Mamoru belted at their feigned innocence, "Trouble! I'd never seen Usako so hurt-"

Mamoru was all set to lay into them when he suddenly paused as an image of himself loosing control and pouncing Usagi in the living room once she had transformed came to mind . . . They suggested for her to do that.

Mamoru shook it off and continued with his lecture. "There was the oddest thunder clap the other night . . ." he leveled his criticizing gaze at Makoto. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about that would you?"

Makoto shrugged nonchalantly, "Thunder and lightning are very random things Mamoru. You really can't predict exactly when they will strike."

Mamoru rested his eyes on each one of their pristine, innocent faces.

"Is something the matter Mamoru?" Rei inquired, "Was your honeymoon not enjoyable?"

Underneath their clueless but questioning stares Mamoru recalled the lingerie Usagi wore due to the magic of his bedroom. He remembered the delightful way Usagi tackled him to the couch when the lightning struck. He remembered how his glorious honeymoon got started after he lost his self-control the moment Usagi transformed into Sailor Moon . . .

The girls continued to stare him down and Mamoru sheepishly pulled his head back into his apartment, now wanting to change the subject, "So . . . the temple then."

Mamoru was about to close the door in order to save his dwindling male pride when he hesitated. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Minako crossing her arms along her chest looking expectantly at him.

Mamoru felt her reproving stare. Minako looked at him silently raising both eyebrows, waiting. Mamoru felt immediately uncomfortable as he looked down and mumbled, " . . . Thanks," and quickly closed the door.

He had wanted to rip into them for meddling in their affairs but unfortunately he could appreciate the wisdom behind it all. If they interfered as much as Mamoru suspected, he had to relent that the girls knew them better than Usagi and Mamoru knew themselves.

"Your welcome." Came the smug reply from the other side of the door.

Mamoru couldn't help but laugh, now fully grateful for their wedding gifts no matter how far the giving went.

"Mamo-chan?" Usagi purred from the bathroom as the sound of water filled his ears.

"First things first," Mamoru thought while turning to navigate his way towards the bathroom, completely naked. He carefully stepped around the toppled furniture, abandoned picnics, blanketed love making spots, and strewn clothes and pillows. The disaster zone in his apartment was a testament to how thoroughly they had enjoyed their honeymoon. His steps quickened as he neared the bathroom to shower with his wife and start the day off right.

/

Ami, Rei, Minako, Makoto, Haruka, Michiru, and Hotaru sat around Rei's kitchen table chatting about various important issues while Luna and Artemis mediated from the centre of the table in feline form. A second pot of coffee made its way around followed by assorted pastries courtesy of Makoto. Just before Rei could check her watch for the sixth time Usagi and Mamoru stepped into the room.

A sense of relaxation descended upon everyone from their presence alone. As the married couple took their seats everyone could see that Usagi exuded happiness and contentment on a level they had never before witnessed while Mamoru seemed to glide with self-secure, effortless grace. They flooded with joy.

Haruka elbowed Michiru roughly who blushed when Haruka whispered, "What'd I tell you?"

Mamoru stole a warning glance at Haruka who winked at him in approval.

Usagi's genuine smile replaced itself with the look of an attentive leader, "What's new?" She asked now deathly serious.

Ami took out her computer and began typing in earnest, "Rei has done many fire readings over the past few days and came across some useful information."

Rei nodded, taking over, "I've been able to determine the exact time our first enemy will arrive."

"When?" Inquired Mamoru.

"Monday morning. 1:17 a.m." Rei continued, "I can't see exactly who the enemy will be as the visions I get are very unfamiliar. I do know that Tokyo will be where the chaos will begin." Rei turned to Michiru.

Michiru nodded and took her turn, "My mirror revealed an intense pulse of energy that will descend from the skies to order to attack the city somehow."

Rei added, "I have seen a vision of all of us standing on Tokyo Tower just before it happens. I get the feeling that is where we are supposed to be on Monday at 1:17 a.m., though I don't know why."

Usagi nodded in silence when Ami volunteered, "I had been digging in the hidden depths of the Internet and discovered a rogue scientist in Chechnya who has been reporting that light from distant stars and galaxies is gravitationally bending around a point in empty space within the Moon's orbit. His research suggests that the reason for the gravitational lensing is due to a densification of space-time around a singular point, but no one is taking him seriously or paying much attention."

Haruka had to ask, "Did you take my advice and hack into his system to access his research?"

Ami blushed, "His data allowed me to make some calculations and it shows that Tokyo will be directly aligned with the singularity at precisely 1:17 a.m. local time, this Monday."

Haruka nodded approvingly as Ami continued, "Also, after further research I found similar phenomena documented in the Silver Millennium archive files." Ami's typing seemed to increase in speed and intensity. "In every case these singularities were detected just before a tunnel through space-time appeared."

"A wormhole?" Asked Hotaru.

"Yes." Ami confirmed.

Usagi pouted her lips, "Hm. Okay, well, considering the newness of our powers I think we should use most of this weekend to train. We'll focus on precision and control and test our limits to see how far we can stretch them. We should also explore combinations."

Luna beamed with pride at Usagi and Artemis implored, "We heartily agree."

Mamoru poured himself some coffee, "We're going to have to find new training grounds given the potential damage we can now cause. The city parks aren't going to cut it anymore. Any ideas?" He offered.

"Actually . . ." Rei hesitantly placed her clasped hands on the table. "That has been taken care of."

In response to their questioning stares Rei relayed to them what had happened the previous day.

/

Wednesday . . .

As part of her routine daily chores Rei diligently swept the front courtyard and basked in the beautiful silence underlying the pleasant sounds of nature. Each rhythmic beat of her broom caused Rei to smile with a hint of sadness that a true, peaceful moment like the one she was experiencing would be one of her last for a long time.

Rei continued her sweep when she heard her grandfather's voice calling behind her.

"Rei! I've made us some tea."

Rei's smile broadened. She promptly laid down her broom and went to join him.

Her grandfather poured their tea as Rei washed her hands in the sink. Once she sat down Rei grabbed a muffin from the plate on the table and began munching silently then immediately noticed the intense stare of her grandfather. She paused in mid-chew when her intuition hinted that he had something important to say.

Rei swallowed the mass of muffin in her mouth and seriously asked, "What is it Grandpa?"

Flowing with the truth her grandfather began in haste, "I've been thinking a lot these past few days . . . about the road that you all have ahead of you-"

He paused. "Tokyo will probably be ground-zero won't it?"

Rei was caught off guard and couldn't think of anything to say. Thankfully, he saved her the trouble.

"Even still. Eventually you could be fighting all over the globe. With your private lives destroyed in addition to the unknown nature of the future, I feel that it will be necessary for you all to have a place where you can get away and regroup . . . a home base."

Rei furrowed her brow, "What are you saying?"

He finally looked up at her and smiled. He could not hide his sense of pride as his hand disappeared into the sleeves of his robe to produce a heavily folded piece of paper. Rei looked on in curiosity as he unfolded the paper revealing it to be a topographical map of Japan's Shikoku region.

While smoothing out the folded lines her grandfather explained, "The Shinto tradition was always dominant in our family history."

"Yes," agreed Rei, "You've told me this many times."

"But I didn't tell you how far back it went."

Rei just looked at him, puzzled.

The deep wrinkles in his tanned face seemed to soften, "One of our ancestors was a very wealthy man who lived on Shikoku in the nineteenth century. He achieved enlightenment through Shintoism and was so transformed and grateful that he used his fortune to build a Shinto temple in the mountains of Shikoku."

Rei's eyes split wider but her grandfather continued, "This remote temple is largely unknown and its location has been passed down through generations. Somehow I always knew I would pass the knowledge down to you, bypassing your father."

He looked into his granddaughter's eyes expressively, "I want you and the Senshi to use this temple as your sanctuary. I have seen it once and I know it will be perfect."

Tears of astonishment and honour gathered in Rei's eyes while her grandfather picked up a pencil and marked a specific point in the mountainous southwest. "It's here. I'm sure you'll be able to find it."

Before Rei could utter a word of protest or gratitude her grandfather just picked up his tea and walked out of the room.

She sat there staring at the map and thought about what he had just told her for a good hour. She wanted to tell him that they couldn't accept such a treasure but the more Rei thought about it the less likely that seemed.

He was right. They couldn't live in anonymity with their loved ones in Tokyo anymore, especially since the entire world knew who they were and where they lived. It just wouldn't be plausible. The Senshi had almost no clue regarding the scale of attacks they were about to face and they would need a private place to retreat to when they needed to rest and train without worrying about destroying anything. Rei had to admit that it made perfect sense.

/

The Present . . .

After Rei related her grandfather's bestowal the Senshi just stared at her barely able to say anything.

Rei filled in the silence, "I teleported there yesterday almost not believing that it existed . . . but it was there."

"Wow." Makoto stated.

"Can we just do that?" Usagi inquired, "I don't know if I'm comfortable with invading a sacred family temple."

Rei rolled her eyes, "Like you don't do that here?"

"Rei!" fumed Usagi.

Rei laughed at their usual antics. "Odango, consider the situation. Are you going to live with your family while fending off God knows how many evil psychopaths? Or live with Mamoru where the entire world would know where to find you? You know you would never do anything to put them in danger."

The cold, hard truth silenced Usagi and everyone else at the table.

"Admit it," encouraged Rei, now much more somber, "It's the perfect solution. It's remote, peaceful, massive and we are all now capable of teleporting anywhere on Earth on our own."

"Still . . ." argued Usagi, "if Tokyo is in the direct line of fire I wouldn't feel right if all of us teleported far away when we needed to rest. What about the city? What about all of the people?"

Haruka smiled at her unyielding compassion, "Don't worry Odango. Remember that no one knows about our identities," she said motioning to Hotaru, Michiru and herself. "Our condo is a two-storey penthouse suite, we can use it as an operating base. As long as Tokyo remains in direct danger there will always be Senshi on the ground."

Minako jumped on that idea. "We will take shifts resting up if things get really intense."

Makoto agreed, "You're both right. We won't be much good in battle if we don't have a place where we can retreat to every once and a while and clear our heads."

Silence lingered again and Usagi exhaled slowly. Now that they had been forced to openly discuss the upcoming harsh realities they were going to have to face it made everything much too real. Their discussion was a sober awakening for the Senshi as they sat there actively making plans and asking the loaded questions they had all been trying to avoid.

Before the next topic of discussion arose Usagi casually asked, "So, when is someone going to tell me where Pluto is?"

None of the Senshi moved a muscle in the immediate silence so Usagi was forced to continue, "I've been waiting patiently for one of you to bring it up and no one has."

Usagi could clearly see acute pain and silent regret flash across their faces. Her arms began to tremble and her fists balled up on the surface of the table.

"Where is Setsuna?" She demanded in a low whisper, paralyzed with fear.

Mamoru's warm hand immediately covered Usagi's and she began to instinctively relax though was still relatively uptight.

"Pluto was forced to make a very difficult decision," Mamoru explained with a heavy heart.

Michiru jumped in, "Before we tell you what happened you have to understand that if she didn't do what she did it would have been impossible for us to find you."

Minako looked vacantly into the table, "If it wasn't for Pluto . . . your fate would have been Cirius for eternity."

Usagi's mouth quivered as tears made their way down her face, "Where is Setsuna?" She demanded again, not phased in the least by anything they said.

Rei reached across the table and grabbed Usagi's other hand carefully telling her about Pluto committing a great taboo when she created a backdoor to Cirius' dimension, allowing the Senshi to save her. Once Usagi understood that Setsuna was trapped inside a crystal encasement for a thousand years while her consciousness remained active her tears overflowed. She ripped her hands away from Mamoru and Rei and stood up in growing alarm.

"I'll save her." Stated Usagi in fierce determination.

"We've tried to think of a way to rescue Setsuna from her fate," admitted Hotaru, "but we wouldn't know where to look or what we could do if we found her prison."

Everyone bowed their heads in sympathy for Setsuna. With a brief flash Usagi transformed into Cosmic Sailor Moon sparkling in gold, white, and silver.

"I'll save her."

Before anyone could ask what she would do Sailor Moon summoned her staff. The Ginzuishou intensified its steady shine and she closed her eyes, whispering quietly to herself. Sailor Moon suddenly vanished into white light to leave everyone staring blankly.

Mamoru smiled adoringly.

/

Cosmic Sailor Moon appeared deep in the ruins of the Moon Palace at the Crystal Tower in the Sacred Chamber of Prayer. In a very distressed state she called out, "Mother?"

Queen Selenity's apparition shimmered into existence before her. The look on her face was sad but strangely hopeful. "My darling."

Sailor Moon smiled lovingly at her mother for a moment then erupted in a desperate monologue about Sailor Pluto.

With the same confused look of hopeful sadness the Queen stated, "It is very unfortunate that in circumstances such as these I am unable to interfere."

Sailor Moon was stunned, "What? Are-Are you sure?"

The Queen explained, "The energies of Chronos are in charge of enforcing the punishment that Pluto had agreed to undergo if she were to ever break the time-warp, non-interference rule."

The apparition stated very clearly, "It is impossible for me to interfere in such matters since the covenant was between Chronos and Sailor Pluto and I can not impede upon their free-will."

Becoming very desperate Cosmic Sailor Moon begged her mother for the opportunity to communicate with Chronos. She would not accept Pluto suffering this way. She was absolutely determined to try.

The hope that had been lingering in the Queens eyes overtook the rest of her face. Happily granting Sailor Moon's request Queen Selenity encouraged a spirit-link between the Consciousness of Chronos and that of Sailor Moon.

Sailor Moon immediately learned that Chronos was not doing anything evil or bad. Chronos was simply performing its end of a sacred agreement. Nothing more. Understanding that she could not change such sacred agreements Sailor Moon poured her heart out to Chronos expressing everything she could not say in words about Pluto, what she had done, and the delicacy of their circumstances. Even though she could sense that Chronos was already knowledgeable of everything she had conveyed, the intimate connection they briefly shared allowed Chronos to feel Sailor Moon fully. From this soul-felt understanding Chronos couldn't help but grant Sailor Moon's request to 'feel' Pluto's prison.

Almost instantaneously Sailor Moon sensed the crystal encasement holding Sailor Pluto within her spiritual reach. Sailor Moon could only feel paranoid fear and despair emanating from Pluto. Now very anxious Sailor Moon poured the Ginzuishou's energy into her prison. For the shortest moment Sailor Moon and Sailor Pluto sensed each other. The most profound burst of relief and joy radiated from Sailor Pluto until she drifted off into a timeless slumber only to awaken once her sentence was completed.

Upon opening her eyes Sailor Moon spilled a few emotional tears but was now at peace because Pluto was at peace.

/

Monday

1:11 a.m.

The Eternal Sailor Senshi and Cosmic Sailor Moon ripped speedily and gracefully through the Tokyo night air. Spread across a seven-block expanse, they vaulted over buildings effortlessly, able to cover full city bocks in one fluid and robust leap. It had been a unanimous decision that teleportation would only be used in absolute emergencies, for long distance travel, and would always be done in secret. Otherwise it would be business as usual.

Making their way towards the city centre the Senshi traveled in silence. After their twenty-four hour brainstorming session in Rei's kitchen it had been agreed that they would ask their families and loved ones to change their names, wipe out their old identities and relocate to leave all trails dead. The Senshi knew that it would be a difficult thing to ask, but the fact of the matter was that most of the world knew their identities. Even though alien enemies wouldn't pay attention at first, who knows what might happen if they got desperate and learned who was connected to their enemy.

The Senshi would not be able to concentrate if their loved ones were so easy to find and wouldn't be able to forgive themselves if anything happened to them. Surprisingly, once the topic was approached the family and close friends of the inner Senshi readily agreed, all willing to do whatever they could to improve the situation. They understood the great responsibility they now carried due to knowing their identities.

Each one of them abandoned their old lives and left all trails cold, soon afterwards popping up in another part of Japan with slightly changed appearances and completely different names, histories, and documents. None of the Senshi wanted them to have to do these things, but they were on the verge of accumulating countless enemies that might try anything to find their weaknesses. They could not afford to be careless.

The Senshi spent most of the weekend training in the Shikoku Mountains while setting up their Shinto temple home and Haruka and Michiru's condo. Practicing with their powers and training together without fear of damaging anything or being heard had proved to be invaluable. They discovered various new ways in which they could attack and defend and thoroughly explored the new depths of their powers. The weekend was so successful that they all wondered why they hadn't trained as a group before. The inners and the outers were training together for the first time in history and were equally on par. After a rough go of it in the beginning, eventually they began working spectacularly as a team and learned many new things from each other.

Eternal Endymion proved to be the most interesting addition power-wise. On top of his own attacks he became very adept at amplifying any elemental attack. In just three days the Senshi's confidence in their abilities had strengthened immeasurably. Even though they had no clue what was about to happen at Tokyo Tower they were convinced that they would be able to handle whatever would come, as long as they believed in themselves and believed in their Princess.

The spattering of people walking the streets below barely noticed the dark shadows streaking through the air high above them while Tokyo Tower grew taller with every leap forward. Sailor Moon's pristine face held steady under the seriousness of what was about to happen. Her silver-white pigtails whipped violently behind her and she couldn't help but frown in sadness as she watched Eternal Sailor Saturn dart across the skyline. Through her brief connection with Chronos Sailor Moon had learned that Saturn had been chosen to be the replacement guardian of time until Pluto reawakened.

Her heart broke when she thought of Hotaru, at such a young age guarding the gates of time all by herself for the next thousand years. Fortunately, Queen Selenity volunteered to guard the gate in periodic intervals so that Hotaru could still fight alongside her fellow Senshi and also live a life. Saturn would still need to be trained as the time guardian and Queen Selenity would see to that as soon as there was no immediate threat.

As they approached their destination the Senshi's erratic paths magically converged on the same building to vault off and land on the ground at Tokyo Tower.

Unsure of what to do next they glanced among each other until Sailor Moon caught Neptune and Mars looking up earnestly.

Cosmic Sailor Moon also looked upwards. Taking the lead she ran forward and launched powerfully into the air. Sailor Moon flipped around in midflight like a gymnast to land gracefully on the top of the building located at the tower's base. The moment her stiletto boots touched down on the building's ledge she gathered all of her momentum and vaulted even higher into the air. As the matrix of red metal blurred past, Sailor Moon outstretched her gloved hands for one of the observation deck support beams half way up. Gripping it loosely she used her weight and momentum to flip herself up and over, landing on top of the deck, crouched low once again, then exploded even higher. Hurtling through the air Sailor Moon suddenly grabbed onto the mount of a satellite dish sailing past her and flipped once around it to propel herself to the very top. Sailor Moon somersaulted up to the apex of her dismount and touched down with a soft thud on the platform beneath the spire.

She slowly stood up amidst the vortex of high-rise winds erratically stirring up her hair and fuku in persistent, beating swaths. It was now clear that Sailor Moon had fully matured, no longer hesitant to accept her destiny as a warrior. After all of her grueling experiences Sailor Moon had crystallized into a full-fledged Sailor Soldier that was now no nonsense if she had to be.

It remained Sailor Moon's dearest wish to never hurt anyone, but after three years of intense fighting Sailor Moon had finally embraced the truth.

The truth was Sailor Moon would not hesitate to wipe a soul from existence if she was left with no other option to save the Earth and humanity. It was as simple as that.

In this sense Sailor Moon had become a true warrior. A sharp tinge of sadness overtook her eyes. As willing as she now was to fully embrace her new destiny, it deeply broke Sailor Moon's heart that this was what she had to become if they were going to stand a chance . . . if the Earth was going to stand a chance.

/

The Eternal Senshi watched Cosmic Sailor Moon take off and scale Tokyo Tower in just ten seconds. Each one of them could only stand transfixed, deeply impressed. With the faintest of smiles curving at their lips the Senshi took a running start and followed her up in sporadic, contrasting patterns.

As they ascended Tokyo Tower the Senshi collectively recalled what a haphazard crybaby Sailor Moon was when she had first become a Senshi. There was nothing warrior-like about her because she had no underlying Senshi experience though she possessed fierce determination. She had been the Princess of the Moon and the Crown Princess of the Silver Millennium after all, the embodiment of peace and understanding. However, it was now evident that Sailor Moon had achieved the true spirit of a Sailor Soldier while simultaneously remaining their loving Princess with a hopeful, bleeding heart. The sense of excitement that only a true warrior would feel just before a battle grew within each of them, revealing their recognition of the formidably potent mix Sailor Moon now was. Climbing faster they remained pleasantly agitated wondering what kind of Senshi they now had the potential to become while protecting and fighting alongside such a powerful, strong, and loveable leader.

/

Sailor Moon stood silently on the windy peak of Tokyo observing her hometown when Eternal Endymion suddenly appeared arcing silently in the air to land directly behind Sailor Moon. His thick cape fluttered around her as he thudded down and stood up tall behind her. One by one the Sailor Senshi appeared at the height of their dismounts to land in rapid succession around them both.

Gathered together the Senshi joined Sailor Moon in staring out to their home city in nostalgic silence. Tokyo was where they lived full, normal, and happy lives. This was where they had gravitated together to become Senshi once again, but this time, together. They had so many fond memories here, struggled through seemingly countless challenges, and achieved many victories. They learned how to become better Senshi due to being born on this breath-taking planet fighting for love and justice alongside Sailor Moon.

Eternal Sailor Mercury watched the countdown in the corner of her visor and pierced the contemplative silence,

"Sixty seconds."

The sudden realness of what was coming descended upon them, their stomachs lurching in frigid anticipation. The Senshi stood on the precipice of the end of an era while tumbling into an unknown beginning. They weren't quite sure what they were supposed to do in fifty-nine seconds, though each of them retained complete faith that they would know what to do when the time came.

As the few remaining seconds ticked by the Eternal Sailor Senshi anchored themselves, standing ready with the high-rise winds billowing aggressively around them. The dark clouds above the tower churned unexpectedly then began to swirl in an unnatural way. The Senshi stared up into the sky ominously, remaining frozen in their formation and prepared themselves to tackle whatever the Galaxy would throw at them.

THE END

AUTHOR'S NOTES:

I thoroughly hoped you enjoyed this story. I had worked on it for years then finally got the courage to share it. Please leave a review if you are so inclined. Hearing what other Sailor Moon fans think would be greatly appreciated ;)