Note: The events will be taken from both the anime and the manga.
She had no heart. Of that, she was certain. It was not broken, it was not shattered- it was simply gone. She sat, clutching the pillow, curled around the corner of the table, face buried in her arms. Lengths of newly-silvered hair spilled over her arms, as if imitating the tears that would not come. Because, she reasoned in her deadened mind, people missing their hearts could not cry.
She clutched the pillow tighter.
"We've got to do something," the newcomer murmured, expression turning to a scowl as she looked away from the girl swathed in frothy silks and gold embroidery. She tucked a strand of her own blonde hair behind her ear with an almost aggressive tug. At her side, a white cat butted her elbow, and she absently scratched at his golden crescent marking.
"I'm afraid there's little we can do, at the moment," the other feline present, a midnight black creature, spoke, looking morosely at the eerily silent girl in the corner. "We're at a stalemate. We have the Crystal, but they have the Prince."
"But he's expendable- she's not." A brunette said with a wince- he tall girl was kneeling at the table with them all, setting down a plate of cookies, forgetting them even as her hands abandoned the oven mitts.
The newcomer shook her head, red bow in her hair rustling against the silken strands. "No, no, he's not! Can't you see? Separating them once nearly destroyed everything." She looked to the princess and winced. "Just like letting them be together almost destroyed everything- did destroy everything as far as some were concerned. We only got a second chance by grace of the Queen."
"So it doesn't matter much what we do as far as they're concerned," Rei's eyes were stormy- the Senshi of Fire did not take defeat lightly. Why she felt defeated, though, she really couldn't say- in her book, the loss of someone they'd never really been sure was an ally shouldn't weigh so heavily against finding the Princess and claiming the Silver Imperium Crystal.
The newcomer, the blonde, pressed her lips together in a tight line. Slowly, as if barely controlling herself, she rose to her feet with silent grace and went to the Princess, their friend. She knelt beside her, reaching out with a gentle hand to stroke the silver hair that flowed around her like water.
"Serenity?" No response. "Usagi?" Slowly, the girl lifted her head, crescent moon mark on her brow gleaming softly in the dim light. Her face was dry, her eyes empty as she blinked at the room. In those cerulean depths, where once here had sparkled hope, life, and the promise of unconditional friendship for all who asked for it, there was now nothing.
"Oh, Usagi-chan..." Ami's hands clasped over her mouth.
"It does matter," Minako said harshly. Serenity put her head back in her arms, and continued to be silent.
"Endymion..." the voice was velvet against the sharp silence that surrounded him. Velvet, and something...venomous.
"Endymion, my prince...wake up..." As if his eyelids were puppets, they slid open to behold a darkened chamber. High, vaulted ceilings carved out of the inside of what had once been a vast cave now stared down at him, decorated with all manner of snarling creatures and laughing demonic faces. He felt as if he should have a reaction to it- and yet he didn't.
He sat up, feeling the heavy, familiar movement of his armor around him, wondered at how he wasn't sore from sleeping in it. He swung his feet over the edge of the bed he lay on, and stood on shaky legs. He frowned down at his limbs, commanding them to cooperate. Slowly, they did, and he took a careful step into the vast room. The bed was on a platform of sorts, and he stepped down onto a floor so black it seemed to absorb what light the dim torches, adhered here and there to the walls, gave off.
"Who is there?" He demanded, recalling the voice. He was wary, but not overly so. He felt as if he'd been here before. As if this were...home. As if he had power, here.
Thinking it, he raised his hands before him, frowning as he tried to recall...something. These hands... He felt as if they'd been trusted with something precious...something akin to power, but far more sweet.
Then, blue-black flames guttered softly from his fingertips, erasing the memory of sweetness. At the same time, a long, pale, sinuous arm ending in wicked red nails curved over his shoulder and down his chest. He turned, not as uneasy as he should have been about being snuck up on, and took a step back from the woman with flame-red hair.
She grinned at him, showing wicked teeth. Her eyes were catlike, slitted and yellow. Her lips were deep plum, and full. Heavy breasts threatened to spill from a tight amethyst bodice, tight skirt hugging ample hips and a narrow waist, and long, long legs- she was nearly as tall as him. For all her otherworldly appearance, she was absolutely-
"Ravishing," he murmured, appreciating the sight. She was familiar to him... With that, he abruptly realized that everything was familiar, but not remembered. Not even himself. Not even the name she'd called him, 'Endymion.'
"My love," she said, a snake's tongue curling around the words. She advanced, and he held his ground as she sank against him with a sigh far too delicate for what he would have expected of such a woman. "It's been so long."
She pulled away, reaching up one hand to toy with an ebony lock. "It has. Those vile, impudent girls...they stole you away. My heart, my weakness... They took your memories, dear Endymion. They thought to turn you against me. Are your memories gone, still?" The innocence she portrayed contrasted sharply with the serpentine way she coiled herself around him. And yet, a tugging on his mind-
Trust, complete and absolute. He didn't question where it came from. If he'd made himself look closer, he would have attributed it to unremembered relationships, persevering through the mindwipe. He touched her cheek- cold, smooth as marble. Absolutely flawless.
"I remember enough," he said. The words came out empty and flat, but she sighed at hearing them, nails clawing at his belt, his chestguard, his cloak-clasp at his throat.
"Oh, my prince...mine, all mine..." She leaned into his neck, nipping with sharp teeth and cold tongue at the junction of his neck and shoulder. "Show me you remember me, show me you still love me..."
Something in her words rang a sour note, but it was gone before he could examine it. Without thinking, without really caring, he discarded his cloak, lifting the surprisingly heavy creature into his arms, hardly noticing the blood trickling down his throat where she'd bit him. "Of course, my Queen." She laughed, long and loud, throughout the rest of the night.
"I'm not coming," Usagi said into the communicator, ignoring the odd looks the other cafe patrons gave the odd girl talking to her watch.
"What do you mean, you're not coming?" Luna blanched. "We need you!"
"You have Minako. You're no worse off than you would have been a week ago." She argued, uncharacteristically logical.
"Usagi, I know you're still upset, but you can't just give up- we need you to come and help us-"
"Look at a room I already know by heart? Remember what happened? You were all there, you can all remember as well as I. I'm not coming, Luna. You can go examine the Starlight Tower without me." She shut the lid of the watch, hating its merry pink enamel and gold filigree. It began beeping again, and she pressed a small button on the side to silence it. Let her call all she wanted- Usagi wasn't changing her mind.
That taken care of, she blinked down at the steaming cup that had been set down in front of her by an amused waiter, who thought a high school girl talking into a novelty toy on her wrist was amusing rather than disturbing.
She reached for the little dish of sugar packets and miniature cups of cream, absently tearing them open and pouring them in- until she realized there was no more sugar, and the cream and made the coffee lukewarm and nearly overflowing. She sipped it away, not really caring that each swallow was likely causing a new cavity. She sat there a long while, forgetting why she'd originally come. Her schoolbag at her feet remained closed around her homework and research books. The library had been too quiet, had reminded her of... Well, it seemed like a place he would go frequently, even if that was one place she'd never...
She tucked that thought away, instead taking note of the blonde girl who'd seated herself across from Usagi in the window booth, smiling gently. Absently, she looked for signs of cats.
"Artemis stayed with Luna," Minako said, catching the waiter's eye and beckoning. When he'd come and she'd ordered two shakes, and left again, she reached across the table and taken Usagi's wrist, undoing the catch on her communicator-watch and slipping the thing off her hand, then depositing it in her purse. That done, she made a show of doing the same with her own, topaz and blue communicator.
"Talk to me," she said. "I know I haven't been around long, but sometimes that's better than talking to someone you've known and fought beside for...how long have you been fighting, here? A year?"
"Only a few months," Usagi responded without intending to. "Feels longer."
"Yeah, I know the feeling. How did you get started?" Without waiting for an answer, she bubbled on, "Artemis found me. I'm guessing Luna found you? Was a crazy night... Short skirts, flashy powers. I didn't understand half of what was going on. And the dreams! Boy lemme tell you, you're kinda lucky you got most of your memories -well, the ones your gonna get, anyway- all in one fell swoop. Getting them in bits and pieces over the years sucks, it's totally confusing!"
"Yeah, finding out the boy you've had a crush on is also your soulmate from a previous incarnation right as he's being killed and kidnapped right in front of you was a real treat." She sipped the coffee, and winced. Had she really managed to drink half of that sludge?
"Better than not knowing at all, doncha think?" The shakes had arrived. How much the waiter had overheard, neither girl really cared for once. Minako pushed the strawberry and whipped-cream confection in front of her, shoving a long straw through the white fluff as she did so. "Here, this's gotta be better than that junk." She wrinkled her nose at the now-cold coffee cup.
"Yeah," Usagi agreed, pusing the cup away, graspin the straw between her lips and taking a long pull of the thick, cold sweetness, erasing the taste of ruined coffee.
"So, you gonna tell me how you got started?"
She meant how Usagi got started on being Sailor Moon. What she heard, was a question about how she and Mamoru had gotten started.
"We hated each other." She said blandly. "At least..." she hesitated, confusion taking over her features as she looked out the window. How many times had she collided with his chest right in front of this very cafe? A dozen? More? Was that the real reason she'd come here? "At least, I thought we did. Then...things started happening. He'd smile while teasing me, instead of frown. He'd tug on my hair...then twirl it around a finger when he thought I wouldn't see. I'd stop panicking about being late in the morning...because I had compensation on the way. I...I stopped carrying bandages in by schoolbag. Because he'd always catch me- hold me, sometimes, if he thought he had an excuse, if I seemed unsteady for a second too long." She blushed, betraying perhaps those bouts of dizziness hadn't always been true.
Minako smiled. "You started to fall in love."
"I didn't love him." The words came fast, and harsh, like a shield risen just in time to deflect a fatal blow.
Minako's smile saddened. "I said started. It can take awhile."
Usagi's hands tightened on her shake. "It wouldn't have taken us long," she murmured.
Minako sighed. "No, it wouldn't have. History," she mused. "Has a way of repeating itself. No matter how long it takes." She sipped her own shake, which was half gone- Usagi's was mostly melted.
"Minako..." she swallowed. "I don't want to be Sailor Moon anymore, not if we're all going to end up like..." she blinked, eyes suspiciously moist. "Not if we're all going to end up like Kamen." She shook her head. "This is all wrong, Mina. I'm no princess. I thought...I thought finding the Princess would be the end. She'd be powerful, and strong, and calm, and she'd take care of everything, we just had to keep the youma away from her. But...but I'm the princess...even I can't deny it... But I'm not strong, or powerful, and this is far from over." She released the shake, clenching her hands into fists that left crescent marks deep into her palms. "I can't do it, I don't want to fight..." Tears at last spilled over, dripping down her face to land in the melted whipped cream.
Minako got up from her side of the table, coming around to hers, and scooting in beside her. She put an arm around her shoulder, a brace against the torrential storm of tears that forced their way free. Usagi sat, limp, head bowed as the tears she'd been storing up all week at last were let loose. It was silent, but harsh, and when she was done Minako kissed her temple in a sisterly fashion, handing her an embroidered kerchief.
"Then you don't have to," Minako said, softly, stroking her streamers of hair that hung limp, golden again. "We'll take care of it, Princess. Come find me if you want to talk, again." She fished Usagi's communicator- flashing, again- out of her purse and laid it down on the table, leaving a few bills to pay for the shakes -and the coffee, Usagi noted- before leaving as quietly as she'd come.
Usagi was, again, left alone, this time with a shake ruined by tears instead of a coffee ruined by sugar.
It was another hour- near sunset- when at last the waiter politely told her she needed to order something else or spend her evening elsewhere. She blinked, realizing the shakes and coffee cup had been cleared away and the bills Minako had left along with them.
"Have a good night, dear." The hostess at the door said with a wave.
She couldn't be Usagi. Not yet, not fully. It hurt to much, thinking of going back to the way things had been as if nothing had changed, as if that new 'missing person' flier in her dad's newspaper meant nothing to her.
She couldn't be the Princess- she didn't know how. The Princess was useless. The Princess was weak, always had been. She'd sat by while her Senshi defended her, while Endymion defended her, and in the end she'd died, too. Aside from the blood in her veins that gave her the Crystal, the damn princess might as well be a doll.
Sailor Moon was a mask, a hiding place. She was useful, or she could be. Now, with the Crystal...
Anger suddenly enveloped her, out of nowhere, swift and as powerful as the tears had been. She turned, pounding her fist into the brick building she was passing, feeling bone and flesh crunch. She yowled in pain, not so angry as to not feel it. But the anger persevered through the pain, the pain fueling it as she cradled her hand. Tears of mingled fury and agony wet her eyes, and she dived into an alley to examine the damage, and where the anger had come from- neither was difficult to decipher.
Anger that their second chance had been stolen, before they'd even known it was a second chance. Anger at herself, for letting things go to shit the first time. Damn useless princess... Anger at the enemy, for daring to show their faces, again. Anger at Mamoru, for making her so mad at him at first, at wasting their time together. Fury at the Generals, fury at the Fates that deemed her to this hellish destiny.
Unrestrained, corrosive anger at herself- for almost giving in.
"Moon, Prism, Power!"
The flood of heat and energy that rampaged through her system was like a drug she'd been denying herself. She felt the bones in her hand mend, the hairline fractures a memory. She left her schoolbag where it lay, leaping straight up and grasping a pole that connected the rooftops of the two buildings that made the alley. She flipped herself up, arched forward, curving down around again, looping back up before releasing. She came back down, landing nimbly on one foot on the quivering pole. A feat no human would have been able to perform, she was sure. She stood there, breathing in the wind that swept over the rooftops, cleaner than the breeze that manged to get down to the streets, through the trash. She stayed only a moment, leaping away soon as a child down below spotted her and pointed, eyes bugging, tugging on her mother's shirt.
It was near flying- she'd almost forgotten. The only times they'd ever really let themselves go free, leaping, jumping, wheeling in the air, was when they needed to get somewhere in a hurry, and in that case there was an air of panic- would they get there in time? How many lives would be lost before they could get there? They never did it for fun- too risky.
She didn't care. Let the world know that there was a girl, risking her life, every day, to save the world. Why shouldn't they know?
She reached the Tower before the rest of them. The slight tingle at the back of her neck that let her know when other Senshi were near was absent- but in place of it, there was something else. It made her frown- it wasn't Senshi, but it wasn't youma either.
She half leaped, half climbed the exterior of the tower until she reached that topmost platform, half open to the air and half enclosed by rusting scaffolding. For the most part, fierce winds were allowed to sweep the platform clean of even a spec of dust. The sun was half buried behind the horizon, setting the ocean aflame in shades of gold and reds. She stood on the very edge of the platform, on her tiptoes. Taking a deep, cleansing breath she raised her arms out, tempted to simply let herself fall. She fought the voice in her head that told her he would catch her, again. He always caught her.
There was that sensation at the back of her neck- not the Senshi tingle or Kamen's spine-tingling caress, but something subtle, something that sank deep into her flesh and...waited. She lowered her arms, frowning. It was familiar. It reminded her of her Kamen-tingle, but it didn't caress so much as it...
She glowered at the glorious sunset, frustrated, urging the Senshi to hurry up. Being left alone with her thoughts was playing tricks on her. She pouted, leaning against a rust-red pillar to her left. She'd hoped being Sailor Moon would distract her, but instead it seemed to be fooling with her imagination. The more she thought on it, the more this new sensation reminded her of him. It was so, so hard to tell herself that she would turn around, and he wouldn't be there.
Against her will, cursing her own weakness, she glanced over her shoulder.
A gasp- a start, sudden vertigo in the pit of her stomach as she fell, arms wheeling as she forgot all sense of her Senshi powers, for a moment just a startled girl falling back over the edge, a wordless cry-
Then the black-gloved hand behind her waist, pulling her sharply back up, hard against a metal-covered chest. Only that arm around her waist kept her from plummeting- her toes barely scraped the barest edge of the platform.
Her lungs burned from lack of air, either because she didn't dare take a breath or because his arm was so cruelly tight. Her head spun, from the brief vertigo or the stormy inkiness of his eyes, so full of mixed loathing and fascination. Her chest ached- from the heart that suddenly beat back to life, or was it because of the hard steel embellishments adhered to his breastplate, pressing into her breastbone with bruising pressure?
"Hello, Sailor Moon." He didn't seem to hear her, tilting his head as he regarded what he'd caught. "To think, I'd anticipated a long, drawn out series of carefully constructed scenarios to lure you here...and here you are, waiting." His arm tightened, and she fought to breathe.
"Mamoru, you're hurting me-"
"Am I?" The arm tightened even more, and she whimpered. Something was wrong. This wasn't Mamoru...and yet... It was. The face, the voice, the hair, the scent...that tingle, it made sense now. It wasn't Kamen's, but Mamoru's- corrupted, somehow, but his. He dipped his head down til his nose was nearly brushing hers.
The eyes. The eyes were wrong- black, when they should have been blue.
Her brief joy at seeming him alive was crushed- something was so dearly wrong, something perhaps worse than death.
"I think," he said slowly, his hand at her side grasping her hip with not quite enough pressure to bruise, but enough to send a jolt of sensation down her leg. "I am going to enjoy this."
Then he was gone, in a swirl of black petals and putrid magic, and with a shriek Sailor Moon fell back, arms flailing as she screamed. She had no idea if such a fall would kill her, transformed as she was...but it was certainly going to hurt-
The narrow, glowing cord that whipped around her wrist yanked her to an agonizing halt, as the sound of wrenched cartilage and tortured muscle made her see spots.
"Get her up, quick!"
Each jerk that pulled her higher made her gasp, nausea rising- she fought to swallow the bile that rose. When at last she was hauled over the edge of the platform, whimpering, tears of pain wetting her cheeks, she saw her rescuers- the Senshi stood, two kneeling two standing, in an arch around where she crawled over the edge.
"Careful! That shoulder's dislocated." Mercury knelt beside her, now belt held in a sitting position by Rei. "This is going to hurt, highness."
"Don't call me-" a screech loud enough to wake the dead interrupted her own words as Mercury deftly gripped the injured limb, and pulled. When released, the shoulder gave an audible pop and crackle as it settled back into place. Amazingly, though, the pain subsided almost immediately- at least comparatively.
"Don't call me 'highness,'" she said through grit teeth, holding her still-throbbing arm. The Lasso had made a deep impression in her wrist, too, though thankfully that hadn't been dislocated or broken.
"What happened, Sailor Moon?" Rei asked, almost gently. It was obvious none of them -save perhaps Venus- had expected to see her there.
"Just a klutz attack," she murmured, not quite sure why she was so apt to lie, why it had come so swiftly and readily. Or why she was loathe to take it back... They wouldn't believe her, she told herself. They'd think it wishful thinking, the imaginings of a desperate almost-lover.
The Senshi didn't look convinced. Did they think her capable of suicide?
"Oh come on, guys," she grumped. "It's nothing new." She looked to Venus, long pale hair glinting russet gold in the last of the sun's dying rays. "Thank you," she said, and Venus replied with a smile and a wink. She knew she wasn't just being thanked for the Lasso-rescue.
"Well, now that Odango has proven she's not a coward afterall," Rei said with a sniff as she stood. "Lets get investigating- there's got to be clues here somewhere about where the Dark Kingdom scum disappeared to."
"Mercury, start scanning for any residual portal traces," Venus was reclipping her Lasso around her waist, golden chain slipping down over one hip. "Mars, use your Mandala fire to try scrying- you might get better results here at the origin than at the Temple. Jupiter, with me- we're going to go examine the ground, see if anything worthwhile got discarded during the battle." The way she took command spoke of eons past, when there had been no Sailor Moon and the Senshi of Love had led them. Given her mental status, no one thought Sailor Moon would mind the usurping- and she didn't. Venus looked to her, a question in her gaze.
Her arm hurt. Her heart hurt. Her hip hurt, where he'd squeezed her. Absently, her fingers touched the spot. Yes, that more than anything told her something was wrong- more than the tainted tingle, more than the black eyes. Mamoru would never hurt her...
"I'm fine," she said, tipping them off that she really wasn't. A 'fine' Sailor Moon would have jumped at the chance to ditch the boring recon and grab a few free hours at the arcade, or at home, or the icecream parlor, or catch-up time with Naru.
Then again, she reasoned, now she had more reason than they did to find a way to track the Dark Kingdom...
Mamoru was alive, and he needed her help.
Woooot I hath returned! This is going to be somewhat dark, given the nature of one of the main characters and Usagi's mindset. This will be an ADULT fic, meaning there will be -yes I'm going to say it- sex. How explicit it will be, I don't yet know. And yes, when Beryl came upon the newly awakened Endymion, she did boink him. Gross, I know- but you are forewarned.
Oh, another major thing- saying 'high school' instead of 'junior high' was not a typo. I have an issue with writing sexy-scenes about a 14 year old. Deal.
This will also probably on the short side, in the range of ten chapters or so.
Please read and review! It's been a while since I've done a Sailor Moon fic, and I think my writing has improved greatly, certainly a far cry from the first chapter of Vow of Serenity...ha!