AN: Here is the final installment of Time Warped! With thanks to crescent-starchild09 for her special PM of encouragment and reminding me I had to post :)
Disclaimer: Oh, who cares? If I owned Sailor Moon, I'd be writing much cooler stories than this!
"I'll walk you home," Darien said as they exited the arcade, completely missing Andrew's cheerful goodbye. He jerked a thumb to his left and grinned. "Do you still live down this way?"
"Pretty sure I do," Serena grinned back. "You have good memory."
As they wandered down the street, hand in hand, Darien remembered something. He stopped. "Wait," he tugged Serena back. "Maybe we shouldn't do this."
Serena's eyes widened in alarm. "Do what?!" Her eyes flickered uncertainly to their entwined hands.
"Maybe we shouldn't go down this way. I mean, if today is repeating exactly the same way it played out last time..."
"Then we're walking right into the time vortex again!" Serena finished, eyes fastening on the clouds once more. "Do you think... I mean, is it..."
Darien stood rooted in place, indecision clearly written on his face. "I don't know, Meatball Head. We don't know if it was just that specific location, or if it was going to open up regardless of where we were."
Serena bit her lip. "Well.... Let's just hurry home, and if it starts to get stormy again, you can hide out at my place until it looks safe."
Darien highly doubted that would solve anything, but agreed nevertheless. It would be stupid to stand on the street, wasting time trying to figure out how to avoid the oncoming danger.
As they hurried down the streets of Juuban, they began nearing the park. Darien glanced up at the sky. Why, it was pitch black already – nothing like it had been five minutes ago. He began to walk faster, but already the wind was picking up. A wayward newspaper page flew into him, sticking to his leg. He didn't even bother removing it; it would only waste the time they didn't have.
He felt Serena's hand tighten in his own as they speed-walked past the hedges and bushes of the nature reserve. A clap of thunder boomed up ahead. Serena whimpered, but it was lost to the sound of another deep roll of thunder. The cold air swirled around them, biting at their skin, and they began running, tears streaming down their faces as they squinted through the wind.
They skidded to a stop as for a momentary second, they were blinded. It seemed the whole sky had lit up in one, giant lightning flash. Darien looked around wildly. They were only two or three streets away from their destination – he knew with a sinking feeling they wouldn't make it in time.
His face felt like it was on fire, but that was just the icy cold blasts of air whipping into him. Serena swung to him with panic gleaming in her eyes. She buried her head in his chest and he felt her shoulders shake.
"We can't go back," he heard her sob over the roar of the wind. "We can't go back, knowing...."
But something was different this time. They weren't in the same clueless position they had been, all those weeks ago. They had a chance at avoiding this. His determination resolved. "Come on, Meatball Head," he said fiercely, leaning down to her ear. "We'll fight this."
"Just keep running, okay? We're not going to look back."
Together, they took off, pushing past the resistance of the elements, fighting their way through. As they rounded a corner, something large and black opened up before them. Both skidded to a stop, yelling in fear.
Before Darien had time to step in front of Serena, something knocked them out of the way. Darien grunted as he landed roughly on the ground. The warm body he felt beside him told him Serena was with him – so what had...
He stared up as a dark figure stood with their back to him, facing the time vortex – which was a gaping black hole, hovering in midair. It swirled around, consuming all the wind that had battled against them. He opened his mouth to warn the stranger, but it seemed he didn't need to. They brought a long stick, seemingly out of nowhere, and aimed it at the centre of the black hole.
He heard a stream of unrecognisable words – was it another language? – and then suddenly, the wind died down, the thunder stopped, the lightning flashed its last, and the vortex collapsed in on itself. The figure turned their head, staring down at him over their shoulder.
As he scrambled to his hands and knees, he never took his eyes off the strange woman. She was dressed in what he instantly recognised as a Sailor Scout uniform, although the colours were new.
"You're Sailor Pluto," he realised. She turned towards them fully now, and watched as Darien helped Serena to her feet. "I want answers, dammit!" he demanded.
"Like why couldn't I help you, back on the Moon?" she asked with a sad smile. "Or why I sent you there in the first place? Why is this day repeating only for the both of you? Yes, I understand you have many questions. And I will answer them now, just this once, as none of it will matter by tomorrow."
She held up her staff, where the garnet orb at the head glinted in the re-emerging sun. "I am, as you have figured out by now, Sailor Pluto; Guardian of Time and Space."
"So if you're the Guardian of Time and Space," Serena began hotly, obviously irritated by the woman's calm demeanour in such a dire situation, "why couldn't you come get us the minute we were sent back there? Before all the drama unfolded! No one even had to know we were there, you know. You need to keep an eye on your little vortex's, lady. Or why didn't you just leave yourself a post-it-note? Note to self: Pick up Serena and Darien from the Moon Kingdom, four o'clock." Her tirade dwelled down as Darien squeezed her hand reassuringly. They would get to the bottom of this.
"I guard the timeline, and the gates of Space and Time on a very special plane – very few people in this universe know where to find me; that information is classified. But the information was leaked, somehow. And that information fell into the wrong hands. Beryl."
Darien suppressed the shudder that raced down his spine.
"She had attacked me, in what I assume, was her hope that without my presence, she would be able to take over the Moon Kingdom. If there was no one to foresee the attacks, there would be no one to warn the other planets. I was horribly injured, very nearly left for dead. But Sailor Saturn found me. She brought me back to her planet and had me nursed back to health by her healings, but I was weak. And with little recollection of my accident, there was nothing I, or Saturn, could do. By the time the news that planet Earth had been invaded reached Saturn, I knew I had to go back to the plane to see the timeline."
Her eyes shifted from Serena's to Darien's. "The timeline, in my absence, had grown corrupted, having been left in such an unruly state with no one to fix it. There were glitches, thousands of them – time jumps and quantum leaps, rips and disruptions in the natural course of history. I set to work, reassembling time as best as I could. When I had finally fixed the majority of the line, I saw Beryl begin her siege on the Moon Kingdom. There was nothing I could do, it was too late."
"But couldn't you go back in time and stop all this from happening?" Serena asked, eyeing the staff warily.
Sailor Pluto swept an arm out, indicating their surroundings. "I have repaired the final glitch. Without that vortex just now, you and Darien would never have been sent back in time, and that means history will correct itself and run its natural course. Exactly the way it was supposed to."
"Wait, you did this?" Darien made a face, waving a hand above his head. "You repeated this day so you could stop us from getting sucked into the black hole?"
The Scout of Pluto nodded.
"Then how the hell does that work? What about our memories? Are our brains just going to completely fry? Scramble on themselves as we go blank and forget everything that had happened?"
The dark haired soldier shook her head gravely. "No. Because you won't remember a thing. Now that the timelines are back in order, I must erase your memories, and any memories that involve the two of you from others, so you may live the lives you were supposed to lead."
Darien turned to Serena, who gaped at him. She clutched both his hands in hers. "No!" she shouted. "You can't do that! You can't take our memories away, they're ours! We deserve to remember what we lived through!"
Sailor Pluto's lips pressed into a thin line. "I'm afraid you don't have a choice in the matter. I must do what is in order to protect the timeline."
"Stuff the timeline!" Serena shouted. "You can't control it anyway! LEAVE US ALONE!"
Darien could see the woman's fingers flexing around the staff. He knew they wouldn't have a chance. She had all the power. He turned back to Serena and brought their hands up to eyelevel. Serena's eyes widened at the action, snapping between their hands and his eyes.
"No, Darien, she can't do this!" she shrieked. "She can't, she can't, she can't, she can't!" She burst into tears, knowing that once again, the end was near. "Because that means you won't remember me. And I won't remember you. Not like this. We'll go back to fighting with each other. You'll hate me again!"
Darien's eyes softened at her tears, but he forced himself to laugh lightly. "Hey, don't fret, Meatball Head. We're soulmates, remember? We'll find each other again, even after all the tears and arguments! We'll be together again in no time."
As Sailor Pluto lifted the staff, the garnet glinted once again in the sun's rays. The short flash captured on a tear, trekking its way down Serena's cheek as they leaned in for their last kiss.
The staff was waved, the magic took over and time churned forward.
The Next Day:
"Waaah! I'm so late!" Serena wailed, leaping out of bed and rushing around her room to find her uniform. It was draped over her desk as it usually was. She quickly threw it on, brushed her teeth, styled her hair, grabbed a piece of toast and her schoolbag and she was the door.
"Bye mum! Bye dad! Bye Sammy!"
Serena huffed and puffed as she dashed up the streets and through Juuban. She was only minutes away from the school when something caught her eye.
"Hey!" she yelled in outrage, momentarily forgetting her lateness. "Leave that cat alone!" she switched directions and chased after the boys who had been crowded around something in an empty carpark. A battered looking cat, with shiny black fur lay on the cement. Aw, poor kitty! Serena thought in sympathy, dropping her bag on the ground and kneeling to pick it up. "Hey what's that bandaid for?"
Well, what did I tell you? Fits snugly into canon (minus the age difference, but the romance doesn't work at 14 and 18, does it?). Leave me lots of love! An Unlikely Hero will be out in 6 days :)