They were floating. Just… floating. It was soft and warm.
"Do you think we're dead?" Sailor Moon wondered. There was no worry or sadness in her tone. "But if we saved everyone, it was worth it, right, Chibiusa?"
You're not dead. Your wish to save each other brought about a miracle.
Now everyone is waiting. Go back.
"Usako! Usako! Usako!"
She blinked, focusing on that oh so familiar face and realizing she was lying in familiar arms. "Mamo-chan."
"You're all right!"
"Everyone!" The Senshi let out laughs of relief as they watched. She was alive. For several frightening moments, they'd been afraid it was Beryl all over, that she'd died for the world. But there she was, miraculously unharmed. "Chibiusa!"
The girl had been lying in Rei's lap motionless, but Sailor Moon's voice was almost a cue. Her nose scrunched as she woke up. "Everyone…"
"I'm so glad. Chibiusa…" Sailor Moon cried.
Tuxedo Kamen focused. "The Black Crystal is diminishing. Those that were in it are in the park. The Earth is healing."
"In it? Oh Selene, Diamond. Is he all right? Is he alive?"
"I don't know."
"We should find out," Mercury suggested. "If he's alive, there might be something we can do for him. If he's dead…"
"Either way, we need to move. The police will be here soon," Jupiter contributed.
"Let's go," Sailor Moon urged.
"How do we get down?" Venus asked. The Black Crystal had dissolved so far that only the platform they were on remained. There'd be no exiting the way they came.
"Teleport," Mars said. "If you can, Usagi."
"I think," Kunzite said, "under current circumstances it is best for Sailor Moon to not further expend her energy. It is miraculous that using the Ginzuishou did not kill her, but it is unwise to tempt fate. I will carry everyone to the clearing if you will be patient."
"Do you have enough strength?" Venus worried.
His head turned to her in acknowledgement. "I will admit to weariness, but it was not I who fought this battle. My contribution was slight."
"Take Tuxedo Kamen-sama and Mercury-chan," the Moon Senshi ordered. "They can try to heal Diamond, right?"
Tuxedo Kamen frowned at his mate. "After all he's done…"
She faced him. "He loves me, Mamo-chan. That's what drove him to this. He loved me and never had a chance. I can't just let him die, not when it was my fault."
"Fine," he acquiesced with a sigh. "I don't know how much Mercury and I can do, but if he's still alive we'll try."
"Quickly," Mercury urged.
Kunzite grasped their shoulders and they vanished. Moments later he reappeared.
"Mars, Jupiter," he said. The Senshi hurried to him before they disappeared as well. He materialized once more. Venus helped Sailor Moon to her feet before taking his hand.
"Can Chibiusa come at the same time, or do you need to make another trip?" her future mother asked.
"She is small enough to come now. Hurry, please. This platform will not last long."
Sailor Moon lifted Chibiusa as Kunzite took her arm. Venus took his other. An instant later they were in the clearing. Chibiusa jumped from Sailor Moon's arms as the blonde looked for Diamond.
He was there, lying on the grass. His blood-drenched jacket had been tossed away, and the white shirt underneath was recognizable as such only near the collar. Tuxedo Kamen was kneeling at his side, hands glowing, as Mercury did the same. Blue and gold rushed over the wounds in his abdomen, but their expressions were not encouraging.
"We don't know how he's survived this long," Jupiter told her princess. "According to Mercury he should've died within moments of us leaving, but he's managed to hold on so far. It's almost like something is fighting to keep him alive."
"Has Mercury's computer found anything?" Venus asked.
"She says some thread of him survived and that there was something she didn't understand about it. It was written in a different language."
Sailor Moon frowned. "I'll look at it." She hurried to the others and Mercury passed it to her without question. She scanned the columns of neat characters, eyes widening with every word. "V-chan, get over here."
Venus studied it. "It's a love-thread. He's still alive because that last spark is love and the person he loves is alive too. Usagi…"
"Nurture it," she ordered.
"Are you sure? If I do anything he'll never stop loving you."
"Mina. I can't take it if someone else dies for me. Help him. Besides," she added with a sad smile, "he's loved me since the Silver Millennium. I don't think it'll stop."
The other golden Senshi stopped arguing. She blinked, and when her eyes reopened she was looking into magic. Her hands went to his heart, turning orange against his skin. The wounds knit, though slowly. Though the Jakokuzuishou was destroyed, darkness lingered. Sailor Moon frowned at the black earrings the prince wore. She snatched them away, wincing as they burned her hands. Dropping them on the ground, she stomped on them with her booted foot until they shattered.
"Purification progressing," Mercury reported. Her gaze darted for a moment to the Moon Senshi. "It looks like he'll pull through."
Kunzite was acting as a conduit, drawing power from the healing planet to pass to Tuxedo Kamen. Venus maintained the thread as others reformed. Mercury and Tuxedo Kamen continued to labor over the wounds, leaving the others to watch and wait.
"Will I be able to go home?" Chibiusa asked Sailor Moon.
"Soon. I promise."
It was moonrise when they finished. Diamond's wounds mended and his natural vigor returned quickly. He separated himself from the others, sitting at the edge of the clearing. Aside from the blood, it was hard to tell he'd been on the very edge of death.
Everyone de-henshined in the safety of the clearing's protective barriers. It didn't matter if he knew who they were. Usagi and Mamoru fussed over Chibiusa as Minako curled into Kunzite's arms. The other girls watched, filled with longing, but they were content to talk amongst themselves. Finally, Usagi joined Diamond.
"Does it still hurt?"
"Are you okay?"
She frowned. "Talk to me. Please. Tell me what's on your mind."
His blue violet eyes drifted to her cerulean before he looked away. "I think not."
"Diamond, if you're angry over what I've done, say it. I won't be offended."
"Angry?" he repeated, mystified. "Why should I be angry?"
"I- Venus had to- There was no choice. She had to do it to save you."
The white prince shook his head. "I am not troubled by that. What she touched would not have died. I only wonder why you chose to do so. You would have an easier life had I not survived."
"That's not true." She sat on the grass next to him, leaning against the tree. "I've lost people. In the Silver Millennium my entire world was destroyed because I was weak. Against the Dark Kingdom in this time, the Shitennou died because I couldn't save them. My Senshi sacrificed themselves. I couldn't handle another death on my conscience."
"I would not have died by your hand."
"You were almost killed for me," Usagi said.
"It was my decision." He looked at her again. "Could you ever have loved me? If Endymion had not appeared, would you have been able to care for me?"
Another voice cut in before she answered. "Usako."
"Mamo-chan?" she asked, glancing at him. "What's wrong?"
He caressed her hair as she joined him. "Nothing. I just want to talk to him."
The petite teen frowned. "You're not going to fight, are you?"
"No, I just want to talk. Promise."
She nodded and rejoined the other girls. They were playing a game with Chibiusa, though Mina was still sitting in Kunzite's lap.
"There is little to discuss, Endymion," Diamond stated, not deigning to face the other prince. "It is already over."
"You hurt her."
"As have you on more than one occasion. You are in no position to judge me."
"I never tried to kill her."
"You did, actually. This time you almost succeeded."
Mamoru growled. "Because you sent those dreams. You who hurt her so badly."
"Do not be a fool. I did not force you to listen. You chose to push her away. I never thought you would do so, though I was willing to accept the benefits."
"You don't get it, do you?" he asked. "If you'd succeeded in tying her to you, she would've died. She can't survive that sort of darkness."
"She would have adapted in time. Her daughter did."
"Our daughter. Not yours."
"I know whose child she is," Diamond said, traces of anger threading through his otherwise flat tone.
"If you loved her like you say you do, you wouldn't have done that to her."
"You would not understand."
"Try," Mamoru ordered through gritted teeth.
His temper flared. "You cannot understand. You have never been forced to love her as she loves another. You have not been unseen while she dotes on a different man. I will admit to my mistakes. I will say freely I should not have acted as I did. It does not change the pain of loving her and knowing she will never feel the same."
"That's enough," Usagi interrupted. "Chibiusa needs to sleep. We should go home."
Diamond inclined his head, anger vanishing beneath a cool exterior. "With your permission, I will take my brother and the Ayakashi sisters back to our time. I do not think it is wise for us to linger."
"I don't know if Saphir is strong enough to travel yet."
"I have the power to ascertain his well-being."
"Do you need to use Chibiusa's Time Key?" she asked.
"No, thank you. I can open the way to the Door. Whether Pluto will allow us to pass is a separate issue, though I think she will obey your wishes."
"Will you be all right?"
"I believe so," he said. "Thank you for what you have done for my clan and I. Might I request to be taken to my brother?"
The prince quickly got to his feet. "Saphir!"
The younger man was leaning on Petz's shoulder, her sisters behind them. "You survived. I am so glad to see you."
Diamond hurried over, brushing strands of his brother's blue hair back, searching for injuries. "You are alive. Sailor Moon told me as much, but you are here. I apologize; I should have listened when you warned me about Wiseman. I am so sorry, Saphir."
Saphir shook his head. "He fooled everyone."
"I had Ami-chan call them once we were sure you'd be all right," Usagi told him with a tired smile. "I knew how much you'd want to see your little brother."
"Thank you," Diamond said.
"You should go. The clan is waiting." She held out their rings. "Esmeraude is too."
"Esmeraude?" the white prince repeated.
"She's in Crystal Palace."
He accepted his ring, shocked. "How? We saw her die."
The girl shook her head. "I pulled her back."
Saphir smiled. "You are a miracle to have rescued all of us."
Her face fell. "Not all. Rubeus… There was nothing I could do. I tried, but he was too far gone. Maybe if I'd been at full strength..."
"Rubeus chose his path before we met Wiseman," the younger prince consoled. "Do not take it to heart."
Usagi forced the dark thoughts away. "I know. You should go home. Rebuild your lives. I'm sure Neo Queen Serenity will let you return to Earth."
"All of us?" Koan asked.
"All of you," Rei agreed as everyone else joined them. The others nodded.
"You belong with Saphir," Usagi told Petz, "and your sisters belong with you. If he goes, you should too."
"I- I don't know what to say," the eldest sister stammered.
"Don't," Mamoru suggested. "Go. And be happy."
Diamond looked over the women. "I will not force you to return, nor will you be at risk of punishment for your actions. You are free to make your own decisions."
"Petz?" Saphir asked.
Her eyes closed for a moment before she looked up at him. "I'll go."
"If you go, we go too," Calaveras said. Their sisters nodded.
"So be it," the prince stated. He waved one hand. A portal appeared. "This path will lead us to the Time Door. After that we are at the mercy of its keeper. I cannot guarantee she will be merciful."
"Tell her it was my choice," Usagi said. "Pluto will understand."
One by one, the sisters stepped through. Saphir continued to lean against Petz as they walked into Time's domain. Diamond looked over the heroes. "I do not think we will meet again until you reach my time. May you live a long and happy life, Serenity. I cannot thank you enough for what you have given me." He turned to take his leave.
"Diamond! I never answered your question."
The white prince shook his head. "There is no need. It was wrong of me to ask."
"Yes." At his blank look, she pressed on. "To your question. It might've happened. I'm sorry you were hurt because it didn't."
A faint chuckle escaped him. "I- Good-bye, Serenity."
"Good-bye," she whispered. Tears fell, trailing down her cheeks. Mamoru brushed them away as the portal disappeared. "I'm sorry."
"Shh…" her mate soothed. "It's all right, Usako. He has a chance at a real life now. You shouldn't cry."
"His love won't die," Mina said. "It doesn't mean he'll only love you. He can make space in his heart for someone else."
"I could have loved him though," she said through her tears. "I'm sorry, Mamo-chan, but… if there hadn't been you… I could've loved him…"
"I understand," he assured her.
Chibiusa ran to her parents and they encircled her. Her little hand brushed Usagi's moist cheeks. "Don't cry!"
She laughed even as the tears continued. "Don't mind me; I'm just confused. I'm happy and sad all at once. You're going to leave now too, aren't you?"
"Not yet," Mamoru interrupted. "You can stay a little longer, right, Chibiusa?" He wrapped his arms around his two favorite girls. "There's still one thing left."
It was a beautiful night. The full moon seemed to be right overhead, so close they could touch it. Elysian, though in many ways a ruin of its former self, remained glorious at the temple. The Senshi played with Chibiusa as Mamoru and Kunzite spoke to Helios. Usagi was sitting on the steps watching.
"Are you ready?" Mamoru asked her.
Everyone was dressed up. Kunzite and Mamoru had donned tuxedos while each girl wore a gown. Mina had chosen a swirling lacy concoction of gold. Rei wore siren's red, sleek and daring. Makoto opted for a green column saved from plainness by a spray of lighter leaves at the edge of the skirt. Ami's gown was the ocean, the silk seeming to change shades with the light. Chibiusa was dressed in pink flowers. Usagi wore white- not a wedding gown, but similar. It was the promise of a bride. Her spaghetti strap dress fell to her knees and was unornamented, her hair loose except for two clips on either side.
Helios stood in the center of the field and gestured for the couple to join him. The others stood in a ring. "This is not a true ceremony," the priest said. "There are no special words, no rituals. This is a renewal of a promise and a request for forgiveness, a mending of that which is broken. This place is blessed by the sacred spirits. The moonlight touches everything. The Earth is strong."
Mamoru faced his mate. "I could apologize for so many things. For not trusting you with the truth. For not seeing your pain. It killed me to see that, Usako- to see you suffer because of me. So yes, I'm sorry, sorrier than I could say. I don't know if it's enough or if I deserve your forgiveness, but I can't be without you."
"You weren't entirely to blame," Usagi answered. "I kept secrets when I shouldn't have. I'm sorry. You have my forgiveness if you can accept my apology too."
"There's nothing to apologize for."
A single perfect beam of moonlight fell against them and in a swirl of power they were Serenity and Endymion.
"Your bond was first formed between your past selves, and it led your souls together again. In their guises it will be remade." Venus' power wasn't necessary. They could see the red cord linking the lovers, strong and healthy once again. Helios smiled. "Forged by love and tempered by hardship, yours is a tie that will not easily break. Go forth without fear, my friends, knowing it will not fail again."