~~~((~~(( From Wherever I Am...To You ))~~))~~~
A memoir of Chiba Mamoru, as re-told to Pandora Diane MacMillan
"Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose." -Farid ud-din Attar, 12th Century Persian poet.
Now I am going to relate something so personal that I am reluctant to talk about it, even now. This is something only Usako and I know, and no one else needs to. But I realize that people think badly of me for allowing myself to fall into Queen Beryl's power and be used as her tool. So if I don't tell you the truth, you will never understand how I allowed this to happen to me.
It took me a very long time-years-to recover these memories. All that time, my Usako kept the truth to herself, and I can't imagine how lonely that must have been for her. People just don't know how brave she has been, through all of this. I love her even more, just knowing that now.
Usako says she doesn't mind my revealing what really happened, because she says keeping things to myself out of concern for her privacy is misguided, that it is worse to let people go on thinking that I simply so weakly let myself be used by the Dark Kingdom. Only if you understand this clearly, will I go on. It is only because Usako has asked me to do this, that I am sharing this with you at all.
Kono yo no hoka no
Ima hitotabi no
Au koto mo gana
Lady Izumi Shikibu
Soon my life will close.
When I am beyond this world
And have forgotten it,
Let me remember only this:
One final meeting with you.
Juliet: What man art thou that, thus bescreened in night, So stumblest on my counsel?...
Romeo:With love's light wings did I o'er perch these walls;
For stony limits cannot hold love out,
And what love can do, that dares love attempt:
-Romeo And Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2, William Shakespeare
Long ago, in another life, I made this vow. I will fly to your side from wherever I am, whenever you need me. And as Tuxedo Kamen, I have kept this vow to you, Sailor Moon, my sweet Usako. Always the link between us drew me to your side. Though I did not know at first you were my Princess, the one I will love and protect all my life, still the power of the Silver Crystal, which brought us both here to this plane of existence, guided us both in time to the truth.
My strength is nearly gone now. So much blood lost. So little sleep, so many days, and they are starving me, poisoning my body slowly through the powers of the Dark Kingdom, seeking to suck away the last of my happy memories, all the things we shared together, until there is nothing left of me but hate and emptiness. I will not do this-I will not become Queen Beryl's puppet and betray you, endanger you, my sweet trusting Usako. I see what Beryl has done to my generals-rotted their hearts away to cold ruthlessness, these men who were once so dedicated to me as a Prince of the Earth. In my mind, I see the hurt in your soft blue eyes when I am changed to a monstrous plaything of Queen Beryl's-my face, but soulless. You will not believe it when my soul is lost forever-you will stand close to me, and I will take your life as easily as a child rips the wings from a butterfly.
I will not be the instrument of your destruction. Your eyes, your beautiful sky-blue eyes haunting me forever. Better I should die first. It will be so easy now...I am so weak. All I need to do is annoy Beryl just a little beyond measure. Say something to Kunzite, who hates and fears me already, that will encourage the sadistic impulses in him to notch up the powers of the Dark Crystal just a little more, so I will feel the agony of it. Yes, a little more pain, and I will die. I know it. And once I am dead, if I make sure they destroy my body too, they cannot use me, whether alive, or as one of the undead, to hurt you, my Usako. So tonight is my last night. Tomorrow morning, I let them take me. The last privilege of a prisoner with no hope of escape...an honourable death.
Better an honourable death, than to dishonour this body by hurting you, once they have gained complete control over me. And I cannot resist them much longer.
There is just one thing I want. One longing inside me. Not food or water. You. I want to be with you. Just one night. So many times, often without my conscious will, I have been brought to wherever you are, as Tuxedo Kamen. But now my body is weak, I cannot escape. But still my mind is strong, focussed. I can feel you somewhere out there. With my eyes shut, I can even feel you are thinking about me now.
In the past, the Kings of the Earth used the powers of psychometry, telepathy and other extra-sensory powers. The Earth's descendants in this generation have, for the most part, forgotten how to utilize this power, but in my family, still these powers of the mind are strong. My father once could link into the mind of others, if their thoughts were open to him. Perhaps I can still find the strength to use this power, this power I would never let myself use before, in this life. This is my last chance to find out.
Always, I have known when you needed me, my Usako. Now I need you, oh so desperately. To touch you, to see your eyes, hear your voice, just once more. A dream is all I can have with you now. My body will stay here, growing ever weaker by the hour. But a dream shared is still a beautiful thing. You were always my dream, my Princess Serenity. Let's have one last dream, together.
Usagi is sprawled out on her bed, dreaming...dreaming of what she always dreams about...that Tuxedo Kamen is kissing her. But this time, someone else will break into the dream...the person she is dreaming about. This time, as her thoughts reach out to him, he will answer. Everything that happens will seem real to both of them, while the mind-link holds...yet it will be only a dream. She will still be in her bed, alone. And he will still be an unconscious prisoner in the Dark Kingdom. But while their minds are linked, through Endymion's powers of telepathy, none of this will matter to either of them.
"Tuxedo Kamen..." Usagi whispered in the dark, a smile on her face, dreaming. Suddenly, a faint golden light lit the room, and something materialized briefly, above her. Then the light went out. But inside Usagi's mind, something had changed. The dream had ended, and now, she was in direct telepathic contact with Mamoru. Though her eyes were still closed, she was now fully conscious. And when the figure of Mamoru appeared kneeling, next to her bed, she sprang from the bed, almost tripping over her nightgown in her anxiousness to reach him. Dropping to her knees, too, she locked her arms around him tightly, and he responded by pulling her even more tightly into his embrace.
Leaning his cheek against hers, tears started falling freely down his face, but he could not speak. Instead, it was Usagi who was crying, shakily, "Oh God! Oh God! I thought I would never see you again! I thought you'd been destroyed by the Dark Kingdom. Otherwise, I know somehow, you would have come back to me." Suddenly, she felt one of his tears splash her cheek, and she read his silence correctly for what it was, his deep inner distress. Lifting her sky blue eyes to his, her voice became wobbly, uneasy. "How did you manage to escape, Mamo-chan?"
He gulped, and in a strained whisper, answered, "I didn't."
"Then how...? How ...?"
"How am I here? I'm not, not really. I've done something I never should have done. Used a power I swore long ago never, never to use. I didn't even remember I had it, until my memories of being Prince Endymion returned, just before I was captured. I know that you, even as Princess Serenity, know nothing about this. You were not to be told, until the day of our wedding. The wedding we never had."
Then his voice faltered, and stopped. He looked down at the ground, ashamed to meet her eyes. But still he held her in a vice-like grip, as if he could not bear to let her go. For a few moments, there was no sound, but the sound of their breathing. Usagi wisely decided to give him time to tell her whatever it was he needed to tell her, and was finding so hard to say.
"I don't know if you can ever forgive me, Usako, for doing what I have," he said at last, meeting her eyes with his own eyes dark with pain. "I can only tell you I was desperate-desperate! I am going to die, very soon...probably in a few hours. And I have missed you," and here his voice cracked, "so much!" And he faltered again.
"I only wanted...I only wanted to be with you, one last time. That's why I did this. So I could see you. But now I know...everything you are thinking about me, Usako. This is wrong. This is unfair. I know as much about your feelings for me as if we had been together for years, instead of just a short time. Your fantasies, your dreams, about me...I know them all now. And you didn't choose to tell me these things."
He clenched his fist, then let it fall limp at his side. "I knew, I knew this power of psychometry was...immoral! I told my father so, when he first taught me the more complex aspects of the art, when I reached adolescence. I learned the art, but I refused to use it. Those people of the Earth who, like me, have been trained in extra-sensory powers, they can use it for evil purposes. If fully trained, they can break into an enemy's mind, and know his greatest weakness. Or break into the mind of someone you would like to have power over...and manipulate them." And he shuddered.
"This is why your people, the people of the Moon Kingdom, shunned the people of the Earth. They, like I, thought the power of psychometry was immoral. And that is why they did not want you to marry me. When I came of age, I told my father I would not practice the arts of psychometry any longer, that I would go to the Moon Kingdom, where they do not use such evil powers. But you, Princess Serenity, like any young person, any child of the Moon Kingdom who was not of age, would not have been told of the powers of psychometry. To prevent their young from being tempted to learn the art, this knowledge is withheld from Moon Kingdom children until they are adults. At that point, it is much more difficult to learn psychometry-it is something that can only be mastered if you start young. In this way, your people protected you, and other young people, from the temptation." He sucked in a long breath, and continued.
"Your mother knew how I felt about this, though. When I asked for her blessing on our marriage, I also told her I would make a public statement, denouncing the practice of psychometry, and assuring your people I would have nothing further to do with my father, or with anyone on Earth."
"Queen Serenity? Queen Serenity knew you had this power? And she never told me?" Usagi looked stunned, trying to take everything he was telling her in.
"Yes. she knew. But do you know what she said to me? She said, 'Prince Endymion, I forbid you to publically dishonour your father by denouncing him in this fashion-I forbid you! It does not matter if you disagree with his teachings, or even that the people of the Moon Kingdom disagree with his teachings. You will not dishonour your parents, your heritage as a Prince of the Earth, by doing this! Do you understand me? I will not accept as my son-in-law, one who would dishonour his own parents. It is enough you have told me your feelings, in confidence.'"
"'And on your wedding day, you may also tell Princess Serenity your views on this-for her ears alone, since she will be an adult, once you are married. And never, never discuss this matter with anyone else! Have I made myself clear?' So, what could I do, Usako? I wanted to marry you, and I wanted Queen Serenity's blessing. If I married you without her blessing, then I would be dishonouring Queen Serenity-I didn't want to do that, either." And then he sighed, and looked at the ground again.
Everything he had said was starting to sink in, now. Usagi's eyes widened, and reddening, she pulled herself away from Mamoru. "Did you say you know...everything...everything..I've been thinking about you...everything?"
"Yes," he answered softly. "I know now, something I didn't know when my consciousness entered this room. I know you want me that much, that you would not refuse me...and I am going to die, very soon. This is not the way I would have chosen this to happen. I know how much you wanted our wedding day...I have seen all your dreams about that." And he sighed. "I wanted that very much too. But if I die now, that can never be. But can't you see?" he continued, his eyes looking into hers earnestly, "we are man and wife in the eyes of God. And we have been, for a long time. I was going to marry you, in the Moon Kingdom. So anything we do, it's all right, isn't it?" He sounded very much as if he was trying to convince himself of this.
But Usagi had curled up into almost a fetal position on her bed, biting her fingers in distress. "You have no right...you have no right, to use what you know about my secret thoughts, like this! How can I ever look you in the eyes if you know all my fantasies, my dreams?"
"Then I'll make things equal between us, Usako. You can know as much about me, as I do about you." And then, seizing her hand from her mouth, he placed her hand to his cheek, and shut his eyes. He was entering a deeper level of mind-meld by linking further with her virtual self in this way. Now Usagi would also know all his thoughts as well.
After a few seconds, he heard a cry of surprise, and pleasure, from Usagi. "No! Seriously, Mamo-chan! When you first saw me from the back, when I hit you with that test paper, were you really-" and here her voice squeaked, "attracted to me?"
He grinned back at her. "Yes! Wasn't I a jerk to call you names like that? But I couldn't think of any other way to make you turn around and look at me. But now that I know you MUCH better.." and here he stopped, and kissed her hand, and every finger, one by one.
Oh God, she thought, he knows how much I like that, that I want him to kiss my fingers. And he also knows exactly what I'd like him to do next. Because now, he knows everything about me. She felt a strange mixture of embarrassment, and excitement. But with an effort of willpower, she withdrew her hand from his grasp, and placed it on his forehead this time.
She looked at him a little mischievously. "Fair's fair,Mamo-chan! I don't know everything about YOU yet!"
"Sorry," he grinned. "You're right. But you do distract me, Usako. Hey, I promise I'll sit on my hands, if you want!"
She directed a look at him from under her lashes. "You know very well what I want! But keep still. I'm enjoying finding out what you were thinking, all this time."
After a few more seconds, she snatched her hand back, as if it had just touched a burning stove. "Whaaaa...! You had two of Yumeni-san's paintings, all that time? You already knew who she was, that day I saw you with her on the street, that day I teased you about two-timing Rei? All that time, you had-pictures of me? And you hid them in your closet? You knew that all the time you were sitting next to me? No wonder you were in such a bad mood! You thought I looked like all those paintings-and you didn't want to believe it!"
A mixture of emotions played across her face as the complete memory of Mamoru's turmoil of emotions at the time transmitted itself to her. First, amusement, then wonder, shaking her head at him. And then, finally, deep embarrassment, as she received all the thoughts he had had about those paintings he had kept hidden so long.
"Well-!" she finally gasped. "My dreams are nothing, nothing-to yours!" And then she was laughing, helplessly, sitting on the bed, hugging her knees, rocking with laughter. But Mamoru's temporary discomfiture did not last long.
He rose to his feet, his eyes darkening with the intensity of his emotion. "I'm not ashamed...of any of my thoughts about you. And I never will be."
Then he took a step towards her, deliberately. And placing a hand on her shoulder, he slowly slid the nightgown until one shoulder was bared. Then he bent, and kissed her neck, her bare shoulder. Usagi shivered in delight as she felt herself lost, lost in deep blue eyes like fathomless oceans that looked into hers, sure of her reaction, sure he had pleased her. And then he leaned back, holding her shoulders, savouring his possession of her.
For a long moment, he stood looking at her like that. I know you won't stop me, his eyes said. So now... And then something else appeared in his eyes. Something like physical pain. He released her shoulders, slowly. And stepped back from her, dropping his hands from her side. He brought his hands straight up in front of him, looking with horror at his shaking hands, as if they were demons.
Looking down at his hands, he said in a strangled voice, "I can't do this...I can't do this...this is wrong. This whole thing was wrong. I've betrayed you already, Usako. I have violated something precious to you, your private thoughts, which I have no right to know."
He looked up from his hands to her small, round face, which was no longer laughing. "I will break the mind-link between us, now, Usako. I am sorry that this is the way I treated you, at our last meeting."
"No!" she cried in anguish. And grabbing each of his hands, she kissed the palms, once, twice, three times, burying them against her cheek, her tears slowly falling. "You are not evil, Mamo-chan! You did all this because you just wanted to be with me. How can that be wrong? I will not believe, cannot believe that this power is evil! Not if you are the one using it." So saying, she placed each of his hands firmly on her shoulders again.
Meeting his eyes, she said softly, "You have seen my dreams now, Mamo-chan. So you know how long I have wanted this too. I'm not going to be ashamed of my thoughts now, either."
Then, lowering her voice to a whisper, she looked at him with a gaze as clear and blue as a summer lake. "Are you sure there's no other way, but for you to die? I'll come there, you know. I'll get to Queen Beryl, and I'll find you, if you can just hang on a little longer. You always told me that as Sailor Moon, I must believe in myself, in my abilities, that then I cannot fail. Sometimes I am still so scared, but there is nothing I will not do, nothing I will not try, if it means having you back here with me. Not like this, not like dreamers not yet awake. I want you really here in my arms, and safe."
She smiled at him then, a little shyly, and continued, "Whatever I am, whatever I've achieved as Sailor Moon, it's you who always gave me the courage to find my way. A year ago I was all alone, afraid, I didn't even like myself very much, thought my life would never come to anything. Now I can't imagine my life without you by my side, guiding me every step of the way."
As she spoke, Mamoru thought of his own solitary life before there was a Sailor Moon, before there was a Tsukino Usagi in it. He remembered the many times that the link between them caused him to drop whatever he was doing and transform to Tuxedo Kamen, not even understanding what was going on, until he found himself looking again at her. And then again the thought would come, like a lightning flash, "That's why I'm here now. Because she needs me."
And he realized, my life has never been my own, since I've met her. And I don't regret that, not a moment of it. I'd do it all again. I can't imagine my life now without you, either.
Usagi finished with a gulp, clutching him earnestly. "Please, please Mamo-chan, give me that chance to help you now, as you've always helped me."
He shook his head, slowly, sadly. "No, Usako. My strength, my willpower are almost gone. And I will never let-that woman," and here he gave a shudder of disgust, "touch me, dead or alive. I will never bow my knee to her, like all those fawning lackeys of hers, if there is anything of me left. I have to make them kill me...it's the only way. You and the other Senshi, you will never get there in time. I just can't hang on any more. It's just too late for me. It's too late for us. I'm so, so sorry. Always, I fail you. Always, I'm just not strong enough."
At this, she burst into tears, and pulling him to her, cradled his head against her chest, sobbing. After a few moments, he looked up into her eyes, and his eyes were wet too. "Let me at least do this for us. Let me die, free and yours, always. Don't let me become a mindless evil thing, a marionette controlled by Queen Beryl."
"I cannot believe there is not another way, Mamo-chan. Yet my heart tells me everything you have said and done, since you somehow reached me here, that you are right. I am yours, Chiba Mamoru. I don't need a wedding day to prove that. And it would not be fitting, in my first act as your wife, to doubt your judgement. You believe there is no other way out, that death is the only way for you. So I must accept that."
She took a deep breath. "I promise you this...your last hours with me, I will..." and suddenly, for the first time in her life, Usagi was at a loss for words. Finally, tears streaming down her face, she just grabbed his hand fiercely and held it to her heart.
He gathered her gently into his arms. And tracing a finger down her cheek, smoothing away the last traces of her tears, he whispered, "You are so beautiful, my Usako. Inside and out."
The words, "I love you" had still not been spoken, by either of them. And did not need to be.
Sone no Yoshitada
Yura no to o
Kaji o tae
Yukue mo shiranu
Koi no michi kana
Like a mariner
Sailing over Yura's strait
With his rudder gone:
Where, over the deep of love,
The end lies, I do not know.
I cannot remember a single moment in my life that I've ever been this happy. She is asleep now, snuggled tight in my arms, and oddly it feels as if things have always been this way. Yet this cannot be, or why would I be trying to remember and treasure every sensation I feel, right down to the smallest one, like the way her long golden hair feels to my touch, all loose flowing silk cascading over me as she lies with her cheek against my chest. Idly, I wonder how long it must take her to brush it and put it in those odangos of hers every morning, and how I wish I could sit and watch her. Just lie there and watch, and somehow feel smug that I have seen and touched her hair when she lets it loose at night.
And so many other things I will remember about her. All my life. Suddenly, I realize that that life, my life, will soon be coming to a close. A painful end, in which Queen Beryl will believe she has won again. Until she realizes that by destroying me, body and soul, she has lost her potentially most formidable weapon against Sailor Moon. For I know my Usako will always see me as the one she loves, and never as an enemy. But I will die, before Beryl realizes her mistake. It may be that I will have to get Kunzite to kill me, because Beryl, I know, is attracted to me, and has always been jealous of Princess Serenity.
So I may have to say something to anger Kunzite when Beryl is not present. Or, is there anything I could say, that would make her hate me enough to want to destroy me utterly, so she cannot even use my lifeless body to her purposes? Yes, there is, I suddenly realize. I could tell her what happened tonight, despite the fact that she still holds me prisoner. I know Beryl's character well enough to know that hearing exactly what happened would fire her jealousy to total, uncontrollable rage. She would know there could be no hope then, that I would ever come to love her willingly.
But am I willing to share that with her, to achieve my ends? No, never. I pull Usako's sleeping form a little tighter to me. I will never tell anyone. But the memories of the hours I held her in my arms, no one can take away that from me, not ever. They will remain, buried somewhere deep inside my soul, till the last flickering light of life in me disappears. And now I have loved her, totally, the way I always dreamed about, death does not frighten me so much, no matter how painful. I will hang to the memories of the feel of her skin against mine, the look of utter joy in her beautiful blue eyes.
I look down at her again. She looks so content, a smile on her sleeping face, her long, long hair going in every direction, silken strands sliding over me like tiny caresses, I guess I'm covered in it, and I like the feel of that. The dawn is just starting to come up now, and it's starting gold glints where it touches her hair. I can't resist the temptation to stroke her hair, just one more time, if I can do it without awakening her. She looks so peaceful, so trusting and I like seeing her that way.
At that thought, a piercing pain seizes my heart. Soon, so soon, I will be gone from her side, and then what will that do to her inside? She will know we will never be together again, and I know no matter what I tell her, that I won't suffer that much, she has a vivid imagination and she will imagine me suffering at the moment of death, and she will dwell on that.
I told her several times during these hours that it will only be a few moments of pain, since I am so weak, that I will die quickly. But no matter what I say, she cries. And once I am gone, she won't be able to stop these thoughts. I am afraid for her. Afraid that she will grieve so hard for me, that she won't be able to defeat Beryl, not even with the help of all the other Senshi.
Oh my Usako, what have I done to you? I have been so selfish. This power of psychometry is evil, after all. It taught me exactly what to do to please you, and that was something I wanted to do. I deluded myself that it was right for me to use this knowledge, that if tonight was all we had, that I wanted your memories of these hours to be as happy as I could possibly make them. But was that a good, a wise thing to do? When I leave you now, what will you feel? Where before you would have felt sadness at losing me, how much more devastating will this separation be now? I have done it again. I've probably just ripped your heart to shreds.
It's a terrible thing I have done. Left you with a memory of being together that never really happened at all, except in a very vivid dream, that I shared with you. When you wake, you may even doubt my consciousness was here with you at all. You may believe that you dreamed the whole thing yourself, and what will that do to you, when you cannot even trust whether what you remember is real or not?
And you are the only one who knows I have this power. Even if you decide to tell your closest friends even a part of what has happened between us, they may believe your feelings for me have made you imagine this whole thing.
So perhaps it is true that power corrupts, that it has corrupted me. I had the power to be with you, to possess you, at least in my mind. And I wanted to be with you so badly that it blinded me to everything else. I told you there were no consequences to what happened between us, that it was only a dream. But I was deluding myself, and you. Because when I leave you, your emotions will crash into depression every bit as hard as if I had really been here with you and then left you. Worse, in fact, because you will doubt yourself, will wonder if this ever happened at all.
I know what my mission has always been, in this life. To love you and protect you. To help you reach your full powers as Sailor Moon. But this time, I must have been thinking only of my own gratification, while I kept telling myself I was making you happy. Because now, I know, whatever happiness we shared may, instead of strengthening you for the battle ahead, in fact weaken you with devastating grief. I don't know for sure. I only know there's nothing I can do about that now.
And I don't even want to do anything. My body is telling me it's never been so relaxed, never so warm, never so...it just defeats description. All I can think of, is making this last just a little longer. Tonight there were no nightmares for me. Instead, the dreamer took control of his dreams, and then snatched the dreams of his love, and made her dreams his own. But there is no going back now, once this power has fully awakened in me. If I have sinned, well, my life will soon be over, and I will answer for what I have done.
But what of her? What of my Usako? How can I mend what I have done to her? How can I help her focus on the happy memories, instead of her regrets that I can never come back again?
Is it better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all? How can I judge? I won't be there to try to carry on, as she must. She still must somehow use the Silver Crystal to defeat Queen Beryl, and I won't be there to help her. Can I send her my thoughts, my encouragement, from the world beyond? I don't know. I only know, with a sinking heart at my weakness, that all I want to do is feel one more time, the way I felt this night.
Yes. I will experience it, just once more. I will wake her and I will show her just one more time, without words, everything that is in my heart for her.
Like a thief, I broke into my Usako's mind and spread all her treasures, her dreams, before me, greedy to know her beyond intimacy. To know the words she wanted to hear from me, the ways she wanted to be touched. Then, while our minds were linked, I let her experience them, all in a rush, euphoria almost to the edge of pain, and along with my own sensations, all her reactions to me flooded back into my mind; she could conceal nothing from me. The sensory overload I experienced from feeling our combined emotions was incredible, indescribable, shattering in its intensity.
Now I knew why they said once you had experienced the full powers of psychometry, then, like an addict, you would seek the rush again and again. So now I understood, as I never really had before, why the people of the Moon Kingdom considered these powers an irresistible temptation. Still I would never would have broken my vows and used my powers for the first time, except for one thing. The knowledge that I would never have the chance to love her again.
And, selfishly, now I don't want her to forget me. I will make very sure of that. I want to burn my memory into her mind, so she will never even look or think of another man. I can't bear to share her with anyone, not even her thoughts. Especially, her thoughts. Yes, I am very selfish, and very jealous. And I can't do a thing about it.
She is stirring in my arms now, looking at me with a drowsy smile. Feverishly, I taste her sweet lips, her flushed cheeks, her throat, and I can feel my heart pounding against hers. Mine forever. You will be...mine forever. I clamp down on my guilt, my regrets, with an effort of control. It is so easy to forget all that, I could just drown in her eyes, two bright stars, glowing for me alone.
I rationalize that there is no turning back, anyway; it was all over for me when I broke into her dream and I felt her throw her arms around my neck-and I knew with a sweet sureness in my heart that I was home, at last. The only real home I've ever known, has been in her arms. Yes, the damage is done, now. So I may as well enjoy whatever moments are left to me. To both of us.
"Prince Endymion does not seem to be responding, my Queen, " Kunzite reported. "He is not conscious, yet it seems that he has somehow erected inner barriers to lock out our influence. I do not understand it. The constant pain being transmitted to him by the powers of the dark crystal, coupled with weeks of deprivation of sleep and nourishment, should have broken him by now, as it has with all the others. But you would not know it to look at him. He appears as if he were in a peaceful sleep, and dreaming."
"Dreaming?" Queen Beryl's voice rose to a indignant squeak. "This is not possible!" And in a rage, she went to see for herself.
There in the crystal, lay the prince, strapped to a series of tubes going into his body. He was now wearing his black armour, as he had in the days of the Moon Kingdom. Even in sleep, his magnetism was powerful, and Queen Beryl was hardly immune. Her life had been misery, ever since the day she realized he had fallen in love with Princess Serenity, and that she had no hope to win him. It was hard for her to look at him, for he reminded her of her own weakness. Her weakness that she had ever allowed him to stir her blood, as no other man had.
She saw he was smiling in his sleep. It looked as though the dream, if dream it was, was a very pleasant one. She thought she saw his lips begin to move, and leaned in close to catch the whisper. It was one word, "Usako." Fortunately, this was a name Queen Beryl did not yet connect with Princess Serenity. But soon enough, she would know. She would know whose name it was that Prince Endymion whispered in his sleep.
She woke then, feeling his arms very warm around her, his voice whispering to her that he loved love her, and that he would never, never let her go. She had woken a few times during the night, afraid he had gone while she was sleeping, and always, without her even moving or opening her eyes, it seemed he was aware of her, and she would hear his voice in her ear, feel his arms again, that wonderful sensation again of knowing beyond all doubt that he loved her. How can he do that? She thought wonderingly. How can he know when I'm conscious? Didn't he sleep at all then?
Still feeling his touch, she expected to see him lying next to her. Yet he was not there. He was standing at the window, with his back to her, watching the dawn come up. The sunlight was just touching the top of his thick dark hair with golden glints, and it seemed to surround him like an aureole.
"Mamo-chan!" she called out, startled. "How are you...how are you doing that? I can feel you holding me-and you're standing at the window!" He turned to look at her slowly, his glance so warm at her, it was as if he had kissed her, ever so gently, just with a look. He was different, somehow, as if an energy was emanating from him that she had never experienced before.
"I don't really understand it myself," he answered. "It's as if every hour, I'm learning more and more things I can do with this psychometry. I felt you get scared in the middle of the night. And I didn't like it-I didn't want you to worry about anything. At least, not while I can still do something about that. So I sent a thought to you-sort of an automatic thing-that if you'd wake up, and be wondering where I was, or you were afraid, I would hold you. I found I could now still watch over you and be with you, and yet be doing something else at the same time. I could even be sleeping, and yet with another part of my mind, be aware of you."
"I can't do anything about what happens tomorrow. But as long as I'm here, I'm going to be here for you every moment...because I can be. I've never been very good with words, to tell you how I feel. So at least, in this way, I can let you know, without words, exactly how much you mean to me...Usako."
He took both her hands in his. "I guess you know, I can't stay here much longer."
Usagi looked away from him, down at the floor, struggling not to start crying again.
"Please, please, look at me," he said softly. "I want to see your eyes when I tell you this. Usako, you're the best thing that ever happened to me, in my life. And you made me happier tonight than you can ever imagine. I'm ready now, to do what I have to do." She started to tremble uncontrollably at his words.
Ocean-blue eyes looked deeply into hers. "Usako, you're my wife now-in all the ways that matter. Right here," and he placed her hand over his heart."So you have the final say in this. I want you to be proud of me. I want to die with honour. You wouldn't want me to live with dishonour, under the control of the Dark Kingdom, would you? So be brave, my Usako, say you'll let me go now, with your blessing."
Tears trickled slowly down her cheeks. "Don't make me say that, Mamo-chan."
"Please." He was insistent.
"Yes. Do what you must do. Will you promise to remember me, and how much I love you, at the end?"
"Until the end. Yes. Always."
"Then my blessing, and all my love, go with you."
One last time, he kissed her, with yearning, with desire, with regret. And then, like a flash, he was gone.
The mind contact between them broke then. And from feeling so warm, safe, loved, Usagi felt her psyche slam straight into a wall of pain and despair, every nerve ending feeling raw, as if in protest at his absence. She curled up into a little ball of misery on her bed and moaned, wondering if this was what hell must be like. In the morning, she was worse; feverish, disoriented, and her mother phoned the school to say Usagi was sick and would be absent. A week later, she was still staring into space, unable to do more than "Yes" or "No" in response to her friends' questions.
"I've never seen her like this, ever," Ami said to the others, out of Usagi's hearing. "I know how much she misses and worries over Mamoru-san, but this reaction really worries me. I can't even bring up his name without her sobbing uncontrollably."
"Come on, Usagi, talk to us! You can talk can't you?" Rei was insistent. But Usagi just rolled over, buried her face in her pillow, and muttered, "Please, please go away. I know you don't understand, but there's nothing anyone can do. So, please leave me alone."
Minako, not knowing quite what to do, but wanting to help, asked if Usagi-chan would like a hot cup of tea or some cookies, or could she plump up the pillows for her? Usagi smiled for the first time. She had thought she could never smile again.
"Are you going to play nurse to me, Mina-chan? It's sweet of you, but it's really not necessary. Besides, I think all I really need is some sleep." And from the deep hollows under her eyes, there was no doubt Usagi looked badly in need of sleep.
"OK, that's it!" Rei said in a tone to be obeyed. "Let's go-let Usagi sleep a couple of hours, if she can."
"You know what she reminds me of?" Makoto remarked. "She reminds me of *me* when my old boyfriend dumped me."
There were immediately several squeaks of protest. "Mako-chan, the relationship between Usagi and Mamoru is not, and never was, like yours with your old boyfriend! What they have goes way beyond that!" Rei cried indignantly.
"How would you know?" Makoto answered. There were groans all around
"Come on, Mako-chan, why don't we go over to the temple to talk this out, and maybe, togther, we can figure out a way to pull Usagi-chan out of her rut!"
Rei looked a little sadly at her friend as she closed her bedroom door. She looks as if someone ripped out her heart, and I wish she would at least talk about her feelings. She's closed herself off, ever since I told her off about failing the math exam. She's still been friendly, and up until this happened, on the surface, cheerful, but I know something has changed; she won't confide in me about her feelings any more.
She's gotta snap out of it; and I'll be rough with her, if I have to be. I don't know what's happening to Mamoru in the Dark Kingdom, but I know it can't be anything good. I know he doesn't love me, I only have to see the way he looked at her when they were together, just before he passed out. But I can't forget, he was a good friend to me. And I won't let him down. And I won't let her down either. Even if I have to drag her kicking and screaming into acting like a Sailor Soldier-one day, she'll thank me for it.
The white figure moved silently through Queen Beryl's throne room. Where anyone else would have been challenged, and dealt with expeditiously, by Beryl's ever-vigilant guards, this figure moved with impunity. She was no longer of this world. She passed through walls, energy barriers, as easily as a knife through soft butter, and only seen when she chose herself to be seen.
In the twilight plane between life and death, she moved swiftly, intent on her own mission. To watch over all those who carried parts of her life essence. Right now, the one called in this lifetime, the Earth Protector, Chiba Mamoru, was in real need of protection himself. He was weak, he was confused, he had fully awakened to his love for her daughter, but not to his full powers as yet. And this, she knew, was a situation fraught with dangers for both of them. And he had been left alone to learn his mission far too long, she realized. He was making some poor decisions.
"Did I do right," she asked herself, "when I decided he must learn self-reliance and inner strength by being orphaned, left loveless and unwanted? These things he has learned well, but starved for so long of real love, how much sweeter the taste of finding it at last must be for him. No wonder he endangers both of them, and their mission, to experience it fully, now he believes all hope is gone. So, I understand him. But I cannot forgive him. At least, I cannot reveal that I do understand."
"He is in despair now, even while he remembers the joy of being with my daughter. And I have to break him out of that emotion, and quickly. He still has a strong sense of responsibility, of duty. And his anger, his sense of injustice, steels his will. And still, he has pride. Pride enough to destroy himself, rather than fail Princess Serenity once more. I must re-awaken all those catalysts in him. He knows he has done wrong, this time. Broken his vows to me, and to her. And he must answer for it. Not to her, because she will forgive him anything. No, he must answer to me. It is time to appear to him, to make my presence known to his conscious mind."
"He will resist me with all the powers of psychometry he has learned, though he is not yet an adept. He will resist me, so that he can carry out his intention to die honourably, now that he has taken his last leave of my daughter. But this must not be. This must not be, for him or for her."
"The euphoric emotions she has stirred in him have given him his second wind. Though he thought he would die this morning, in fact, he has now, through his contact with her, drawn enough strength to hold out several weeks more, both against the Dark Kingdom, and against me. He senses I am trying to make contact, and is deliberately shutting me out. But he will weaken again, in time. And then I must move in quickly, before he carries out his intention, and before Queen Beryl knows he has reached the point of vulnerability."
"But on this plane of existence, I have all the time in the world, and nothing else to occupy my attention. So I can wait out the resistance of Prince Endymion, until he lets down his guard, just enough...at the moment before deep sleep. Then I must re-assert my authority with him very firmly. He will not play these games again with me."
A grim smile touched the bloodless lips, sparks flew from eyes still bluer than the heavens. In this twilight realm between life and death, she was absolute Queen, in a way she had never been in the Moon Kingdom. She held the threads of existence of all the reincarnated Senshi, in her spectral hands-even the existence of two small felines, her chosen Earth guardians. And as one thread pulled, then another, she was drawn to where she was most needed. For now, these feline guardians would train the Moon Princess, and the other leader, Princess of Venus. But in time, they would offer their guidance to all the Senshi. Yes, some, like Chiba Mamoru, must of necessity, train alone. The two young leaders must have mentors.
The Queen was generally pleased with the decisions she had made for each of them. But obviously, she had overlooked one thing. She had not foreseen the dangers in Chiba Mamoru's loneliness. So now, she must remedy this. Before it was too late.
I have been avoiding her for weeks now. But I know, I cannot avoid her forever. With the powers of my mind, I can shut her out. But not when sleep begins to overtake me, and I lose my focus. Then Queen Serenity's spirit will find me, and I must confront her at last with what I have done. I feel a touch, like a cold flash of lightning on my shoulder. She has established contact.
The white spectral figure stood before him, shaking with rage, her translucent eyes still like blue fire. "Is this the way you keep your vows, Endymion?" she hissed. "Are those promises you made to me, never to use the powers of psychometry, and always to protect my daughter, to put her welfare before your own, are they dust now, to you? Are your promises just dust now, as I am dust? And do you think this dust will not rise up, and choke you?"
"I love her, " Mamoru spoke in a small, broken voice. "I need her. Can't you understand that?"
"And this is the way you show you love my daughter, Endymion? What a cruel lover you are. Do you realize what you have just done to her, with those powers you swore to me never to use? Now you will die, and she will mourn you all her life. She is still young, with all those years ahead of her and this is the legacy you have left on her soul. Now she will be unable to truly love or desire any other man. You made sure of that, didn't you? And what you have done, I cannot undo. Nothing can undo it. She was already in love with you when you took her soul to the point beyond where she can ever feel the same for any other man, regardless of how worthy he may be. So her fate is sealed. Princess Serenity will live in loneliness, the rest of her life. And that was not to be her destiny. Nor was it yours!"
"I thought you were intelligent, that you would never allow your feelings to cloud your judgment, Endymion. If as Tuxedo Kamen, you had allowed your emotions to be released, uncontrolled,you would have been killed long ago by the Dark Kingdom, and never have lived to hurt my daughter in this way. I wish you had been killed! How could you do this to her?"
"There is nothing I can say to you, Queen Serenity. Only that my own heart has punished me for my selfish desire to claim her heart, and that every waking moment, your daughter's face rises before me, and I see her tears and feel her despair, piercing through me sharper than a knife. I was thinking that when I die, I can take nothing with me. But I wanted desperately to take my Usako's heart with me. I did not have the courage to end my life, knowing she might someday forget me in the arms of another. For this, I am sorry. Usako has come to mean too much to me, maybe because I lost her once before, in the Moon Kingdom. And I will not lose her again, even if I am parted from her by death."
"So, say of me what you will, that I am a fool, that I have been cruel to her. It is all true. But you cannot say, even you cannot reproach me, that I don't love her. If somehow, I could remain alive, then I will make it up to her someday. There will never be anyone else for me. And you know that better than anyone else. You know I have kept faith with your daughter."
Queen Serenity looked at him sadly. "You disappoint me, Endymion. That you could let your own selfish desires make you forget your mission, which is an important one, even if you do not understand it, I cannot forgive. But I have eternity to try to forgive you. Eternity, I do have. But eternity is NOT your destiny. Not yet."
"What are you saying?" Mamoru cried.
"You are not going to die now, Endymion, That choice, also, has been taken away from you. There are things I can teach you, about burying your thoughts, your essence, within your subconscious, that I can teach you now. This will protect you against absolute control by the Dark Kingdom. Although you will seem to be under Beryl's complete control, and she will find no evidence that any of your memories remain, in fact, they will still be deeply buried within a corner of your subconscious mind. Unfortunately, you cannot yourself control how or when all of your memories can eventually be released, or how long it will take for all of them to surface. For that, you will need outside help. My daughter will help you, in time."
"You do have her heart in your keeping, and you will always have that, even if you can't for a long time, remember that yourself-she will remember. Even I, with all my knowledge, cannot make her forget you now."
Mamoru's eyes widened. "Are you telling me that you know psychometry also?"
Queen Serenity looked at him contemptuously. "Of course. But that is something that no one knows, except you now. If the people of the Moon Kingdom knew I had learned this, in secret, I would have been ostracized. But unlike you, I have never used that power for selfish aims. You CAN use it for good, Endymion. But you must choose to use your mind powers only for good. Now I am going to finish the job your father started. You will listen to me, and you will do exactly what I say. And from now on, you will not betray your commitment to my daughter-not even because you love her. You will guide her and support her to her destiny as Sailor Moon, and in time, as the next Queen."
"The next Queen?" Mamoru echoed, in confusion.
"That's enough!" Queen Serenity snapped. "No more questions! Before I do anything else, I will wipe this discussion we have had from your mind! One day, when you have reached that point in your life, the memories of this day will resurface. And then you will remember your pledge to me this day, that if I find a way for you to live, and to fully use your powers of psychometry, that you will honour my gifts by always remembering that my daughter's welfare must come first. And the last techniques of the art I teach you today, will help you realize full mind control. This time, use it wisely."
Then, bending over him, she placed both her hands on Mamoru's forehead. He cried out in pain, then with a shudder, subsided into unconsciousness. The spectral figure continued to lean over him, her hands on his forehead, and the force coming from her hands was like a white beacon of light, brighter than full moonlight.