The Moon Child Made Cold:
The words washed over her violently, like an ice storm. She flinched, but they wouldn't stop. He wouldn't stop.
"I never loved you. I loved the idea of you, of us. A love so eternal it spanned a millennium. But you're not Serenity. And I can't keep living this lie." Darien spat the words out, trying to inject enough venom in them to convince her, to finally make her see he was no good for her. The dream haunted him. Always, it lingered in his mind, no matter how far from sleep, how often he avoided it, just to avoid dreaming. The truth was that he did love her. That Serena, not Serenity was the reason his heart beat. But he had to get away from her, had to rip his heart from his chest, so she wouldn't be ripped from this world. The world who deserved her so much more than he did. "Why can't you get it through your thick skull? I don't love you!"
She turned, a half step, as if to avoid those last few words, as if that would stop them from hurting any less. She remained quiet. Her heart was in her throat, beating too hard and too fast for her to force words around it. She tried to make herself as small as possible. Play dead, and the predator will leave you alone. Hadn't she read that somewhere? Why did he keep going? Why was he saying these horrible things? She looked everywhere but him. At the dirty alley he'd pulled her into when she "ran" into him at the Arcade. At the building wall, covered in graffiti. At her feet, scuffing the cement. Anywhere but at the man doing his level best to shatter her heart and destroy her soul.
"Meatball head, are you even listening to me? Are you even on the same planet?" His sarcasm burned her flesh, too much heat where there had previously only been ice. "Listen to me; I don't want to say this again. We. Are. Over. I don't want you coming to my apartment, I don't want to see you at the Arcade, and I don't want you. Am I making this clear? I want you out of my life completely!" He finished this last sentence with a slash of his arm, emphasizing the finality of his statement. It was over.
Something in her chest snapped suddenly, breaking off in a painful rush and disintegrating. She jerked in surprise at the strong physical feeling. She clutched her chest, gasping at the searing pain of it. Her breathing was harsh; tears clogged in her eyes, rushed to the surface, but did not fall. It felt like someone was reaching into her very soul, and taking all that was good, all that mattered and tearing it out, piece by piece, until nothing remained of Serena.
When she recovered from what was the mind numbing destruction of her precious heart, she discovered she felt nothing. She was Serena, and she felt nothing. She was Sailor Moon, champion of justice, and she cared for nothing. She was Serenity, and she loved nothing.
She stared at Darien, who was still talking, occasionally gesturing harshly and pacing back and forth. But where she usually felt a swell of overwhelming love, she felt no emotion what so ever. Not anger, not hurt, not devastation. Nothing. She was blank.
Finally, she simply turned and walked away.
Darien had been so busy making sure she hated him that he missed the physical moment of her heart break. He did however notice when she silently turned and walked slowly away from him. He stopped talking, and watched her exit the alley, cross the street and disappear into Downtown Tokyo. He watched the street where she disappeared for another ten minutes before he finally dragged his tired body to his motorcycle and drove back to his cold, empty apartment.
Serena became like a machine. She ate, slept and went to school like normal, but she never felt anything. She no longer pigged out on food, it gave her no joy. She ate enough to keep her sustained, but not more. Her weight dropped alarmingly. She no longer played video games or read gossip magazines or comic books. She studied, did her homework, and attended Sailor Scout meetings. But nothing touched her, nothing reached her emotionally. She fought monsters, stopped bystanders from being drained of their energy. She sometimes wondered when a villain would come up with a new game plan that didn't involve the life force of innocents, but beyond that, nothing affected her. She never laughed, rarely smiled, and faced each day as if it were a routine, rather than a joy.
Eventually, and it took them longer to notice than they liked to admit, her Inner Scouts noticed. There was no innate joy in their leaders face. She didn't respond to Ray's teasing, or Mina's outrageously blonde comments. Lita couldn't tempt her with her fabulous baking, and even shy Amy couldn't solicit a response from their usually exuberant Serena. Something was seriously wrong with their Princess.
Nothing they did helped. They tried slumber parties, girl's days out on the town, one on one time, spontaneous trips to spas, small villages, even the mountains. They did everything possible to try and bring Serena out of the funk she was in. To fix what was broken.
They failed to realize that Serena wasn't broken. Something fundamental to her was gone. Just gone. It wasn't a matter of fixing her, there was nothing to fix. Her heart, her love of life and Earth and every living thing on it was gone. The opposite of love isn't hate. It's indifference. And Serena was indifferent to life.
The trip to the future clarified things for Darien. His love wasn't dangerous, he was being tested. And he had failed miserably. He had some serious grovelling to do. Serena hadn't so much as glanced his way the entire time they'd been in Neo-Tokyo. Even her capture by Diamond hadn't broken through her frosty countenance. But he could get to her; he'd always been able to. Serena had a soft heart, and forgave most any slight. Even Darien's numerous ones. He'd make it up to her. An apology, an explanation, a nice date, some attention in public places, some flowers, some moonlit romance and she'd take him back.
He never realized how short sighted and flawed his plan was. He counted on Serena's generous heart, based his entire plan on it. And it no longer existed.
He found no time in the coming days to woo his lady love back into his life. They were too busy fending off Diamonds monsters, saving Rini, and trying to stop the Dark Moons plans for world domination. The Sailor Scouts were being run ragged.
And then the final battle happened. Diamond was betrayed, the scouts were defeated. Only Sailor Moon stood against the Doom Phantom. Her energy levels were dangerously low, she'd used too much in saving Diamonds soul. She could do that much for the banished prince of her own bloodline. She could sense the moon power that resided in Diamonds dark soul, simply waiting for its time to shine. He was a son of the moon, maybe not the same moon as Serenity, but like called to like. She couldn't let him die with hated staining his soul. The Crystal demanded it from her.
She staggered under the power of the Moon Crystal even now. She was locked in battle with the Doom Phantom. Her power clashed with his, a bright white light meeting a staggering black cloud of power. Menace and hatred radiated towards her. She radiated nothing back. Her heart was blank, her body numb. And the Crystal reflected this. Usually is pulsed with her love for those who lay fallen at her back, and for those who inhabited the planet she protected. But the Crystal hummed silently, no trace of love or empathy within its cold shell.
Still, moon power poured from it, powered by Sailor Moon's own life force. And as a child of the moon, as a child of such immense power, that life force was strong.
She faltered, a moment, and a spear of dark energy slapped through her barrier, slamming into her chest and knocking her back into a dark crystal spire. Her body smashed into the ground below.
She staggered to her feet, slowly bringing the crystal up before her once again.
"Why do you fight, mortal, when in the presence of one such as myself! You know you cannot win. I am the Doom Phantom. I am powerful beyond measure. A weak human such as you cannot hope to defeat me!" The Doom Phantom's voice was filled with confidence and condemnation. "Why do you continue this futile endeavour? Why?"
"Because," she answered quietly, "I have to." No impassioned speech sprang forth, no commitment to truth and love, just an obligation, an expectation of performance. Her friend lay shocked. Her ex-lover stood confused.
She brought the Crystal once more over her head and shouted her power mantra.
"Moon Crystal Power!" The words were accompanied by a blinding flash of white light, and a scream of denial and destruction. When the light dimmed, then disappeared, the Doom Phantom was nothing more than a pile of dust and evil. The wind cleansed the area quickly.
Sailor Moon's knees shook, and her body swayed, but she remained upright. She turned to her friends, who were all slowly getting to their feet. She simply walked past them, to the Black Gate. It was time to go home.
Back in Tokyo, back at Ray's temple, the scouts tried to figure out what had happened in the last battle. What had Serena meant when she'd said 'I have to'? What was wrong with their leader?
Outside the temple, Darien finally corned Serena. She stood staring at the sliver of moon glimmering over head, even now letting her sense its power. She closed her eyes and tried to absorb the feeling she used to get from seeing and sensing the moon's connection to her. But she felt nothing.
Darien cleared his throat. He shifted nervously, when uninterested cornflower blue eyes eventually opened and focussed on him.
"Serena, you know why I said what I did. I had to convince you to stay away from me. I couldn't let you die, not because of me, not because of something I could have prevented." At her lack of response he continued, rushing into his next sentence. "You have to forgive me. I'm so sorry for what I said, it was all untrue. Every word was a lie. Every word. You have to know how much I love you. I know we were destined for each other. I believe that, you're the light, the good in my life." He was rambling now, because her face gave no indication as to how she felt. Usually her emotions and thoughts were easier to read than a child's picture book.
"One thing was true." She said finally. Darien just stared, confused.
"One thing you said to me was true. I'm not Serenity. And you're not Endymion. I understand that now. Things are different here. I was meant to be Sailor Moon here, not Serenity. No matter what Neo-Queen Serenity believes. There is a reason Sailor Moon was created. If you and I were meant to be together, I would be Serenity. But I'm meant to protect Earth and nothing else." Her voice was flat, never changing. Darien's confusion turned to alarm.
"You can't mean that! Serena, Sailor Moon was created to protect you, so that you would last long enough, in all the battles we've faced and will face, to bring about universal peace. You're not meant to be a warrior forever, you're meant to survive long enough to become the greatest leader this world; or any world has ever seen. And I'm meant to be at your side when that day happens." His words were impassioned, a plea to the heart of her. Except there was no heart to appeal to.
"Believe that if it comforts you. But you were right Darien. You convinced me. I no longer desire you at my side. Fight with me, if you must. But we will never be what you want us to be. I am no longer who you want me to be. I am further away from Serenity than I was before, when you threw us away. You discarded my love when it suited you, easily and without regret. Now that your reason is no longer valid, you seek my affections. But how long before you grow tired of the lie again? How long before you are given another reason, and walk away from me?" Even with her callous words, her tone remained flat and unfeeling. Darien backed away in denial. This was not his Serena, this was not his light hearted saviour, nor his kind and generous queen. This was a warrior, an unfeeling creature who wore his lovers face.
"Serena, please. Don't do this. You know what you're saying isn't true. Please, show me this isn't who you've become?" Darien's voice was pleading, even as he backed away from this cold, blank girl who masqueraded as Serena. The scouts pulled back the screen, and stopped shamelessly eavesdropping.
This was wrong, what Serena was saying. She would never, ever say or believe something so bleak. She was sunshine and hope, and the heart and soul of this team. If she no longer had either, what hope did the group have?
Ray noticed something dark sliding in and out of Serena's aura. It moved in and around the area of her heart. Her aura was usually bright, full of the light of the moon, and her own joy. Now it was dingy and dark, like it was poisoned or sickly. She focussed harder, and saw the foreign aura pulse slowly and subtly around her friend.
"She's being controlled!" Ray exclaimed! The scouts and Darien turned towards her in surprise. Serena stared dispassionately at her. "There's something in her aura, she's being poisoned or controlled. It looks like Dark Crystal energy almost, but like it has a life of its own. Like the Moon Crystal!"
Darien turned and focussed on the meta-physical connection he always felt to Serena. Something on her end sent a bolt of dark energy back at him. Something with a different energy signature than Serena.
"She's being controlled by Dark energy. It's stealing her light energy and replacing it with its own. Amy?" Darien turned to the computer whiz. She whipped out her Mercury computer and slid her visor across her eyes. She scanned through Serena's body, and found a small black mass located right on top of her heart.
"It's there," she pointed at Serena's chest. "We need to remove it!" She started typing on her computer, trying to find a way to remove it.
Mean while Lita and Darien moved quickly to grab and subdue Serena, in case she tried to leave, or in case the Dark energy took a more dominant protest to their actions. She struggled briefly, but stood no chance against her enforcer and her lover. She soon found herself tied to a chair in Ray's bedroom.
"Release me. This is ridiculous. I am acting in a rational manner, I am not being controlled. You have to see that." She tried to make them stop this ridiculous charade. Finally she realized it was futile, and decided to let them do what they would. They would soon understand they were being irrational and let her go.
"Give me good news, Amy," Darien turned to the blue haired girl. She was typing ferociously on her keypad, occasionally glancing up at Serena through her visor.
"It's no good! We need Moon Crystal Power to eradicate the Dark Moon energy. Only Serena has access to Moon Power! It's useless!" Amy cried out in frustration. Lita slammed her fist into the temple wall. Mina sat on Ray's bed, her arms wrapped around her midsection in despair. Ray glanced at Darien, worry in her eyes. He looked devastated.
They'd lost. It was all he could think. The Dark Moon was destroyed, and yet the darkness had still won. Serena was no more. She was the last of her bloodline able to use the Imperium Silver Crystal. His thoughts stalled on that thought, because Serena had a child. Rini had already shown she could use the Crystal.
"How much power do we need to use exactly?" Darien asked. Amy looked at him in confusion.
"Just a concentrated burst, enough to burn out the physical manifestation of the energy." She answered him anyways.
"Rini," he said simply. Lita's head snapped around, Mina surged to her feet. Ray ran to the other room to gather the child. She walked quickly with Rini in tow. Darien knelt down in front of the small girl.
"Why is Serena tied to the chair? Is she being stupid again?" Rini asked, falling back into her habit of teasing her future mother's past self.
"Rini, we need your help. Only you can save Serena. She's being poisoned by Dark Energy and we need you to use the Crystal to get rid of it. Can you do that for me?" Darien implored, keeping his tone serious to communicate the gravity of the situation.
"Mommy says I'm not allowed to use the Crystal. I broke it last time. I hurt Mommy." Rini's eyes shimmered with tears. Darien enfolded his daughter into a tight embrace. His voice was low and rough with emotion.
"I know baby girl, I know. But we need you to use the Crystal now. Your mommy will understand. It will save her this time. Please Rini." He stared into eyes so like the ones of the woman behind him. Not in color, but in the innocence and love that radiated from them.
Rini nodded. She walked to stand in front of Serena, and put her hand on Serena's transformation brooch, over top of the Silver Crystal.
"I'm sorry, Mommy." She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and reached for the Crystal's energy. She felt Serena fight to keep her away, but the Dark Energy had too strong a hold at this point, and the Crystal rejected her efforts.
"Focus on the Dark matter, near Serena's heart. You only need a quick burst, but make it a strong one." Darien's voice directed her actions. She pulled the energy to her, took aim, and released it like an arrow from a bow.
Serena arched and cried out as the energy pierced her body. Her breath stopped as the Dark Moon energy fought back. It was no match however, and was burnt out by the Silver Crystal. Still, it did not go quietly. Serena's body was thrown into seizures, she bucked and jerked within the bindings of the chair. She moved so violently that the chair fell onto its side. Still her body continued to spasm.
She vaguely heard the Scouts cry out in alarm. She was too caught up in her release that it barely registered. Everything that had happened while she'd been under the control of the Dark Moon came rushing back, every vacant emotion, every painful experience. Tear exploded from her eyes, sobs tearing from between clenched teeth.
Finally, the seizures stopped, her body quieted. But still, Serena continued to sob uncontrollably. Darien untied her from the chair, and pulled her roughly into his arms. He pulled her into the protective curve of his body. But Serena didn't reach for him. She wrapped her arms tightly around her body, as if to contain her tremendous pain. Her distance tore at Darien.
Eventually, the rush of memories died down, and she calmed. She pulled away from Darien, and went to stand by the window.
"I didn't notice. I know exactly when I was infected, and I didn't notice. I thought it was the physical manifestation of the pain of my heart being broken. I didn't notice. I just wanted the pain to end, and then it did and I was so relieved that I didn't question it. I should have." Her voice was low, but full of emotion. She turned to face her scouts, pain and shame naked on her face. They began to cry with relief. "I'm so sorry. So sorry. For what I put you through and so grateful for all you did for me. You're all true friends." She looked around the room for a few minutes, thoughtfully. Finally, she spoke.
"Diamond, or the Doom Phantom timed it very well, sending that Dark Moon energy to destroy me when I was at my most vulnerable. I think they thought it would work faster than it did. They hoped I would be unable to access the full power of the Moon Crystal. Just like I was unable to stop Rini." She turned towards her daughter, and knelt down to hug her. "Thank you," she whispered. Rini just nodded. She turned then towards Darien. He watched emotions come and go on her face, none staying long enough for him to indentify.
"Serena, I-" He stopped when she held up a hand. He swallowed his words and tried not to expect the worst.
"I love you." It was all she said. He waited for more, then realizing that was all she was going to say, let out a whoop of joy and rushed to gather her in his arms! She hugged him back tightly.
"I could hear you, arguing with me, telling me you loved me. The good in me could hear you. I wanted to scream, to cry out that I loved you too. But I said those horrid things instead. Can you ever forgive me?" She asked tearfully, shame in her eyes. Darien's heart swelled with love.
"There's nothing to forgive, you didn't say those things. The Dark energy did. I, however, need to beg your forgiveness. I told you horrible lies, under no duress but my own terrible stupidity. I love you, you are my moon, my rock, my sunshine and my hope. You are my everlasting love, and my last breath. I am so sorry that I made you think, for even one second, that you weren't my everything." Darien clasped her more tightly to him, unconsciously rocking them both, comforting them both. The Scouts watched the emotion and affection being passed between their leader and her lover and all were moved beyond tears, to wordless wonder.
"I forgive you!" Serena was quick to reassure, her voice unwavering. She felt lighter, happier. She felt love, and regret, and hope. She felt.
She leaned back slightly, to make eye contact with her much taller soul mate. "I love you."
Darien bent his head, grateful to any Deity listening that he had his Serena back. Their lips met, and the kiss made stars envious and the moon glow brighter.
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