A/N: My first Sailor Moon fic, a month after finally finishing the entire thing. Not really the kind of stuff I usually write in any case, but no harm in trying something new (well, maybe not exactly new) – ah, never mind all that.

Okay, context. This is set during episode 200, almost immediately after Chaos' defeat (but before they have a good long talk) and well before the little farewell on the school's rooftop and that romantic moment on the balcony. Basically, this whole fic is a filler tying loose ends together.

And my idea of romance isn't very…fluffy. I'm more of the angst kind of girl. Hopefully didn't do too badly. It does have a plot though.

Sorry if it's not up to scratch. Currently don't possess the brain capacity to proofread.

And that's it for me. Enjoy, and R&R.


The Night Sky

Prologue

Chiba Mamoru fished through his set of apartment keys before finding the correct one and slipping it into the lock, running the other hand through his hair. His subconsciousness gave him a nudge at that point; instead of the moist mat he was accustomed to during the Japanese summers, he had been met with dry and somewhat stiff strands standing amidst raised skin.

He left the key in the lock and looked around, before giving his head a little shake. Of course it was colder than the usual summer. The building was closed after all, and considering the chaos the world had just emerged from, there was very little heat to be added to it. He wouldn't be surprised if he learnt the sun itself had gone out during that time – he had disappeared from the earth for several months after all…at least three according to the advertisement he had passed on the way back. Since Galaxia had taken his Star Seed on the plane to America – that reminded him, he would have to track his luggage down. It was probably still at the airport terminal…or wherever they put unclaimed luggage. After all, he had never arrived in America with his things. It was a miracle he had his keys.

Actually, it was more thanks to Usagi that he had his keys, but she was a miracle in herself. After all, she'd been the one who'd saved them all. She'd also handed him her copy of his apartment keys before he departed from her house. He'd stared at them for a blank moment; it had never occurred to him that he didn't have a way into his only living quarters. Then he thanked his lucky stars (it wouldn't occur to him for a while to reconsider his choice of words) that he hadn't cancelled the withdrawals from his account that covered the rent for the said apartment, even if it was mostly for sentimental reasons that he sacrificed 350,000 yen a month.

Well…that and the fact that he had never gotten around to cleaning up the shattered glass frames from his brief moment of insanity under Nehelenia's spell. Truth be told, the little shards made him sick to his stomach to look at, and it had been on the same day that he had received his letter of acceptance and gotten caught up with the new wave.

He turned the key and heard the tell-tale click before seizing the cold handle. For a moment, he wondered in what state he would find his home – after all, the smells of home had probably escaped with the passed time – before he pushed open the door.

Instantly, the smell of damp roses wafted through his nose and he blinked in surprise before catching sight of the perpetrator: a vase on his coffee table with his favourite flowers wilting within them. From the looks of them, they would last perhaps a day more before the once vivacious red crumbled into black. Which meant someone had been in the apartment within the last few days.

If that wasn't a tipoff, there was very little dust to be spotted, and several of his coffee mugs had mysteriously disappeared. Upon further inspection of his living quarters, he found it had been freshly cleaned and a lemon smell persisted in the kitchen, bathroom and single bedroom in particular, and all shrapnel of broken glass had been removed, leaving only a stain of blood and a single mirror atop the bathroom cabinet. It wasn't one of his; they were all shattered, but he could tell Usagi had brought it for him from the moon patterns around the outer rim.

And considering she was the only person with the key, she must have been the one to clean up his apartment and leave the vase of roses on the table. A pang rippled through his heart at that quick conclusion; the odds that Usagi had known his exact fate was rather slim, but he could not begin to imagine the pain and loneliness that had come from that separation. She had waved him off with a brave face, the ring he had brought her for glittering on her ring finger without a formal proposal – but that didn't matter, because both of them knew they wished to spend the rest of their lives together. In any case, the ring had been a spur-on-the-moment decision; as far as he knew, her parents weren't exactly aware of their relationship.

They'd have to fix that soon. Hopefully before Tsukino-san castrated him for dating his daughter and giving her an engagement ring.

Of course, Usagi would probably stop him.

A smile slid over his face as his eyes fell upon the portrait, the blonde hanging onto his arm and grinning at the camera. She'd smiled like that they day they'd said their farewells too, and just a half-hour ago on the porch of the Tsukino family home…and almost every day he had known her. Of course, their (the smiles he meant) moods varied from utter bliss over a jelly filled donut to the mask hiding sorrows behind that sweet face…and that was the smile that had bidden him goodbye. But she hadn't been smiling then. After Galaxia had gone. After Chaos had fused with the hearts of mankind along with the Light of Hope; he'd felt that light, and then a young girl – far younger than Chibiusa but somehow far more familiar – had appeared like an angel beckoning him to the doors of Heaven.

And then Usagi had been in his arms, as bare as the day she had been born and pouring her heart upon his chest along with the burdens she had borne. Not alone – she would never be alone. The entire world put their trust in her after all: the Senshi and himself most of all. There had been four new people present though, and they had somewhat unnerved him. Tall figures silhouetted by shadow and a rose red with thin tails of hair fluttering like a stray butterfly wing. Some sort of fragrance had surrounded them too; it was nothing like the lemon wafting through his apartment nor the strawberry shampoo Usagi commonly lathered through her blonde strands.

Usagi had waved to them. Haruka had flicked a hand – it was a motion balancing between acceptance and something to the contrary – and then the quartet had departed like stars shooting across the brightening sky.

He pushed his curtains back, watching the afternoon sun grinning happily, showing no semblance to the fate that had almost destroyed it, and them, forever. But it was gone, and Usagi had been grinning too as she'd stood on the porch, illuminated by the orange light wafting through the light hair. The dumplings upon her head had never looked more beautiful than they had at that moment, dancing atop her head. He smiled for a moment before letting the curtain drift closed once more. It may have been three in the afternoon in Tokyo, but his brain was floating at six in the morning. All a consequence of travelling backwards over time-zones. It would be an hour after midnight in Chicago too; he couldn't possibly do anything about his…position, having disappeared for the length of a trimester.

The answering machine blinked at him as he passed, abandoning the window as one hand absentmindedly felt the smooth skin of his chin. No traces of a stubble at all. He could take a quick nap before deciding what to explain to his professors.

And then he'd have to think about a great many other things, because the thought of whether or not he could leave Usagi a second time crossed his mind along with the light tendrils of sleep.