A/N: I intended for this chapter to be out at the end of last month but even though I had already written most of it by then, something about it didn't feel right to me. Also, whilst Jason & Mina are my favourite characters to write (besides S, D and the children), I find it rather difficult to portray Amy & Zachary's inner thoughts. Not because I have trouble relating, more because it felt somewhat like betraying their confidence. Their scenes had to be deleted and rewritten quite a number of times until I reached a balance I'm okay with. I know it sounds silly but that's how it is. So, my utmost apology for the delay and thank you ever so much for all the reviews/follows/favourites.
escape-reader.13: LOL. There wasn't supposed to be any S & ss scenes in this chapter but...I wrote one in, the seven dwarves are dedicated especially to you! I hope you like it! Well, them. I hope you like them ;) Galaxy Princess: Thank you! I'm really glad! J&R was a rather emotional scene to write. I hope you like this chapter too... :) catgirl5505: LOL. I hope that's a good thing? Starrlight1812: I'm so glad! Thank you! ;) There's more of Raye (and Amy) in this chapter and I really hope it meets with your approval... :) kera69love: Thanks! I'm sorry it was a bit hard to follow. You can always PM me for any further clarifications. I wouldn't mind answering. :) Thu: Oh thank you for being so understanding! I hope you like this chapter. ;) nickybluejess: That is so good to know. :) I always get excited when I received notification for your reviews as well! ;) Nancy67: Well, he must've died with them! The actual story behind it will be told (as mentioned in the Prologue chapter) but it will be several chapters away. SerenityShields: I'm really glad! It's easier to write R&J in the playful, teasing mode but writing them in this light wasn't so hard either. I guess it's because both characters are ones I'm able to identify with. The children, as always, were my easiest bit to write, for reasons I don't even know myself! ;) Usagi Carter: Thanks! I'm glad my story helped and here's wishing that your day today (and many more to come) is filled with laughter and smiles! I'm still working on the transition and hopes it flows smoothly enough as to not confuse my readers. :) JFVM: Thanks! I promise to keep going until the story is complete! ;) Moonprincess998: Thank you! I'm glad the love translated the way it did. As to your question, they were reincarnated twice. Once by Queen Serenity's wish that sent Endymion & Serenity to be reincarnated as U&M a thousand years after the silver millennium and next by Usagis's will when she and the others died fighting Beryl. TOBITF takes place thirty years after the battle that killed them, meaning U & the inner scouts were all reincarnated twelve years after their deaths (since they are all eighteen). There is a brief explanation in the Prologue chapter. Hope it helps. :) Natasha: LOL. Thanks! I didn't think anyone noticed! Played with Photoshop and did a matching one for S+D=ss+dd as well! I hope you like where this story is going... Trish1573: Thank you! I'm glad you thought so! What a beautiful compliment... I hope you like this chapter as well! ;) naughtygirl: LOL. S and I will fight you for D and I'm pretty sure R won't give J up without a fight! ;) Carlaisabel: Thank you! I'm glad you like the story and hope this is soon enough! ;) I'm recovering, rather busy, but will definitely keep updating until the story is complete... :) Miss C. Royal: Wow! I honestly think that this is one of the most beautiful reviews I've received to date! Thank you! I don't know how many times I've read it! It really is beautiful how you see this story and wonderful to know that my readers are able to feel and see the love, friendship and loyalty that I was trying to convey. That was something that I was worrying about. I'm also glad you mentioned Jason's connection with S because that was something I see very clearly in my head and tried to get across in my writing. He is one of my favourite characters to write and channelling him comes rather easily which I think contributed to the scene with Raye as well. Thank you for the beautiful words and for taking the time. I'm truly grateful for the faith and support. :) CowabungaBabe95: Welcome to TOBITF! I'm glad you like it! Here's an update. Enjoy! ;) Emily: LOL. Thank you very much! I like that scene too! Hope this isn't too late...SailorMoonForever: LOL. Granpa Hino may make an appearance (I'll write him in, just for you!), my J is both our favourite for a reason ;) and... not much S&D here since they're an ocean away from one another but... next two chapters should have plenty of fluffs! ;) PS: Knowing my fear of dogs, what makes you think I'd keep anything that would attract them to me in first place?! Bunny88rosemagic: Not for awhile and I've been missing them and I'm glad to know you're still reading my story. Hope you'll like this new update! ;) CherrySerenity-sama: The idea of the black crystal was in play since the beginning of TOBITF. It's the reason it was mentioned in Chapter 8 ;) LOL. The City Tower is actually based of an actual Azabu-Juban Residence and I don't think the MIB ever made it there! ;) I'm really, really glad you liked the children and Jason has become one of my favourite characters to write! The fact that you approved means a lot :) LoveInTheBattleField: Thanks! It's good to be back ;) I'll try and update as much as I can. In the mean time, enjoy this one! Purplelarkspur: Welcome to TOBITF! ;) I'm glad you think my twins are cute. Really, writing them was more about creating my own version of S&D progenies rather than eliminating Rini (though, I do indeed have a huge distaste for the pink haired character!) I really hope this story doesn't disappoint you. GraphicsChyck: Welcome to my TOBITF world! ;) I'm glad you're enjoying it. I'm doing better but thank you for the wish. LOL. The scene is actually already written and will take place in a few more chapters. Wait for it! ;) UsaMamo1989: Thank you! I'm glad and it's really good to know. Thanks for taking the time to tell me. It means a lot :) Leslie wjack: Another new reader! Welcome to TOBITF! ;) LOL. The title was initially meant to convey humour and to depict my Epilogue (which was the first chapter I wrote). And then after I found out that it was putting readers off, I became more resolved not to change it. *sigh* Quite perverse of me but I've been told that I'm a very contrary person ;) I'm glad you enjoyed the story and the children and hope that you'll follow it/them to the end. ;)
P/S: Based on several feedbacks, I'd suggest for you to re-read the Prologue & Character Index chapter which does have an extended summary and background (added on July last year). Chapter 8: Scouts & Generals and Chapter 10: Sailor Moon & Tuxedo Mask also contain some relevant background which some of you may have forgotten due to my long hiatus from the story.
Telepathic communications / thoughts are in Italics.
(Standard disclaimer: I do not own any of the Sailor Moon characters. All characters belong to Naoko Takeuchi.)
Chapter 24: Of Visions & Memories, Tales & Legends
On route to Hikawa Shrine, Akasaka, Minato (Approximately 7 am Tuesday, Japanese time)
"I want to get some white chrysanthemums and some white and pink carnations," Raye murmured looking pensive in a formal black sheath dress and a matching black blazer, "And some chocolates. Ojii-san loved chocolates."
"Okay, we'll just stop on the way and get them. I'm sure we'll find some shops open already." Jason replied easily. He too was dressed completely in formal black
Raye studied him. There is no denying his good looks but seeing him in black seemed wrong to her. "Black doesn't suit you. It doesn't suit Rena either."
Jason broke into a smile. "Rena and I are both extremely good looking. We'd look good in anything," he boasted teasingly.
She couldn't help the laughter that bubbled out of her at his outrageous response. Only he and his sister had that effect on her. To be able to make her laugh when she really felt like bawling her heart out. They both had a way of drawing her out of her moods. She couldn't help remembering their conversation the night before. He was right. She did have a family in them. One she loved and would forever be grateful for.
He caught the hand she brought to punch his arm with and kissed the knuckle as they continued on their walk towards the shrine and tried his best to distract her from memories she didn't quite know how to face.
City Tower Azabu-Juban Residence (Approximately 8 am Tuesday, Japanese time)
"What do you mean Jason and Raye went to the Hikawa Shrine to try and locate the indigo crystal from the remains of the Shinto priest?" Darien asked incredulously during breakfast.
When Darryl and Darren's eyes widened at his tone and statement, he gestured for them to stay at the breakfast island in the kitchen to finish their meal and ushered Amy and Zachary to the living room. Arms crossed, waiting solemnly for their answer.
"Exactly that, Darien," Zachary answered calmly.
"I don't get it. Yesterday, it was you and Jason setting up securities around Juban Land and now Raye and Jason are out there on their own. I thought the objective is to stay together. What if they run into the Demoniaques? There's a reason why we dragged my little boys here. If they…"
"Darien, Jason could teleport back here immediately if they run into Demoniaques. It's the reason we decided to split into pairs today. Both Jason and Zach can sense your presence and both have teleportation ability," Amy cut in gently.
Her explanation made sense and Darien knew they'd save more time this way but something about the situation was bothering him. His instinct had been on high alert since they arrived. And he was also torn between wanting to help out and trying to keep his little boys as safe as possible. Worrying about Serena and his little girls and missing them weren't helping either. While the Generals may teleport within a few kilometres radius, Amy and Zachary theorised that the Demoniaques were able to move between much greater distance and may even be capable of teleporting between the two countries within less than a couple of hours, may be even minutes. He had a foreboding sense that Serena, Sara and Suri might be in danger and he was half away across the world from them to be of any help.
Drawing a deep breath, he tried to calm himself. Yet the sense of foreboding remained. "Fill me in on our plan for today." The order came instinctively without him even realising it. It was after all, Endymion's right.
"Amy and I will go to Keio University to try and find out as much as we can about the missing Professor and Archaeologist. They're both attached there. In the meantime, Jace created an enchantment over the boys. Anyone not looking too closely will only see them as one instead of two separate individuals. That should make it slightly difficult for the Demoniaques to recognise them since they'd no doubt be on the lookout for twins instead."
"Jason can do that? Even when he's not with us? I mean right next to us?"
"You'd be surprised at what Jace can do," Zachary replied dryly, exasperated affection clear in his voice. Darien smiled at the tone. It reminded him of his Meatball Head. People often spoke of her using that same tone as well.
"As long as Jace can sense you in his mind, he'd have no problem maintaining the illusion. But…" Amy cautioned, "…the boys have to stay close together."
Darien angled his head towards her, "I take it we have our own assignment?"
Amy nodded. The group had already decided on what his assignment would be. They hoped that shock would help trigger his memories and for that, the element of surprise was vital. "You need to go to Fukyu Gallery and try and find out what happened to Yumemi Yumeno. I'm sending the address to your communicator."
Not wanting to give Darien the chance to research the artist, Zachary added, "If we all leave right after breakfast, we could all be back and be ready for our meeting at Juban Land. All hands on deck for that."
"After breakfast and a video conference with Serena and the girls," Darien managed to insert.
Hikawa Shrine, Akasaka, Minato (Approximately 9 am Tuesday, Japanese time)
Meanwhile, after walking around and delaying as much as they could, Raye and Jason finally reached their destination.
The former priestess looked up the steps leading up to the shrine and was struck by a sense of déjà vu. How many times have I swept up these steps? Sat on them with my friends? Argued with Ojii-san as he tried to flirt with them? She wondered to herself. The flood of emotion threatened to drown her.
It was absurd, she told herself, she had travelled thousands of miles and couldn't seem to find the nerve to go up those step.
Jason took her hand and curled strong fingers around hers. She let out the breath she had forgotten she was holding.
"I don't know if I can do this," she finally admitted.
He pulled her onto the steps, sat and tugged her to sit next to him.
"It's okay. We can sit here until you're ready to go up there."
"How do we even know if his remains are up there? Where do we even begin to find his crystal?" Frustrated exasperation tinged her voice.
"We'll figure it out. We've been through bad things before," he said lightly to hide the ache he felt on her behalf.
Silent for a moment, she let her mind take her back to her first memory of Usagi, her first memory of him in that lifetime she left behind, "You know, you were the reason I met Rena. I mean Usagi. And I actually met you first before I met her. Students disappearing on buses."
Because it was a difficult topic for her to discuss, she avoided his gaze and kept her eyes trained on the grounds of the shrine, "There was something about you but..."
"But it wasn't me. A copy of me which didn't have my heart or my soul," he completed for her.
Wanting his arms around her but not wanting to voice it out loud, she laid her head on his shoulder, "You weren't here in that lifetime," she said quietly.
"No. That cruel person responsible for all those terrors, it wasn't me. I was trapped in a stone at the time Raye, until Rena…Usagi's wish had me reborn with you in this lifetime. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you then but perhaps it's a sign," he said as he put an arm around her and held her close to him.
She tilted her head back to look at him, "A sign?"
He shifted, took her chin in his hand, "I'm here now. We're together now. Maybe this is the life that's meant for us, for our happy ending." He kissed her softly and kissed her long. Slowly, her heart settled back in place.
Even with him, she was more than a little embarrassed that she had pulled all those old raw feelings out. But because it was him, she allowed herself to be held just a moment longer before abruptly pulling away and standing up.
With her shoulders straight and her chin up, she drummed up her courage, "Let's do this."
But she was completely unprepared for the tall ragged looking male with long brown hair lightly streaked with grey. "Rei-chan, Takeshi said you'd come back."
A wave of recognition rose up, threatening to overwhelm her, "Yuuichirou?"
Keio University, Minato (Approximately 10 am Tuesday, Japanese time)
Zachary and Amy walked hand in hand towards the information desk. Once there, he gave her hand a squeeze before letting it go and addressing the receptionist, "Hi. We're looking for Professors Reika Nishimura and Ryou Urawa. We're their new exchange students from United States," he improvised in fluent Japanese.
The receptionist started to smile in greeting at him but froze when she saw Amy. "You're Ami Mizuno!" she gasped out and went completely pale, "But, how is that possible?"
Amy went slightly pale herself. Zachary immediately put a hand at the small of her back. Drawing strength from that, Amy smiled apologetically, "No Miss. My name is Amy Mitchell. I'm a US citizen and this is my first time in Japan," she explained with an outward calm.
The receptionist seemed to gather herself at Amy's unruffled demeanour. "Of course you are. I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking. Ami Mizuno disappeared thirty years ago. And she was fourteen at the time. If she did survive, she'd be about forty-four and you don't look a day above sixteen." She elaborated sheepishly.
Amy smiled kindly. "I'm eighteen."
"If you don't mind my asking, why did you think that my friend here is a girl who went missing thirty years ago?" Zachary asked mildly giving every appearance of acceptable curiosity given the lady's outburst.
A blush stole across the lady's cheek. "She holds a remarkable resemblance to the missing girl," she tried to explain herself, a slight thoughtful frown formed on her face as she talked, "Did you say your name is Amy Mitchell? Hmmm…similar names…"
"But you said she went missing thirty years ago? Forgive me, but you don't look old enough to be thirty." Zachary smiled charmingly as he redirected the conversation and the receptionist's thoughts, his hand still discreetly supporting Amy's back.
Flattered and relishing the chance to either gossip or to redeem herself, the receptionist answered eagerly, "Oh, I wasn't born yet at the time. But Ami Mizuno was a childhood sweetheart of Professor Urawa. He keeps a picture of her on his desk in his class and at his office. Anyone who's been to his office or class would know what she looks like. He mentions her too, every now and then. They said he never got over her."
As Zachary's arm tightened around her waist, Amy tasted copper in her mouth and recognised it as guilt.
Fukyu Gallery, Azabu-Juban, Minato (Approximately 10 am Tuesday, Japanese time)
The minute Darien's foot stepped into the Gallery known widely due to its patronage of Yumemi Yumeno's paintings, his sense of foreboding increased a hundred-fold. He knew instinctively that nothing would have prepared him for the blow he felt to his mind and heart.
Apparently the artist in question made a living on paintings which covered one specific theme, the doomed everlasting love of a couple who held an exact likeness to him and his Meatball Head. Everywhere he looked, he saw himself and Serena, in different settings which were eerily familiar to him.
Darien gripped Darryl and Darren's hand tighter in his. His mind was spinning. One vision after the other forced itself into his mind's eye as though he was actually there in the painting itself. Emotions slammed into him, threatening to suffocate him. Unbearable heartbreak, shocking betrayal, excruciating loneliness, intolerable longing and unmatchable love, one after the other that he felt he could no longer stand, no longer breathe. His head and his heart felt like they were about to burst and he couldn't stop the hands that rose to hold his head in place, involuntarily letting his boys go.
"Sir? Sir, are you alright?" The voice and the touch of a hand on his shoulder rescued him, gave him a much needed reprieve.
Darien opened his eyes to concerned blue eyes that studied him with a look that was too intense to just merely be concern. He stared back at the stylish middle-aged woman with reddish brown hair.
"Da..d..rien," Darren's voice broke the staring contest. Darien looked down at his son's apprehensive face.
"I'm okay, Darren," he said firmly, assuring his son and giving his shoulder a squeeze and then figuring that the woman was probably looking closely enough to be able to tell that there were two boys instead of one, he gave in to the need to assure Darryl as well.
Naru Umino née Osaka continued to give the young man in front of her a long intense look but now her study extended to the two boys that were with him.
"You and the boys look very much like Prince Endymion," she said softly and added wistfully, "I knew a boy once, who had the same look about him."
"Prince Endymion?" Darien's brows drew together as the little boys shifted uncomfortably on their feet, unsure of whether or not they should intercept the conversation.
"The Crown Prince of Earth during the Silver Millennium," Naru answered without breaking her eye contact.
Darien felt a tingle down his spine at her answer. He recalled a conversation with Jason that mentioned the Silver Millennium as their source of power.
"Naru, there you are. They said Yumemi still hadn't come in. We have to get back to the shop. We'll come and check again tomorrow," A middle-aged man with sandy blond hair and green eyes in thick framed glasses interrupted their conversation.
Naru turned to him, "Just a minute, Umino. Don't you think that they look like Mamoru?" she asked.
"Mamoru," Darien said to himself and almost shivered as that name too caused a tingle to go down his spine. Endymion and Mamoru both sounded very familiar to him and yet he didn't think he had ever heard those names before.
"Really Naru, must you see Mamoru in every raven- haired m…" Gurio Umino's voice trailed off when he got a good look at Darien, "I'll be damned." He said instead.
Naru nodded decisively, "Didn't I tell you?" She turned back to Darien and smiled apologetically, "I'm really sorry. You must think us so rude. My name is Naru Umino and this is my husband Gurio Umino. We have to go now but please, I have a shop just around the corner, the Osa-P Jewellery Store, would you stop by sometime? I'd love to tell you about the tale of the Moon Princess and her Earth Prince and the two people my friend, Yumemi Yumeno modelled them after."
Juban Land Theme Park (5 pm Tuesday, Japanese time)
With the others in their lookout positions, Amy and Zachary stood near the lines to the Ferris Wheel Ride. "Are you sure you're okay with this?" she asked nervously.
With a trace of a smile he nodded. Because he knew her and knew her well, he heard the hint of panic in her controlled voice, "It will be okay, Ames. I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere," he assured her, cupping his hands around her face as he leant down for a quick sweet kiss.
Another man looked on, chided his envious heart, straightened and determinedly walked towards the couple. Unsure of himself, he tucked his hands into his pockets.
Amy watched him, the boy she thought she loved a lifetime ago, walked towards her and Zachary. He was a small boy and the man he became wasn't big either, only a couple of inches taller than Amy. Though his brown hair was now lightly streaked with grey, his blue eyes remained as sharp and clever as before, set in deep tanned familiar face that had become slightly weathered by age. Those blue eyes skimmed over Amy and Zachary, curious, sad and relieved all in one.
The sadness in his eyes pulled at her, deepened the guilt. And so, Amy reached for Zachary's hand and held on.
The gesture didn't go unnoticed by Ryou and he had to swallow to compose himself. She looked exactly as he remembered her. "Hello Amy. I'm glad you got my message."
"Hello Ryou. I'm glad you thought to send me one." Her answer was soft, her voice as quiet as his.
They looked at each other and then awkwardly moved forward for an awkward half hug as Zachary watched in silence.
"This is Zach, Ryou."
Zachary inclined his head in acknowledgement. He may not be as stoic as his brother was most of the time, but he can hold his own when it came down to it.
Ryou looked into the younger man's eyes and wasn't surprised by the discomfort and curiosity he felt. He swallowed again and formally offered a hand to the blond General, "Ryou," he said.
The young man said nothing as he shook the extended hand but his eyes were focused and his expression was calm and watchful.
Amy pushed both panic and guilt aside. She needed to stay in control and rational and she couldn't allow herself the luxury of those feelings. Don't fall apart, she told herself. Don't fall apart now. Later, she promised herself. She'd find a moment alone to let the grief come and to let it go.
"You had another precognitive vision," she said to Ryou, going straight to business. There would be time enough later for catching up.
Hikawa Shrine, Akasaka, Minato (Approximately 8 am Wednesday, Japanese time)
For a long moment, he only stared, taking in the appearance of the girl he devoted his heart and life to. The girl he thought had died thirty years ago. One his mentor assured had greater destiny ahead of her that even death could not prevent.
His eyes went to her hand that was intertwined with the young blond guy she came with. The one she came with the day before. The very same one that had his lips pressed to hers. He was surprised by how much it hurt. So much so that he had told her to go back and come back today instead. Not that it made that much difference. The hurt was still there.
Raye was surprised to find herself moved by the flicker of pain that crossed his face. Her stomach rolled and in a knee jerk reaction, she tried to pull her hand free of Jason's but he held firm, preventing her escape from his comfort.
Her breath came out in a sigh as she struggled not to let the panic grew, or the grief. "Yuuichirou, I came to see Ojii-san," her voice was slightly hoarse when she finally spoke, a fist squeezing her heart, brutally, at the thought of her late grandfather. Her hand tightened on Jason's, needing him despite trying to break free before.
"He said you would come," Yuuichirou Kumada finally said at length after his long silence, "Follow me."
He brought her to a small shrine with a painting hanging above it. She stared at the face of the man who brought her up a lifetime ago. One who was her only family before Usagi came into the picture. Pain sprinted from her stomach to her throat so that she had to clear it before speaking again, "Thank you, Yuuichirou."
He studied her face as she fought to keep her expression natural, "He was my family too. After you…" he stopped for a moment, corrected himself, "After Rei Hino went missing, we became each other's family. And after he died, I took over as head priest."
"You didn't become a rock star. You didn't pursue your dream?"
He shook his head, still watching her, "My dream changed."
Straightening up, he spared Jason a glance who returned his look evenly. "I'll leave you to pay your respect," the current head priest said and took his leave but couldn't help casting one envious look over his shoulder.
Jason stepped back to give her room and Raye put down her offerings of flowers and chocolates on the available pedestals and lit the incense in the bowl of sand. She picked them up, tears running down her cheek as she started her prayer.
Everything dissolved away and suddenly she was all alone.
"I never thought I'd see the day my little spitfire would shed a tear and brought me chocolate willingly. It would figure I'd have to die first," The tone was disgruntled and yet the voice was familiar. Apparently she wasn't alone. She was apparently with a ghost instead.
Raye blinked her eyes and then blinked again.
"Am I dreaming?"
"In a manner of speaking," the old man answered, his eyes twinkling as if in mischief.
"Let me look at you."
Raye stood up slowly, nervously.
"How old are you now?"
"And so beautiful," the apparition of Takeshi Hino said with a sigh. "I'll bet all your friends are even more beautiful as well. And I'm too dead to flirt with them."
"What? A man can dream can't he? Even if he's dead?" He sounded so disgruntled that Raye couldn't help the laughter that bubbled out of her. Nor could she stop herself from hugging him tight as she sobbed her remorse and grief.
He stroked her hair and then her back, "Oh my Rei. I am so proud of you. You became exactly who I wanted you to be. And with such a good looking young man too!"
"But I left you, Ojii-san."
"You died to safe the world."
"I was reborn and forgot about you."
"You were reborn and still had the burden of the world on your shoulder. I'm glad you're not alone this time. He really is very good looking!"
Laughter mixed with tear before reason and resolve pushed through, "Ojii-san, what happened to your crystal?" she asked.
"See me again on the third year anniversary of my death and I'll tell you of what became of it…and another," he said cryptically. "In the mean time, don't forget your dark friends and leave them behind. And don't forget that I love you my spitfire. I'm proud of you. Remember that." The old man hugged her tightly and Raye held on just as tight, not wanting to let go until, "Raye…baby…come back to me…come back to me now."
Her eyes opened to another face she loved and she buried her face onto his strong chest.
"Shh…" Jason said as he tightened his arms around her, "I've got you."
Osa-P Jewellery Store, Minato (Approximately 10 am Wednesday, Japanese time)
Darien couldn't help himself. He had to come. He told himself it was because she might know the whereabouts of Yumemi Yumeno but in his heart he knew better.
As he looked around for her, a piece caught his eye. Gesturing for his children to sit on the stools provided, Darien studied the design of the trinket.
And while he studied the trinket, she studied him, considered him as instinct warred with common sense.
He may be dressed casually. But everything about him screamed money, privilege and power. Like the prince she thought him to be.
Looking at the little boys who looked to be having a silent conversation between themselves as they watched the man who they very closely resembled, her resolve strengthened. Not the eyes, she thought almost with a jolt as she recognise them, they are her eyes.
"That piece too is inspired by the story of the Moon Princess and her Earth Prince," she said and made her presence known to him.
His smile was strained, "Tell me about it. Tell me about them. The Moon Princess and the Earth Prince," his request came out brisk.
She watched him carefully, measuring every word, every gesture, every expression. "I'll tell you about them. And then I'd like to tell you about my best friend, Usagi, whose eyes are reflected by ones on the children's faces, the same face Mamoru had, the boy Usagi loved, but was too stubborn to admit."
Darien stiffened but said nothing. He kept his eyes on her face. Maintained contact as he took a seat directly in front of her, right between his two sons who had heard the tale their father was about to hear for the first time, many times over.
Once Naru Umino finished her tale, her eyes went soft and faraway as she smiled knowingly at him. "Tell me, Mr Shields, do you believe in reincarnation?"
Catholic Azabu Church, Minato (Approximately 10 am Wednesday, Japanese time)
As agreed, as Darien continued his search for information on Yumemi Yumeno and Raye and Jason tried their luck at the Hikawa Shrine, Amy and Zachary continued their pursue at the church where the priest who hosted the orange crystal carried out his priesthood.
While she went in to question the new priest, Zachary and Ryou had their first actual conversation as they scanned the outside areas of the church.
"I'm putting all of you in danger. I'm putting her in danger," the older man murmured almost to himself.
"If you knew that she'd be in danger, why bother to contact her at all?" Zachary asked, not unkindly.
"When I decided not to contact her at all, the future I saw was even more devastating. Tokyo destroyed. America destroyed. Other countries followed. Too many lives lost."
"You can see the future."
"Sometimes," Ryou acknowledged, "I know it seemed almost surreal..."
"Not at all. Darien has similar abilities. Prophetic dreams, psychometric abilities…"
"Darien?" Ryou's brow drew together, "You are referring to the reincarnation of Mamoru Chiba."
At Zachary's nod, Ryou looked pensive. "Is he good?"
"What do you mean?"
"I didn't know Mamoru Chiba very well but I knew that he was the reincarnation of the Prince of Earth. Prince Endymion that I met was evil."
Zachary was very quick to come to the defence of his liege, "Endymion was never evil. The man you met was brainwashed into thinking of the Senshi as his enemies. He had no more control over his actions as you did when turned into the Youma Bunbo. No more control than you had when you attacked Sailor Mercury and Sailor Moon," he said calmly.
Ryou nodded thoughtfully, "You are very rational, logical," he observed, "Very fitting for Amy."
Zachary's reply was even, "As are you. Rational and logical. And in that lifetime, you were fitting for her."
Ryou shrugged. In his heart he knew that if Zachary had been there in that lifetime, he and Ami would have found each other. He didn't need his psychic ability to tell him that he won Ami's affection because her true love wasn't there to claim it. "I prefer to use my mind. A heart can never be practical until it can be made unbreakable." It was himself he was trying to convince.
"And yet, nothing without risk is worth having." Zachary replied in a low voice, understanding the other man's feelings.
"Speaking of which, I saw him die. Your Prince and Princess. I saw them die, protecting you and Sailor Mercury, General Zoicite."
Something like ice skidded down Zachary's spine.
Darien's Living Room, City Tower Azabu-Juban Residence (Approximately 9 am, Thursday, Japanese time)
Serena's Bedroom, Shields Exclusive Living Complex, (Approximately 8 pm, Wednesday, American time)
"And how was your day today?" Darien asked, "Did you get to have the picnic like you planned?"
They had taken to video conferencing right after he and the boys had their breakfast every morning and just before the girls went to bed every night. As with the previous two days, the sight of his girls on the large monitor in the living room filled him with relief that they were well and poignancy that they were so far away from him where he wasn't able to hold them close or kiss them goodnight.
At the brief silence that followed, he contemplated Serena's and Suri's slightly flushed faces. "Is everything okay? Did something bad happen today? Was there an attack?" he asked, almost frantic with worry.
"No Daddy," Sara answered with a slight giggle, "It's just that…Mummy's upset with Suri, Daddy."
Darien raised his eyebrow. His stance relaxed once he knew there wasn't any real danger. "And why is Mummy upset with Suri, Sara?" he asked, his lips curved in easy amusement as he anticipated his daughter's answer.
"I'm not upset, Sara," Serena said. And then with a sigh added, "Well, I was…slightly...in the beginning...more...shocked actually."
"Uh oh, I know that look," Darryl said as he exchanged a knowing look with Darren. Identical grins appeared on both boys' faces.
"At least it's not me this time," Darren said, "What was it, Suri?" he asked his sister, gleeful twinkle in his eyes barely concealed. It wouldn't do to encourage her, at least not in front of Mummy, he thought.
"What was what? Perhaps someone care to fill me in?" Darien asked, completely in the dark.
"Okay children, I need you to close your ears for a minute. And don't listen in, okay? Just one minute while Mummy have a private talk with Daddy," Serena instructed the children.
"There were rats, Darien! RATS! SEVEN of them!" she almost hyperventilated at the thought of it.
"What?" Bemusement slowly overcame Darien's dreamy expression at her referring to herself as 'Mummy' and him as 'Daddy'.
"SEVEN RATS named after the seven dwarves in Snow White's tale joined us for our little picnic!"
"You had a picnic with...rats?" Darien was even more confused now.
"She asked if it was okay for her friends to join us."
Seeing the expression on his face as he began to comprehend what had happened, Serena's voice rose, "Darien Shields! Don't you dare laugh!" she demanded indignantly, "It's not funny! They were REAL rats, Darien!"
"As opposed to fake rats?" he was outright laughing now.
Serena huffed, "Mina and I almost had a heart attack and Lita almost electrocuted the rats and Michelle...I'd never thought I'd see the day..."
Darien laughed even harder and Serena started to giggle helplessly herself.
Taking the laughing as a sign, the children uncovered their ears and joined in the conversation.
"Michi Auntie was hiding behind Ruka Uncle and kept hitting her when she wouldn't stop laughing!" Sara said in between laughter.
"Aunt Lita almost electric Dopey and Sleepy and Mummy and Aunt Mina won't let go of one another," Suri was still slightly disgruntled at everyone's reaction, "I think Doc's and Grumpy's feelings were really hurt, Daddy."
Darien and Serena listened to their children's tales, responded accordingly and read the girls to sleep before finally allowed a private moment of their own.
"What's wrong, Darien?" Serena asked quietly.
He stared at her, his gaze unsettling. "How do you do that?" he finally asked back in wonder.
"Read me the way you do."
"I know your face," she answered simply, softly.
His heart reacted with a curious melting and he couldn't take his eyes off her. That beautiful face and that beautiful heart, one that he thought only existed in fairy tales and legends. Real, he thought, and mine. Or she will be. I'll make sure of it, he resolved and relented to himself, and I'm hers. Completely hers.
So he told her what was on his mind, the paintings by Yumemi Yumeno which jarringly resembled the two of them and the tale of the Earth Prince and the Moon Princess of which the paintings were based on as recounted by Naru Umino and how both, paintings and tale, sounded so eerily familiar and yet he was sure he had never heard the tale nor had he seen the paintings before. He told her of the feelings the paintings made him feel and he told her of Naru's story of a boy and a girl, the two people who modelled as the Prince and Princess for the paintings, Mamoru and Usagi, who fought all the time, but was secretly in love with one another.
They talked about their day and they talked about their future children. They talked about a lot of things but not how they felt about each other.
"Well, it's late. I'd better go. You'll stay safe, won't you? And keep our boys and my brother and our friends safe?"
She wanted to tell him that she was missing him but a thick blanket of shyness suddenly held her tongue. She could do no more than stare at him, unconsciously biting her lower lip.
His eyes went to her mouth for a moment, lingered for a moment, then lifted back to her face. A slight reluctant smile curved on his lips as he resigned himself to the fact that even when she wasn't around, she occupied his thoughts and stirred his emotions and desire every bit as much as she did when she was right in front of him. The knowledge terrified him and almost made him resentful. Almost, but he was honest enough to admit to himself that he wouldn't have it any other way.
"Serena," he said her name quietly and waited for her gaze to meet his and held, "I will," he promised her, "You stay safe too. Keep our girls safe," he paused, touched a hand to the image of her face on the screen and looked deep into her eyes, "And when I get back, I'm going to convince you to let me make you mine."
Posted on fanfiction: 17 October 2014
A/N: I found out that Rei Hino's father was called Takashi Hino. Hence I gave grandpa Hino the name Takeshi Hino. Takashi is Japanese for "prosperous/reverence" whilst Takeshi means "warrior". I thought it apt since Rei's father is a prominent senator and her grandfather is indeed, a warrior. The name of the gallery, Fukyu is Japanese for "everlasting" to represent Endymion and Serenity's love.
P/S: The picnic with the seven dwarves will feature in the next instalment of S plus D equals little s squared plus little d squared. I'm not sure how many of you are aware of this but S+D=ss+dd drabbles are set within the TOBITF timeline and while they may not really affect the plot, they may give you extra glimpses into our character's everyday life ;)
NEW STORY ALERT: In the process of trying to fix and complete this chapter, I came up with two completely new stories. If truth be told, I think Ever After have the potential of becoming more fun than TOBITF. *Gasp* I can't believe I said that or even thought it but...well... It's my first medieval fantasy. The first 4 chapters will feature Endymion, Serenity, Inner Senshi and Shitennou as children before following them into adulthood. I love writing them as children! Especially Jed and Mina! Perfect Couple on the other hand, just as CBTM was written for Shaydoe, PC is written for SailorMoonForever and is as equally emotional as CBTM. But where CBTMdealt with Serena's hurt and Darien's struggle, PC (inspired by Episode 132 of the anime) deals with a Serena that has finally reached her limit and lost her temper with Darien, Rini, Luna and the inner Scouts. These new stories are also the reason for the delay in this chapter since my mind has been occupied with them, distracting my focus from TOBITF. Rest assured though, I did this before with BTCSM, LMSY and CBTM but at the end of the day, TOBITF is never very far from my mind. I promise I will complete all my stories! But please do check out my new stories and let me know what you think of them! ;)
P/P/S: I have so many messages inbox and haven't the time to reply all of them at the moment but I'll try and get to them, soon. Please don't be upset with me. And please stop asking me for spoilers for PC. I'll update soon enough (I think) ;p