A/N: Thank you everyone for sticking with this story to the very end. For those of you who read the previous chapter early, it was edited slightly several hours later.
Again, this story is written for Shaydoe whose story Moonlight Rhapsody happens to be one of my favourite story! As much as I do love her stories though, I love her more! Shay, you know this is for you! ;)
Puffgirl1952: LOL. Each Scout do play a part in Serena's sort of payback in this chapter, though probably not in the way you mean! ;) As for Luna and Artemis, I don't think they make a habit of joining the girls' sleepover sessions! ;) Lunar Cadet: TQ, TQ, TQ, TQ, TQ, TQ, TQ! LOL. You get my meaning! Really, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed what the girls had to say. ;) familichibatsukino: Thank you! I'm glad! :) riahsparks: Thanks! Glad you thought it was worth the wait and you're most welcome! ;) Bunny16: Wow! Thank you for such a comprehensive review. :) I guess it was a tribute to the previous chapters that the expectation for the final chapter is so high. I do get your point. In fact, it was covered in Mina's Meddling. But Mina saw things from Serena's perspective and there are always two sides to a coin (and a story). The reason Serena believed he didn't love her was covered in both Amy's Anxiety and Mina's Meddling. Darien does love Serena and I tried to convey that throughout the story especially 'avenging guardians'. If you failed to see his love for her, than that is my failure as a writer. Unfortunately, I don't know how else to make the chapter more intense than I already have. I actually think it's my most intense chapter. The way I see it, Darien did not hurt Serena out of selfishness or malice. He simply thought he was keeping her out of harm's way. From his POV, to stay with her would've been selfish. He sacrificed his feelings as much as he did Serena's. In his shoe, letting go of Serena was the ultimate sacrifice and that took courage and selflessness. I did edit the previous chapter slightly to try and convey this better. :) Moonprincess998: Thanks! Here's the Epilogue! Enjoy! :) escape-reader.13: Here you go! ;) 4getmeknots: Oh wow! Thanks! Hope the Epilogue lives up to your expectations! ;) Darth Brando: Thank you! I'm glad you thought so! LoveInTheBattleField: Thanks! Here's the Epilogue! Hope you like! :) Emily: LOL. Then I must sound like a broken record too! Thank you for your kind words and I hope you like the Epilogue! ;) SailorMoonForever: LOL. Well, I do have the advantage of knowing your romantic side! As for the romantic gestures, I get quite a bit of that in real life that I tend to appreciate the simple, honest gestures more ;) There's a reader who reviewed once that said an author's personality shone through their writing, and aside from Shay, no one on ff knows me better than you! *heart* Nich31: Oh I'm so glad you thought so! Thank you so much! And you're very welcome! I hope you'll like my other stories and the Epilogue! PS: I noticed you review to chapter 2 of my completed story. If you skip the 3rd chapter with my ramblings and proceed to the 4th chapter, it contains the final chapter to that story. I hope you like the ending! Thanks again for your support of my stories! ;) SerenityShield: Thanks! Can I steal your line? I think you review is 'amazing in its simplicity' too! ;) naughtygirl: Thank you! The Epilogue is definitely happier! ;) WeirdRaptor: Thanks! Haha...couldn't change your mind about him, huh? Tough customer! ;) nickybluejess: Thanks! Read on to find out! ;) maya09: What a compliment! Thank you so much! ;) kbtjmandy: Thanks! I'm so glad you thought so! ;) jessicanicoleharp: LOL. Here you go! ;) Amydali86: Thanks! It means a lot that you thought so! :) Rose: Oh thank you! You're always so kind and I truly appreciate the faith and support. As for Shay, I'm the lucky one. Even from across the ocean (and the anonymity of the internet), she's a great friend. Again, thank you for sticking with my stories and having faith in my ability to write them. ;)
And last, but definitely not least, Shaydoe: Thank you so much Shay! What a perfect review! It means more to me than you'll ever know. You REALLY are a treasure and I'm glad I found you! I think we'll stop the traffic together (drivers will be confused to see two red lights instead of one!) ;)
For TOBITF follower, I'll be posting Chapter 19: Saori & Seiya as soon as I can. I'm sorry, I know a lot of you are waiting but I don't dare promise as I really am exhausted most of the time and completely swamped with academic and social obligations. I do aim for at least two chapters (maybe three) to come out this month. I just don't know when.
Finally, here's presenting you with 'CBTM (The Epilogue)'.
Thoughts are in Italics.
(Standard disclaimer: I do not own any of the Sailor Moon characters. All characters belong to Naoko Takeuchi.)
Come Back to Me (The Epilogue)
Darien grinned at Serena. "What do you say to watching some old videos and eating ice cream and pop corn after dinner?"
Somehow the image of her face that was too pale and too thin because of him had stayed with him even after three weeks of being back together and he was constantly filled with the urge to feed her.
"Hmm, I get to choose the movie and any type of ice cream and you'll make the pop corn?" She asked cheekily, laughter in her eyes.
Darien chuckled. It lightened his heart to see happiness on her face and his gaze lingered on it for a moment. Love swamped him in huge, unexpected waves.
"I love you," he said quietly, eyes locked onto hers.
Faint colour bloomed on her cheeks, delight filled her eyes. "I know," she said with a soft knowing smile.
With her chin in her hands, she watched as Darien unpacked the grocery bag, studying him, measuring, considering.
"What is it?" he asked feeling her eyes on him.
"The girls made a bet this morning."
His eyebrow raised, "Oh?"
She nodded, "Hmm...We need a favour from you. Well, the girls need a favour..."
"Raye and Mina want to put on a show, you know with the latest songs they wrote. And Mina also has that entire new wardrobe designed, Lita with her new recipes..."
"Okay." He shot her a thoughtful glance. "What's the favour and what was the bet?"
"Well, Mina and Amy said you'd do anything for me and Lita and Raye disagreed. Andrew's fifty-fifty," she said, a hidden gleam of amusement lit her eyes and her mouth curved to form a faint smile.
"And what does Serena think?" he asked, his eyes assessing.
Serena shrugged nonchalantly, "I'm with Andrew on this."
"You don't think I'd do anything for you?" he asked with a sly grin though he was only half teasing.
Her pulse leaped, making her feel slightly foolish.
"I don't know, would you?"
"Hmm...What's the favour?"
"A small gathering so that Lita could advertise her new cuisine while Mina and Raye perform the new songs, all of us wearing the new designs and Amy gets to fiddle with her latest video software. Here."
He started to pull out ingredients for dinner as she turned her face up to him and pouted a little, "Just like that?"
"Why not? It's not a problem. And I would do anything for you," He said with a smug smile on his face and added, "within reason," just as a precaution.
He would do anything for her. Her friends on the other hand, he'd have to think twice before agreeing. Except that, usually, doing anything for Serena would often include doing anything her guardians deemed necessary.
In the past three weeks that they had gotten back together, Amy had given him a dozen relationship guide books including 'Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus', 'Truly Mars & Venus', '50 Ways to Show Your Love', 'What You Feel, You Can Heal' and 'The Ways to Treat a Lady'. She had not only made him promise to read each one from cover to cover but also went so far as to quiz him on the contents of each book, which he complied with and aced. When she asked him to write a comparison studies between all the books however, he had had to come up with a handful of 'reasons' to change her mind before he realised that she was only teasing, or at least he hoped she was.
Lita had given him a dozen recipes to Serena's favourite main dishes and a list of cook books that covered pastries, cakes, cookies and many others that she thought he must have. She had insisted that he made four of the main dishes per week to pass her inspection before preparing four different menus consisting of said dishes, complete with various accompanying desserts and savouries for her approval, and preparing said meals for Serena.
He had bought all the books she 'suggested' and had received her approval on all twelve main dishes, all twelve menus, all twelve desserts and all twelve savouries he made. The look on Serena's face and to see her eat with an appetite again made all the effort completely worth it. But when Lita 'suggested' that he switch his studies from medicine to culinary with the rational that he'd be able to make a good living from his skills and he'd be less busy as a cook than a doctor and Serena loved to eat, he had drawn the line (after he had managed to stop gaping at her) and were somehow able to calmly and sensibly convinced her that he'd be better able to provide and care for Serena as a doctor and would still be able to feed her as Lita herself had pointed out that he did have the skill to make all of Serena's favourite dishes now. He also had to swear an oath to the Scout of Thunder that Serena would always come first no matter how busy his studies or work gets and if he failed that for even a minute, he'd consider the switch in career.
Mina and Raye had hinted subtly at first and finally bluntly stated that since Serena had written him a song, shouldn't he reciprocate? They had been adamant that whatever song he wrote, must meet their approval.
Writing the song for Serena had been easy. He had so much in him for her after all and the words had come out to form a beautiful, heartfelt lyric. The music was easy too as he had been playing the guitar and piano for a long time and had his own instruments to work on. But when Mina and Raye had insisted he performed it for them first, he had put his feet down and insisted that he would never even consider performing in front of anyone else and if he ever did, which would probably only happen when hell freezes over, the privilege of being the first person to listen to a song written for her, would belong to Serena and Serena alone. A compromise was reached and he gave Mina and Raye the written tunes and lyrics for their stamp of approval instead. The two girls had looked at it critically at first, played it on their own instruments and then gushed and squealed over the song till he was red with embarrassment.
When that was done, he endured hours of shopping with them with the two of them bickering over the perfect gift. Knowing his princess very well and desperate to stop the squabbling between her two guardians, he had ended up buying both of what each had thought Serena would love the most. His Serena, he knew, sometimes presented a different facet of herself to everyone. She loved all her guardians, every different aspect of them. What Raye thought she would love most but contested by Mina, would be something Serena shared in common with the priestess in their own private moment and the same would be true in the case of what Mina thought she might love the most but refuted by Raye. So he had gotten the two gifts and had went back to the mall on his own afterward to buy what he thought she'd love the most.
The two girls had also 'helped' 'set the stage' for his 'performance' and nearly drove him mad with their minute by minute by play of what he should do, the arrangement of his furniture, how best to give her the gifts, where and how he should sit while he sang to her, where she should be sitting, the best lighting, what he should wear, what he should cook (Lita had had something to say about this too), the type and amount and placements of flowers (apparently, on top of the bouquet of red roses he planned to give her, he should also have them strategically placed all over his apartment, for the right ambience). When the evening came for that special date, Raye and Mina had even almost managed a sneak peek to his 'performance' before he realised that the two of them were spying from outside his eighth floor window in their Sailor Senshi form instead of leaving as they pretended to. He had the satisfaction of shutting the curtain on their faces.
Andrew had 'persuaded' him that the new Sailor V video game should be installed at the arcade and if he paid for it, Serena would get unlimited access for life. He had ended up paying for all three of the new version. Not that he minded when he heard her squeal of delight when Andrew had announced that they were hers to use at anytime, free of charge.
Even Luna and Artemis seemed to conspire against him when the two cat guardians got into an 'argument', in his presence of course and Artemis had attempted to demonstrate to him that in a 'disagreement' between a 'boy' and a 'girl', the 'girl' was always right.
So yes, while he really would do anything for Serena, he definitely would not dare to make the same promise of agreeing to anything and/or everything her friends might come up with blindly.
Serena faked a frown. "I thought you'd hate for strangers to intrude in your personal space."
"I do. But as much as I hate for strangers to intrude in my personal space, I love you so much more. So much more," he said it so easily that her heart skipped a beat.
Still, she answered him casually, "I figured that I might have to... persuade you." Her last note came out playfully, almost seductively.
Anticipation lit mischievously in his eyes at her impish tone. "Just out of curiosity, what would you do to...persuade me? And would you like to anyway?" he asked teasingly with raised eyebrows.
Serena grinned. "I haven't finished yet you know, in outlining the favour. That wasn't all..." she said, and struggled to keep her face bland.
He arched an eyebrow, said nothing and started chopping vegetables for the salad while he waited for the punch line.
"Raye also wrote this number and played it for us last night." She looked at him, making it up as she went along. "She sang it with Mina. It was beautiful. But they need a male voice. I suggested you."
Darien blinked, lost all interest in the meal he was preparing. "Suggested me... for what, exactly?"
"To sing with Raye and Mina, silly," she answered cheerfully, nearly losing it when he paled. "I don't really get why you don't sing for anyone else. You've got such a nice voice, deep and all male, sexy."
Though it wasn't easy, Darien managed to shut his mouth. He slowly put the knife down, buying some time before he could respond, "Serena..."
"Really, it would be great. Raye choreographed this dance routine for you guys and Mina's got a great idea for your costume."
"For my..." Thoroughly shaken, Darien washed his hands slowly, taking his time. "You want me to sing, and dance, with Mina and Raye, in a costume, in public, in front of people, real, life people?"
"It would mean so much to them. Amy's already got the video concept figured out. You know, for YouTube."
Darien blanched, "YouTube?"
"It's really tasteful, yet sexy at the same time."
Testing him, and somehow subconsciously needing to test the effect she had on him, she crossed to him, and began toying with the buttons of his shirt as she looked eagerly up into his eyes.
"Serena, you know I love you. There isn't much that I wouldn't do for you..."
"Didn't you just say you'd do anything for me?" she asked coyly, looking up at him from under her lashes.
"Within reason. I said anything within reason." Panic had him gripping her arms.
Gently she backed him onto the stool and settled herself on his lap, putting her arms loosely on his shoulders, "You know everyone would love it," and started raining small kisses on his face, "We figured we'd have a live encore performance at the arcade."
Darien made a strangled sound at the back of his throat, "Encore performance, live? At the arcade? Which could fit more people than here?" All the colour drained out of him.
She almost lost it but Serena managed to keep the laughter from coming out of her and continued gleefully, "Why not? Your fan club would pay big money to hear you sing! Drew could even charge for entree fee. With your voice and you're so gorgeous and all, I'll bet the arcade would be full and the YouTube video would have thousands of hits," she said as she trailed her finger down the centre of his chest, "hundreds of thousands!"
She was laying it just a little too thick. Darien narrowed his eyes, and caught the mischief in hers. "You're putting me on."
Her laughter burst out. "You bought it! You totally bought it! Oh, you should've seen your face."
She pressed a hand to her belly, squealed when he tugged one of her buns, hard. "I would've talked you into it too!" she gasped in between laughter.
"I don't think so." Not at all sure of himself, he moved her from his lap, got up and went to the sink, his back to her.
"I could have! You would have done it if I had played it right." All but doubled over with laughter, she threw her arms around his waist and hugged herself to his back. "Oh, I love you."
Darien went very still. The emotions that swept through him were like a storm, quick and violent. Shaken, he turned to face her, gripped her arms.
The laughter died out of her face at the stunned look on his. "What? What is it?"
His deep sea blue eyes were dark and fierce. "I never thought I'd hear you say those words again."
Swamped by his emotions, he dragged her close and buried his face in her hair. "I never thought I'd hear you say those words again," he repeated.
She held on to him, rocked by the emotions vibrating from him. "Of course I'd say the words. I love you."
"You haven't said it. Not once since we got back together." He hadn't known how much he needed to hear her say those words again, hadn't known how terrified he actually was that she no longer felt the same.
Serena opened her mouth, started to deny his statement, but closed it again. It was true. She hadn't. It was foolish and cowardly.
"I'm sorry. It's hard for me. I do love you. Every bit as much as before," she said quietly. "I'm just scared that I'd lose you again."
Darien's heart rolled in his chest at her declaration of love. The loveliest sensation he had ever known. Layering the joy, there was guilt, the same one that never quite left him, not since he first broke up with her, not even after they got back together and not for a very long time to come he was sure of it.
He had known loss in his life, had lived with the harsh, devastating loss of his parents at such a young age and had lived with it because he didn't have any other choice. Young as he was, hard as it was, he had survived with his will and spirit intact and hadn't considered death as an option. Yet, losing her, letting her go, had almost destroyed him, killed something inside of him and had made him literally want to die.
He had known fear and frustration and anger and sorrow, not having his memory, not knowing who he was, being passed from one orphanage to the next and being judged and fawned over for what he had rather than who he was. But he had never been as afraid as he was when the nightmares started and he thought being with him would cause her harm. Terror had filled his heart, consumed him when he thought letting her go was the only way to protect her. He had never known as much frustration as he did searching for a way to keep her safe, to get back to her, nor had he ever been as angry with fate or anyone as he had been with the situation he found himself in and with himself when the weight of Amy's theory had hit him and he had never been in as much agony as he had been when he broke her heart.
He had known all those emotions. He had overcome them, ignored them or used them to his advantage. But until her, he hadn't known he could love so much, feel so complete, experience such happiness and contentment. He hadn't known that one person would ever be so vital to his very being, could be everything to him.
Overwhelmed, he held her in his arms until he was sure he could speak. Easing her back, he looked into her eyes, framing her face in his hands, "You will never lose me. You never did. Even when I wasn't there physically, my heart was always with you. My thoughts were always on you. I was always yours. I never left. I never will."
He touched his lips to hers and let the kiss deepen slowly, so tender it made her throat ache and her toes curl.
By the time he lifted his head, Serena was completely dazed. "Look at me," he whispered, putting his hand beneath her chin and tipping it up, forcing her to meet his gaze. "I love you. I love you so much that my heart is full with it. Whatever happens, I will always find my way back to you. Always. Whatever it takes, I'd come back to you."
Posted on fanfiction: 12 August 2013
A/N: Well, that's it! My short Epilogue is almost 3000 words! I hope I've redeemed Darien in everyone's eyes, at least to a certain extent. The way I see it, these two really do belong together! :)
I do realise that some of you hope for more S&D interactions while some hope for me to make Darien suffer more. As to the first, this is a story focusing during their break up. I don't imagine broken up couples have that many interactions with each other. My intention was to show the Scouts as friends who were there for Serena and to cover Darien's POV, both of which were neglected by the anime in my opinion. As to the latter, I'm not a vengeful person by nature and I'm afraid I don't see Serena as vengeful either. So it's hard for me to imagine/write scenes where she'd make him work harder for her forgiveness. You see, I write what I see in my head and what feels right to me. I don't know how to write any other way.
At the end of the day this story was written for Shaydoe. I won't lie and say that reviews and opinions on this story don't impact me, because they do. I take words seriously both when I write them and when I read them. It matters what my readers think but it matters more what she thinks. I apologise for any disappointments but I really did my best on this story and reading it back from the beginning, I'm rather pleased with the end result. Hence, I will only change/edit this last scene at her request and no one else's.
That said, this story is now complete! The 'lightness' in this chapter in contrast to the 'heavier' feel of the previous chapters was done on purpose. I hope the ending is happy enough and made up for all the angst. :)
Thanks again for reading, reviewing, following, favouriting and supporting. :)