And it's here. The final chapter. It feels a little rushed in some places, but I don't do battles all that well, and thus we're here. Everything is wrapped up in a nice pretty little package. Thank you to everyone to who has reviewed, especially to those who have been with me from the beginning and urged me to make this more than the original one shot it was.

A Little Late

Chapter 9/9

The Sailor Senshi weren't ready when the attack came. All the warning that they had was the sudden beeping of Mercury's goggles, which alerted them in time to dodge the first attack, a group of vines shooting from the arms of the DD Girls.

"We're surrounded!" Mercury alerted them as she scanned the area, noting the five dots on the horizon. "There's five of them!"

Jupiter cracked her knuckles and looked off in the distance, waiting for the next attack. "I like the odds," she said candidly.

"Those are the DD Girls," Tuxedo Kamen told the Senshi with a grim note in his voice, glancing around, his cane held at the ready.

"Who are they?" Sailor Moon asked him, scanning the horizon, feeling her heart palpitating in her chest.

Tuxedo Kamen kept looking for their enemy, his eyes darting about furiously. "The strongest youma in the Dark Kingdom. Beryl's been saving them for you."

Venus swore and then pointed at the sky as the five DD Girls descended. "Look out!" she yelled.

Everyone dove out of the way as a DD Girl aimed for them, except for Sailor Moon, who was left alone. They ducked and rolled out of the way as ice came flying at them from where the DD Girls had dove through the ground. Tuxedo Kamen looked around blindly for Sailor Moon, who was covering her head from the rain of ice shards, and threw his cape over her to protect her. Despite the situation, she managed a grateful smile his way before stepping into her role as leader and shouting out orders to her friends.

"Everyone, let's get away from here, we don't want to be near them when they come out of the ice!" Sailor Moon called. All of them ran off, too slowly as the vines suddenly came out of the ground and snapped around Mars's ankle, throwing her off balance and slowly dragging her down the ice.

"Mars!" Jupiter yelled as she watched Mars turn over and ready her attack.

"Fire Soul!"

An unearthly scream came from the DD Girl who was holding Mars as the fire made its way down her vined arm into her body, causing the youma to go limp, killing it. Mars reached down and swiftly undid the vine from around her ankle, panting and sweating from the exertion.

Sailor Moon ran forward and kneeled down in the snow and ice, she threw her arms around Mars and held her close. "Mars, are you alright?" she demanded.

Wincing while she stood up, Mars tested the weight on her ankle. "My ankle hurts from the fire, but I'm otherwise okay," she told her princess, who looked relieved with those words. "Those vines are strong, they've got a lot of power in them, I could feel it. No messing around with these guys." She shared a look of understanding with Tuxedo Kamen and limped with her friends as they continued on down towards the opening of the Dark Kingdom.

They had barely walked another few minutes, still keeping their eyes open for the other four, when the ice field became misty and no one could see two feet in front of them. Mercury was still typing away at her computer and confirmed for them that this fog was being made by mystical means and that they should be weary. Mars tried concentrating on what was before them to see if she could sense the presence of the other four DD Girls, but found that she could feel nothing.

"It's like they aren't even there," she told her friends, worry evident in her voice.

Sailor Moon continued to walk forward, letting Mercury lead the way, and stopped when she noticed something in the distance beginning to take shape. She squinted against the sun and then gasped, her hand going to her mouth when she realized what it was. Sitting in the snow, their clothes ripped and their faces bloodied, were her parents and Shingo.

They appeared to be unconscious, but then her mother opened her eyes and reached out for her. "Usagi…help us."

"Mama!" Sailor Moon yelled as blind panic set in. She ran forward for her family, praying she was still in time to save them.

"Sailor Moon, no!" Tuxedo Kamen ran after her and wrapped an arm around her waist, physically lifting her up off the ground as he pulled her back. "You can't," he told her forcefully as he kept her as far away from her family as he could.

"Tuxedo Kamen, we have to help them!" Venus insisted as she began to make her way towards the Tsukino's.

Tuxedo Kamen, still holding firmly to Sailor Moon, shook his head. "The DD Girls are masters of illusion. That isn't the Tsukino's, that's just one of their tricks." Sailor Moon stopped struggling and looked up to him, her face streaked with tears. "I'm sorry, Usako."

Sailor Moon let out a shuddering breath and seemed to calm down with the knowledge this wasn't her family, that they hadn't been tortured and weren't looking as raggedy and beaten as the illusion before her did. She just hoped that her real family was in much better shape, though she feared the worst.

"Uh-oh," Jupiter said, shifting her footing.

"Uh-oh is bad, " Venus replied before she noticed what Jupiter did and she also shifted her footing, preparing to attack. "Uh-oh!"

Coming out of the center of the illusion was two of the DD Girls at full speed, heading straight for the Senshi and Tuxedo Kamen.

"Crescent Beam!"

"Fire Soul!"

The two attacks missed and everyone scrambled to get out of the way of the next one, the vines just barely missing Mercury by inches. The two of them wrapped their vine-like arms around Venus, who prepared her attack again, ready to administer it at point blank range, a move that would surely kill her.

Mercury got to her feet and typed on her computer, noting that the two of them that were coming at them were not the ones who could cause the illusions. She knew she couldn't do much to help the team, her attack was a defensive attack after all, but she theorized on many occasions how she could change that. Before spreading her attack, the shabon spray was condensed into a bubble of ice, if she could use that to her advantage she could take one of them out.

"Shabon Spray!"

She concentrated on not spreading the attack, keeping it as much of an ice block as she could, and was rewarded when she saw one of the DD Girls freeze in place and shatter into a million tiny pieces. The second DD Girl, shocked, let go of Venus, who slumped to the ground and rolled onto her torso, her attack now ready.

"Crescent Beam!"

The beam of light when straight through the head of the second DD Girl and her head snapped back, a look of surprise on her face from the sudden attack. She fell to the ground in a heap, and after a few seconds Venus allowed herself to breathe a sigh of relief and allow Jupiter to help her up.

"Everyone still standing?" Venus asked, her voice steady and authoritative despite her close shave. Everyone checked in, including Sailor Moon, who was looking pale from Venus' close encounter.

"We can't let our guards down," Tuxedo Kamen reminded the girls. "There's still two more out there."

"And we still need to be weary of the illusions, they can still send them to us if they want to," Mercury warned them.

Mars frowned as they continued along their journey. "I doubt they'll try that again. We didn't believe them the first time, what makes them think that…we'll…" she trailed off as through the mist a vision appeared to her. Her grandfather tied up and slumped forward in the snow, unconscious. "Jii-chan," Mars whispered.

"Mars, it's not –" Mercury began, noticing the readings in her goggles.

"Think you can get me with your cheap tricks!" Mars yelled at the illusion. "I'm not falling for it! My grandfather is at home, safe, probably hitting on some girl in a skirt!"

"Fire Soul!"

The fire went right through the illusion, breaking it up, and the last two of the DD Girls came bursting onto the scene. Everyone was ready for them and attacks began flying left and right, trying to stop or slow down the flying youma before them.

Tuxedo Kamen felt helpless, so far he had done nothing to help beyond inform them of the danger they were in, and the Senshi had handled themselves admirably. He could do nothing besides stay out of their way as they attacked. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Sailor Moon throwing her tiara, hoping to hit the youma, and he saw their plan just seconds before they reached her.

Running forward as the DD Girls lunged down on Sailor Moon, he got between the three of them and ran the remaining DD Girls through with his cane. He dropped the cane, which they futilely tried to pull out and shouted for Jupiter, who smirked as Tuxedo Kamen pulled Sailor Moon back from the scene.

"Supreme Thunder!"

The cane acted as a lightning rod and the last two of the DD Girls fell to the ground in a charred mass. Tuxedo Kamen gingerly stepped forward to retrieve his cane from their bodies, wincing slightly as he did so.

"I don't envy doing that, Tuxedo Kamen," Jupiter said while she also winced.

"Do you think she'll send more?" Sailor Moon asked as they began to move out again.

Tuxedo Kamen shook his head. "No point, that's the entrance," he said as he pointed to a black cave that presented itself in front of them.

They positioned themselves at the mouth of the cave and hesitated, studying the opening. Venus finally turned to Tuxedo Kamen and chirped at him, "Age before beauty?"

The Senshi snickered and Tuxedo Kamen rolled his eyes, beckoning them to follow. He did, after all, know his way around the Dark Kingdom so it was only natural that he be the one to lead them through the dark, twisting tunnels. Sailor Moon slipped next to him and took his hand, squeezing his it in reassurance. They took a step in and walked into the darkness that was the Dark Kingdom.

XxXxXxXx

Queen Beryl watched the Senshi and Tuxedo Kamen enter the Dark Kingdom and it was all she could do to hold herself back. Not one, not a single one had fallen to the DD Girls. There had been several close calls, but all that had done was show how strong they had become over the months since they had become Senshi. Furious, Queen Beryl had gripped her crystal ball so tightly that cracks appeared along the surface of it.

If the DD Girls hadn't been able to stop them, then none of the youma would stand a chance. It was possible they could overcome them with sheer numbers, but Beryl knew that all of her stronger youma were gone, they would plow through the weaker ones as though they were wading through shallow water. It would only serve to slow them down and would not deter them in the least.

She frowned and gripped the staff in her hand tightly, her knuckles turning white. They'd be heading here, to the throne room, but Metalia was still not ready. But it would have to do, because their enemy was at the door.

Beryl turned to her nearest minion and snapped at it. "You, bring the family down here, immediately. I want Serenity to see them before she dies."

She stood and went down to the vast chamber where Queen Metalia, the great black expanse that she served, waited. While nothing more than energy, Metalia had a consciousness of her own and was a power that not even Beryl could fathom. Beryl kneeled before Metalia and waited to be addressed.

"You have failed, Beryl," the dark voice purred.

Beryl shivered, but did not deny this. "We must prepare for the Sailor Senshi to come here, even our strongest youma have failed."

"No," Metalia responded, "you have failed, Beryl. You have this last chance to destroy the princess of the white moon and bring me the ginzuishou. The Dark Kingdom will fall because of your ignorance if you cannot accomplish this simple task!" she roared, causing the cavern to quake.

Beryl did not move and merely bowed her head lower, fear in her stomach as she realized that this was going to be her last chance to prove herself to Metalia.

XxXxXxXx

Tuxedo Kamen knew the tunnels by heart, he doubted he would ever forget them, and other than the occasional youma that they destroyed their way was clear. He led them through the twist and turns, hardly pausing until the tunnels began to get wider and the air was starting to get thick with dark energy. He paused and let out a shuddering breath as he realized just how close they were.

"We're almost there, aren't we?" Jupiter asked.

Tuxedo Kamen nodded and pointed down the tunnel. "One more stretch of tunnels and then we're there. The throne room."

Sailor Moon touched his arm and he looked down at her. "You can go back, you don't have to face her if you don't want to."

"Yes, I do."

"Well we aren't going to get there by standing around," Mars said as she massaged her ankle. "Let's go!" She took off down the tunnel, the others following close behind her.

It wasn't long before they came to a wide opening and they slowly came to a halt at the vastness that was Queen Beryl's throne room. It had been emptied of all the normal youma who swarmed the court and a dark aura hung in the air so thick that it almost seemed to blind them as they entered. Tuxedo Kamen looked around and frowned, puzzled by how quiet the throne room was without the youma.

"This is wrong," Tuxedo Kamen whispered.

Venus looked around, her body tense. "What is it?"

"There's normally youma crawling all over this place," his voice was a whisper. "We didn't run into that many."

"So it's a trap," Mercury said just as quietly as they made their way slowly forward.

It was silent in the throne room and with every step forward their breaths came a little faster and their nerves were set more on edge. Before them was the strange dark energy that they had always come to associate with the Dark Kingdom, but below their feet was something else entirely. They were about half way in when they heard a strange sound, the sound of someone struggling and Sailor Moon suddenly stopped and gasped.

"That's Shingo!" she whispered, suddenly picking up speed and running further into the room.

"Sailor Moon!" Tuxedo Kamen called out after her as they tried to keep up with her. Her morning sprints, however, had paid off in the long run and Sailor Moon out stripped them all and soon came upon what she had heard with a stifled scream.

Shingo lay, hands bound behind his back, with a large gash above his eye. He was struggling against his bonds, which were chaffing his wrists, and tensed when he heard the voice call out. He looked up just in time to see his sister come out of the fog, like an angel descending into hell, and his face lit up.

"Usagi!"

Sailor Moon knelt down next to him, panic and worry on her face, and she wiped the blood away from his eye and then quickly snapped the ropes around his wrists. "Oh, Shingo. Are you okay?" she asked.

Her brother grinned at her, feeling some of his fear melt away now that she was there. "It doesn't hurt."

Tearing up, she threw her arms around him and held him tightly, sniffling as she tried to hold back her emotions. He tensed up and gasped. "Usagi, behind you!"

Sailor Moon turned around, ready to fight, but she quickly relaxed when she saw that it was only Tuxedo Kamen and the Senshi. Then it clicked. She faced Shingo again and smiled at him. "It's okay, Shingo, he's on our side. He's better."

Shingo, however, did not relax. Unlike the Senshi, he hadn't known Mamoru or Tuxedo Kamen, he didn't understand the forces that were at work like they did. He glared at Tuxedo Kamen and asked his sister, "Are you sure?"

Tuxedo Kamen offered his hand to Sailor Moon, who gratefully took it, while Venus helped Shingo stand. Sailor Moon smiled at Shingo, radiating confidence. "I'm positive. I broke the magic last night."

Jupiter crossed her arms and put her hand on the kid's shoulder. "True love conquers all, Shingo."

"Do you know where mama and papa are?" Sailor Moon asked, not willing to even try to explain that to her now puzzled brother.

Shingo shook his head and they kept walking, now nearer to the throne than they had been and feeling colder than ever. "I haven't seen them since we were brought here. They separated me from them, I don't know if they're still together. And papa…papa was hurt pretty badly. One of those things, they called themselves the DD something or other, that attacked us cut him across the back and he wouldn't stop bleeding." He swallowed. "Do you think he's alright?"

Mercury looked forward, her eyes resolute, and she set her mouth in a firm line. "I'm certain he's fine. This may sound cruel, but if they had wanted him dead, they wouldn't have bothered to take you as hostages in the first place."

"And don't worry about the DD Girls," Tuxedo Kamen told him. "We took care of them."

Shingo rubbed at the dried blood around his wrists, set his face in a stern look and kept walking forward. "Good."

"Hold on everyone," Mercury said in a hushed tone. "There's something up ahead."

The group stopped and Mercury pushed a few buttons before she smiled at Sailor Moon. "It's human, there's two of them." Sailor Moon and Shingo exchanged enthusiastic looks. Tuxedo Kamen took Sailor Moon's hand and squeezed it, hoping to give her strength. "Wait, there's something else with them, something that isn't a youma, but it's not quite human, either." She tapped a few more buttons but no new information came up. "I think it's…"

"That's probably Beryl," Tuxedo Kamen said. "Not quite human, not a youma, but something else entirely. And below that, below this throne room, is Metalia."

"Metalia?" Shingo asked, more familiar with Beryl's story and terror. They hadn't deliberately left Metalia out of the story when telling the Tsukino's about the past, but they hadn't emphasized her importance, either.

Sailor Moon sucked in a breath and began to lead the way through the last bit of fog. "The real threat," she explained succinctly.

"Yes," a new, unfamiliar, voice curled through the darkness. "The real threat." Queen Beryl chuckled as the Sailor Senshi walked into the little bit of light that was around her black throne and saw her for the first time. She stood tall, her staff held in one hand, a physical embodiment of everything the Senshi had come to know was evil. The very heart of the jealousy which had rooted Metalia on Earth.

"But you have to get through me to get to her. Can you manage that, Serenity?"

It was then that they noticed that off to the side of Beryl's throne were two figures. Ikuko was kneeling on the ground, her pajama pants soaked with blood, Kenji's blood. Kenji's head was in her lap and she was stroking his hair as Ikuko stared ahead at her daughter, wondering what she would do, how she would react.

"Usagi," Ikuko whispered.

Sailor Moon turned her head to Queen Beryl and regarded her coolly. "How did you know?"

Beryl looked smug and stepped down from her throne, almost gracefully. "Endymion was acting strange these last few weeks, after he killed Kunzite – "

"I killed Kunzite," Sailor Moon told her severely. "I guess Tuxedo Kamen edited what happened."

"To make sure she didn't know you were there," Tuxedo Kamen agreed, almost still pleased with himself when he watched Beryl visibly lose part of her composure over being lied to.

"After Kunzite's demise," Beryl corrected herself, "I had Endymion followed. I was pleased to see he knew your identities, I thought it was a hand he had yet to play." She paused in her walking and her face turned sour. "Then I saw what you did to him, even as enemies." Power gathered in her hand and her eyes flashed. "I saw you lying in his arms!"

Sailor Moon pulled out her Moon Stick and the Senshi began to power up their attacks.

"No matter what I do, no matter how many times we reincarnate, I cannot get what I want, then you shall not get Endymion either!"

"Moon Healing Escalation!"

The rays of the ginzuishou held out against the energy that Beryl sent their way and as Sailor Moon stood her ground, she looked to Tuxedo Kamen, who understood without words what she was asking. He went around her, out of the protective light of the ginzuishou, and ran to where Ikuko and Kenji were sitting, perilously close to Beryl, who took her eyes off the battle for a moment to watch what he was doing.

"Endymion, no!" she barked, which allowed Venus to use her Crescent Beam, scratching Beryl's face.

"Can you move?" Tuxedo Kamen asked Ikuko, breathing heavily.

Ikuko stared wide-eyed at him for a moment, studying him, and despite the situation she smiled. "You're back."

"Thanks to Usagi. Now, can you stand? We have to run. Sailor Moon needs to unleash more power to destroy Beryl."

"I can, but Kenji…" She looked down at her husband's still unconscious form and trembled.

"No problem," Tuxedo Kamen said. Kenji groaned and Tuxedo Kamen leaned down and picked him up. "I'm sorry, Tsukino-san, this is going to hurt your back," he muttered. "Come on, let's run!"

Ikuko followed him and he could hear Beryl roar furiously behind him as he reentered the protective bubble that Sailor Moon had created using the ginzuishou. He set Kenji down as far back as he could and Ikuko stood with him, ready to follow any instructions that were yelled to her by the Senshi. Shingo was ordered by Jupiter to go to them, stay out of the way, because things were only going to get worse.

Out of the corner of her eye, Sailor Moon saw that her family was now safe and she turned her eyes back to the fight. Beryl was only another obstacle. She had to save her strength for Metalia. She focused harder, giving more of her strength to the ginzuishou. She forced Beryl's energy back once more, and broke it, causing Beryl to stumble back to the ground.

"Now!" Mars yelled.

"Crescent Beam!"

"Supreme Thunder!"

"Fire Soul!"

"Shabon Spray!"

The four powers combined, and before Beryl could recover from the hit she took from the ginzuishou they slammed into her center, striking her very core. Beryl gasped and held her stomach, or where her stomach had been, and sunk to the floor crying out in pain.

"Sailor Moon, one more time!" Venus called to her.

Knowing it would not be the last time for the day, Sailor Moon lifted the ginzuishou high above her head and let the power wash over her. Her sailor fuku unfurled and Sailor Moon stood there no longer; Princess Serenity was now there to finish what her mother had tasked her with countless years ago.

"Moon Healing Escalation!"

The crescent moon on Serenity's forehead shone in the darkness and Beryl screamed one last silent scream, her body crumbling to dust.

"Usagi…Usagi is that you?" Ikuko asked, staring at the girl who had taken Sailor Moon's place.

Serenity lowered the Moon Stick, breathing hard, and faced her mother. She smiled at her, trying to reassure her as Ikuko had never seen her like this before, but the look faded from her face as the cavern began to rumble and the Senshi were immediately back on their guard.

"That's…" Mercury trailed off.

"Metalia," Jupiter finished.

"It's not over yet," Serenity whispered, wishing desperately it was. "Mama, Shingo, stay back and watch papa. Whatever you do, don't let her touch you."

"Who?" Ikuko wondered.

In a whirl of dark energy and wind, a great blackness came up from under the floor. Pure black, with slits for eyes and a great gaping mouth. Metalia was mammoth, nearly filling the entire front of the room with its enormity. For a moment she just seemed content to rest there, taking up space and being a dark, evil presence that oozed miasma.

And then she spoke.

"So the princess of the white moon thinks she can do what her powerful mother could not," Queen Metalia hissed. "You cannot destroy me. No one can destroy me."

"Her," Serenity reaffirmed, taking a step closer to Metalia, leveling her Moon Stick at it. "My mother wasn't given a choice. She could either destroy us all, or let us all live. I have a different choice because none of us are dead. So now, for the Silver Millennium, in the name of the moon, I'll punish you!"

"Moon Healing Escalation!"

Metalia responded by waving what appeared to be a clawed looking hand in front of the ginzuishou's energy, effectively stopping it from reaching it. But Serenity did not stop, she poured her life force into what she was doing, never stopping, never breaking her concentration, as she did everything she could to save her planet from what was left of the Dark Kingdom. The white light of the ginzuishou pulsed, and Metalia hissed as it touched it, unable to keep the purity at bay.

"You tried to take my planet, my friends, and my family!" Serenity yelled, the ginzuishou responding to her emotions. "You can't have any of them, you wouldn't understand the true meaning or importance of love and friendship!"

"Is this all you have?" Metalia demanded. "Is this your power? The power of love? Friendship? Is this all there is?"

"That's all I need to defeat you!"

Metalia laughed. "You could have all the love in the world, and it would not hold the smallest flame to my power. You will merely repeat your sad history, and this planet will fall to me."

"No! We were sent here to stop you, to prevent you from taking form and rooting yourself into the Earth," Serenity replied with true resolve in her voice. "Okaa-sama gave me this chance, and nothing will stop me!"

"Your mother was a fool. Entrusting your future to a child."

Serenity's eyes went cold. "No one insults my mother!"

Their wills were matched, their powers were equaled, and neither side gave the other an inch. The dark met the light and Serenity had sweat beading down her forehead.

The Senshi watched as Serenity did everything to just hold Metalia back. Kenji had awakened and through half-closed lids was able to see his daughter standing before him, protecting them from the darkness that threatened them. She was a pillar of light in the muck that surrounded them, and she was glorious to gaze upon. But it was easy to see that it was taxing her, and that without some final push she wouldn't win this.

"She won't last much longer!" Mercury called over the roar of the clashing energies.

Mars was kneeling on the ground and looked between Serenity and Metalia. "There must be something we can do!"

Jupiter cursed and tried shooting Metalia with her attack, only to have it be absorbed into her body, as it had so many years before. "We aren't going to be much help."

"Everyone, give her your power!" Venus ordered, an idea coming to her. "Give her everything!"

Exchanging glances with each other, the Senshi stepped forward and flanked Serenity, placing a hand on the Moon Stick each and calling forth their powers and adding them to hers. Tuxedo Kamen followed, unsure how he could help, but he slipped one arm around Serenity's waist and another up on her arm, supporting her from behind.

"Mercury Power!"

"Mars Power!"

"Jupiter Power!"

"Venus Power!"

Serenity felt their power flow into her and she inhaled sharply, letting it fill her every pore.

"Moon Prism Power!"

With a final push, the energy of the ginzuishou pulsed again and drew the energy from Serenity, growing stronger until it grew beyond Metalia and engulfed it. With a scream, it took over the dark energy that was Metalia, causing its body to fall to pieces and disappear from existence.

Silence filled the vast cavern and Serenity breathed hard, not ready to relax quite yet.

"Is it…gone?" Mercury whispered, lowering her hand and looking around in the dark. "Did we do it?"

Jupiter was grinning, sweat running down the side of her face and she let out a great laugh when nothing moved in the shadows. "We did it!"

Venus jumped up and pumped her fist in the air. "It's gone!" She turned to Mars and grabbed her hands, jumping with her. "It's gone!"

"Ankle, ankle, ankle!" Mars ground out between her teeth, pulling away and rubbing her burned ankle with a scowl.

"Usako?" Tuxedo Kamen whispered, still holding onto her.

Serenity turned and looked up to Tuxedo Kamen, tears in her eyes, the past avenged. "I just can't believe it's over."

Their celebrations were cut short. A sudden rumbling sound came from around them and a chunk of the ceiling overhead fell right next to the Tsukino's, causing them to cry out. The floor beneath them became unstable and it crumbled right under Serenity's feet, but she was pulled out of the way by Tuxedo Kamen, who turned to the Senshi.

"Run!" he yelled. "The whole place is coming down!"

Without the power of Metalia to hold the Dark Kingdom together, it was crumbling around them. They crowded around the frightened Tsukino's, drained and spent of their powers, unsure if they would be able to make it, but knowing they didn't have the time to plan for another contingency. Tuxedo Kamen stepped into the center with the Tsukino's, and the Senshi surrounded them. They ignored the hunks of rock falling on them, concentrating instead on what they had to do, that they had to get out to save themselves.

"Everyone, give everything you have, we're carrying four people, and we've given most of our energy to this fight," Mercury instructed them, wincing when a piece of the ceiling hit her shoulder. "There's a high statistical probability that we won't be able to do this."

"Way to boost morale, Mercury!" Jupiter yelled, taking hers and Mars' hands.

"All we can do is pray!" Venus input, standing her ground.

"No, we can do this," Mars insisted.

Tuxedo Kamen and Serenity exchanged glances, and Serenity closed the circle. "Everyone, let's get home!"

"Mercury Power!"

"Mars Power!"

"Jupiter Power!"

"Venus Power!"

"Moon Prism Power!"

As the floor gave way, the Senshi, Tuxedo Kamen, and the Tsukino's vanished from the remains of the Dark Kingdom. It collapsed on itself, bringing a rain of rock and snow into all of the tunnels, taking any of the remaining youma that had hidden in the cavernous tunnels with it.

XxXxXxXx

So much time had passed that it was nearly nightfall when they reappeared at the Hikawa Shrine. As soon as the Senshi realized they were safe, they were at the shrine, they slumped to the ground, completely exhausted of their powers, detransforming to their civilian forms. Ikuko laid Kenji on the ground, making sure to not open his wound again, and leaned over and touched Usagi on the arm. Usagi jumped, but then smiled at her mother, and gave her the thumbs up through her tired eyes.

Minako looked to the darkening sky and laughed out loud. "We won!" she cried out.

The others groaned in agreement, not feeling like they had the energy to celebrate just yet.

"Mina!"

"Usagi-chan!"

Limping along, with Artemis helping her, was Luna. She was moving, her eyes shining with unshed tears, as she realized what it meant that they were back. She hobbled along as fast as she could and came up to Usagi, who picked her up and hugged her as tightly as possible. "Luna, you're alright."

"Of course I am, Usagi-chan," Luna purred as Artemis reunited with Minako. "Oh, Usagi-chan, you did it. You did it!"

Usagi looked sadly at her father, who was still barely conscious, and at Shingo's slightly puffy face from the laceration on his face and she winced. "Not without some repercussions. We need to get papa to the hospital."

Rei stood up and winced on her ankle, wishing she had the energy to heal it. "I'll go call an ambulance," she volunteered. "You'd better think of a cover story for how this happened."

XxXxXxXx

Kenji was out of work for quite some time while his back healed, no one questioned the gang attack that had driven them from their home to the Hikawa Shrine. The Senshi even took several days off of school to rest and relax from their final battle with the Dark Kingdom. Of course, Ami only took one day off as she couldn't let herself get that behind in her studies, much to the others chagrin. Luna was healing wonderfully, though she limped along on her broken leg around the house and had to be carried up and down the stairs. No one minded.

Mamoru took back to civilian life easily, and with renewed vigor. He'd had to forfeit this semester of college, but with Ami's computer skills they had managed to fake medical records to indicate that Mamoru had been in a coma, so it didn't count against him. Even Motoki had bought the cover story, though he'd then doted on Mamoru a little bit as he had been extremely worried about him.

It was going to take some time before the Tsukino's fully trusted Mamoru, and he couldn't blame them after what he had put them through. He had threatened their lives, whether he would have gone through with it or not was neither here nor there. Kenji wanted to outright forbid any contact between Usagi and Mamoru, but Luna had laughed at him and pointed out that whether he liked it or not, they had a greater destiny than what Kenji could fathom. They would find a way. Shingo didn't like it, but didn't protest when Mamoru came for Usagi in the mornings before school, he was slowly getting used to it, and the guy had a motorcycle. He was looking forward to being able to ride that sometime.

Ikuko was the easiest. She had been the most understanding during the whole debacle, and she continued to be. Mamoru was allowed around anytime, as long as she was home (they overlooked that one night Usagi spent at his apartment), but the entire episode had changed her. She had seen her daughter, that is to say the person her daughter truly was, and the amount of power she could wield, and it was almost frightening.

But time passed, as it does, and things were back to normal. In Ichi-no-Hashi park, Mamoru and Usagi were getting ready to walk home. It was warmer than it had been, winter was well on its way to ending and spring was around the corner. With spring would come a new school year, and studying for high school entrance exams, which Usagi wasn't ready for. Hopefully she could cheat off of Ami.

"Do you really think it's over?" Usagi asked Mamoru as they left the park. "That there won't be a need for the Senshi or Tuxedo Kamen anymore?"

Mamoru had her smaller hand in his and gave it a squeeze. He was trying to be reassuring, but somehow, he doubted that Metalia was the only evil in the galaxy. "I think that we should enjoy the peace we have. Take it, use it. The galaxy is vast, if Metalia was out there, there's no telling what else there could be and we should always be prepared." Usagi's eyes were downcast, but Mamoru stopped and put his hand under her chin, forcing her to meet his gaze. "Whatever's out there, we'll meet it head on. It can never defeat us."

Usagi's eyes widened and then she smiled at him. She reached up and brushed her hand against his cheek, and tilted her head to the side. "No, they'll never get us," she whispered.

Closing the gap between them, Mamoru leaned down and took Usagi's lips in his, kissing her passionately, letting her know how much he believed in her and he power. No one would break them, no one would take their world, their friends, their families. As they stood there, absorbed in each other, they let the world go around them and did just as Mamoru had suggested, they reveled in the peace of now.

Neither of them noticed the cloud that appeared overhead, or the little pink haired girl that was about to, literally, drop in on them.

The End.

Yes, now that IS where I'm ending it. No, I don't have plans to write a sequel. If I write one, I'll write one, but currently there is no plan. I don't have any plans, actually, so just keep your eyes peeled, you never know if I'll have a sudden hit of inspiration.

Thanks for sticking with me all this time!