Hi, I didn't know what to rate this so I just picked what was safe. I don't own Sailor Moon. I don't own the song "Never is a long time", it's by Roxette. And I don't know why I put a Roxette song in – my mind puzzles me sometimes (most of the time; all of the time). I've never been satisfied with the 'break-up' episodes so I tried to do my own version and well this is it. Please read and review. Enjoy!

" I don't want to be with you any more Serena. Why should our past lives dictate what we do in this life? I don't want to pretend for the sake of a few memories", Darien said tersely, not meeting Serena's eyes because he knew they'd be full of tears. Plus if she were to meet his gaze she'd know he was lying, that he loved her more then he ever had, and this was all just a ploy to keep her safe. Part of him almost wanted her to call his bluff so that he could confess that he'd been having dreams that prophesied something dreadful if they stayed together but with a resolute shake of his head, he knew it had to be this way. Anything to keep her safe.

Serena's eyes were indeed full of tears. They were a symptom of her shock, her disbelief, her sadness, and even her anger. How could he change so quickly and tell her so coldly? No explanation? ' Sorry Serena but I don't like you anymore and I'd rather not see you ever again'. How was she supposed to react?

Her eyes swept around her as thought the answer lay written on the hallway walls. Darien's walls – almost like the ones he had over his soul, the ones she'd never quite gotten through. Walls that she would never see again – she wasn't welcome anymore. She focussed on a pair of little pink and white shoes. So Reenie was here? Darien then was pushing only her away… Whatever had gone wrong had to do solely with her. Her chin dropped down and a solitary tear dropped from her eye, as she suddenly had to get out of there.

She fumbled for the door, her eyes too clouded to help her. She felt Darien's arm brush past her to slide the lock and shame and anger swung through her system. No doubt Darien was having no problems thinking clearly. As soon as the door was open she started running. She was already at the stairwell when he called her name. She spun around, hope raising her spirits just a little.

" You'd be safer to take the elevator. Ten floors when you're distraught…" Darien trailed off. Serena's hopes crashed down and splintered into sharp pieces. Such condescension; she could almost thank Darien for giving her an excuse to feed her anger.

" Fuck you Darien", she said her voice low and tremulous. " You don't tell me what to do anymore".

Serena slammed the stairwell door and took the stairs at breakneck speed. What did it matter if she was to fall now? She was already in the worst pain of her life.

" He just… broke up with you?" Amy asked later. The Sailor Scouts were gathered for a meeting. The plan had been to discuss the new enemies who were after Reenie but one look at Serena's face and even Luna and Artemis had felt the need to abandon Scout business for a while.

" You must have done something", Raye said uncertainly. But what could Serena do that would make anyone want to be rid of her? Sure, she was annoying some of the time, but she could draw in even the most hostile of people. " Did you?"

" Not that I know of. Everything was fine a few weeks ago and then he seemed sort-of distant and distracted and then, bam, 'I don't want to be with you anymore'."

" Wow, that's way harsh. And if he means it…" Lita said.

" He couldn't possibly mean it. It's not logical", said Amy. " Perhaps he's being controlled by the enemy. It would hardly be surprising since it's happened before."

" Of course! I can't believe we didn't think of that. That has to be it. True love never dies. The scout of love has spoken!" Mina said, standing up suddenly, her fingers in the shape of a V.

" Good that means I don't have to kick the crap out of him. And I could… if it was dark… and I surprised him", Lita said, her mind formulating a plan just in case.

The four scouts were so thrilled by their theory that they didn't notice how Serena had failed to join in their excitement. Serena might not know books but she knew people. And Darien had said those words to her under his own direction. Her friends were sympathetic but they didn't really understand, Serena realized. They didn't understand the pain she felt now that she was severed from Darien. This wasn't some mere boyfriend – he was her soul mate. Without him she was half a person. And her friends would never understand what that felt like until they too found love and lost it. She was suddenly overwhelmed by such loneliness that she started to visibly shake. Not wanting her friends to worry overly she slipped outside of Raye's temple room. Sitting with her arms wrapped around her knees she stared at the moon, wishing she could go back there. On the moon she would have a less painful excuse for being alone.

You build it up and tear it down

There's no reason to follow you

You left the song without a sound

You left the story I made for you

A scream pierced the evening twilight. Instantly Serena was on her feet, hand on her transformation broach. She'd recognize Reenie's scream anywhere. Despite the euphoria of transforming, Serena was still far from better as she yelled at the scout's that they were needed. In fact when she saw Tuxedo Mask flash by her, her heart dropped into her stomach so fast she could barely move.

" Hurry up, Reenie's in danger", snapped Darien. For Serena it was too much, too soon. Seeing him so near knowing how he felt about her. She felt so worthless.

" Mars fire surround", the bright light of fire lit up the temple grounds and singed the youma. The youma bounced back and shot at them. The scout's dodged and Serena moved in for an attack. She had almost finished powering up when Reenie stumbled into her path. Seeing the danger, Serena pulled back on the energy. As it flowed back into her, it burnt her fingers and palms, singeing the skin up to her shoulders. The pain made her dizzy for a moment, disabling her just as the youma targeted her. Before she could be hit, she was swept up in Tuxedo Mask's arms. For the brief time she was held there, she stared into his eyes searching for some sign of recognition or warmth. They remained as ice. It was humiliating. He was being forced to save her because she was incompetent.

He dropped her unceremoniously on the youma's blindside and disappeared.

" Damn it", cried Lita as she was hit. Her attention had been taken by Serena's rescue and had missed the danger to herself. She was lifted bodily into the air and thrown against Amy. The two went sprawling.

" Venus crescent beam", yelled Mina, hurting the youma sufficiently to cause him pause. Serena completed a second power up and dusted the enemy.

Reenie ran out from her hiding place and wrapped her arms around Darien's leg.

" I'll take her home", he said curtly, pinking up the pink haired child. A twirl of cape and her was gone.

" Way to go, Meatball-head. Thanks to you Lita and Amy got damn near fried", Raye said, pulling out of her sailor form.

" I know, sorry guys", Serena said.

" No real harm done. I've got a hard head", Lita said then smiled, " and Amy's got a soft body."

" No Amy has a bruised body. You're going to have to be more careful", Raye fumed.

" I'm fine Raye, really and Serena's had a rough day", Amy interjected.

" No Raye's right. There's no excuse for such poor behaviour. Your training ought to have compensated in times of emotional distress", said Luna approaching the group.

Serena took all this in with a heavy heart. It was true but unlike all the other times when she'd been drilled, this time it mattered to her. She couldn't afford to lose anyone else. Obviously there was something wrong with her to have lost Darien; she had to figure out what it was before she lost her friends as well.

" You're right Luna. I made a mistake. I'm sorry everyone".

" It's okay, we forgive you. After all to 'err is human, to forgive saves a stitch in time'", Mina said seriously. They all laughed as Mina got it wrong yet again. They parted ways then, Serena went home, and soaked her arms in cool water until the sting lessened. Climbing wearily into bed she was careful not to disturb either Reenie or Luna. Even when she began to cry – the day's events catching up to her, she tried to keep the sobs quiet.

Softly angels bow and cry

In the stillness of the night

Reenie woke up and after much debate passed Serena the rose her hero Tuxedo Mask had given her to make Serena stop crying. Serena recognized the sacrifice Reenie had made but the irony of the gesture was too cruel.

" Thank you Reenie but why don't you keep it?" she managed.

" But you're crying".

" Yes, but I'll stop soon and the rose means a lot to you", and it doesn't mean anything to me anymore. In fact I think I hate roses, she thought. " Now go to sleep", Serena said, and tucked the child back in. For some reason Serena felt better having Reenie around. She didn't fall asleep that night, though her eyes remained shut to block out the tears.

Across the city in a darkened apartment, Darien tossed and turned in his bed. Not because of any nightmares but because of not having any nightmares. Without his daily premonition it was that much harder to maintain his distance from Serena. Just that evening he'd held her in his arms, felt her breath against his skin. The bond he shared with her still alerted him to her danger and it was impossible to avoid. For that he was grateful – it meant he could hold her, protect her, be with her, if only for those brief moments when she was fighting the enemy. Hopefully it would be enough to get her out of his mind.

But tonight he was tortured with memories. The time she'd come to this apartment and told him that he would always be a part of her family. He remembered a time when she'd found out he was ticklish and she had chased him around for hours. When they'd taken care of a baby, when she'd made curry for him, when he'd helped her with her homework and she'd kissed him – so delighted when she came up with the right answer. There had been a time when he'd laid on this very bed, a bad cold making him miserable, and she had looked after him. She had sung him the very first lullaby he ever remembered hearing. Taking naps together had been the extent of their bedroom activities – they'd always thought there would be time later. Who knew time could run out?

Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry

And yes, I've cried over you

You've left me blind in paradise

You've left me hungering for the touch of you

Darien closed his eyes tightly, feeling like he'd swallowed a balloon that was swelling up inside of him because even breathing hurt him. He imagined he could still smell her perfume in the air, her scent on the fabric of his bed. Her essence permeated every corner of his apartment and every aspect of his life. How was he going to live without her? Was it worth it? Yes damn it, he had to believe it was. He would endure if it meant her life.

Snow white angels run and hide

In the blackness of the night

Serena was up to watch the sunrise the next morning having never fallen asleep. She was holding the crystal, or rather it was floating a couple of centimetres or so above her hands. The crystal was fuelled by her emotions; in many ways it was just another aspect of her. As such she worried that her extreme emotions of the last few days might have adversely affected it. The silver crystal pulsated with a dull radiance – it looked sad, Serena thought. She practiced with it a little bit, making it respond. She was planning something and it needed to be done right and done completely on the first try.

The bond. In her mind it was a tarnished piece of metal that stretched between her and Darien. The bond looked weaker then she remembered it being. Because of this bond, Tuxedo Mask would always come to Sailor Moon's aid whether he wanted to or not. That wasn't fair, Serena knew. It was also so humiliating to be saved by someone who couldn't even look you in the eye. And what if he were to get hurt or killed saving her? Killed for fulfilling a duty, not for something he believed. She wouldn't be his burden, his cross to bear. If he didn't love her then she didn't want him. She wouldn't be protected out of obligation. She never wanted him that way.

Never is a long time – goodbye

No answers for the asking

It's a long time – goodbye

No mercy for the aching

Her only qualm was that if she set him free completely from their relationship, then the scouts would be in increased danger. Tuxedo Mask often helped them stun the enemy or distract it so the scouts could destroy it more effectively. Without him her friends would be in more danger of getting hurt.

If that's true, then I'll just have to make sure to take care of myself and to be stronger. I'll make it so we don't need him anymore, Serena thought. Besides she would need something to keep her mind off Darien. Training sounded better then doing more schoolwork.

That being resolved she had only one thing left to do. Focusing on the crystal she began the flow of necessary energy. She formed an image of the bond in her mind and placed the crystals energy upon it.

In his room Darien awoke, a peculiar sensation akin to the feeling of Serena's transformation into Sailor Moon, humming in his veins. He placed a hand over his heart and felt it beating rapidly. What was happening?

Serena felt the quickening of her pulse and a bead of sweat formed on her forehead as she concentrated – eyes trained on the twirling light of the crystal.

Darien felt heat, then a burning.

Serena felt a tug, a last desperate plea.

Darien struggled to hold on to something… something important.

Serena shut her eyes and the bond… snapped.

Darien groaned as the recoil lashed through him. All of a sudden he felt adrift, lost in his own apartment. He felt empty, dead, and numb inside. Something was wrong, something was terribly wrong and he punched his fist through the wall because he didn't know what it was. All he knew was that he'd never felt such pain. He struggled to stand but was overcome with despair. Nothing mattered anymore. He sank to the floor in a heap and stared at the wall. He didn't feel safe anymore, he didn't feel secure or loved, it's like he never was.

It's a long time – goodbye

I see no light for the forsaken

Never is a long time – goodbye

We'll spend the night when this dream has come to an end

Serena cried out as the tangled bond fell into pieces. The light around her shimmered, the crystal threatened to crack as Serena gave vent to the horrific sensation of being cut away from her anchor. Half dead and half-alive, somehow she managed to crawl her empty shell of a body into the bath. Under the warm spray of water she cried – the sounds of her anguish masked by the rush of water, the tracks of her tears washed away as quickly as they came. Later (minutes, days, hours?) she stepped out of the shower, dressed, and shook Luna awake.

" Luna?" Luna's eyes widened in alarm. It wasn't even noon. " Luna, I want to do some more training. I want to be a better fighter". Luna did the only thing she could in this situation; she fainted.

After Luna revived and after she became convinced that Serena wasn't: joking, suffering from a concussion, an image from a dream, ill, on a sugar high, an alien, an impostor, being bribed – Luna did indeed step up Serena's training. It got to the point where Serena was spending most of her daylight hours when not in school, training. Serena also trained by herself when Luna had called an end to practice for the day, becoming more in tune with the crystal for it alone understood the pain she was in.

In the mornings Serena was on time for school for the sole reason that she feared running into Darien. She did her homework sloppily but on time now because she didn't have time for detention. She was still afraid someone would come to harm because she wasn't prepared. It became an obsession to protect everyone she had left.

Darien wandered into the arcade two weeks after what he had termed the 'incident'. He didn't know what else to call that moment in the early morning when his soul had been ripped away. For the first few days after it had happened he had remained locked inside his apartment. Gradually, necessity had forced him outdoors. Now he felt reasonably well enough, at least to meet Andrew for coffee. Besides he had to make it seem like he was okay with his and Serena's break-up, because it had to appear to everyone that it was something he had wanted.

" Do my eyes deceive me or is that my old friend Darien entering the arcade? It's been so long I scarcely recognize you."

" It's only been a couple of weeks", said Darien, casting a surreptitious look around the room. If Serena were here, he'd leave. Well actually he'd stare at her, memorize what she was wearing, 'accidentally' brush into her, make sure she was okay, and then he would leave. She wasn't; the hole inside him stretched a little wider. He needed to see her just once – two weeks was two weeks long.

" You know, I should really start demanding compensation whenever you two break-up. I mean Serena's consumption of food is sometimes the only thing that keeps the profits of this place in the black".

Darien was barely following the conversation, still longing for one small glimpse of his arcade angel. However mention of Serena's name was enough to get his attention.

" Serena hasn't been by lately either?"

" Nope. Nearly two weeks. I'd be more worried about her suffering milkshake withdrawal if I didn't see her friends regularly."

" And they say she's okay?" Darien didn't even try to hide the emotion in his voice; he had to know. Did she miss him? Did she think about him? Was she okay, was she still hurting?

Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry

And yes, I've cried over you

You've left me blind in paradise

You've left me hungry for the touch of you

" She's upset Darien and a little despondent but the girls say she'd handling it quite well all in all. Apparently, she'd been putting most of her energy into some project."

Project? That doesn't sound like the Serena I know. But I forgot, I'm not allowed to tell her what to do anymore, Darien thought sourly. To Andrew he said, " Well that's good, I guess".

Andrew took a deep breath and put down the cup he was washing. Leaning his elbows on the counter he looked Darien in the eyes,

" Why did you do it?"

Darien looked back at his friend and considered how to answer. Even if he confessed to his being Tuxedo Mask and her being Sailor Moon, he doubted he could make Andrew understand. Even he had trouble remembering his once concrete reasons. The premonitions had completely stopped the morning of the 'incident'.

" I wish I knew", Darien said honestly and sadly. Andrew gave a brief nod to say he felt for Darien even if he didn't understand. Darien stood up to leave soon after – there was no point in staying. She wasn't coming.

Snow white angels run and hide

In the blackness of the night

Never is a long time

" Oh and a word of advice Darien?" Andrew said, half-grinning, half-serious. Darien acquiesced. " Lita has a hundred or so plans that all involve beating you up in the end and Raye is considering which of her curses will prove most effective on you."

Darien almost smiled, glad that Serena had the support of her friends.

" What, Mina and Amy didn't feel like sinking to my level?"

" Who knows, maybe they're just better at concealing their ideas?"

" You really know how to put a guy at ease, Andrew", Darien said sarcastically.

" It's what I'm here for", said Andrew cheerfully waving goodbye.

Not far away at Raye's temple, Sailor Moon was considering the permanent destruction of her 'so-called' friends. The four scouts were teamed up against their leader – a drill designed to increase stamina and to learn how to avoid distractions such as a familiar face. Before the scouts had banded together because their skills didn't improve from imitating Serena's klutzy, though effective, behaviour. Now however it was necessary to combine their efforts if they were to have any chance of defeating her. Today though Serena was on a roll and the scout's efforts were in vain. Serena managed to separate and debilitate her entire team by herself.

" Enough Meatball-head. We get it already – you good, we bad", yelled Raye from where she was trussed to a tree. Hands tied by her own bow – how humiliating. And it wasn't even necessary. They all had coloured tags and the name of the game was to get another scouts tag – that meant you'd won the 'fight'. They would never use their powers on each other. Lita came over and untied Raye.

" Yeah, and dirty-pool putting a clothesline so high up it would only hit me!" Lita said from her new spot on an overturned log, her tag also taken.

" I still don't see how I was caught. I was nowhere near the action", Amy muttered, running simulations through her computer. Then she realized she'd admitted to skipping out on her partners and blushed.

" Sorry guys took me a while to catch Venus. Who knew she could climb trees so fast?" Serena said, emerging from the woods, Mina's orange tag held triumphantly.

" Well done girls. I think that's enough practice for today", Luna said. The girls powered down and headed to Raye's room for some snacks that Lita had brought over earlier. Serena was hungry but after one bite she realized she wasn't hungry for food. Too bad really since Lita had made everyone's favourites. Serena looked at a 'death-by-chocolate' ball and knew who would appreciate it most.

" There haven't been many youma's lately. Only two in the past week. Do you suppose they're planning something?" Amy asked.

"Yeah, they're just waiting until we have an exam or something. They always seem to come at the worst possible times".

As it turned out, Serena didn't have long to wait before she got to see just how much she'd improved her fighting skills. Soon the youma's were making a nightly appearance, which was exhausting to everyone, particularly Serena. Her work with the crystal was making her more in tune with energy in general. Usually she could feel when a youma was on the attack. More often then not she was the first person to arrive and, as the days went by, she was often the only one needed. Serena recalled the first time that she'd destroyed a youma all by herself. She'd been walking back home when Raye and Amy had run into her on their way to the battle that was already over.

Luna was ecstatic with Sailor Moon's progress but was not overly impressed with Serena's. Though she hated to admit it, Luna missed waking up to the screams of 'I'm late'. Serene still smiled and laughed when she was with her friends but it never lasted long and the humour never really reached her eyes. She was pleasant and polite to her family and Reenie basically because couldn't really be bothered to do much more. Although there were some moments of true joy – like when Reenie would come home from school, a smile a mile wide on her face, her hat dishevelled, and jabbering almost incomprehensibly about her day. That made Serena happy because it reminded her so much of herself – or rather how she used to be. It puzzled Serena that Darien still wanted to spend time with Reenie since the similarities between her and Reenie were so apparent but she shrugged it off. Maybe they were less alike then she thought.

" So what's the problem Amy? It's a great opportunity – not as long as a year which we understand you not feeling ready for but a month to see the school and the sights of Germany. Plus all expenses paid!" Mina said excitedly.

" But what about the scouts? I have a responsibility to remain here", Amy said worriedly. They were silent a moment considering her words.

" Well, as I see it", Luna began, " we refrained from 'awakening' you this time around, after Beryl, because we wanted you to have regular lives. In the end we had to do it anyways because…"

" Because I couldn't handle it alone. But I promise to keep working really hard so that nothing will happen while you're gone. Please take this second chance to be a regular person since I screwed up for you last time".

" Oh don't say that Serena. I don't feel that way at all. I like being a Sailor scout but you're right. I do trust you to look after the team so there really is nothing to hold me back. It will be a great opportunity and it's only for a month", Amy said, trying to convince herself, " I guess I'm going."

" Yeah, cool. Don't worry about us, we've always got Luna around when we need someone with brains", Lita said.

" I resent that!" shouted Mina and Raye and hit her with pillows. This started a pitched battle that involved everyone save Serena who took the opportunity to sneak outside. Luna however caught sight of her and followed.

" Serena, are you all right?"

" Yeah. Luna, can I ask you something?"

" Of course."

" Well I can tell Amy still feels guilty about leaving us and she worries a lot about her sailor duties…"

" Yes, what are you getting at?"

" What would you think if I took away her memories again? I mean, I know how to with the crystal and it wouldn't have to be forever."

" Are you sure you want to make that offer? She's one of your best-friends."

" That's why I want to do it. It's selfish of me to want her help just so that I don't have to work as hard. Do you think I'm good enough to fight without her?"

Luna thought she knew Serena well enough to never be surprised by her. And yet here she was staring at this blonde woman in front of her like she had just dropped out of the sky. What this moonchild wouldn't do for her friends. As to her question, a month ago Luna would have said no way but Serena had matured years since then. Yes, Luna trusted her with the world.

" You've proven yourself capable in many areas Serena, this is your decision to make".

Serena nodded and after a moments hesitation she broached the subject to Amy. At first Amy refused flat-out but gradually she realized what she was being offered.

" Can you make it so I don't forget everything? Like can you keep my memories of being Sailor Mercury intact but remove all my desires and compulsions related to it?"

" I think I can handle that", Serena said, smiling bravely.

" Then, yes, if you please."

Serena raised the crystal out of her locket and focussed her energy. She visualized a blue line from the crystal to Amy and began separating the threads that held the connection, snapping the one's that lay behind Sailor Mercury's motivation. When it was over, everyone stared at Amy wondering if it had worked.

" How do you feel?" Raye asked tentatively.

" Fine. Why?"

" You don't…"

" I think I'll leave you to the rest of your meeting, girls. I have to get home and pack. You'll see me off tomorrow at the airport?" Amy asked, demonstrating that she knew they were scouts but that she didn't feel she needed to be there.

" Sure Amy. See you tomorrow", Lita said and they watched her leave.

" It's so weird to think we won't see her at the battles."

" Yeah. Are you okay Serena?" Raye asked, concerned.

" Uh huh. The crystal just takes a lot out of me. But don't worry about Amy. If she really wants she can overcome what I've done and be Sailor Mercury again. If you don't mind though, I think I'll go home to bed", she said yawning. " Goodnight guys."

Serena left with Luna on her shoulder. As she approached her house she felt a splatter of rain. By the time she was indoors, the thunder and lightning had started. Serena jumped but surprisingly wasn't all that scared. There was something to be said for a broken heart after all, it helps you not feel anything at all.

" Oh good Serena you're home. Nasty weather. And Reenie is at Darien's. I said she could stay until eight but with this weather…" her mother began. Reenie had used Luna-P to make Serena's parents think it normal for her to spend time with Darien.

" You want me to walk over and pick her up?"

" Would you? It's just that if we wait until later it will be dark as well as raining."

" Sure Mom. Can I borrow an umbrella?"

Serena walked like she was on a death march, every step more reluctant then the last. The thunder didn't bother her at all; neither did the fact that she was soaked despite the umbrella and freezing in her thin white cardigan and jeans. She didn't want to see Darien knowing how he felt about her. She could always feel her composure slipping when someone mentioned his name – how would she react when she saw him face to face? Would she fall to her knees and beg him to take her back? Or worse, would she klutz-out and see that condescending smile of his? Or would some nameless god smile on her and keep her from humiliating herself, letting her face him with all the coolness he did her? .

Incredibly it turned out to be the latter.

Darien was on his stomach on the floor, watching Reenie as she bent over a drawing, her little tongue sticking out of the side of her mouth due to her concentration. There was a certain unnameable quality about Reenie that drew his attention. He had tried to analyse it but he always came up blank. It could be because she was so far from her parents that it reminded him of how he grew up. Or maybe it was simply because she remained a link to Serena.

" So how are you and Serena getting along these days? You haven't complained about her much lately." Darien asked, feigning only mild interest. Really he was desperate for some solid information on Serena. He had had almost no news on her for the past while – like she'd dropped off his radar map.

" Good! She's been real nice lately. She promised to take me shopping on the weekend".

" That sounds like fun." Darien said, although part of him wished Reenie and Serena were still fighting. He got a lot more information on Serena when Reenie complained and he didn't have to pry the information out of her either.

" So you two must be happy if you're getting along so well", Darien said carefully.

" Uh uh", Reenie said shaking her head, looking thoughtfully at her crayons before selecting a bright green.

" What do you mean?"

" Serena's sad – she's always crying. Not like when she falls or something but at night when she thinks I'm sleeping she cries real quiet".

Darien had a moment to digest this disturbing bit of Intel. Imagining her with tears on her face was… almost more then he could take. A knock at the door made Darien rise to his feet. Puzzled, he wondered who could be coming to see him. He opened the door and stared into two of the most beautiful, sad, eyes he had ever seen. One of Serena's golden bangs hung across her eyes and he instinctively reached out to brush it back before remembering he wasn't supposed to do that. His arm fell back to his side. He dropped his gaze from her eyes, taking in the simple outfit and the fact that she was shivering – probably because her jeans wet. And yet she was still so beautiful, how unfair was that? Focussing finally on his own feet, he said gruffly,

" What are you doing here?"

" I'm sorry to have disturbed you. My mother wanted someone to walk Reenie home because of the storm before it got dark", Serena said coolly. Darien could have slapped himself. Of course she was here for Reenie, what was he expecting? Did he think he think she'd come to beg to have him back? Get real Darien, he berated himself.

" Oh yeah, sorry", he said, turning to get Reenie. He left the door open but he didn't invite her. Symbolic almost, she thought. Serena was left to stand in the hallway like some stranger and breathe in the lingering smell of Darien's aftershave. She'd given him that, she realized, a lump forming in her throat. God, why did every little thing have to remind her of how good it had been when they were together? She wished she could erase every single reminder of what had been… it hurt too much. She hastily wiped away a tear as Darien returned, Reenie in tow.

" Serena", Reenie said, leaping into Serena's arms.

" Hey Munch kin, ready to go?"

" But I'm allowed to stay until eight. Mom said so", Reenie said, torn between staying though it would mean a lonely walk home or having to leave early.

" Well…" Serena began.

" I'll walk her home at eight. How would that be?" Darien asked.

" If it's not too much trouble".

" No, I don't mind", Darien said. " That okay kid? I'll walk you home after you've finished your picture."

" Yeah!" Reenie said, running back inside. Serena realized she'd done all this for nothing and sighed.

" Here", she said, thrusting Reenie's rubber boots and yellow rain slicker at Darien. " Make sure she wears them, even if she doesn't want to".

Serena turned and walked away down the hall. She was still shivering – there was no warmth to be had from Darien. Part of her thrilled to the knowledge that she could be trusted in his company and another part died as the reality of getting over him settled over her.

An incredibly loud crack of thunder sounded, making the hall lights flicker, Darien jumped a little as he stared after Serena. She hadn't batted an eye. Come to think of it, the Serena he knew didn't go out in storms unless it was a matter of life and death. And yet here she was seemingly oblivious to the storm.

" Do you want to wait and walk home with me and Reenie? I know you don't like storms", Darien called out to her. Please say yes, I barely see you anymore. I want to protect you from your fears, like I used to, he added to himself.

Serena turned, " Thank you, no. The storm won't hurt me", she said, before adding silently to herself, unlike walking home with you would. She took the stairs again, not wanting to get stuck in an elevator should there be a power outage. Elevators, she thought wryly, yet another reminder of our relationship I could have done without.

Darien closed his apartment door, desperately seeking his composure. He wondered if she knew how much it hurt him to hear her say she didn't need him.

" Come on Reenie, time to get you home", Darien said later. Reenie put on her rain gear and Darien put on his green jacket and took an umbrella. The thunder outside had stopped but the rain was falling hard. Reenie was having a great time running on ahead and splashing in all the puddles. They were crossing through the park when a flash of light drew their attention.

A youma appeared and started bellowing and crashing. It spotted Reenie and turned its attention on her. Darien ducked behind a tree and transformed into Tuxedo Mask. He threw a volley of roses at the monster. It distracted the monster long enough for Reenie to run away but she slipped on the rain soaked grass, letting out a cry as she landed painfully. The noise alerted the monster and he resumed his attack, shooting out a bolt of energy at her. Tuxedo Mask gulped in fear, knowing he wouldn't make it in time, but running anyway. Just as the energy was about to hit, a golden blur alighted on the ground, scooped up the crying girl and leapt out of danger.

" Sailor Moon, you saved me!" Reenie said gratefully.

" Of course but it's not over yet. I want you to hide in these bushes while I go destroy the monster, okay? I'll come back and get you when it's safe". Serena put Reenie down and dashed off to the battle. A frightened Reenie activated her always present Luna-Ball to soothe her fears.

Darien threw another bunch of roses at the monster as he dodged another blast of energy.

" Hey you, I am the champion of love and justice, Sailor Moon, and on behalf of the moon, I will punish you", Serena said, briefly pausing, before bringing out her weapon (AN: Oh just pick your favourite, I'm too tired). She avoided all of the monster's attacks, making it use up its energy before doing a neat back-flip kick that stunned it long enough for her to dust it. Serena hadn't bothered to call the other scouts so she was alone when she went to find Reenie.

" But can't I come home yet? I miss mommy and daddy", Reenie said to Luna-Ball.

" No dear, you still have work to do. But take courage, small lady, remember your lineage. Many moon princesses before you have had to overcome grave obstacles such as yours and always they've succeeded."

" You're right. I'll find my mommy and her silver crystal, you'll see", Reenie said, turning off her transmitter. Serena stood a few feet away completely transfixed. Reenie was a moon princess? And her mother existed in this time and held the silver crystal? Christ, she was looking at her own daughter. From the future but still… her? A mother? No wonder she felt such a peculiar bond to Reenie – and it certainly explained why they looked and acted alike. Serena knew it was best not to tell Reenie of this until she was 100% sure.

" Reenie? It's over. We'd better get you out of the rain".

Reenie looked at Sailor Moon happily.

" Oh no, where's Darien? He was walking me home", Reenie said.

" I'm right here, kid. Boy, I'm glad you're okay", said Darien. He gathered Reenie up in a hug but over the top of the girls' head he stared at Sailor Moon. His gaze was so penetrating and lost that she didn't know what to say so she took off running. Besides she needed to get home before Reenie to keep up her secret identity.

Darien's mind was in turmoil, one question turning up again and again to taunt him. Why didn't I feel her transform? Why did I feel nothing at all even as she was fighting? He'd never questioned their link before, it had always just been. But now… he couldn't tell if she'd been hurt or if she'd gotten home safely. It didn't make any sense.

The next morning he got up early and went to the library. He looked at newspapers from the past month and what he found scared him. Little articles describing Sailor Moon's exploits – all events he hadn't been aware of until now. Darien shut the last newspaper with a shaky hand. He felt dizzy and disoriented. He had to close his eyes and force himself to take deep breaths. The bond is gone. That's what I felt that morning, the separation. How was he going to protect her now when he couldn't feel her? How was he going to live knowing he faced life alone?

Darien stumbled to his feet and left the library. A few people looked up as he left – feeling sorry for this man who was so obviously in pain and yet wondering how a series of Sailor Moon articles could make a grown man cry.

You build it up and tear it down

No hope of getting over you

You left the song without a sound

You left the story I made for you

Serena watched Reenie closer then ever after her revelation and what she saw disturbed her. For while she truly began to love the little girl, she also saw moments where Reenie would fade away – like she no longer existed.

It was also getting harder for Serena to get up in the mornings because she simply couldn't find a reason why she should care. For a while she had kept herself alive with daydreams of her and Darien still together but at night the illusions wouldn't come, and then the tears would fall until there weren't any left. Everything seemed colourless to her now – like she had somehow wandered onto a film set where everything was surreal and meaningless. Happiness eluded her, satisfaction was gone, dreams were only nightmares now, and pain her only emotion.

Softly angels bow and cry

In the stillness of the night

" Darien I hate to see this happen to students, especially ones who started off doing so well. But you are in serious danger of failing out of this term and this university in general. Is something wrong at home? Are there any external pressures on you that the faculty should be made aware of?" The faculty-advisor had scheduled a meeting with Darien – an exceptional student with a full-scholarship to their prestigious University – who was now struggling to even make it to class.

Darien knew he had to start shaping-up and fast or his dreams would all be lost. His dreams, yeah, that's how all this had started. A dream had told him to stay away from Serena so he had – now his whole life was falling apart. He was about to lose his scholarship and all he could think about was a certain meatball-headed girl who fell asleep crying every night. Because of him. And his dream to be a doctor? Turned out to be less important then his dream of having a family. He'd lost that when Serena had walked out of his life and now… Now when he woke-up he wondered why he made the effort, with every class he attended he knew it didn't matter, with every assignment he missed he felt only numbness. He needed Serena, why had he told her goodbye?

" I'm sorry, sir. I haven't been sleeping well lately", Darien said lamely. Oh and I'm also Tuxedo Mask, and Prince Endymion. I've been in love with the same girl for a thousand years but I can't love her anymore because of a dream, which now seems to have stopped. And the bond I have with her, the one that guarantees that I'll be there to protect her, is gone so basically the dream has come true despite my sacrifice. Bitter? Yeah, I'm a little bitter.

" I don't usually suggest this, especially to a med. Student, but have you considered dropping out of this term? It would take considerable effort to bring these marks up to standard – you might be better off starting afresh next year."

Darien thought about it, seeing the logic. Of course it would mean he'd have to redo the last few months work. " How does it affect my scholarship?"

" I'll see that it doesn't. I'll put in writing that this is my recommendation."

" Let's do it", Darien said. In his mind he was wondering if he'd ever come back.

Darien left the university grounds a free man. (AN: Oh how I wish that were me. Sorry, to interrupt but can I just say that finals suck?) A newspaper headline caught his eye. On the front was a colour photo of Sailor Moon, her face had an expression that was part smile and part narrowed eyes. Darien recognized it as her 'you pushed me too far, prepare to die' expression. He bought the paper and settled down on a bench to read about the battle since once again he hadn't been there.

Lonely at the top?

Last Night's pitched battle between a sand-like monster, reportedly under the control of the Negamoon, and Sailor Moon, Tokyo's popular young heroine, was yet another in a pattern of battles wherein Sailor Moon has fought without the aide of her team of Sailor Scouts. We asked Miss. Mon for a comment on this and although she was reluctant to speak to the press she did ask us to relay this message: 'while it is true that I Sailor Moon have been of late working alone this is merely a matter of convenience. I have the utmost faith in my comrades that should something arise that I am incapable of handling that they will come to my aide. There is no danger to the people of Tokyo'. When asked of the whereabouts of the mysterious Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Moon's reputed lover, she replied, 'no comment'. To clarify we asked if he too would be returning to the superhero business should the need arise she replied that 'he Tuxedo Mask has left indefinitely'. When asked for specifics Sailor Moon terminated the interview and fled the scene leaving this reporter to wonder just what lies behind her superhero façade? Sailor Moon appeared last year and has appeared in connection with numerous 'monster' sightings. For the rest of the story see E9.

Not true Serena. I haven't left. I've just been having trouble getting my messages for some reason. But I'm prepared to work around it, Darien thought.

Never is a long time…

Ack! Why is nothing I write ever a reasonable length? Oh well. Part two will be up soon because I have a lot of studying to do. And I always do the most writing when I should be doing something else! Please review, especially if you want the second half!

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