AN: The sexually explicit version of this chapter is available on AO3 (Archive of Our Own).
Sailor Moon X by Starling Sinclair
Chapter 29: The Starlight Tower
July 21, 2020
Rei stayed by Usagi's side. Minako initially followed them to the hospital, but, when she realized that it would be hours, the leader left under the pretense of Senshi business. Ami popped in and out with updates, but she mainly tended to another grieving friend - Mamoru. Even Motoki's sister, who greeted Usagi warmly through tears and was there during the tensest part of the procedure, had to return home, So, Rei stayed.
She held her friend when the sobs suddenly took over. She brought her water when the tears ran dry. She reassured when Usagi let the guilt in. These were small kindnesses, and really all that could be done during such times of grief.
Surgery Waiting hadn't changed much in two years. The walls were a dull yellow, perhaps an attempt to bring a little light to the anxiety-inducing area. The blue seats were still the most uncomfortable pieces of furniture in the world. At least, this time, the mood was more hopeful.
Usagi rested in the crook of her neck. Rei had barely known Minako the night of her Grandfather's death, so she'd spent the night alone in this very waiting room facing the news came that he hadn't survived the surgery by herself. She'd be damned if she let that happen to someone else. Especially someone she'd grown fond of. Someone she could actually call a friend.
So, Usagi didn't see Ami exit the automatic doors with Mamoru. They spoke in hushed tones; he looked as bad as his ex. Ami touched his arm reassuringly, though it wasn't enough.
Rei scowled. Damn Minako. It was Minako who'd put the idea into Usagi's head that they couldn't be together. That it was too dangerous. Though, this kind of half-life didn't seem much like living. He needed Usagi right now, and she needed him. Maybe psychic intuition, or maybe she was a secret hopeless romantic, but she knew that what they had was something special.
Their conversation ended with Mamoru nodding and looking her way. Usagi's way. He looked at her with so much pain, like a wounded puppy. Then he smiled at Rei - a silent thank you from across a room. She heard Usagi's breath hitch and realized she must have seen him. Then, looking at the ground, he left.
Ami walked over to them. Her expression was strained, and she pursed her lips. A pit formed in Rei's stomach, and she squeezed her friend preemptively.
The doctor knelt on the ground to look Usagi in the eye. "He's in the ICU. But we really won't know how well anything went until the morning when he wakes."
Usagi nodded with a shudder. Rei sent a silent prayer of gratitude and swore that she would send a formal one as soon as she made it home.
Taking Usagi's hand, Ami rubbed her knuckles. "The best thing you can do is go home and get some rest. I know an ICU nurse who will text me if there's any change."
"Would you like to stay with me?" Rei offered. "We could pray together."
"Or Mako or I could stay with you," Ami added.
"Luna's home," Usagi said. "Cats are good for snuggling." She gave the girls a sad smile. Rei pulled her closer as if she could hug away the pain.
"Would you like me to walk you home?" Ami suggested.
Usagi shook her head. "Motoki made me promise him something. I need to take care of that. And I need to do it alone."
"Of course," Ami said.
"We're here if you need us," Rei affirmed.
Usagi took Rei and Ami's hand, giving them each a meaningful look in turn. She didn't need to say how grateful she was out loud. Hands still clasped, the girls helped her up. Rei watched her straighten her spine and leave the hospital.
It was still raining as Usagi walked through the darkened streets. She didn't take the train, instead choosing to walk and let the sky wash over her. Droplets dripped off her fingers, and she shivered as she recalled the sensation of his blood dripping off her fingers earlier that day. If she closed her eyes, she couldn't feel the difference. The gore had vanished with her transformation. She half-wondered if it'd be there when she transformed again. A reminder of her failure in the form of a stain.
The way to his apartment was almost instinctive, and she let her feet guide her. The doorman still recognized her as she entered the complex and slowly climbed the stairs to his door. She was soaking wet, a trail of water following her like a slug. His neighbors would complain. She still had his key on her keyring, but she lifted her hand and knocked.
This was the only promise she could keep.
He didn't care that he was wet when he stumbled into his apartment. Didn't care that he wasn't sure if it was tears or rain dripping down his cheeks. All he felt was pain - pain in his heart and in his body. Ami had helped wrap the wound while they waited on Motoki's surgery, and oh god, Motoki. His friend had almost died today. Thank goodness for Sailor Moon. She seemed to be able to channel the crystal's power, and maybe, maybe he should just give them to her. Be done with this double identity.
Though it was all he had left now.
He ripped his wet shirt off and tossed it on the kitchen floor. He'd seen her at the hospital, wrapped in the arms of one of her friends. His soul ached to comfort her, to be comforted by her. What he wouldn't give to have her with him right now. He was pretty sure he'd break down and tell her everything.
"Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in."
Mamoru tensed. The hairs on his neck stood on end, and he summoned a razor rose to his fingertips. Turning, he saw Zoisite sitting comfortably on his sofa, smiling like a cat toying with a mouse.
"Though I don't mind the show," the General added, eyes traveling over Mamoru's body in a way that made him feel violated.
"What are you doing here, Zoisite?"
"I am here to make you an offer. You bring us your rainbow crystals, or I start going after every single person Chiba Mamoru cares about."
Mamoru pursed his lips. They knew his name; they'd discovered him so quickly. Still, he couldn't risk letting them get any more crystals. "No."
"Oh come on," Zoisite said, recrossing his legs, his boots dragging over the sofa cushions. "I'll even give you a fair shot. We could duel for them. You win, you get the crystals. I win… well…"
"You can't threaten me. I don't have anyone left to lose."
A knock on his apartment door cut through the room like an arrow.
"Is that so?"
Another knock. "Mamoru? It's me," Usagi's muffled voice called through the wood.
"Then you won't mind if…"
Knock. Knock. "Mamo-chan, please, I need to talk to you." Zoisite's smile widened at the nickname.
"No!" Mamoru nearly screamed. His heart was in his throat. He'd never let anything happen to her. "I'll do it."
Zoisite jumped to his feet, clearly pleased. "Great, and look, Mamo-chan, I'll give you a fair fight for them. Meet me tomorrow, 11 am at the Starlight Tower. Oh, and if you don't want me to kill that pretty thing on the other side of your door, you better figure out how to bring all the crystals."
"Great! I'll see you then," the General said, vanishing in a gust of cherry petals.
With the threat gone, Mamoru rushed to the door. He swung it open, but the hallway was empty. Ignoring that he was half-naked, he rushed out, desperate to make sure Usagi was safe, that Zoisite hadn't double-crossed him.
Then he saw her, drenched and dejected, in the elevator, pressing the buttons to return home. Relief flooded him. She was alright. Their eyes met, and she frantically pushed the button to stop the lift. Then she was jogging towards him, and he didn't think he could resist her.
"Mamoru," she breathed. Her eyes flitted over him, taking in his disheveled appearance, the giant bandage across his right shoulder. Silently, she just grazed the bandage with a feather-like touch.
Then he kissed her. He knew it was wrong, but he may never see her again, and he wasn't going to miss the opportunity. To his delight, she kissed him back. Then they were stumbling into his apartment, lips never separating.
Once inside, he pressed her to the door, kissing her deeply. His tongue slipping into her mouth, memorizing her taste, the feel of her kissing him back. Her hands pressed against his chest, pushing him away.
"Mamo-chan. There's something I have to tell you."
His heart cracked. After Motoki, after Zoisite, after the impossible task he would be faced with to steal the crystals from the Senshi, he didn't think he could handle another thing.
"Not tonight," he pleaded. "Please."
And it was so painfully true. He needed her. Needed to feel her near, needed to memorize every detail of her face, her body, her moans. He needed her love more than he'd ever needed anything before.
She sensed it, as she always did. "Tell me what you need."
She leaned up to kiss him, and he lost himself with her, at least for the night.
The sound of her phone ringing woke her. The sunlight spilled through the window, and she fumbled around the empty bed until she found her phone. It was... Ami?
"Hey," she mumbled. She only half paid attention as her friend went on about something Senshi related, and she realized she was alone in the bed.
Ami continued on, "I'm asking everyone to meet me outside the Starlight Tower for 11 sharp. Please, I need you to be on time."
"Okay, okay, I'll be there," Usagi grumbled.
When she hung up, she realized she was alone in the apartment. He'd left before they'd gotten a chance to talk. The considerate asshole had even left her breakfast on the table.
After eating her omurice, she was more determined than ever to find him. Of course, that meant he was nowhere to be found. After weeks of him appearing around every corner, he was suspiciously absent. He wasn't at his apartment; he wasn't at the hospital. She checked his favorite coffee shop and bookstore, and the conbini on the corner by his apartment. After hours of searching, he was nowhere to be found.
So, she wandered aimlessly, letting her feet guide her through the streets of Tokyo. Her mind raced through scenarios in her head. Would he find it hot she moonlighted as a superhero? Would he be afraid of her? Would he understand the danger she'd selfishly put him in?
Damnit, she had run out of time. Her phone pinged with a text from Rei reminding her not to be late to Ami's meeting. She was only a block or so away from the meeting point. Might as well head there now, even if it was extremely early for her.
As she walked across the throughway towards the designated meeting time, she saw him. Mamoru and Ami were in a heated discussion, almost arguing even. She watched at a distance as he ran a hand through his hair, oddly with his left hand. Something was wrong. There wasn't time to puzzle it out as whatever they were discussing reached a conclusion. Ami handed him something, something in a blue container. Then, she hugged him, and Usagi felt her stomach drop a bit.
They parted, and Mamoru watched Ami go, headed toward the spot where she was meeting the other Senshi. He lingered in the busy walkway in some pensive mood, like someone who was appreciating the world one last time. Usagi suddenly felt very nervous. With Motoki in the hospital, who did Mamoru have? Was he about to do something stupid? That would be very like him. Quickly, she walked up to him.
"Hi," she greeted.
He jumped at her presence.
"Usagi," he breathed her name in relief.
"Look, I need to talk to you," she started. "I was hoping we could go somewhere private."
He shook his head with a sad smile. "I'm sorry, Usa. I have someplace I really need to be."
He turned away from her, looking towards the tower. Her sense of foreboding only intensified.
"Look, I promised Motoki that if anything happened to him, I would tell you this," she pleaded, knowingly pulling at his heartstrings.
It worked because he turned to look at her. A deep sorrow in his eyes. "You know that I still love you, right?"
That blindsided her. It wasn't exactly what she expected him to say, though, at least it was some relief. "I still love you too."
He stepped closer to her, brushing a strand of hair from her face. Was he trying to make her forget whatever stupid thing he was about to do? Without another word, he leaned down and kissed her. It was soft and full of longing and… final. When he pulled away, she stood there, dazed.
"I'll see you around, Usa."
She stood there, lips pursed towards empty air.
What the hell had just happened? That sense of unease burned deep in her gut. Something was terribly wrong. He was walking away from her, slowly and meaningful. That's when she noticed the small patch of red seeping through the shoulder of his shirt.
With renewed determination, she followed him.
Then, like everything in her life, the Dark Kingdom struck.
Like everything in Mamoru's life of late, nothing went according to plan. He'd been expecting a trap; he had not been expecting Usagi to trail him right into it. Honestly, he should have known better. That girl always found herself in the middle of trouble.
Whatever energy they'd used to transport him inside the Starlight Tower did a number on her though, because she fainted as the dark energy encircled them. The world distorted. He crouched over her, making sure that he would protect her wherever they ended up.
The darkness faded away, and he recognized the inside of the Tower's lobby. Well, at least this part was going to plan. Swallowing hard, he reached into his pocket and pressed the button on the signal Ami had given him. Too bad he couldn't alert her to his new liability.
"Well, well, well, guess she just can't stay away," Zoisite jeered.
"Send her out of here. She has nothing to do with this," Mamoru commanded. Cherry blossoms drifted around as Zoisite materialized.
"Hmm, I think not. She'll make a useful little incentive."
Mamoru gritted his teeth.
The General played with the ends of his ponytail, using it to hide his smirk. "So, Mamo-chan, darling, did you bring the rainbow crystals?"
Mamoru clenched his jaw at the endearment on the wrong lips. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours." He reached into his pocket touching the other gifts from Ami - the Green and Orange Crystal. He wasn't about to gamble his and the Senshi's crystals without making sure Zoisite was upholding his end of the bargain.
"I would like to say this is a dumb idea," Ami had said.
"But you can do it, right? If I get all the crystals together, you can get the Senshi there to take them?"
She pursed her lips. "Of course. But, what about you?"
With that cruel smile he loved to wear, Zoisite strolled forward and placed three crystals on the ground. Mamoru swallowed; all seven crystals were here. He'd never been so close to the Silver Crystal before, and he'd already given it all away.
Glancing down at Usagi, he saw her stirring. Guess she'd be learning his secrets. Would she be hurt he hadn't told her before? Would she understand?
Slowly, he stood. Schooling his expression, he walked towards the crystals and placed the four in his possession on the ground.
"You fucking fool," Zoisite cackled. "I can't believe you just handed those over! Did you really think I'd keep to my word? Kunzite, my dear, gather our prize."
The white-haired general appeared, shimmering into existence. With a flick of his wrist, the seven crystals floated into the air before being carefully placed on a small purple pillow. As he did, Mamoru felt the icy walls of Mercury's trap circling around them. It was his turn to smirk.
"Not at all. In fact, I thought I might need some incentive as well," Mamoru said.
"What's this?" Kunzite said, clearly feeling the energy that was now encircling the building.
"We're all trapped in here until an honest victor is declared," Mamoru gloated. "Courtesy, of course, of the Sailor Senshi."
The generals exchanged a look of distaste. Then Kunzite turned towards him. "Fine. Then, you'll battle Zoisite on the observation deck for the crystals. That is, if you can make it there alive."
The two generals laughed as the room around them started to morph. The glass and steel of a modern Tokyo building started to change into dark and cold crystal. They vanished in a shimmer.
Mamoru dropped into a crouch, ready to sweep Usagi off her feet when she sat up.
"What's happening?" she asked, slightly dazed.
"I'll explain everything, but baby, we have to run, now," he said, pulling her to her feet. If she could move, their chances greatly increased. He didn't want to gamble on carrying her with his wounded arm. Especially after the additional damage from carrying Motoki the day before.
The ground beneath him started to morph, becoming blackened and brittle - like scorched timber - before it crumbled like ash. Hand in hand, they started running. As the room wildly shifted, he noticed the elevator still intact.
She took direction surprisingly well, and they collided into the door. Frantically, she pressed the lift button, glancing over her shoulder as the floor crumbled ever closer.
"Come on, come on, come on," she pleaded.
Mamoru frantically searched around, looking for anything, any other way to escape. There was nothing.
"Yes!" she cried as the elevator beeped.
With no hesitation, he pushed her into the compartment. The floor gave out behind him, and the door shut. He hoped he hadn't just sealed them into a tomb.
Breathing heavily, he rested his head on the door. The car jerked to a start. Fuck, that was close. He just needed to hold out. Let the plan work.
Ah, fuck. What was he kidding himself? The plan was going to go right out the window with her here.
"Just where the hell are we?"
He turned to look at her, and sure enough, the elevator wasn't really like anything he'd ever seen before. Though the electronics and silver frameworks were still in place, thick, green walls pulsed and throbbed with thick violet veins. Well, this was a new fresh hell.
"That is a very good question."
She looked around the elevator, eyes wide but not quite fearful. He leaned against the wall, and just watched her.
"Well, wherever it is, it looks like a creepy penis," she commented, her nose squinching in disgust.
He chuckled at that. "Yeah, I guess it does."
A silence fell between them. He looked out the window but noticed her fiddling with her fingers.
"Mamoru," she started, "there's something I have to tell you."
He arched an eyebrow. "Now?"
She nodded. "Now. I promised Motoki."
Something painful stabbed through his gut at the mention of his friend's name. As much as he wanted to say that whatever she had to tell him could wait, he also wanted to honor his friend. His friend he'd failed, the one currently comatose in the hospital.
So he nodded.
"Just know that," she started, "I never stopped loving you."
She opened her mouth to continue when a great whooshing started and an unpleasant heat drew their attention upwards. A giant fireball hurtled toward them. Ah, fuck.
He started to move to cover her when she looked at him with regret, her hand raised in the air.
"Moon Prism Power Make-Up!"
And then she was awash in ribbons and magic. His mind struggled to process what was happening. The tug that alerted him to her transformation surged with a new intensity. He watched in awe as her armor shaped to her. Then, in a heartbeat, Sailor Moon stood before him. Wand in hand, she looked determined, fierce, and so, so, familiar.
Usagi was Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon was Usako.
No wonder he'd only thought of her when they'd kissed the other night on the rooftop. It was her.
In one quick movement, she sent the fireball rocketing back up the shaft.
It was impossible. She couldn't be Sailor Moon, and yet, it made perfect sense, like figuring out the solution to an obvious problem and it had been under his nose the whole time. This was destiny. They had always been connected.
With the threat gone, she looked shyly at him.
"This is why you…" he started, as more pieces fell into place. He'd been ready to tell her of his dual life. She hadn't. Motoki must have learned when Zoisite came from him, and he knew what revealing these secrets meant.
"This is all my fault. I just put you in danger," she babbled.
He walked closer to her, a sad smile on his face. "Usako." His fingers caressed her cheek.
The elevator stopped, and the doors opened.
She wasn't sure what Dark Kingdom monster waited for her on the other side through the smoke, but she'd be damned if she wasn't going to stop it. She wouldn't fail Mamoru like she'd failed Motoki.
His hand wrapped around her wrist, halting her. "Wait," he said. "There's something you have to know."
She looked at him, feeling confused. Didn't he realize there was danger on the other side of this door? Slowly, he cupped her face and leaned in to kiss her.
And she froze. Magic radiated off him. The bare hands on her face suddenly became gloved, and she felt a cape swishing around her knees. When the golden glow of his transformation faded, he pulled away slowly. She was staring into the white domino mask of Tuxedo Kamen.
It was her turn for her jaw to drop. She blinked, unbelieving, as his thumbs caressed her cheeks, grounding her. Reminding her this was real. Slowly, she lifted her own gloved hands to touch his mask. He didn't stop her.
She had so many questions, though they were overshadowed by the sense of how right this was. That this was destiny.
"Gross," Zoisite groaned. "What is this? Some Hallmark movie shit? I didn't sign up for that drivel."
Tuxedo Kamen ignored the taunt. "Together?"
"Well, that hardly seems fair," the General groused.
"Shall we do this?" Kamen provoked.
"Might as well." There was a sly grin on Zoisite's face that made her feel uneasy, but she didn't have time to think about it. The melee was fast and furious, the General weaving like a ribbon. She was afraid if she looked away. she'd miss something.
Something glinted in the window, the sparkle barely catching her attention. But it caught Mamoru's.
Moon watched the scene unfurl with a strange detachment. The next moment happened in a heartbeat, in an instant. It would haunt her for many nights to come.
Tuxedo Kamen didn't hesitate. He moved with confidence and determination as if he had some secret plan, not that he was reacting to some outside threat. She felt his arms wrap around her with supernatural speed, spinning her away from something.
"Usako," she heard Mamoru whisper under his breath.
She heard the weapon tearing through the fabric, ripping through Mamoru's skin.
Stared in horror as the sickly green crystal cut through his chest.
His mask slipped off, and he fell to his knees.
Blue eyes met blue.
"Mamo-chan." It was barely a whisper as she collapsed to her knees beside him.
He opened his mouth to say something, but blood sputtered out.
"Zoisite! You fool! What have you done?" Kunzite's voice was a distant afterthought as everything around her blurred. She felt as though she'd been plunged into an icy pool. Her heart ripped into two.
"No, no, no," she stuttered, and she took Mamoru in her arms. His face slumped the crook of her neck. Her arms wrapped around him. His lips brushed against her neck as he spoke words she couldn't hear. Slowly, she moved back, lowering him into her lap.
"Just hold on for me, okay? It's gonna be okay. We're gonna be okay," she babbled as she brushed the dark strands of hair, the ones always in his eyes, from his face.
"Usako," he coughed out. "Please. I need to see you."
She shook her head violently. "No, save your strength. We'll get help. Ami will be here, and she'll know what to do."
Still, he smiled up at her. She didn't even realize she was crying until the tears hit his face.
"Please, Mamo-chan. I love you. I can't lose you."
"It's always been you," he burbled, his voice watery as blood bubbling from his lips. She couldn't understand anything else he said. But the smile on his lips slipped and the light in his eyes faded. Then she felt him vanish.
The connection between them evaporated. It was like nothing she'd ever felt before. Hollow. Like her soul had been ripped from her body.
She didn't know the Senshi spilled into the room at that moment. Didn't see the light blinding everyone as one of her tears crystallized. Didn't care as the rainbow crystals floated off the pillow and merged with her tear. All that mattered was Mamoru was gone, and her soul needed him. Some instinct inside her woke. She prayed.
She was in a white room, wearing a white dress. Before her, a crystalline figure sat on a crystal throne. It was feminine and vaguely reminded her of Fi from Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - like a living statue, all facets and bevels. It crossed its legs and stared
Right into her soul. It smiled.
"Well, princess, it seems like you restored me." Usagi blinked, trying to process what was happening as the figure continued. "For that, I'll grant one wish."
"What does your heart most desire?"
She didn't even really think or say anything, but her heart pleaded: give me back my soulmate.
The figure nodded. "It shall be done."
She was slammed back into her body. Her eyes flew open, and silver light flooded over her body, out of her fingertips, out of all her pores.
She floated in an orb of magic. Mamoru's head was in her lap, though his tuxedo had been replaced with a suit of black armor. The white dress that she'd mistaken as part of the orb fluttered around her. Something glistened before her eyes; the Silver Crystal floated before her. As she reached out to touch it, her memories came back.
It was hard to explain what it was like to remember an entire lifetime. It was like remembering early childhood or the first year of school. She'd always known it was there, in the back of her mind, but the details were hazy. There were clearly important things learned and details that shaped her, yet nothing was clear until something sparked a memory, then it all came crashing back. The smells of the markers, the kid that ate glue, the time on the playground where she fell off the play center, or that time she ran into a tree. Except, this was more like she remembered the smell of her sheets freshly laundered with moon lily oil, the stillness of the air in the dome, and how Endymion had held her close on a balcony beneath the Earth as Metalia figured how to cross the stars and reach them.
Usagi had been Serenity. There had been no Sailor Moon. No Tuxedo Kamen. Just a starcrossed princess and prince whose love should have brought an eon of peace, but just caused the fall of empires.
Mamoru gasped, his eyes flying open. The bond between them reinvigorated like electricity being restored after a blackout. He also felt the whiplash of his past life too. His hands gripped his chest, blinking in confusion at the breastplate he found there, then in recognition. His eyes flew to hers, narrowing.
She nodded. He furrowed his brow.
She nodded again.
"Holy shit," he whispered.
"Yeah, that sums it up nicely."
His hand found hers, lacing their fingers together.
AN: Today we celebrate two milestones - 1.) this fic is now 100k words, and 2.) the long-awaited reveal. I initially wrote a completely different reveal, which lead to like 6 really entertaining and funny moments as various characters learned Tux's identity. I'd also written a very different Starlight Tower chapter. Then, I think I saw something on tumblr about how that episode was so great, and I was like "yeah, it was." It left a strong impression on me in my younger years. Then I realized - I should change what I had to actually reflect one of the strongest moments of the 90s anime. So, if you like this, you can blame my husband for telling me to stop being silly and just write the more interesting story, even if it is hard.
Needless to say, that means heavy revision for the next few chapters, which means my next update is going to be a while. I ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT ABANDON THIS FIC. I'm planning on having an update once a month for a little while though, especially since I'm starting school in like 3 weeks, and I have a couple of other fics with a deadline as well.
In the ongoing saga of my personal life, my mother was in the hospital last week. She's out now, and on the mend, so yay. Though, my dear and lovely husband is desperately trying to figure out what to do about this plumbing problem that popped up today…
A huge, very big thank you to Heavenly Pearl for beta-reading this chapter for me! I was getting very nervous about it. But mostly, the biggest thanks to everyone reading. Your comments really brighten my day every time and renew my drive to keep writing.