Written by Elen-Di
Hey everyone. I started looking through my old fanfiction again (WHAT?!) and in light of my re-editing efforts, I'm reposting this (slightly) edited.
Disclaimer: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. (Although, I guess you could say "cars" now, because beggars probably wouldn't ride horses now anyway.) But what I mean by that is…
I don't own Sailor Moon. Goes away and sobs hysterically.
It was that time of the year. The time when the winter chill dissipates and turns into a balmy, spring-like warmth. When trees slowly begin growing leaves, and small flowers begin to bloom, shaking off winter's lingering grasp. It is a time of think of new things, of hope and rebirth. The time of spring.
For Mamoru, a time to remember death.
According to the doctors at the hospital, the date was April 26, 19XX. His father had been killed instantly, but his mother had held onto life long enough for the paramedics to arrive, nearly three hours later. She had died in the ambulance. And he, Mamoru, had survived with amnesia of his whole life beforehand, a broken wrist, and some minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises.
The doctors had no way of explaining it. He was, according to them, "a miracle." His head trauma was to be expected, but only because he hadn't died in the first place. From the records on the Chibas and other information obtained from their personal effects, it was discovered that the family had been on their way to look at a house they wanted to buy, far off in the country. One of the roads was on the side of a mountain, next to a large cliff. There was a sharp turn that was especially hazardous after rainfall, and unless one knew the road well, it was almost impossibly to get around safely. Ignorant of the road's dangers, Mamoru's father hadn't made the turn sharp enough. The car had crashed through the railing, and fallen a distance of two hundred feet to hit the bottom of the ravine. That Mamoru had survived, was indeed, a miracle. That his mother hadn't been killed instantly was also miraculous. She had died, it was true, but for someone with the injuries she had sustained, it was a miracle she hadn't been killed instantly, or within ten minutes. As it was, it was nearly an hour before someone even discovered the accident. It took an hour for the paramedics crew to reach the site of the accident, and another hour for them to climb down into the ravine and extract the victims.
Mamoru's father had received the worst of the accident, and had therefore died immediately upon impact. His mother had been severely traumatized, but by the time the paramedics reached her, she had lost too much blood. An autopsy showed she had cracked her skull, broken both legs and her left arm, dislocated a shoulder, broken a collarbone, punctured a lung with three ribs, and she had internal bleeding. Had the accident happened right outside a hospital, she might have survived.
The full extent of his parents' conditions after the accident was not made known to Mamoru until he turned fifteen. He had not been allowed to know when he was younger, and he had stopped asking by ten. At fifteen, he asked once more, and was told in full. It was also impressed upon him how miraculous his survival was. Mamoru had been sitting in the back seat. Upon impact, the car had bent inwards upon itself. Rocks smashed through the windows. His father had been impaled by a particularly sharp tree limb. Mamoru should have been seriously injured. Yet when the medics found him, he was lying a few feet away from the car, unconscious. A trickle of blood ran from his mouth, he bled from various minor cuts, and his wrist was broken. But his pulse was strong.
The first ambulance carried Mamoru and his mother. A second one carried the corpse of his father. The hospital being nearly an hour away, Mamoru's mother died early into the trip, but Mamoru's condition remained stable.
Upon reaching the hospital, Mamoru was placed in a room in the children's ward. Because his condition (besides possible head trauma) was not serious, he wasn't placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). When Mamoru finally woke up, three days later, he had no memory at all. All he remembered was a name that wasn't his own. The doctors informed him that his name was Chiba Mamoru, and he was an orphan. They tried to tell him what they knew of his life beforehand, but this knowledge was limited, so he still didn't know much about his past life before the accident.
As soon as Mamoru had recovered, he had been sent to the orphanage, in hopes that a couple would eventually come and raise him as their own. That never happened. Children were seldom taken out of the orphanage because couples who wanted children seldom came to the orphanage to find them.
The doctors had never been able to explain Mamoru's survival, but Mamoru had. One time in the hospital, he had accidentally received a paper cut. He had watched in shock and amazement as gold sparks surrounded the tiny wound and healed it almost immediately. Later he discovered that if he concentrated enough, he could get rid his body of fatigue and any other injury or pain.
When Mamoru was fourteen years old, he immediately got a job. He had a large trust fund left from his parents, but he wasn't legally allowed to withdraw anything until he turned eighteen. So he'd gotten a job, and found his own apartment at age sixteen. He wanted to move out of the orphanage earlier, but he wasn't allowed to until he could drive. Needless to say, he'd gotten his drivers' license at the earliest age possible. Living independently off of one job and managing school had been difficult at first, but he'd managed it. He was blessed with the ability of not needing to study for hours on end. Also, the lack of a social life made it possible for him to stay inside most of the time, going out only for work, groceries and school.
But now, even if he didn't have what people would call a "social life", he still made time to go to Crown Arcade, every day after school for an hour or so. It had been Mamoru's good fortune to meet Motoki and become friends with him a few months after his sixteenth birthday. Motoki was the only person his age (other people being older doctors and orphanage directors) who knew about Mamoru's past. Mamoru had never thought there might be benefits to having a friend, but there were. He wasn't completely alone in the world, no matter how ill of himself he might think. There was someone he could talk to about (almost) anything, and he got free drinks in exchange for helping Motoki with calculus. But best, possibly most importantly of all, if he wasn't friends with Motoki, he never would have met her.
A dull ache entered Mamoru's chest. He ignored it; it happened a lot. It happened whenever he thought about a certain golden haired Odango Atama, and she was nowhere in sight.
It had first started several months ago, at the beginning of the school year. Incidentally, it had happened exactly one month after Mamoru's seventeenth birthday. Thus the date was fixed in his mind forever: September 3.
He had heard her first. She was laughing. Not giggling, like many of the female persuasion did to an annoying degree, but full out laughing. If someone had told Mamoru he would fall in love with someone from hearing her laugh, he would have laughed until the sky fell. But there it was. He heard her. And some strange, foreign, strong emotion swept over Mamoru. He felt dizzy, ludicrously so. He felt invigorated, as if every nerve of his body stood at full attention, catching hold of every sensation and drowning in it. He felt alive.
He had turned around, and seen her for the first time. Her unique hairstyle struck him as amusing, then breathtaking as the sun maneuvered itself directly behind her, giving her hair a glowing, halo-like quality. Her eyes were sparkling, her laughter fully manifesting itself through her eyes. The brightest, most crystalline blue Mamoru had ever seen shone like beacons in the darkest night.
But it wasn't just her awe-inspiring beauty that drew her to him. Mamoru watched her constantly for the next month and a half, and fell in love with everything else about her. She was silly at times, and somewhat spacey, but kind to everyone – except for the dark-haired friend with whom she had occasional screaming matches, but those usually ended with a half hour of sulking between the pair of them, and then carrying on as if they'd done more than exchange some sisterly irritation. She listened eagerly to the children that swarmed around her affectionately. Above all, she was a klutz. Every time the Odango Atama, (as Mamoru came to calling her out loud) or Usako (as Mamoru came to calling her silently), tripped or lost her balance, the expression on her face made Mamoru want to laugh outright. She was adorable to him.
What made Mamoru even happier was that he started seeing her on his way to school. Invariably, "seeing her" meant she would crash into him, he would tease her and she would yell back, and then she would run away screaming because the late bell rang. It made him laugh every time. It made the rest of the day easier to bear. No matter how tired or lonely he might feel at school, or how rude some clients would be at work, it didn't matter as long as he had seen Odango twice – once in the morning, once after school. He didn't make the jump to conclusion that he might be in love – he dared not make that jump in logic. Yet.
Today was the day. April 26. For nine years, on this day, Mamoru visited his parents' graves. He would visit the cemetery and "talk" to his parents for hours, describing the past year and imagining his parents' responses. He would ask questions, imagining their answers. Some questions let hang, until they drifted away, as if blown by the breeze. Sometimes he just sat in silence, thinking. He never cried, though. A small part of him wanted to, but Mamoru just choked down the lump in his throat. A larger part of him refused to cry – it would make him vulnerable, he thought. If he wouldn't cry, he could remain strong throughout the coming year.
Today was Saturday, fortunately enough. The news forecasted the weather as partly cloudy, with a chance of showers for the late evening. This put a slight dampener in his plans, as he always visited in the early evening and stayed late into the night.
Perfect, thought Mamoru, half sarcastic. The chancy conditions almost ensured solitude, but he really didn't want to get wet.
Ah well. Better slightly wet than crowded, he mused. Then he thought wryly, Although when (besides during a funeral) is a cemetery ever crowded?
"Hi Mom. Hey Dad."
There was silence for a few seconds as his parents spoke.
"No, I'm okay. Really. I mean most of the time. Umm, sometimes I'm okay. Eh, sort of. Or not…" Mamoru sighed. "Okay, no, I'm not that okay. The truth is…"
He faltered. The truth about what? There were so many truths to be uncovered.
Shutting his eyes, Mamoru let out a deep breath. "All right." Ready to spill my guts to my dead parents? Let's go.
"The truth about everything. Gotta admit it sometime. What time other than the present? First off, Mom and Dad, I'm not normal."
He paused and grinned slightly. Flapping a hand, he continued. "No, Mom, not like that. I know you say I'm special, but I mean it sort of… differently."
The breath before the plunge.
"I'm Tuxedo Kamen," he said in a rush. "Just about every night I transform into some guy wearing a tuxedo, a top hat, and a cape. I fight the scum of the universe with a cane and roses as sharp as knives. I rescue a beautiful super-heroine called Sailor Moon who is also fighting the scum of the universe, known as youma. Where they come from, whether it be hell or worse, I have no idea. She has a talking cat that looks a lot like the one Odango Atama has, and she kills these youma with her tiara – after I rescue her, of course. I have chronically recurring dreams about this Princess from the Moon, of all places, who begs me nightly to find this "Ginzuishou" that supposedly has more power than a nuclear bomb. And, to top it all off, I am in love with three women – this Princess, Sailor Moon, and the aforementioned Odango Atama. Do I sound crazy, or is just me?"
Silence reigned. Mamoru's lip twitched. "Tell you about Odango? Well… she lights up my world. She's beautiful, kind, caring… and genuinely, too. I know it sounds kind of cliché-ish, but she isn't like that. I doubt there is a single person on this Earth she really hates. Dislikes, maybe (like me), but hates? Never. She's too good hearted and naïve… and a klutz, but there is no other girl like her on Earth. I can't help but tease her cause I doubt she'd pay attention to me otherwise."
Mamoru sighed. "I don't know Mom… I know it sounds crazy, loving all three… but this Princess? I feel like she would always be there for me, no matter what. And she loves me. Don't ask me how I know; it's just this… definite feeling. And Sailor Moon! I'm a teenager, and Kami-sama those fukus are short…" he blushed and coughed, but then continued, "And she cares about the world, just like Odango. She would give up her life to stop all these youma, which is what she risks every time she goes out to fight them! And she's getting a lot better at fighting those monsters, but still… I'm glad I can tell when she transforms, or she'd be done for. What? Oh yeah, I can tell when she transforms. It's like… something in my chest pulls me to her, wherever she is. Like a rope's coming out of me and attaching to her, and it tugs whenever she transforms. It's weird…"
He looked towards the heavens. "It's so confusing Mom," he sighed. "I feel so alone sometimes… so confused, but without a way to fix it." He hesitated. "When I was younger… sometimes I just wanted to end it, and see you again… but then Usako changed my mind." He smiled wanly. "I know you're relieved."
Sighing, Mamoru got to his feet. Out of thin air he produced two white roses and laid them gently before the headstone. "I love you," he murmured. He turned to go.
The noise reached his ears so faintly, that he thought at first he imagined it. But his ultra-sharp hearing (benefits of being a superhero) picked up the noise more distinctly as it grew slightly in volume. He frowned. Was someone… crying?
Quietly as possible, Mamoru weaved through the maze of tombstones. The person crying, whoever it was, wasn't far from the Chibas' grave. But he or she (he was pretty sure it was female) was crying so softly it was hard to gauge the distance correctly.
Finally, Mamoru pinpointed the location of the weeping. Unsure of what to do, he hid behind one of the many headstones surrounding the vicinity. He peered over the stone.
Shock tore at him like a rabid bear. His heart rammed into his throat.
His own, sweet, loving Usako knelt beside a grave, sobbing (albeit quietly) as if her heart would break. She was garbed completely in black, from her flowing black silk skirt to her simple sable blouse. She looked as if she had been kneeling there for hours. The front of her skirt was coated with dirt, but she didn't seem to care. All she seemed to be able to do was cry and gaze at the headstone before her.
Mamoru maneuvered carefully to another gravestone so he could read the stone Usagi stared at so intently. Squinting in the dim light – the sun had faded behind the clouds – Mamoru made out the words.
Usagi "Rose" Tsukino
Born December 30, 19XX
Died June 30, 19XX
Beloved daughter, sister, and friend
May your light never go out
And may your soul find peace.
Mamoru gaped. Odango didn't have a sister, did she? Had she? And why did the two girls – one dead, one alive – have the same name?
A torrent of questions swam through Mamoru's head. But one question stood out. Should he go comfort Usagi? Or simply stay where he was and watch her?
Usagi's sobbing answered his question. It didn't diminish for several minutes. If anything, it became more violent, for she was now visibly shaking with no sign of letting up.
Mamoru couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't stand the sight of Usagi in so much pain, whether it was physical or emotional. He stood up and walked slowly until he knelt directly behind her.
"Odango?" He said the name in his most gentle, most caressing voice.
She turned half her body to face him. Tears ran in gullets down her cheeks; her eyes were red and puffy. Her petite frame shook with sobs.
"Odango," he repeated softly. "What's wrong?"
She shook her head, unable to find words.
"Do you want me to leave?" he whispered.
She shook her head with a violence that surprised him. She turned back to face the grave.
"What can I do?"
She didn't answer, or move. Mamoru moved towards her hesitatingly, then asked, "Do you… do you want a hug?"
She nodded slightly. Slowly he knelt beside her and waited. She leaned into him, then turned and buried her face in his chest. Gently, Mamoru encircled his arms around her and lightly rested his chin atop her head. He willed his arms not to tremble, though his heart was thudding rapidly at their proximity.
They stayed like this for some time. Usagi, weeping into Mamoru's shirt, his hand rubbing small circles on her back. Eventually she quieted, and her breathing became easier. She stopped shaking, and managed to regain some control of herself.
"Mamoru… I'm sorry," she said, pulling back.
"Don't be." Tenderly he brushed some silky strands of golden hair off her face. "Why so upset, Odango?"
She took a deep breath, willing her voice not to tremble. "Everything," she began, then stopped.
He stroked her hair. "Go on."
"I've never told you about my sister, have I," she said quietly, her voice slightly stronger. "Then again, I've never told anyone, least of all conceited jerks who like to tease me."
There was a hint of a smile in her voice that told Mamoru she meant it affectionately. He hugged her close, hardly daring to believe it.
"She was some years older than I was – by about five years or so," she continued. She inhaled deeply. "When she was born, my parents named her Usagi . She was beautiful, I'm told. Graceful, intelligent, strong – everything I'm not."
Mamoru was about to interrupt and protest vigorously, but Usagi held up a hand to stop him. "Don't interrupt me, okay?" He saw pleading in her eyes, and gave in.
She paused. "Then I was born. My parents named me Serenity. Usagi's not and never has been my real name.
"So I grew up for six years under the shadow of the great Usagi. Mom and Dad loved her so much… more than me, it seems a lot of times."
The pain was evident in her eyes. Mamoru opened his mouth to speak again, but Usagi placed a finger on his lips.
"Please, don't… So Usagi, called "Rose" by nearly everyone (since Roses are beautiful and perfect) was the perfect child, what every parent should have. The complete opposite of me. I tried to be a good daughter, but Rose was so much better than I. I hated being constantly in her shadow, being the invisible child. The only time Mom and Dad seemed to notice me was when I did something wrong."
Usagi clenched her fists until the knuckles grew white. "I grew jealous… and selfish… I…" Mamoru held her tightly to him.
"Mamoru," the girl muttered, "please don't hate me, no matter what I say."
He was shocked. "I could never hate you!"
She smiled weakly. "One night, there was a fire. I was ten years old – in fact, it was my birthday. We had all gone to bed, but I woke up, and couldn't go back to sleep. I was restless, so I decided to go downstairs for a snack.
"Something must not have been plugged in right upstairs, or something… I think it was in the upstairs bathrooms, where the fire started, but somehow I smelled it first. I panicked, and ran to get Mom and Dad. They rushed outside, thinking that I had already gotten Rose out, but I held back. Rose was still asleep. I tried to open the door, but it was locked. I banged on her door, but I couldn't yell. I don't know why. All I know is that I turned to go, to leave her there – and I heard her screaming. Screaming my name.
"They thought that the fire had somehow managed to spread to her bedroom first – perhaps it was her bathroom that caught fire. We don't know. But whatever happened, I turned to leave her to die because I couldn't find a way to open the damned door!"
An edge of self loathing crept into her voice. "I was about to leave her to die, and then she started screaming. I put my hand on the door handle and burned myself. By then the smoke had gotten thick and I couldn't see. I ran outside and saw the fire covering the entire upper floor. I should have been able to do something, should have been able to think of something, but no. The upper floor collapsed, and then Mom and Dad were screaming at me because they realized Rose was still in there. They said it was my fault. And they're right."
Her voice broke again. "My perfect sister died because of me, and I survived."
Mamoru was in shock. It had been shocking to learn all of these things, one of which was that the name she used was her dead sister's.
"Odango?" he said softly, "why do you call yourself Usagi, then?"
Her face hardened. "To remind myself. So that I will never forget I caused the death of my sister, and I have to make up for it. I try to be patient and kind with others, to attune for that, but I'll never make up for it. Besides, I'm not half as good a person as she was, nor will I ever be."
The self-loathing in her tone was very obvious now.
"Do you think so little of yourself?" he asked, incredulous. She looked at him, puzzled. He raked a hand through his hair, frustrated. "Odango, you light up half the street just by smiling. Everybody loves you! I find it very hard to believe your sister was even close to being as kind as you are! You never get impatient with anyone – well, except for me, maybe, but I deserve it – and I see how those little kids hang around you. You're like their second mother, which is saying a lot for a girl of your age. You're more mature than a lot of those petty, giggling girls who just talk about boys and makeup and other crap."
He paused. "And it wasn't your fault she died, Usako." He heard her gasp at the name, but he didn't stop. "The door was locked, and if the fire started in her bathroom, there was nothing you could have done. It was a tragic accident, and one that you couldn't prevent."
She didn't move for a few seconds. Then he heard her say softly, "Why are you here? Most people don't hang out in cemeteries… especially people like you."
Mamoru hesitated. Only Motoki knew about his parents. He wasn't sure he wanted Usako to know. But then again, hadn't she spilled her heart out to him about her dead sister? She deserved to know his past.
"My parents died when I was eight years old," he began. "The car went over a railing on a cliff, and only I survived, miraculously... The doctors could never explain why I survived, only that I did. But I had amnesia. I don't even remember my life before the car crash. All I remember of my childhood is the hospital and the orphanage." And that little girl with her rose, my powers... and Fiore, he said inwardly. But he didn't want to mention them. They sounded too easily like childhood fantasies to ease pain and loneliness.
Usagi's eyes were huge. Mamoru cursed himself as he saw tears well up in their crystal depths. "Don't cry for me, Odango," he said hastily, brushing away the first few tears. "It happened so long ago, it doesn't matter now. I visit my parents' graves every year on the anniversary of their death, but it doesn't mean anything. I just come to talk to them and myself, to figure things out-"
He was interrupted as Usagi flung her arms around him. He fell backwards and they crashed to the slightly moist ground. "Odango, wha-?" He blushed a dark shade of crimson as her arms continued hugging him tightly.
She was blushing as well. "I'm sorry I knocked you over, I just really wanted to hug you... I feel so sad for you, having to be so alone as a child. I can't imagine what it would be like to go through that... you're really brave, Mamoru." She said it shyly, the first time Mamoru had ever heard her sound shy.
He smiled and sat up with her still in his arms. "Well, I'm not particularly brave when it gets dark," he joked. "I think I need Sailor Moon to protect me from the dark as well as all the creepy monsters that are around these days."
Instead of laughing, like he expected her to, Usagi just grew pale. "Sailor Moon can't protect anybody well," she muttered. Thanks to his super-sharp hearing, Mamoru heard her.
"What do you mean, Sailor Moon can't protect anyone?! She's the reason Tokyo isn't completely overrun with those freaks by now!" said Mamoru, somewhat upset.
"Do you really think so?" asked Usagi, not looking at him. "I mean, she's a klutz, and she always has to be saved by Tuxedo Kamen before she destroys any of the youma."
Mamoru stared at her. "Usako, Sailor Moon is right up there with you when it comes to saintliness. And she's getting a lot better at fighting. Pretty soon Tuxedo Kamen won't even have to show up cause she'll be handling it so well."
Usagi had looked up at him, startled, when he'd called her "Usako". Now she looked away from him and said quietly, "Sailor Moon wouldn't like that at all."
Mamoru looked at her curiously. "How do you know?"
She hesitated. "Umm... because..."
Whatever excuse she was going to make was cut off by a rather large explosion only three yards away from them.
It was very painful. His head felt like it was going to explode... and his body ached, like it had been pummeled with lots of sharp little rocks. It was dark too. He was so confused...
KAMI-SAMA! Mamoru shot into a sitting position, then groaned and held his head. He'd been sprawled flat, huge chunks of tombstone littering the ground around him. Thank God none of those hit my head, he thought dazedly. What the hell happened? There was an explosion... what is a bomb, a youma, what...?
A brief cackle of maniacal laughter answered his question and sent his heart down to the depths of the corpses beneath his feet. A gigantic youma, shadow and fire wreathed around it like a cloak, stood barely four yards away from him. A glint of gold caught Mamoru's peripheral vision. USAKO!
Usagi had been thrown some feet away from Mamoru. She was only just coming to, but as soon as she realized the immediate danger, her body tensed and she flew into an upright sitting position, similar to the way Mamoru had. But she had no confusion in her eyes. Her face was pale, but her cerulean eyes were furious. She clenched something in her left hand.
Mamoru crawled over to her, trying to keep low as possible so as to not attract the attention of the youma. Unfortunately, it didn't work.
"Puny, pathetic humans," it roared. "I shall claim your energy for my Mistress and you shall die!"
"Great," muttered Mamoru. "A talkative, threatening one." He looked to Usagi concernedly. "Are you all right? You didn't hit your head, did you?"
She shook her head. "Okay," he said. He put his lips just above her ear. "I'm going to cause a distraction, and then you're going to run for it. Get as far away as you possibly can."
She shook her head, tight-lipped. Mamoru grew frustrated. He was about to whisper again more insistently that she run until he saw what she was clenching. He just about swore. It can't be...
Usagi stood up rather shakily, but firm all the same. Her face was white. "You almost hurt the man I care about," she hissed at the youma. "For that, I will punish you!" She threw her hand up into the air and shouted, "MOON PRISM POWER... MAKE UP!"
Mamoru was nearly blinded as a plethora of swirling lights wrapped themselves around Usagi's body to form Sailor Moon's fuku. Her boots, gloves, skirt, choker and tiara formed themselves out of ribbons of light and Sailor Moon struck her customary pose.
"For the respect of the dead everywhere, you will be punished! I am Sailor Moon and you are about to become dust!"
"Still with the corny speeches," sighed the youma. "Pity you decided to show up. Although now," it grinned evilly, "I'll just have more energy to offer Queen Beryl!" It gestured, and tendrils of shadow began to thread their way towards the suited Sailor Senshi. She backed up - right into a masked man.
"Tuxedo Kamen!" she gasped.
"The one and only," he said with a slight grin. "I guess we'll just have to finish off big and ugly before it sets us on fire, eh?"
She grinned back at him and nodded. She pulled her tiara off her forehead.
"Moon Tiara Magic!"
The youma dodged the first path of the tiara, but forgot it always came back around like a boomerang. One shadowy arm was sliced off and evaporated. The youma hissed at Sailor Moon.
"You think a little scratch like that can harm me? I think not..."
Raising its arms, the youma uttered a shriek that would make anyone's ears, other than Sailor Moon's and Tuxedo Kamen's, bleed. Shadowy figures began to rise up out of the ground. A cacophony of shrieks, groans, and curses from the figures made Sailor Moon's ears want to bleed. The main youma shrieked, "BRING ME THEIR ENERGY! THEN KILL THEM!"
"Oh no..." muttered Tuxedo Kamen in Sailor Moon's ear." This doesn't look good, does it?"
"No," she replied. Then the thought struck her like a lightning bolt. "Oh my God! Where's Mamoru?!" She scanned the surrounding area frantically, but Tuxedo Kamen placed a hand on her arm.
"He got away," he said evenly.
"Oh," said Sailor Moon, disappointed. She wasn't disappointed that he'd run away, she wanted him out of danger! But she also was sad he was gone... since now he even knew her true identity...
Thoughts for later! Sailor Moon chided herself as three shadow youma came at her at once, tendril-like fingers shifting into dagger-like claws. One of them was spouting fire from its fingers. She dodged them all and leapt back, blessing Luna for nightmare training sessions that increased her acrobatic abilities dramatically. She looked for Tuxedo Kamen out of the corner of her eye and saw him dodging three more youma, each with knife-like appendages or flame-throwing abilities. He pulled several roses out of thin air and dispelled one of the youma, tips of the roses slicing through its putrescent form. As the other two advanced menacingly, he pulled out his cane. To Sailor Moon's shock, a blade came out of the end and he began to fight the youma with dagger-fingers.
Sailor Moon was forced to concentrate on saving her own life once more when several more youma came after her. She dispatched one with her tiara's first boomerang curve, then the second as the tiara came back around. She didn't, however, notice one of the youma circling cautiously behind her, waiting for an opportunity to strike its unsuspecting victim.
"SAILOR MOON! BEHIND YOU!"
The shout from Tuxedo Kamen startled Sailor Moon and she whirled to face the youma who had shifted behind her. It caught her gloved wrists and held them, as if in a mockery of a lover holding his partner's hands. Sailor Moon blanched and fought to free her arms, but the youma's shadowy essence writhed and shifted until several layers of shadowy skin enveloped her arms up to the elbows. She shrieked.
Tuxedo Kamen cursed and stabbed several youma in quick succession. He tried breaking through the ring of youma that kept surrounding him so he could reach Sailor Moon, but the youma just kept coming!
The youma holding Sailor Moon captive began to pulse with an eerie black light. The light assimilated its arms, then moved to Sailor Moon, who flinched and continued trying to break the youma's grip. She kicked her leg up in an attempt to kick the youma away from her, but extensions of the youma's feet-like appendages grew to astronomical lengths and encompassed her ankles so that she could not move them. She whimpered. She was trapped. And no one could save her.
The black light from the youma circled Sailor Moon, then grew and stretched until it surrounded her entire breathing. Her breathing became more rapid, and she began to panic. The light pulsed, and she screamed. Pins and needles were entering through every pore of her skin, she was on fire, she was freezing, she was going to die -
The pain stopped, but the light continued to pulse. Now, Sailor Moon could feel herself getting weaker and weaker with each passing second.
"Tuxedo Kamen! It's draining... me...!"
She slumped, seemingly about to faint. "Help," she whispered apathetically. The youma laughed cruelly - then screeched as Tuxedo Kamen's bladed cane tore through its arms, breaking its hold on Sailor Moon. The tuxedoed youth shoved the dying monster aside and caught the falling heroine. She was extremely pale.
"Sailor Moon! Usako! Oh please God - Usako!" Tuxedo Kamen crushed Sailor Moon in a hug when she opened her eyes and blinked them dazedly. "Sailor Moon, are you all right?"
"I'll survive," she murmured. "I'm just exhausted, that's all."
"Thank God you're only exhausted and not dead. Can you stand?"
"I think so."
He helped her to her feet. Flicking several sharpened roses at youma who had deemed it safe to try and approach the couple, Tuxedo Kamen scooped up Sailor Moon and sprinted several rows to the right. The corpses of youmas who had encountered his roses littered the path behind them. Coming a safe distance away from the mastermind youma, Tuxedo Kamen gently laid Sailor Moon on the ground.
"You stay here, Usako," he whispered. "Don't come and try to fight - I'll take care of it. If something happens to me, run. Do you understand?"
Not waiting for an answer, he returned to the original battlefield, leaving a gaping Sailor Moon behind him.
"So you've come back to die?" taunted the youma as Tuxedo Kamen stood once more in the ring of blasted tombstones. His face was tense, and several roses were held in one fist; his bladed cane was in the other.
"No. I've come to get rid of you once and for all!" Having said so, Tuxedo Kamen leapt toward the youma, cane's blade flashing in the dim light. The youma mirrored Tuxedo Kamen's mask, and the two met head-on midair.
There was a tremendous crash, and Tuxedo Kamen rolled away in the opposite direction as the youma. His ribs felt like they were broken, and he felt several bruises beginning to form. The youma, on the other hand, showed no sign of injury. Its left arm was now a monstrous sword. It was Tuxedo Kamen's blade meeting this sword that had caused the tremendous crash.
"That was pathetic," mocked the youma. "Are you ready to try again?"
Tuxedo Kamen only growled and vaulted back towards the youma. They met several times, exchanging blows with the sword that sent jarring shocks up Tuxedo Kamen's arm. He wondered if he would ever be able to use the arm again - if he survived.
Suddenly the youma threw him back with enough force to send him reeling into a headstone. Tuxedo Kamen moaned and lost consciousness for a split second. Upon regaining it, his head felt like it would explode, for the second time that night. He rose dizzily and stumbled once more towards the youma... probably towards his death.
Death used to not be such a bad thing, he mused exhaustedly. But now... His thoughts zeroed in on Usagi, golden hair streaming in the afternoon light, glowing like a halo, her dancing eyes the lightest azure... Usagi as Sailor Moon, standing upright, defending people and often getting hurt in the process... His Usagi. His Usako. His Serenity.
"Ready to meet your death?" asked the youma. It threw its sword with the force of a javelin straight towards Tuxedo Kamen. He didn't even flinch. He just closed his eyes and prepared to die. If only I could have told her how much I loved her...
There was a sickening thud, a wrenched gasp of pain. The gurgle of blood flowing from the open wound. But no pain. Tuxedo Kamen opened his eyes.
Sailor Moon stood inches in front of him, a gigantic sword pierced through her abdomen. A scream punctured the air, but it wasn't from her. It was Tuxedo Kamen, screaming as he saw the one girl he had only ever truly loved on the threshold of death's door.
She collapsed, and he caught her, cradling her gently. He put a hand on the hilt of the sword, unsure whether to wrench it out of her body.
"Do it," she whispered, blood pooling in her mouth, bubbles of blood bursting at the corners. He braced himself, then tugged.
She screamed - a long piercing cry that shattered Mamoru's heart. He blanched and tears streamed down his face. The first time he had cried as long as he could remember, but that meant nothing now. Ripping his cape into long strips, he tried to stem the flow of blood that cascaded out of Sailor Moon's stomach. He also wiped away the stream of blood that was coming from her mouth. She was coughing up blood, and her pulse was dangerously slow.
"Why did you do that for me?" he whispered raggedly. "I thought I told you to stay put."
"I couldn't," she whispered back. "You called me... Usako..."
Fingers trembling and arm shaking from the exertion, Sailor Moon carefully removed Tuxedo Kamen's mask. Tears were blurring his vision; he blinked them away. She had a small smile on her face. "How could I not save the man I love?"
Mamoru just about lost it. Still being careful not to joggle her and so cause her pain, he leaned down and kissed her passionately on the lips. She returned the kiss as passionately as she could, the flame she had felt for so long still strong even as her breath began to fail. Tears streamed from both their eyes and mingled as they fell.
Mamoru broke the kiss but his face remained mere centimeters from hers. "You are not going to die," he whispered coarsely. "If you go, I will go with you and bring you back from heaven myself."
"How do you I know I'll go to heaven?"
"You're the angel that brought me out of the darkness. I love you, Serenity, Usako. I love you so much." His voice broke.
"I love you too," she whispered. Her breath was getting shallower and shallower. Soon, it slowed until it was barely perceptible. Then, subtly, it stopped. Mamoru blinked. Her eyes were still half open, her mouth was open and her cheeks were still pink. The blood stopped flowing out of her mouth, but a thin trail remained on the side of her face. He couldn't feel a pulse.
"Kami-sama, no please, no Usako Serenity pleasedon'tbenoyoucan't be why can't I heal you ohplease my powers why not ohKami Usagi Usako Serenity you can't be dead IWON'T LETYOU you don't leave me God please don't leave me – SERENITY!"
His cry of pure anguish shattered the night. Usagi's head lay back limply. She was gone. With an almost feral roar, Mamoru looked up, his eyes blazing. He saw the youma watching bemusedly. It looked as if it had watched just to see Tuxedo Kamen suffer as Sailor Moon died. It had not interrupted, but now it was getting bored.
"Well, wasn't that touching," smirked the youma. It sighed mockingly. "Pity I couldn't have gotten more energy before she died. It would have made a great contribution to Queen -"
The youma looked slightly surprised. Tuxedo Kamen and donned his mask once more and gently laid Sailor Moon on the ground. Had it not been for the gigantic bloodstain staining her fuku and the ground surrounding her, she could have been sleeping. His face was stark white, his eyes were smoldering embers, but still held unshed tears. The knuckles gripping his blade were drained of all blood.
"You... are going to regret ever being on this planet," he hissed venomously. "I will make you regret ever taking her away from me!"
He leapt forward, at the same time as the youma, glad for the opportunity to spill more blood, did. They never came close to each other.
A flash of blinding light illuminated the area and blinded everyone with working corneas. Tuxedo Kamen felt himself freeze, even as he was in midair. Dimly he heard the dying shriek of all the remaining youma as they evaporated, including the one that had killed Usako. Blinded as he was, he somehow could sense all of his surroundings. He felt Usagi lying on the ground a few feet away from him. He felt that familiar, tugging sensation that happened whenever Sailor Moon transformed...
"What the -!"
The light dimmed, and a beautiful, scintillating crystal floated in the air between him and Usagi on the ground. It shone the brightest silver Mamoru had ever seen.
"It can't be..." he murmured. "The Ginzuishou?"
The crystal flashed once, and a beam of light shot towards Sailor Moon. It enveloped her in a brilliant white chrysalis that evaporated after a few seconds, but left her dramatically changed.
First, the wound was gone. Completely healed. There was no blood on her face, on her side, on her clothing or her hair. The only sign that she had bled to death only minutes ago was the large bloodstain on the ground. But even her clothes were different. A luminous white dress garbed her petite form that now drifted upright an inch or so off the ground. Her hair was clean and in its customary buns. Sailor Moon's tiara was still adorning her forehead, however. Yet even as Mamoru watched, it melted away, leaving only a brilliant crescent moon on her forehead.
"It can't be," he breathed. "Princess... Serenity?"
A second beam of light shot from the Ginzuishou. This one struck Mamoru. A brilliant warmth surrounded him, and the sweet but faint scent of roses. The light faded, and Mamoru blinked as he looked down at his clothing. He was wearing what looked like armor, but it wasn't nearly as heavy as it should have been, and he also wore a cape and a very large sword on his hip. Yet the clothing didn't even feel odd. It felt natural, as if this was his skin and he hadn't been in the right skin all this time...
Mamoru's head turned so quickly he felt his neck crick. Usako's... Serenity's eyes were open. But her gaze was not the glazed look of the dead. It was the vibrant look of the living woman he knew and loved.
A cry of joy - and the two were embracing each other so tightly Mamoru felt his ribs would crack. But in a good way. Then they drew back and the heat surged between them. Their lips met in a breathtaking kiss, full of passion and love and joy.
The kiss lasted a long time. Neither felt they could get enough of the other, and the senses they both experienced were overwhelming. Mamoru could never - ever - remember being so happy. He felt he might explode with the joy and love that overflowed within him.
They broke apart. Serenity's eyes were shining. Mamoru's were filled with tears. He blinked, and they ran down his face. "I thought I had lost you," he whispered.
She smiled at him - that smile that was for him, and him alone. "Never," she said fiercely. "I would never leave you alone like that. Not voluntarily at all."
They both smiled at each other, enjoying being lost in each other's eyes.
"So, what shall we do now, my Princess?" Mamoru murmured.
She smiled shyly at him. "Well for starters, I wouldn't mind another kiss."