Ten years have passed. Queen Nehelenia has been defeated twice, and Sailor Galaxia is no longer a threat. Dartz was taken care of, and the evil spirit of the Millennium Ring no longer disrupts the life of Ryou Bakura or anyone else. The Pharaoh Atem and his queen Sariah made their departure for the afterlife. For years, at least on the magic side of matters, things have been peaceful for the Sailor Scouts and for those that lived in Domino. All that's left to anticipate is the New Silver Millennium and the birth of Crystal Tokyo.
What a fitting point in time to make her exit, Amber mused.
Within the history museum, Amber stood in front of a replica made of the noteworthy mural from Sariah's tomb. Pharaoh Atem and Queen Serenity, forging a truce. She smiled, staring at and studying the painting with her dolls Amberlee and Cloe in her arms for company. Ishizu really was kind to make a replica of the painting here. It sure beat going all the way back to Egypt and standing in the queen's tomb. The very thought of traveling there made the backpack on her back feel even heavier.
The nearby clock silently ticked the seconds away. Amber closed her eyes, drawing within herself. Going away to be alone again, back in her true world of origin… She would need to reintegrate herself, actually push through the difficult times of acquainting with people and put in the hard work of forming friendships, rather than just escape here where everything was simpler, where people had befriended her without any effort on her part.
Soft shifting sounds of opening doors turned her attention outward again. Amber turned, watching her friends enter. Yugi and Tea entered first, with Raye, Mina, and Serenity chattering together close behind them. Serena, Lita, Darien, and Joey entered with their usual bright energy, with Ryou Bakura and Tristan entering last. The door didn't quite shut all the way, however, as Amy caught it and slipped inside.
All of them dressed so differently now than they had as teenagers. Amy was still in her doctor's coat, having clearly just come from work. Tristan and Ryou both wore sharp suits, as did Serenity and Raye. Mina and Joey were in more casual attire consisting of hoodies and sweatpants, while Lita opted for a dress of deep green with an embroidered apron. Yugi and Teá… Well, they and Serena dressed about the same as before, actually, as did Darien in his 90's fashion disaster mishmash of yellow, pink and teal.
Seeing what changed and what stayed the same made Amber smile. They all would be fine. They never truly needed her in the first place.
"Looks like we got the whole gang here!" Joey called out.
"Yeah, it's really great," Amber agreed with a nod.
"Well, almost…" Serena trailed off, her smile vanishing.
Darien wrapped his arm over Serena's shoulders. "Rini said her good-byes before. I'm sure she'd love to be here if she could."
"That can be arranged, actually," chimed in someone new, a woman's deep voice the Scouts instantly recognized.
Amber spun around. "Sailor Pluto!" she called out, identifying the speaker upon spotting her.
Sailor Pluto smiled, standing beside the painted mural. Out from behind her appeared a teary-eyed Rini, who looked like she hadn't aged a day from when she had last returned to the future. "AMBER!" Rini sprinted towards the redhead with arms open wide.
Amber set her dolls on the floor and caught Rini in a tight hug, holding the sobbing girl. "Rini, what's going on?" she asked, dread sinking her stomach.
Rini sniffled and sobbed. "M-mom and Dad already forgot, and the other Scouts thought I was-hic-talking about an imaginary friend, a-a-and I couldn't find Neo-Sage Andrea a-anywhere…"
"Oh, Rini…" Amber hugged her even tighter. Neo-Sage Andrea was her future self's title, taking on her own late mother's name like Serena had with Queen Serenity. For her to have disappeared already… Amber wasn't sure she had much time.
"I-i thought," Rini whimpered, "I thought I was going crazy… I wasn't sure if I remembered right…"
"No, no, it's not you…" Amber rubbed her back, looking over Rini's shoulders towards the others. The easy-going mood had dropped, the room filling with tension and sadness as everyone exchanged glances with each other or just watched Rini with mixed emotions. "...I'm so sorry, Rini."
Hiccuping a last sob, Rini lifted her head. "I'm just… glad Puu brought me here to see you…" she mumbled as she rubbed her eyes. The pink-haired princess managed a smile at Sailor Pluto, who simply nodded in acknowledgement.
"You know, that's something I still don't get," Lita spoke up. "Why get mixed up in our messes at all if you had too many rules to keep them all?"
"Yeah, it ain't right to just expect you to keep to yourself all the time," Joey added forcefully, with righteous anger in his tone.
Amber thought over her words carefully, biting her lip. How to explain… Not like it would hurt now to be open with the truth. "There's a third world. One that hasn't crossed over." She placed her hand on her heart. "My world. A world where the stories of the Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon and the Duel Monsters champion Yugi Muto are works of fiction." She managed a smile. "Stories I latched onto when I was a lonely child and wanted the same kind of close knit friend circles."
"But then how…" Serena faltered, the blonde girl attempting to figure out how to ask.
"It was an accident, really," Amber replied. "When I was twelve, I was walking past an abandoned farmer's field in my neighborhood and stumbled upon a path leading straight to Merlin himself. Basically he made a deal with me to keep me quiet about what he was doing in my own world. And I got something I wanted out of it all-magic powers and escapism, at least in my dreamscape." She shrugged, somewhat embarrassed.
"Dreamscape?" Serenity asked, the brunette intrigued.
"Aren't you worried about what he could be doing there?" Amy asked. Serenity seemed about to speak again, but fell quiet.
"N-not really." Amber shuddered, almost like a flickering of light. She stared at her hands. They felt… tingly and stiff. "But before I go, and give up this dream…" She unlatched a gold bracelet from her wrist, a slender chain with a sheep charm hanging from it. "Teá? This is for you." She walked over to Teá and looped the bracelet over her friend's wrist.
"Thank you, but…" Teá looked confused as she stared at her newly acquired jewelry on her arm.
"Her bracelet's gone," Amber explained, "so this is a stand-in. If the pharaoh's queen is meant to continue on in the new world, she'll appear through you. Otherwise… I hope the new timeline of events is less confusing for your heart."
Teá nodded in understanding. "Thank you, Amber." She hugged Amber, who readily returned the hug.
Amber then turned to Serenity Wheeler. "You'll have a bigger part to play in what lies ahead in the new world."
"What for?" Serenity gave Amber a confused look.
Amber placed on Serenity's wrist a different bracelet, a chunky crystalline series of links with a heart in gold at the center. It was the Heart Bracelet, the Crystal Item counterpart to the now absent Bracelet of Light that Amber once wore. "To be the binding factor."
Serenity stared blankly at Amber. "I can't do anything with this. I'm not a Sailor Scout…"
"At least for now," Amber replied with a wry smile.
"I don't get it…" Serenity traced over the bracelet's thick links as she became more confused.
"My dumb mistakes had one good thing going for them," Amber said. "It brought two groups of friends together into a bigger group. Bringing people together is always a plus."
"Ya got that right!" Joey hugged Lita after making that exclamation.
Lita grinned. "Sounds awesome to me."
"You'll be the one that brings everyone together in the new turn of events, and you won't be restricted by the 'background observer'... stuff I had to always have in the back of my mind," Amber finished. "You can just be yourself and the details will work themselves out."
Serenity finally lifted her head, understanding in her eyes as she smiled. "... I'm honored. Thank you."
Amber lifted her hands in protest. "You were the one with a bond with the queen. I have no idea how that happened."
A gravelly voice cut in, "Are you through?"
Amber turned around again. There was the looming hooded figure of Merlin, having appeared as suddenly and quietly as Sailor Pluto had. The Silver Knight stood just behind him, his glimmering ninja-esque attire a stark contrast to the dark cloak Merlin wore.
"Geeze, be patient, old man!" Tristan spoke up, hand already curled into a fist.
"Tristan, please don't," Serenity said to him meekly.
"Hey, Silver!" Rini exclaimed, jaw agape.
"No need to worry, old Master," Amber replied to Merlin. "Most of my last few deeds were taken care of over the past years." She paused, however, upon seeing the Silver Knight. "Wait, if you're here then…"
The Silver Knight shrugged. "I was only around because you were. Nothing more than that."
Amber frowned. "Well… alright." Regardless of what he said, she walked over to him and gave him a hug. "Thank you for being here, Marco," she whispered in his ear.
The Silver Knight started in surprise, then placed his hands on her shoulders in a return hug. "Sure. It's whatever." He patted her head before she let go.
Merlin, the Silver Knight, and Sailor Pluto stood by as all of the others present gave their last goodbyes to Amber. Unfortunately, Amber realized, she wasn't sure who was more hurt by this farewell, herself or her friends. But she tried to put that out of mind as she then stood before the mural and declared to Merlin, "Let's begin."
"Finally." Merlin slammed the end of his staff against the ground. A bright light grew out from Amber as she closed her eyes, serenely smiling. Light filled the room, obscuring everyone's vision…
Amber was gone. The entire room faded to black as those that once knew her took their leave…
(insert divider here)
"Princess Small Lady, we need to leave now."
"But where is everyone, Pluto? … Where are we? It's so dark."
"Everyone's home safe. Let's leave this broken timeline. Crystal Tokyo is waiting for you."
"Okay… Why was I here again?"
"To say goodbye."
"But I already did that after Nehelenia was defeated."
"... Don't think too hard about it then, Small Lady. Time is a fickle thing."
"Okay, Puu… Thanks for always being here to help me."
"Of course, Princess. Now, right this way..."
The young child Serenity Wheeler huddled on her bed and sobbed. Earlier that day, her mother had taken her away from her big brother Joey and her father, and her heart hurt so much missing Joey. Why couldn't she go see him? Her mother said they lived too far away. Why couldn't Mom drive them now? She needed her big brother. Her mom was busy at work, the babysitter was someone she just met, and Serenity couldn't sleep. All she wanted was to not hurt so much.
Amid her tears and half-hiding in her pillow, she could see her room growing brighter. Confused, Serenity sat up. The light was… coming from outside? She knelt by her window. The street lights were the same as ever. The silver glow was coming from the moon, shining down on her. Little Serenity stared in awe at how much brighter the moon was now than she ever remembered it being.
A person appeared in the moonlight, small with wings. Serenity gasped. "A fairy?!" Her eyes shone and her jaw fell slack.
"Not quite," said the little woman perched on her windowsill. All of her was silver like the moon: silver flowing hair, silver dress, and silver wings. "But you can call me a fairy if you want."
Serenity smiled, sniffling as she rubbed her eyes. "What's your name?"
"What's your name?" asked the small silver fairy in turn.
"Serenity Wheeler," replied Serenity, pronouncing the 'h' in her last name.
The fairy smiled. "You can call me Serenity too."
"Okay! We can share!" Little Serenity giggled.
The young child found comfort in talking for hours that night with the fairy. Everything upsetting her about moving, about being cut off from her brother, and missing her mom while at work all came tumbling from her like a waterfall. Many nights followed that, especially on the full moon, where the fairy gave little Serenity comfort and advice as the child grew older.
Serenity adjusted her thick glasses atop her nose, gazing up at the sign on her new school. CROSSROADS JUNIOR HIGH, the words boldly declared. Serenity swallowed hard; she really hoped she would make a good first impression here, maybe even branch out after being mostly known as the quiet girl all through elementary school. Maybe she'd have more to tell the moon fairy that night than simply about the latest episode of her new favorite show.
The bell rang loudly. Serenity gasped, checking her watch. She'd messed up on the time; now she was running late!
Hearing crying behind her, Serenity turned around and spotted a girl with blonde twin tails kneeling on the ground as if she'd tripped and fallen. "Why am I always so clumsyyyy?! Stupid sidewalk crack!" wailed the girl.
Serenity walked over to her; no way could she leave this girl behind even if it would make her more late. "Are you okay? Do you need any help?" She held out her hand for the other girl to take.
The blonde sniffled, then took her hand. "Thank you, that fall was really bad this time." Once Serenity helped her stand, she helpfully introduced herself: "I'm Serena Tsukino! What's your name? Are you new? I don't think I've seen you around before!"
"Serenity Wheeler," Serenity replied. "I'm in eighth grade, but maybe we have different homerooms." No need to bring up that she was a late transfer to the school, after all.
"I have Miss Haruna for homeroom-oh, I like your glasses! They make you look really smart!" Serena rambled as the two girls started walking together.
Serenity chuckled. "Thanks, but I just have really bad eyesight. I hope I can get surgery soon so I won't need glasses this thick."
"Well at least the glasses don't look bad-oh wait, we're late! We need to ruuuunnnn!"
With that, Serena took off down the hall, with Serenity laughing right on her heels. Already Serenity had a new story to share, and the day had only started.
There's more than one way for paths to intertwine,
For friends to be friends in different circumstances.
This is the beauty of the multiverse.