Sailor Moon Fan Fiction ❯ Absence ❯ A Perfect World ( Chapter 59 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
Absence - By Kirika


Chapter fifty-nine. Oh well, you can't please everyone with an ending, but I had expected as much. I did think it was pretty apparent by now though that Rei's strength was dependent on her mental state. Well anyway, there is a time for realism, and then there's a time for magical girl goodness. I opted for the latter. It was the ending fight; I had to make it fairly cool and inspirational and all that stuff. Plus, in anime, after profound epiphanies it's like a rule to break out the amazing powers. Rei had her little attack and Usagi had her ginzuishou moment. Besides; Rei losing and dying? That would've just sucked. ^_^

For the person who asked if they could print this story, sure you can. But remember, this is just basically the draft version. I'll be revising the whole thing into a final form after I finish writing it.


- Kirika


Chapter 59 - A Perfect World

"Um, so I guess this is it then…" Usagi said quietly and with some level of uncertainty to her soon to be former boyfriend. She dropped her apologetic gaze to the ground, unable to meet his sad but resigned eyes any longer.

"Yeah… I guess so," Mamoru replied in an equally subdued voice, slouching back against the scratched blue painted climbing frame behind him with slumped shoulders.

Several days had passed since the youma invasion had been repelled on Tokyo Tower and a semblance of normality had finally come back to Usagi and her friends' lives. The interdimensional gateway connecting Earth to the youma's vile home world had collapsed in on itself as Ami had predicted, but the effects were not as cataclysmic as the girl had feared. The closure of the tear in reality had resulted in a massive shockwave that had radiated out in the sky around Tokyo Tower for the entire population of the city to see, its power enough to shake the foundations of the tourist attraction and moderately damage it. However, the broadcast tower still remained standing despite the punishment it had endured during the battle between the Sailor Senshi and the youma, and later during the interdimensional portal's collapse, for which Usagi had been relieved. She hadn't wanted her and her friends to be responsible for the destruction of a national landmark.

Even with the citywide spectacle of a passageway to another dimension violently closing in the night's sky above them, the public were as always none the wiser to what had actually happened on Tokyo Tower, or what in fact the collapsing portal was. The local media had instead reported that the gigantic shockwave and the preceding fierce electrical disturbance had been caused by faulty circuits in the broadcast equipment on the tower, which had consequently been responsible for the city's radio and television signal blackout. Minako had suspected a cover up that went from the metropolitan police force --who had actually been on the scene during the extraordinary events-- right up to the government. And Usagi had agreed with her… that is, until Ami had dismissed their claims as 'unfounded conspiracy theories' as she put it, and explained that people wanted to believe the most plausible and realistic reasons behind strange occurrences, rather than the paranormal ones; it was simply human nature. Usagi and her fellow blonde had been a little stymied by Ami's logic, but the princess still believed that someone was pulling the wool over the people's eyes. But maybe it was for the best. There were good lies and bad after all; if the world knew what Usagi knew, she didn't want to think about what would happen. Besides, it was more like omitting the truth rather than lying. There was a difference, wasn't there?

The substantial police presence that had swarmed the bottom of Tokyo Tower had been a blessing to Usagi, Rei, and their injured friends however. With the police came paramedics, whose skills the princess's love, Hotaru, and her Fire Senshi's two friends Sanjuro and Tsubasa had desperately needed in the worst way. And of course, Usagi and the others hadn't been in too much better shape either. It had been a simple matter of detransforming and taking an elevator back down to the ground floor to be greeted by the authorities, in the guise of innocent victims of whatever disaster had befallen Tokyo Tower. Thankfully, the corpses of the slain youma on the ground floor and those that had plummeted to their deaths from the main observatory above had all rotted away to nothing in the night air, saving the group from awkward explanations. It had been bad enough that Usagi and her friends had been caught on the premises of Tokyo Tower after closing time; explaining why hordes of dead monsters were all over the place would have just added to the trouble they had already been in. Although, Usagi supposed, whoever was responsible for the cover up had probably also been happy about the lack of youma bodies.

Most likely due to the fact that Usagi and her friends looked like they had been eaten up and then spat back out by some ravenous beast, the police had let the group off with a warning after questioning them about what had happened at the tower, questions which the blonde had done her best to dodge. Sometimes being blonde and acting like an airhead had its uses. Sanjuro and Tsubasa had had some problems with the police, what with their car being parked actually inside Tokyo Tower, but Usagi had heard from Rei that everything had worked out all right.

Thanks to the quick ministrations of the ambulance personnel, Hotaru, Tsubasa, and Sanjuro had all survived their injuries, much to Usagi's --and everybody's-- heartfelt relief. The trio had spent some time resting in Minato General Hospital, only having been recently released and still not fully healed but on the road to recovery. Rei had also had to go to hospital and spend time there to receive additional treatment for her staggering amount of grievous wounds. The doctors had been quite amazed the miko had lasted as long as she had without passing out from blood loss, or even without actually dying from the trauma of her injuries, but Usagi had had no doubt that the raven-haired beauty would live to fight another day. All throughout the paramedic's and later the doctor's meticulous care Rei had had a big happy smile plastered to her face, the grin needing to be surgically removed from her features, even the obvious pain that the girl had been constantly going through caused by her wounds doing nothing to diminish it in the slightest. Usagi had been in no better state however, an equally wide and ecstatic grin glued to her own face meeting Rei's while she stayed insistently by her love's side, not letting the girl leave her sight for even so much as a moment. Usagi had nearly lost the miko again, but this time she intended to hold onto her and never let go. She had remained faithfully by Rei's bedside until her Fire Senshi had been released from Minato General Hospital a day ago, only leaving for calls of nature and for food. Fortunately, Usagi's parents had understood their daughter's resolve to stay with Rei and had left her to her own devices.

Once Rei had been let out of hospital, there had been something Usagi had to take care of. In truth, she knew she had been putting it off and had used her Senshi of Fire's condition as an excuse to stay with her and in turn avoid the imminent conversation, but now no longer. She owed it to Rei. Besides, it was long time to close this chapter of her life. And so, here Usagi was, at the exact same spot in Minato-ku's main public park where she had once shattered Rei's heart. But this time instead of breaking her Fire Senshi's heart, she was breaking Mamoru's. Or rather, had already done so.

"I'm sorry, Mamoru," Usagi began softly with her head still down, feeling her resolve to not cry start to weaken already. But it had to be done. There could be only one person that her heart and soul could be bonded to, and that one was Rei. It upset the princess that the price for loving her best friend was to hurt Mamoru, but one of them had to suffer that pain. It was unavoidable in situations like these. "But… I love Rei," the blonde continued, her tone strengthening a little as she raised her head to look at the Prince of Earth. She sighed heavily as she looked at the man that she had once loved for such a long period of her life, and even longer during her past life. Mamoru had broken her heart several times, but this time she was the one to break his. Such a thing Usagi hadn't even ever contemplated to happen, but now here she was, doing just that. But she didn't hesitate. "The past… is in the past. I can't live my life because of what happened in a previous one. It is my *own* to live."

"I understand that, Usagi," Mamoru said, staring at the ground, his black hair hiding his eyes from the princess's view. "But there are other factors; the future, mainly. And Chibi-Usa…"

Usagi smiled faintly, knowing and appreciating what he was doing. But her mind was already made up and completely certain, a fact that she was sure Mamoru already knew as well.

"The future isn't written, Mamoru," the blonde said gently and actually rather quite sagely, for which she was fairly pleased. "If it was, then there would really be no reason to live through each day. There is no future but the future we make for ourselves." Usagi's smile grew slightly, remembering just whose words she was speaking. Rei had enlightened her of that truth. Though, in all honesty, she had always believed that fact to begin with. Sure, she knew that in all likelihood she would become ruler of Crystal Tokyo in the future, but it wasn't definite; it was more like it was highly probable. If it was guaranteed, then she could rest assured knowing that she would survive any forthcoming threat to her life; how else could she rule in the future if she were to die in the past? And that just didn't seem right. Besides, it would make life very boring.

"Wise words," Mamoru murmured in response, still not looking up at Usagi.

"Well, a wise miko told me them," the princess chirped, smiling brightly before she realised where she was and just what she was currently doing.

"And Chibi-Usa…?" the prince prompted quietly, bringing Usagi's mind back on track.

"Oh, well, I'm sure that, um, somehow Rei and I will, you know…" Usagi stammered out, blushing faintly with mild embarrassment. "We'll figure something out between us…" she finally settled on, nodding in agreement with herself. "I was going to talk to Setsuna about Chibi-Usa too," the blonde added in a tone that was somewhat more defensive than she would have liked.

"This really is the end, isn't it?" Mamoru said suddenly, finally raising his head to look at his now ex-girlfriend. His eyes were misty, and Usagi felt fresh guilt and sorrow rise inside of her. "It's strange… I feel so… *empty*," the man revealed with some difficultly, bringing up a hand to cover his heart as he did so. "Like I've lost something deep inside of myself." He paused for a moment, gazing at the blonde princess with melancholy eyes. "Though I suppose it was a long time coming," he went on in a resigned voice. "I guess you finally did slip away from me after all."

"Mamoru…" Usagi whispered sadly, remembering the time back in her former boyfriend's apartment when he had first expressed his fears of losing her, and had told of the feeling that was responsible for them.

"You don't love me anymore," Mamoru said with finality, a definite statement rather than a question. He snorted lightly, but it was more despondent than spiteful. "It's surprising how fast your feelings for me faded. But then, I hadn't really expected any less."

"I'm…" the Moon Princess choked out, a couple of droplets of tears escaping her shiny blue eyes, but was gently shushed by Mamoru.

Mamoru pushed off the climbing frame and stepped towards Usagi, before placing his hands gently on the girl's shoulders. "That's enough," he said in a soft, tender tone. "You don't have to justify your love for Rei to me, or apologise either. Your heart has made its choice, and I won't stand in its way. I won't lie though; it hurts." Mamoru looked away from Usagi for a second, but quickly returned his gaze to her. "But you shouldn't worry about me and how I feel. Rei… she's been through a lot; *she* needs you." A small half-smile broke out on Mamoru's dejected features, lightening them up a fraction. "She even needs you more than I do. I'll get over you, Usagi. In time, the feelings I have for you will fade like yours already have for me. I… I'm sure of it," he concluded, falteringly only slightly at the end.

"Th-Thank you, Mamoru," Usagi managed to get out through her slowly falling tears, directing a grateful look up at the man.

Mamoru leaned down to the girl who had once been his princess, his expression plaintive but accepting. Usagi's eyes began to widen as she thought he was going to kiss her on the lips, making her tense in his grasp, but instead he angled his head to the side and placed a light peck on her cheek.

"Go to her. I know that's what you want to do," Mamoru whispered into the blonde's ear, before straightening once more. He then smiled at Usagi, and she knew that he was putting on a brave face for her sake. "Goodbye… Usa-ko," the prince quietly farewelled and then let his hands drop from the girl's shoulders back down to his sides.

Usagi sniffled a little, and then noticeably strengthened her resolve, her tears ceasing. "Goodbye… Mamo," she said, answering Mamoru's parting words with her own, before she took one last look at the man who had been her world almost ever since she had become Sailor Moon, and then turned around, and began to walk away.

However, after several steps, Usagi turned back to a defeated and depressed looking Mamoru, the man's thinly veiled façade finally failing while the blonde's back had been turned. "Mamoru," the princess called back, catching the prince's attention and causing him to quickly wipe a hand over his eyes before he met her gaze. "This doesn't mean I don't want you in my life," Usagi said once she was sure Mamoru was listening. "And I'm sure the same goes for Rei as well. I don't want you to become an outsider to the Sailor Senshi… okay?" The blonde gave an expectant half-smile to her ex-boyfriend, waiting for his response.

Mamoru hesitated for an instant, appearing mildly taken aback by the request, but then nodded firmly, smiling back at Usagi. "I won't," he assured her. "Count on it."

Usagi's half-smile grew into a full happy grin, and she met Mamoru's nod with a firm one of her own in confirmation. "Good. Now, there's some place I have to be…" she said.

"Go on, get out of here, odango atama," Mamoru shooed with mock impatience, waving a dismissing hand at the blonde. "I swear Rei is going to have her hands full with you. I wonder which one of you will kill the other first…?"

"Hey!!" Usagi shouted indignantly. She then pulled down one eyelid with a finger and blew a raspberry at the grinning Mamoru Chiba, before spinning on her heel and storming off in a huff. And as she walked away, she left behind her first love, and with him, a fate and a life that had chained her existence for more than a millennium, going instead to create her own new destiny crafted by her own free will with Rei Hino, the girl she loved and adored with all her heart and soul.


Rei released an almost silent sigh of relief as the taxicab at last rolled up to the curb by the Daimon Train Station in Minato-ku, meaning that she would no longer have to endure Sanjuro's inane small talk that he had insisted on making during the entire trip there. Now that he and Tsubasa had been discharged from hospital --though both still in relatively bad shape-- and that the youma threat had been quashed, there was no real reason for either man to stay in Tokyo. It was time for them to head back home to Yokohama. Sanjuro seemed very enthused by this if his level of cheerful chatter on the way to the train station was any indication, but Tsubasa however had remained quite subdued, as if he wasn't looking forward to it at all. Rei surmised that the out of the ordinary events he had experienced in Tokyo, and not to mention Yokohama, had touched him in some way. But whatever the reason, the miko hoped that Tsubasa would get over it and be able to resume his normal life again.

Sanjuro immediately ceased his prattle and quickly jumped out of the rear passenger seat of the taxi with his shoulder bag in hand as soon as the vehicle came to a halt, abandoning Tsubasa and Rei to pay for the fare, though neither of the two were really surprised. Tsubasa payed the cab driver and then exited the vehicle, slinging his backpack over one shoulder to join an eagerly awaiting Sanjuro. Rei made to open the rear door by her side --not waiting for the taxi driver to automatically do it for her with a touch of a button-- but was a little startled as Tsubasa instead opened it for her, allowing her to step out with ease. The Fire Senshi smiled her thanks to the brown-haired man as she got out of the taxicab carrying a small rectangular package she had brought with her, eliciting a faint blush from him. Sometimes having someone who didn't have special powers knowing you were a Sailor Senshi had its privileges.

Rei slammed the vehicle's door shut and spared an absent glance to the other side of the street, only to do a bit of a double take when she noticed Setsuna standing watching her and the two men in that discreet, mysterious way of hers. She had heard that the Guardian of Time had been released from Minato Hospital, though she hadn't had the chance to visit her due to being confined to a bed for a time with a doting blonde odango atama as very welcome, pleasant, but distracting company. But in Rei's eyes, Setsuna looked healthy once more, for which she was glad. By now the woman probably knew how events went down at Tokyo Tower; she must have been quite relieved. And perhaps a little disappointed also; the miko hadn't forgotten how the Senshi of Time felt about her. Though, Rei wondered what Setsuna was doing here. Most likely the enigmatic Guardian of Time had come to see that she was truly all right.

Setsuna met Rei's lavender eyes as the raven-haired girl looked her way, and then smiled pleasantly at her, though even from a distance the miko could tell it was a smile tinged with sadness and barely concealed longing. But it was also a smile of gladness and relief, the two emotions outweighing the former pair. Setsuna pointedly turned her head away from Rei and directed her eyes down the street, prompting the Fire Senshi to follow her gaze. Rei's mouth began to curl into a pleased and happy grin unbidden as she saw that Usagi was currently walking along the footpath, the blonde abruptly bursting into waves and smiles as she noticed Setsuna was looking at her, although Rei's presence apparently was still unknown to the girl. Rei had told her princess that she would be seeing off Tsubasa and Sanjuro at the Daimon Train Station today while the blonde took care of… other business, but she hadn't expected her to actually show up so soon. Things must have worked out well with Mamoru, especially if Usagi's jovial mood was anything to go by.

Rei turned away from the sight of Usagi running enthusiastically to a now mildly amused Setsuna, the odango atama seeming rather eager to meet with the green-haired woman. There would be time later for Rei to greet Usagi and Setsuna after she had seen to Sanjuro and Tsubasa. However, the simple knowledge that her princess was so close by was enough to instantly heighten the raven-haired girl's spirits, though in truth with recent events they were already as high as the clouds above.

"Well, here we are," Sanjuro declared as he looked up at the Daimon Train Station with his back to Rei and Tsubasa, his voice breaking the Senshi of Fire out of her internal musings. The ex-reporter stopped his staring and whirled around on one foot to face his two companions. "*Finally!* I can't wait to get back to Yokohama; I'm lucky to escape Tokyo alive!" Sanjuro exclaimed, absently touching his chest where no doubt a long scar now resided under several bandages. "How you can live here, Rei, without dying already is a miracle! But then, I suppose you have to be a magical girl to even have a snowball's chance in hell of seeing your thirtieth birthday!!"

Rei shrugged her shoulders casually but gingerly while a smirk played on her lips, her own battered body once more covered with a multitude of dressings under her clothes. "Actually, I think the fact that I'm a 'magical girl' instead decreases my chances of seeing my thirtieth birthday," she said dryly. "Someone has to deal with this city's… undesirables."

"Ain't that the truth!" Sanjuro readily agreed, before shaking his head at the madness of it all. "All I know is, there is no way I'm *ever* coming back here without a damn good reason. I bet the train Tsubasa and I will travel on will get ambushed by giant mechas or something halfway to Yokohama! It wouldn't surprise me, geez. Tokyo is a death trap for the average guy."

"So what are you two going to be doing once you get back to Yokohama anyway?" Rei asked while she idly adjusted the brown paper wrapped package she held under one arm.

"Hmm… don't know, exactly," Sanjuro answered, a contemplative expression coming over his features. "I was thinking of selling my story of what *really* happened that night on Tokyo Tower to some rag there. But without pictures…" he trailed off, his eyes looking up at the clear, almost cloudless blue sky above, most likely mourning the destruction of his camera and its film on the broadcast tower. "Ah well. It doesn't matter anyway. I wouldn't want to get something printed that could reveal who you *really* are, eh, *Mars?* Eh? Eh?" Sanjuro went on, his voice falling to a whisper as he leaned close to Rei and started nudging her with an elbow while winking conspiringly.

"Right," Rei replied while she redirected Sanjuro's latest nudge away from her body with one hand. "I just hope you remember that. If the Hikawa Jinja gets mobbed by reporters one day I'll know who to come after," the Fire Senshi warned, but with wry humour lacing her words.

"Don't worry! You can have every faith in me to keep a secret, Sailor Mars!" Sanjuro declared loudly for everyone in the near vicinity to hear, while holding a fist over his heart in a form of pledge.

"Not so loud, you idiot!" Rei chastised in a low hiss as she flicked her eyes over the milling crowd of people leaving and entering the train station, checking to see if anybody was listening a little too closely, and giving those that were a burning glare. The spiky-haired man clammed up at the Fire Senshi's scolding and instantly gave a weak rueful chuckle as he rubbed the back of his head.

Rei let out a heavy longsuffering sigh and closed her eyes, before shaking her head gently at Sanjuro's asinine antics. The miko then opened her eyes again and turned to the still silent Tsubasa.

"What about you, Tsubasa?" she inquired.

"I'm not sure…" Tsubasa replied uncertainly, looking down at the ground while he readjusted his backpack on his shoulder carefully, being mindful of his still tender wounds. "I guess I could go back to being a chef, but…" He shrugged his shoulders uneasily, and then looked up at the raven-haired girl. "…It just doesn't really hold much appeal to me anymore."

"Wait a minute; you were a *chef?*" Sanjuro interrupted incredulously, as if the profession was the most bizarre thing he had ever heard. "A *chef?* Man, at least I was a way cool reporter guy, *and* still am, might I add. Gee, it's no wonder you're such a loser…"

"And just what is wrong with being a chef?" Tsubasa demanded testily, glaring at the ill-mannered ex-reporter.

"Actually, if I remember right, you were an *assistant* chef," Rei added, barely controlling the grin that threatened to split her face.

"Thank you for that, Rei," Tsubasa said sarcastically, shooting the girl a withering look as he folded his arms grumpily. "You've given him enough material for the train journey back to Yokohama to be a non-stop joyride of smart ass remarks."

"Don't you know it!" Sanjuro whooped enthusiastically, pumping a fist in the air until he winced and put a hand over his chest, in obvious discomfort.

Rei smiled broadly at the exchange, before the weight of the package under her arm drew her attention. "Oh, before I forget, here," she said, holding out the paper covered parcel to a mildly surprised Tsubasa, the man blinking at her in puzzlement. "Call it something to remember me by."

Tsubasa hesitated for a moment, and then with almost reverence took the proffered package from Rei's outstretched hands, looking at it as if he wasn't sure what to do or what to expect.

"Uh, you might want to wash it," Rei advised sheepishly.

Tsubasa glanced at the Fire Senshi and then back down to the parcel in his hands before he tore part of the brown wrapping paper open to see what it contained. He frowned in bewilderment for a second before the light of recognition graced his features, causing his eyebrows to rise slightly.

"This is the coat I gave you before you left to go back to Tokyo!" Tsubasa said, smiling a little as he looked back up at Rei from the long, black, bloodstained, and smoky garment that the Senshi of Fire had worn many times before and after her numerous confrontation with youma, the odour of dark battles waged by a once bitter fighter permanently ingrained in the fabric. His brow ceased yet again as confusion set in once more. "But why are you giving this back to me?"

Rei smiled faintly as her lavender eyes suddenly danced with bliss and contentment. "It was a nice gift…" she started softly, and then paused as she looked over her shoulder to where Usagi was currently busy in deep conversation with Setsuna, the odango atama appearing very engrossed with what the Guardian of Time had to say. "But," Rei continued, turning back to face Tsubasa. "I don't think I'll need it anymore," she concluded with a relaxed, peaceful smile.

Tsubasa tilted his head to one side to glance over the miko's shoulder to see what she had been looking at, and then met the girl's smile with one of his own as he straightened. "No, I don't suppose you do," he agreed quietly, understanding implicitly. Tsubasa then frowned and looked over Rei's shoulder again. "Hey, that green-haired woman over there looks kind of familiar… haven't I seen her some place before?"

"Where's my present?" Sanjuro piped up, abruptly ending the moment between Rei and Tsubasa and also preventing any explanations about Setsuna on the miko's part.

Rei raised a single wry raven eyebrow. "Your present? Your present is letting you keep all those *other* pictures you still have of my friends and myself instead of me taking them off you and then doing… unpleasant… things to you for disobeying me," she said, glowering with narrowed eyes at Sanjuro that threatened impending violence if he argued, but tempered by the dry humour contained in her tone of voice.

"You know, on second thought, I don't really need a present," Sanjuro said quickly, holding up his hands for added mollification. "Well, we should get going now," he then said, sparing a glance at his wristwatch. "I sure don't want to miss the train that'll take me out of this war zone." The ex-reporter's expression then became somewhat devious as he turned his head to Tsubasa. "Don't you have something to tell Rei before we leave? It seems about the right time for that kind of thing. You know, the touching farewell scene where you confess all your-- OW!" Sanjuro's words abruptly ended in a yelp of pain as Tsubasa stomped on his foot, the man directing a pointed glare at his companion as he did so.

"Huh? Confess what?" Rei said, clearly at a loss at what had just happened.

"Never mind, Rei, Sanjuro says a lot of things that *he* *shouldn't*," Tsubasa said, his last two words obviously meant for the ex-reporter, who was currently hopping up and down while he rubbed his sore foot, shooting the occasional accusing scowl at the man next to him. "Just ignore him."

"Umm, okay…" the miko drawled out uncertainly, but decided to disregard the two men's hi-jinks.

"I guess this is goodbye then, Rei," Sanjuro said somewhat reluctantly as he stood on both feet again. "I gotta say, it's been an… experience." He then grinned lopsidedly at the Fire Senshi, his eyes twinkling with mirth. "Of course, it's not been an experience I want to go through again in my lifetime, but it was an experience nonetheless."

"A youma invasion too much for you to handle, hmm?" Rei chuckled.

"Hey, the hero life ain't for me. I leave that kind of thing up to you," Sanjuro retorted good-naturedly, smirking at the miko.

"Oh really?" Rei said knowingly, folding her arms as she looked at the two men in front of her. "I heard about what you and Tsubasa did on Tokyo Tower…"

Sanjuro glanced at Tsubasa at the same time the other man did likewise, and then the two looked back at Rei before suddenly becoming uncomfortable; the pair both shuffling their feet and stammering out excuses for their aforementioned actions while they blushed and stared at the ground.

Rei first smirked, and then fully smiled as she watched Tsubasa and even Sanjuro stutter out modest reasons behind what they did, before she decided to put an end to their suffering.

"You guys did good," the Fire Senshi complimented seriously, looking between the two now somewhat stunned men. "Not many people could have faced what you did without letting fear overwhelm them. You saved a Sailor Senshi's life and each other's, and, from what I heard, possibly two other Sailors' lives also. You both acted when it counted, and you have my thanks."

After Rei's little speech had finished, Tsubasa and Sanjuro simply stood dumbly for a moment, before the pair resumed their blushes and stammers with extra effort, doubly more embarrassed. Sanjuro recovered fairly quickly however, and gave Rei a rakish smile.

"Well, I just did what anybody with *balls* *of* *steel* would've done!" he declared now quite immodestly, running a hand through his hair and looking out towards the horizon in a sort of 'hero' pose.

"Yeah, I bet," Rei replied wryly, rolling her eyes at Sanjuro. "Which brings me to another matter…" She paused to let out a bit of a resigned sigh, resolved to do this. "Back in Yokohama when I met you two I was going through a tough period in my life and, well, I know I kind of took it out on you both and didn't treat either of you very nicely. How I was feeling at the time is no excuse. So, I've been meaning to tell you both since you arrived here in Tokyo, but… I'm sorry." The miko then bowed, concluding her apology.

Both Tsubasa and Sanjuro blinked for a second, and then the latter man opened his mouth to give what Rei could tell from his expression was going to be a smart comment, but was forestalled by his companion's elbow digging sharply into his ribs.

"That's okay, Rei," Tsubasa answered for Sanjuro and himself. "It's understandable. We accept your apology," he went on, bowing to Rei at the end, and was closely followed suit by Sanjuro a moment later.

Rei suddenly felt a pair of warm and gentle hands envelop one of hers, causing the unsurprised raven-haired girl to look to her left, knowing just who their owner was. Usagi's happily smiling face greeted Rei, and the Fire Senshi found herself automatically returning the grin, mirroring her princess's joyful expression.

"I was wondering when you were going to notice me here," Rei said as she interlaced her fingers with Usagi's. "I was beginning to think you had forgotten all about me…" she added with feigned hurt, pouting a little and causing Sanjuro and Tsubasa's eyes to bug out in shock at the cute expression taking over the powerful Senshi of Fire's face.

"Oooh, I'm sorry, but I saw Setsuna and had to talk to her about something," Usagi explained while she squeezed her love's hand gently in her own and pressed close against her, gazing into the lavender pools of her eyes. "Anyway, I figured these two would keep you company," she continued, looked towards Tsubasa and Sanjuro, the two men suddenly appearing a bit uncomfortable.

"You know, now that you're here, I think it's our cue to leave," Sanjuro said to Usagi. "Besides, if I stick around you two any longer I'll bring up my breakfast." Seeing the look Rei was giving him, the ex-reporter hastily took a step back and smiled nervously. "What I meant was, that you're such a good couple I feel like I'm intruding!" he quickly amended. "Come on, man," Sanjuro said to Tsubasa, turning his head to him. "Let's saddle up."

Tsubasa merely nodded to Sanjuro in response and let him go on ahead. "If you're ever in Yokohama, don't hesitate in looking me up," Tsubasa said to Rei in a rather subdued voice, flicking his eyes to Usagi for a second as he did so.

"Same goes for you and Sanjuro if either of you ever come back to Tokyo," Rei said. "Though I doubt Sanjuro will even step foot here again," she added with a laugh.

Tsubasa smiled at Rei, though it held a hint of sadness. Some goodbyes were never easy. He then opened his mouth to say something, but as he glanced at the blonde hanging on to the Fire Senshi's arm he seemed to think better of it. Instead, Tsubasa slipped his backpack onto both shoulders and simply nodded in parting.

"All the best," he said quietly. "To the both of you." Tsubasa began to turn away from Rei and Usagi, but stopped in mid motion, looking back over his shoulder at the lovers. "And… thanks," he said softly. "Seeing you with her, Rei, makes me believe that maybe life isn't so hopeless after all." Tsubasa flashed the miko a faint half-smile, and then walked away, joining Sanjuro who had been waiting rather impatiently a short distance away.

Rei watched wordlessly as a solemn Tsubasa and a chattering Sanjuro disappeared into the throng of bustling people inside the Daimon Train Station, and out of her life. She wondered if she would really ever see them again. Rei shook her head slightly. Of course she would. Yokohama wasn't very far away from Tokyo; she could visit whenever she felt like it. But it wasn't like she would miss Tsubasa and Sanjuro or anything. They were both very annoying; who would miss guys like them? All they ever did was irritate her and get into trouble. It was about time they left.

"You're going to miss them, aren't you," Usagi said perceptively from Rei's side as she too watched Tsubasa and Sanjuro depart.

"Miss them? Oh, please. They were a pain in the butt," the Fire Senshi vehemently denied, frowning and shaking her head firmly at the absurdity of the notion.

Usagi smirked at Rei, before dawning a patient expression. "Sure, Rei. Whatever you say," the blonde said wryly, rolling her eyes skywards. "You know, you can't fool me. I can see through you as if you were made of crystal."

"Pfft, whatever," Rei said as nonchalantly as she could, brushing off her princess's claims with a wave of a hand and ignoring the light blush that was gradually reddening her cheeks.

"Oh, you're so cute!" Usagi squealed with delight as she snuggled up even closer to Rei, rubbing her cheek against her arm and making her bodyguard's blush deepen.

Rei squirmed as her love cuddled into her, the girl giggling about how adorable the miko was and that she would accompany her whenever she wanted to go and see Tsubasa and Sanjuro. Rei decided to just remain silent and endure the not really unpleasant humiliation. Miss Sanjuro and Tsubasa? That was a laugh. Usagi didn't know what she was talking about.


Setsuna observed Usagi frolicking with Rei from across the street as they bid farewell to Tsubasa and Sanjuro, the raven-haired girl's two friends from Yokohama having played a more significant role in past events than the Guardian of Time had anticipated. It was peculiar how even the most ordinary of people could sometimes make such a great difference when put to the test. Because of their actions, Setsuna could still look forward to spending time with Hotaru and seeing her sweet and happy face everyday.

However, the two people Setsuna were more interested in were Rei and Usagi, or more accurately, the fiery miko herself. When Setsuna had learned that Rei had actually survived beyond all odds through the rigors of the clouded part of the timeline that should have by all rights snuffed out her existence, she had never felt such a level of relief before. The insurmountable elation she had experienced in her heart at the knowledge that Rei had somehow managed to escape Tokyo Tower with her life had been an unparalleled moment in her long existence. And then Setsuna had discovered that Rei had overcome not only the dreadful fate that had doomed her to death, but also the other fate the Fire Senshi had been waging a solo crusade against from nearly ever since she had returned to Tokyo. Though, in all honesty, while Rei had undeniably come very close to prevailing against the force of Destiny by herself, in the end, the final blow to shatter its chains had been struck by none other than Usagi, the Moon Princess herself. It seemed rather fitting to Setsuna that the blonde had been the one to finish the battle in Rei's stead, and in turn save the raven-haired girl's life and give it new glorious purpose in a single significant act. Rei and Usagi had proven that Destiny was not an unbreakable power in the universe, and for that the Guardian of Time was eternally grateful.

"It looks like it all ended up okay."

Setsuna nodded and gave a small sound of acknowledgement to Minako as the Senshi of Love appeared next to her, the Guardian of Time not needing to look at the girl to know exactly who it was or to know her reasons behind her coming to the Daimon Train Station.

Minako let out a breath and adjusted her fractured arm in the sling hanging around her neck. "I've got to say though, I had my doubts," she said.

"As did I," Setsuna replied, gazing at Rei with her timeless crimson eyes as the Fire Senshi smiled lovingly at Usagi, the two girls entering a close embrace. "But the bond that the Moon Princess had shared with the Prince of Earth for the past millennium has been broken and reforged anew. New fates are being written for Usagi and Rei as we speak even now." The Senshi of Time paused for an instant. "And for the rest of us and the world as well…"

"The world?" Minako repeated in puzzlement and mild concern, turning her head to Setsuna. "What do you mean?"

"There are paradoxes in the timeline, Minako," Setsuna explained sagely, putting her hands in her coat pockets. "Remember; you and the other Inner Senshi have been to the future. You have seen Crystal Tokyo and what awaits you with your own eyes. The world of the present has changed and the world of the future must reflect that."

"Uh oh… I don't really like the sound of that…" the blonde next to the Senshi of Time worried.

Setsuna smiled faintly. "Do not worry. The future has not come about yet. Time will most likely alter our memories of what you witnessed in Crystal Tokyo. And, soon, one day, when you recall what you remember of the future, new memories entirely will surface in your mind, memories that you cannot tell are any different from the ones you know now." The green-haired woman smirked a little, barely noticeable. "However, I know that in the future, when the Inner Senshi visit Crystal Tokyo, I will have a hand in minimising the changes in our memories. So perhaps your memories will not be so different after all." It would be difficult of course, but Setsuna was sure she could instruct Endymion and Serenity to play out their parts convincingly for the Sailors' benefit. Just a small charade to lessen the disturbance in the timeline.

"Oh, that's a relief!" Minako said, breathing a relaxed sigh. "Thinking about waking up one day with different memories gives me the creeps." The Senshi of Love then frowned suddenly and grabbed hold of Setsuna's arm with her free hand, her eyes wide with anxiety. "Wait, you can see the future, can't you? Does this mean it'll work out for Usagi and Rei? It does, right? I don't think I can stand seeing them go through any more tragedy!"

Setsuna tensed at the contact with Minako as the girl gazed worriedly up at her with bright blue eyes, waiting with bated breath for an answer. "Strange…" the Senshi of Time whispered to herself. "One door closes and another opens." Now that the fateful Moment in Time had passed, the cloud that had veiled the threads of the timeline from Setsuna's view had dissipated into the ether, revealing the whole fabric for her to see. It seemed that the destruction of Rei's fate and also Usagi and Mamoru's had caused more after affects that the Guardian of Time hadn't expected. But they were welcome ones.

"Setsuna?!" Minako exclaimed as she tightened her fretful grip on the Outer Senshi's arm, judging the woman's mumbling and vacant look as a bad sign for her two friends' future.

"They'll be… fine," Setsuna assured the panicking Senshi of Love, smiling slightly at the girl. "No path in life is easy of course, but their future…" The Guardian of Time looked away from Minako and back to Rei and Usagi, her smile growing a fraction. "…Will be bright," she concluded. "You deserve it," Setsuna added under her breath, gazing at the beautiful raven-haired girl. Rei had fought so hard and suffered through so much; the Senshi of Time was glad that the Fates had finally deemed her worthy of their kindness.

"Phew, that's alright then," Minako said, letting go of Setsuna's arm. She then looked at Rei and Usagi, watching the pair cuddle close to one another. "I can't believe this though," she muttered to herself. "Even Rei is off the market now. I'm the only single Sailor Senshi left! *Me*, the Sailor Senshi of *love!* I mean, even Hotaru can't really be called single anymore! This is just not right! And not to mention the fact that everyone else has went all 'Sapphic senshi' on me! What is up with that? Geez! Why can't Fate cut *me* a break?" the irate blonde finished, her muttering turning into lamenting wails at the end.

"I believe Mamoru is now single," Setsuna informed Minako sympathetically once the Senshi of Love's outburst had ceased. "And also you aren't the only single Sailor Senshi left…"

"Oh… yeah," Minako said, remembering. "But me and Mamoru? Nah… he isn't my type. Besides, it would be weird," she said, grimacing a little and shaking her head. She looked at the reserved Guardian of Time and smiled apologetically at her. "Maybe you could try it out with Mamoru. You had a thing for him before, right? But I also know how you feel about Rei," she said quietly. "And for what it's worth, I'm sorry."

Setsuna shook her head sadly, still looking at the lovely miko by the train station across the street. "It's alright," she said softly and in a sad tone. "We were never meant to be. But seeing her with Usagi, content…" The ageless woman smiled, a full one of genuine happiness, and then turned to Minako. "It makes me glad. She has given me something I can never repay her for… true hope. Hope for the future." Setsuna glanced back to Rei, her eyes brimming with tears. "Hope for that better tomorrow."

Minako stared at the usually standoffish Guardian of Time like she had never seen her before. "Wow… that is so…" She hesitated for an instant, no doubt searching for the words. "Poignant," Minako then settled on, blinking up at Setsuna in mild astonishment.

Setsuna turned back to the blonde, taking care to make sure she had willed back her tears before she did so. She smiled faintly at the girl. "Thank you. And as for Mamoru and myself? Perhaps once I found him… appealing, but I don't think he's for me any longer," she revealed, her crimson eyes flicking over to Rei once again. "Now, it's almost lunchtime. How would you like to accompany me for something to eat?" the Guardian of Time politely propositioned Minako.

"Lunch?" Minako parroted uncertainly. "With you?"

"Of course, who else?" Setsuna said with warm smile and slight humour lacing her tone. "It'll be my treat."

"Hmm… well, okay!" Minako conceded happily, bobbing her head up and down enthusiastically. "There's this new place I've wanted to try out that supposedly serves all these different types of great cakes! Let's go!" The blonde eagerly grabbed Setsuna's hand with her free one and proceeded to drag the amused woman along the footpath behind her.

However, a few short seconds later Minako abruptly stopped and turned slowly back to the Guardian of Time. "Setsuna," she said tentatively, all cheeriness gone. "What about Chibi-Usa? How can she be born now?"

Setsuna smiled sagely, the enigmatic look she wore so well coming to her features. "Small Lady? I wouldn't worry about her," she said knowingly. "Time… will find a way. And if not Time--"

"--Then love," Minako concluded for the green-haired woman, looking directly into her eyes.

The Guardian of Time nodded astutely to the Senshi of Love in agreement. Minako grinned brightly at her, and then resumed hauling the woman along the pavement by her hand.

Setsuna spared a look back to Rei, her love, as she began to be pulled away from the sight of the exquisite girl by Minako. She looked so radiant in the arms of Usagi. The Guardian of Time released a small sigh of resignation. Who else could have been good enough for the passionate Senshi of Fire besides the Moon Princess herself? No, not Setsuna. Only Usagi was worthy of that honour. However, it didn't stop the woman from dreaming about what it would have been like if she could have been the one for Rei. But that was all Setsuna had now; dreams; fantasies. It had been a foolish fancy in any case, the woman told herself. Her and Rei? It never would have worked out. No, it never would have. Better to let the miko go from her heart now and be done with it.

Setsuna strengthened her grip on Minako's hand as she took one long last look at Rei, at the girl who had somehow wormed her way secretly but deeply into the warmest recesses of her heart. She definitely should banish Rei from her heart now. Perhaps not today, but soon. Yes, soon.


"So… how did it go with Mamoru…?" Rei asked Usagi carefully as she enfolded her princess loosely around her slender waist, gently easing the blonde close. People were hustling and bustling inside and outside of the train station, but to each girl, the commotion was miles away, leaving them completely alone.

"It went okay, I guess," Usagi replied, a thoughtful expression coming to her pretty features as she put her arms around the Fire Senshi's neck. "It still hurt though… for the both of us." She then smiled up at Rei and began idly playing with the girl's hanging mane of raven locks between her fingers. "But I don't regret it," she added softly, gazing deeply into her lover's eyes.

"You don't need to cut him out of your life, Usagi," Rei said tolerantly. "I don't mind if you and him still stay friends. I want to stay friends with him too."

"Thank you, Rei. It's good of you to say that. But I'd intended to stay friends with Mamoru. He was a big part of my life for so long, and even though I may not feel the same way about him as I used to, I still care about him," Usagi said.

Rei nodded slightly. "I understand," she said simply. She was then quiet for a moment, looking away from her love and squirming somewhat uncertainly in the blonde's embrace. "So does this mean that you're sure? That you… really… want to be with me?" the miko said apprehensively. "That you… love me?"

Usagi gave a patient and indulgent smile at an insecure Rei and paused in running her fingers through the Fire Senshi's hair. "Of course I do," she said tenderly. "You know I love you."

Rei swallowed nervously, mentally bracing herself for what she was about to do. But it had to be done; she had to be sure. "Are you certain you want to be with me though? It'll be… difficult, my princess," she said solemnly. "And… and then there's Chibi-Usa to think about. I can't give you a family…" the Fire Senshi went on, her voice breaking a little.

Usagi sighed and recommenced stroking her fingers through Rei's hair, the slow and methodical caresses having a soothing affect on her best friend and love. "I still want to be with you, Rei. None of that changes the fact that I love you and want to spend my life with you, and only you," the blonde said seriously. She then smiled faintly and tilted her head to the side to glance over the Senshi of Fire's shoulder at something. "Besides, I wouldn't worry about Chibi-Usa. I have a feeling everything is going to work out," Usagi said eloquently, before reaching up with one hand and touching Rei's cheek with delicate fingers. "But even if it doesn't, Rei, you're all the family I'll ever need," she whispered lovingly, trailing her fingertips slowly and affectionately down her love's cheek.

"Is this really happening…? Is this real?" Rei said softly as she gazed at her angel's gorgeous face, her eyes becoming glassy and her grip around the girl's waist unconsciously tightening. "Or am I still lying in Tokyo Tower and hallucinating all this?"

"No, Rei. This is real," Usagi stated simply. "I'll prove it to you." The blonde leaned forward and parted her lips, before they joined with her lover's and initiated a deep and very real kiss, both of the girls' eyes fluttering closed.

Rei whimpered weakly as her princess thoroughly proved the authenticity of the reality around them, and then kissed back with a hunger and need that Usagi met with equal passion. After an indeterminate amount of time to both lovers, they mutually broke the kiss, but reluctantly, the pair still craving more.

"I promise I'll always do my best to make you happy, my princess," Rei swore to Usagi, hugging her close to her body.

"Silly," Usagi whispered into the Rei's ear as she rested her chin on the raven-haired girl's shoulder. "Just being with you gives me all the happiness I'll ever need in my life."

Rei let out a shuddering breath and squeezed the love of her immortal life tighter in her arms as the magnitude of what really had happened between herself and Usagi truly dawned on her mind. Usagi loved her. Usagi wanted to be with her. And it was all for real. Rei smiled tremulously as a single teardrop of relief, wonder, and contentment all bundled into one trickled down her face. Her ordeal was over. But it hadn't ended with her death, no; it had ended with a new lease on life. She had achieved her dream at long last. Rei had her soul mate. And her soul mate loved her.

"So I can be your prince then?" Rei said quietly, running her hands up and down the blonde's back.

"No," Usagi replied, shaking her head on the Fire Senshi's shoulder. "You can be *my* princess."

Rei smiled, blinking moistly, and sniffled a bit. "Oh, I love you, Usagi," Rei whispered out in the most sincere voice she could muster, pressing her cheek against her princess's.

"I love you too, Rei," Usagi answered with equal sincerity. "With all my heart and soul."

Rei closed her eyes at the words, knowing that she would never ever get tired of hearing them. The miko was now living in a perfect world, a world she had tried so hard to obtain. But the torture she had endured seemed small in comparison to the extent of the paradise she was now in. Rei had been on a long, bitter journey through Hell, but she had at last arrived at her destination: Heaven.


to be concluded…

Author's ramblings:

Yep, to be concluded… like right now. ^_^