Bittersweet08

@}~~}~~~~

"That was surreal," Jadeite observed.

Kunzite nodded, lost in his own thoughts.  "He won't be back for a while," 
he commented.

"Then we might as well go home," Jadeite shrugged.  "Think we ought to 
tell the girls?"

"Sapphire isn't the threat we need to be worrying about," Kunzite said 
briefly.

"Oh?" Jadeite raised an eyebrow.

"He was too taken by Earth."

Jadeite grinned.  "The flowers certainly made an impression on him..."

~*~

Chibi Usa stared at the locket, paralyzed by indecision.  If she took it, 
she could go home and save her mother.   Sailor Moon--Usagi--was her 
friend, though... Howe could she just take it?  Even if she was totally 
wrapped up in Mamoru, she always found time to protect her from the 
Negamoon family...

Chibi Usa picked up the locket.  "Mommy," she whispered.  "I want to help 
you, Mommy..."

"How will my Silver Imperium Crystal help your mommy, Chibi Usa?" Usagi 
asked quietly, quelling the urge to stomp over and snatch her locket.  
Experience had taught her that dealing with Chibi Usa required a great 
deal of restraint.

Chibi Usa gasped and clutched the locket close to her chest.  Taking 
refuge from her guilt in hostility, she snapped, "What do you care, 
Meatball head?"

"I just want to help you, Chibi Usa," Usagi told her.  "You're very 
important to me, even if I don't always act like it, and if I can help you 
with any of your problems, I will." She hesitated.  "It would be a lot 
easier, though, if you'd tell me what was wrong."

To her vast dismay, Chibi Usa's eyes filled with tears.  "I need the 
Silver Imperium Crystal to help my mommy," she whispered.  "She's very 
sick, and it's the only thing that can save her."

"Oh, Chibi Usa..." Usagi walked over and picked the little girl up.  "Why 
didn't you tell me this sooner?  I'd be glad to go help your mommy.  Dry 
your tears and we can go now, if you want."

Chibi Usa sniffled and made her next confession.  "Usagi, I'm from the 
future..."

~*~

Kunzite moved to the roses that had so captivated Sapphire, remembering 
the time that he had deftly escaped a moment of Zoisite's jealousy by 
producing a similar pink blossom.  Zoisite had always loved flowers, an 
ironic fact, considering that no flowers grew in the Negaverse.  As he 
reached out to touch one of the rosebuds, he sighed quietly, wishing that 
things could have been different... somehow....

"This planet is so beautiful," Sapphire commented quietly, reappearing 
just as suddenly as he had left.  "Nothing grows at all on Nemesis." He 
hadn't really meant to return to the park, meaning to go directly to 
Rubeus's spacecraft in order to formulate a plan, but the park had lured 
him away from such tedious things.  He hadn't expected Kunzite and Jadeite 
to still be there, the former lost in thought over the bed of roses and 
the latter waiting patiently.  

"Oh, you're back," Kunzite muttered.

"Yeah, that was a fascinating party trick--you must astound folks at the 
conventions," Jadeite added flippantly.

"Diamond felt that I was becoming too friendly," Sapphire shrugged, 
deciding that lying to these two--well, more specifically, lying to 
Kunzite--would not be a good idea.  

"What, just because I offered to let you room with me?" Jadeite seemed 
shocked at the insinuation.  "I'm hurt."

Sapphire smiled slightly.  Jadeite's sunny disposition was incredibly 
different from the personalities of the Negamoon family.  "He seems to 
believe that my loyalties might be questionable."

Kunzite noted the forced casualness of Sapphire's tone.  "Perhaps they are 
questionable," he observed.  

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sapphire flared.

"I think you know what I mean," Kunzite answered him, returning his 
attention to the roses.  

"This Diamond fellow, he called you back to give you a good talking to, I 
assume?" Jadeite inquired.  "Told you to stop fraternizing with the enemy, 
and all that jazz?"

Some of Jadeite's metaphors were lost on Sapphire, but Diamond's younger 
brother got the gist of the question.  "Told me to get my act together."

/And yet here he is again... What kind of game is he playing, anyway?/ 
Jadeite thought.  He shrugged.  "Ah, being scolded by the illustrious 
leader... Always a fun experience, as I recall... Tell me, does Diamond 
randomly dispose of his minions when they get on his nerves?"

Both Kunzite and Sapphire winced.  "Not directly, no," Sapphire muttered.  
"He just lets the Scouts do it for him."

Jadeite ignored him, looking ruefully at Kunzite's suddenly clenched 
fists.  "Sorry, Kunzite.  I forgot."

The pink roses blurred faintly in Kunzite's vision.  "Forget about it," he 
muttered.   He glanced at Sapphire.  "If you're from the future as you say 
you are, how is that you did not know that we are still alive?"

Sapphire frowned.  "Actually, that does bother me," he admitted.  "The 
histories record that the four generals of Queen Beryl perished in various 
ways.  The lord Jadeite was imprisoned in eternal sleep, the lord Nephrite 
met his demise at the machinations of the lord Zoisite, the lord Zoisite 
was killed by Queen Beryl for direct insubordination, and the lord Kunzite 
died in battle with Sailor Moon."

"Maybe God just loves us?" Jadeite suggested.  

Neither Kunzite nor Sapphire seemed inclined to accept this explanation.  
"Nephrite and Zoisite are truly dead," Kunzite said with conviction.  
"Jadeite's eternal sleep was a spell of Beryl's.  Perhaps with her death, 
the magicks she used weakened enough to free him.  As for me... Sailor 
Moon is a sweet kid, but..."

"He's so modest, isn't he?" Jadeite snickered.  

~*~

Meanwhile, in another part of town... 

"The future?" Minako's eyes were even larger than normal.  "We're going to 
the future?  Wow, that is so totally cool!"

"Yeah," Makoto agreed enthusiastically.  "Maybe I'll have a boyfriend in 
the future!" She giggled excitedly.

"I thought Kunzite was your boyfriend," Minako teased.  

Makoto made a face.  "He's just not that kind of guy," she sighed sadly.  
"The best I can ever hope for there is friendship." She grinned.  "He 
doesn't look like my old boyfriend, anyway.  It'd never work."

While Rei pummeled Makoto with a pillow, Ami looked concerned.  "What's 
wrong, Ami?" Mamoru asked.

"Shouldn't we be worried about disrupting history by time traveling?" she 
asked, concerned.  "What if our presence in the future--or our absence 
here in the present--plays directly into the hands of these people from 
the Dark Moon?" 

"You worry too much, Ami," Usagi sighed.  "Besides, I've already given my 
word to Chibi Usa that I'd help her, no matter what.  If you guys don't 
want to go, I'll have to do this alone."

The Sailor Scouts looked shocked.  "You'd leave us behind?" Minako asked, 
sounding hurt and a little bit forlorn.  "We're your protectors."

"I just meant that we should be careful about how we approach this," Ami 
added quickly.  "We'll have to be very careful, that's all."

"Yeah, Usagi, you can't just leave us behind," Rei added.  "Who'd cover 
for you if you had a klutz attack or something?"

"Besides, I want a crack at these goons who are causing all the trouble," 
Makoto added.

Placated, Usagi nodded.  "I didn't mean it.  Should we take Kunzite and 
Jadeite?"

"No," Rei said instantly.

"Yes," Makoto and Ami said at the same moment.

Rei gave the two dirty looks.  "I still don't trust those two," she 
explained.  "I don't think it's altogether wise to allow them to run 
freely through the future."

"Hey, that's not fair," Makoto protested.  "The two of them have proved 
that they're on our side several times already.  Give them a break, Rei."

"I agree," Minako said unexpectedly.  "I'm convinced that they're on our 
side, Rei.  Rubeus would have toasted us if they hadn't been around to 
help out.  I, for one, want all the extra help we can get... Who knows 
what we may run into while we're in the thirtieth century?" 

"Don't be so unreasonable, Rei," Ami added.  "Why are you holding such a 
grudge, anyway?"

"They shouldn't be forgiven so easily for their crimes," Rei snapped.  
"They worked for the Negaverse, damn it, and it wasn't even all that long 
ago!  The two of them have tried to kill us more often than they've saved 
us from anything--"

"I worked for the Negaverse, too, Rei," Mamoru offered quietly.  

"You were brainwashed.  It wasn't your fault."

Mamoru frowned.  "What if they were brainwashed too?" he asked.

Puzzled gazes met his.  "What do you mean?" Usagi asked.

Mamoru shrugged.  "It's just a feeling I used to get sometimes--like there 
was something wrong with me fighting the four generals.  Like they weren't 
supposed to be fighting me, or something.  Do you really think that anyone 
would willingly serve Beryl, especially knowing her disdain for those who 
served her?" He shrugged again.  "I just believe that things were 
different once upon a time, and that Kunzite and Jadeite deserve another 
chance."

"Fine," Rei sighed in disgust.  "They can tag along too."

~*~

"Your brother is a most convincing actor, Your Highness," Wise Man 
commented dryly.  "I have never seen such a performance in my life.  If I 
didn't know of his solid loyalty to you, I'd be swift to label him a 
traitor."

Diamond said nothing, staring at the image of his brother's resumed 
conversation with Jadeite and Kunzite with a fierce expression on his 
face.

Sensing an opportunity, Wise Man pressed the issue forward.  "I suppose 
his strategy will be to infiltrate the ranks of the enemy in order to 
bring about their downfall... A cunning man, truly, and brave.  I would 
not care to risk such a venture, myself."

Still, Diamond said nothing.

/I could not have asked for such an opportunity,/ Wise Man thought 
craftily.

~*~

Jadeite's Rolex beeped, interrupting an intent conversation regarding the 
merits of youma versus droids.  Hastily, Jadeite withdrew, leaving Kunzite 
and Sapphire looking at him curiously.  

Ami's face peered up at him from the face of his watch.  "Jadeite, can you 
and Kunzite meet us at the park?" she asked.  "Chibi Usa's finally told us 
the truth--she's from the future, and we're going there with her to save 
her mother."

Jadeite blinked.  "Funny you should mention that," he grinned.  "As it so 
happens, there's a gentleman here in the park who says he's from the 
future, too..."

"From the Dark Moon?" Ami asked.

"Yeah... Kunzite's busy talking to him right now, but he and I both agree 
that the guy isn't a threat," Jadeite said swiftly.  "I know we aren't the 
most stellar of character references, but believe me when I tell you that 
this guy wasn't cut out for the job of conquering the world in the name of 
evil.  He'd be too busy smelling the roses along the way to ever get it 
done."

Ami's face frowned up at him.  "Are you sure?"

"Yeah.  What's more, Kunzite is, too, and nothing gets past him," Jadeite 
told her, serious.  

"All right.  We'll be there in a few minutes.  Do us a favor and get him 
out of there, okay?  Let's not clue the enemy in too much to what's going 
on."

"Gotcha.  See you in a few minutes." Jadeite turned around and returned to 
where Kunzite and Sapphire were regarding him curiously.  He grinned at 
them.  "Damn it all, I hate to break this up, gentlemen, but my planner 
just reminded me that Kunzite and I have an appointment that we simply 
can't back out of.  If you change your mind about rooming with us, 
Sapphire, just let me know, and I'll get you settled on my couch in no 
time at all.  Now, Kunzite, we really do need to get going if we're going 
to get you to the salon on time... It wouldn't do at all to keep Philippe 
waiting--you know how fussy he can be when you're late for an 
appointment..." Chattering brightly, he dragged Kunzite away from 
Sapphire.  

"Have you lost your mind?" Kunzite growled when they were at a safe 
distance from Sapphire, snatching his arm away from Jadeite's grasp.

"Well, you really could use a trim for those split ends," Jadeite said 
thoughtfully.

"I do not have split ends!" Kunzite snapped angrily, before thinking.  
Jadeite guffawed.  "What the hell is going on, damn it?"

"Ami just checked in with me.  The Scouts are going to the future--don't 
ask me how or why, they just are--and we've been most cordially invited to 
attend," Jadeite explained.  "Geez, and I thought Nephrite was the only 
one who got that concerned about split ends!"

"Just shut up," Kunzite sighed.  "Wait a minute.  The Scouts gave you a 
communicator?"

Jadeite smirked.  "What can I say?  I'm forever lost to the Negaverse now. 
 Don't worry, someday, if you're a good defender of love and justice, 
you'll get your very own communicator too."

Kunzite just rolled his eyes.  

~*~

/What are the odds that Scout business called them away?/ Sapphire thought 
idly, watching Jadeite dragging Kunzite away.  /I suppose I ought to 
follow them.  Or something.../ He shrugged slightly.  /There will be other 
opportunities... Besides, I'm gaining their trust.../ Somehow, the thought 
of a betrayal rang hollow within him.  /Damn it, I wish Diamond weren't so 
fixated on destroying Earth in his revenge... It's so beautiful here./

He stiffened, his subliminal awareness of all the energy signatures around 
him spiking sharply.  Seven unfamiliar--and powerful--presences arrived 
precipitously in the park, joining the now-familiar presences of Kunzite 
and Jadeite.  Sapphire tried to swallow the sudden bitter taste in his 
mouth, disgusted by the pretence of friendship that he had been poised to 
believe.  Readying himself for battle, he approached the area where 
everyone had gathered.

"So, how does this work again?" he heard a girl's bright voice ask as he 
lurked behind a tree.  

"Chibi Usa opens up a time portal and we go through to the future and save 
her mother," he heard another girl explain.  

"Then why are we here?" he heard Jadeite ask.  "I'm flattered that you 
find my company so pleasant, but really... what good am I for anything but 
beating up bad guys?"

"Comic relief," Kunzite said tersely.

"At least I'm useful," Jadeite muttered.

"Chibi Usa says that her home in the future is under attack, and we don't 
know what to expect," he heard another girl say.  Sapphire stiffened.  
That girlish voice was unfamiliar, yet--it held overtones of a future 
maturity and strength of will that was tantalizingly familiar.  It 
couldn't be, could it? 

He cautiously peered around the tree, taking care not to be seen.  Two 
impossible buns and matching pigtails flashed across his vision before he 
retreated hastily.  /Neo-Queen Serenity!  Sailor Moon is Neo-Queen 
Serenity!  Diamond is going to be--/

Sapphire gulped, knowing that he had a responsibility to seize the 
opportunity presented to him.  If he struck now, with all his strength and 
will firmly behind the blow, he could win the war now and forever for 
Nemesis.  Eliminating Neo-Queen Serenity's past self--or King Endymion--or 
any of the Sailor Scouts could skew the course of history in favor of 
those of the Dark Moon.  

"Whenever you're ready, Chibi Usa, we'll go save your mother so that you 
can be with her again," Sailor Moon said gently.   "I promise you, we'll 
do whatever it takes to make sure that you can be with your family again."

Sapphire closed his eyes, catapulted by her words into a chaos of emotion. 
 Removed as he was from the actual battle between Crystal Tokyo and 
Nemesis, he had never taken a moment to realize that the war had taken a 
toll on anyone but the soldiers.  He had forgotten that Neo-Queen Serenity 
was a mother as well as a ruler, and he remembered the distant past, when 
two brothers lost their own mother to the harshness of a barren moon... He 
hadn't been any older than Small Lady when she had died... 

Unconsciously, Sapphire relaxed his grip on the dark energy he had been 
about to use on the Scouts.  /Go on.  Save your world, Small Lady.  I 
won't be the one to stop you./

~*~

"CRYSTAL TIME KEY, TAKE ME HOME!!!"  Chibi Usa shouted, brandishing what 
looked like a prize out of a Cracker Jack Box.  A pink cloud formed, 
sucking the nine people into a nebulous grey place outside of time.

"Whoa, what is this place?" Sailor Moon's voice was muted, dulled, without 
its usual vibrancy, as they stared at the swirling mists.  

"Intruders!"

Sailor Moon leaped backwards as a large garnet key hit the ground where 
she had just been standing.  

"Only those who are worthy may pass through here!  You are not worthy!" 
cried the wielder of the key, a woman shrouded in the fog.

"Sailor Pluto!" Chibi Usa cried happily, seemingly unfazed by the threat.  
She darted forward to the mysterious woman.

"Small Lady?" The woman sounded startled.

"I brought the Sailor Scouts--They're going to save my mommy!" Chibi Usa 
announced, bubbling over with happiness.  The haze swirled away, revealing 
a tall woman with long green hair who smiled welcomingly at Chibi Usa.  

Pluto scooped Chibi Usa up gracefully and returned her gaze to the group.  
"More than just the Sailor Scouts," she noted, eyeing Jadeite and Kunzite. 
 "I apologize, Sailor Moon.  I am a bit overzealous in my duties."

"It's all right... Sailor Pluto," Sailor Moon replied uncertainly, shocked 
to the core by the appearance of this woman dressed in a fuku.  Princess 
Serenity's memories stirred in the back of her mind, reminding her that 
there were more planets in the solar system than just the first five.  

The older Scout smiled gently, understanding the confusion apparent on her 
princess's face and on the faces of the other Scouts.  "It has been a long 
time since I have left my post here." She glanced over to the three men.  
"It is good to see that some things, at least, have come full circle," she 
commented, nodding cordially at Kunzite and Jadeite.

"Do you know something that we don't?" Rei ventured.

"Only that it is good to see that Endymion's guardians have returned to 
his side, Sailor Mars," Pluto replied, with a mysterious little smile.    
"However, you face difficulties beyond anything you can presently imagine. 
 Be strong, and trust in each other.  If you do this, you cannot fail." 
She paused.  "In order to reach the future, you must pass through the Hall 
of Time.  I will direct your path as best I can, but do not stray from 
it... Keep in constant contact with each other, and you will come through 
safely, I promise."

~*~

"Damn it, this is really getting old.  I hate being stuck here.  Look at 
that, there they go, getting ready for the fight from Hell, and here we 
are, stuck."

"It's your fault, y'know."

"Oh, shut up."

"Well, it is.  If you hadn't held a grudge for all those years, I wouldn't 
be here, and if you hadn't let your temper get the best of you, you 
wouldn't be here either."

There was a long silence.  "Do you realize how much I despise it when 
you're right?"

"Why do you think I try to be right so often?"

"You know they're going to need help."

"So what else is new?"

"So, do you think anyone would mind very much if we, uh..."

"Interfered?"

"Um... Well... In interest of the greater cosmic good..."

"You're such a spoilsport."

"You didn't let me finish."

"All right, all right, but if you say one word about the stars, I'll hit 
you."

"In the interest of the greater cosmic good... I think we'd be entirely 
justified in this situation.  To interfere, I mean."

"I was hoping you'd say that..." There was another long pause.  "So.  Any 
ideas on how to get out there and actually be able to do something?"

"No.  You?"

"Um..."

~*~

/So, how did this happen?/ Jadeite wondered, even as Mercury slipped her 
hand into his.  Pluto had insisted that they all hold hands, so, since he 
happened to be standing next to the diminutive blue-haired girl, she had 
smiled at him and seized his hand.  /God, she's beautiful... I hope Greg 
appreciates what he has./

~*~

Kunzite stared up at the imposing Portal of Time, feeling oddly at peace 
with himself.  There had been a time before Beryl, and Sailor Pluto had 
just unsealed the locks on his memories of that time.  He had broken free. 
 He had walked through Hell, and he had emerged-if not unscathed, then 
with his soul in his own keeping still.  

"So, does it feel good to know that you weren't ever really as evil as you 
pretended you were?" Venus, who had somehow contrived to grab his free 
hand, teased.  

Kunzite turned his head and smiled at her.  She looked startled, having 
never seen such a warm expression on his face.  "It feels better than I 
could have ever dreamed."

Venus felt her heart skip a beat.  

~*~

"Good luck, Sailor Moon, Chibi Usa.  I have faith in you," Pluto called as 
she threw wide the Portal.  Holding on to each other tightly, the group 
plunged through.  

The solitary Scout watched them go silently, knowing what they faced and 
dreading it for them.  

Something tugged at the edge of her awareness as she closed the Portal.  
Examining it, she grinned slightly.  /Well... They can definitely use all 
the help they can get... Besides, everyone deserves a second chance.../  

Her mind made up, Pluto reached out with her powers and gave a helpful 
little nudge to a struggling pair.

~*~

The journey lasted an eternity, but passed in a mere second as the group 
barreled through the Hall of Time.  Bursting through the doors at the 
other end of the corridor, the group found itself standing on a bluff 
overlooking a twilit scene.  The air was cool and dry, and somehow empty.  
"Oh, wow," Mercury breathed, staring down at the valley beneath them. 

/Should I let go of her hand?/ Jadeite thought guiltily, totally oblivious 
to the panorama that captivated Mercury.  Gritting his teeth slightly and 
cursing the code of honor that prompted the action, he released her hand. 

Mercury barely noticed, fascinated (like everyone else) by the sight of 
Crystal Tokyo, whose spires rose high into the air.  Even the presence of 
an armada of Dark Moon ships could not diminish its beauty.

"Come on," Chibi Usa said urgently, tugging on Sailor Moon's hands.  
"Let's go save Mommy!"

~*~

Just moments after the energy signatures disappeared from his awareness, 
Sapphire felt himself being forcefully recalled to the future.

"Just what in the name of the Dark Crystal were you doing?!" Diamond 
shouted, his almost legendary calm shattered into a thousand pieces.  "How 
could you have just allowed the Sailor Scouts to journey to their future?  
Did it not occur to you that you could have ended the war for once and for 
all just then?"

"I've no taste for murder," Sapphire snapped, less than surprised that 
Diamond had been spying on him again.  "I've even less taste for the 
destruction of such a beautiful planet."

"You dare question my orders?" Diamond was nearly inarticulate with rage.  


Recklessly, Sapphire shrugged.  "So what if I do?  Besides, I thought you 
might want to know that Sailor Moon is Neo-Queen Serenity."

Wise Man, who had been about to comment, stopped himself.  Knowing 
Diamond's infatuation with the ruler of Crystal Tokyo, the sage recognized 
that this tidbit would placate the prince of the Negamoon enough that 
Sapphire would escape his wrath.  

"Are you certain of this?" Diamond asked sharply.

Ruing his hasty words, Sapphire nodded.  "I would stake my life on it," he 
confessed.

Diamond smiled, his irritation with Sapphire momentarily forgotten.  "And 
now she has come to the thirtieth century," he breathed happily.  Sapphire 
grimaced internally.  "Sapphire.  Go back to the twentieth century.  With 
the departure of the guardians of that time, you will easily triumph--"

"No." Sapphire met his brother's gaze calmly.  "You are my brother and I 
would never desert your side, but I will not obey this order.  What you 
have decided to do is wrong in every way, and I will not be party to it 
any longer."

"You will not obey?" Diamond repeated, eyes glittering dangerously.

"I will not."

"What if I compel you to obey?"

Sapphire stared at him.  "Do you really believe that you can do that?" 
They glared at each other for a very long moment.

"Go to your quarters," Diamond ordered, barely able to contain the rage 
and betrayal he felt at his brother's refusal to follow.  

"Yes, Your Highness," Sapphire said coldly, bowing slightly and walking 
away swiftly.  /How do I make him see that he's on the path to 
destruction?/

Before Wise Man could say anything--before he could gloat--Diamond rose 
from his throne.  "I will be alone now," he spat, vanishing with a swirl 
of his cape.

~*~

Chibi Usa moved confidently through the thoroughfares of Crystal Tokyo, 
leading her companions unerringly to the tallest spires of the city.  
Perhaps by accident, or perhaps by design, her pace was so swift that she 
left no opportunity for the scouts to ask any questions.  They passed 
through the eerily still streets rapidly, and soon came upon a garden area 
filled with lush plants and lovely shaded walkways.  Mystified by this 
point, the group continued to follow Chibi Usa.

Having relaxed as much as was possible in such a foreign environment, all 
were startled by Chibi Usa's sudden happy shout.  She rushed forward to 
greet a misty figure, skidding to a stop just a few feet from it and 
dipping a small curtsy.  The figure--a man dressed in formal clothes and a 
mask--gravely responded with a slight bow of his own.  "Welcome home, 
Chibi Usa."

"I've brought Sailor Moon to save Mommy," Chibi Usa responded gravely, 
indicating the figures standing behind her.  

The figure looked past the girl to the group.  "Welcome, Sailor Moon," he 
said, bowing slightly and stepping forward.

"Should we be able to see through him?" Jadeite inquired after a few 
moments of startled silence.

The translucent man smiled faintly.  "If you will just follow me, I can 
explain everything..."

~*~

"Mamo-chan, this is weird," Sailor Moon muttered, clinging to her 
beloved's arm as they followed Chibi Usa into the palace.  

"Tell me about it," he replied, keeping a close eye on the apparition that 
led them forward.  "Whoever--whatever--he is, Chibi Usa seems to have a 
lot of faith in him, though..."

The group reached a small conference-type room.  "Please, make yourselves 
comfortable," the masked man told them as they filed past him.  Then he 
caught his first good glimpse of Jadeite and Kunzite.  "What?!  How can 
this be?" he demanded, pointing at them.  

"You know, I'm getting really tired of that reaction," Jadeite sighed.  
"No, we're not dead.  Yes, we're fighting for good and not evil.  No, we 
don't know exactly why we're alive.  Am I missing anything?"

"No need to be sarcastic," Kunzite mumbled. 

The figure shook his head.  "It must be the time travel," he muttered.  
"How else could this be?  No matter... Welcome to Crystal Tokyo... I am 
King Endymion."

Tuxedo Mask blinked.  "You're--me?" he asked incredulously.

King Endymion nodded.  "Yes, I am a holograph of your future self, Tuxedo 
Mask.  My real self is kept away from Crystal Tokyo by the forces of 
Nemesis."

Chibi Usa, for some odd reason, seemed to be upset about something.  

Sailor Moon glanced from Tuxedo Mask to King Endymion to Tuxedo Mask.  
"Oh, wow," she whispered, dazed.  Then she pulled herself together.  
"Um... Chibi Usa brought us here to save her mother?" she ventured.  

King Endymion nodded.  "Yes, Sailor Moon.  Some time ago, the forces of 
Nemesis attacked Crystal Tokyo.  We held strong against their forces for a 
long time, but... Neo-Queen Serenity, your future self, fell ill suddenly, 
and the Silver Imperium Crystal disappeared.  At that point, the Dark Moon 
forces broke through our defense, casting a spell over the city.  The 
Sailor Scouts of this time placed Neo-Queen Serenity in a protective 
barrier and are maintaining the barrier around the palace.  I sent Chibi 
Usa back in time to obtain your help."

There was an extremely long pause.  Then Mars spoke.  "Are you saying that 
Chibi Usa is Usagi and Mamoru's daughter?"

The king nodded gravely, and Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask flushed a 
brilliant red.  

Jadeite nudged Tuxedo Mask, grinning.  "Mamoru, you sly thing, when were 
you going to tell us?"

Jupiter grinned.  "Usagi, you'll never be able to get her to clean her 
room-after all, she knows what a slob you can be."

"Shut up... Just shut up," the highly embarrassed pair groaned.  

King Endymion was smirking just a little bit, and Kunzite wondered how 
long he had been waiting in order to spring this tidbit of news on his 
past self...

~*~

Sailor Mercury, as taken aback as any by the revelations made by King 
Endymion, retreated into the gardens of the crystal palace in order to 
ponder the stunning news.  It was amazing, she thought, shaking her head, 
that Usagi--the klutzy, lazy, slightly spacey girl she knew--would someday 
become the queen of Earth.  The look of absolute shock on Usagi, Mamoru, 
and Chibi Usa's faces was also incredibly funny, too, when they had found 
out that Chibi Usa would be their future daughter.

There was something, though, about all of this that bothered her.  King 
Endymion had refused to divulge very much about their future selves and 
how they had created Crystal Tokyo, for which she could not blame him, 
but--His first reaction to Jadeite and Kunzite had disturbed Sailor 
Mercury.  There had been a look of--shock on his face that could not be 
hidden.  He seemed to have been expecting Sailor Moon and the rest of the 
Scouts, but Kunzite and Jadeite had caught him by surprise.  This sent a 
chill through Sailor Mercury.  She knew nothing about the physics of time 
travel, of course, and didn't have the expertise to make any judgments 
about what they had done, but... 

Sailor Mercury shivered uncontrollably.  What if they had somehow changed 
the course of the future?  

She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she never even noticed that 
Jadeite had arrived at her side until he had shrugged off his grey uniform 
jacket and draped it over her shoulders.  "It's a little bit cold out 
here, huh?" he said lightly, grinning at her.

Sailor Mercury blinked at him, registering his presence for the first 
time--and being struck by another horrid thought.  What if Jadeite didn't 
exist in the future because he had died somewhere in the past?

Jadeite's heart constricted at the sudden distress displayed on her face.  
"Hey, what's wrong?" he asked gently, carefully touching her shoulder.  
Although he'd hate himself for it later, for now all that mattered was 
wiping that look of pain off Ami's face.  

Ami shook her head mutely, irrationally convinced that if she uttered the 
words, they would become truth and Jadeite, with his eyes so full of warm 
concern, would dissipate before her.  Minako and Usagi had dragged her to 
a movie once in which such a thing had happened, and the life of a Sailor 
Scout was so full of surprises that it was as plausible as anything else 
that filled her busy life.

"Ami." Jadeite felt utterly helpless as he watched something tearing the 
girl to emotional shreds before his very eyes.  "What is it?  You can tell 
me--Let me help you." He was horrified to see tears gathering in her 
beautiful eyes and gave in to temptation.  Putting his arms around her, 
Jadeite hugged her, allowing her to cry freely on his shoulder and 
wondering all the while what could have upset her so much.  /It had better 
not be anything that has to do with that asshole Greg,/ he thought grimly. 
 "Is there anything--anything at all--that I can do to help?" he asked.

"Don't die," came the muffled reply.

"Huh?" /Where the hell did that come from?/  "Ami, I'm not following you 
on this one."

She looked up at him earnestly.  "Don't let yourself get killed," she 
pleaded.

Jadeite grinned a little in spite of himself.  "I hadn't planned on it," 
he said lightly.  "What brought this on?" Absently, he brushed some of the 
tears away from her cheeks, feeling amazingly comfortable with her in his 
arms.  What was more, she seemed just as comfortable.  

"Well, I was thinking--"

"Mistake number one," he commented, prompting a smile from her.

"And King Endymion expected all of us Scouts to arrive with Chibi Usa.  He 
knew we were coming, but it surprised him that you and Kunzite were here 
with us.  You aren't supposed to be here," Sailor Mercury said miserably.

"And you figured that this is because I'm going to get killed?  I didn't 
think you cared that much about me." Trying to sound flippant and make her 
smile again, but somehow failing, the first part of his comment was 
light-hearted, but the second part came out slightly different, filled 
with emotions that he wasn't supposed to feel for Ami.

Sailor Mercury sighed quietly and hid her face in his shoulder again.  
"Idiot," she murmured.  "What gave you that idea?"

Jadeite's arms tightened around her.  "Ami, please don't play games with 
me," he whispered.  "What about you and Greg?"

Sailor Mercury looked up at him again, slightly confused.  "Me and Greg?" 
she repeated.  "We're just friends."

Jadeite blinked.  /Does he know that?/  He pushed that question aside.  "I 
thought--"

She blushed a little bit.  "It wasn't ever anything serious." Smiling, the 
Sailor Scout added, "Did you think that it was?"

"Yes.  I did." For fear of losing all self-control, Jadeite kept his 
sentences short and clipped.  

"I'm sorry." Sailor Mercury slipped her arms around his waist, the fear 
still niggling at the back of her mind that he would slip away if she 
didn't hold onto him tightly.  "I wouldn't have hurt you if I had known 
that was what you thought." She leaned her head against him once again, 
savoring his warmth.  

/She...wouldn't want... to hurt... me?/ Jadeite thought, dazed.  He leaned 
down impulsively and kissed the top of her head, inhaling the sweet 
perfume of her hair.  "And all this time all I was worried about was 
making sure I wasn't getting in the way," he sighed.

"You are a self-sacrificing idiot, did you know that?" Sailor Mercury told 
him, the tart comment softened considerably by the affection in her voice. 
 

"Yes, but I am a self-sacrificing idiot who is madly in love with you," he 
replied.  

She tightened her grip on him.  "Don't ever leave me."

"Can't.  I'm may be a self-sacrificing idiot, but I'm *your* 
self-sacrificing idiot," Jadeite sighed contentedly.  "Like it or not, 
you're definitely stuck with me."

"I love you," Sailor Mercury blurted, before she could lose her nerve.  Of 
all the people she would have picked to be the first to fall in love, she 
would have picked herself last.  Knowing this, she knew better than to let 
it slip out of her fingers by being reticent.  

Jadeite knew he was grinning like a fool, but couldn't have cared less.  
His one and only reason for existence loved him, and he would be damned if 
he ever let anything stand in between them ever again.  Placing a finger 
under her chin, he lifted it so that he could see her beautiful face.  "I 
love you," he whispered.  He leaned down and kissed her.


@}~~}~~~~
  

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