Book 4 Chapter 1
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Usagi struggled up from darkness, hearing Sailor Pluto's voice from a great distance.
Serenity, you must wake up. You must call upon the power of the Silver Crystal.
She knew it was terribly urgent that she wake up, but she just couldn't. She let herself fall back into dark, warm sleep.
Another voice, more familiar, right in her ear. "Usagi, you must wake up. It's time."
"I don' wanna go to school, Luna," she mumbled automatically, and rolled over.
Sharp teeth nipped at her hand, and Usagi bolted upright. "Ow!" Conflicting memories ricocheted in her mind - leaping from the palace walls, trying to save her Prince; curling up in bed with Mamo and lots of blankets, seeking refuge from the cold; standing surrounded by the spirits of her Senshi as she struggled to hold the Crescent Wand against Metallia's power -
Finally, Usagi's eyes focused on Mamoru, who lay asleep beside her under the blankets on their bed. That was the most recent memory; that was what was real now. Mamoru was so still and cold; a cry caught in Usagi's throat, then she saw that there was still a slight bit of color in his face, and that his chest barely rose and fell a couple of times a minute as he breathed. Usagi let out her own breath in relief. "Luna," she said to the small black cat, "you bit me."
"I had to wake you up somehow," Luna replied primly.
Serenity, it's time now, Setsuna's voice said. You must lift the curse, and bring the Earth into its new life.
"How long has it been?" Usagi asked out loud. She gasped as the baby inside her gave a solid, healthy-feeling kick.
You and the rest of the world have been asleep for a thousand years.
A thousand years... She had known for some time now that this would happen, but it still didn't seem real. How could everyone in the world be asleep for a thousand years? Usagi couldn't even begin to comprehend that length of time.
But it had happened, and now it was time to move on. Shivering in the frigid room, despite the three layers of sweatsuits she wore, Usagi crawled off of the futon and over to the dresser. Her legs felt so weak, her belly so heavy. Clutching the edge of the dresser, she pulled herself to her feet, then reached for the padlocked jewelry chest that sat on the dresser. Her numb fingers fumbled, turning the tiny combination lock, but finally she managed to open the chest.
Light burst into her face. She squinted her eyes and turned away, then slowly looked back. The crystal glowed in its setting on her scepter. Usagi hesitated, not wanting to pick it up. As soon as she touched it, everything would change. I'm not ready. I'll never be ready. I can't even keep my own kitchen organized. How will I ever rule the whole world?
Her baby moved inside her again, reminding her that there really was no choice. Somehow, she would awake the world from its frozen sleep and rule over a renewed Earth. She had seen the future, spoken to it, touched it in the form of her daughter.
Usagi wrapped her hand around the heavy golden scepter and lifted it from the velvet-lined chest. The power of the Silver Crystal immediately flowed into her, warming her, giving her strength. With the warmth came memories, some familiar, some not: her mother, her beloved Prince, her handmaid Naru, the Palace of the Moon, the Senshi, the Guardians of Earth, Naru dead, Endymion betrayed by his Guardians, the battle of the Moon Kingdom... Usagi dropped the scepter back into the box and leaned heavily against the dresser for support.
Let the memories in. They will assimilate themselves eventually, Setsuna's voice said in her mind. You must be fully aware of who you are in order to be able to awaken the Earth.
But I don't know what to do! Even as Usagi formed the protest in her mind, though, she picked up the scepter again. Memories jumbled into her mind, making no sense - yet she knew who she had been, once upon a time, and again, who she had been in a more recent time, and who she was now. The Crystal was her birthright; it was hers to command. She knew what to do.
She held the scepter above her head, clasped in both hands, and let the healing light and warmth of the Crystal wash over Mamoru. He groaned, opened his eyes, then covered his face with his hands against the bright light. After a moment he was able to look up at Usagi. "Serenity," he breathed. Slowly, stiffly, he got up, came to her, and wrapped his arms around her. He rested a hand on her belly until the baby moved, then whispered, "Thank goodness she's all right."
Usagi lowered her trembling arms and sagged against her husband. Though the Crystal gave her strength, she was still so weak, and holding up the heavy scepter was hard. "Endymion, I need your help. I can't wake up the rest of the world without you and the Senshi to help me."
"I'll do anything you need me to do, Serenity." He guided her to the wardrobe, took their coats out, and helped her on with hers before putting on his own coat. Then they walked down the stairs of their apartment building and out into the frozen world.
Everything was covered with ice. Despite the bitter cold and lack of signs of life, the city was beautiful in its crystalline disguise. "Oh, how pretty," Usagi said softly, looking around. "I wonder if this was what gave us the idea for the palace."
"I suppose so," Mamoru said, smiling a little, almost as though he were trying not to laugh.
Usagi thought for a moment about what she had said, then laughed herself. "I guess we're getting the idea right now. I just don't feel like Neo-Queen Serenity yet."
Mamoru hugged her around her shoulders. "Don't worry, Dumpling Head. You'll get there. Come on, let's go find the others."
The warmth from the Silver Crystal melted the ice in their path, though they still had to pick their way carefully across the broken concrete. Slowly, they made their way to the apartments and homes of the Senshi, waking each of them. Yuuichirou was with Rei, of course, and Ryo had been with Ami and Shinozaki with Makoto when the world froze, so Usagi also woke up the men.
With her Senshi around her, except for Pluto, who had sent one more message saying that she needed to remain at the Gates of Time, Usagi felt stronger and more confident. She looked at the other young women, seeing them in her mind as they had been, as Princesses of the Silver Millennium.
Someone was missing. Naru, her best friend. But Naru was dead... No. Usagi shook her head, trying to get her memories ordered properly. Queen Selene had told her that Naru's soul was safe inside the Silver Crystal. Naru had been reborn, and was alive now. It was her beloved from so long ago, her husband Nephrite, who was dead.
"I want to go wake up Naru," she said.
"Naru," Ami said. The Senshi looked at each other, their faces going pale as they remembered the ill-fated maidservant. "I don't think I can face her," Makoto said. "She might think -"
"She'll know you didn't have anything to do with what happened to her," Usagi said.
"But we were so mean to her," said Minako. "She might not want to have anything to do with us."
"Oh, come on, do you really think Naru-chan would hold a grudge about that?" Usagi asked. "Besides, I need all my friends around me. Let's go."
"It's too far to walk," Mamoru said.
"We can teleport," Haruka said in her no-nonsense way. "It won't hurt the babies, will it?"
"No," Rei said, rubbing at her stomach. She was only a month away from the birth of her child. "Remember, we teleported to the park the night Nephrite died. It'll be fine."
Using the power of the Crystal, they all transformed. "Nice maternity fukus," Jupiter said, looking from Sailor Moon to Mars and back again.
Usagi looked down at herself, at the pleated skirt that fell from just below her bust to mid-thigh. "At least the skirts are long enough," she said.
Laughing, the Senshi and Tuxedo Mask clasped hands and teleported to the mansion on the wooded hill outside the city.
* * * * * * * *
Naru stirred from deep, dreamless sleep. She remembered being dragged to the execution block, not understanding what was happening, sobbing as she begged for her life, hearing Nephrite pleading with the King to kill him instead of her, hearing his roar of frustration when he couldn't get free and save her. She cried out, then opened her eyes and realized where she was. On the floor in front of the dark fireplace, in the home she and Nephrite had shared.
It was Nephrite who was dead. She had to help him, she had to save him from Metallia's grasp before it was too late. "Nephrite!" she cried, doubling over with a pain that was as fresh as the night he was murdered.
Arms went around her. "Naru," a voice said softly in her ear. The voice's owner rocked her gently back and forth as she wept. "Naru, it's me, Usagi. I woke you up. The world was frozen for a thousand years. It's time for everyone to wake up."
A thousand years. It was too late. "I wish I were dead," Naru moaned. "I don't want to wake up, if Nephrite isn't here."
"No, no," Usagi soothed her. "You mustn't say that. Think of your baby, Naru. You want the baby to be all right, don't you? And I need you. I have my Senshi to help me wake up the rest of the world, but I also want my best friend with me. Please, Naru."
Of course, Usagi was right. She had to think of her baby. For her baby's sake she would figure out a way to go on. "All right, Usagi."
Usagi hugged her. "Thank you, Naru."
When Naru pulled away, she saw the Senshi standing behind Usagi. She briefly met Makoto's eyes, then turned her face away, feeling all the hurt and humiliation from so long ago. The tall girl knelt beside her and put her hands on Naru's shoulders, making her look up at her. "Naru, it's okay. It never would have worked between him and me. I think I knew that even back then. You were the right one for him."
Naru glanced down. "Do you think so?" she said in a small voice.
"Of course. And I'm really sorry about what happened to you. If I had had any idea what was going to happen, I would have done anything to stop it. Really, I would have. And I'm so sorry you're alone now. I hope we can keep being friends."
Naru rubbed her hands over her wet face. "Thank you, Makoto. Of course we're still friends." She tried to smile, and failed miserably.
* * * * * * * *
Usagi was exhausted from waking up her friends and needed to regain her strength for the huge task that lay ahead. The Senshi all detransformed, and Naru went into the kitchen to boil water for tea. Makoto followed her, but Naru turned around and said, "No, Makoto, you don't have to do anything." She felt strangely out of place among the other young women. She kept seeing them as the Silver Millennium princesses they had once been, instead of the almost-ordinary girls she had known in modern Tokyo. Her place was to serve them.
But Makoto said, "I want to see if there's anything edible in the cupboards," and went into the kitchen with Naru. Naru quickly discovered that both the water and the power were off, so she stepped outside the back door and broke off some chunks of hard-frozen snow and put them in the kettle. She took the kettle out to the living room, where Rei had started a fire in the fireplace, then went back into the kitchen for cups and the tea.
Makoto was investigating the kitchen cupboards. "Naru, I want to make sure you understand. I think Nephrite needed someone he could take care of, someone who would let their life together be everything to her. I never could have done it. I'm too independent, and we would have driven each other crazy. Do you see what I mean?"
Naru bit her lip and looked down at the cups and spoons she was arranging on a tray. "I guess."
Makoto continued. "Now, Shinozaki has just always been there for me, no matter what I've done or who I thought I liked. He's never asked anything or expected anything from me, he just waited until I was ready to see what a great guy he is and that I wanted him for more than a friend. I came around to it in my own time, and we're both happy now. So I don't want you worrying about things that happened a long time ago. Okay? And remember, you aren't a servant any more. You're our friend."
"Okay," Naru said uncertainly.
Makoto walked over to the table where Naru was arranging the tray for tea. "These cookies and crackers seem fine," she said, putting some packages on the tray, "and there's a bunch of cereal in there that should be okay, but I don't know about the canned stuff. It probably ought to be thrown out, after being frozen and thawed." She sighed. "I sure hope Usagi figures out a way to get the food supplies back to normal soon. I'd hate to see her starve."
Naru managed a small smile at that, and Makoto gave her a quick hug around the shoulders. Then the two girls took the tray back out to living room.
When they had all eaten, Usagi said, "Okay, I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Let's do this from the balcony." The girls and Mamoru transformed back into the Senshi and Tuxedo Mask, then the whole group went outside to the patio that overlooked the sloping, wooded hillside. Naru hung back until Sailor Moon turned her head and said, "Come on, Naru. I need you too."
Naru couldn't imagine what Sailor Moon needed her for; she wasn't a princess or a Senshi, she didn't have magical powers. But she followed the group out onto the patio. Tuxedo Mask embraced Sailor Moon from behind while she held the enormous golden crystal-topped scepter out in front of her. The other Senshi crowded around her, each of them placing a hand on the scepter or on the hand of someone who was in contact with the scepter. Naru came to Sailor Moon's side and put an arm around her shoulders, helping Tuxedo Mask support her.
Sailor Moon smiled at her. "Thanks, Naru-chan." She looked around at the others. "All right, let's see if this works."
She closed her eyes. Naru had never seen such a look of concentration on her friend's face before. She felt Sailor Moon stiffen and begin to tremble as her sailor fuku shimmered and changed into a flowing gown of white silk, trimmed with gold. Finally Sailor Moon spoke, in a voice that seemed to radiate out from her in all directions to fill the cloudy sky. "Crystal, lift the curse and bring warmth and life to the Earth again. Now!"
Brilliant power burst out from the crystal. The first flash of light dissipated, and a circle of warm, soft light rapidly spread out from the scepter. It expanded like a ripple in water, thawing everything in its path, warming the air, scattering the thick clouds in the sky. From the balcony of the old mansion in Tokyo it spread outward to cover the whole Earth, carrying with it the voice of the young woman who had the power to bring the world back to life.
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Monique awoke in a bed that wasn't hers, next to a warm body. She remembered coming to Umino's apartment with him. It had been obvious that a great disaster was imminent, and they had decided to make the best of whatever time was left. But then, suddenly, it had gotten much colder, and they had felt so tired, so terribly weary....
"What happened?" Umino asked.
She rolled over and looked into his dark brown eyes. Without the glasses, they looked vague and unfocused. "I don't know." She got up and went to the window. Outside, the sun was shining, ice was melting into puddles. "The cold is gone," she said.
Umino padded up behind her, adjusting his glasses on his nose. "I'll bet Usagi knows what happened. This seems like the sort of thing she'd be mixed up in." He wrapped his arms around Monique's waist and rested his head against her bare shoulder. "In the meantime, it looks like the world isn't going to end after all. And I'm still a virgin."
Monique turned in his arms and leaned her forehead against his. "We'd better do something about that. Can you think of a better way to celebrate Spring?"
Umino pretended to think for a moment. "Nope."
* * * * * * * *
Deep in the ruins of the Dark Kingdom, a body that had lain dead for a thousand years among the shards of a shattered crystal suddenly stirred. Jadeite gasped for breath, coughed as he inhaled some of the thick dust that covered him, opened his eyes, and sat up, cursing as the sharp fragments of crystal stuck and scratched him. Conflicting memories rushed through his mind; the last thing he remembered was Beryl sealing him in the crystal - no, it was dining with Nephrite and the others. No, after that, searing pain and -
The two halves of his life came together in Jadeite's memory. It was Nephrite who had betrayed him, Zoisite, and Kunzite into Beryl's service. Nephrite had drugged them and turned them over to Beryl's youma, because... Because of the little red-haired maidservant. Jadeite remembered the girl's screams as she was led to the execution block and Nephrite's anguished cries as he struggled in vain to save his beloved from death. He remembered forcing Nephrite's face down against the cobblestones so that his friend wouldn't be able to see the gruesome sight of the girl's beheading. He remembered the conflicting accusations that had been hurled back and forth during that last dinner in Nephrite's chambers.
Nephrite. He wanted to kill the man for betraying him to Beryl. He wanted to kneel at his feet and beg forgiveness for not doing anything to prevent the maidservant Naru's death. Though his legs were stiff and shaky, Jadeite set out through the ruined corridors of the Dark Kingdom in search of his friend. His enemy.
Instead, he came across Zoisite and Kunzite walking through the halls. Zoisite's gray uniform looked slightly charred, but Kunzite's was unscathed. Kunzite had his arm around the shorter man's shoulders. Zoisite's arm was wrapped around Kunzite's waist in a manner more suggestive of lovers rather than comrades.
Well, of course. Jadeite had known perfectly well of their relationship during the years in the Dark Kingdom. But he also recalled Nephrite's words during the argument before they were taken captive by Beryl - "An abomination." It had been going on even before the Dark Kingdom, then. That was why they had been so enthusiastic about the idea of the Guardians marrying the Senshi. It would have been the perfect cover-up for their own forbidden relationship.
"Jadeite." Kunzite greeted Jadeite, then the three men stared silently at each other for a moment.
"Beryl obviously lost," Jadeite said, unsure of how else to proceed with the conversation.
"A good thing, don't you think?" Kunzite asked.
"You remember what happened before," Jadeite stated.
"We're looking for Nephrite right now," Zoisite said. "Care to join us? I get to kill him first."
"We may end up fighting for that privilege, my love," Kunzite said.
"You don't think he was justified in what he did?" Jadeite asked, partly for the sake of argument.
"No," Kunzite stated flatly.
"What if it had been Zoisite who was killed?"
"It wasn't. We weren't stupid enough to get caught."
Jadeite shrugged. There was nothing to say to that. "I came from that direction," he said, pointing, "so there's no point in going back that way. Let's try the throne room." He started walking, and the other two followed. "So what happened after Beryl put me in the crystal?" he asked.
Zoisite and Kunzite filled him in on the rest of the war between the Dark Kingdom and the Senshi. "Nephrite deserted a few months after you were... eliminated," Zoisite said bitterly. "He just disappeared. As far as we know, he survived the fall of the Dark Kingdom."
The three of them stopped and looked at each other. "Damn," Zoisite said. "Of course. If he deserted, he wouldn't be here. Come; I know where he is." Zoisite and Kunzite held each other's hands, and grasped Jadeite's wrists with their free hands. "Follow my lead," Zoisite said. The three of them teleported, allowing Zoisite to guide them to their destination.
* * * * * * * *
Usagi held the scepter for as long as she could, then collapsed in Tuxedo Mask's arms. The entire group detransformed, and Mamoru carried Usagi back into the house. The others all followed except for Haruka, Michiru, and Minako, who wanted to bask in the sunshine on the patio. Yuui, Ryo, and Shinozaki had arrived at the mansion while Usagi was working her magic. Ryo hurried to Ami, eagerly asking her to tell him what had happened, while Yuui held Rei tightly in his arms, smiling in relief as he felt their baby move.
Makoto stared across the room at Shinozaki. "I'm so glad you're all right," she said.
"I'm fine, don't worry about me." the young man came across the room and pulled Makoto into his arms. "I hope you're all right."
Makoto held him silently for a moment. "I am. Everything's going to be all right now." They kissed each other.
Naru helped Mamo arrange Usagi comfortably on the sofa, then went to the fireplace to make another cup of tea. When she returned, Usagi was already coming around again.
"Did I do it?" Usagi whispered hoarsely, as though her voice had been burned away by the Silver Crystal's power.
"You did it, honey, you did it," Mamoru said over and over as he cradled Usagi in his arms.
Usagi rested her hand on her belly, then smiled. "Little Usa's okay." Naru sat beside her with the cup of tea, and Usagi smiled again as she took it. "Naru, thank you. I couldn't have -"
There was a sudden whooshing sound in the center of the large room. Everyone turned to stare as a swirl of multihued light appeared, then dissipated to reveal three men in Dark Kingdom uniforms.
Usagi gasped and hurriedly, clumsily, got to her feet. Mamoru pushed her behind him. The Senshi who had been out on the balcony hurried in. Naru covered her face as memories rocked wildly back and forth in her mind. The man with short blond hair, in the very dusty uniform, he had been a member of Nephrite's "evil society," the one who ran the gym, the one who worked at the Hikawa Shrine - no, he and the others were Endymion's Guardians, the two men with him had watched impassively as she was led to her execution.
"Your Highness," she heard one of the men say. She peeked through her fingers and saw the three of them kneeling before Mamoru, each with his right fist pressed over his heart. It seemed that they weren't evil any more, but the sight of them still made her feel the sickening horror of the night she was killed.
The three Guardians stood, then the slight, tawny haired man in the rather scorched uniform saw Naru. "You!" he said. "You're the one who seduced Nephrite away... away from the Dark Kingdom. Away from his service as a Guardian."
The tall, silver-haired man was Lord Kunzite, Naru remembered. And the smaller one was Lord Zoisite. He was the one who had meant to kill Nephrite, that night that Nephrite had come to her room. But they had all been friends once -
Naru uncovered her face, and walked around to stand directly in front of the three uniformed men. All three of the Guardians stared at her gently rounded belly. "You were his friends," Naru demanded. "Why didn't you help him? How could you just stand there and listen to him, when he needed your help?"
"You seduced him into committing treason," Lord Kunzite said coldly.
Suddenly Naru understood. All at once she felt filled with an anger that was so cold, so all-consuming, she could never express it. "It was you." She looked at the three. Kunzite met her eyes coldly, but Zoisite and Jadeite glanced away from her. "You were the ones who betrayed us. You had me killed right in front of him."
Jadeite said, "I'm sorry. If I had known how he felt about you -"
"But as long as you thought I was merely a slutty servant girl, my life didn't mean anything. Right? Is that what you mean?"
"I - "
"The only reason I am tolerating your presence in my home at all, Lord Jadeite, is because I remember that you held his head down, so he wouldn't have to see what happened. As for you two," she turned her stare to Zoisite and Kunzite, "you will leave immediately."
"Your home?" Zoisite said. "We came here to find that bastard Nephrite. Where is he?"
Naru's anger was even stronger than the grief that kept her from wanting to talk about Nephrite's death. These men needed to know what they had done to him, when they betrayed her to her death. "He's dead. He was murdered a few months ago... before the Freeze. He belongs to Metallia now." Each word was spoken with ice-cold precision, though she wanted to scream at the men who had driven Nephrite to damn himself. Usagi hurried to stand beside Naru and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"It's his own fault!" Zoisite retorted. "Forgetting his duties for the sake of a stupid little maidservant - "
"I hate to interrupt," Jadeite interrupted, not sounding sorry at all, "but what Freeze? And doesn't anyone besides me want to how it is that we're alive again?"
Mamoru answered. "The whole Earth, and everyone on it, froze for a thousand years. With the power of the Silver Crystal, Serenity was able to wake everyone up and drive away the cold. Usagi and I will eventually become Queen and King of the Earth. It may be that the Crystal brought you back to life in order to be our Guardians again. Although I suppose we're going to have to get along with only three out of the Four."
Three out of the Four... The others had come back, but Nephrite never would, because Metallia had him. Naru's control finally slipped, and she buried her face against Usagi's shoulder, crying.
"Nephrite proved himself unworthy to be a Guardian," Kunzite said.
Mamoru said, "He betrayed you to get revenge for what you did to Naru."
"That doesn't excuse his treason," the silver-haired Guardian said. "Zoisite and I, and Jadeite, were loyal to you."
"Murderers," Minako said.
"You killed the girl Nephrite really loved to force him into marrying me," Makoto added. "Did you really think I would marry him under those circumstances?"
"It was for the good of the Realm of Earth," Kunzite said firmly. "To strengthen the Solar System against Beryl's rebellion. That was why it was necessary for us to marry the Senshi. We weren't about to let that stupid little whore of a serving girl --"
"Hold it right there," Usagi said. Naru raised her head from her friend's shoulder to look at her. "Naru may not be a Princess or a Senshi, but she is a Lady of our court, and you will treat her like an equal. Understand?"
"You want me to treat her as an equal?" Zoisite fumed.
"Stop this!" Mamoru yelled. "We have too much to do. We can't afford arguments -- "
But he was too late to stop the next round. "You lied to us!" Minako shouted at Kunzite. "You three all swore up and down that you loved us, and that it wasn't all just about politics."
"It was for the good of -" Kunzite started to say again.
"Don't give me that," Minako said. She turned her back on the silver-haired Guardian and stomped back out to the patio.
"I thought we were friends," Ami said to Zoisite. "I would have been content with marriage to you, if it was what my duty required. But I don't want to be friends with someone who would lie to me and betray another of my friends to her death." She also turned from the Guardians, into Ryo's embrace.
Rei walked over to Jadeite. "Rei," he said, "I wasn't lying to you. Believe me."
Rei slapped him hard enough to make everyone else in the room wince.
"All right, that does it!" Usagi yelled. "If I'd known this would turn into such a soap opera, I would have left everything frozen!" Everyone fell silent and stared at her. She stood up a little straighter and spoke firmly. "Endymion's right - we can't have all this fighting. There's too much that needs to be done. Now, I'm not completely clear on everything that's going on, but one thing that is clear is that a lot of people owe a lot of other people apologies. So start apologizing right now."
There was dead silence. Finally Rei spoke. "Jadeite, I'm sorry that it was necessary for me to slap you. Come, Yuuichirou." She took her husband's arm and walked away towards the patio with the great dignity that only very pregnant women possess.
"That isn't what I meant," Usagi muttered.
* * * * * * * *
Lyra's Children Index / go to Book 4 Chapter 2
The Nephrite and Naru Treasury