Continuing Tales

Full Circle

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 6 of 14

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Full Circle

Situated between Booth Bay and Bar Harbor, Five Islands, Maine is a small community that doesn't have a see a lot of visitors once the fall foliage season is done by the end of September. The arrival of a newlywed couple, one Mr. and Mrs. Darien Shields, was something of a surprise. The coast of Maine was cold and damp by late October, but if the lovebirds were looking for privacy, they would have it.

Harold B. Cranshaw, Cranny to his friends, knew he shouldn't be enjoying this as much as he was. But the dark haired man in front of him was so earnest it made this old joke much too easy to pull off. "That's right, you hold them on their back and hum the song while you're rubbing their belly."

"And it hypnotizes them so they're asleep when you put them in the pot?" Mamoru had a funny feeling about all of this. Then again, it could be that everyone was calling him by a name he still wasn't used to. Just who the blazes had come up with "Darien Shields" anyway?

Cranny held up a hand as if swearing on the bible. "Never fails, Mr. Shields. Just make sure it's the right song, now. Only "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" works on Maine lobsters."

Okay." Mamoru picked up the brown paper bag carefully. "Well, thank you for your help. I promised my wife a dinner she'll never forget tonight."

Cranny waited until the man walked confidently out of the store before exploding into laughter. Where had this guy been not to hear about the old hypnotized lobsters gag – the moon? Oh well, it would make for a very interesting evening for the newlyweds – and one the Mr. Darien Shield's beautiful wife would most assuredly never let him forget.

Night was falling quickly, even though it wasn't yet six in the evening. The air off the icy Atlantic stung Mamoru's cheeks as he made his way across the small bridge that led to the rocky island where he and Usagi were staying. A friend of Ami's mother from her college days at the Harvard Medical School owned the "cottage" they were staying at. He'd been a little nervous about the idea at first. His English was good, but Usagi's was very limited. Between her not speaking and the fact that she tended to keep her face pointed at the ground (so it was that much harder to see the crescent moon sigil she tried to hide under a hat), the locals all thought her shy. Mamoru was sure it was killing Usagi not to be able to talk when others were around. Happily, no one thought it at all odd that the newlyweds were spending so much time alone.

The scent of smoke from the blaze he'd started in the cottage's fireplace came to him. It was an oddly comforting smell and he let it push aside some of the worries that ran circles in his mind. A good dinner and an evening of romance by firelight awaited him. That was all he should be thinking about right now.

Usagi heard the front door open. A smile came to her face while she finished chopping the tomatoes for salad. "Mamo-chan?" She called out.

Her prince came into the kitchen, shucking the heavy jacket he was wearing. He held up the paper bag. "Behold, wife – the mighty hunter returns with dinner!" He popped the bag on the counter next to Usagi while he leaned over to hang the jacket up.

A giggle started in Usagi's throat, but was stopped when the bag moved from side to side. "Uh, Mamo-chan," she asked, her eyes getting wide, "Why is dinner moving?"

Mamoru started to fill a large pot with water. "Because dinner is still alive right now." He moved to put the pot on the stove and leaned down to make sure the gas burner came on all right.

"Still alive?" Usagi repeated, trepidation creeping into her voice.

With a flourish worthy of a master chef, Mamoru reached into the paper bag and pulled out the two, small lobsters. "Ta dah!" He thrust the two creatures, claws and antenna waving, at Usagi. "Chicken lobsters! These things are considered a local delicacy"

They look like giant cockroaches, Usagi thought. "Chicken lobsters? Do they lay eggs or something?"

Why did Usagi have that look on her face, Mamoru wondered? "No, they're called 'chicken' lobsters because of their size. You put them into the boiling water and cook them for about twenty minutes, until they turn all red. Then you crack open the shells and eat them."

"Put them into the boiling water?" Usagi squeaked, "While they're still alive? That's awful!"

"It's okay," Mamoru hastened to reassure her, "I've all ready taken care of that problem. The man at the grocery store showed me how to hypnotize them so they won't feel a thing. Watch…"

He put down one of the two crustaceans on the counter. The other he held in one hand, flipping it onto it's back. He began to rhythmically rub its belly while hunching over it and humming the proper tune. A minute went by, then two. The lobster wasn't affected by the crooning and continued to wave its claws about like an annoyed a music critic.

Why wasn't this working, Mamoru thought? "Maybe if I sing the song instead," he mumbled.

Usagi watched the other lobster on the counter trying to make a get away. Multiple legs skittering on the pitted formica top, it headed for the border while Mamoru waxed melodic.

"Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the crowd…" he sang in a soft baritone.

"Uhhh, Mamo-chan."

"Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack…"

The fugitive crustacean ran out of counter space and fell into the stainless steel sink with a metallic thud. All Usagi could see of her intended dinner was a pair of antenna moving back and forth over the top of the basin. The volume of Mamoru's singing increased with his frustration level.

"I don't care if I ever get back!"

Unable to stand it anymore, Usagi put a restraining hand on Mamoru's arm. He gave a loud huff of annoyance. "This isn't working is it? Oh well, I'll just put them into water when it boils, it'll be over quickly."

"No," Usagi shook her head vigorously, "You are not going to put live, feeling creatures into boiling water, Chiba Mamoru! Couldn't we get them drunk or something first so they won't feel any pain?"

"Lobsters don't drink, Usako," Mamoru replied reasonably. He recognized the look in her eyes with a growing sense of dread. "Well, what do you want me to do? Throw them back into the ocean?"

"Would you? Oh, that'd be so nice!"

The King of the Moon nearly choked. "I was kidding. Do you know how much these things cost? I'm not just going to…to," he faltered as Usagi leaned on his arm. "…throw them…" She batted crystal blue eyes at him. "…Oh damn."

Usagi wound her arms around his shoulders and leaned up to kiss him on the cheek. "Please, Mamo-chan? For me?"

And so Mamoru found himself, Usagi at his side, standing on the rocky coast of Maine, throwing two prime chicken lobsters back into the very cold Atlantic. He was tempted to hurl them overhand in a line drive that would send them halfway to Nova Scotia, but instead settled for an unhanded lob. Oddly enough, Mamoru thought as the last lobster splashed into the icy waters, he got a pretty good hang time on them.

"Ja ne," Usagi called to them. "Swim and be free little lobsters!"

"Well, there goes our main course. I suppose we could roast hot dogs over the fireplace. And no, despite the name, they are not made from dogs." Mamoru put an arm around Usagi's shoulders when they turned and headed back to the cottage. The wind was up, making the night seem even colder than it was. He felt his wife shivering. "Cold, love?"

She snuggled against his arm as they went. "Not when you're with me. I can count on you to keep me warm, can't I?"

The warm lights of the cottage shone through the windows, lighting their way. Dinner may be gone, but at least they still had a romantic evening before the fireplace to look forward to. "Always, Usako, always."

It was supposed to be an afternoon of sewing and pleasant conversation. It had become painfully apparent that Rei would need an extra set (or more) of hands to be able to complete the kimonos that were to be used in the wedding. With that day less than two weeks away, Setsuna, Michiru and Makoto had offered to help with the embroidering. They had been laughing together, sharing memories of the past and hopes for the future when Rei just suddenly stopped. Her eyes grew wide, seeing things no one else could.

The world around Rei was suddenly a mass of shifting, dark shadows. The only light was a faint glow from Usagi who lay moaning with pain in the arms of a sinister man. One of his hands was curled around her throat, his face a mask of dark delight. The silver light Usagi gave off shifted to gray then black as it flowed into him. He gave a cold smile and looked up at Rei. His eyes were mocking, filled with a terrible power - daring Rei to try to stop him as he continued to consume Usagi's life. The darkness around the man boiled up from the ground, beginning to swallow both he and Usagi.

"The circle closes. But this time I am its Master!"

The images were brief and chaotic. They overwhelmed Rei, taking control of her mind and leaving her with no answers, only a feeling of impending dread. As the vision passed, she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Rei, can you hear me?" came Michiru's voice, "Are you all right?"

The last of the pictures in her head faded and Rei saw that she was staring at the golden silk robe she held in her hands. Awareness of her surroundings came back to Rei slowly. She raised her head to see Setsuna looking at her with intense interest. It took Rei a moment to collect herself enough to answer.

"I…I'm not sure," Rei said slowly, carefully putting aside her wedding kimono with shaking hands.

Rei was pale and sweating. Her stomach turned flips, threatening to bring up her lunch. Makoto recognized the look and immediately grabbed for a nearby wastebasket. Michiru held Rei's long, midnight hair away from her face as the Senshi of Mars vomited violently. At long last the worst of the nausea passed. Tears were streaming down Rei's face and she felt a cool, damp cloth pressed into her hands. She gave Makoto a grateful smile as she took it.

"What just happened, Rei-chan?" Makoto asked, concern etched on her face.

"You had a vision," Setsuna said with quiet confidence, "And a powerful one from the look of you."

Makoto shook head, "I'm going to go get Ami-chan. You look awful."

"No, no," I'm fine, really. I…oh shimatta!" she was stopped as another round of nausea overtook her.

"Oh, yeah. You're just great," Makoto said. She caught Setsuna and Michiru's eye as she jogged for the door. "Will you two see if you can get her to lay down, please? I'm going to go get Ami."

The latest bout seemed to be the end of it, but Rei was still shaking. "Why do they call this kind of sight a 'gift' anyway? The images rarely are what they seem to be and keep popping into my head when I least expect or desire them."

"What are you Seeing?" Setsuna asked with a glance at Michiru. "Can you tell us? Perhaps we can help." Both Michiru and Setsuna had been known to have visions of their own. Neptune's was bound up in her talisman, the Aqua Mirror. Setsuna's unpredictable and rare foresight was a genetic gift from her mother's people, an alien race known as the S'Eyre.

Rei slumped in her chair, exhausted. "That's the problem – I don't understand what I'm seeing. There's a man and he's holding Usagi." Her eyes closed in concentration, trying to summon the images once more. "He's touching her, doing something to her and there are words he says. 'The circles close' or something like that."

"Who is this man?" Michiru asked gently.

"I don't recognize him, but he's somehow…" Rei struggled for the right word, "…familiar. As if I should know him."

"How long has this been going on?" Setsuna asked.

The light-headed feeling was back and Rei gritted her teeth, drawing hissing breaths to try to fight it off. "I've been getting bits and pieces of it for several weeks now."

"When you're feeling better I'd like for the three of us to discuss this at much greater length," Setsuna said. "Perhaps we could pool our resources and figure it all out." Rei had gone white again and for a moment Pluto was afraid the young woman would faint. "But for now, why don't you let Michiru and I help you to lie down until Ami comes?"

"I'll be okay, just give me a minute," Rei said in an unconvincing voice.

Michiru came to help Setsuna get a swaying Rei to her feet and support her. "Of course you're fine. But since Ami is coming here I'm sure she'll want to check you out and your bedroom is a good place to do that."

The iron fist under the refined velvet glove Michiru wore was quite evident to Rei as she found herself firmly steered towards her bedroom. "And if I say no?"

"Now why would you want to do that?" Michiru replied in a gentle tone that, never the less, brooked no argument. "You're a reasonable person and this is the reasonable thing to do."

"Is this how you get Haruka to do what you want? Shame her into it?" Rei asked in an amused way.

Michiru simply smiled at Mars. "And it works every time."

Tomorrow would be the biggest day of Goruden Kobushi's life. He knew that many of the members of the Council were, to say the least, skeptical about Chiba Mamoru being Endymion. In the week it had taken for them to gather in Tokyo from all parts of the world, opposition to Chiba had all ready arisen. They seemed to fall into one of two camps. The first one still refused to believe that Chiba was the true prince, seeing it all as part of an elaborate ruse by the Witch Queen of the Moon. The other faction accepted him as Endymion, but considered him either a traitor or too comprised to lead the Golden Kingdom. That group wanted Chiba dead. It was more of a mess than Kobushi could ever have imagined. How could people born and bred to find then serve the true prince be so readily caught up in petty politics?

With everything that was going on, the last thing Kobushi wanted to do was have his attention distracted by the woman he had to meet this morning. She was here doing research for a book. Why the Elders had given permission was beyond Goruden, but he supposed that keeping up public appearances was even more vital at this juncture. The name, Ms. Minerva N. Charles, made Goruden cringe. In his mind he saw an elderly British woman who would waste his time asking dry, pedantic questions.

He was jolted out of thoughts by the buzz of his phone. "Yes?"

His secretary was on the other end, "Goruden-san, Ms. Charles is here for your eleven-thirty appointment."

"I don't suppose you can get rid of her, can you Imiko?"

The woman on the other end of the line had been secretary first to Kobushi's father and now to him. She was a woman of many years (some joked that she'd been secretary to Endymion himself a thousand years ago!) and was known as "the dragon" around the offices. Proper and frighteningly efficient, no one crossed her and survived to tell the tale.

"No," she responded with a hint of ice in her tone. Listening to that one word made Kobushi feel like he'd just annoyed his second grade teacher. "I'll send her right in."

Goruden bit back the automatic reply of "yes ma'am" that threatened to leap from his lips. In his haste to hang up his phone before that happened, Kobushi knocked over the cup that held all his pens and pencils. They scattered to the floor, rolling everywhere under his desk. Quickly, Kobushi ducked down to gather them up. He heard the door open and groaned inwardly. This was not the way to make a good impression.


Kobushi, on his hands and knees, tried to swing around to get his head out from under the desk. He managed to bang it against the sturdy, wooden piece of furniture with a responding thud. When the stars cleared from his vision he found himself facing a pair of cream-colored high-heeled shoes. He vision slowly ran up the long, shapely legs of the woman in front of him. His jaw nearly dropped open at the sight. Ms. Minerva Charles was far from elderly. Her golden hair was tied back in a French braid that showed the elegant lines of her face to perfection. Eyes bluer than a summer sky held a hint of amusement as she looked down at the man on the floor.

"Do you need some help?" Mina asked innocently.

Goruden got to his feet, trying to recover what he could of his dignity. "No, thank you. Won't you have a seat Ms. Charles? I must say you're not quite what I expected."

Mina settled in the chair opposite the still flustered young man. She carefully crossed her legs, noticing that his eyes were staring at them. "Let me guess, you were expecting an older lady who looked like something out of a Dickens's novel?"

That made Kobushi laugh. "You sound like this has happened to you before."

Mina gently shrugged her shoulders. "It's the name, 'Minerva', I think. That's why I tell people to call me Mina. That doesn't sound quite so old."

"Have you had eaten Ms. Charles?" Goruden said before he could stop himself.

"No, not yet."

"Then perhaps we could have this meeting over lunch?"

Mina gave him her most charming smile. "That would be lovely. I have so many things I want to know about."

Rei looked much better by the time Ami arrived. The color had returned to her cheeks and the Shinto Priestess was working on her wedding kimono again. She'd stayed in her bed at the insistence of Michiru and Setsuna, though she chaffed at the restriction.

"I'm fine Ami," Rei said, slightly annoyed by all the fuss. "I just had a strong vision, that's all."

Ami continued to let the air out of the cuff on Rei's arm. "Your blood pressure is normal. That's good"

"See? I'm fine."

"Rei-chan, having a vision has never made you throw up and almost faint before has it?" Ami asked in a manner that implied she knew that answer.

"Well, no…"

"Then humor me, ne?" The doctor in training reached for a pad to jot some notes on. "Any dizziness before today?"

Rei grimaced, "A couple of times in the last week or so, usually if I stand up too fast. But it always goes away."

"Let me get a little standard information first," Ami said, as she wrote. "You're eating well and getting enough sleep?" Rei nodded so Ami continued, "I know you get plenty of exercise with all your chores. When was your last period?"

A heavy silence hung in the air as Rei searched her memory. She peered at the calendar on the wall. "About… oh…seven weeks ago, I think."

That caused Ami to look up from the pad of paper. "Seven weeks?" She put down her pen. "Rei-chan, you and Yuuichirou have been…together…haven't you?"

"We are getting married," Rei said curtly, but she blushed anyway. "Besides, we take precautions."

"Every time?" Ami asked doggedly.

The look on Rei's face said it all. Ami didn't sigh, though she was sorely tempted. Why was it that very intelligent people lost all sense when their hormones took over? She reached inside her medical bag and produced a small cup. "Why don't you just go and fill this for me?"

"Ami!" Rei protested, "It was only once! We forget to use protection only once!"

"Once is all it takes, Rei-chan. Now be a good girl and fill the cup, please. Or do you need some help with that?"

A hand snaked out and the snatch the cup from Ami. "I'm not pregnant," she hissed.

"Of course not," Ami replied in a tone that said she thought otherwise. "But let's just take the test so we can rule that option out. Please fill the cup."

Comfy?" Mamoru asked Usagi as he went for his sweatshirt.

Usagi was ensconced on the couch, a voluminous goose down quilt tucked around her comparatively tiny body. Beside her was a very large bowl of freshly made popcorn. The small coffee table held a mug of warm apple cider. "Are you kidding?" Usagi asked as she reached for the television remote. "I have no plans to move from this spot for hours. Are you sure you want to go for a run? It's cold out there and I'm so nice and warm," she purred at him. "You could stay here and watch TV with me."

"As tempting as that idea is, I better not." Mamoru finished putting on the heavy sweatshirt and went to give his wife a kiss on the forehead. "Unlike you, I'm not supposed to be putting on weight. I have to go for a run or I'll bust my cummerbund the next time Tuxedo Kamen appears." He bent over and gave a long, preparatory stretch.

"You look just great to me, Mamo-chan," Usagi said with a sly smile. She reached out and gave her husband a pat on the butt. "Very fine, as a matter of fact!"

I'll be sure to save a little energy for later," Mamoru replied with a smile before turning to jog out the door.

"You do that." Usagi called after him. She clicked the TV on and snuggled into the comforter. "A whole network devoted to anime," Usagi said with decadent glee, "We have got to get a satellite dish when we get home."

The late afternoon sun was pouring through the large picture window behind the couch. It made Usagi warm and delightfully languid. The bowl of popcorn was quickly devoured and the apple cider finished. Full, warm and extremely comfortable, Usagi stretched out to watch the dubbed version of the anime in front of her. That she didn't understand most of what was being said only added to the feeling of pleasant drowsiness.

Her sense of time passing faded in and out with awareness. One moment it was light, then suddenly dusk was approaching, the sun no longer pouring through the window. The musical sound of the foreign language and the flickering of the TV screen in the darkening room lulled her further towards sleep.

With barely a sigh, Usagi's eyes closed and she drifted into sleep.

Why did he have to be so nice, Mina wondered? The man across from her was everything she'd ever dreamed of. He was young, so very handsome and intelligent. His golden eyes smiled and sparkled as he spoke of the cause that was his passion and his mission in life. That mission, unfortunately, was the destruction of everything that Mina held dear. She wanted to hate Goruden Kobushi, so why couldn't she? She certainly hated everything he stood for.

"Why would you want to kill all those people on the moon?" she asked. "What have they ever done to you?"

Goruden Kobushi gave a sigh of regret. "I don't want to kill all those people, but we may have no choice. They're part of a system of government that wants nothing less than the domination of every man, woman and child on this planet. In many ways, those poor people are as much victims of the Moon's Queen as we are."

Mina pushed around the food on her plate. The restaurant Goruden had picked for lunch was French. The food was wonderful, but the conversation was absolutely killing Mina's appetite. "How can you say that the Moon Queen is evil? You don't even know who she really is."

"I know who she is. She's the same woman who was known as Sailor Moon."

"Wait a minute," Mina held up a hand in protest. "Wasn't she blown into little tiny pieces along with Tuxedo Kamen? I mean, the world saw that particular piece of video over and over for weeks."

Kobushi raised his eyebrows in mock horror. "And you believe everything you see on TV? I thought you British were more skeptical than that."

"And you seem much too intelligent to blindly make such broad accusations against someone you've never even met," Mina shot back a little more sharply than she'd intended.

Goruden smiled at the remark and sat back in his seat. "You're a very clever woman Ms. Minerva Charles," he laughed.

"Oh, please. If we're going to argue, then you have to call me Mina." She replied lightly.

"All right then, Mina. You know, your Japanese is excellent. I could almost swear that you were born in Tokyo instead of England."

Only 'almost'? One of the reasons I was able to talk Professor MacLeod into sending me to study your archives is that I speak fluent Japanese." She looked down at her soup and played with it before glancing back. "Well that and few other reasons…" she sighed in a manner calculated to sound just a bit wistful. Come on, Mina thought, take the bait and ask me. I know you want to ask me!

"You mean the intellectual thrill of research isn't reason enough?" Kobushi said before he could stop himself. There was something about this woman with golden hair and the sky blue eyes that made him want to know more.

Mina looked down at her soup again, (Partly to mask her own inner voice of triumph as he asked the question she'd been trying to maneuver him into for most of the lunch) pausing just enough to make her seem hesitant. "Do you promise not laugh at me?"

Goruden made an "X" over his chest. "Cross my heart and hope to die," he replied in English.

"Well," Mina gave a shy smile at the use of the western metaphor, "All my life I've had these dreams. I'm in a green land, where a fresh wind blows. The sun glows there with a light that's so beautiful that it makes the everything shine like gold." She looked up at Goruden to see a stunned look come over his face. Oh yes, she thought, so far, so good. Now to drop the real bombshell…

Mina closed her eyes as is she was seeing her "dream" in her mind. "It's so real to me, that I'm almost homesick for it. I even know the name of my dream kingdom – Elysion." When she opened her eyes, Goruden looked like she'd slapped him across the face with a wet fish. "I know, I know, it sounds really stupid! But part of me keeps looking for it in every 'lost society' I study."

"It sounds like a wonderful dream Mina," Kobushi said. He collected himself quickly so Mina wouldn't see his shock. "So, have you found your 'Elysion' yet?"

Mina found she was blushing as Goruden look at her so earnestly. "No, but who knows? Maybe someday I'll find it in one of the ancient mythological cultures I'm so fond of. Which reminds me, I still have about a million questions I want to ask you."

Goruden glanced at his watch. "I have to back to my office. There's a vital meeting of the board I have to prepare for. But since we ended up talking about everything but what you needed, perhaps I could talk you into joining me for dinner tomorrow night? I promise to answer all your questions then."

"I think I'd like that," Mina replied. To her surprise, she found out that she meant it. "I think I like that very much."

The brisk afternoon air was heavy with scents of autumn and the nearby sea. Mamoru took a deep breath as he started off at a moderate jog for the other side of the small island. His mind ran at a faster pace than his feet. This was one of the reasons he enjoyed running. It gave him a chance to think.

Although he was King of the Moon, Mamoru was still Prince of Earth and what he'd seen since they'd come back disturbed him. The hope had been that with the Senshi out of the public eye, the hysteria over "aliens" would have abated. The newspapers he'd seen showed just the opposite. Mamoru was just as glad that Usagi couldn't read English very well. Lorilei had been right about the existence of more of these so-called "camps". They were very quietly being set up in a number of countries. The Senshi's intervention in China had made headlines and some of the more restrictive regimes had learned an important lesson from it. A couple of countries had plainly said that any intrusion by the Moon Kingdom would be considered an act of war.

He'd managed to shield Usagi from most of this while they were on their "honeymoon", but Mamoru knew that as soon as they went back home, the situation would have to be dealt with. Usagi was still much too fragile physically for Mamoru's comfort. If she was forced into using the Ginzuishou to defend the Moon against one of these rogue nations he had little doubt that in her present condition it would kill her. The picture of Usagi, so cold in his arms while her life slipped away, burned brightly in his memory.

They'd been here about a week and, although Mamoru had hoped for more, there seemed to be at least some improvement in Usagi's health. There was a hint of color in her cheeks again and while her energy level wasn't improving very fast, it wasn't getting any worse. Usagi was still having nightmares, though, and that worried Mamoru. Just yesterday he'd awakened in the middle of the night to hear Usagi softly crying in her sleep, pleading with the monster that haunted her dreams to let her go. The pain and fear in her voice tore Mamoru up inside.

Usagi claimed she couldn't remember much about the dream when he woke her - just that it upset her. Mamoru didn't press Usagi, but suspected he knew just what the dream was about. He kept telling himself that all he could do was be supportive while Usagi worked through the trauma of being sexually assaulted by Kashu Hikaru. But there were times that Mamoru wished Kashu wasn't dead. The thought of being able to inflict a little pain on the man who had caused so much of it was very tempting.

Those kinds of thoughts, while very natural, were counter-productive, Mamoru knew. With discipline he pushed them aside and concentrated on other things. He could feel the heartbeat of the world under his feet as he ran, steady and solid. That awareness was what drove him out into the chilly afternoon more than the need to burn off a few calories. Since he and Usagi had returned to Earth, Mamoru had felt something awakening inside. The small rocky island they were staying on was all but deserted at this time of the year. It gave Mamoru the privacy to try an idea that he'd had.

He waited until he was on the other side of the island, well away from the mainland and facing the open sea. The plant life near the shoreline was sparse, but in a small piece of fertile ground nestled in among the rocks, Mamoru found it. It was a dell, sheltered from the worst of the cold oceans winds and able to bask in the sunlight for most of the day. A tangle of tightly intertwining vines still grew green. They were called, appropriately enough, beach roses and it was something of a wonder to find a plant not all ready frostbitten this far into autumn. Mamoru stopped beside the dell, trying to calm himself as he caught his breath.

He looked carefully around to make sure that he was alone. Taking several deep breaths, he knelt down and slowly placed one hand, palm down, on the earth. There was an odd buzzing sensation against the hand, but it wasn't unpleasant to the touch. Closing his eyes, Mamoru let his awareness sink into the ground. The world was alive around him and Mamoru felt the energy of it, warm and welcoming, flow into him. The Golden Crystal inside him reacted to the influx of its native energies and sang in harmony with the world around him.

There was a joy in the power, as if it had waited all these years just for him. Mamoru mentally "reached" for the tangle of vines near his body. They had almost lost their battle against the elements, energy receding into the root system and ready to sleep the winter away. Gathering the abundant energy of earth Mamoru let a small bit of it flow into the plant. His inner eyes saw the change at once. Golden light, like the sun, caressed the dying vines. They reacted to the power and began to grow wildly – a season's worth of growth occurring in seconds.

Mamoru slowly opened his eyes to see the plant growing towards him, as if he was the sun. The vine curled lovingly around his hand, creeping slowly up his arm. Mamoru used a single finger to gently stroke the plant. It flowered at his touch and the Prince of Earth gave a delighted grin of achievement.

"Thank you," he whispered and took one of the blooms. He withdrew the power slowly, so as not to shock the plant. It fell away from his arm and Mamoru sensed it decline into a sleep that would last until next spring.

Mamoru was surprised to find that the tiny miracle he'd wrought had left him sweating as if he'd run a marathon. If this was what he felt like after only a small use of the Golden Crystal, no wonder Usagi was so drained whenever she accessed the greater magics of the Ginzuishou. He remembered how, over the years, Usagi's stamina had grown as her powers matured. Would it be the same for him? Carefully putting the delicate flower in the pocket of his sweatshirt, Mamoru turned to head back for the cottage at a very slow jog. He couldn't wait to show Usagi what he'd been able to do.

For the longest moment all Rei could do was stare at it. She blinked hard several times to make sure of what she was seeing.

But no matter how long the young Priestess looked at it, the little stick was still blue.

"Congratulations," came Ami's happy voice from beside her. "You're pregnant."

Rei looked at Ami, her eyes wide with shock, "Pregnant? I can't be pregnant! How did this happen?"

"I don't think you really need me to explain that particular process to you, do you Rei-chan?" Ami patted her friend on the shoulder. She was pleased as punch with the results even if it was taking Rei a few minutes to accept it. "And don't worry, you're going to be a wonderful mother."

A knock on the door cut off Rei's less than kind reply. Makoto stuck her head in the room. "Yuuichirou is here, Rei. He's about ready to rip the walls down. Do you feel up to seeing him?"

How was she supposed to tell Yuuichirou that she was pregnant? Rei sighed, wondering just how much worse her day could get. Makoto turned her head, listening to someone in the next room. "Oh, and your Grandfather is here too."

Ask a stupid question, Rei thought. She breathed a soft prayer for strength. "Oh Kami-sama…"

It was starting to get dark by the time Mamoru made it back to the cottage. It struck him as strange that no lights were on inside. The closer he got to the darkened house, the more anxious he began to feel. The hairs on the back of his neck were standing up and Mamoru was sure that the cold wind off the ocean had little to do with it. He picked up his pace and broke into run, charging up the short set of stairs and into the cottage.

The TV was still on when Mamoru clicked on a small lamp that sat on a table by the front door. In the dim light it cast he could see that Usagi was stretched out on the couch. She seemed to be deeply asleep, wrapped up in the voluminous quilt with only the top of her head visible. Part of Mamoru said to let her sleep, she needed the rest. The other part screamed at him to wake her up. That's when he heard Usagi mumble in her sleep. While the words were little more than a garbled whimper, the emotion in them was all too easy to read. The anguish in her voice cut him to the bone.

He moved to the couch and knelt down beside his sleeping wife. Mamoru pulled back some of the quilt and went to gently rub her back in an effort to wake her. Usagi's name formed on Mamoru's lips, but as he touched her, he was rendered mute by the images that struck him like lightening. They burst into his mind in a rapid fire fashion that left him no time to think about what he was seeing.

Usagi lay like a broken doll in the arms of a strange and dark man. Exactly what that man was doing to her, Mamoru couldn't tell, but he could feel the pain it caused her. The eyes of the thing that held Usagi so tightly snapped open, mere points of light in a face made of writhing, shifting shadows. The creature looked directly at Mamoru as if sensing his presence - and gave a cold, mocking laugh of triumph. The darkness boiled up from the ground to swallow both Usagi and the man who held her.

The feeling of Usagi moving under his hand pulled Mamoru abruptly back to the here and now. Her breath came in short, ragged gasps and she was trembling. Mamoru shook his head, unsure of what had just happened. Had he seen a dream Usagi was having, or had it been a warning of some kind?

"Usako," he said gently rubbing his wife's back, "Wake up, sweetheart, you're having a nightmare."

She startled awake at his voice and touch, tears running down her face as she shouted, "Let me go!"

Usagi thrashed wildly for a second at someone or something only she could see. Mamoru grabbed her to keep her from falling to the floor. Usagi's eyes were still glazed with sleep and she blinked, surprised to find herself crying.


"It's all right Usako, you were having a bad dream." His voice was even and soothing despite the questions that began to run circles in his mind. "Can you remember any of it?"

"Someone was chasing me." Usagi wrapped her arms around herself in an effort to get warm again. Her mind still fuzzy with sleep and she blurted out, "I don't want to remember."

"It's okay." Her skin was icy to the touch, Mamoru noticed, and she was shivering in his arms. "Are you cold? Why don't I get a fire going."

"Okay," she replied snuggling close to her husband. "But first, would you just hold me for a few minutes?"

"Oh, I think you could talk me into that." He got onto the couch beside her and she moved onto his lap. Mamoru settled the quilt around them both. "Better?"

"Um hmm," she mumbled, not really awake yet. Usagi leaned her head against his chest, drawing both warmth and comfort from his presence. Mamoru looked down at her, intending to kiss the top of her head when he saw it. His eyes were drawn to the strange rash on Usagi's neck. He blinked and looked at it again to make sure of what he was seeing.

Maybe it was a trick of the flickering light from the television, but Mamoru could have sworn that, for a moment, the rash was…glowing.

Full Circle

A Sailor Moon Story
by Meara

Part 6 of 14

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