Continuing Tales

Redeem Me

A Sailor Moon Story
by goldnheart

Part 5 of 6

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Redeem Me

"Can't we just ask the Setsuna in this time? Do we really need to go to the gates of time?" Minako said, exasperated. "And I thought this time I'd finally get a full night's sleep."

"But you're a senshi." Rei said, laughing to herself, "Whatever gave you the idea you deserved sleep?" Minako nodded ruefully.

"I don't think it could be the Setsuna in this time. She is bound not to reveal any of the secrets she learned at the gate. And, she is less likely to have any artifact than Sailor Pluto. But we can't just go there." Ami interjected, "You can't just go to the gates of time. We have to have a key."

"Or I just have to ask Setsuna in this time to let you see go to the gate so you can see her senshi form, the guardian of the gate." Usagi said warmly, reaching for her phone. "Setsuna! HI! How are you? Yes, that's wonderful. And Haruka, Michiru, and Hotaru? Good! I have a favor to ask. So, I know you're probably already aware this was coming, but the inners need to go the gates of time to see your senshi self. Yes, it is very important to me that they go, so please, help them. Oh Setsuna, thank you. Yes, I will tell them. Thank you. Bye!" The girls all looked at her significantly.

"Well?" Mamoru provided for the anxious senshi.

"Oh. It is wonderful to be able to talk on the phone to a friend for once. Makes you feel a little less abnormal." She smiled up at him.

"That's nice, dear, but I think the girls want to know about seeing Pluto." Usagi blushed horribly and then started to laugh.

"Yes, yes, of course, I was just getting there. Just, well, she says she can meet with you at their house in a hour, if you'd like."

"Thank the gods!" Makoto said, raising her hands in praise.

"Yes!" Usagi said brightly, "Because it means I get to ask you about how this week had been going!" Mamoru kissed the top of her head and left the room. Usagi frowned, but let it go for now.

"It's been eventful for some of us." Makoto said, the only one without a scandal to their name this week, making waggly eyebrows at Usagi, who laughed and leaned forward eagerly.

"Ohhhhh, who?"

"All of the others!" She paused as Usagi squealed. "Yes, Rei had a little moment with Jadeite," She made kissy noises. More squeals. "and Ami stayed up all night with Zoicite last night, and MINAKO…"

"That's quite enough!" Minako said loudly, standing as Usagi rolled with laughter. "Can we talk about the important stuff right now, since we only have an hour?" The other two targeted senshi nodded, and Usagi and Makoto found themselves outnumbered.

"Okay, okay." Usagi said, catching her breath, "What is so important that you have to tell me right now?"

"We've been having personality slips all this week." Minako said slowly, struggling to find words for what had been happening.

"What exactly does that mean?" Usagi said, suddenly serious.

"We've been suddenly becoming ourselves from our past lives this week. We'll just be having a conversation and then bam, we're our old selves, and we start having these arguments with the past lives versions of one another." Usagi looked startled.

"This only started this week?" She asked anxiously. They nodded.

"It always happens when were discussing the Shitennou." Rei followed. "That is what triggered the first argument between Minako and I, or, well, Venus and Mars."

"What sorts of arguments?" Usagi asked.

"Hold overs from the Silver Millennium. Mostly about how we treated one another then, which was not kindly." Makoto replied. "It seems we were not a cohesive group. We were trained apart, and worked separately, and worst of all, we barely knew you then, barely interacted with the woman we gave our lives to."

"But I don't think these memories are a bad thing, Usagi." Minako said to the very concerned looking princess. "I think these are happening now because that last week brought out the worst in each of us, and we had suppressed those memories along with those of the Shitennou. As we remember them, we remember all those problems within ourselves that accelerated the end. I think it is to help us know what to watch out for in ourselves and in one another, so it never happens again." Usagi blinked.

"Is this what you all think?"

"I do." Rei said definitively, thinking of Jadeite, "I think that was knowledge we needed to be strong enough to face going back into a regimented palace life. That if we lose touch with why we love and serve you, or why we love one another, we can do terrible things. And that we will pay dearly for it." Her eyes were soft and sad. Usagi thought for a moment.

"If that true, this was important for you all. Maybe I was wrong, then, about what you needed for Crystal Tokyo to come about. Maybe it wasn't the Shitennou, maybe it was this knowledge, and the Shitennou were just the tool to get you all to see this." She smiled at them. "Or maybe it was both. I still expect you to go finish this!" They laughed a little.

"But, Usagi" Minako began, "This all has to be done by before the New Year. That's by midnight tomorrow! And all of us have to have completed our tasks. And one of mine was to get Mamoru's forgiveness for them, and his permission for them to serve him again. And I don't think I've accomplished that." Usagi looked over her shoulder, eyes wary, not quite able to hear his thoughts, but almost, as the air reverberating with his anquish.

"You don't worry about that. I'll talk to him; he knows the right choice." She smiled back at her girls, tone lightening with her expression, "No worries! You just focus on your task. I'm so proud of each of you, and I expect to hear all the juicy details that Minako wanted me to ignore!" She stood to walk them to the door.

They said good-bye and got hugs. Makoto, the last one out the door, held Usagi a moment longer and whispered in her ear, "Minako tried to jump Kunzite's bones!"

Usagi squealed, "Minako! Way to take charge! I wish I could do that more ofe...well, good luck!"

Usagi closed the door on Minako's angry voice, growing more distant, "You just HAD to tell her."

She laughed to herself, and went to find Mamoru.

The girls always approached the outer senshi's home with a bit of trepidation. Like the women themselves, the place was formidable with its high fence and European styling. It also did not help that they knew the women inside were still their own circle, one where the inners were welcome, but always watched, by the older, harder women.

And sometimes it made them all damn nervous to go in asking for any favors.

"You ring it." Rei said, pushing Minako forward in an uncharacteristic show of nerves.

"Why me!" Minako asked shrinking back.

"Because, as you love to say, you're leader. Now stop shaking and be one!" Rei said sternly. Minako shot her a look, but stepped up, and rang the doorbell, which played a haunting slow sequence of notes.

"God, does it have to be so intimidating, seriously." Makoto said, looking like someone had thrown cold water on her.

"Because we know how Haruka is going to act when she hears about this." The girls all muttered prayers to their various deities under their breath. It was on this scene that Hotaru opened the door, smiling sweetly.

"There you are! I was so excited when Setsuna-mama told me you were all coming over." She moved to let them all in, laughing slightly as the girls glanced around nervously as they entered. "Come on into the den. She's finishing up some papers in the office." They nodded, taking seats in the green and black den. They shuffled as Hotaru when to go get tea.

She put the tray down on the table.

"I don't have Mako's talent, but I made some cookies." She made them all tea without asking, and passed out the cups, giving the anxious girls something to fiddle with.

"Hotaru," Minako began slowly, "Are Michiru and Haruka in?"

"Oh no. They have a concert tonight, and left for the rehearsal at three."

"What time is it?" Makoto asked suddenly.

"Ten to four." Hotaru said, glancing at her watch.

"Ah." Rei said smiling. "No wonder Setsuna asked us to wait an hour before coming back over."

"Because I have a heart." Setsuna said, coming in, gesturing for them not to stand. "Hello, ladies. It has been a hard week for you, I didn't think it was fair to subject you to that."

"You're amazing, Setsuna." Minako said honestly. The older woman just smiled.

"Well, I won't keep you for too long. Usagi tells me you want to go to the gate to see my senshi self."

"Yes." Minako answered.

"Alright. And this has to do with the Shitennou, correct? Do you know what you want to happen, senshi?" Minako blinked, unable to answer.

"Excuse me?" Makoto volunteered.

"Do you know what you want to come of all this, of finding what you seek? Of what you want to happen?" Setsuna said patiently. The girls sat silently, finally, to all of their great surprise, Ami said,

"I want him back. I want to see him everyday. And I want to be a better senshi, and a better friend." Everyone looked at her, gaping slightly. She blushed under the attention but did not back down.

"I...I second Ami." Makoto said, the first one to get her breath back. Minako and Rei just nodded.

"Alright then. If you're very sure-" She paused, looking for confirmation, which she got in a chorus of yeses, "then I can send you to the time gate. If you are due further explanations, or owe further ones, she will have or request that information. Rise, senshi, and face your challenge." Her voice taking on that molten metal quality her senshi self used, at once rich and warm, and deadly.

They rose, and the Setsuna produced the Garnet Rod, opening a portal in their quiet, polished den. On reflex, the girls transformed.

"Go ladies. She will open a return portal wherever you wish. I suggest not here, as Haruka will be home. And good luck. May fate and fortune be on your side. I know what it means to be alone." She smiled at Hotaru, who smiled up at her, suddenly again much older than her physical age. The inners nodded sadly at the woman who had waited so long for this chance to live a real life. They bowed in gratitude and walked through the door.

The girls jumped when a moment later, when the same molten voice sounded in the fog.

"Who violates the sanctity of this realm? No mortals may go here."

"Pluto!" Minako called frantically, remembering how close Sailor Moon had come to physical harm for catching the senshi unaware.

"Venus?" The figure called stepping out of the fog, lowering her staff, but very slowly. "Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter. My, to what do I owe the honor?"

"You don't...know?" Makoto asked, surprised. Pluto smiled wryly.

"I have to check which you, as in from what time, is here and asking for what. I can't let you know anything before your time, so I have to make sure I know which visit brought you to me."

"Ah." Makoto said briefly, trying to not ask how many other times that would visit her still. And more importantly, why. "I came because we are looking for an artifact, and some advice, from someone who knows something about 'timeless' loves."

"I see." Pluto said, nodding. "Anything else?"

"And we want permission for the Shitennou to come back." She said boldly.

"Ah. This. Very well. Then I have some questions for you. Are you ready?"

"Yes." Minako answered for her team.

"The final decision is Endymion's, not yours, as to whether they are allowed to return, since he is their master. However, the ones who will bear the greatest effects of this decision are you. So you too must agree to their return, understanding all the implications." Rei looked anxious. "Yes, Mars?"

"Oh." Rei looked uncomfortable under the penetrating gaze, "I just, I was wondering how it is that we are the ones who would bear the greatest effects when it is Endymion's safety, his very life, that he gambles when he trusts these men." She replied, thinking anxiously of the expression on Mamoru's face when Usagi had told him, and of the subsequent discussion.

"A valid point." Pluto said, inclining her head in deference to the girl. "But you need to understand, for Endymion, the point it moot. He risks safety from the inside if he takes them back, and from the outside if he does not. The King needs their protection as much as the Queen needs you. It is you who have something real and tangible to gain or lose. That's why you have to be here. You are responsible for what they do, they who were brought back at your request. So, are you ready to accept the responsibility of this decision? Because it is on you, whatever happens."

"Are we ready?" Venus said, turning to the others, who instantly formed a small circle.

"We are. Whatever happens, I know you'll be there for me, and me for each of you. If anything goes wrong, we can fix it, because we're stronger. We know what our faults are, and we'll never let that make us weak again, because we've learned. We can handle this." Jupiter answered brightly, excitement written in her eyes. She could almost see doing something as simple as taking him to a movie, watching the envious eyes. And knowing that to him, no one would ever come close to her. For the girl who had been alone so long, and told she was less, that kind of love was all she'd ever wanted.

"So, we could, if we needed to. Do we want to?"

"God, yes." Jupiter said intensely.

"Of course." Mercury said, "I'd be a fool to have gone through all this and not want to." But honestly, she wanted someone who felt more than an admiration for her. To be more than an icon, and untouchable fragile creature. She wanted him.

They all turned to look at the very quiet Mars.

"Mars, do you have an answer?" Violet eyes looked up at Venus, like a scared child, innocently unable to hide their emotions. She felt the familiar tension between her mind and her heart. Something clicked. The score had been settled; one of the two had won.

"I would say no, except that he remembered the color of my eyes when he had forgotten his own name." She put her face in her hands "Yes." Jupiter put an arm around her, holding her gently.

"We are ready to present our decision." Venus asked. The group nodded, and she turned to face the guardian of time.

"And what have you decided?"

"We ask for them to be sent back. We have found the truth about them, we have forgiven them, we realized we still loved them, and always will, and we have found how to be strong enough to bear whatever challenges this decision bring to us, through this experience and through one another. We believe they deserve a second chance and that we are ready to support them in that effort. So we ask for them back." Pluto smiled.

"Then these, ladies, are yours."

She reached for her chain of keys, and removed something. She handed the smaller key ring to Minako. It had four rings on it.

"One for each of you. I will see back in the present. Goodbye ladies, and may you be happy in your choice. Where to?"

"I don't know, um, the shrine?" She looked back to Mars for confirmation, feeling incredibly ungraceful next to Pluto. Mars shrugged.

"Very well." She cut the portal back into their own time. "Farewell." And they exited into the deserted courtyard of the shrine.

"Whoa, what time is it?" Minako asked, looking around.

"Late enough for us not to be in the middle of a crowd, for which I count myself lucky." Rei said, detransforming. The others followed suit. "Hey Makoto?"


"It's been a long day...but I'm starving. And I bet we all are. Will you help me cook enough for all of us?"

"Rei." The taller girl smiled, rolling up her sleeves, "I thought you'd never ask."

"Mamoru?" A gentle, sweet voice filled the dark room.

"Yes, Usagi." The man called back.

"You are still awake. I was afraid of that. Are you still mad at me?"

"Usako, for the millionth time, no, I'm not mad." His voice warm, kissing her on the forehead as she snuggled closer.

"Then have you not decided what to do about the Shitennou yet?" Mamoru sighed.

"Maybe it makes me a bad person, Usako, but I am slow to trust and slow to forgive. And for so long I believe they, who had been closest to me, who had been raised with me, who I had loved, that they had betrayed me. It is hard to just shed that and accept what the senshi have shown me." Usagi stroked his forearm where it encircled her waist, offering comfort.

"I know very well how difficult you can be when you think you know how a person is." She said, voice playful, "How long did we hate each other over that?"

"Oh and you were any better!" He said laughing.

"That's true, but usually I give more people a chance more often than you do, Mamoru." Usagi said seriously.

"I know you do, and I love you for it, for showing me how to believe in people and inspire them to live up to what you see in them." He whispered against her hair.

"Then follow my lead here, Mamoru. If Galaxia can become a friend again, and our daughter be returned to herself, and you the same, then trust that your dearest friends can be brought back to you."

"But I couldn't take it happening again, Usako, I just couldn't." His voice, always so cool, was laced with real pain.

"I know, you've been alone so long, and have hurt so much." She held him tighter. "But you have to still give people the chance. You can't stop believing in love and forgiveness just because you were hurt. I wouldn't be with you if you hadn't taken the chance and let me in." This time, Mamoru held her more tightly; the idea of a life without her was his idea of a life not worth living. He thought for some time.

"You're right. Yes, I'll bring them back. You're behind me in this too? You support this decision?" She laughed.

"Obviously yes." He smiled, even though she couldn't see it.

"Alright, I'll tell Pluto in the morning."

"Sounds like an excellent idea." Usagi whispered, feeling sleepy now that her big duty for the night was done.

"Usako, you're everything to me, do you know that?" He asked the tiny woman in the crook of his arm.

"Good." She said drowsily, "You're the one thing I'm going to be selfish about."

Rei couldn't help herself. The moment the others were gone, she had reached under her desk to retrieve the stone from her box of keepsakes, not that she would let anyone know she was sentimental. Moving aside the program from one of her early concerts, and a photo of her mother, which had gotten shifted in a hasty shove under the desk as Ami came in the day before last, she finally picked up the bag. She grasped the stone, calling him softly.

"Look who came back. I was wondering if you'd ever call me again." She locked eyes with the golden figure leaning lazily on her dresser.

"I always seem to, don't I? Even when I wonder if I should." She dropped her eyes and sighed, running a hand through her hair. It threw Jadeite slightly off balance; he had expected a harsher come back.

"Rei?" He called softly.

"A lot has happened since I saw you last." She began with a deep, silent breath. "We found the wall, and talked to Mamoru and Usagi, and to Pluto." He looked at her steadily, knowing this could go one of two ways: yelling or crying.

"You have been busy, then. I should not have mocked that." He thought he saw a glimmer of a victorious smile, but it was too brief to be sure.

"I don't know what's going to happen now, since the decision is ultimately your prince's. But understand this," She paused briefly, turning from him, so he could just make out her profile as she stared off into the distance. "I took a great gamble on what you meant. So I deserve to know this much, did you mean it?" She asked in a fierce whisper.

"Did I mean what, Rei?" He hoped that he sounded less bewildered than he felt. She tipped her head down.

"When you said you could remember my eyes when you had forgotten your own name?" Her voice was like smoke in the air, easily missed unless you were paying close attention.

"Rei..." He gently took her head in his hands, turning her toward him, agonized to see the lines of tears down her perfect face. He didn't know if he'd ever found a perfect metaphor for her, perhaps because, like the fire, she was unpredictable. But in a moment like this, he was reminded of his favorite. She was like clay in the kiln. The end result, once it had borne the heat, was impossibly harder and stronger than what had gone in. So she could become, from any event, so much more than just a warrior, or a woman. She could become a goddess. But in that process of becoming so hard, she was often infinitesimally fragile, more so than almost anyone noticed. Like now, she could just shatter instead of drawing herself up and fighting.

"Please...did you mean it?"

"My love, I meant it." She shuddered slightly, "I know you. Like the fire you worship; you can be kind or cruel. Either way, I will always need you. My heart is loyal to you no matter which form you take. And as every part of my identity was stripped from me, it hardly surprises me that that love was the last thing that remained. I love you, always have, and always will."

He went to hold her slowly, slowly. Watch how the flame reacts. He smiled as she pulled him to her, burying herself in his chest, needing to hold onto something solid as the world become too much. Finally, when the world stopped spinning, she looked up at him with eyes so bright and loving that he could not breath.

And the look on her face, Jadeite shook his head slightly, stroking back her hair. Maybe he had gotten it wrong, all the fire metaphors. In this moment, with her soul bared, she was simply like the lilies she loved so much, intense and beautiful and fragile.

He kissed her very gently. She even smelled like lilies.

"Stay with me." She said simply, leading him over to her futon, and pulling him in after her. "If Ami can do this, no one has any right to mock me." He laughed, cradling her form gently.

"Way to go Zoi."

"Hm?" She muttered.

"Nothing." He expected to get called on it but she was silent. Instead, she simply said,

"I want you know, if tomorrow is goodbye, I'll still be here waiting for you, in another hundred years."

"Rei..." He breathed, struggling to find words.

"Shh. Just stay with me, while you can."

Makoto threw down her bag, kicking off her shoes, and barely pushed her feet into slipper before sprinting across the room and to her living room table, where the bag sat.

"Nephrite." She called, holding the red stone. He materialized in front of her, smiling at her adoringly. She rushed into speech, needing to say so many things. "Nephrite...We found the artifacts, the sword and the wall and the rings, and I understand everything now. I'm so sorry for all that you had to go through, and why. If I had understood before, I would never have been so distant. I'm sorry. I love you, I really do." She said glowing. Nephrite had never known words to make him so happy.

"Baby, come here." He said holding out his arms to her, laughing as she bounded to him, arms and legs tangling about his body, holding him tightly. He pulled her down on the couch with him, pulling her back slightly so he could look at her face. He gently caressed her cheek, continuing the motion down her neck, playing with loose tendrils of hair at the nape of her neck, laughing as she shrugged her shoulders up in shy surprise at the shock waves the simple actions sent through her.

"God, to be able to just sit and do this with you again," He smiled, "It's all I could have hoped for, in my worst moments." She bent her head to his neck, nuzzling there.

"I just want it to last this time. I only feel like I'm home when you're there." He ran a hand up and down her back.

"I know the feeling. Did you ladies talk to the prince and princess?" He felt her nod.

"Just today, or well, what time is it now?" He looked for the clock for her.

"A quarter after two."

"Yesterday, then. I'm not sure what Mamoru is going to do, he went off to be alone while we talked to Usagi."

"Ah, yeah, you can never tell when he wants to be alone. It can go one of two ways. But no matter what, he will have made a decision by the time he returns."

"I doubt he had much of a chance for alone time living with Usagi."

"He and the princess...are married?" He asked, trying to be delicate. She laughed at him, stroking his hair.

"Yes, Mr. Chivalry, they're married." A shadow crossed his face.

"He didn't tell us. I always thought I'd be there." She blanched, realizing in horror that she a laughed at this.

"I'm sorry, baby. I didn't realize. I would not have laughed at that. Gods, if we hadn't been so careless, hadn't sent the sword..."

"Now then," He kissed the worried expression off her face, pulling her back to him. "It would have been some other poor soul in my place. Evil will always find a carrier. Besides, none of us were fully prepared for the roles that were thrust upon us. You four were raised as princesses, with your every whim catered to. You were all raised for a time of eternal peace, and by the time we realized that was not the time in which we lived, it was too late. And it's not like Shitennou were not raised to love someone. We were not prepared to watch someone, be responsible for them, other than the prince. Maybe if we had, we would have been watching you all more carefully for signs of the darkness affecting your judgment instead of just burying ourselves in our work and writing it off as an angry lover."

"Maybe that's why the girls and I are all so normal in this life, not born to wealth or a throne."

"Very possibly."

"I just hope Mamoru can see all those problems don't exist in this life."

"Oh, he'll know. Strategy was never one of his weaknesses." He sighed, "Forgiveness of weakness was."

"You don't think..." She pulled back to look at him.

"I don't know, angel. I just don't know. But it'll be morning soon darling, you need to get some sleep."

"How can I sleep when this may be the last day I get to see you for a century?" He thought for a moment. He frowned before nervously suggesting,

"I could stay with you tonight, just to sleep!" Makoto gave him a sly, seductive little smile.

"I am capable of that." She kissed his neck, laughing as he jerked away, "But may I ask why this panic? You never seemed to need any convincing before."

"I just can't, Makoto, not in this form. Please, don't tempt me."

"So, I shouldn't breathe all night, right?" He looked at her angrily, and then laughed at her playful smile.


"Come on, already." She took his hand and led him to her bedroom. He frowned. "What?"

"Everything smells like you. This is so not good." She made a horrified face, ready to beat the hell out of him, before she realized what his tortured expression meant. She blushed instead.

"Stop that. Come on. Just lay down." He complied warily, as she opened a drawer, and grabbed something, dipping into another room, closing the door. He waited patiently for the door to open again. He was unprepared for her standing there in a gown that covered less than her sailor uniform, complete with bared shoulder.

"Are you trying to kill me?" He asked, averting his eyes.

"Oh come on, it's just a nightgown. I put on the one that covered the most. It goes halfway to my knees and there is no cleavage." No response. She turned off the light, moonlight still filling the room. She got into bed next to him, still finding it strange to have someone else in bed with her. She moved closer to him.

"Can't you at least hold me? Is it that bad?" She asked, feeling strangely insecure even though he professed that he was avoiding her because she was so attractive to him.

"Yes!" He hissed. But he felt the figure next to him still, and braced himself, pulling her into his arms. "But I'll deal with it."

The blue morning light as well as the cold woke Minako. She reached out next to her, her eyes sharpening the vague shapes. He was gone. She sat up quickly, pushing off the blankets. She glanced into the bathroom.

Nothing. And into the kitchen, living room, still there was nothing. Her blood started to run cold. In a last ditch effort, she checked the balcony. It was only then that she admitted the truth. He was gone.

Refusing to panic until all of her options were exhausted, she ran back to her room, and picked up her black bag off of her dresser top. Then, she panicked, hot tears pricking her eyes. It was gone.

Pushing the fear back, she went into senshi mode, and looked for her communicator. She went to her nightstand. There she found it, the script neat and wide:

'You are not done yet.'

Redeem Me

A Sailor Moon Story
by goldnheart

Part 5 of 6

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