She should've been happy. The battle was over. Their planet was not only safe from the darkness, but all of the light and joy had been restored as the power of the Golden Crystal saturated it… But what had it cost?
Luckily the Golden Crystal hadn't shattered, but Kiyoko lay unconscious in her arms. Everyone was gathered around them. But Seiya couldn't look at any of them, not even Usagi. All she could do was stare down at Kiyoko's face and hold her hand, tears streaming down her face. Had she failed? Had Kiyoko fallen in the end?
Sailor Moon knelt down beside her. She touched Seiya's shoulder, "You didn't fail Seiya. You caught her." Seiya glanced sideways at Sailor Moon. She was the same, but different. Her beauty still as eternal as her transformation. But her hair was no longer the golden blond that matched the light of the Golden Crystal, but had gone silver over the millennia. Her blue eyes still pierced Seiya, but they no longer held the sway they once had.
She sighed, "If I didn't fail, why won't Kiyo-chan wake up?" This was so like when she'd untethered the Golden Crystal from the Earth, but it scared Seiya to her core.
It was Michiru who responded, her voice gentle, "She'll wake up. Have faith." But she and Haruka both looked so worried. The only one who didn't look worried was Usagi. But was she just being optimistic as she'd been in the old days? Usagi smiled at Seiya, "Michiru is right. Have faith. You stood by her when she needed you the most. You are worthy." Just then Kiyoko started to stir.
Kiyoko slowly felt herself return to the world, a world filled with light. She'd really done it. It was hard to believe. She didn't have the strength to move, to speak, but she could hear. The first voice she heard was Michiru's. She was reassuring Seiya. Kiyoko was glad. But when she heard her mother's words she was overcome with joy. Just the voice of her mother in the waking world was amazing. However, when she said that Seiya was worthy Kiyoko's heart burst with delight. The brightest light in the universe had called her beloved worthy. This gave her strength.
She tried to sit up, but it only accomplished a shrug. Though this was enough to get everyone's attention. As she forced her eyes open she looked around her to see tears streaming down Seiya's face. Everyone else was crying, except her mother, she was just smiling one of her gentle smiles. Even the great Haruka was crying. All of their tears were of happiness. She smiled up at them.
"Thank you," was all she could say. Seiya helped her into a sitting position, cradling Kiyoko in her arms. Kiyoko reached out and touched a tear on her cheek, "Have faith. I will always wake up." Then she reached out to her mother and they held hands. It made her so happy that her mother had come back to her, "Mother."
Her mother put a finger to Kiyoko's lips, "Save your strength Kiyo-chan." Kiyoko nodded and they all helped her make her way into the restored castle. Seiya led them to her chambers and laid her down on her soft feathery bed, "Sleep my love. You've earned it." Swiftly Kiyoko drifted off, dreaming a dream of pure joy.
When she woke she was alone in the room, feeling her magic returning to her she felt out the others. They weren't far, but there seemed to be a disagreement brewing. For once Seiya seemed to be silent. This argument was between her mother and Haruka. Everyone else simply listened, unable to bring themselves to get in the middle.
Haruka's voice was the first she could make out, "Your highness, Usagi, what you're saying is madness!" Her tone was angry. Kiyoko spared a thought to wish Haruka weren't always angry as she'd been this whole journey. Her mother's voice was calm, "Haruka. I understand how you feel. Don't misunderstand me. But this is the right path for her. The only path we all follow, the path of love." She nodded in Michiru's direction.
What was her mother talking about? Something about love, which made her think of Seiya, wondering why she was so quiet when it was obvious Kiyoko was the subject at hand. A moment later her lover finally spoke, "It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. The decision is hers. And she is awake."
Kiyoko heard them all approaching and she sat up. The door opened and her mother was the first to enter, followed closely by the others. Seiya looked overjoyed to see her. Haruka's face was hard with pain and Michiru's filled with sadness. Taiki and Yaten seemed concerned and curious.
Haruka's face bothered Kiyoko. What had her so upset? But as Seiya and her mother sat down on each side of her she couldn't concentrate on anything else. Her mother was the first to speak, "Oh Kiyo-chan, I'm so proud of you. Estara is safe because of you." Safe yes, but so battered by Hina that it wrenched at Kiyoko's heart. Seiya smiled down at her, holding tightly to her hand, "No my love. The Golden Crystal restored everything. It's amazing. And I was certain it'd killed you."
Kiyoko reached up with her free hand, caressing her beloved's face, "I am so glad it didn't. My life is just beginning." Seiya leaned into that hand and reached down to kiss her. There was something unusual in this kiss, like Seiya feared it may be their last. It brought back the conversation she'd had with Yaten in the forest.
"What will her happiness mean to you when this is all over?"
She now understood the looks on the others faces. The argument outside made sense too. Kiyoko had a choice to make. A choice between Earth and Estara, between the life she'd known and the one she could have with Seiya. A lump formed in her throat as she took in each one of them. It got thicker when she looked at Haruka. Would she take another princess from her?
Kiyoko needed to speak with her mother and so she asked everyone to leave them. Once the door closed she turned to her mother and pulled her down onto the bed beside her, needing her close. Tears threatened her eyes, "What do I do mom?"
Sailor Moon's eyes seemed brimming with tears as well. She smiled through them, "You do what is right for you. Remember what I told you. You can't fight love." Kiyoko hugged her mother tightly and cried.
After she'd cried for a long time, she looked up, "Chibi-Usa and the others may not forgive me." Her mother smoothed her hair over, "They will forgive you, and they're not losing you like they lost me. You can visit. Although it may time more time for Haruka. She's been such a good father to you since Endymion passed." Kiyoko nodded, knowing Haruka would be as hurt as her sister, possibly more.
They laid like that a bit longer, just talking about everything. Kiyoko needed this time with her mother in order to face her future. Eventually the two of them decided it was time to go and face the others.
They found them outside, watching the sun shine on the restored world. Her mother clasped Kiyoko's hand firmly as she saw her eyes land on Haruka's back. Feeling her presence, Seiya turned to face Kiyoko. It only took a split second for her to understand, she understood Kiyoko so well. Seiya strode over to greet the royalty of the Silver Millennium, drawing the others' attention.
But none of them mattered to Seiya in that moment. She scooped Kiyoko into her arms and kissed her so deeply that it made Kiyoko's breath catch when she broke away, still holding her. Kiyoko looked around at the others who'd accompanied her on this journey, so much more than a mission. This journey had shown her who she was and her destiny.
In Taiki and Yaten she saw a happiness that nearly mirrored Seiya's. In Michiru she saw acceptance and sadness, her reasonable and loving mamma. When Kiyoko's eyes rested on Haruka's face she felt horrible. It was a mixture of pain, depression, and pride. It seemed everyone knew the decision she'd made.
She looked back to her lover and her mother, "I'll be back." With that she broke from them and walked over to Haruka. Taking her by the hand she whispered, "Let's take a walk Papa, just the two of us." Haruka nodded and they left, not speaking for a long time.
At last, Kiyoko broke the silence, "I'm sorry Haruka. I know you're angry." Haruka stopped, her voice low, "You promised we wouldn't lose you." Kiyoko sighed, "You won't. I'm not gone. I am following my path. And it's not just about Seiya. This world needs protection. Should I leave them vulnerable?" This seemed to draw Haruka up short. Instead of speaking she wrapped her arms around Kiyoko. After a few minutes she responded, "When did my Kiyo-chan go and grow up into a proud princess of the Silver Millennium?"
"Well, my family raised me right... Thank you for everything. I love you Haruka," Kiyoko said looking up at the face that had gone from anger to acceptance. She kissed Kiyoko's cheek, "I love you too Kiyoko. Please come and visit us. And if she ever hurts you, she will answer to me!" This made Kiyoko smile, "The brave Haruka, defender of my honor."
Soon they walked back and joined the others. Michiru simply hugged her, "Please promise you'll come back to us from time to time." Kiyoko promised. Then she turned to her mother, "I love you mom. Don't disappear again. The universe needs Sailor Moon. Chibi-Usa and I need you too." Her mother hugged her reassuringly.
With that Sailor Moon took Haruka and Michiru's hands and disappeared into space in a flash of light. Again Kiyoko had the thought that her mother would always be the brightest light in the universe.
Then she turned her eyes and her thoughts back to the world she would now protect, looking at the three Starlights, "Time to face the future, whatever it holds." They all nodded and Seiya took Kiyoko in her arms, "We'll face it together." She kissed her cheek and Kiyoko smiled, "That we will…."