A Neo-Sailor Moon fanfic

Chapter 10: "Germination"

By Bill K.

Gallan, the tree spirit who dared to love a human, had just shocked everyone who could hear him, from Sailor Moon and her senshi to King Endymion and Queen Serenity watching with Rei and Luna from above. His love, Cere-Cere, lay before him, her spirit cleaved from her body and merged to a tree. Though the body lived and the spirit slept comatose, reuniting them would take a great deal of spirit energy and cost the being supplying it his or her life. Gallan, pronouncing his own death sentence, volunteered.

"Gallan," Sailor Moon quickly said, to the pride of her parents, "isn't there another way? Can't each of us combine our energies and revive her without risking any of us?"

The tree spirit bowed his head. "I wish it could be true. Life is a delicate thing. Nature demands balance. If Mother Earth is to give back one from the circle, she will want one in exchange."

"But . . .!" Sailor Moon began.

"Your noble effort in trying to spare me speaks highly of you," Gallan smiled. "I begin to see why my Cere-Cere is so respectful of you - - was so respectful." He sighed and it was a heavy, defeated sound.

"Why can't it be Ailwoode?" They all looked to Juno, surprised by her question and by the remorseless tone of her voice. Even Vesta was startled. "He did this to her," she continued, not backing down. "Why make an innocent make a sacrifice like this? Why not make him pay to bring her back?"

"I will not commit murder," Gallan said firmly, but without malice, "not even to bring my Cere-Cere back to me."

"But you're willing to commit suicide?" Juno persisted.

He turned to her and smiled. "It's my life to give. I could never presume to expend another life, but mine is my own to do with as I choose." A lump formed in his throat. "And a life without the light of my Cere-Cere is a dark and hollow place. I would not be sacrificing much."

"But what kind of life would you be bringing her back to," Sailor Moon posed, touching his shoulder, "if you weren't in it? Would she be any happier than you are now?"

"You are quite wise for someone so young," Gallan smiled. Though his boyish looks made everyone think Gallan was their age, now they all wondered just how old the tree spirit was. "But you must learn when the fight is lost. I must do this, for there is no other way. I must do this, for the love I feel for her demands it. But what you said has touched me."

Gallan pressed his hands together. The senshi could see light beginning to peek between the cracks of his fingers. As he spread his hands apart, a brilliant light burst forth, then dissipated quickly. In the palm of the hand he held out to Sailor Moon, he held a seed.

"Give this to my Cere-Cere when she awakens," Gallan requested. "Have her plant it and nurture it, so part of me may live on and once more know her love and kindness. Do this for me, Sailor Moon."

"All right," Sailor Moon said helplessly. She took the seed from Gallan and cradled it in her hands. Saturn held her by the arms when she noticed the young princess was on the verge of tears.

Suddenly Palla-Palla ran up and grasped Gallan by his forearm. The spirit turned and looked down at her.

"Please Mr. Gallan-sir," the girl pleaded, "Palla-Palla doesn't want you to go away! If you go, Cere-Cere's going to be very sad! And-and Palla-Palla wanted to be your friend, too! Let Palla-Palla be the one to do it!"

Gallan knelt down to her, smiling warmly. Vesta swooped in and snatched her back, but Gallan kept his position.

"Cere-Cere is blessed to have one such as you," he whispered. "How could I deprive someone I love so of someone who loves her as much as I? You may consider us friends, Palla-Palla. And I am grateful that you love your sister enough to offer such a valuable gift." Gallan stood and shifted his gaze to the wary Vesta. "Guard her well. She is a precious jewel." Vesta, struggling not to cry, nodded.

Gallan turned, knelt down and scooped Cere-Cere's body up in his arms. He turned to the senshi with a kind look on his face.

"Fare well," he smiled, "and please console my love should she grieve for me."

Before he could go, Gallan felt a soft hand touch his arm. He turned and found Palla-Palla, her wide, tear-stained eyes looking up at him.

"Thank you," she said meekly. Gallan's eyes misted over, but his mouth curled into a grateful smile.

"And thank you," he replied. "I will always remember that it was you who was also willing to offer her life for my beloved - - for as long as I have memory."

The spirit turned and walked to the tree that held Cere-Cere's spirit. When they got near enough, the two entities became immaterial and passed into the trunk of the tree.

A pregnant silence was punctuated by a loud sniffle.

"Usa," Saturn appealed.

"I should have been able to do something," she whimpered, staring at the seed in her hands. "I-I'm Sailor Moon. I should have been able to do something!"

"You can only do so much, Usa," Saturn told her.

"Mama could have done something," Sailor Moon cried.

"Maybe not," Vesta offered, showing a gentle side that she usually kept hidden. Sailor Moon looked at her and Vesta directed her gaze up to the palace balcony overhead. There Queen Serenity was crying and being consoled by King Endymion and Rei.

"Learning that some things must be left to higher powers is a bitter lesson, My Lady," Diana offered. "Her Majesty refuses to accept it to this day. But it's a truth that must be accepted. It doesn't mean you can't try. You simply mustn't blame yourself if you fail."

"None of us wanted to see Gallan do what he did," Juno said. "I want Cere-Cere back, but I don't want it to be at the expense of Gallan. But if life's taught me anything, it's that we don't always get our way in life and sometimes we have to accept rotten choices. You did all you could, Princess. If it wasn't for you and Saturn, there wouldn't have been a physical body for Gallan to put her spirit in. Thank you."

While Sailor Moon nodded - - and sniffled - - Vesta noticed Palla-Palla staring at the tree that held Gallan and Cere-Cere. Curious, she went over to her sister.

"What's up?" Vesta asked. "You hear something?"

"Palla-Palla heard something in her head," Palla-Palla responded distantly.

"Was it Gallan? Cere-Cere?"

"No, it was somebody else. But she didn't hear all of it and didn't understand what she did hear. The words weren't Japanese."

"You think it might be something bad?"

"Palla-Palla isn't sure."

Vesta stared at the tree. It seemed like a normal tree and after a time she started to look away. But as she did, it seemed no longer normal.

"Hey," Vesta said, mesmerized as the tree began to shimmer with a building light. "Is that supposed to happen?"

The others turned and saw the light from the tree building in intensity. Vesta reached out for Palla-Palla and pulled the girl protectively behind her. Juno, Saturn, Diana and Sailor Moon all watched the light build until the intensity was so bright that they had to look away or be blinded. When they noticed the glare on the ground die away, the senshi dared to look back up. Each one felt her eyes bulge in amazement.

"Got a date with your young man tonight?" Michiru asked. She and Hotaru were walking down the corridor to Ami's office. Actually she was limping and Hotaru was there in case she fell. Her legs were improving - - not enough for the driven, perfectionist Michiru Kaioh, but they were improving. And it gave her more time to spend with Hotaru.

"Not tonight," Hotaru said. She was headed to Ami's office to help out. To prevent Hotaru from overdoing it at the office, Ami had set up a shift of hours for the girl and demanded she adhere to it. Hotaru only agreed when Ami agreed to do the same. "We've got a date for Thursday - - if that's all right. Usa and I were planning on going out on the promenade tonight."

"In this weather?"

"It's climate controlled," Hotaru countered. "Besides, it's only October."

"Oh. And here I thought you two bought out all the shops last week," needled Michiru.

"They restocked," smirked Hotaru.

"She's buying?" Michiru asked.

"Like I could stop her."

"It's good to see you two back together again."

"Well, I learned that you have to maintain a friendship," Hotaru shrugged, "especially the important ones. You just can't take them for granted or they may shrivel up and go away."

"I doubt the connection you two have would have ever shriveled up," Michiru replied, grimacing from a jab in her knee. "But it is nice not to ignore good friends." She grew sober. "You don't realize how valuable some of them are until they're gone."

"Yeah," sighed Hotaru. "I think maybe that's a little like what Cere-Cere's going through."

The pair arrived at Ami's office. Upon entering, they both gasped in alarm.

"Haruka!" Michiru cried, hobbling over to the exam table Haruka was lying on. Hotaru's gaze locked on the medical telemetry information above her. "What happened?"

"Pulled a hamstring training for the hundred meter dash," the blonde grimaced. "It's no big deal."

"Unless you ignore my advice and start training again too soon," clucked Ami.

"I've pulled hammy's before. I know the drill." Then Haruka pointed directly at Michiru. "And I don't want to hear ONE WORD about my 'advancing age'!"

"I was thinking more along the lines of several dozen," Michiru replied cooly, her eyebrow cocked with menace. Hotaru covered her mouth to conceal her giggles.

Waving to Makoto as she departed the rink, Ves-Ves wiped her neck with a towel and headed for the locker room. It had been a grueling workout, but she wouldn't have it any other way. It had only been six weeks and already she was showing signs of approaching the ability Makoto possessed. And as fast as her skill level was growing, her love for this was growing twice as fast. Ves-Ves had always assumed that ice-skating was some little sissy girly sport. Who knew it took such physical stamina and mental precision in unison. It was just like karate. Some of the moves were even similar.

If only Sensei Makoto-sama didn't insist she wear this frilly, girly little costume when they skated. That's why she hadn't told her sisters about her skating lessons. If they came down to the rink and saw the way she was dressed, they'd laugh.

Then she'd have to kill them.

Donning jeans, a flannel shirt and a lined jacket, Ves-Ves left the locker room and headed outside into the cold October afternoon.

Cere-Cere knelt down before Gallan's tree. Her melancholy was tangible. She reached out with her hand and touched the bark along the root. The cold October wind blew against her, ripping the warmth from her body as it rustled through the bare limbs of the tree. There were no tears. She was finally cried out.

"Aren't you cold?" Ves-Ves asked, approaching her from behind. The girl held a lined jacket in her hand for her sister.

"I miss him so," Cere-Cere whispered and Ves-Ves could hear the longing in the girl's voice. "I don't know what I'm going to do."

Ves-Ves draped the jacket over her sister's shoulders.

"The only thing you can do," Ves-Ves offered. "Keep going."

"It's so hard," Cere-Cere said.

"Did you plant that seed yet?"

"No," Cere-Cere whispered. "I want to wait until spring - - give him a chance to grow and establish himself. It's almost like that seed is our son. I want to do right by him."

"Whatever," Ves-Ves mumbled.

Ves-Ves glanced over her shoulder to see if anyone else was around. This was an important, private moment for Cere-Cere and she didn't want anyone intruding. When she glanced back, she found her sister lingering.

"Come on," Ves-Ves said, nudging Cere-Cere's shoulder. "It's cold out here. You'll get sick."

"How can I bear to go on without him?" Cere-Cere asked. "He was such a big part of my life."

"Oh, for . . ." scowled Ves-Ves. "April's only six months away! Besides, you knew that tree spirits hibernate in the winter!"

"That doesn't mean I have to like it!" Cere-Cere snapped petulantly. Reluctantly she got up and the pair walked to the palace.

"It's better than what could have happened," Ves-Ves commented.

"Yeah," Cere-Cere nodded. "To think I could have lost him forever. It's touching that he loves me so much that he was willing to sacrifice himself for me - - but I'm not sure I could have gone on living if he'd actually died. And that would have meant he'd have sacrificed everything in vain."

"Yeah. Still can't believe Ailwoode jumped in at the last minute and sacrificed himself. He seemed like such a creep."

"Well, I have some leftover memories from Ailwoode's last moments, when we were all in the tree. He loved his brother a lot. When Gallan turned on him for what he did, that really opened Ailwoode's eyes."

"So what, you mean he was doing penance?"

"In a way."

"Guess I can understand that," Ves-Ves murmured.

"I suppose his love for his brother became more important that his hatred of humans. He didn't want to live in a world without Gallan either. So he took Gallan's place and used his energy to revive me."

"Surprised me," Ves-Ves said.

"I just hope Gallan can get over it," Cere-Cere mused. "He was pretty broken up when he went into hibernation. I'm just going to have to love him all the more now," then Cere-Cere's features crumpled up, "in six months!"

"Oh brother," sighed Ves-Ves.

The pair entered their quarters. Instantly Palla-Palla ran up to them, waving a picture she'd drawn with her computerized crayons.

"Lookee!" the girl squealed. "Lookee what Palla-Palla drew!"

The picture was a crude drawing of a girl with red hair drawn in rings - - much like Cere-Cere - - kissing a crude drawing of a tree. With a smirk, Ves-Ves glanced over and saw Cere-Cere's eyes bug out.

"What is that supposed to be?" Cere-Cere gasped loudly.

"That's you and your boyfriend," Palla-Palla replied proudly.

"Give me that!" roared Cere-Cere, snatching the picture from her sister's hands. "You - - BABY!"

Instantly Palla-Palla seized Cere-Cere by the wrist. Cere-Cere looked down and saw her sister's eyes blazing.

"You remember what you said?" Palla-Palla barked.

Cere-Cere stared at the girl dumbfounded.

"As I recall," Ves-Ves smirked slyly, "when you came back from the tree and found out that Palla-Palla was going to trade her life for yours, you said if you ever called her a baby again, she got to smack you!"

The anger drained out of Cere-Cere, replaced by the warmth of that memory. She stopped trying to pull away and knelt down to her sister's level.

"You're right," Cere-Cere said softly. "I'm being an ungrateful witch again. Go ahead."

Palla-Palla leaned in - - and kissed her sister on the cheek.

"There's your smack," she grinned with child-like innocence.

A silly grin wormed its way onto Cere-Cere's mouth. She grabbed Palla-Palla around the waist and pulled her in, hugging her sister gratefully. Palla-Palla returned the hug while Ves-Ves looked on with satisfaction.