Destiny or Duty
Title: Destiny or Duty
Show: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon
Timeline: "The Last Sacrifice: The End of the Silver Millennium", "CAS 1: The Trouble with Love", "CAS 2: To Defy Destiny", "Every Cloud", "Crystal Shards", "CAS 3: Unwilling Accomplice", "Our Past 1: The Reason We Fight", "CAS 4: Princess of Light", "Our Past 2: The Reason We Still Fight", "Our Past 3: The Reason We Fought", "CAS 5: One Last Shining Star", "In the Darkest Forest", "Destiny or Duty", "Desperately Searching", "Kazeko", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi"
Couples: Haruka/Michiru, Rei/Usagi, Mamoru/Usagi, Makoto/Ami
Series: only as part of my timeline ;-)
Time: Immediately after episode 200
Disclaimer: Takeuchi Naoko owns every character in this story.
Author's Note: All done!This is the final chapter of this fic! Please tell me what you think, and feel free to email me with requests of which fic you want me to work on next. Until then!
Chapter 15: Granted
Usagi gasped, clutching at her broach, a red light enveloping her as her crystal screamed, a sound she had never heard before. Mamoru groaned, holding his head as he tried to comfort his girlfriend, relaxing slowly as the horrible sound faded, the ginzuishou slowly changing from an angry red to a steady white until the light faded altogether and it returned to its rest inside the golden broach. On Usagi's other side, Rei slowly sat up, hand on her stomach, wondering what happened to her wound. She remembered intense pain . . . blood . . . Usagi screaming her name . . .
"Usagi," Rei whispered, turning to her best friend, sitting on the floor of the temple. The blonde looked up, tears in her eyes, and moved away from Mamoru.
"Rei, you know that I can't . . . one over the others . . ."
Rei smiled kindly, purple eyes full of the love Usagi knew so well and a new, incredible understanding. She understood. "I know, Usagi. I know that you love us all. I love you, but I don't think I'm in love with you. There's another, my soulmate, someone for me alone. You have Mamoru, and I know that you two are happy and will be happy for a very long time. It's like a strange dream, a vision, something I only see in the fire."
"It was real," Mamoru whispered, holding out one hand. The faint ghostly outline of a very familiar golden crystal appeared briefly in his palm, vanishing as he closed his stormy dark blue eyes. "It was all real. Someone altered the timeline and everything we know as reality, but it's all fixed now. It's fading. Do you feel it? It's fading like a dream. Good or bad, it's all going away."
"I think that's a good thing, Mamo-chan." Usagi stood, holding out her hand to the black-haired miko as Mamoru also stood. "It's just a dream. That's all it needs to ever be. Tonight we'll invite Mako-chan, Ami-chan, and Minako-chan to the shrine and have a little party. It'll make us forget it faster."
"And the others?"
"They're always welcome."
Not far from the trio, Michiru sat up slowly, shaking her head, mirror clutched tightly in one hand. She put the Aqua Mirror away, wondering where she was, unable to even focus her eyes. Coughing, Michiru pulled herself into a standing position, glancing around as her blue eyes slowly cleared. Haruka. Where was Haruka? Michiru looked over at her princess and prince, the image of Rei and Usagi standing together stirring something, some memory, some fear . . . on the ground at her feet was a single white feather, long shaft, thin and delicate, shining slightly silver in the light. It looked ephemeral, magical, otherworldly. Confused, drawn, scared to death, Michiru reached down and picked it up.
And it hit her. All of the memories, the pain, the fear, and Haruka . . . Wide, frightened blue eyes turned to the doorway Haruka had entered an hour, three years, and two lifetimes ago, and she dropped the feather. "HARUKAAAAA!!!!!"
Usagi, Rei, and Mamoru spun at the scream so full of agony, fear, and love as Michiru vanished, moving faster than they thought possible, slamming through the door at the end of the room, running so fast that Haruka might have trouble keeping up. Usagi took Mamoru's hand and followed her senshi, Rei whispering prayers as she brought up the end of the group.
Michiru fell through the door of the small room and landed beside her limp partner, pulling Haruka into her loving arms. "No," she whispered, shaking her head in utter disbelief. "It's not fair. Haruka! Please come back to me."
"She cannot," a soft voice whispered from above, Tejina spreading her wings as she knelt beside the pair. "Her life is gone, to save you. It was her choice."
"She had no right to make that choice! I love her—we all love her—and we need her so very much! She can't leave! She can't! We've survived so much . . . why not this one last test?"
"Because this test arose from choice. She has free will, she used it."
Michiru tried to hold back her tears as she ran her fingers lightly over Haruka's cool cheek, brushing blonde bangs out of eyes that would never see again. She reached down and twined her fingers with her lover's longer ones, watching as they stayed still, not curling around her fingers as they usually did. She would never hold Haruka's hand again. "But we are destined, Haruka. You know that now. And destined lovers are not meant to be separated. I think you knew that." Smiling, the expression determined, pained, and resigned, Michiru pulled Haruka close to her breast and closed her eyes. "There was a time when I was alone, when I needed nothing, trusted no one, and I never thought that I would find my soulmate. I didn't really believe in true love, either. But then I met you, queen of the winds, and you took my breath away. You stole my heart before I could blink, and I never wanted it back. I would follow you anywhere, Haruka, and death is just the last great adventure. I love you, Ruka, and I won't live without you; I can't."
"NO! Michiru-san, you cannot kill yourself! She did all of this to give you a life, to save you, to save you all."
"Maybe you misunderstand. A life without Haruka isn't worth living. And it never has been. You did this to her, and you must have known that I love her too much to keep living alone."
The winged woman knelt down beside Haruka and Michiru, touching the blonde's cold cheek. "I never meant for her to die. But I had to grant her wish."
"Why?" Michiru glanced at the knife Haruka was wearing on her belt, a smaller version of her deadly sword, sharp enough. She pulled it free, glancing at the silver surface, ignoring Tejina's shocked expression.
"I had to! Michiru-san, please understand that I had no choice. I had to do what she asked me to do."
"I don't really need a straight answer, anyway," Michiru whispered, flipping the knife in her hand and pointing it toward her wrist. "I only need this."
"How could I not obey my mother?!"
Michiru froze, staring at the woman, knife point an inch from her wrist. "Wh-what?"
Tejina closed her eyes and wrapped her huge white wings around her body, opening them to reveal a pegasus priest Michiru knew very well, wings fading. Helios shook his head, closing his purple eyes in pain. "Mother . . . please forgive me."
"Helios . . . you?! Why the disguise?"
"Haruka-papa would never confide in someone she knew; Setsuna-mama asked me to intervene, to grant a wish. I did not have the power to reverse it. Please do not die again as you did before I was born. I wish I had the power."
"I think . . . I think I know someone who can help."
"No. I do not want Usagi-chan to use all of her power for Haruka. She, at least, must live to see the future." Michiru dropped the knife and pulled out her mirror, closing her eyes. "Show me those who are unseen," she whispered, turning her mirror out as a blue light shot out from it. A groan answered the summons as two Cupids she remembered very well from years earlier and in the forest appeared, bathed in the blue light of the mirror. Michiru glanced at Haruka as she put her mirror away. "Can you two help?"
Asakaze shook her head sadly, redhead lover by her side. "We are agents of love; our power is minor compared to yours."
"We can only guide in this case," Rikuriko added. "Remember that you are senshi; her power can save her."
"But she's already dead! What power?"
"A Senshi always has power, Michiru. Do not forget that." Asakaze pointed at the mirror with the point of her bow. "And don't do that again. It's impolite."
"Just save her. Our power depends on the lives, loves, and happiness of our charges. You two cannot die."
As the Cupids vanished, Michiru turned her mirror on Haruka's body, watching as it glinted off of a very familiar sword, case covered in gems. Curious, Michiru pulled the Space Sword into the mundane reality, holding the metal implement before her, parallel to the ground, as she placed her mirror on the ground. Grasping the strangely-shaped grip, Michiru drew the sword and watched as it began to glow golden. Holding it up to the sky, Michiru closed her eyes, free hand resting on Haruka's breast.
"Long ago, as our world fell around us, I called on your power to summon Pluto and save my son as I followed Haruka into death." Helios faded back into his reality as gold filled the room and Usagi, Mamoru, and Rei peeked through the open door. Makoto, Ami, and Minako appeared behind them, Setsuna standing further back, Hotaru squeezing to the front. They watched, knowing that only Michiru could save Haruka. Their senshi senses mourned the loss of a fellow, all of their power and prayers turned toward Haruka's return. "I used you to fight the enemies that destroyed our kingdom, and I only ask for one favor. You can help me save her. I cannot live without her, and you are my last hope. Uranus, God of the Skies, I call on your power! Save your daughter, your avatar, your chosen senshi! She never needed you before, but now she does. Please, hear my prayers! Send me your power!"
For a long moment, nothing seemed to happen, then the faint golden aura around the sword changed, darkening as a strange breeze flowed through the room, becoming a powerful gale swirling around Michiru and her sword as the golden glow enveloped the woman and her dead lover. The other Senshi pulled back as the winds coalesced, joining the gold as power filled the sword, flowing through Michiru's hand and into Haruka, trying desperately to pull her back from the dead.
Unseen, in the shadows in the corner, Hades glanced over Michiru at his daughter. Se, Setsuna, nodded, closing her eyes. Hades waved his staff and vanished, smiling as Haruka gasped, body arching off the ground, emerald eyes wide, hands wrapping around her glowing sword. Blood flowed down the sharp blade, absorbed by the talisman before it could drip on the senshi. Haruka slowly released the blade, hands falling to the floor, hazed green eyes searching desperately for something, anything she recognized. "Where am I?"
"She's blind," Usagi whispered, tears in her blue eyes as Michiru embraced her lover, sword falling to the floor beside her mirror.
"It will fade in a moment," Setsuna whispered. "Coming back . . . is never easy."
"Michi? Is that you?"
"Of course it is," Michiru whispered, pulling Haruka into her lap, kissing her forehead. "I wasn't sure that would work."
"I died. I'm dead. I remember that."
"You're not dead anymore. Uranus brought you back, somehow. Once a Senshi, always a Senshi, and our power never abandons us."
"Even when we abandon it?" Haruka blinked, rubbing her eyes as her eyes began to clear, shadows and light playing across her retina. She sensed Michiru's presence right beside her, their lovers bond having never failed her, and a brighter presence, a group, shone from a little further away. "Princess?"
"You abandoned nothing, Haruka-san," Usagi whispered as she knelt down beside the trembling woman, taking her bloody hands. "You never abandoned Uranus and you have never abandoned us. You had no idea that any of that was going to happen; none of us would have anticipated it. I know that the final battle with Galaxia taxed all of us, you most of all. You had to make a decision to betray your fellow senshi and attack her with her own power. I know that it was not easy for you. But none of us blame you for that, and this wish was because you cannot understand why."
"No," Haruka whispered, really smiling for the first time since Usagi met her. "I understand now, at last." She turned her hands over, staring at her bloody palms, and Usagi carefully touched her senshi's palms. Haruka watched as the long gashes her sword had given her slowly closed, the blood vanishing. Usagi pulled her hands away, touching the faint white scars left behind.
"I can fix those."
"No, Usagi-chan. Leave them. I don't want to forget what I've learned. When I first came to you so long ago, there was blood on my hands already, and I thought that it could never go away, that I would never be pure."
"You thought that you weren't good enough for Michiru-san."
Haruka nodded, ignoring her lover's gasp. "Yes. But look, there's no more blood. You healed me, you made it go away, you cleaned the blood for the first time. And you have always forgiven me, no matter how I hurt you. I can never repay you, princess, but know that I will never leave you and I will never do this to you again."
"I know," Usagi whispered, kissing Haruka's forehead before rising and returning to her boyfriend's arms. "I know. We're having a party tomorrow to celebrate Galaxia's defeat. It'll be at Hikawa Jinja, if you want to come." If you want to be a part of our lives. Usagi was letting them in, truly including the Outers for the first time, and Haruka finally realized that she had been looking for that kind of acceptance from her princess for a very long time. Michiru chuckled, the sound vibrating along Haruka's spine. The Sea Senshi had known all along what Haruka really wanted.
"Yes, we'll come. Thank you, princess."
Usagi smiled as she pulled Mamoru out of the doorway. "I may be your princess by birth, Haruka-san, but I am your friend by choice. You don't have to call me princess anymore. Please remember."
"I will." Rei followed Mamoru and Usagi out of the temple, Minako, Ami, and Makoto on her heels. For them, the alternate reality was just an old, fading dream, small pieces and feelings stuck in their mind as the rest vanished. For Usagi, her power so much greater than theirs, the dream would be strong for a very long time, and she would never truly forget. But she didn't need to. It gave her a measure of satisfaction to know that she and her friends would have met regardless of their status as senshi.
Setsuna and Hotaru remained, watching as Michiru pulled Haruka to her feet, returning the Space Sword to its owner as she picked up the mirror. Haruka let her sword vanish, to be called on when she transformed, and turned to Michiru as her lover put the mirror away. "Michi . . . I'm sorry. Everything else Usagi can forgive me for, except the rape. I never would have let that happen to you."
"I know, koibito," Michiru whispered, embracing Haruka and resting her head on the blonde's chest. "I know. It's not so bad now. It's like a bad film I watched. It touched me, but it no longer feels like it happened to me. There is no more pain. I think Tejina took care of it."
"Tejina," Haruka whispered. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a white feather, smiling. "Thank you, Tejina."
"You're welcome, Haruka-papa."
"I had wondered about that," the blonde smiled. "Next time, you need no disguise." She glanced down as a little girl with black hair latched onto her leg, Hotaru smiling.
"Welcome back, Haruka-papa, Michiru-mama. Can we go home now?"
"Yes, Hime-chan, we can go home." Haruka reached out and took Setsuna's hand, kissing it and grinning at the older woman's shock. "You were right all along. I must remember to listen to my elders."
Setsuna smiled and nodded. "Of course. Now, I have supper cooking at home, and if you drive fast we should get there before it burns. I know you drove here."
"Mochiron. Michiru, Hime-chan, Setsuna-san; it's time to go home."
Haruka smiled as she followed Michiru into their bedroom, the sounds of Setsuna putting a reluctant Hotaru to bed filling the hallway, as usual. Hotaru wanted Haruka and Michiru to play her one more song before bed, but Haruka's hands were cramping and Michiru doubted she could hold the bow much longer, so they had ended the impromptu concert. Michiru turned on the lights, and both Senshi gasped at the picture sitting calmly on an easel in the corner. An angel and a mermaid.
"Helios let us keep it," Haruka whispered. "The only good thing to come out of that reality. Michi, what would you say if I told you that I wanted to start painting?"
"I'd say that you should go back to High School when the term starts so you can graduate and get into an art and music college, like me."
"Go back to High School?! Michiru . . ."
Michiru whirled on a whining Haruka, hands on her hips. "Now! None of that! You only have to do one year before you can enter college, and I expect you to complete it. We only stopped because we had to save the princess. Now we don't need to. Please?"
Haruka grinned as she closed the door and moved closer to Michiru, wrapping her long arms around the other woman's waist as she leaned so close that their noses touched. "Can you make it worth my while?"
"Ara! Someone's in quite a mood."
"I can't help it," Haruka purred, reached up to cup Michiru's cheek in her hand. "You know that I'm not complete without you."
"We really haven't had a chance to unwind and relax lately, since Galaxia. Maybe you do deserve something. Some candy maybe? Or a cookie?"
Haruka glared as her hands found the hem of Michiru's shirt and quickly tossed it across the room. "I had sugar of a different kind in mind."
"Your sweet tooth is insatiable!"
"Something like that," Haruka murmured, fingers searching for the clasp of Michiru's bra as she pushed the woman backwards. Michiru gasped as she fell backwards, the sound muffled by her lover's eager tongue. Michiru's bra followed her shirt to the other side of the room, and the aqua-haired woman responded, hands running up Haruka's back as her leg squeezed between Haruka's thighs. She was no longer afraid, no longer hesitant, no longer scarred, and Haruka noticed the difference at once. Her lover, her beloved Kaiou Michiru, was back at last.
"Aishiteru, Michiru. Never leave me, koishii."
"Never, Haruka. Never. Mmmhhhhh . . . ."
Outside their door, Setsuna smiled as Michiru's moans filled the hallway. They were together, they were whole, they were complete. "You belong together. You always have. Oyasuminasai, Haruka-san, Michiru-san."
"Oyasumi," the combined voices of the pair inside replied. Setsuna grinned and walked away, glancing at the painting in the hallway that Haruka and Michiru had not yet seen. Eight Senshi in fuku they had yet to evolve into stood bravely on a cliff overlooking Crystal Tokyo, their Queen and King standing a little higher behind them, tiny pink-haired princess in her mother's arms. The future . . . there was no doubt now that it would come to pass.
On the left hand of every one of the eight senshi sparkled a beautiful golden band, the one detail Haruka and Michiru had not originally added, a detail Setsuna never noticed. Watching, invisible, a pair of married godlings, no longer Cupids, raised their glasses, smiling at their companion. The Pegasus priest nodded and raised his cup, toasting the future evident in that painting. And toasting the wedding bands they had added to the painting before hanging it in the hallway.
"Years," Helios whispered. "But that is soon enough. It will happen just in time."
"Everything happens just in time."