DISCLAIMER: Major characters in this story are owned by their respective creators/companies. I do not make money off writing!
AN: Thank you, all you guys who reviewed 'Candidate for Power' and asked me for a prequel/sequel. I've decided to put down what I think Usagi would have felt as she matured into her own.
Usagi Tsukino sighed as she made her way through the web forming Lovers Lanes in Sakura Gardens. This place was a particular favorite of hers because it called on memories that made her remember; her choices, reasons and sacrifices.
Today she was alone. Few people visited the Gardens on a weeknight. Usagi knew she should be in her apartment asleep but she could not resist the call of the full moon.
Any viewer would be enchanted with the picture she presented - a small, slim curvaceous form, clad in mauve-lilac silk, that increased in elegance under the silvery light of the full moon.
She moved like silk fluttering in a gentle breeze, twirling and skipping from one paving stone to the next, swaying to a rhythm only she heard. She did not feel the concrete under her feet. She did not hear the sounds of cars and city life. She remembered the slick feel of polished white marble that tiled the Grand Ballroom floor in the Lunarian Palace. She remembered dancing under the glowing blue gem called Earth, dancing with Endymion, laughing as she celebrated her betrothal.
She remembered the sadness she glimpsed, the envy in her Senshi when they saw her with Mamoru. It wasn't all beauty and happiness. People suffered so she could be happy. People who would have suffered in the future if she didn't make the choice to reconsider.
"Minna I am so happy! Setsuna said Galaxia was our last major enemy! We don't have any worries until Crystal Tokyo!" She noted the half-hearted smiles of her Senshi. "What is wrong? Ami? Rei? Mina? Makoto? Aren't you happy? We don't have to fight!"
"Yes. Until the Freezing." Ami pointed out practically.
"And the Dark Moon Family." Rei pointed out sardonically. "They'll be banished remember?"
Usagi stopped. "But that won't happen for a long time."
Makoto shrugged. "But it will Usagi-chan. It will."
Usagi stared at her four friends. There was a hint of weariness in their demeanor.
"It's nothing Usagi-chan. It's hard to decide what to do when you know what's going to happen. You're going to marry Mamoru-kun and we're going to be alone." Minako pointed out with a laugh. "So how about we worry about ice cream?"
A chorus of assent and the quartet dragged the saddened Moon Senshi with them to their favorite Video Arcade.
The Inners wanted her to be happy and they would be forever alone, never finding love if she had continued on the path Setsuna set her on.
They yearned for the thrill of unknown. They wanted to be loved. They wanted the chance to love. So Usagi decided to give it to them.
"What are you saying Koneko?"
"Surely you want to marry Endymion-sama!"
Usagi stared at the aghast couple before her. "No, no, nothing like that. I was just wondering what you thought of it."
Michiru shrugged. "It doesn't matter. You are Tsuki no hime. We are your Senshi."
The Outers wanted peace at all costs, despite the eventual loneliness and inevitable battles in Setsunas vision of Crystal Tokyo.
Usagi decided she didn't want that; so she decided to change all the rules.
"I was wondering… is it possible for me to use the Gates?"
"What do you mean? Do you want to visit the future?"
"Oh no. I just want to use the Gates like a window. To see into the future and the past. There are so many holes in my memories I'd like to fill in." Usagi grinned cheerily. "There is no Rule against just looking is there?"
Setsuna could not lie to her hime. "There is no such rule against looking Usagi-sama."
"Then I would like to look." Usagi spoke in steely tones.
Setsuna bowed her head in acquiesce.
Pluto had always tested her. Tested them. Forced them to reach for new levels of power by fighting stronger and more devious enemies. She had decided on what was the best future and had moulded the world, shaped events to reach that outcome.
When Usagi insisted on using the Gates to See for herself she broke all the unwritten rules. She saw the reality of the past and the cost of the future. She saw the pain and death required for an utopia doomed to its inevitable downfall. She saw the pain She inflicted in her naïve desire for universal peace and tranquility.
What she saw angered her such that she rewrote her Destiny.
Everyone looked at her expectantly.
"What is it Usagi-chan?" Rei asked impatiently. "I have a tour group coming to the shrine."
"I have a calculus class I'm TAing." Ami murmured glancing at her PDA.
Usagi looked around. Almost everyone was here…
As if in response to her thoughts the familiar civilian forms of the Outers entered the shrine.
"What is it Usagi-chan?" Michiru asked as she seated herself gracefully. "I did not expect you to summon us all."
Usagi smiled, a bitter sweet smile. "Yes. That is exactly it. You did not expect."
Setsuna paled. She was beginning to see where this was going.
Usagi ignored the eldest Senshi's countenance and sipped her tea to gather her thoughts. Once she set her cup down she raised her bright steely eyes.
"Minna, I have made a decision."
Everyone stilled and gazed upon their princess. When Usagi started acting like a leader-princess they knew she was intent on upsetting status-quo.
"I am disbanding the Senshi. There will be no Crystal Tokyo."
The expected cries of dismay and protest were bitter sweet. She raised a hand.
"Do not argue with me. I have made my decision. If the Freezing comes we will deal with it. But there will be no Crystal Tokyo. No perfect utopia." She smiled sadly. "Humans are not meant to have perfection. It is the struggles that makes us strong." The more thoughtful Senshi shut their mouths and considered her point. Seeing that Usagi pressed her view. "Imposing utopia, banishing the Dark Moon clan who protested, that is not Right. Yes there will be wars, famine, plague, but there will also be exploration, discovery, art, music, passion, life, romance!" Usagi spoke enthusiastically. "I've seen it. You don't say it but all of you want it." She spoke quickly to overcome their protests. "I know you love me but there is no Rule that says you must love only me." She smiled gently. "You are my friends, my sisters, and I love each and everyone of you. I want you to be happy, to experience that passion, that lust for life!"
She looked at each of her Inner Senshi and spoke in earnest.
"Mina, you've dreamed of being an actor, a model. You are the Goddess of Love. You deserve a Grand Passion! Makoto, you love cooking. You should pursue that dream. Go to Europe! Learn from those chefs and open your own restaurant! Ami, you love learning. You've wanted to be a doctor for so long. You deserve the chance to do just that! Rei, you have passion and organization skills. I've heard it in your singing, your talent show. You should use that and become something like a concert manager."
She saw the trembling smiles, the dawning hope in bright eyes, and her heart sang. She was doing the right thing! She was so glad she was following her heart.
"I spoke to Mamoru. His heart is not mine, not completely. Endymion loved me and what Mamoru remembers loves the idea of Serenity. I am more than Serenity, I am Usagi and Cosmos. He accepted it when we were fighting Galaxia but part of him hates it. He wants to be free of responsibilities, to do what he wants, to go to America, to become a Doctor."
She allowed their protests and muttered threats to wash over her.
"I am not unhappy. I am happy we finally relaxed from the stresses of fighting to be honest with each other."
"But what of Chibi Usa?" Hotaru protested.
Usagis expression saddened. "I will miss her. I will miss the girl who could have been." She smiled wryly. "Now I understand why the Neo-Queen and Neo-King had only one child." She noted the dawning comprehension on several faces. "There was no true passion, just a shared history and common duty."
She turned to the Outers.
"I won't remove your powers if you don't want to. In fact I'd like to have the Outers ready incase there is an emergency. We know there are aliens and not all of them are friendly. But that is no reason why you can't have lives of your own!" Usagi grinned. "Haruka Tenou and Michiru Kaiou will be sorely missed by concert goers everywhere."
She turned to Hotaru and smiled more gently.
"Hotaru-chan, you of all of us deserves a full life. You deserve to do everything every other girl does. You shouldn't have this responsibility hanging on you like a deadweight."
They had resisted and argued but Usagi got her way. She healed Hotaru best she could, absorbing the Silence with her Lunarian magic. She took back the powers of all the Senshi except the three elder Outers. She set them free to fly with her whole-hearted blessings, to make new lives, with the exception of Setsuna.
Setsuna Meiou, Senshi of Pluto, Guardian of Time, Keeper of the Garnet Orb.
"Setsuna, do you know what you'd like to do? You don't have to stay at the Gates for the rest of your life. You can do things you like!"
"I have devoted my whole life to the line of Serenity. I wouldn't know what to do."
"You are a fashion designer, are you not?"
"Yes. But it is a hobby, something I do for fun."
"Have you tried studying?"
"A bit. But it is hard to be the student. I've lived for so long, I know so much more than what most mortals know."
"Then teach me."
"Teach me. I will not become the Neo-Queen of Crystal Tokyo but it doesn't exclude other possibilities. So teach me Setsuna. Teach me what they taught during the Silver Millenium."
"You want to learn magic?"
"Magic, science, technology, history, politics, self-defense. I don't want to be caught off-guard in the future. It is best if I am properly educated, is it not?"
"Then teach me."
So Setsuna taught her and taught her well.
It had been strange at first. Having a teacher who knew so much, had seen so much, yet looked so young. It was during one of the first lessons that Usagi learnt how to judge people using their auras, how to interpret their body language, how to read their souls.
It was a lesson that served her well. Much as every other lesson. It was strange. She enjoyed the lessons as much as she hated studying during her teens. Was this a sign of maturity? Usagi did not know and did not care.
Peals of bell-like laughter broke free. She did not know why but she was happy. She was happy and satisfied with herself. It was a strange feeling. She laughed as she twirled under the luminous silver disk beneath the velvety night.
She was happy.
Setsuna Meiou bit her full lower lip. Her teeth gnawed and worried the full lower curve until it bled. Even with the coppery tang of blood filling her mouth the Senshi of Pluto was more intent on another issue: What to tell Serenity? It was a difficult thing.
On one hand she was proud of her hime, her Serenity, for Usagi had truly taken the steps to being Serenity by her past actions. Setsuna hadn't expected the Moon Senshi to use such brutal tactics but now that she considered the situation she could see it was for the best. It allowed everyone, Senshi and mortal, to grow and become stronger for future battles.
On the other hand this new Serenity scared Pluto. She was strong. So much stronger than Setsuna had ever dreamed… Usagi loved with her whole heart and soul and somewhere along the line she learnt to limit her boundless love for all living beings; to let go and allow her loved ones flight, to soar or plummet as they would. She had instituted a strict code that limited Senshi interference in mainstream society.
"If we give them answers they will always look to us. They must exhaust their options before approaching us as Oracles."
It was the attitude of a wise parent cutting apron strings.
She had adopted similar views in regards to any use of Silver Millenium power for personal gain.
"It is not worth it in the long run. What if someone found out? They would never trust us, or their judgment again. It is best to do things the normal way."
It irked Ami. The Mercurian Senshi had taken advantage of Millenium magic and technology in her studies. She disliked giving up any source of knowledge. It had been a war of wills before she conceded to Usagi.
Usagi did not like taking advantage of their gifts, their heritage for personal gain. But this was not personal gain; not exactly…
Her thoughts examined the issue at hand as she made her way through Sakura Gardens. Setsuna wished her hime would stop wandering around on full moon nights. She understood the desire to celebrate but it was safer to be with friends.
She sighed and came to a halt. Before her, her hime danced under the silvery light of the Moon. For minutes that seemed like seconds Setsuna watched Serenity dance and she remembered the legends of Selene, Goddess and Lady of the Moon. There was something ethereal yet enduring about the blonde woman dancing to a mushc only she heard, swaying to a rhythm only she felt… So Setsuna Meiou simply waited, and watched her hime dance.
It was heartbreaking when the enchantment broke, when Usagi slowed then laughed as she spun around under the full moon. Laughing and twirling before she sank to her knees face tilted up, to view the velvety star spangled night sky.
With great reluctance Pluto shattered the quiet with a cough.
She watched the Princess rise to her feet fluidly, relaxed yet aware, ready to run or fight. Good, she had definitely taken her lessons to heart.
Her heart beat faster at the open smile.
"Setsuna-chan! What are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be getting ready for a date?" The blonde teased the elder woman as she moved to hug her warmly. Her smile faded at the tense expression. "What is it Setsuna?"
Setsuna hesitated before speaking. Usagi had insisted on honesty, no prevacation, no lies, no temporizing. She wanted to be informed, not deluded.
"Usagi-sama, there is a problem."
Setsuna watched the loving face settle into a mask. It had been disconcerting, watching Usagi mature to this point where she learned to hide her emotions and thoughts.
"What is it Pluto?" She spoke quietly, formally.
Setsuna inhaled then exhaled sharply before speaking.
"Usagi, you understand there are different dimensions, multiverses if you will…"
Usagi frowned. "Yes. Barriers tend to be weaker between planes attuned to each other. There are few beings or planes that can access all others. The Kamis decided it was best for each universe to be discrete. There are exceptions that allow mages to form dimensional pockets, to teleport great distances, to step out of time, but on the whole denizens of one plane cannot exist in another."
Setsuna nodded. The Princess had learnt, comprehended much more than she expected.
"That is correct hime-sama. Generally speaking plane-walking is not permitted."
Usagi caught on the qualifier.
"Generally speaking. Is this situation not in general?" She inquired pointedly.
Setsuna laughed shortly. "Most definitely so." And she explained.
Several centuries ago beings of great power, from a different plane, contacted her. They were fighting a great evil and needed help, power, allies, to restore the Balance; things they could not find in their home worlds so they contacted others. The Greater Powers normally would not permit such activities except if it were of absolute necessity so Setsuna had agreed to help them. She formed alliances on behalf of her long dead Queen, for her Princess, for the Neo-Queen to come.
Setsuna had all but forgotten of them until recently when they contacted her, calling on old friendships to help save their world once more.
She watched her Princess listen with that cold emotionless mask. She watched bright blue eyes harden to sapphire shards. She watched the full pouty mouth compress into a thin line.
"The Greater Powers would never have allowed their message to reach me if it wasn't of utmost importance Usagi-sama." Setsuna concluded her tale hurriedly and clasped her hands before her. She did not know how Usagi would react but it would most definitely not be calmly.
Usagi resisted the urge to scream and wail and throw a tantrum; histrionics her teenage self would have indulged in. She was older and experienced enough to know better. She had fought to protect her present blue world so it would not be destroyed as her old silver one. She fought to save friends, people she cared about. She fought to live. Now she was being asked to fight again. To fight for complete strangers, people she had never met, never heard of before tonight.
She was simultaneously furious and terrified. The multiverse, the Greater Powers, they were pushing her to accept a cause not her own, to bleed once more…
She stomped down on her reflexive urges and spoke slowly.
"Tell your contacts I shall help them but on my own terms." Her level gaze caught garnet eyes as she raised a stern finger. "I shall go and observe their world before I make my choice, for good or ill. Tell them if they choose to accept my aid they will have to follow my orders. They cannot interfere. They cannot change their mind halfway. They cannot deny me."
Setsuna nodded soberly. "I shall Usagi-sama." She turned to leave.
The Senshi froze and turned.
"Yes Usagi-sama?" She asked nervously. The Gates didn't show her this. The Gates didn't show her anything anymore. Usagi had grown to a point where it could not integrate her into its probability matrix.
Blue eyes were hard.
"You are barred from interfering. You may not make any alliances on my behalf without consulting me."
Setsuna bowed her head. "Yes, Usagi-sama." She had overstepped her bounds. Even in the Silver Millenium the Queen had to ratify any treaty the Senshi negotiated on her behalf.
Usagi nodded and watched the elder woman accept the rebuke before softening. Her lips trembled before she sank white teeth into the lower curve.
"I should have expected this." She mumbled pinching the bridge of her nose. "When we stopped Galaxia we destroyed the Chaos in this universe. It makes perfect sense it would have manifested in another plane. No wonder the Kamis allowed their message to reach here! They could see the outcome of the path you put us on and allowed the world that would become affected to contact you.
"It is our fault in a way… It's the only reason why I'm agreeing to this." Blue eyes were bright with tears. "We cannot destroy what is part of us Setsuna, if we do we destroy our humanity, our soul."
Setsuna gulped feeling tears come to her own eyes.
"What are you going to do Usagi-sama? If you destroy it again it will keep on manifesting in other planes."
Usagis expression was haunted. "I'm not sure Setsuna."
"Do you want to contact the others? Maybe Ami or Rei?" Setsuna asked gently.
Usagi shook her head. "No. This is not their concern. They deserve their peace." Her expression hardened. "If I'm going to have Senshi I'll find them in this other plane."
"Wha! Surely you don't intend to-."
Usagi cut her off. "Oh but I do." She smiled savagely. "I most certainly do."
TBC... In other fics.
AN: What does Usagi intend to do? Read the sequels. Currently the only one up is 'Candidate for Power - Harry Potter style'.
AN: The possibilities for crossovers from this point are endless. Who is calling in the favor from Setsuna? What are they asking for? One is SM-Harry Potter 'Candidate for Power', please read it if you haven't. Another is an SM-InuYasha fic I have some ideas for. And a SM-BtVS fic. And a Meredith Gentry xover fic. You get the idea...
AN: Please write your suggestions (xover-verse and pairings) in your reviews. If it sparks something I'll write it. Remember, I tend to lean towards UC or anti-hero couples (and I don't write slash).
Please read and review.
Raves and constructive criticism please.
Flames will be ignored.