Note: I apologize if my work seemed a bit lacking in execution the last few times. I have these great ideas, and no time to really let them solidify. It's not an excuse, just an apology. Poor Yumeko... how she must have suffered...
Warning: I think this reeks of my usual gloom.
'Hey you.' Her eyes moved behind her closed lids at the voice. 'Sometimes, I wish you would tell me your dreams...'
Her eyes shot open at the feel of warm breath against her neck. "Haruka..." She murmured the name lovingly as she rose, turning and glancing over her shoulder, hands already reaching out for the other. She paused at the empty space, drawing up onto her legs. She was suddenly awake as she felt the cool, undisturbed sheets next to her, a slightly confused look marring her usually serene expression before understanding dawned. "Haruka," she repeated, laying her cheek gently down onto the cool beddings, eyes not seeing the wall that she was staring at while she searched for that familiar presence that she could no longer sense. All she smelled was the ocean as another breeze wafted through the slightly parted window, taking away her dreams.
"I miss you," she whispered to the empty room and the faded memories.
Dream of Unreflected Sufferings
She remembered going to bed with a teasing kiss on parted lips. She remembered waking, confused on how the place next to her was cool and the furniture different. "Haruka, what joke is this?" she murmured curiously to herself. There was a slightly lonely feel in the air and a foreign touch, as if a familiar stranger had slipped in the middle of the night. "If I find that she's slipped something in my drink..." But the strangest thing of all was that she could not smell Haruka on the pillow next to her own, or see any of the small trinkets that Haruka liked to place throughout the room.
By the time she got down stairs in the quiet house, she was starting to feel slightly anxious. "Michiru-san, good morning," a quiet and composed voice greeted her as she entered the familiar dining room. She had paused at the foot of the staircase, gazing at a mirror she did not remember placing there.
"Michiru-san?" she asked with a quirked brow. A teasing smile alighted her lips as she turned to speak to the other woman. "Setsuna, what's with the serious attitude?" There was a clatter as Michiru watched, surprised, as her friend dropped several utensils that she had been holding in apparent surprise. Setsuna was never known to be clumsy, after all. But the look on Setsuna's face stilled her. "What's the matter, Setsuna? Is it the Time Stream?"
Meiou Setsuna blinked her dark-ruby eyes, as if coming back to herself. "No... It's not... Are you feeling alright, Michiru-san?" Setsuna finally asked after a slow and steady stare.
"Yes, I am," Michiru answered with a small and confused smile on her face. "I was just about to ask you that, myself."
"I am perfectly healthy," Setsuna replied, though they both knew that was not what was being asked. The situation was getting more and more bizarre as Michiru and Setsuna stared at each other, trying to find a kink in each other's casual armor or a clue as to what was so different this morning, or better yet, why whatever was happening was happening.
"Hotaru-chan will be late for school if she doesn't wake up soon," Michiru finally said, her eyes shifting away and catching sight of the wall clock.
"Hotaru... -chan?" Setsuna tilted her head and then her eyes widened once more in surprise. "Tomoe Hotaru? The girl who was the Messiah of Silence?"
"The Messiah of Silence? Hotaru-chan?" Michiru echoed, "Why, you haven't called Hotaru-chan a Messiah since..."
"What is going on with you this morning, Michiru-san? You know that girl is dead. After all," Setsuna said without confusion or hesitation, "-you- killed her." Michiru froze at the way Setsuna looked when she had said those words to her, as if it was a fact to be stated. Tomoe Hotaru was like a daughter to all of them. How could Setsuna say it like a duty that had been carried out, as if they had just defeated the latest daimon or ghoul? Setsuna though, did not wait for her reaction this time, having already moved on from the topic. "What kind of joke are you playing at today, Michiru-san? Really..." Setsuna paused and leaned over the counter, as if trying to get a better look at Michiru, but shook her head slowly after several long moments, as if she could not find what she was looking for. The other woman sighed and then leaned back, glancing behind her at the clock that Michiru had been distracted by just a moment ago. "You will be late if you continue on like that." The older woman turned fully and reached into the sink, producing a large bouquet of lilacs. "Here. I noticed that you woke up a little later than usual."
"W-what are these for?" she asked dazedly, as she limply held the wrapped flowers, letting the long stems soak her beige trousers. Had it been a less distressing day, Michiru would never have allowed such a thing to happen.
"Today," Setsuna said with her brows knitted in confused agitation. "You always go today, Michiru-san."
Michiru stared at the dark-haired woman, hands trembling. "Who do I go... see?" she whispered, feeling a cold spread from the tips of her fingers. She didn't know why she was asking it, as if it were a person and not a place that she was going to visit.
"Ten'ou Haruka," Setsuna answered evenly. "If her grave counts as a who... Are you testing me, Michiru-san? I remember the things you tell me, despite what you may be thinking at the moment," the older woman said calmly, a hint of amusement seeping into her voice.
"Haruka..." Michiru felt her lips shape the name as her voice completely failed her. And then her arms went numb with a cold that spread throughout her body, as if her blood had froze. Her elbows gave and her forearms dropped uselessly to her sides, as if bound by stones. The lilacs she had been instinctively holding, spilt onto the ground, white and green against the gleaming, polished wood.
Another second ticked by on the ever precise clock in the kitchen...
... behind her, at the landing, the mirror cracked.
The memories came more like dreams than memories.
When she woke she knew. There had been that daimon, the first time when Sailor Uranus appeared, but this time she had been distracted by another daimon, strangely resembling a multifaceted glass that reflected blinding light all over, that had wakened unexpectedly in a nearby area. She hadn't arrived in time, and when she had gotten there just minutes later than she had remembered arriving, she had found the body of the gasping blonde, straining beneath the monster. In one blast Sailor Neptune had killed the beast and saved the boy it had possessed, but she could not save the one who was supposed to be Sailor Uranus, the girl who was supposed to be her partner against daimon, fate, and loneliness.
She remembered, cradling that girl who had fascinated her, whose pictures filled her sketch book and lifted the heavy sense she had felt since discovering her role to fight against the 'End of the World' and the Silence. "It's you," she remembered that husky voice murmur. The sound she had always found sexy and slightly arrogant was now marred by her lover choking on her own blood, blood that slipped from the deep gashes from that pale, long neck. "I dreamt..." And then Ten'ou Haruka died, staring at her with those once fierce eyes gone glassy and distant. Sometimes, when she felt fanciful, she would describe the parting as a soul pulling away from the surface of life and plunging into that deep, infinite abyss called--
Kaioh Michiru woke up crying as she had never cried before. The dream or memory was mixing with her own, mingling with the past like tangled lovers that could not tell one from the other. The images came and went, reflecting half-truths and mixed up thoughts. Each showed her how she had alone fought against the daimon hoard. How the battles were always bloody and filled with violence. How the other senshi came, one at a time, those naive little girls playing heroines. How she had not liked them from the beginning. How she had envied them for not living their lives with the constant feeling of the dark abyss so close. Those girls lived as if the Silence was not so near, though to her it had always felt like a soft buzzing reminder in her ear.
She remembered how different it was when Sailor Pluto had came to her, after her infiltration into the prestigious private school, Mugen Gakuen. By accident, when she had passed by the area one day, due to her attending a concert, she had felt a disturbing amount of negative energy that surged and then suddenly disappeared from the newly constructed school. If she had not been there that day she might never have discovered the head-quarters of her enemies so easily, but she had and her plan of extinguishing her enemies was perfect.
"I have found the source," Pluto had said to her. The other woman had apparently been waiting for her to return to her apartment, lounging in the dark corner of her unlighted living room. "It will cost us much to save the world, with one soldier down already."
"You are also a Sailor Senshi?" she had asked casually, hiding her clenched fists, one already holding her wand, behind her back and suppressing her emotions behind a small smile. The question was not so much as to confirm the obvious as to have the other introduce herself.
"I am Sailor Pluto," the other woman finally said after studying her in the darkness of the living room.
"You already know who I am," she had replied breezily. "So what is it that brought you to my humble home?"
"I have found the one they call the... Messiah of Silence," Pluto told her. "However, she is only a child."
"Have you not located the Messiah of Light as well?" she had asked in turn, curious but strangely apathetic.
"No," Pluto answered, eyes sparkling darkly and face hidden. "Unfortunately, she is... harder to locate."
She had sighed at this, turning away to look at the cityscape just outside her large windows, pressing her fingers against the reflection that stared back at her in the dark. "How unfortunate," she had said, "how things turn out in this world." She glided a few more steps, till her reflection blurred, to have a closer look at the landscape below, letting her eyes roam over the still crowded streets.
That night was the beginning, really.
There had been no wrestle for understanding on why a seemingly innocent child was the one who had to die. It seemed to fit the enemy's profile to be so sadistic. There had been no desire to join with the other Senshi, to talk about the unspoken plans made that evening, not when the plans sounded more like murder than saving the world. She had always known, had seen how the others had fought, and could clearly deduce that they would never be on her side with their righteous beliefs on what a soldier was meant to be and what she was meant to do. But they had never had someone die on their watch, never lost a close friend or someone dear to heart because they had not done their duty the way it should have been done. Back then, in another life, she had always been the one to suggest an alliance, more for Haruka's sake than her own. In this life, there had been no Haruka to think of, just a dead girl she had had a crush on, the one innocent that she had failed to save.
Sailormoon and her companions, they had asked and begged her to join them, believing that by numbers alone they would be stronger. But this Sailor Neptune had colder eyes and a deeper understanding of the injustice of the world. If her supposed companions could not deal the killing blow, numbers would only weaken her abilities to do what they had not the stomach to do. She had failed once, and she would not allow the beliefs of those who never bled and never lost to tell her what was more important and what was not to be done to save others because they were too worried about their own conscience. Despite the other Senshi's attempts, she was never caught waiting till the end of a battle to disappear. If the person failed to be the Messiah or the carrier of the Talismans she had been searching for, she never stuck around long enough to even lend a hand. There were others just as capable as herself to handle it and they were far more in numbers, after all. Their end goals may have been similar but how the others had hoped to accomplish them was far more different than her own. For a long time the others had only been blindly fighting, never questioning if something more sinister was occurring, if the enemy was aiming for more than heart crystals and innocents. There was no point to join those who could not give her more than what she already had. After all, in the end, people only turned out to be burdens to mourn over if you let them get too close.
For the sake of humanity, it was better to bloody your hands once than stand weakly by to let the world get engulfed by the Silence. That was what a soldier was for. Sacrifices, after all, did not always have to die on an altar, just as murderers did not always have to die swinging from a noose.
It was a sunny day when she ran across the gasping, weak little child that was named Tomoe Hotaru. She had frozen with Sailor Pluto's voice echoing in her ear. "You will meet her, and if I were you, I would destroy her." The nearby creek reflected her image under the bright sunlight when she had made her decision. So that was what she had done that day by the field of flowers with that girl-child's eyes on her the whole time. Even in her Sailor Neptune form, she could not distinguish her act to be more than a crime as she closed in for the kill.
"You sense the evil inside me too, don't you?" those eyes seemed to ask her.
She had not apologized, not even in the end. It would not have been enough. After all, even such foolish words as: "Your sacrifice is for that of all of mankind," seemed lacking and inexcusable to those somber eyes that seemed to say, "Thank you," and "Finally," so clearly that it hurt. The limp arms dangled in her memory against a well worn bench, and she dared not close her eyes the entire time her fingers tightened until she felt nothing but bones and flesh and the pounding, slowing pulse. And when those eyes were turning blank, she had felt the evil too, unleashing itself from some dark place inside the child. Burning on that pale, sweating forehead was a black, black star. "Deep Submerging!" Her voice echoed as her reflexes screamed at her to move. When it was all over, her heart was pounding deep within her breast as the smallish hands that belonged to the supposedly innocent girl was but centimeters from where it was set to strike and ripe her heart out. And then, all that was left of Tomoe Hotaru disintegrated in her arms, blowing ashes into the wind, though some clung to her hair and her uniform.
Not much later, a young, pink-haired Chibiusa crested over the hill, looking for her wind-swept hat. "Wait! That's a very important hat!" the child had called out. By the time she arrived though, she had found nothing but a strange dark smear that spread from a park bench to the ground, and her hat that lay inches away from the river. She did not have time to linger, as she left the strangely marked place to follow the hat her mother gave her...
"You did what you had to do," Sailor Pluto's voice later greeted her when she had arrived back to her apartment, eyes vacantly staring into the dark eyes that were older than anything she had ever faced. "You saved the world," the other congratulated her with a humorless smile. But she didn't feel like a hero, and that day, she cried while she showered, so that she would not have to distinguish the tears from the hot water pounding on her face. It did not cleanse her of the act and she walked out of there the murderess that walked into it.
"We are tied by murder, you and I," she told the other woman when she found that Pluto had not moved from the spot she had left the other in. Pluto had only shrugged and after some moments, she left without another word. Later in the evening, Meiou Setsuna came to her door and moved in with her.
"Perhaps we are," the older woman later mused over a bottle of deep red wine. "Perhaps we are."
"Are you having guilty nightmares, Michiru-san?" Setsuna asked her one morning when she had risen with dark circles under her eyes.
She had yawned and stretched theatrically. "Are we not Senshi, after all? Fighting for love and justice behind masks and fake identities," she answered mockingly. "What's to feel guilty about, Setsuna-san, if our cause is just?" After breakfast, she dabbed away the circles under her eyes with her favorite concealer and checked herself in the mirror. "Wouldn't even be able to tell they're there," she said with a small smile at the irony of her own words as she looked down at her pure white hands.
The Death Busters were nothing without the entity that lived within Tomoe Hotaru. Apparently they had killed the "Queen Bee" and all that remained were the drones and the foot-soldiers of a limited amount. By the time they had reached the mad Professor's lab, leaving the Witches to be dealt by the other Senshi, he had surrounded himself with the last three daimon remaining, screaming out his rage at them for foiling his plans. Pluto killed the first two, Neptune took the last one with such brute force that the Professor didn't get two blocks down the street before they located him.
She had not been gentle, smashing him onto the side of a wall of windows, littering the nearby sidewalk with broken glass and broken images of a sad, dark sky. "A child?" she remembered asking, her voice filled with scorn. "You had to let that monster possess a child?" And he had laughed at her guilt and what was left of her humanity. So, she had left him to be no more but a smear on the side-walk, not so different from the daughter he had let a monster, out to destroy her world, possess.
"Was that relief that I saw?" Pluto asked puzzled as she looked at the blackened spot on the cement.
"Does it matter?" Neptune had replied coldly, though looking back she would not be able to distinguish whom Pluto had been referring to. The killing held no joys though, no satisfaction, but, unlike Tomoe Hotaru's death, she felt nothing for having killed again, either. Unlike the first time, she was not sickened, she felt no remorse or guilt or hatred. She had done her job, that was it.
She had saved the world from the Silence.
And yet... there was a different type of silence that still faintly buzzed at her from the corners of her sanity.
"Michiru-san." She looked up as she scrapped the last cookie from the stainless-steel pan that gave a blurry reflection of the kitchen and the top of her head. "Who are those for?" Setsuna asked with a inquisitive smile and a raised brow of curiosity as she came down the stairs.
"A little girl," she answered with a smile of her own. "She likes cookies... I hope."
"And those?" Setsuna asked, nodding at the lilacs in the sink. "Are those for the little girl too?"
Michiru had the sense to blush. "No," she answered. "Just someone... who reminded me of the wind."
Setsuna's usually distant eyes seemed to soften around the edges at those words. "Would you like some coffee before you go, Michiru-san?"
Michiru smiled at the other's offer and shook her head. "No," she had answered gently. She had once told Setsuna that she made the best coffee she ever tasted. Since then, when Setsuna sensed that Michiru was having a bad day, there had always been a cup brewed and waiting for her when she got home or where she would not be able to miss it. Even though they were not exactly friends, there was a strange sort of camaraderie that she had not expected in the beginning. But with this woman, Meiou Setsuna, nothing was what it seemed.
When she had arrived at the cemetery, she was feeling slightly tired already. It had taken much to convince Setsuna that she had just had a bad dream and that it had left her disoriented on the reality of things. There had, apparently, been a light rain that fell a few hours earlier. The shadows of the thin rain clouds moved along the landscape, still threatening to sputter out a few more drops before dissipating in the direction of the ocean. She arrived to discover that the earlier showers had given the dusted headstones a sort of wash. "You were one of the lucky ones," she said to Ten'ou Haruka's grave stone, head still pounding confused and dazed at the evidence before her. "But, if I had to save the world for anyone, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if it had been for you..."
Setting the lilacs down at the foot of the standing stone of angels, she sighed a bit to herself. "If you see Hotaru-chan..." She closed her eyes and hugged her arms around her bended knees from where she was crouching. A nearby puddle reflected her sad expression and the unclear sky. "Tell her, Michiru-mama is sorry, ne? I always loved to teach her violin and make her clothes. But those memories... I don't know how long they will last. Everything turned out so different than I had remembered... was I only dreaming?"
"I don't know what happened, Haruka." Michiru grasped her head, feeling the tears come though she was not sure why anymore. "Everything is such a mess that I don't even know how I got here." Was this the reality she had not wanted to acknowledge? But... she remembered waking as such a different person than this cold, hard-hearted woman who visited graves on bright spring days and cried in the shower to avoid the evidence in the mirror. Who was this person who wasn't afraid to sacrifice innocent people, people that she could have loved had things been different? Who was this still composed and outwardly perfect seeming young woman, whose life was filled with more deaths than life, and more tears and guilt than love and triumph?
"Who are you?" she whispered to herself, clenched fingers opening to reveal a henshin pen. But, she could find no answers in the magic that made her a heroine.
'Hey you.' Her eyes moved behind her closed lids at the voice. 'Sometimes, I wish you would tell me your dreams...'
Her eyes shot open at the feel of warm breath against her neck. "Haruka!" she cried out, awake and reaching out to the empty ceiling. Turning she saw the time and groaned into her pillow, letting her hand drop to cover her eyes. "What had I been dreaming about?" She opened her eyes again, squinting a bit. "I wonder who Haruka is...?"
Outside, in the hallway, another mirror appeared.
'Tell me what you're thinking. I can never guess your thoughts when you look that way.'
'Don't hide away from me, Michiru.'
'What are you afraid of?'
'These hands are dirty already...'
'I had a dream, Michiru...'
'We'll be able to meet the owner of the talisman.'
'Wait, Neptune! Don't move!'
'What did you see in your mirror, Michiru?'
'It's you... I dreamt...'
"How is she doing?" the voice from the shadows asked as the dark queen revealed herself.
"Asleep," came a chuckling reply. "The white moon and her court... all deeply asleep."
"Dreaming?" the dark queen asked.
"Dreaming a forgetful dream," another replied.
"Sleeping beauties, never to be awakened by their prince," said another.
"Good," the dark queen purred in satisfaction. She stopped before one mirror, long fingers tracing against the glass as her nails left a faintly screeching noise that vibrated strangely into a buzz on the other side of the glass. "Let them dream such nightmares, forever!"
"Death is so absolute, Haruka," she said to the grey stone and the shadowed ghosts as they imprinted themselves against the black-mirrored background. "It makes living that much harder, ne... knowing that you won't come back to me?"
And then the painful dream-like memories faded into another...
'Hey you.' Her eyes moved behind her closed lids at the voice. 'Sometimes, I wish you would tell me your dreams...'
Her eyes shot open at the feel of warm breath against her neck but then closed tiredly as she fell back to the dark sleep that held her. Michiru sighed and turned in the mirror, vaguely wondering, in her half-dream state, who had left the window open. The buzzing noise faded into the distance as another nightmare began...
'...forever!' promised the voice from the other side.
-san - used as a term of respect; Setsuna using Michiru's first name, despite the usage of '-san' with it, hints at a type of intimacy or closeness that is not shared amongst strangers (and is, in fact, used at times between friends who respect each other).
Eeto - "hmmm" or "let me see" used as a filler while thinking
Senshi - soldier(s) (no, it does not translate to Scout...)
- Hero(ine) was used, several times in this story, rather mockingly and sometimes questionably. I hope you realize its not because I was confused on my vocabulary.
- Can you guess what ties all the pieces of these fragments together? (Hint: It has to do with mirrors (and what mirrors do/used for)!)
- In case you're wondering, my half-assed research told me that hanging was the capital punishment in Japan (to which, I am not sure, -if- it is still in place today). Luckily for me, Sailormoon is set in the nineties! Yes!
- Not much of an AU... but it sure is struggling in that direction, ain't it?
Hope you enjoyed this perky little piece of gloom!
blue (A Doom and Gloom Type of Gal - though of no relation to Beryl)