Sailor Moon Conversations 01: Pluto and Saturn
It was cold on the roof, cold and wet. Thick locks of Setsuna's long emerald hair were plastered onto her forehead and little rivulets of moisture ran down her cheeks. It looked almost as if she was crying. As it was, she stood, still and quiet, her gaze drawn to the small figure that sat on the edge of the roof.
"It's beautiful up here isn't it?" Hotaru's voice was soft, all but lost in the rain. There was a happiness to it as well, a strange, wondering sort of freedom, as though she knew just how odd it was to be up on the roof in the middle of the night with the rain pouring down, knew but didn't care.
Setsuna took a step across the roof and nearly slipped. The tiles were wet and despite herself she chanced a look over the side of the roof. It was a long way down.
"We should go back inside, Hotaru." Setsuna's eyes widened as Hotaru pulled her knees up to her chest and rocked slowly back and forth. "It's not safe up here."
Hotaru chuckled quietly and hopped up onto her feet. Setsuna's heat lurched as Hotaru teetered on the edge of the roof.
"Don't worry, Setsuna-mama," Hotaru chided. "I'm not that careless." She half-skipped, half-swayed her way across the roof towards Setsuna. "Besides, I doubt that falling off the roof could kill somebody like me." A pained smile flickered across her lips and her violet eyes darkened till they were almost black.
"Why are you up here?" Setsuna's crimson eyes narrowed. "What were you doing?"
"I was listening." Hotaru brushed one soggy clump of lilac hair away from her face. "Just listening." She smiled and her expression became almost predatory. "It's just something I like to do, you know. When I have the time."
"Listening?" Setsuna frowned. "Listening to what?"
Hotaru chuckled and closed her eyes. "Oh, you know, everything." One violet eye crept open and there was nothing child-like in its gaze. "You can hear so many things up here, Setsuna-mama, all you have to do is listen."
Setsuna shivered beneath Hotaru's gaze, reminded suddenly of the power that dwelt within her daughter. "Hotaru, we really should go back inside."
Lightning crackled overhead and Hotaru smiled, a sad, strange little smile. Her eyes, twin orbs of burnished violet glittered in the twilight and she seemed suddenly older than her years. In the darkness her eyes seemed almost to glow, and her voice, when she spoke was filled with a terrible hunger
"Just a few moments more, Setsuna-mama." Hotaru turned her face up to the sky and sighed. "Can you hear that?" She laughed and faced Setsuna. "Why don't you give it a try? I really would like it if you stayed a little bit longer and just," she drew out each syllable of the word. "Listened."
For a long, long moment, Setsuna simply stared. There was something unnerving about Hotaru's smile. It wasn't like her daughter at all, and her eyes, she shivered again. Despite the warmth of Hotaru's words, her eyes were cold. But if it would get her off the roof and out of the rain…
"All right," Setsuna said at last. "I'll listen."
"That's great!" Hotaru clapped her hands and danced over to the edge of the roof and patted the spot beside her. "Come on."
Again Setsuna hesitated. There was just something disturbing about Hotaru's smile. It looked like a mask, and beneath it… beneath it, visible only in the deadness of Hotaru's purple eyes, was something altogether frightening. Not hate, not anger, just… just emptiness… just a coldness so total and absolute that it hurt just to look at it.
"Come on Setsuna-mama," Hotaru chided. "We haven't got all day."
Finally, Setsuna moved, stepping carefully to keep her balance.
"Now close your eyes, Setsuna-mama, close you eyes." Hotaru smiled, that same, strangely empty smile. "Close your eyes and listen."
Once again Setsuna hesitated. Was it because of Hotaru? Was she honestly afraid that her own daughter would push her off the roof? At any other time she would have thought herself crazy to even think about something like that. But here, in the darkness and the cold wet rain, and with Hotaru beside her with those dead, dead eyes, the possibility didn't seem so remote. She could almost picture it in her head.
"Trust me," Hotaru whispered and she wrapped her arms around Setsuna's waist. "Just trust me."
Despite her misgivings, Setsuna nodded and closed her eyes.
"Just listen for a little while, Setsuna-mama, that's all I ask." Hotaru's voice was a sibilant whisper. "Just a little while…"
At first all she could hear was the rain. She heard the rhythmic cadence of raindrops as they exploded in little starbursts of moisture against the roof. As she listened the rhythm changed, became almost musical. It was beautiful.
"That's just the rain, Setsuna-mama," Hotaru whispered. "There's more, you know. Listen deeper."
Slowly the sound of the rain faded away to be replaced by something else. It was the wind, Setsuna realised, it was the wind that tore across the rooftops and rustled through the trees. The sound of it in her ears was almost like thunder and every muscle in her body tingled as a brisk wind swept across the roof.
"Deeper, Setsuna-mama, there's more, if you'll just listen."
In the distance Setsuna could hear the quiet rumble of cars and the clatter of a train. At the end of the street she heard a car alarm go off and beneath it, the quiet bubble of water as it rushed along the gutters.
"Just a little bit longer, Setsuna-mama, you're almost there."
Setsuna listened deeper until she became aware of the rasp of her own breath, of the quiet, barely audible rustle of her clothing as she shifted to stay comfortable. And then even those things faded, faded and faded until at last they were gone and there was only the ringing in her ears and then…
Total and absolute.
It was there, beneath everything. Beneath the symphony of the rain and the roar of the wind, beneath her own laboured breath and the ringing in her ears.
Her eyes shot open and she was suddenly, horribly disoriented. She swayed and would have fallen, but suddenly Hotaru's arms were around her and Hotaru's face was pressed into her back.
"That's the secret of the universe, Setsuna-mama." Hotaru's words were a low rumble, spoken directly into Setsuna's back. "In the end that's all there is," she stressed each word. "Silence."
And then, just like that, Hotaru's arms were gone and Setsuna spun to find her daughter walking calmly across the roof.
"Come on, Setsuna-mama," Hotaru whispered. "You said we should go back inside."
It was only later, much later, alone in her bed and surrounded by the awful, awful silence that only the dead of night can bring, that Setsuna realised what had bothered her all along. It hadn't been Hotaru up there on the roof. Hotaru's smile wasn't empty and her eyes weren't dead.
It hadn't been Hotaru at all.
It was Saturn on the roof.
Shaking her head, Setsuna closed her eyes and tried to sleep. But try as she might she could still hear it. Beneath her breathing and the rustle of the wind against the windows, beneath the somnolent whispers and murmurs of the house, beneath everything there was, she could still hear it.
"Silence," Hotaru had whispered.
And there it was.
X X X X
It's been a while hasn't it. I'll be honest, I haven't been updating as much as I should have. Real life has really come into play this year. I'm in my Honours year and my Thesis absolutely devoured my time. But… now that it's over I've got more time to devote to writing fiction and I definitely want to get back into the swing of things. That said, I'm definitely a little rusty and so please forgive my ineptitude until I can get back into my groove.
Sailor Moon: Reflections dealt with one character at a time. In this series I'd like to look at how the characters interact. This particularl piece was something that I've always wanted to do. Although fairly little is said about Saturn's personality in either the manga or the anime, I think you do catch glimpses here and there. I wanted to try and capture how Setsuna would react to that personality, because out of all the Senshi she is the only who knows what Saturn was like before everything went bad in the Silver Millenium.
Anyway, as always, drop me a line. Tell me what you think. Good bad, whatever. Just tell me.