Born To Be
A Sailor Moon Fanfiction
By: Azurite
seventh-star DOT net

Spoilers for Sailor Moon S up to Episode 130 (when the Holy Grail appears for the first time)

"Usagi? Usaaagi! Geez, I bet she fell asleep again," Chibiusa whined, stomping her foot just outside Usagi's bedroom door.

"Perhaps we should let her be, Chibiusa. She had a very tiring day..." Luna trailed off, staring at Usagi's closed door. It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to picture Usagi sprawled out on her bed, still in her school uniform. But for some reason, Luna felt it was more likely that Usagi had her head buried into her pillow, her hair askew and her face still flushed from crying.

Today had been one of those days.

"Yeah, I guess you're right, Luna. I'm just glad she'll be okay soon. Otherwise she wouldn't be Usagi, right?"

Luna didn't answer vocally, but whatever reply she gave seemed to be enough for Chibiusa, for the next sound Usagi heard from behind her bedroom door was that of Chibiusa running off-- perhaps to her own attic bedroom.

So much the better, Usagi thought. She simply didn't have the energy to deal with Chibiusa tonight. She didn't have the energy to deal with anyone, really.

Not Chibiusa, not Luna, not Shingo, Papa, or even Mama.

It wasn't for lack of trying on Ikuko's part-- she'd seen Usagi come home, haggard and solemn, thinking that another intensive study session had worn her well-meaning daughter out. She'd tried tempting Usagi with pork chops, but Usagi had wordlessly gone into her room and not emerged for the past several hours.

If only Ikuko knew just what Usagi had seen that day-- friends and fellow soldiers fallen before her eyes, blood everywhere, heart crystals floating, refusing to go back into chilling bodies...

It didn't matter how tiring the battles had been. Usagi was sure she wouldn't be sleeping any time soon.

Whenever she closed her eyes, she kept seeing it, over and over again: Neptune, lifeless on the floor, splattered with blood. Uranus, weak and bloody herself, but fighting to stand, fighting to kill herself-- if it meant revealing the Talismans, forming the Grail, and awakening the Messiah.

'The Holy Messiah...'

"For a moment there, you looked like the Messiah..." Usagi remembered Uranus telling her, the older blonde's voice hoarse and lips coated in her own blood. Uranus had smiled just a bit then, and Usagi found herself startled-- she'd only seen an expression like that once before, that sweet and sudden smile that felt wrong in that time and place.

She'd seen it on Mamoru's lips before he'd died in her arms, nearly two years ago at the Starlight Tower.

And she'd seen it again today, at the Marine Cathedral, as Uranus died in her arms.

But when it had been two years ago, and when it had been Mamoru, things had been so different. Usagi had been different then-- more naive, more optimistic, more... everything. Now she was a hard-worn soldier. Part of her always hoped for peace-- a time when the enemies would stop attacking the Earth, its people and their energy, their hearts, and their dreams.

But this time... what were the enemies truly after? The destruction of everything?

That was what Uranus said. Said that the Talismans might belong to innocents, but to save the whole world, that would be a sacrifice they had to be willing to make. Usagi had stubbornly resisted, even when it was revealed that the Talismans were in the hearts of Uranus and Neptune all along...

Their devotion to the Earth had been so great, so true, so pure, it made them the very carriers of the Talismans that they had sought for so long. It went against everything they'd believed about the Talisman holders-- and even against Usagi's own beliefs. She'd listened to Uranus, over and over, say that people would have to die if it meant saving the world from silence. Usagi had stubbornly believed that there had to be another way, but she'd been proven wrong. Almost.

'If it hadn't been for Pluto today...'

It was Pluto's Garnet Orb that had separated Neptune's heart crystal from her Deep Aqua Mirror, and Uranus' crystal from her Space Sword. Usagi hazily remembered that orb topping the Time Staff ages ago, when she'd first met Sailor Pluto in the misty realm of Time on the road to the 30th Century. Sailor Pluto, ageless and wise, who supposedly knew all... she'd probably undergone something just as painful as Uranus and Neptune, if she, too, held a heart pure enough to allow her to carry a Talisman, to leave her post and adopt a human guise.

When Sailor Pluto left her sacred post, it meant things were serious. Usagi knew that, though few would ever think Usagi could take anything seriously.

But she'd been a Sailor Soldier longer than almost any of them --any of them except Minako, really-- and she knew that enemies that wanted to leave innocent people for dead could not be taken lightly.

That was why Usagi kept believing. That was why she kept fighting.

And that was why, even though part of her knew she couldn't be the Messiah, that this time around, she might not be able to save the world from evil, that she ran for the Holy Grail.

That was why she ran harder and faster than she ever had in her life, despite the roar of flames surrounding her, and despite the gnawing in her chest telling her that Uranus and Neptune might not really have survived, or might not survive if Eudial got her hands on the Grail first.

Usagi knew little about the Grail or its power-- only fragments of what she'd heard from Chibiusa or Uranus and Neptune: mostly nothing, really. And even what she had heard couldn't explain the rush of energy and power that she'd felt upon closing her fingers around the Grail for the first time.

The only thing that could possibly compare was the Silver Crystal itself-- the first time it had formed before her, a mix of the Rainbow Crystals and her own tear, of raw energy and pure power locked away for a thousand years. On that day --that day of destiny-- Usagi had ceased to be a "normal" school girl in any sense of the word. On that day, she'd become Princess Serenity, heir to the Moon Kingdom and and Soldier Guardian of Earth.

The moon was barren and lifeless now-- Earth was all she had. It was all she had to protect and she couldn't simply cry about the injustice of being yanked out of her normal routine. The day she'd remembered her past as Serenity was the day Usagi knew that no matter what happened next, she could never be the way she was again.

And this held true, through death, rebirth, reawakening, and heartbreak.

It held true through every battle, through every attack, through every new transformation.

It held true even now, having seen death again and again.

Usagi reached into that netherspace that all the Sailor Soldiers had access to: that place where wands and crystals and weapons went when there were no battles to fight. Those times were rare enough, but there was some minor comfort in thinking that when they were all trying to be normal, the enemies couldn't just sneak into their bedrooms and snatch their transformation wands.

Her hands closed around what had become a familiar figure, a familiar texture and shape-- that of the Holy Grail. It was metallic, but not a metal of this Earth. When she'd first arrived home, Usagi had listlessly flipped open her dusty enyclopedia (a gift she'd received from her parents on her first day of school at Juuban Junior High) and looked up 'Holy Grail.' The image beside the definition was nothing like the cup that Usagi held in her hands-- it was tall and simple, wood-worn and undecorated. Her Grail --no, the Messiah's Grail-- was stout, decorated with a crown and a crescent moon, hearts and jewels and brightness that was more that just the moonlight reflecting off the surface.

It felt right in her hands, just like it felt right to finally be able to face Eudial --easily one of the toughest enemies she'd faced in a very long while-- and simply hold her hand up to block her attack. To be unafraid.

The first time she had become Sailor Moon, Usagi had cried. She remembered that-- remembered Luna saying how astonished she was that the Moon Gems on Usagi's buns had resonated with sonic power and been able to weaken the youma that impersonated Naru's mother. Usagi had never cried like that in battle again.

It may have been out of embarassment or out of a slow transition into the Soldier she truly was at heart, but it had simply never occurred again. But that wasn't to say Usagi was never afraid. Rare were the battles when Usagi WASN'T afraid-- for herself, for her friends, for the innocents that were always targeted or somehow always got stuck in the middle of their battles.

Would it be selfish of Usagi to wish that for once, the enemy might target just the Sailor Soldiers, and not involve people like Masanori, Maya Tohno, Elsa Gray... or anyone else? Ever?

'That might be... asking too much,' Usagi thought briefly, tightening her grip ever-so-slightly on the Grail. For one thing, it would mean no more living with the Tsukinos. It would mean no more 'Usagi,' for that matter, since she would have to be a Sailor Senshi full time. She would have to pour her heart and soul --every ounce of her being-- into defeating the enemy, rather than just waiting for them to target someone and hope that she would catch them in time.

If she had to... she would do it, though. Just like she'd willingly gone to D-Point, willingly faced the Makaiju, willingly gone to Prince Diamond in the 30th Century... willingly gone to Tokyo Tower, and to the Marine Cathedral.

Wherever she was needed, wherever she could help... she had to be there. It wasn't a just a matter of choice-- it was destiny. It was belief.

It was hope.

Usagi felt awkward -a bit rotten, even- thinking that part of her was actually disappointed that Uranus, Neptune, and even Pluto didn't believe that she could be the Messiah. Part of her still hoped that somehow she could be, even if she hadn't been able to handle the power of the Grail.

'Maybe not today, maybe not yet, but...'

But that was selfish again, wasn't it? Even two years of being a Sailor Soldier couldn't change that part of Usagi. It had been with her for thousands of years, as the Princess of the Moon selfishly wanting the Prince of Earth for herself, even though their worlds were meant to be forever separated by suspicion and war.

But for all Usagi's selfishness, in the end, all she wanted to do was help others. Save others, even if it meant no more glass slippers, no more fancy parties, no more red roses from Mamoru.

If it meant stopping that which Uranus and Neptune called the 'Silence'...

Usagi held the Holy Grail at eye-level, as if willing it to suck her energy again, to make her feel faint and heavy-limbed like it had earlier after she'd used it for the first time, turning its power into her own and allowing it to take her over.

It, like the Silver Crystal, possessed something unworldly about it, something infinitely pure and powerful, but parasitic and undiscerning. That was why there was such a danger for the Grail to fall into the hands of the Death Busters, for they could use it to awaken their own Messiah of Silence that would bring about the end of the world. If it was simply a matter of it being power beyond their control, beyond their capabilities and understanding, it wouldn't have mattered today whose hands had grasped the Grail first-- Sailor Moon's or Eudial's.

But Sailor Moon had known --the moment she'd seen the Grail and felt its light wash over her-- that she had to have it first, that Eudial couldn't possibly reach it. If she did, the coldness in her chest would spread outward, turn black, and...

And who knew what would have been different if Usagi hadn't caught the Grail in time? If she hadn't morphed into Super Sailor Moon for the first time, and stopped Eudial with a mere wave of her hand?

Who knew what would have happened if Sailor Moon had actually been afraid in those critical moments?

But that was the odd thing-- she hadn't been. Not when she'd been running for the Grail, not when she'd been leaping through the flames to beat Eudial to it, not when she finally transformed and felt... reborn.

Unlike her transformation from Usagi to Sailor Moon, or from Sailor Moon to Princess Serenity, what the Holy Grail had done to her --body and soul-- felt like nothing she'd ever experienced before. It was like everything that had ever terrified her was washed away like a distant memory, and for the first time, Usagi could feel wholly confident about everything she did.

From the destruction of those youma who had been human to the defeat of one more Death Buster-- a girl who could just as easily be a teacher at Juuban Junior High-- Usagi knew that what she was doing --what she'd been doing for the past two years-- was right. It was what she had to do, what she needed and wanted to do. For herself, for her friends, for the future.

And then that feeling had faded, so quickly.

She was back to being plain old Usagi, weak little Usagi. Usagi the klutz who couldn't stand on her own two feet, and who had to stay back in battles and wait for another Sailor Soldier to weaken the daimon before she could destroy it.

She was no fighter... no soldier, no warrior at all.

No Messiah, either... right?

She could be a Princess and a Champion of Justice, but not a Messiah. She may have saved the world once, twice, three times, but not again. Not this time. Not if it meant any innocents had to die, not if it meant seeing her friends die again.

Was the true Messiah someone invulnerable to those kinds of things? Someone from this Earth with a heart pure enough but a soul so cold they had no friends, no love, no regrets at all?

Usagi briefly envisioned a tall woman with long, white hair, a cape of ivory flowing behind her. But her face was cast in shadow, and only her eyes glinted back at Usagi-- eyes silvery and cold, unfeeling.

How could the Holy Messiah be someone without any hope or feeling at all?

How could the Messiah willingly tap into the infinite power of the Holy Grail if it meant that others had died just to awaken her?

'Why... couldn't it be me?'

Selfish again, so selfish.

Usagi knew it, yet she couldn't bring herself to regret her own thoughts. She was already awakened --a Soldier, a Princess, a Champion. She might be still far too hopeful for Uranus and Neptune's tastes, but it was better than forcing some innocent human to become the world's savior just because she possessed the sole power to handle the Grail in all its infinite power. It was better than ripping someone out of their normal life, their family and their routine to become someone else's hero. If it meant taking them away from all that, leaving them with the knowledge that people had died just to make it happen. To make her life so different, so harsh, so unchangeable.

And what would it be like to meet that person, that Messiah of Light and Purity and Holiness who could save the world when Sailor Moon could not? What would it be like to reach into the netherspace for the last time, her fingers closing around that unearthly metal, her hands tingling with power, her heart thumping wildly in her chest... what would it be like to give that all up to someone else?

Would it be easy, knowing that the burden was on someone else's shoulders now-- for once?

Or would it be hard, parting with that which had given Usagi true power --or perhaps true weakness. She hadn't been afraid when she'd become Super Sailor Moon for the first time. She hadn't felt fear at all. Not for herself, not for the other Sailor Soldiers or Tuxedo Mask... and not for Eudial, whom she'd blasted so easily through one of the cathedral's many stained glass windows.

She hadn't felt anything.

Usagi closed her eyes against the feeling, but in her head, she saw quite clearly-- that white-caped figure with the flowing hair and glinting eyes... was her.

Well, I suppose this is as good a place to stop as any. I came up with this idea while re-watching Sailor Moon S in the weeks just prior to Usagi Day on the SMRFF for 2007. It's the first Sailor Moon fic I've written in a long while, and I'm sure it's fairly rough in places, having been utterly unbeta'd, something that goes against my personal standards these days. Nonetheless, I hope everyone enjoyed it.