A New Year
"You shouldn't be out here all alone."
Meioh Setsuna was seemingly unaware of the fact that she had company, staring off into space. Her long, shimmering green hair blew gently in the breeze, and her tanned face was cast into shadows, but what was visible was carefully neutral.
"It doesn't bother me." Setsuna replied right away, despite looking like she was disconnected from the world. Her arms were wrapped protectively around her waist, and to Aino Minako she seemed like a timeless photograph.
"Huh," Minako said, leaning against the marble railing, smiling up at the older woman.
It was silent in their bubble.
The lights were muted in the water, and the laughter from inside the house was muffled by the closed slider. The ocean below them was black, and the glorious white orb that once was the home to all of the senshi at one point in time reflected in its calm waters.
A cold wind tugged harshly at their dresses, whipping against their upturned faces and mussing their carefully prepared hair. Neither of them noticed, keeping their stares fastened on the moon, glowing brilliantly in the inky darkness of night.
"It feels sorta nostalgic, you know?" Minako said finally, turning to the Senshi of Time. Her gaze was soft, almost wistful.
"I suppose." Setsuna shrugged noncommittally, but her eyes shone like polished rubies, cutting through the dark like a sharpened cleaver.
They lapsed back into silence once more. Minako kicked off her heels, grabbed fistfuls of her skirt, and jumped onto the railing, settling closer to the green-haired woman.
"Minako," Setsuna said. Her voice was low, soothing like the ocean lapping at the sand, lulling into the silence and not really breaking it.
"What are you doing here?" She wasn't accusing, merely curious in her own monotonous way.
Minako understood. The two of them had never really been close—they worked as a team fairly well, the one time they did so acknowledged that fact. To Minako, Setsuna was the untouchable, the unattainable, and wise beyond her own years, the chilling knowing eyes that pierced through any barriers to see the raw truth.
"Keeping you company." She replied simply. It wasn't her real answer, but it would do.
Setsuna flicked her eyes in the blonde's direction. "I see."
"Yep." Minako let her head lull back, feeling her silky hair slide luxuriously over her shoulders.
"So it never really occurred to you that I've functioned satisfactorily for the past who-knows-how-long?" She asked, quirking a fine dark-green eyebrow.
"Not really." The Senshi of Love grinned cheekily up at her, a mischievous gleam in her eye.
Setsuna shook her head in an amused sort of exasperation. "You," she said.
Minako's expression changed, looking at Setsuna in a wondering sort of way. "Don't you ever get lonely?"
Setsuna briefly closed her eyes. "Such a loose term."
"Well?" Minako was tentative but firm at the same time; fully aware she was knocking on some doors Setsuna—or anyone—would want to keep shut.
"I am content with my life." She said instead.
Minako frowned. "That wasn't what I was asking."
"I know." Setsuna said. A tiny smirk was pulling at her lips.
"I know you know," Minako said, "But I'd really love to hear your answer."
Setsuna let out a deep sigh. Her eyes seemed distant, as if remembering something from long ago.
"Loneliness is a given part of the job description," Setsuna said, "I and all of my predecessors knew it was a sacrifice we would make. And I think what I have now is more than enough compensation for timeless amounts of the ache loneliness brings."
"I'm sorry," Minako said into Setsuna's collarbone, because she wasn't really tall enough. But her arms were long enough to embrace, so Minako drew her close and closed her eyes, letting her warmth wash through.
"I do not regret," Setsuna said, "becoming the Senshi of Time. Because even if I only can grab happiness here and there, I shall be forever happy to protect those close to me."
Minako looked up, her eyes sapphire flames, teary and full of respect. "You're so awesome, you know that?"
Setsuna laughed, a throaty sound that made Minako shiver. "Thanks."
"No problem. But seriously, you know that practically all of us Inners worship you?"
"It's certainly an ego-booster from time to time."
"Listen to me!" Minako huffed, crossing her arms. "I am trying to say something serious for once. You are amazing, Setsuna. You deserve happiness—more than just a 'here and there' thing."
Suddenly, a collective cheer rose to incredible heights, shaking the window panes.
The two senshi smiled.
"Well, happy new year, Minako."
"Likewise. Got any new resolutions?"
Her ruby gaze was humorous. "A few. How about you? Ready to put that willpower of yours to work?"
"You bet. I've got a number one in my head this very moment." Her blue eyes were cloudy, but determined.
"Oh? What's that?" They were close, hips pressed together and breaths mingling in the chilly night air.
Her teeth gleamed in the moonlight. "It's a secret."
"I'll eventually find out, you know. I'm supposed to know everything, remember?"
Minako stepped back, and suddenly she felt cold. "Right as always. I guess I should go inside and make sure the punch is spiked and all that good stuff. Coming?"
"In a minute." Setsuna turned back, lost in her timeless world.
"I forgot something."
Setsuna glanced down at Minako, who was tugging at her elbow insistently. "What's that?"
Their lips pressed together, soft and firm and warm and electrifying.
Minako laughed softly.
Setsuna blinked in dazed astonishment.
"Can't escape tradition. Happy new years, Setsuna."
A shared smile.
Their hearts beat as one.
Their fingers twined and bodies pressed closer. A timeless photograph.
Happy New Years, everybody! It's already 2008. Wow. I wish you all a very wonderful year. Now, go sleep. I'm tired. I'm sure you are too, if you're reading this. I'm putting this out without checking it over 'cause my deadline is about an hour late. Yeah. I was supposed to upload this at 12 o'clock, but it isn't. Love, peace on earth, good fortune, all that good stuff.
It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop