Chapter 1: "Broken Hearts"
A Neo-Sailor Moon fanfic
By Bill K.
Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2008 by Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha and Toei Animation and are used without permission, but with respect. Story is (c)2008 by Bill K.
It wasn't often that Hotaru Tomoe went shopping with her friend and fellow senshi, Cere-Cere. Usually she went shopping with Usa, the Princess Usagi. She was close to Usa and could more easily confide things to her than her other friends. Usa was more understanding of Hotaru's background, having spent time with her in the twentieth century, and was familiar with Hotaru's old family situation. There was a closeness to Usa that Hotaru didn't have with anyone else, except perhaps her boyfriend Yutaka.
And Cere-Cere's tastes in everything were just so - - loud. Watching Cere-Cere try outfits or jewelry on herself made Hotaru uncomfortable and self-conscious of everyone around her.
But Usa wasn't in the mood for shopping. Recently she wasn't in the mood for anything except finding some way to see, touch, speak, dream or otherwise communicate with Helios. And Hotaru needed to shop for new shoes. She would have gone alone, but Cere-Cere volunteered, because she loved shopping and because it got her away from the attempts of Ves-Ves to annoy her. However, as they went along from store to store, Hotaru noticed that Cere-Cere was trying too hard to be her usual vivacious, material self. It seemed, to the dark-haired waif, that the longer they went, the harder it seemed that Cere-Cere was trying to seem normal. When they finally landed in a restaurant for some ice cream and a little lunch, it became too much for even the normally reticent teen.
"Is something wrong?" Hotaru inquired.
"What makes you say that?" Cere-Cere asked - - too quickly - - before her eyes dived to her fudge sundae.
"If it's none of my business, just tell me. I won't be offended. It's just that you seem like you're trying to be normal instead of just being normal."
Cere-Cere just stared at the sundae.
"Forget I asked," Hotaru offered.
"You know it's fall," her friend said. The overhead lighting glistened as it reflected off of the stylized magenta hair she wore.
Hotaru cursed herself for even bringing it up. Cere-Cere's relationship with Gallan had become commonplace to Hotaru by now. But it was still a unique relationship between a teenage girl and a thousand year old tree spirit. And for six months, starting in late October, the tree spirit Gallan went into hibernation and Cere-Cere always grew morose. This would be the second fall since their pairing.
"I'm sorry," Hotaru said. "I completely forgot. How soon until Gallan goes into hibernation?"
But Cere-Cere shook her head.
"No, it's not that," she admitted. "I'm not sad about him going into hibernation." She gritted her pearly teeth. "I'm kind of glad. Hotaru," and she paused, wondering if she dared to say more. Hotaru bent in closer. "I don't know if I love him anymore."
"I've been going through the motions for months. I thought it was just his being absent, and then the trouble with the Zacharians. I thought I'd start feeling the same way about him again. But I don't. Is it possible to stop loving someone?"
"Did he do something?" Hotaru asked.
"No!" Cere-Cere almost sobbed. "He's the same kind, gentle, loving spirit he's always been. It must be me. I must have changed somehow. The last few weeks have been Hell. I don't want to be with him anymore, but I don't have the guts to tell him. It would hurt him so bad." Her hand went up to her eyes to wipe bubbling tears. "Oh, I can't believe I'm this shallow!"
"You're not shallow," Hotaru told her. "Cere, people change."
"But," Cere-Cere stammered, "but I thought love was supposed to be forever. How can it be that I can be hopelessly in love with someone and then, one day out of the blue, I'm not?"
"Obviously this has been building. It doesn't happen in a day."
"And if - - if I can do that to someone I owe my life to," Cere-Cere began, a spark of terror in her eyes, "it can happen to me. What if one day Jun decides she doesn't want to be my sister anymore? Or Palla-Palla? Or - - someone else?"
"Cere," Hotaru began.
"Hotaru, what if I wake up one day and I'm alone?" Cere-Cere asked. She turned away in embarrassment. "What's the use of being on the planet if nobody notices?"
"I'll notice," Hotaru whispered. Cere-Cere turned to her, slightly. "As long as I'm here, you'll have one friend. Two, if you count Usa. She'll never stop being your friend. And your sisters are going to be your sisters forever. You four have been through too much."
A shy smile sprouted on Cere-Cere's face. "Yeah," she whispered. "Kind of went off the deep end a little, didn't I? Sorry. It's just - - I don't know what to do."
"Are you sure you don't love him anymore?"
"Yeah. Maybe I never did. Maybe I was just mistaking lust and gratitude for love. He is still cute." As she spoke, Cere-Cere dabbed at her melting sundae with her spoon. "I'd really like to still be his friend. I just don't know if I can if I hurt him."
"You can't keep seeing him if you don't want to," Hotaru told her with as much conviction as her innate shyness allowed. "It's not fair to you. If you're gentle and honest about it, maybe he'll understand."
Cere-Cere blew out a huge sigh. "Maybe I could go back to Brasilia and become a nun."
Hotaru looked on sympathetically. But she remained silent because she was out of advice.
"Your Mom's at the door," chimed the environmental control computer to the room's lone occupant. The computer spoke, as it had been reprogrammed by the room's occupant, in an approximation of Hotaru's voice. Usa, laying on her bed, blew at her pink bangs.
Of course, the computer was programmed to allow the King and Queen entry without permission if one or both overrode the security system. But Usa knew her mother wouldn't do that unless the computer reported some physical distress. She might start pleading, though, and Usa didn't want to go through that.
"Come on in, Mom," the girl replied with little relish.
The door whizzed open and Queen Serenity stepped in. The teen glanced at her and didn't notice that the woman still looked as young and radiant as she did when she first ascended to the throne of Japan back in 2015. After all, to the young Princess, she'd always looked that way. To her, Queen Serenity was just "mom", unrelenting source of security and guilt, wonderment and frustration. The Queen glided over to her daughter's bedside and, uninvited, sat down on the side.
"Are you ever going to come out of your room?" Serenity asked.
"It's not like I'm holed up in here or anything," the girl scowled. Her eyes averted. Serenity waited for more. "It's just," and Usa sighed, "Helios isn't here. What's the point?"
"I know you miss him," Serenity said, her hand resting on her daughter's forearm.
"I'm five stages beyond missing him," Usa retorted. "Mom, I want to be with him so bad! Nothing else matters!"
A smile of recognition grew on the Queen's face.
"And don't tell me it's just like when you and Pop were dating," Usa said quickly. "You and he lived in the same district."
"Not always," Serenity began with a look that was trimmed in melancholy. "Remember, your father tried to study in America once. We were separated for - - well, it seemed like a lifetime, but it was two whole weeks."
"Two weeks," muttered Usa. "What I wouldn't give for it to be just two weeks."
"And then, of course, there was that nasty business with Sailor Galaxia," Serenity continued. Emotion colored her voice and caught her daughter's attention. "Even now I hate thinking about it. Seeing his crystal in Galaxia's hands and wondering if I'd ever see him again."
Usa's hand came up and grasped her mother's elbow. It seemed to steady the woman.
"Besides," Serenity said, marshaling herself on, "you can live in the same district and still have barriers. Your father was always surrounded by his studies and his college friends, and I was just a silly little fourteen year old girl who couldn't walk five steps without tripping. You remember how I was."
"Yeah," Usa murmured.
"There were times when I wondered if we'd ever be together forever, and that was after he stopped pushing me away." The Queen glanced at Usa with playful anger. "And I also remember somebody who made it her life's mission to be my rival for him, thanks a lot."
Usa smiled at the memory.
"How did you survive it?" the teen asked. "Mom, it's driving me crazy!"
"Well, I didn't have a choice," Serenity shrugged. "Your father wouldn't even consider marrying me until he was well enough off to support me. It didn't matter to me. I could have survived on just his love - - and a few pork buns - - but he wouldn't hear of it. My only choice was to wait for him or forget about him." She glanced at her daughter slyly. "And I couldn't forget about him."
"Know the feeling," Usa grinned back.
"So I waited for him. Before you say it, yes it was hard. The gang helped me get through it. So did your grandmother, and even your grandfather after a while. And even your Uncle Shingo, in his own bratty way, helped me get through it." Serenity thought a moment. "But something else that helped was having a goal. I decided that your father deserved the best bride he could have and I was determined to be that woman. So I started studying so I could talk to him on his level, and other things like cooking and budget management."
"Mom," Usa eyed her cynically. "You forget, I was there for part of your teen years."
"OK, I never said I wasn't easily distracted," huffed the Queen. "Plus I did have Sailor Moon stuff to worry about. But I did try. And it helped keep my mind off of missing him - - just a little bit." She rubbed her daughter's arm. "But I guarantee you, sitting in this room and mooning over him isn't going to help. Go out. Go to school. Go out with your friends. Get a hobby. Get a job. The more normal you make your life, the more you'll be able to tolerate your guy not being in it. And then you'll be able to count the days until you can be with him without going crazy."
Diana suddenly appeared on the bed. "Listen to her, My Lady."
"How long have you been here?" Serenity gulped.
"The entire time," Diana replied with some chagrin. "I was - - sleeping by the radiant heat element in the far corner."
"It's her latest favorite spot," Usa smirked.
"You've always been quite eloquent in matters of the heart, Your - - erm, Queen Serenity." She glanced at Usa. "Perhaps SOME PEOPLE should listen."
"All right, all right!" Usa bellowed dramatically. "I'll go, I'll get up, I'll do something! You people are such nags!"
The girl bounced out of bed and went to the closet to select an outfit. Serenity and Diana grinned at each other.
"BUT," the Princess huffed, sticking her head out of her wardrobe closet, "I WILL NOT - - STOP MISSING HIM!"
"Nobody expects you to, dear," Serenity smiled sweetly.
"Where's Cere?" Ves-Ves asked. She popped her head out of her bedroom into the central living room the four 'sisters' shared. Jun-Jun was at her desk computer. Palla-Palla was in her corner of the room playing with her dolls.
"Why, you need to torture someone?" Jun asked absently, then began softly reciting words into the computer's voice-activated word processor. Ves-Ves wandered over.
"You still trying to be a song writer?" Ves-Ves asked, peering over her sister's shoulder. The computer dutifully added her words to the verses Jun had already compiled. The girl snorted at Ves-Ves with frustration.
"Go mess up somebody else's work!" Jun fussed, erasing the line. "I only do it because it relaxes me - - lets me find an outlet for my frustrations. Maybe they're not any good, but I like doing it." She moved the cursor back to where it was supposed to be. "And Cere is out shopping with Hotaru."
"There goes the budget for the month," muttered Ves-Ves.
"Guess what next week is!" Palla-Palla chirped, coming up to them.
"Um, let me see," Ves-Ves thought out loud, struggling to keep from smiling. "Somebody's birthday?"
"Yes! It's Palla-Palla's!" the blue-haired amazon beamed. "Guess what she wants for her birthday!"
"A horseback ride," Ves-Ves said. Palla-Palla's smile dimmed with surprise for a moment.
"Guess what else she wants!" Palla-Palla persisted.
"A new doll?" Jun-Jun guessed as she surveyed her lyrics.
"NO FAIR! YOU'VE BEEN PEEKING!"
"It's what you always want, Stupid," Ves fired back.
"Well, Palla-Palla wants all that stuff," the teen said, walking back to her doll corner. "And she wants cake and ice cream and balloons and lots and lots of friends. And she knows the Queen will give it to her, too."
"And she'll probably eat half of the cake and ice cream," Jun mumbled. Ves snickered to herself.
It took almost a minute for Ves-Ves to notice, but finally she realized that her sister's euphoria had died just a little too quickly. The red-haired teen turned and saw Palla-Palla in her corner stroking the hair of one of her dolls with an expression of forlorn sadness. The teen gently walked over and crouched next to her.
"What's wrong?" Ves asked. Palla-Palla wouldn't answer at first. She just continued to stroke her doll's hair. "Hey, Palla-Palla, we were just joking."
"Palla-Palla knows that," the girl said softly. By now, Jun was twisted around in her seat and looking. "She was just thinking - - about how nice it would be if - - if her real mommy could be at her birthday party."
Ves-Ves looked on helplessly. "Palla-Palla, we've been over this. We don't even know if your real mom is still alive."
"She is. Palla-Palla knows it. She doesn't know how, but she does."
"Well, even if she is alive, there's a thousand places in Brasilia she could be," Ves-Ves reminded her, "and she may not even be in Brasilia. You know we've tried tracking her down and didn't get anywhere."
"Palla-Palla knows," the teen murmured. "She was just saying it would be nice. She'd even trade her new dolly and horsie ride for it."
Ves reached over and rubbed her sister's thigh. "I know. But there's no point in dwelling on it. You'll only make yourself sad." Palla-Palla nodded silently. "How about I go to the cafeteria and get you some candy, huh?"
Palla-Palla looked up at her sister timidly. "Thank you," she said, gratitude in her big blue eyes. Ves-Ves gave her an encouraging smile and got up.
"I'll go with you," Jun-Jun said suddenly, sprinting to join her sister.
In the corridor, the pair headed for the cafeteria where there was a small selection of candy - - an addition to the original plans that Queen Serenity was responsible for. As they walked, Jun-Jun could see the smoldering anger in her sister.
"I'd like to get my hands on that woman for five minutes," muttered Ves-Ves.
"What would that solve?" Jun-Jun asked.
"It might give her some clue to the suffering she's put Palla-Palla through for all these years," Ves replied bitterly.
"She misses her. We all miss our parents. I don't even know who mine are and I miss them," Jun-Jun answered.
"Yeah, I know. I miss my Mom, too. But my mom didn't abandon me in a store. It wasn't her choice to leave me. There's no call for what that woman did to Palla-Palla." Seeming to notice her company for the first time, Ves glanced at Jun. "So why are you here? You don't eat candy."
"I've got an idea," Jun responded. "I've got to check a few things first, but I may just be able to get Palla-Palla a better present than a doll or a horseback ride."
Continued in Chapter 2