Title: Chiaroscuro

Author: Girl Who Writes

Feedback: If you feel so moved.

Characters: Michiru

SMMFFC Theme: Outer Senshi

Word Count: 973

Rating: PG

Genre: Drama, Angst

Summary: She had never aspired to make the history books. Not like this.

Notes: Quite possibly one of the most bizarre things I have ever written. I'm not sure where this came from, except exhaustion and music. I do love writing Michiru though; she's such a fascinating character. Michiru's personal history is something I have an idea of, and if I ever find infinite time to write all of the stories I have ideas for, Michiru's history would definitely be one of them.

Disclaimer: Naoko Takeuchi owns the characters and scenarios of Sailor Moon. I am a humble fan and thus make no profit from this venture.

Paris isn't the same city it was before. Before, it was almost dreamy, with tiny twisting cobblestone streets and romantic little cafes jostling for space. When the End came, Paris was brought to its knees like every other city, every other town. People were dead in the street; entire arrondissements destroyed in the chaos.

Michiru smiles and sips her coffee, staring out into the streets. Yes, now the atmosphere was muted, some of the magic had been lost upon the world's discovery of real magic. It had lingered awhile, as the survivors rebuilt and tried to recapture their lives before they knew what lingered outside of the Solar System.

But, outside of Japan, most of the survivors were dead or dying. People now did not know how it had been, had not even heard stories about the city. History has been lost to dead people, to sandstone buildings never rebuilt, to pages of a book. It has happened to many cities, but she is only even nostalgic for the Paris of her childhood, before Sailor Neptune.

She smoothes her hair, adjusts her headband. She still looks the same as she did the day Serenity saved them all; an ethereal twenty-three year old girl in expensive clothes (she would never admit to it, but she and Setsuna spent many of their hours off duty salvaging clothes and shoes with the care that nurses bestowed upon their patients) waiting for someone, staring out of the window.

They would never guess she was one of Queen Serenity's senshi, a girl who had stared into the End, and lived to see the Light. That she had gone with Serenity, Uranus and Mercury to Europe, to assist them; she had pulled the injured from piles of debris, arranged 'respectful' mass cremations for the bodies that leaked the darkness that had killed them, and comforted those that had lost everything.

No, she was just another girl visiting the city for several days; she had no bodyguard, she was not of any importance to anyone glancing her way. The meeting she would conduct with the French political powers the following morning would be done subtly, cleanly.

The Inner Senshi did not understand why the Outer Senshi were so insistent upon keeping their civilian lives private, clinging to every little bit anonymity they could. Perhaps it was a side-effect of their insulated fame when they were young. Or that in this proposed paradise, they wanted the peace that came with being a no one. It was restful.

She pulls a heavy book from one of her few shopping bags; an art catalogue from the small gallery that overlooked the Seine; a gallery she had spent hours in as a child, staring up at the massive oil paintings. Many paintings had been destroyed, many more damaged and only a handful repairable.

Her finger traces the brush strokes of one of the lost canvases; her own paintings from her youth hang in a few international art galleries; she has never visited them, to see how badly damaged they were. They are some things best left alone; it is not worth the effort to recapture her art career, her music career. She cannot fade into the background and try to live her old life. It doesn't work that way.

She turns the page, to the more recent paintings that have been added and frowns at the first image in the book; Serenity rising up against the darkness, her senshi encircling her, glowing, like otherworldly petals on a flower, flames framing the scene.

Paintings of Serenity aren't unusual; the Queen has been portrayed as everything from the Madonna and Messiah, to a lithe stone sculpture wrapped in stars. There is an entire gallery in Tokyo dedicated to artworks of the lovely Queen.

It is strange to see herself portrayed in such detail, let alone one hand clasped with Uranus. This is the painting of someone who witnessed everything, someone who saw it with their own eyes – it was not a story or a page in a history book.

She had never aspired to make the history books. Not like this.

Michiru closed the book and stood up, gathering her things, absently wrapping her scarf around her neck, leaving money folded underneath the coffee cup. She was meeting with Haruka the next day, late in the afternoon; Haruka had promised to take her out dancing – something she was looking forward to. Not a ball or a gala, just a pretty dress and the night to herself and Haruka.

"Bonne nuit, mademoiselle," a waiter bows his head to her and she smiles back.

"Merci. Au revoir," she replies, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear and ventures out into the street.

She never expected to see this city like this; her likeness hanging in the gallery, the magic gone – along with so many things she missed but could not name.

She pauses on the street, shopping bags clutched in both hands, staring up at the Eiffel Tower, with thousands of tiny white lights against the night sky. She can hear people calling to each other in the foreign language, mentally translating half of what she hears.

If she has learned nothing else from her years knowing Queen Serenity, it is that nothing is ever really lost – are Serenity and Neptune themselves not proof of that? – until it is given up upon.

Smiling as snow began to drift from the sky, Michiru continues down the street, the city lights flickering shadows across the streets that were still busy. Maybe the magic was still there; maybe because she wielded powers that no scientist could explain, she had become jaded at old-fashioned atmosphere and romantic, rose-coloured stories.

Perhaps the city that had changed out of necessity had lost nothing – it was her that was lost or changed beyond repair.