Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon or the songs used.

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Alone

"If I could
Then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high
Or down low
I'll go wherever you will go."

-The Calling

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The others sometimes pitied Minako. That had been back in the beginning, before they had realized that the blonde didn't want their pity; but back then, none of them could help it. Even Rei had felt a little sorry for her. They knew who she was—they knew she had been Sailor V.

They thought that she'd been alone.

They were wrong.

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Minako didn't know when she became aware of the fact that someone was watching over her, guarding her from afar; she just did one night, and the feeling never went away. At first she thought her unseen, silent companion only tracked her when she was Sailor V, but she was proven wrong when she was walking through the streets of London in broad daylight with the man she'd loved back then and the woman she considered a sister. The chill had raced down her spine and she looked over her shoulder, surprised.

A tall, dark-skinned woman stood silently in the crowd, watching her with calm garnet eyes; Minako blinked, and when she looked back the woman was gone. It was one of those moments that, in movies, had made Minako shudder; but she felt no fear or disgust, merely curious.

Several times after that she glimpsed the mysterious woman in the day, and sometimes at night she thought she saw her as Sailor V; a flash of green in the shadows, the rustle of a skirt in the wind, soft breathing near her ears and footsteps shadowing her own.

But for some reason, she was never afraid.

It felt kind of nice, actually, to know someone cared about her enough to watch over her in both light and darkness.

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Sometimes, when the nights were long and cold and crime was at a low, Sailor V talked to her guardian. It made her glad Artemis didn't tag along with her anymore; the white cat would have surely thought she'd lost her sanity, talking to thin air.

She talked about anything that came to her mind; she never got an answer but she knew, somehow, that the woman with long green hair and dark skin was listening, wherever she was. Occasionally Sailor V thought she heard a soft laugh carried on the wind whenever she said something that was funny or made no sense, but she wasn't completely sure.

The night she fled London, she didn't talk much. She raced back to her apartment, knowing she didn't have much time before the shock and grief of her companions wore off. Tears blurred her vision and she stopped, wiping at her eyes furiously with her hand, knowing that if she kept going she'd just lose her footing and fall. Her sniffles were lost in the wind.

After a moment, she said softly, "Are you going to leave me, too?"

As usual, her guardian gave no reply; but Sailor V knew she was listening.

"I wouldn't blame you if you do." She gave a watery laugh as more tears leaked out and streaked her cheeks. "I have the worst luck with keeping people I care about by my side."

The silence stretched on, as it usually did; and then, out of the darkness:

"Do you want me to leave?"

The voice was so soft, so low that for a moment Sailor V wondered if she'd imagined it; she swallowed the lump in her throat and shook her head, giving a soft hiccup. Realizing her movement couldn't be seen in the darkness she said, "No."

"Even if you can't see me?"

A soft laugh. "Even if I can't see you." Sailor V smiled weakly, grimacing as her wounds stung. "Besides, I can hear you, can't I? That's enough."

A pause as her guardian contemplated the younger girl's confession; once again, the wind carried her voice to the lone warrior. "Then I'll stay."

Sailor V laughed softly. "You never intended to leave in the first place, eh?"

"Never crossed my mind. Are you in pain?"

The blonde winced as her body throbbed in protest to her sprint from the burning building to where she stood now, her legs shaking slightly with the effort of keeping her up. "Just a little. I'm fine."

Another pause.

"Close your eyes." The voice was still soft but firm, not allowing room for argument. Sailor V frowned in confusion but obeyed, closing her eyes. Almost instantly she realized it was a bad idea; her muscles relaxed and went limp, her legs turned to jelly. Panic surged through her as she realized she was going to fall.

Before she hit the ground a pair of strong, warm arms swept Sailor V up and off her feet; she winced and whimpered softly as her wounds screeched loudly in objection to the action, and the arms that held her tightened protectively, holding her close. "I'm sorry. Did I hurt you?"

"It's all right…"

There was a moment as her guardian came to her own conclusions; Sailor V kept her eyes closed, as ordered, but didn't mind. This was the closest she'd ever been to the woman who watched over her, and she didn't have to see her to form an image of her.

The arms that held her now, carrying her as the older woman began to walk, were strong but warm—Sailor V could clearly hear the woman's heartbeat as she rested her head trustingly against her chest, a strong, steady sound that echoed in her ears until it seemed to fade into her blood. Her scent intrigued the young warrior most, though; she smelled strongly of vanilla, but beneath the soft scent there were underlying traces of blood and smoke.

Drowsily, Sailor V mused that most would have been revolted by the scent of blood, the scent of smoke; both scents were strongly associated with death, and if this woman carried even a whiff of either most would have been horribly uncomfortable in her presence.

But to her, for some reason, it was comforting.

"You know…"

Her guardian slowed her pace at Sailor V's soft voice, but didn't stop. "Yes?"

"… You smell kind of nice…"

With that, Sailor V drifted into a world of black.

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After returning to Japan and meeting her fellow senshi, Minako became aware of the fact that her guardian was no longer nearby.

She couldn't explain it, couldn't put her finger on it, but somehow she knew that the other woman was gone. Not dead… somehow, Minako knew her guardian wasn't dead, either.

She was just gone.

Sitting on her bed, absently scratching the sleeping Artemis behind his ears, Minako closed her eyes and smiled bitterly.

"Then I'll stay."

"Liar."

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"Please forgive me for the sorrow
For leaving you in fear
For the dreams we had to silence
That's all they'll ever be
Still I'll be the hand that saves you
Though you will not see that it is me."

-Within Temptation

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Later on, Minako would wonder why she hadn't recognized Meioh Setsuna was the same person as her guardian until the woman joined Haruka and Michiru. She'd seen her before, as Sailor Pluto; but the pieces had not clicked together until later, when Saturn had claimed her rightful place among the Outer senshi.

Perhaps it had been because she had never actually seen her guardian face to face; she'd only glimpsed her a few times, really, certainly not enough to know the look of her. She wasn't sure, but it didn't matter.

All that mattered was that she'd figured it out.

It had been an innocent afternoon, sometime after the defeat of Galaxia. The five younger senshi had crashed the Outers' house without any warning, making themselves at home. Michiru and Haruka had seemed more amused by the invasion than anything, taking it all in stride with good humor.

Minako had been in the process of pulling her hair out over her math homework when Setsuna had wandered into the living room, pausing for a moment as she was thrown off by the sight of all the senshi. She'd regained her senses quickly enough and walked in and, intrigued by Minako's groan of frustration, had innocently settled next to the girl to take a look. "What is it?"

"You wouldn't happen to know anything about math, would you, Setsuna-san?" Minako turned hopeful eyes to the older woman.

And froze, her eyes widening.

Up until now, Minako had never been this close to the green-haired senshi of time—close enough so their elbows brushed, close enough so the scent of the other woman could completely hit her full on. She smelled very much of vanilla, but that wasn't odd; the scent was popular among women of any age.

But just beneath the warm, soothing scent of vanilla was another, scents that Minako recognized.

The faded, mingled scents of blood and smoke.

It had been her.

"It was you." Minako's voice was just above a whisper, but the anguished, shocked tone of it silenced all conversation immediately. Beside her Setsuna said nothing, though her eyes softened slightly. "It was you in London." She swallowed, feeling the hot prick of tears gathering in her eyes as the old pain surfaced. "You said you wouldn't leave."

Setsuna said nothing; her eyes followed Minako as the girl fled from the room, not even blinking when the door slammed shut. Realizing Minako had left the house, something within the senshi of time snapped.

She ran after the senshi of love.

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Minako didn't know where she was going; she just knew she had to get away. Despite her desperation she didn't get very far, barely leaving the house before an iron grip closed on her wrist. The only thing that kept her from falling was Setsuna's own strength, but the senshi of Venus looked at the ground. "Let go," she whispered, her voice shaking with tears that she fought to keep inside. She failed miserably; she could feel the tears streaking her cheeks, and she squeezed her eyes shut. "Setsuna-san, let go," she pleaded.

Setsuna's grip on the younger girl's wrist loosened enough for her to pull free on her own, but Minako's body wouldn't move the way she wanted to. "You said," she choked out, her breath coming in ragged whimpers, "that you wouldn't leave. You said you'd stay if I wanted you to." Setsuna's fingers tightened again, but she still said nothing. "I wanted you to stay." The pain ripped at her inside, and a muffled sob escaped Minako despite her efforts.

"I wanted you to stay, Setsuna-san."

Silence fell after this, broken only by Minako's occasional sniffles. Her control seemed to be coming back, but she still made no effort to completely pull free from Setsuna's light grasp. After a moment, she gave a weak laugh that sounded sadder than amused, as if she'd discovered something about the older woman that hadn't changed. "You know, Setsuna-san…"

The older woman still said nothing.

"… You still smell kind of nice."

That did.

A tremor rippled down Setsuna's spine; she released Minako's wrist. Surprised, the senshi of Venus started to turn, only to find herself crushed against the older woman in a tight embrace. Instinctively, Minako's arms snaked around Setsuna as she felt the taller woman tremble.

"I'm sorry." Setsuna's voice was ragged, hoarse, and Minako buried her face into the other woman's neck. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

And somewhere deep down inside Minako knew why the senshi of time was apologizing, and she knew that Setsuna knew too, but it didn't matter anymore. "It's all right," she whispered. "It's all right."

And though she said nothing at all, Minako knew Setsuna wouldn't leave this time.

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"I love you
I have loved you all along
And I forgive you
For being away for far too long
So keep breathing
'Cause I'm not leaving you anymore
Believe it
Hold on to me and never let me go."

-Nickelback

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"Hey, you know what I just learned, Haruka-papa?"

Sending Michiru an amused smirk, Haruka reached up to adjust her rearview mirror to see Hotaru clearly. "What, hime-chan?"

"I was talking to Usagi-chan, and she told me Minako-chan used to be Sailor V."

There was a moment of silence in the car as Haruka tried to figure out exactly what her daughter was talking about. Pitying her partner, Michiru decided to help her out. "She was that young hero who was very popular way back, remember? Before Sailor Moon and her senshi came along."

"Oh, right, I remember hearing something about her." The sandy-haired woman frowned. "I just thought she vanished into thin air."

Hotaru chose to chime in then. "Actually, turns out she was Sailor Venus all along. But I feel kind of sorry for her. I mean, she was alone for a long time before she met Usagi-chan and the others."

"Don't feel sorry for her, Firefly." Setsuna's soft voice made Hotaru look at her. "No one is ever alone, even when they think they are. Someone's always by their side, watching them."

"Really now?" Eyes dancing, Michiru peered at Setsuna through the rearview mirror. "And you speak from experience, Setsuna?"

The senshi of time laughed, leaning back in her chair and looking out, a small smile curving her lips.

"I suppose you could say that."

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"I know now
Just quite how
My life and love might still go on
In your heart
In your mind
I'll stay with you for all of time."

-The Calling

The End

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...

I don't know. My muse kind of ran away from me on this one. I was just writing half the time and never knew if it made any sense. I know in canon terms it's hard to say if Setsuna ever 'watched over' any of the senshi, but it's possible she did if she had to.

Also, I apologize for the delay in updating Requiem. The third chapter's been started, but it's shaping up to be very long and very sad, and school just started so I've been busy as hell. I swear I'll update it as soon as I can!

Read and review, please!