Silent All These Years
A Sailormoon Fanfiction by Dejana Talis
She had almost forgotten the taste of real air.
There was nothing purer than the bubbles of oxygen at the castles. Clean, sterile, and still as a tomb. Air on Earth was an entire universe by comparison. It lived, chaotic with a thousand scents, and best of all, it moved. She closed her eyes, savoring the brush of the breeze against her skin. Sad that the soldier of wind would be one of those fated to spend her life cut off from it.
Maybe tomorrow, she would go out for a run in the forest before -
A door banged open on an upper balcony. Angry words tumbled out into the night, no longer muffled by thick crystal walls.
"-ve, then, leave like you left me behind ages ago-"
"Maybe I will be the one to leave this time! Maybe it's finally my turn, Mamoru!"
The door crashed shut. Footsteps clicked overhead. The queen of Crystal Tokyo rose behind the upper railing, a glow of moonlight against translucent stone. Her anguished expression turned to shock as she noticed the figure standing on the platform below.
"Sailor Uranus." Neo-Queen Serenity turned away quickly and wiped at her cheeks. "I didn't know anyone was..."
"My apologies, my queen," Uranus muttered. She bowed quickly and turned to leave.
"Don't go - please - just wait there-"
The glow of the queen vanished from the balcony. Uranus sighed, running a hand through her short hair. She hadn't meant to overhear; she'd only hoped to savor the only evening she had. Uranus turned toward the outer railing as glass slippers clicked hurriedly toward a back stairway. The full moon was shining over the city, soft silver light glittering on crystal roofs and roadways. They always came with the annual report on a full moon.
There was nothing left of the Tokyo she had once known as Tenoh Haruka. The countless buildings spreading outward at her feet were the only evidence of the thriving population that lived there. It was barely past midnight, but nothing moved on the streets. She remembered a time when Tokyo never slept, when she would regularly weave her motorbike through the 4 AM traffic. Gone, now, like so many things.
The city was still, but not silent. Never silent, when compared with the emptiness of space. Her ears were filled with the chirping of insects, the rustling of leaves, the whisper of the wind in her skirt. Even so, she felt Serenity's presence before she heard her approach. Sailor Uranus turned and dropped to one knee, the crystal floor cold against her bare flesh.
"Don't," Serenity protested, pain in her gentle voice. "Haruka... please stand up."
Uranus did so. The face she raised her eyes to was dry, but the moonlight shone harshly on reddened skin. Uranus' eyes narrowed. King or no king, she could not think highly of anyone who made Serenity cry.
"I wanted to thank you again for what you did today," the queen said breathlessly. "It was a miracle you were there."
"It's nothing any of the others wouldn't have done."
"Would they?" The words were barely a whisper, but after centuries of isolation Uranus' ears were sharp enough to catch them. Serenity glanced away, uncertainty clouding her features. A familiar unease reared its head within Uranus' stomach; the uncomfortable sense of something amiss. The time would come when her worries could no longer be ignored, but what could she do? She was on Earth one day in a thousand.
The Neo-Queen abruptly cleared her throat, words spilling out to bury thoughts left unspoken.
"Jupiter wants to pull all the old masonry out of the gardens," she said in a rush.
"It's easy to forget that stone and plaster don't hold up as well as crystal," Uranus observed. Sailor Mercury's clinic had erased the scrapes and bruises from her skin, but the muscle aches that came from heaving aside a crumbling block were not as easily banished.
"I hate to let those arches go," Serenity said wistfully. "That landscaping is one of the few things left that isn't artificial. One of the few real things."
"You were nearly crushed today," Uranus reminded her. "It would not be wise to risk that again, my queen."
Serenity's gaze flashed back to meet hers, eyes wide with fresh pain. "Do you have to call me-?" She broke off, turning her attention to the glittering city. "You agree with Jupiter, then?"
"She has your best interests at heart." If Uranus could not be at Serenity's side, at least there was Sailor Jupiter. The other soldiers were nowhere to be found, but Jupiter had been properly remorseful for her absence that afternoon. Uranus had seen her in the training arena, working herself so weary that the tears came. She left before Jupiter could challenge her to a sparring match only one of them would walk away from.
Of course, were she in Jupiter's place, Sailor Uranus would have had nothing to punish herself for. She would have been with her queen when the arch collapsed, as was her duty as a guardian soldier. Serenity wouldn't have had to rely on the quick thinking of an outer soldier whose place was two billion kilometers away.
"Yes, they... the Sailor Soldiers have always taken care of me." The queen's voice was distant, her eyes sad with the answer to the question Uranus' lungs ached to ask. Where had they been that afternoon, when Uranus found herself alone with the Neo-Queen save for a few human guards and servants? Where were the soldiers whose entire purpose in life was to protect their queen?
"There was a time when I took care of myself." Serenity glanced at Sailor Uranus out of the corner of her eye, watching the short skirt of the soldier's uniform flutter in the breeze. "I used to take care of them."
"It was never supposed to be that way," Uranus reminded her. She smiled wryly, knowing she was about to breach protocol but certain Serenity wouldn't mind. "I seem to recall a certain soldier wanted nothing more than to stop fighting."
"You would remind me, Haruka," said the queen with a smirk. "God, those days... they seem a lifetime away now."
"A thousand years is many lifetimes. Things change."
Much had changed, but the aura of the woman before her remained the same. Standing beside Neo-Queen Serenity, Uranus felt warm and safe, like nothing would ever hurt her. As a soldier, that feeling was partnered by a fierce desire to prevent anything from harming that sense of comfort. Even at her distant post, she felt it, but it was nothing compared to the intensity of standing only a few feet from her Queen. She wanted desperately to stay at her liege's side forever, and ached with the crushing knowledge that tomorrow they would be separated again for three long years.
How could the guardian soldiers, blessed with the duty of hovering close to their shining light, drift away?
"Everyone's so busy now," Serenity said brightly, as if she had heard Uranus' unspoken question. She smiled the empty smile that was her public face, so different from Usagi's. "It's only natural they would find other things to do. There are no enemies now. I miss them, but their work is so helpful in the provinces."
Uranus fought the scowl that threatened to overtake her face. She had assumed that today was unusual, but from the sound of things, Serenity had been on her own for quite some time. She resolved to have some firm words with the younger soldiers as soon as she could reach them. It didn't matter what else they felt like doing. Their duty was to their queen.
Besides, no errand could excuse the other figure conspicuously absent from the garden that afternoon. The warrior who had been Serenity's shadow since her days as the Moon Princess. The voice that had shouted so harshly in the royal suite, that had sent her away in tears. Endymion.
"Do you see Michiru often?"
The fists that had been clenching at Uranus' sides fell apart as Serenity's question dropped a rock into her stomach. She composed herself quickly, but the queen was annoyingly observant.
"Not as often as you'd like?"
Sailor Uranus turned away. The rudeness of showing her back to the Neo-Queen was nothing compared to a babble of pain and loss and frustration, the mess that would undoubtedly come pouring out if she kept looking into Serenity's ever-understanding eyes. Worse yet, if Serenity knew of the growing distance between Miranda and Triton Castles - of the empty words, flat gazes, and hours upon hours of nothing to do but remember long-lost smiles and kisses - she would try to help, and that would only make things worse. Some situations couldn't be changed.
But she had to say something. Turning her back was bad enough; she couldn't ignore a question from the queen.
"Duty keeps us busy," she managed.
"I know how that is," Serenity said softly.
Uranus' fists clenched again. Did she? Did she know the pain of duty, living in her castle surrounded by flowers and sunlight and wind? Could she possibly imagine what it was like to be exiled to a lonely post, billions of kilometers away from any other human being?
A gentle hand touched her arm. Uranus whirled around and backed away, heart pounding. Not only was it inappropriate to touch the queen, but if Serenity embraced her, Uranus knew she would no longer be able to contain her private suffering. When had she become so weak?
No. She had always been weak against Serenity's warm heart.
The queen stared up at Sailor Uranus, stricken. "We see each other so rarely. I hoped we could talk as friends."
"Some things are no longer possible, my queen."
As Serenity's face crumpled into despair, Uranus wished with all her heart for those words to be a lie. She wanted nothing more than to take Serenity in her arms and comfort her, to tease her and make her smile as she had when they were Haruka and Usagi. If this horrible night ever ended and she ever got off that balcony, she was going to find a wall and punch it until it collapsed.
"What's happened to you, Haruka?" the queen asked with pleading in her voice. Uranus looked at her and wondered the same thing. What had happened to all of them? Duty was all that came to mind, the prison that defined and isolated them. Destiny had forced them together only to force them apart.
"I have been isolated a long time," was the only explanation she could think to give.
Something flashed in Serenity's eyes.
"Do you think I wanted that?" she demanded, her expression growing hard. "Is that it? Do you blame me for sending you out there to guard against invasion?"
"That's not what I-"
"We can't help the roles we were born to!" Serenity went on, tears welling up despite the sudden anger tensing her slender form. "Things aren't easy here either!"
Indignation rose up in a wave of suppressed bitterness that overrode all sense of propriety. Sailor Uranus glared at the pretty queen of Crystal Tokyo, swaddled in her shining white dress and kingdom of adoring subjects, and both loved and hated her.
"Your life is the fairy tale that came true!" Uranus snapped. "You've been protected all along while others suffered for you, while others got blood on their hands. You've always been soft-"
"Do you think soft is any easier?" Serenity challenged. "My fate may look prettier, but it's no kinder than yours! Which is easier - destroying your enemies, or opening your heart to them? Which is easier - living alone with the truths of your own mind, or spending your days talking with strangers who blindly obey you, working with friends who no longer love you, sleeping with-"
Her hand flew to her mouth as she choked on the strangled confession, and she averted her eyes from the soldier's face. "Anyway," she muttered, "my road may be different than yours, but it was never easy."
"You're right," Uranus said softly. Old memories buried by centuries of isolation rose to the surface. Images and sounds flickered across the years to scar Uranus' heart with the blood, screams and tears shed by Sailor Moon. She was as bound by destiny as any of them, perhaps even more so, and had suffered just as bravely.
"I'm sorry, too," Serenity answered in a choked voice. She cleared her throat and blinked the tears away. Serenity, too, had changed. Usagi would never have cursed her life like that, or held back when the frustration led to tears. A thousand years of filling the roles destiny defined for them had taken a toll on them all.
Neo-Queen Serenity moved to the edge of the balcony and looked over the rail at the sleeping city. "I wonder how long it will be before our private problems start to affect them."
Uranus looked at her, an eternally young woman wrapped in silk and delicate wings, and tried to see the vibrant, vulnerable girl a racing prodigy had once flirted with. The weight she had carried as Sailor Moon was nothing compared to the burden she was under now. The outer soldiers had always thought they were taking the harshest responsibilities upon themselves, but the younger girls endured their own trials.
"It will be all right, kitten."
Serenity turned to her and smiled, a genuine smile that spread slowly from her lips until her entire face was alight. In the glow of her delight, Uranus smiled too.
"Come and sit with me, Haruka."
Uranus followed her queen to a sculpted bench beside the balcony railing, where she stood awkwardly until Serenity seized the bow at the back of the soldier's uniform and pulled Uranus down beside her. The queen grinned mischievously as the stress of hundreds of years melted away.
"Careful, there," Uranus warned with a smirk. "If someone sees this, you could get in trouble."
"Maybe I'm taking after an old friend."
"Now, now. I always tried to be a positive role model."
"Yes, I'm sure that's why I always ended up ditching school to run around in a short skirt whenever we got together."
"Hey, you can't say you weren't warned. I can't help it if you didn't listen all those times we told you to stay away from us."
"I should have. You were always a dangerous character."
They chuckled quietly for a moment, both lost in their own memories of a past as distant as the stars.
"I miss it sometimes," Serenity said finally. "Despite the fighting and the sleepless nights. We had something special, then."
"That's destiny for you," sighed Uranus, stretching her sore arms. Somewhere at the back of her mind, she welcomed the pain. Saving Neo-Queen Serenity from the falling archway had been frightening, but at the same time, she'd felt more alive than she had in ages. "Nothing stays the same."
"Crystal Tokyo does." Serenity looked down at her lap, where her hands had arranged themselves in their usual pose.
"You're wrong, you know," Uranus said after a moment. "They still love you; they all do."
"I know that," said the queen, looking away. "In my heart, I do. But I can't help but wonder... would they without destiny pulling the strings? How much of their love is obligation?"
"The Usagi I knew found value in all kinds of love."
"And I do! I do... and I love them, but... where would we be if fate hadn't made us what we are?"
"Dead, of old age," Uranus said bluntly.
"Haruka!" Serenity shoved the soldier's shoulder playfully, and this time when she leaned against her, Uranus didn't pull away. When the queen's eyes sparkled like that, Uranus could almost see Usagi inside them, the girl who'd stolen a piece of her heart all those centuries ago.
"Being with you like this, it brings back so much," Serenity murmured. "There were certainly things I would have done differently, had destiny given me a choice. It all seemed so simple then. It was all laid out so neatly. Endymion was reborn as Mamoru, so we could be together, and we'd be married and bring back the Silver Millennium... I never had to decide what I wanted."
Serenity's hair was soft against Uranus' shoulder. She knew it would be hard to go back to Miranda Castle after this, but for the moment, their parting was furthest from her mind. As a soldier, she longed for Serenity's presence; they all did. But it was Usagi that she missed most, and Usagi that she was lending her support to now.
"Mamoru, too," the queen went on, half to herself. "There was me, always only me. He never had to decide, never had to want it for any reason other than destiny. What else was there? What else..."
Serenity's pale fingertip traced the edge of one of the pleats on Sailor Uranus' skirt. She was warm and shining, pure moonlight with the heat of the sun, the incarnation of dreams made reality.
"It's for the best," said Uranus, in a voice that rasped unexpectedly. "This is the dream we all fought for, the peace we all wanted."
"At what price?" asked Serenity in a low whisper. "There was always the duty, above everything, the script we had to follow. Not just the fighting and the kingdom. Friends, too; careers, relationships. I could never choose my own path after graduation. I could never fully confide in anyone who wasn't a soldier. I could never be interested in anyone else. Even when I was attracted to someone different, I couldn't take it seriously, I - Haruka, I - I always - "
Serenity pulled herself up and pressed Uranus' lips to hers.
For an instant Uranus froze, wide-eyed, but ancient tenderness and years of longing overwhelmed her. The centuries rolled away; the taste was the same sweet softness as that day, long ago, when she had surprised Sailor Moon with a kiss. Years had turned that young soldier into Neo-Queen Serenity, but this was Usagi, only Usagi, and her heartfelt desire swept the gathering shadows out of Sailor Uranus' soul.
Somewhere, both close and far away, a door opened and a voice called out a monarch's name. Serenity held fast, clearly not caring if they were caught, but Uranus broke away hurriedly and got to her feet. Through the pain in the queen's blue eyes she saw an echo of the difficult truth that overshadowed them both. Their destiny was absolute. If the bond between the king and queen failed, the kingdom they upheld would be at risk. As a soldier, Uranus was bound to defend that kingdom, no matter what form the threat might take.
King Endymion's face appeared over the railing of the upper balcony. His posture drooped with the weight of a burden Uranus knew well.
"Serenity," he called down to his wife. "I'm sorry. Please, come back so we can talk."
The queen nodded and rose from the bench. She turned to the Sailor Soldier beside her, who did not flinch when a hand was laid on her arm.
"Thank you again, Sailor Uranus." The shadow of Usagi had vanished beneath the polished demeanor of the queen, but a brief kiss blazed like fire on Uranus' cheek. They parted, and Neo-Queen Serenity walked slowly toward the staircase that would take her back to the royal suite.
Uranus glanced up into a look of disapproval on King Endymion's face. Something inside her snapped. With a moment's focus, she drew on the latent power inside her and leapt into the air, landing gracefully on the upper balcony. Endymion, stripped down to his suit pants and white shirt, stumbled backward in surprise.
"Remember your place-"
"Then you remember yours," Uranus hissed. "I don't care what you've been getting up to. Wine, women, a secret treehouse in the forest where you pretend to be lord of the forest sprites, I don't care. We all have a role in this thing, and yours is to stand at Serenity's side and damn well protect her! If anything happens to our queen, you'd better have died first, or I swear you'll die second."
Without waiting for a response, Sailor Uranus sprang from the balcony and worked her way swiftly toward the distant ground. The wind whistled in her ears, singing in harmony with the adrenaline coursing through her blood, cooling the warmth that still lingered on her cheek. Maybe that run through the woods didn't have to wait until morning.
"Silent All These Years" fanfiction copyright 2009 by Dejana Talis. Pretty Soldier Sailormoon and its associated characters and canon belong to Naoko Takeuchi and Toei. The text of this creative work was created by Dejana and is her exclusive property. Not to be used without permission. Sailor Moon Says: Don't steal! ^.^