Title: Waking Truth
Author: Girl Who Writes
Word Count: 1024
Summary: There are at least ten different ways to start this conversation, and while Minako can think of all of them, she can't manage to say even one of them.
Notes: This final chapter sort of exploded and changed. I'll say now that this is the end of this fic, but the beginning of another fic - and that things get complex from here. I hope you all enjoy it, especially since it took so long :D
Disclaimer: The characters of Sailor Moon belong to Toei, Bandai and Naoko Takeuchi. I make no profit from this fan-based venture.
Setsuna answers the door and Minako is struck by how she's never seen Setsuna like this before – her hair piled on top of her head, in the softest looking pants and top. It makes her look younger, gentler. And suddenly Minako wishes she hadn't come, not like this – her hair untidy, her school uniform rumpled and her legs covering in cuts and bruises.
"Minako." She is holding a ceramic mug with a lopsided purple butterfly painted on the side – obviously the work of Hotaru.
There are at least ten different ways to start this conversation, and while Minako can think of all of them, she can't manage to say even one of them.
Setsuna knows why Minako is here. It is written all over her – the shadow in her eyes, her unkempt hair, the aura of gold around her that no longer holds Inanna's features. She is almost whole again – Venus, Inanna, Minako – and even though this has been her mission for so long, to gather Serenity's court and see their memories returned, it leaves a sour taste in her mouth.
"Please come in, Minako."
Minako can't remember a time when she's crossed the threshold of this house alone; and notices the details so clearly – an expensive cream handbag on the hall table that has to be Michiru's. A bowl piled with keys. Dozens of photographs of Hotaru, Haruka and Michiru hanging along the wall. A pair of purple heels sitting against a wall.
Setsuna escorts her into the kitchen - where a fashion magazine is open on the counter and a bouquet of yellow and pink tulips are arranged in a glass vase with bubbles of colour dotted throughout. It reminds Minako of fireworks and then of lost starseeds and she feels depressed.
"Would you like a drink? We have tea and juice and..."
"No. No, I'm not thirsty," Minako frowns and realizes she hasn't taken off her shoes.
"What can I help you with?" Setsuna takes a sip of her tea and then tips out the rest, rinsing the mug and stacking it on the drying rack.
Minako wants to yell at her – 'Look at me! You know what I want, why did you hide it?' but the words die before she can open her mouth.
"Did you ... what did you call me?"
The words feel like tumbling through broken glass – only some shards that break the skin, but they sting. Setsuna swallows and turns around.
"If you don't know Minako, then I can't tell you." Her response is mechanical, emotionless; her hand drifts up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear.
"I know. You know. You know I know. I remember that you used to wear red flowers in your hair and black lace gloves. You and Luna used to be friends, and..."
"Minako, stop." Setsuna's voice is softer now, more human.
"Only if you answer my question." Minako's voice is sharp.
"Minako, this is pointless."
"Do you think saying my name does anything? It's just annoying."
Setsuna gave her an annoyed look; one that didn't reach her eyes, which seem sad. "You've known me long enough to know that I can't tell you anything you don't know."
"I know I died waiting for you. I know the last thing you said to me was that I couldn't be weak, that I was meant to be a soldier before anything else." She wants those words to hurt, and Setsuna flinches. Minako is not a cruel person and yet, she likes that her words cause pain.
"The princess was dead, the senshi were dead, the Queen was dead, the cats were gone and I was the only one left." Tears welled in Minako's eyes and for a moment she can feel Inanna's fear and grief bubbling up.
When she looks up, Setsuna looks sadder than Minako has ever seen her.
"It's not that simple. That night... everything happened." Setsuna swallows hard and looks her in the eye. "My duty was... I had to remain at the Time Gates."
"And I had to protect the Princess," Minako retorted. "We all failed. Why couldn't you have...?"
Minako doesn't know. She doesn't know how anyone could pick just one thing to change about that horrible, horrible day. Something huge? Or something small, that offered one person a moment of comfort...
"Why did you come here?" Setsuna's arms are crossed over her chest and she looks tired.
"Because..." Because I thought there was someone who loved me.
"Because you loved Inanna." Her words surprise her, and Minako takes a step closer to Setsuna, to reach out for the older girl's hand. "And I..."
Setsuna takes a step backwards, out of Minako's reach and it feels like Setsuna has slapped her.
"I think it's time to go, Minako," Setsuna replies flatly.
"Minako, I – better than anyone – can tell you how pointless it is trying to recapture the past... we were different people..."
Setsuna's words become white noise in her ears, but Minako understands – the meaning settles around her like a cold sweat. Setsuna doesn't want her. There is no great love here, waiting for her. Not even a friend, not really.
And before she can stop herself, Minako reaches to her right and pushes the starseed vase and the perfect, crisp tulips off the bench and watches the vase tumble through the air, spraying water everywhere; watches with abject fascination, as the vase smashes into hundreds of pieces on the floor, each tiny coloured bubble broken away from the others.
As Setsuna kneels to gather up the broken glass, Minako turns to leave but pauses, her back turned to the other girl.
"Do you remember what the bracelet said, Setsuna?" Minako said bitterly. "It said 'You aren't weak, Inanna. It is I who is weak'."
And then she leaves. She pulls the door shut and walks down the path, ignoring Michiru and Haruka who have just pulled up in the driveway, and are calling out to her. Ignores the heavy feeling in her chest; the shame bubbling in her mind, and the traitorous tears running down her cheeks.
But she keeps walking.