Disclaimer: Sailor Moon was my childhood. Despite that, I can't claim our favorite Odango Atama. Sigh.
Summary: Set during mid-Stars. After accidentally triggering the Silver Crystal's power, Tsukino Ikuko is granted a gift: one trip to Crystal Tokyo. In what is a bittersweet farewell, Neo-Queen Serenity divulges the truth of her past, present, and future to her late mother. Ikuko experiences a change of perspective and realizes, proudly, that her daughter is a true soldier.
A/N: SO PISSED OFF. FanFiction's document manager saved NONE of my changes. If you find errors, I'm in the middle of editing this story. Again.
~Serenity for the Mother's Aching Heart~
By: AngelMoon Girl
Tsukino Ikuko released a much aggrieved sigh as she nudged open her daughter's bedroom door with a slipper-clad foot, overflowing laundry basket in hand. One glance into the sixteen-year-old's room and her mind went haywire, griping about how irresponsible and scatterbrained that girl was. Really, couldn't she just close her eyes and back out slowly? The room looked nothing short of ground zero, with clothes scattered helter-skelter and an assortment of no doubt hardly touched textbooks littered here and there. The blue-haired mother rolled her eyes at the untidy state, wondering how exactly it was that a mess of this magnitude could form when Usagi spent so little of her waking hours in this bedroom. Honesty, when did the odangoed blonde find the time to wreak such havoc, in between school and her nearly constant dates with those sweetheart friends of hers?
Usagi had always exuded an effervescent and friendly personality, her talent for reaching out to the outcasts of society seemingly innate since birth. But really, Ikuko lamented as she entered the confined disaster, this has gone on too long. I hardly ever see my daughter anymore. And I'm worried she's developed a habit of sneaking out at night. The first few times I've let it slip, but now Kenji's starting to notice...
The woman resolved to have a very long chat with Usagi when... and if... she returned. Because they had truly arrived at the point where poor Ikuko and Kenji sat waiting up for their daughter into all hours of the morning until she stumbled in, forever cheery and apologetic but oddly haggard; disheveled. As if she went romping around on a jungle gym all day, Shingo once drawled, poking fun at his sister's simplistic and rather child-like attitude toward life. It had earned him quite the earful from Ikuko, but even she had to concur- Usagi was a conundrum. One minute she would be on her knees, wailing for sweets, and the next she'd open her mouth and spew such wisdom that even her mother would be floored. Then there were the times when Ikuko would catch her ditzy Usagi gazing mournfully out the window, an expression of utter weariness scribed across her features, looking for all the world to have been forced into carrying a terrible millstone around her shoulders. As if... the full weight of the universe rested on her. The glimmer in the teen's eyes that Ikuko would catch just before Usagi donned her usual smiling mask frightened her.
Because she did not know the person inside her daughter. She hadn't for quite some time now.
Trying to shake the melancholy musings, Ikuko ruffled through Usagi's belongings in search of dirty laundry. She cursed the utter lack of organization, and instead settled for just throwing all articles of clothing into the basket. If Usagi ended up fuming at her for tossing in a saved uniform or favorite shirt, then so be it; it was her own fault. All trouble could have been avoided with a nice, methodical clean.
There was a metallic clink as something shiny and gold hit the carpet. Ikuko started, glancing down for a closer inspection as she pondered what could have fallen off her daughter's outfit.
It was a heart-shaped brooch, the one she typically saw on Usagi's school ribbon. The blunette cocked a brow, shaking her head. She'd always assumed it was for decoration, and a fad among today's youth, but the fact that her offspring had decided to forgo the ornate piece of jewelry seemed strange. Usagi rarely left it home; Ikuko remembered seeing the pin either tucked into the girl's purse or stuffed within her pocket whenever the teen travelled. Perhaps the sixteen-year-old had finally outgrown her "brooch phase"?
She probably just forgot, Ikuko amended, chuckling wryly. She bent over to pick up the item, oddly fascinated with its perfect contours and strange sense of power as the brooch glistened under a ray of sunlight streaming in past the window. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few seconds she comes rushing in here to pick it up! Dear me, that child walks around with her head eternally in the clouds; what I would give to see her years from now, all grow up...
Ikuko yelped as her fingers brushed the brooch; it was hot! She yanked her hand back, befuddled, at the same instant as blinding white light exploded into the room.
When the brilliant show of color finally faded, only a basket- filled to the brim with children's laundry- remained as testament to the existence of Tsukino Ikuko.
The woman herself was nowhere to be found.
At least, not in this era.
Ikuko opened her eyes after what felt like a dizzying ride in her washer, gingerly rubbing her hand of the tingling aftereffect the minor burn had left. She blinked rapidly, inhaling deeply as the woman set to discerning her new surroundings. Her body seemed to have toppled into a tasteful, opulent lounge made completely of crystal, walls glowing under the light of large, looming windows on all sides. Where the sun appeared to hit in just the right spot, a fantastic rainbow shimmered, spreading across the translucent structure and onto the marble floor.
It was breathtaking, yet Ikuko could not quell a lingering sense of fear. Where was she? One did not simply tumble into a fairytale; that only happened in books, films... a child's imagination! Not in real life. It was implausible! Unscientific!
"Excuse me, but these are private quarters," a gentle and incredibly familiar voice intoned from behind Ikuko. The blue-haired mother whirled, gaping at the impossible figure before her.
"Mama?" Aforementioned girl- if she could even be called that anymore- froze, features morphing from polite admonishment to pale astonishment. Ikuko found herself staring with unmasked surprise at her tall adult daughter, adorned in a beautiful, form-fitting white gown that fell gracefully to the floor. Why on earth had Usagi chosen attire that sprouted wings? And yet, Ikuko could not fault the ensemble; it gave Usagi a regal, almost ethereal presence. She was nothing short of angelic, but how had the teen grown so much?
"I... I don't understand," the heavenly deity mumbled, stricken. She stepped into the room tentatively. "How did you come to be here?"
Ikuko mouthed incomprehensibly for a few seconds, wondering when Usagi had learned to articulate with such eloquence and elegance. "I- I'm not sure. Your... your brooch, it fell when I was getting the laundry, and I went to pick it up, but.... suddenly, I'm here. Er, by the way... where is here?"
"You're in Crystal Tokyo," the Usagi doppelganger answered slowly with a guarded, wary expression marring her countenance. "The... thirtieth century."
"Thirtieth...?" Ikuko gasped, trailing off in disbelief. She felt her knees flag and sunk wearily into an ostentatious armchair, heart pounding. Time travel? But how... "You... you are Usagi, aren't you? My Usagi?"
"I am," the golden-haired beauty affirmed, inclining her odangoed head. "In... a matter of speaking. Most recently, however, I attained the title of Neo-Queen Serenity."
"Queen?" Ikuko repeated, now bordering on either a faint or heart attack... she wasn't sure which would precede which. "My God, am I dreaming? How are you alive? I can't even fathom... this is so surreal; I-"
"Believe me, I can hardly believe my own eyes," Neo-Queen Serenity murmured, claiming the sofa facing her quivering mother. "You touched my brooch, correct? And then you were transported into the future? Tell me: what were you thinking at that exact moment?"
"Why, I... I wished for the opportunity to see you as an adult," Ikuko replied, revelation dawning in her cerulean orbs. "Oh my! It... the brooch sent me...?"
Serenity broke into a wide smile. "The Silver Crystal has an uncanny knack for granting miracles. I should know; it has saved me from death far more times than I can count."
"Silver Crystal? Death?"
"Oh dear," the benign monarch frowned. "There I go again, revealing more than I should. I didn't even stop to ask you from what year you hail; Pluto will have my head! Unless...? Hmm."
Ikuko waited, wringing her fingers as Serenity lost herself in pondering. She was so confused with this sudden turn of events, and her mind refused to cease reeling. The blunette started when Serenity nodded to herself, resolving some internal battle.
"I suppose there's no harm done if I... share with you a few details of my life. After all, some answers might help you to understand why I have become the person you currently see before you. It would be prudent if I started at the beginning, hm? My name- my real name- is Princess Serenity. I am the reincarnation of an ancient princess who resided on the moon thousands of years ago."
"You're pulling my leg," Ikuko scoffed, straightening in her chair nervously. "This is all a big joke, isn't it?" Never mind the fact that she could not explain away how her daughter had aged so much in so little time...
"On the contrary, Mama. This is my history," Serenity argued, the merest suggestion of hurt tainting her visage. Ikuko raised a brow, but motioned for the blonde to continue. "Long ago, there was a civilization on the moon ruled by a kind-hearted Queen named Serenity, wielder of the powerful magic contained in the Silver Crystal. She governed the nine planets of this solar system during a reign of peace called the Silver Millennium. Unfortunately, relations between the moon and earth were acrimonious, at best. The princess, headstrong young girl that she was, disobeyed the laws forbidding contact between Earthlings and Lunarians. One night, she escaped the confines of the Moon Palace and journeyed to the mysterious blue planet that had fascinated her for so long. There, Princess Serenity met Prince Endymion."
Ikuko watched as a fond, reminiscing glimmer sparked in Serenity's eyes at the mention of Endymion. "Endymion courted the Moon Princess in secret, and the pair fell quickly in love. Unfortunately, war ignited between the two kingdoms when an evil force- Metallia- stirred jealousy into the hearts of Earthlings. Metallia was nearly unstoppable, acting through a vengeful witch named Beryl. Together, they destroyed the Silver Millennium, killing the Princess and her lover."
A strange sadness overtook Serenity and she paused, releasing a stream of calming breaths. Ikuko realized the recantation was painful, and instantly regretted her earlier callousness. "I'm sorry, Us... er, Your Majesty. Please, if it's too difficult-"
"Mama," Serenity inserted firmly. "You of all people have a right to call me Usagi. None of this 'Your Majesty' nonsense, alright? And I'm fine. I want you to know. I have ever since I myself learned the truth, so many years ago."
"Then I'm listening," Ikuko said hesitantly, resisting the urge to lay a comforting hand on her daughter's shoulder. She knew this woman was her Usagi, but something kept the blue-haired housewife rooted. Fear, perhaps? She still doubted the veracity of this reality, expecting to wake up in Usagi's cluttered bedroom and brush the ordeal over with a hearty laugh. Usagi the reincarnated Princess? Usagi the Queen of Crystal Tokyo? The notion was risible.
"Queen Serenity survived the attack, but was heartbroken by the loss of her daughter. She sacrificed herself in exchange for the lives of the fallen Lunarians. With the Silver Crystal's help, she sent the Prince, Princess, and her court to be reborn on earth in a safer era, hoping that they would be able to find happiness and perhaps each other in the process. Our memories were erased, but when Metallia reawakened, it became necessary to unleash the Queen's warriors- Sailor Senshi, bound to fight for love and justice. I was one of them, before it was discovered that I was the Moon Princess they were meant to protect."
"You were a Senshi?" Ikuko gasped, the weakness in her knees returning. She thanked providence for having placed her in a chair.
"Can you not guess which one?" Serenity chuckled, a playful gleam in her azure eyes.
"Sailor Moon," Ikuko breathed, and suddenly everything clicked. The unexplained bruises; the silent changes and newfound wisdom... Her daughter's nightly excursions were the product of a secret life as a superhero! "Oh God, Usagi... I- I never knew... and I was so hard on you..."
"You were hard on me because you were doing your job as a mother," Serenity countered, smiling lovingly at Ikuko. "Your faith was what encouraged me to mature. I could not be the Queen I am today without your nurturing; the knowledge you passed down. I-"
"Mama?" a little voice interrupted, and Ikuko turned her neck so fast she parried a crick. Rubbing at the stinging area, the blue-haired female felt her mouth fall open as a girl no more than three peeked into the room, the very picture of her Usagi albeit in shades of pink and red. Ikuko squinted, nostalgia niggling in the back of her mind. Why on earth did that child remind of her someone?
"Small Lady!" Serenity exclaimed, shooting her mother an apologetic look as Ikuko gaped, interpreting the implications correctly. "I thought you were with Luna?"
The cat hasn't kicked the bucket either? Lord, I'll be needing an aspirin when this is all over.
"Luna said I hadta ask you affors I play in the garden," Small Lady elucidated, appraising Ikuko apprehensively. "Whozzat?"
"A very dear friend of mine," Serenity responded charily, and Ikuko observed as a remorseful sigh issued from out of the blonde's lips. Ikuko herself fought off a similar welling of grief. Her own grandmother, and she's not even allowed to know... "Please inform Luna that you have my permission. Run along, darling."
"Thank you, Mama!" Small Lady chirped, slipping out the door and skipping away, her clacking footfalls resounding into the lounge. Ikuko took a deep breath, stomach churning somewhere around her ankles. A warm joy settled in her heart as the grandmother praised,
"Usagi, she's beautiful. Who's the father?"
"Mamo-chan, of course," Serenity giggled, winking conspiratorially. "His new moniker is King Endymion, though. Does that surprise you?"
Ikuko smirked. "Not at all. I always did say there was chemistry between you two, Usagi. From the very beginning, I suspected he was 'The One', but... Dear me, was she a cutie! Erm... I take it there's more to the cat as well? She... sent... your daughter?"
"Mama, there's more to everything," Serenity sighed, eyes searching out her lap. "Believe me, if we could sit here for hours, I don't think we'd even cover the half of it. Luna's my guardian; has been since I was fourteen. I often enjoy blaming her for the fact that I became a Senshi, but really... the potential was within me the whole time. She's just the one who coaxed it out, guiding me through all the trials of being a teenage superhero. The feline's been very instrumental in palace affairs, too. I swear that cat's been gifted with an IQ higher than mine!"
Ikuko rolled her eyes, a laugh bubbling in her chest. There's the Usagi I know and love. She's still there, just hiding underneath the regal, dignified persona... My baby girl, all grown up and a mother herself. Who knew my little crybaby would mature into a such an effeminate individual and genteel Queen?
"You know, I think I've accrued enough information to make an educated guess as to what time you're from. I'm sixteen there, aren't I?" Serenity commented lightly, beaming when Ikuko's eyes bulged.
"How did you-"
"Sometime during Mamo-chan's absence, you started behaving very... understandingly. Not that you weren't before, but what I mean is that there were far less shouting matches on those frequent instances when I arrived home past curfew, my only alibi that I lost track of time or had to run an errand. You knew, and you accepted me as I was," Serenity said softly. Her vibrant blue depths filled with tears. "But you can't tell me, Mama. You can't tell me anything about this trip. Otherwise, it would adversely affect the future. Everything you see- all that I have become- would be lost. Time travel is never something to meddle with."
"I'll take it to the grave," Ikuko swore, noticing with discomfort that the Neo-Queen seemed to twitch at the allusion. A sharp pain pierced the blue-haired mother's heart. "Usagi... I'm not alive in this time, am I?"
Serenity gazed for a long, intense moment at Ikuko.
"No," she choked out, fingers trembling. Ikuko jumped when Serenity flung herself off the sofa, landing at her feet. The Queen threw her arms around Ikuko's waist and squeezed like she never wanted to let go, sobbing voraciously into the homemaker's lap. "Oh Mama! I've missed you so much!"
Ikuko bit her lip, returning the embrace fiercely. She felt an insistent tugging on the back of her mind; a warning that time was trickling quickly away from her grasp. "Usagi, I want you to listen to me. I am so proud of all you have accomplished; of all you've become. I don't have to be here to know that you'll make a fine Queen, and a wonderful mother to boot. You've always had a kind and caring disposition- never lose those traits, and you will go far indeed. Just remember that I love you; I always have and I always will. No matter what happens, your father and I will be with you; watching over you. I couldn't have wished for a better daughter."
"I love you too, Mama," Serenity sniffled through a barrage of tears as the pair bid each other bittersweet farewell. "I'm sorry for all the trouble I caused you as a kid. My Small Lady has shown me that what goes around comes around, you know. That darn karma."
The pair shared a laugh both could identify with, having similarly experienced the joys and tribulations a spirited daughter entailed. Ikuko swallowed past an agonizing lump in her throat as her body erupted in tingly light, exercising the last of her physical ability in this era to lay a comforting hand on Neo-Queen Serenity's wet cheek. Her last image was of her adult daughter, mouthing "Goodbye, Mama" with purposefully affectionate inflection and a sad, watery smile.
Ikuko wiped moisture from her face as she resurfaced, kneeling on the floor beside Usagi's brooch. She sighed a word of gratitude to it, preparing to scoop up the auric breast-pin when Usagi's bedroom door ricocheted open. Ikuko wasn't automatically sure how to react, given the full disclosure of her daughter's secret, when Usagi bolted into the room. Aforementioned blonde paused with clear horror written across her features when Ikuko grabbed up the brooch. Determining to rectify the awkward situation immediately, Ikuko smiled sweetly and offered the brooch out with an innocent,
"Here, I found this on your uniform." She was mildly encouraged by the lack of shaking in her extended limb.
"Oh thank God, I thought I lost it! I can't believe I forgot; I'm so stupid," the sixteen-year-old moaned, plucking up the brooch and clutching it close to her heart as if it were the most precious piece of jewelry in the world. Usagi stood there for an ephemeral moment as Ikuko watched quietly- knowingly- on.
"Are you hungry, Usagi?" the blunette questioned gently.
"No, Mako-chan's going to make green tea cookies for us at Rei-chan's shrine. I'll eat there," Usagi reassured her mother, turning to exit the room.
"Usagi?" Ikuko called, raising herself off the ground. Usagi halted in the doorway, glancing back. "I'm so proud of you. For-"
For what? For protecting the fate of earth every day? For keeping their family safe? How Ikuko yearned to laud Usagi for all her triumphs as Sailor Moon, but instead she chose an earnest, "For being my daughter. For being the altruistic little miracle you are. For being so brave, even when the person you love most is far away. Why, I remember a time not so long ago when the Usagi of old would come running in, crying over any problem that landed in her path! But now... now I feel as though I am looking at a mature, responsible young woman. I'm so proud, Usagi."
It will all work out in the end. You'll see. Mamoru-san will return. What a bright future you have ahead of you, my darling. I'm so honored to have been a part of its construction; to have been granted a glimpse at the fruition of all I hoped for you since birth. You are a shining star to all who love you, Usagi.
Usagi smiled, her dazzlingly blue eyes misty with emotion. "Thank you, Mama," she whispered, then the future Queen glided seamlessly over the threshold with the ghost of impending grace in her step.
Tsukino Usagi, my daughter:
A true soldier.
A/N: Whew. Sorry folks, but I don't feel like anything long-winded. My eyes hurt after staring at the computer screen for so long ^^