Title: Beautiful Soldier Sailor Saturn
Author: Girl Who Writes
Feedback: Always welcome.
Character: Hotaru, Chibiusa, Haruka, Michiru, Setsuna
SMMFC Prompt: S series - Mother
Word Count: 2,375
Genre: Dark, Gen, AU
Summary: SMS AU "Have you heard of Sailor Moon and the Sailor Senshi, Hotaru?"
Notes: It's been awhile between fics XD Hopefully there will be a few more following this one. This is an AU, if Hotaru's mother had ended up possessed by Mistress 9, and Saturn had been awakened. It's actually the base for a much larger fic by the same name that rewrites S along the same vein that will probably never see the light of day. I'm really proud of how this turned out, as it's taken a lot of editing and rewriting to get it to this point.
Disclaimer: The characters of Sailor Moon belong to Toei, Bandai and Naoko Takeuchi. I make no profit from this fan-based venture.
The woman before her was not her mother.
The man leering at her was not her father.
She stared at the people before her and willed herself to see what they really were – simply parasites siphoning away her parents' energy, their lives, their selves...
Her parents were dead. They had been dying for years, and these... these monsters had finally swallowed them whole. She wanted to cry then, to sob into her hands and scream at what remained, at what had stolen her Mama and Papa from her.
"Ho-tar-ru." What had once been her mother moved towards her, eyes wide and glittering with something bordering on insanity. She seemed more skeletal than last time Hotaru had seen her - had wrapped her arms around her mother's fragile frame, kissed her good-night.
This was not her mother.
"There's been an accident, Hotaru." Her father sat on her bed, his head bowed, studying the patchwork butterflies her Mama had carefully pieced together for the little girl she knew she was having, when she first found out she was pregnant.
Hotaru looked up from her doll house. "What sort of accident, Papa?" She got up, holding one of her dolls in one hand.
"When's Mama coming home?"
Souichi reached for his little girl, scooping her up, into his lap. "That's a pretty new doll, Hotaru," he said softly, smoothing her hair down.
"Mrs Watanabe brought it for me," Hotaru said, gazing at her new doll.
"Did you thank her, angel?"
"Yes Papa. When's Mama coming home?"
Big violet eyes – Keiko's eyes – stared up at him, innocent and trusting. Keiko, lying motionless on the gurney downstairs, all burnt, raw flesh, more a mess than a human body. He could not fail Keiko in such a way. He would not. He would do anything to save his wife, anything to prevent Hotaru growing up without a mother.
"Your Mama is ill. It might be a long time before she is well again, Hotaru," he said, with renewed strength. He had made his decision.
He would do anything.
She watched Chibiusa run out of the park and into the street, turning back to wave at her. "See you tomorrow Hotaru!" the pink-haired girl cried out before wheeling around and taking off, her funny cat toy hovering after her.
Hotaru smiled, and waved back. She should go home, too, before it got too dark.
Not that anyone would worry about what time she arrived home. Her mother had taken to her bed again – her Papa's latest treatment not as successful as they had all hoped. Her Papa was firmly entrenched in his research, trying to find something – anything – to ease Mama's pain. And his 'assistant', the tawdry, nasty Kaorinite, would be skulking around the house, attending to her mother and generally being repulsive and sneaky.
The only thing waiting for her at home was a package of instant ramen and a stack of homework.
She jumped, and looked up, not before making sure her school bag was within her grasp – barely heavy enough to be used as a weapon, really. But still. It had gotten darker faster than she had anticipated, the street lights already lit.
"Yes?" she said, nervously, half turning around to see who had spoken. No matter how much she didn't want to be at home, it really would be safer there than a park after dark.
The three people before her looked more imposing than they should have – two were dressed in Mugen school uniforms, one male and one female, two years ahead of her. The third was a dark haired woman in street clothes, around university-age. None of them were smiling, but despite how intimidating they were, she felt herself calm down.
The Mugen boy stepped forward.
"We need to talk to you, Hotaru – and you need to listen."
Hotaru studied the blonde boy; something seemed off, even in the darkening light. His face was too angular, his shirt not sitting right...
"I'm sorry..." Hotaru said carefully. "I really should be getting home."
"This won't take a moment, Hotaru." The aqua-haired girl's voice was huskier than she expected. "It's very important."
"Maybe you could find me at school on Monday morning," She was nervous again. Not only did she have to get away from these girls – the blonde had to be a girl – but she had to walk home in the dark.
"Hotaru." The dark-haired girl stepped forward, placing her bag on the ground, and perching upon the swing beside Hotaru's. "This is extremely important. We aren't going to hurt you." The girl looked at the other two. The blonde boy-girl took a deep breath and offered a smirk.
"Have you heard of Sailor Moon and the Sailor Senshi, Hotaru?"
Her mother's arms were around her now. Smoothing her hair back, like she was a little girl again. Hotaru bit her lip, closing her eyes and let herself pretend this was still her Mama; she could smell her mother's lilac perfume and the feel of her mother's embroidered blouse against her cheek.
And she could still feel the purple and gold wand tucked into the waistband of her skirt; could remember the sense of foreboding that made her pick it up that morning.
"Mama," she whispered, letting some tears fall. "Mama." She had to falter now, before she turned traitor.
"You're such a good girl, Hotaru," Keiko cooed, the smile on her face unnaturally wide. "My precious little guardian. You never lost hope, always there to give me strength. And then, when your Papa and I were struggling to find the answers, you find them for us." Keiko knelt, wiping the tears off of Hotaru's cheeks. "Be happy now, Hotaru, you have saved us all."
"Mama..." Hotaru said softly.
The shriek was sickeningly familiar; Hotaru felt as if all the air had been sucked from her chest as she pulled away from her mother, stumbling closer to the altar-type arrangement of the room.
Kaorinite had joined them, dragging along Chibiusa Tsukino, who was bound at the wrists. A cut across her forehead was trickling blood into her eyes; one pigtail had come loose, and Chibiusa was missing one of her shoes.
"HOTARU, HELP ME!" Chibiusa shrieked as Kaorinite pushed her down in front of Souichi Tomoe.
"CHIBIUSA!" Hotaru moved forward, her eyes wide with horror.
Cold hands suddenly rested heavily on Hotaru's shoulders. "She's prefect, Hotaru," Keiko said in a sing-song voice. "Just perfect."
"What? Let her go!" Hotaru pushed her mother away.
"She's perfect, Hotaru," Professor Tomoe repeated.
"Perfect," Keiko echoed, staring at Chibiusa's tearful face.
These are not my parents. Hotaru bit her lip, one first clenching.
Hotaru stared at the three girls in front of her. The oldest – Setsuna Meioh, student at KO University and Sailor Senshi of Pluto - had kindly offered to take her somewhere for a hot drink once they had explained everything, before forcing a sickly-sweet mug of hot chocolate upon her, telling her to order any sweets she wanted. As if sugar could soothe away everything she had just learnt.
"Hotaru, I know this is a lot to learn at once," Setsuna began, her eyes sad. "I promise you, we have tried everything to protect you and your parents from the Silence."
"I ..." Hotaru began, watching the marshmallow slowly sink into her drink. "My mother, she's been sick since I was really little. There was an explosion... my father's lab." She trailed off and looked up at the older girls.
"We know all this, Hotaru," the aqua-haired girl, Michiru, said gently. "Your father and Kaorinite have been creating Daimons to seek out Pure Heart Crystals..."
"Kaorinite?" Hotaru's spoon clattered onto the table. "She's... she's my mother's nurse and my father's assistant..."
"Hotaru, did you ever try to heal your mother?" Setsuna said gently.
"Once, when I was seven," Hotaru said faintly. "It didn't work..." She looked up, her eyes wide. "How did you ...?"
"It didn't work because your mother is possessed by an evil entity," Setsuna replied, waving away Hotaru's unspoken question. "Had she simply been ill, it might have helped her. I assume the attempt nearly killed you?"
"Papa found me on the floor."
"The creature possessing your mother was draining your energy to build its own strength," Setsuna explained, touching her hand. "I'd say when you collapsed, you lost physical contact with your mother, and the creature possessing your mother did not have quite enough control to reach for you and finish draining you." She sighed. "Thankfully, you were so young it wouldn't have recognized you as Saturn."
That word makes her want to throw up.
Hotaru tried to run but Kaorinite stuck her foot out and she tumbles onto the concrete, winded but unharmed. She could hear Chibiusa's pleas for help, her parents' voices twisted with malice conferring about something and ... and new voices, faint, sounding urgent.
Hotaru lay there, feeling like a wounded animal, the hope almost choking her as she waited for those new, unfamiliar voices to appear.
And there she was, the legendary heroine of Tokyo, the long blonde pigtails and the glittering wand clutched in one hand. Hotaru had seen several pictures of the senshi before, usually in the paper, grainy affairs that revealed little more than silhouettes against bright lights, and now she can see that the light is the silvery-pink aura of Sailor Moon...
The aura fades slowly, and Hotaru can see more now – beyond the aura, to Usagi Tsukino's determined face beneath her tiara. And behind Sailor Moon are two familiar and surprisingly reassuring figures – that of Neptune and Uranus.
But no Pluto.
"Chibiusa!" Sailor Moon cries out, running forward to her little cousin and Hotaru wonders what it would be like for someone to come running to save her – no one has ever called out for her like that, has hurried to her side to protect her, to comfort her.
And no one ever will. Not now.
She hadn't slept well after Setsuna, Haruka and Michiru escorted her home. Setsuna had pressed a gold and purple wand in her hand that appeared to be made of gleaming metal but Hotaru had been a scientist's daughter long enough to realize that something other worldly gave it its sheen and its weight. Michiru had told her she could call them at any time, with a look of sympathy in her eyes that made Hotaru wonder who had been there when Michiru found out she was Sailor Neptune.
Haruka had said little, simply winked at her and said, "We'll see you soon, Firefly."
She had tucked the wand underneath her sweaters as soon as she got upstairs, and simply changed into her pyjamas, and climbed into bed, the idea of instant ramen both exhausting and nauseating after everything she had learnt – Sailor Saturn, the Soldier of Death and Rebirth, the ninth and final of the mythical Sailor Senshi. A kingdom on the Moon, a reborn princess turned soldier who would bring in the new age of peace ... it seemed like a gothic fairytale ... The slightly electric feeling as her hand closed around the Saturn wand; the uneasy feeling in her mind and – every time she managed to doze off – the same patchy dream of a woman swathed in white and a tall, sinister pole arm she could never quite reach; it was the truth.
She had dragged herself from bed later than normal, feeling tired to her bones. Kaorinite had made snarky remarks as she picked at her breakfast, and she finally found herself slumped over school books, trying her hardest to resist digging the Saturn wand out of her drawer and examining it again – perhaps it had vanished, chosen a more worthy avatar. Or perhaps it was still wrapped in wool, reminding her that she wasn't safe anymore...
Maybe there was a way, that the lovely lady in white from her dreams could save her Mama, her Papa. Send Kaorinite far away from the house. Even face Chibiusa again and not burst into tears, confess everything. My Mama's possessed, my Papa gone mad and I'm a magical warrior who dreams of shining blades, and now I have to stop them – or die trying.
No. This was her burden, her secret. Chibiusa was so sweet and kind, she didn't deserve to be dragged into Hotaru's nightmare. Hotaru didn't want the darkness to touch her friendship with Chibiusa, wanted to keep that safe, something she could cling onto when everything fell apart.
It was late in the afternoon when Hotaru curled up on her bed with her old doll and realized dully that Chibiusa had never turned up, had left her by herself all day.
It was probably better that way.
Hotaru stood on shaky legs, her mother cradling Chibiusa's Pure Heart before her, smiling at her with the ghost of her human smile. Hotaru pulled her wand from her skirt band, keeping it close to her.
"Chibiusa was... she was my friend," Hotaru began, her voice shaking. "She was... is just a little girl and you..." She shook her head.
"I can't let you – won't let you do this," she continued.
"Hotaru," her mother said indulgently, "no one is going to hurt you."
Saturn Planet Power.
"I'm not going to let you finish this," Hotaru ignored her mother and held the wand up.
She could hear the gasps of Sailor Moon and feel the tangible relief from Neptune and Uranus but her gaze fell upon the recoiled horror on the faces of her parents and Kaorinite.
"I am beautiful soldier Sailor Saturn, and in the name of the Balance, I swear I will not let your plan come to pass," she said, stepping forward and held out her hands as the Silence Glaive formed; a weight that was both daunting and comforting. And with the familiar presence of the legendary weapon in her hands, she could see the path that lay to the end of this battle.
And the part of her that still saw her parents staring back at her was comforted by the fact that none of the Tomoe family would live to see Sailor Moon's victory.