A/N: Recently I got a comment from someone complaining that I don't always answer reviews. And that's true, I don't. But it's not because I'm ignoring you, or because I don't read them. I love reviews and I appreciate every single one more than you know. It's because I'm busy. I spend a good percentage of what little free time I have writing, and a lot of the time it comes down to you can either get a response to your review or you can have a new chapter on Friday. I figured most of you would choose to have a new chapter. If you have something you really want to talk to me about, you can always PM me and I'll do my best to answer, but please don't take the lack of response to your review as an insult. I'll try to be better about responding, but it won't always be possible.
On that note, there will be no update on Friday, August 9th, because my parents are moving and I'll be out of town.
I slept for a long time after the battle. I didn't remember actually getting to a bed, but that's where I woke up. I was alone when I opened my eyes, but I had the feeling that someone had been with me not too long ago. For one thing there was still an indent in the bed beside me, and when I reached out and touched that spot with my hand it was still warm. I let my head slip off of the pillow and, when I was close enough, it was easy to recognize the perfume Seiya had started wearing when she was dressed as a girl.
The door swung open a couple of minutes later and Seiya herself walked in holding a cup in her hand. She was wearing the same pair of jeans and tank top that she'd been dressed in when we left the apartment, but now her body had been liberally adorned with white bandages. When she saw that I was awake, a lot of the stress left her face and she smiled at me. "Odango, you're up! Thank goodness. I was hoping I'd be here when you came to. Figures you'd wake up just when I slipped out to get a drink." She came closer and reached out to feel my forehead.
"How long was I out for?" I asked, surprised by how rough my voice sounded. I propped myself up on my elbows and Seiya sat down on the edge of the bed, holding her cup out so that I could take a drink. The liquid inside was clear, but it wasn't water. It tasted sweet. I drank hungrily, realizing quickly that no matter how much I consumed the cup never grew empty.
"You've been sleeping for about four days, by Taiki's estimation," Seiya said once I'd had my fill. "I only woke up a few hours ago, myself. Apparently Helios has been taking care of us." She indicated the bandage on her forearm. "I think we were all in pretty rough shape."
"No wonder." I touched my throat. It felt a lot better than it had, but swallowing still hurt. I wondered if I still had bruising, or if that had healed. "Does he seem... okay?"
Seiya sighed. "I think he's been having a rough go of it, but I only saw him for a couple of minutes. He said that he had a small disturbance to take care of and that he wouldn't be gone for long. I think he guessed that you were going to wake up soon, because he asked me not to leave until he'd had the chance to talk to you."
I wouldn't have left without seeing Helios, anyway. Not after all the help he'd given us. I sat up the rest of the way, making sure I moved carefully, and looked around the room. It was pretty small and the walls seemed to be made out of wood, but the bed I was laying on was soft and the covers were warm. I stroked them absently with my hand as I glanced at Seiya. "You're okay right? I was watching when you were fighting against Petz. She gave you a hard time."
"I'm fine," Seiya said. "I'm healing a little more slowly than I used to, though. I don't know if it's because I used so much power or if it's because of the different atmosphere." She reached for the bandage on her arm and unwrapped it, showing me the wound underneath. It was a gash about the length of my index finger. Already it was partially healed, the edges pink and shiny with new skin even though the middle of it still looked raw. "Yaten, Taiki and Chibi-Chibi are okay too. I just went by to check on them. Taiki and Chibi-Chibi are up, but Yaten was still sleeping."
"That's good," I said, relieved to hear that most of us had made it through unscathed. "And the Sisters?"
"I don't know. Helios told me that they buried Petz and then decided to return to Earth without waiting to speak with you. He decided that he couldn't really keep them here against their will."
"I hope they're doing alright." I chewed on my lip. The four Sisters had always been close, even when they were arguing. I suspected the loss of Petz would be hitting them hard, especially since they hadn't been healed of dark energy yet. It would definitely be a priority to track them down and return them to their normal human selves, but first...
My locket was on the side of the bed, within easy reach. I was no longer dressed as Princess Serenity; I was plain old Tsukino Usagi. Even my hair was undone from my odango. I picked up my locket and touched the cover, watching as it vanished. The ginzuishou sparkled, like it could sense my attention, and I smiled. I pressed it to my chest and closed my eyes, falling into the tingle of power as easily as ever. What I was searching for was intimately familiar to me, and it was not hard to find.
Chibi Moon's power was similar to mine, and as long as I had the strength to search I would always be able to feel it. It was a relief to know that her pink moon crystal had been reabsorbed into the ginzuishou, and that it would stay there until the day came when it was needed. No one else, not even me, would be capable of calling it forth until then. I put a hand on my stomach. As long and hard as the wait would be, it was a relief to know that someday she would be here with me - and in the meantime, I'd get to experience her childhood.
Another hand covered mine, surprising me out of the light daze I'd fallen into. I looked up to see that Seiya was sitting so close to me that our thighs were pressed together. Her eyes were very blue and very pretty, wide and bright in spite of the dim light. Her gaze dropped and I followed it automatically, looking down to where our hands rested over my belly. I thought that maybe I could see the start of a curve, a hint of the baby that was growing inside.
"I've thought about it," Seiya said quietly, and her words made my heart skip several beats. I couldn't help remembering our last conversation, when I'd confessed that I was worried about what a baby would mean for the future of the Three Lights, not to mention Seiya herself. I felt like we'd talked about this years ago. Had it really only been a couple of days?
"You did?" I said, biting my lip nervously. We'd left things up in the air, deciding that we would wait until the battle was over with before we talked anything over. At the time, I hadn't even known whether there would be an after the battle. Now it was here and I still didn't know what she was going to say. It was terrifying.
"Yeah, I did."
"I don't know when you would've had the chance." I tried to make it sound like a joke, but I knew it had fallen flat even before I saw the look on her face. "Seiya, I... I don't want you to feel pressured. I hope you know that. Raising a child is a huge responsibility even when you don't have the media hanging all over you, and you guys - what with your return and everything, you're front and center and everyone is always looking at you. It'll be crazy. I wouldn't blame you at all if you decided that it's too much." I'd be crushed, of course, especially if Seiya went on to find someone else that she fell in love with. But I would do my best to encourage her.
"Are you finished?" Seiya asked, and when I nodded she leaned over and kissed me. I was too startled to enjoy it. I must have looked pretty confused because she started laughing when she pulled back. "Odango, I promise you I did think about it. A lot. And I know that raising a kid is hard. I have to admit I don't have much experience with them, so you're going to have to be patient with me at first."
"You... you mean...?" I stared at her, hardly daring to hope.
"Yes," she said with a nod, smiling. "You are everything I've ever wanted, Usagi. I tried so hard to keep myself away from you because I thought it would never happen. I'm not going to let anything stand in our way now, but that goes double for something stupid like fear." She squeezed my hand. "I know that the media is going to think I'm the father. If you want to let them think that, we can. I don't mind. If it makes things easier on you, I'll make the announcement as soon as we get back to Earth."
"But..." My mind was spinning. This was everything I had ever hoped for. I had trouble believing it was real. "But Seiya, what about the Three Lights?"
"Yaten, Taiki and I play music because it's something we enjoy, but we don't have to do it. I've talked it over with them and they're okay with this. Frankly, both of them seemed to think it was a foregone conclusion and were just waiting for the two of us to catch up." She was grinning now. "I really don't think that it's going to make a difference, but if it does then we'll handle that when it happens. What I have with you is far more important. I don't want you to do this alone."
Tears filled my eyes so quickly that I was blinded. I'd been waiting so long to hear her say that. Seiya, though, didn't seem to know how to handle it. She shifted backwards and actually took her hand off of mine. "Is - that's still what you want, isn't it? I understand if you don't want people to think I'm the father, if you'd rather they knew the truth about Mamoru-san -"
I silenced her in the best way I knew how. I tackled her to the bed and kissed her. For the first time, I was able to kiss her without feeling any doubts about the future - without wondering whether or not this was be our last kiss. It was the best feeling in the world. I had to make myself stop. "No," I said breathlessly. "I want everyone to know that you're her father. I want Chibi-Usa to grow up thinking that, too. You're going to be here for her in a way that he can't."
Seiya stroked my hair. "But what about when he's reborn?"
"He'll be younger than she is, because technically Chibi-Usa's going to be born first," I said wryly. "Seiya... listen. I've been reincarnated before. I know what that's like. I'm not the same person that Princess Serenity was. Not at all. So when everyone is reborn... please don't expect them to be the same, either. They're going to be different people. Mamoru might not want to have anything to do with us. He might not even love me. I'm sure he'll still be Tuxedo Kamen, but that's probably where the similarities will end."
I watched her face closely and I saw the exact moment when she made the connection between what I'd been saying and Princess Kakyuu. It was hard to watch. I felt guilty for pointing it out, but I thought it was better she knew now instead of spending her time waiting for someone who would, probably, never come back. I put my hand on her cheek. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," Seiya said, even though we both knew that it wasn't. She cupped the back of my head and pulled me down. I curled up against her, my head on her shoulder, as she added, "I've accepted that everyone is gone, and I don't want to think about the past anymore. I want to think about a future with you."