Dousing Fire

We were all there when Ami came out of the ICU. She briefly looked at me, and then bowed her head a little, then turned it slowly to the left and to the right. Hot tears flowed freely from my eyes; I don't care if everybody regards me as the toughest and most unyielding soldier in the whole galaxy. Right now, I need to cry. I have to.

Makoto tried to comfort me by hugging me. Under normal circumstances, it would have been Minako to comfort me as we used to be closer. Nevertheless, I appreciated Makoto's effort so much; she also was the first to console me when Yuichiro left. She shared my pain then, having lost her mortal husband also; but I know that she couldn't comprehend my pain now. None of them could, although I know that all of them want to reach me. I know that they know they couldn't; after all, I'm the only one among us that bore a non-eternal child.

I should be thankful, because not everyone's allowed to live more than a hundred years… Those extra years can mostly be attributed to the wonders of medicine made possible by Ami and Taiki. They're both considered expert all-around doctors now, having studied and improved all fields with the unlimited time that they both have… However, humans are mortals, only those that have genetically inherited their parent's star seeds are given the gift of being eternal.

I knew the moment he was born that he wasn't eternal, but I loved him very much nevertheless. His forehead never showed the symbol of my planet; unlike Chibiusa that lighted the whole room with her crescent moon the very first time she cried. Luckily, our identities were not so secret already by the time my friends began creating their little stars. It would have been a ruckus with symbols and lights appearing the moment they cry, we may have ended in the newspapers! Actually, we still end up in the newspapers everyday… Today's headline would most probably be about the death of the "Non-Eternal Prince". Everyone knows him as that and regards him as that; except for my family of course, the eternal people that surrounds him.

"Rei…" the queen approached me and hugged me while I was sitting on the lounge on the hospital. She called me 'Rei' and not 'Mars', it is obvious then that she wasn't there as the queen but as my best friend. I cried on her chest, I poured my heart. My tears were staining her dress but she couldn't care less. She placed her warm hands on my back trying to comfort me. When my sobs subsided, she spoke. "We took care of him for you. He now lies on the castle minster for the wake. Yuri needs you."

I looked up. "Where is she?" I asked. The queen just tilted her head indicating that she's right outside waiting for me. I went out of the hospital complex and saw her on the gardens. My princess, my eternal child, the only family by blood I've got left. I approached her and saw that she no longer was crying for her brother, she's tougher than me, I thought. She held my hand and pulled me for a walk. She looked exactly like me and she wore the same princess dress like me and her forehead displays the same sign as me. We actually looked more like twins than mother and daughter.

"The queen announced today as a global day of mourning…" She shared to me conversationally. Of course, Usagi would do that. She loved him as her own also. I smiled the very first smile I made ever since Ryu was brought to the hospital.

She smiled when she saw me smile. "We'll have their memories and each other to reminisce it for all eternity." She said, obviously still consoling me. The world had turned around I thought, I went here to console my daughter but it turned out she was waiting here to console me instead.

Soon enough, after a while of our walking hand in hand in silence, we have reached the castle without us guiding the other. It's like our feet just carried us there.

"The Prince of Mercury and the Prince of Venus" We heard the keeper of the intergalactic gates announce as we passed by the transportation devices. Ah, news travels fast, I mused silently to myself. The queen of Kinmouku must have already heard about my son's passing and sent the two to pay tribute.

Yuri looked at me like she was asking permission. I nodded my head, knowing full well how close she is to her cousins. Well, they're technically not blood related; but they treat each other like that because us, their mothers, are closer than sisters. Soon enough, the figures of Akoumi and Mikouko appeared inside the cylindrical domes and my daughter instantly flung herself on them as soon as they stepped out.

There obviously was no need for words between the three of them. Akoumi caressed my daughter's hair while she hugs Mikouko tightly. She'll most probably not cry though, even if her pillars of strength were already there around her, not in front of me anyway. She's very much like me really, not only in outward appearance but in spirit and behavior also. She pulled the two towards me and both of them bowed low. "Queen Mars" they greeted then stood straight. I approached them and gave each a hug and a kiss.

"How are you Aunt Rei?" Mikouko whispered, most probably sensing my emotions the moment I touched him.

"I'm okay" I lied, and being the son of two empaths, I know that he knows I'm lying. I'm also counting on that same ability of his to know that I don't want to pursue the topic. Thankfully, he dropped it and just gave me a knowing smile.

Together, we walked the glittering hallway then took the first left to go to the minster. As soon as we came into view, the Local Herald announced my name. "The Queen of Mars" he declared to the people paying tribute already to the body of my son. Our party of four is all royalty, but as the most prominent, being the only queen amongst two princes and a princess, the people bowed to me before resuming their seats again.

We took the seats on the very first row; directly looking over the clear crystal casket that houses the body of an old man; my son. He was wearing the customary silk clothes of the men of royalty. Unlike his two 'cousins' however, his princely attire was sewn and was not a result of a transformation through planet power. I can still remember the very first time he was being measured by the palace tailors; Akoumi and Mikouko were taking turns in showing the cut and design of the prince's garb to the assistants that they were not sure at the end of the day what symbol to sew on at the back of his vests because of the different symbols displaying on his cousin's forehead and the backs of their vests. Of course I got angry with their confusion but Ryu calmed me by telling me that it didn't matter. As long as he could wear something like what his 'cousins' were wearing, he'd be content. He told me that a symbol on his back is not necessary because a symbol is not present on his forehead in the first place. Anyway, I insisted to the tailors that my symbol be sewn at his vests so that his difference from his cousins won't be emphasized much. But he knew he was different, and he was just 10 years old then.

People from the Mars sector tend to bow lower to his younger sister than to him and palace heralds of several planets tend to not acknowledge him whenever we're on intergalactic state visits. This bothered me but that is the truth: he may be a prince, but his sister is the one to inherit the throne. There was just too much he didn't have a right to, just because he didn't inherit my powers. He cannot travel the universe like his 'cousins', because his body cannot cope that fast to changing planet environments. He cannot join their senshi classes for he's not a senshi in the first place. He cannot participate in social gatherings involving other planet sovereigns for a celestial symbol on the forehead is the usual gate pass. He cannot even join their games for he never was fast enough nor can he ever jump high enough. They all love him, this much is true; but he is just not like them, and he had to live with it for all his life.

Knowing all these, it's quite a wonder for me that he never detested me as his mother. I guess, he also inherited his father's huge heart. He was captioned different when it was clear that we, the other royals, were the ones that are different, not him. My pondering though was cut short by the herald again announcing the arrival of someone important. I instantly turned of course, for me and my closest friends were considered important people now. Funny, I still remember the times when the people of this planet won't even give a second to glance at the silly girls behind those hero costumes.

"The Queens of Neptune and Uranus"

As usual, everyone stood up and bowed to acknowledge their presence, except for me. I simply stood and smiled at them. "Haruka, Michiru…" I greeted once they were close enough.

Michiru pulled me in for a hug and rubbed my back while Haruka gifted me with a kiss on the forehead. The outers are now like that to us; the you're-a-kid-who-makes-emotion-based-decisions judgment from them were long gone and was replaced by complete trusts and respect. "You okay?" The sea senshi asked and I simply nodded my head as we parted. The three young royalties beside me also approached them and gave them each a brief hug.

"How come you're here this early?" I curiously asked, for the sectors assigned to the epic couple are on the other face of the globe.

Haruka grinned. "We saw the news then teleported."

My heart warmed, yes it is way easier for us to teleport now; but still, to act instantly takes pure will.

"Their Majesties, Neo Queen Serenity and King Endymion" the palace herald announced in his most stage worthy voice.

The three of us looked towards the entrance where instead of just a couple, several people were approaching. Hotaru was chatting with Chibiusa who was walking beside her mother and was holding hands with her father. Makoto and Yuko were walking side by side and appear to be talking about something important. Ami was carrying a sleeping child while Taiki's arm was lazily wrapped around her shoulder. Minako and Yaten were holding a hand each of an upbeat and overly excited three year old girl.

"Everyone!" I exclaimed surprised when they approached and I forego the usual pleasantries we exchange when there are citizens surrounding us.

Usagi smiled. "We sort of bumped into each other on the way here." She explained.

Minako lifted the child who was trying to run off to the other side of the huge chapel and handed Aiko to her father. Yaten instantly walked towards the gardens outside before the child start to wail in his arms. Left alone, Minako approached me and gave me a hug. Her hand glowed and it settled on my back directly above my heart. She was telling me she loves me, that everyone loves me. I can feel the honesty and I can also feel the raw emotion trying to consume me. I blinked away the onslaught of tears that threatened to come because of the presence of all my friends and the love they were showing me.

Pluto, as usual, was unpredictable and just arrived through a portal of time she created in mid-air. She flew out, closed her own devised highway, detransformed and then approached our group. Now everyone I consider family was finally there. I cannot be more supported by anyone else.

So when Minako asked me if I'm going to be okay, I said yes with conviction; adding also that I will always be okay, with everyone of my family around me.