Good morning! I'm not even going to begin to pretend that this long wait was okay. I promise I'll do better in the future. :) Enjoy the chapter!
Disclaimer: I own nothing!
I could hear the loud, rather obnoxious doorbell sound throughout the large house in front of me. It was a sound that sent waves of excitement rushing through my veins, as it could only mean a relaxing, fun day was in store.
As I swayed back and forth on my feet I started humming away to some nonsense tune, lost in the blue-skied beauty of the day. A sudden click of the door made me jump nearly four feet in the air, and I was greeted with the smiling face of Professor Tomoe.
"Good morning, Usagi." He greeted me. "Anything fun planned today?"
I shook my head, my pigtails swinging by my sides. "Not really. We may go to the park and get ice cream."
The Professor gave a kind-hearted laugh. "Always ice cream."
"Hi Usagi!" A soft, child-like voice called out to me from inside. I peeked through the door to see Hotaru waving to me from the top of her staircase. "I'll be down in a minute!" With that, she rushed back up her stairs.
A chuckle brought me back to Professor Tomoe. "She really enjoys your company," He said. "I'm glad she has someone to look up to like a sister."
It was true, really. For all intents and purposes I saw Hotaru as my little sister, and loved spending time with her on the weekends. When the battle with Chaos came to a close, Hotaru had decided to go back to her biological father and attend Jubaan Junior High. Soon after Michiru was offered to go on tour with other talented young musicians, and Haruka accompanied her. Without them to visit her every few days, I could see the loneliness creep up on her. It became habit for me to take her out every Saturday afternoon, often for ice cream.
This Saturday, however, I had a little bit of a surprise for her.
When I'd called yesterday, asking her if she would mind going out in the morning instead of the afternoon, she was surprisingly eager to go. Over the years I started to rub off on her; she valued her extra hours of sleep on the weekends almost as much as I did.
But here I was; 8:30 in the morning… on a Saturday no less… waiting for her to come bounding down the stairs again.
'She's gonna be so excited!' I thought, a smile spreading across my face. At the thought of her surprise my backpack weighed down on my shoulders, suddenly very heavy.
A flash of dark hair snapped me out of my thoughts, and a smiling Hotaru greeted me at the door.
"Bye, papa!" She gave her father a quick kiss on the cheek and we were off.
When Chaos had been defeated and all the scouts brought back, Sailor Saturn had returned as a girl about the age of twelve. Since then she had grown normally, though it was still unfair how tall she was. Even though she was four years younger than me, she was only an inch or two shorter than me. I couldn't tell if it was because she was taller than average, or if I was shorter than average. A quick glance at all the tall people around me quickly confirmed the latter. Oh well.
"Thinking about how short you are again?" Hotaru asked playfully. I mentally cursed her perceptiveness; the girl could practically read my mind!
"Maybe!" I stuck my tongue out at her. "Or maybe there's something stuck in your hair!"
She shook her head. "I was just looking in a mirror!" Her gaze traveled up to the crown of my head and she frowned. "But… there is something in your hair."
Instantly my hands flew to my head, searching for something and finding absolutely nothing. "Ooooo… you are such a brat!" I laughed.
"I know, but only around you." She smiled. "So, what are we up to this morning?"
My mouth curled into a smirk. "You'll see!" I patted the backpack behind me. "But first we have to get something to eat. I haven't had breakfast yet!"
Twenty minutes later found us sitting at a local breakfast diner, both with steaming omelets and orange juice in front of us. We chatted innocently about school and homework and a boy that Hotaru thought was cute, one I knew she had mentioned on more than one other occasion.
I glanced at the clock, which read 8:54. Throwing another smile in Hotaru's direction I pulled a sleek pink laptop out of my pack and placed it on the table in front of me, firing it up.
"Usagi, what are you doing?" She asked between bites of her egg.
I tapped a password into the startup screen and watched as the main screen came to life. "Well, I have a surprise for you! It's kinda why I asked you to come out so much earlier today."
"Really? What is it?!" Hotaru jumped out of her side of the booth and sat down next to me so she could see too. She watched as I opened up a program called Skyper… something I had only just been introduced to for this occasion. I saw her eager expression turn to the slightest of confusion. "What is Skyper?" She asked.
"Well…" I tapped my chin, thinking of the best way to explain this so I didn't get it wrong. "It's like talking on the phone, except with video."
She glanced at the webcam built into the computer and nodded thoughtfully. "I'm impressed that you were able to put this on your computer, Usagi."
A nervous laugh escaped my lips. "Actually, Ami had to do that." I admitted.
Hotaru flashed me a knowing smile, as if to say 'I knew you didn't do it yourself!'
"Oh, hush!" I laughed, waving her mocking smile away. The yellow program finally opened, and I saw a username pop onto the screen, a green 'online' dot floating next to it. With a click on the button that read "Place Call", the screen was replaced with a black one, and the computer made a noise similar to a phone dialing.
"Who are we going to talk to?" Hotaru asked, leaning closer to the screen.
I opened my mouth to respond when the computer beeped, and two familiar faces materialized on screen.
"Michiru-mama! Haruka-papa!" Hotaru squealed, waving to the two girls on the other side.
They smiled. "Hi, Hotaru! It's nice to see you!" Michiru said. "And hello to you too, Usagi!"
I smiled and waved back to them.
"So tell me, Koneko…" Haruka started. "How long did it take you to download Skyper to your computer?" She smirked at me, and Michiru giggled next to her.
I threw my hands up. "Why does everyone ask me that?"
"Usagi, you aren't exactly the best with computers…" Michiru answered lightly. "Did Ami help you?"
With the best pout I could put on my face, I nodded.
"How is the tour? Where are you guys now? Do you have a show today?" Hotaru piped up, eagerly awaiting the answers.
"The tour has been great!" Michiru gushed. "We get to meet so many talented young musicians, some of which are even better than I am!"
Haruka shook her head. "Don't listen to her. None of the others can even compare."
Ignoring her partner, Michiru continued. "Right now we are in a city called Seattle, in the state of Washington."
I frowned. "I thought Washington was a city?"
Michiru laughed. "No, you're thinking of Washington D.C. That's America's capital city."
"Oh…" I replied sheepishly.
"Anyway, we don't have a show today. It's actually tomorrow. We just got to our hotel a couple hours ago."
"What time is it over there?" Hotaru asked.
I noticed Haruka glance at her watch. "It's about 5 in the afternoon."
"Woah…" Hotaru's eyes widened. "I've always found that so weird."
"Tell us more about your shows!" I chimed in. Michiru hadn't known very much about the tour last time I saw her, so there was a lot I wanted to hear.
She delved into the whole story, starting with the morning they left the Tokyo International Airport and flew to the States. Most of her story was about the travels and the people they were traveling with; some of whom sounded really nice. Haruka mentioned some guy from Brazil who kept flirting with Michiru, and how she was about ready to, and I quote: "Drop-kick him off the next flight".
Hotaru and I filled the two in on what was happening around here, though there really wasn't too much going on. The four of us eventually started talking about anything and everything, just like we used to.
About an hour and a half into our conversation, I heard a strange, yet oddly familiar, rumbling round.
Michiru frowned, and turned to Haruka. "Was that… your stomach?"
Haruka blinked. "Yeah, I guess it was!" She laughed. "Koneko, you're starting to rub off on me!"
"We haven't eaten dinner yet." Michiru explained to us.
"Oh! Well don't let us keep you from eating! You know what I always say, food it the most important thing to the day!" I giggled, giving them a thumbs-up.
"Usagi, you don't say that." Hotaru shook her head.
"I know, but I think I should!"
With that, the two girls on the computer joined in on the laughter. "In that case, we better get going." Haruka smiled.
"It was nice seeing you!" I said, waving to them.
"You too! Maybe we can talk again soon!" Michiru said. We exchanged our goodbyes and the video clicked off.
Hotaru turned to me. "That was nice, thank you so much!"
"Of course!" I smiled. "I thought it would be nice to talk to them." That, and I hadn't seen them in forever. Truth be told, I wanted to make sure they were doing alright.
The table we were sitting at had long been cleared away of our breakfast, and the bill was waiting patiently on the edge. With a sigh I lifted the piece of paper to my face to inspect the damage.
I opened my mouth to speak when a crisp banknote appeared before my eyes. Hotaru looked up sheepishly at me, her fingers clasped to the bill.
"What's this?" I asked.
"My dad said it was my turn to treat you, so he gave me this for our breakfast."
I smiled warmly at her and shook my head. "Oh, don't worry about it! You don't need to be paying for our breakfast, I'm the older one anyway. So I pay."
"Sure…" She quickly snagged the slip of paper from my fingers. "But I have the bill. And you're my princess. So I should be treating you."
My gaze remained fixed on my fingers, now clasping nothing but air. "Fine. Then I get the ice cream!" I giggled.
"But we just ate!" Hotaru's widened eyes couldn't hide the excitement behind them.
I gave her the best smirk I could muster. "You act as though that would ever stop us!"
The two of us quickly gathered our things, paid the bill, and scurried out of the diner in the direction of our favorite ice cream stand.
Michiru snapped her laptop shut and slid it back into its case. She glanced at the clock again, which hadn't changed much since she looked at it only moments ago.
A frown found its way onto her delicate face. Her princess seemed perfectly fine, and absolutely nothing she had said indicated that anything was out of the ordinary. Even Hotaru was completely at ease.
So what was this feeling in the pit of her stomach that told her everything was horribly wrong?
The sense of dread had been plaguing Michiru for several days now, to the point where she and Haruka had almost quit the tour early to return to their princess. A quick call to Luna had done little to ease their minds, but the two decided to check in with the others before jumping to anything drastic.
"Still worried about her?" Haruka's voice pulled Michiru from her thoughts as an arm wrapped around her waist.
Michiru let out a sigh. "I can't help it. The seas are too still for my liking."
"Like the calm before the storm?"
"Don't be so cliché." She chuckled, pulling away from Haruka. She laced her fingers with the taller girl's and led them to the window overlooking the city. "It feels as though something is coming, though."
She heard Haruka click her tongue. "Is it good or bad?"
Michiru thought for a moment, focusing on the aura that this sense was giving off. It was bad in a way, but something about it was equally as good. "Both, I suppose." She finally answered.
The taller senshi rested her chin on her lover's head. "Should we go back?"
They stood in the silence of the unanswered question. Michiru's dream of rising as a violin star always seemed to take the backseat. As fun as the tour is and had been, Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune had a duty to attend to.
Both of them knew the answer to their question.
Exactly seven minutes and sixteen seconds after leaving the diner found Hotaru and I camped out on a park bench, both enjoying our midday ice cream. We sat there, silently enjoying the lovely weather and out frozen treats.
My two scoops – one strawberry and one vanilla – had already started melting under the heat of the sun by the time we found a place to sit, but I quickly set to work eating to tower of ice cream. Hotaru slowly worked her way around her scoop of chocolate, savoring every last bit of it.
Suddenly a strange sensation washed over me, a sort of pressure pressing against me from Hotaru's direction. I glanced over at the younger girl to see her lost in a trance, staring off into space. Her eyes looked darker, almost glazed.
I felt myself frown and let out a small sigh. Hotaru always came off as such a sweet and innocent girl when I saw her. She was just a fourteen year old girl, after all.
But then there were times like these when I was reminded of just how wrong that was.
No matter what, Hotaru could never escape the cold wisdom of Sailor Saturn. I had reason to believe that she could remember things from the Silver Millennium that I couldn't even begin to recall. She was anything but an innocent child.
I turned back to my ice cream and waited patiently for Hotaru to snap herself out of it. This wasn't the first time that something like this had happened. Once she tried to explain to me that during these trances she had something similar to visions, though what she saw was often muddled and hard to understand.
"It's more like a sensation, and it could be from the past, present or future." She had explained.
Each time I couldn't bring myself to interrupt her. Not only did it seem rude, but I didn't want her to lose sight of something important, or something that she wanted to see.
"Usagi," Her voice, small but unexpectedly strong, called me from my thoughts.
"Yes, Hotaru?" I placed my hand on top of hers for support, just in case she needed it.
She was quiet, staring straight ahead. I couldn't tell if she decided not to tell me what was on her mind or if she was trying to word it in her head.
Finally, she spoke again.
"What should I be when I grow up?" She started to eat her ice cream again, and I knew her moment as Sailor Saturn was over.
"Well…" I turned the question over in my head, looking for possibilities. "You could be a writer. Or a doctor like Ami. Or even a teacher! You like history, don't you?"
Hotaru nodded, deep in thought. But something was troubling her.
"What's wrong?" I asked, worried that I had offended her.
She looked up at me, her deep eyes still thoughtful. "Shouldn't you be saying a Sailor Soldier? When Crystal Tokyo is formed, that's what we will all be."
I clamped my mouth shut at this, my own thoughts raging in my head. "There's plenty of time before that. Ami wants to be a doctor, and Minako wants to be an idol, and Makoto wants to own a bake shop, and Michiru wants to be a violinist…" I shook my head. "Everyone has these great dreams that they are all working towards."
"How long will they be able to enjoy them before duty takes them away?" Hotaru's voice held a certain ancient wisdom to it, one that a girl of her age shouldn't have the burden of carrying.
I swallowed the lump forming in my throat. I knew what she was getting at. "I believe that they will be able to achieve both."
"Setsuna-mama doesn't think so." She said matter-of-factly. "She says that there isn't much time before the crystal activated to clean the Earth, and then we will all wake up in the 30th century."
A frown found its way onto my face. Not too long ago Setsuna told me a very similar thing. "It's our destiny to bring Crystal Tokyo to Earth," I reasoned, "but I want everyone to follow their dreams too."
We were both quiet for another minute before Hotaru spoke up again, asking me a question that rang through my head in the worst of ways.
"At what point," she started, "do dreams outweigh destiny?"
Well I've finally got this chapter up! I've been working on it for ages... It never seemed quite right haha. I hope everything is going good for everyone. See ya!