044-Till Our Lives Burn Out- Ch12Pt1b (The End)
Age Rating: 13 +
“They’ve eloped?” Michiru ventured, with a serious yet wistful look on her face.
“What?!” Usagi shrieked excitedly, as the other girls gasped. “Setsuna-san … and that guy eloped?”
“No,” said Hotaru, and everyone looked puzzled.
“You can’t really elope … if you’re already married, can you?” she said, her voice all little choked up. “It doesn’t say how exactly, but somehow they got married last night. They say they’ll be back in two weeks. They’re flying to the Caribbean. Setsuna-momma has always wanted to go there. He knows someone that manages hotels all over the world and owes him a huge favor. First stop is Cancun, then Cozumel, and Roatan –never heard of that one. Wow. She’s going to get to see something she’s wanted to see all her life. And, in style too. Oh, there’s a P.S.” she said, looking at Ami, “If Miss Mizuno is still there, or you happen to see her soon, tell her I will try to get that job at K.O. University after all. I’m just about broke now, and I need the money. Setsuna is rather high maintenance.”
Usagi was completely undone.
“This is so romantic,” she said in quiet awe, collapsing into the seat next to Mamoru, and then leaning into him. “Setsuna! Of all people!”
“Exactly!” said Hotaru. She knew Usagi would ‘get it.’
The other girls felt the romance of it, but also were clearly concerned about something. Though they knew only a little about her, this didn’t seem like Setsuna at all.
“Well, I guess this makes us the crazy aunts in the attic, now?” Haruka joked quietly to Michiru. Mamoru heard this and chuckled, though he too had a look of concern on his face.
”Oh, don’t be silly, Haruka-poppa. Everything’s all right now,” Hotaru said with deep and obvious relief.
“What do you mean?” asked Michiru.
“I finally saw what I was … repressing, I think is the word? At first, all I could feel was unease, and then over time, the sense of dread became horrible. It’s what was causing me to blank out during tests. When I concentrated my hardest, I could almost grasp what I was seeing. The more I saw of it, the more I needed to see the rest. They were about her: about what could happen to her one day. It’s okay now. She’ll be fine.”
“You’re sure, Hotaru-chan?” asked Chibiusa.
“Yes, very sure.”
“It is a little surprising that this happened so fast, though.”
“Not really,” interrupted Rei, looking thoughtful. “Setsuna-san was so self-controlled because underneath she feels deeply, too deeply for words, perhaps. I was thinking that when she asked me to check out that guy in my seeings. I got the feeling she was asking it for very personal reasons. One crack in that edifice and her heart would gush, I think. No, it’s not that surprising really.”
Hotaru smiled at the thought. Ami sensed there was something deeply personal for Hotaru in this as well, and hesitantly asked, “Hotaru-chan, why does this mean so much to you?”
“Ami-chan!” Usagi, Rei, Minako and Makoto said in unison.
“I’m sorry. I mean, of course it does, and it should, but …”
“I guess because … it gives me hope. Hope for us all, really, and for me too.”
“Hope for us all?” asked Chibiusa.
“Yes. Hope for … a life. It seems to me,” she said shyly, “that good things are to be enjoyed as well as defended. And that whatever the future was thought to be, we must live … now. I think she, who saw a great deal of all days, finally realized that. I so want to be like her. I don’t mean getting married, necessarily, but think about it: she has the hardest duty of all, and yet she loved him the moment she met him …”
“Really?” asked Luna.
“Yes, but she couldn’t accept that at first, and I didn’t … quite understand why,” she said, as she turned away from Mamoru, at whom she happened to be looking at that moment. “And then once she realized how he felt, I wondered if she would be able to reconcile duty and desire. I prayed that she could find the way through it that I could not see. So many years, all the solitude, the longing to fight along side you all, all those habits of thought she had to inculcate to get through it –all of that was in the way. That’s how destiny and duty work. They’re a rut you fall into and it gets deeper and deeper until destiny becomes tragedy. Even if the situation changes, it’s all you know and that’s what makes it feel inevitable. So much was working against this, that if such a magical thing can happen for her, it can happen for any of us. Now, when she comes back, she’ll never be quite the same.”
“That’s a wonderful thought, Hotaru-chan,” Usagi smiled, “and a beautiful hope. I hope that for all of us. Real and painful though it can be, we can live … really live …”
“… till out lives burn out,” Hotaru said, finishing the very same thought. “Everyone, this is the happiest moment of my life. I’ve been hoping for this from the moment I realized what was happening. It took me a while to see what was really going on, but once I did, I knew this could happen. They’re so perfect for each other, alike enough and different enough …”
“Hotaru-chan?” asked Ami, tentatively, “Kuryakin-san, he … knows about us, doesn’t he?”
Hotaru looked uncomfortable for a moment and then she looked at Haruka and Michiru. They looked to each other, then Michiru looked back to Hotaru and nodded.
“Yes,” she said.
“Was he with you, on that island, when you …?”
“Yes,” Haruka said.
“What is he?”
Hotaru sighed, smiling. Though it was going to distract from her joy in this moment, she was obviously going to have to explain this. For the next hour, she, along with Haruka and Michiru, explained what had been happening to her since shortly after Chaos was driven out of Galaxia, how Hotaru was freezing up during school, how they had decided on Kuryakin for a private tutor, how much fun she had with him, the way she tried to bring him and Setsuna together, the little fact that he was from another galaxy, the battle with the Ravagers, and everything that had led to up to last night.
“Amazing,” said Ami, when they were done. “No wonder he seemed so different, so impossibly knowledgeable. Even when I was going to his cram school, he seemed too good to be true at times. Now I understand why he said taking that job at K.O University would be problematic.”
“Would it do to call him a Senshi?” asked Rei.
“He is someone empowered by planetary guardians, or intelligences, as he calls them- to fight a powerful and supernatural enemy, but he told me he had concluded there were quite a few differences,” said Hotaru, who thought it best not to reveal anything about his one major ‘weakness.’
“However,” said Michiru, “we all know only women can be Sailor Senshi.”
“There’s the odd case of the Sailor Starlights,” said Ami.
“Yes, and now we also know that there are Senshi in every solar system,” said Makoto. “Isn’t it possible there could be differences?”
“How much more so,” Ami continued, “since he’s from another galaxy.”
“But they’re descended from earth humans, too,” said Mamoru, his hand to his chin in a thoughtful pose. “That’s the interesting thing.”
“And he’s a guy …” said Makoto, as she threw her head back and got that wistful “sempai” look.
“A ninety year old guy …” said Luna, reprovingly.
“Well,” said Makoto, looking calculating and matter of fact, “as long as he looks young, and he’s thoughtful …”
“… and kind, and smart …” said Ami.
“… and handsome, and fun loving …” said Minako.
“… and healthy, and noble …” said Rei.
“… who really cares?” they said in unison, except for Ami who merely nodded, then caught herself and turned red.
Haruka looked smugly at Michiru, stuck out her hand out, and said, “Pay up.”
“You’re sure the threat was ended?” asked Mamoru.
“I dunno. We think so,” said Haruka. “As many of those Ravagers as were in that corridor, Sailor Saturn took out more of them in one blow than he had his entire life, or so he said. She probably advanced the cause of peace throughout that Galaxy by centuries.”
“Why didn’t you guys see it coming sooner?” asked Artemis.
“Because, as Mamoru noted, they’re earth descendants, too,” Michiru replied. “Apparently there is still enough of earth in them that they don’t register as external threats. I’ve seen nothing in my mirror since, and it’s supposed to work even better now. I think that threat is over, before it was begun really.”
“The coming together of the two galaxies … what can that mean?” asked Ami, thoughtfully.
“That’s three billion years from now. In a fraction of that time, things will be so different we cannot imagine them, and we will probably be long forgotten. This is the first whisper of that distant event. What it means right now is that someone we care about is happy,” said Hotaru firmly. “Or at least, she has a good shot at it. And I brought them together. That’s the happiest thing of all. For once, I awakened something.”
“You awakened us when Elysian was attacked,” said Michiru.
“I awakened you to your ‘destiny’. I was going for something different, something better, here. What I do mainly is destroy. That’s my destiny. But, this time, instead of destroying, I created, like Usagi does. Best of all, I didn’t give up. I finished something long and difficult. It was like … a marathon. She resisted so much, but I kept nudging her, pushing her where she could never go for herself, and finally … I created something wonderful for one I have always loved, and another I’ve come to love so much.”
“I wonder how this will change things?’ said Usagi, looking hopefully at Mamoru.
“Yes, we’ll have to look into that,” said Artemis.
“One good thing I can think of,” Ami said. “He really is a good tutor, Usagi.”
“Oh?” Luna, Artemis and Mamoru all looked thoughtful upon hearing that, but Usagi’s expression suddenly drooped. Tough lessons with a determined, intimidating and hopelessly overqualified tutor were not a pleasant thought just now. ‘Onegai, teacher!’ Maybe this wasn’t such a great thing after all.
Chibiusa snickered at Usagi’s obvious discomfiture, and then looked to Hotaru and smiled. “I wish I could see her right now.”
“Don’t worry, Chibiusa-chan,” said Hotaru. “She still loves you most of all. Oh, by the way, the letter says when they get back they’ll have a proper ceremony and you and I can be in it and all that. I wonder where they are right now. I don’t suppose they’ve gotten there yet. I doubt they’re in any hurry, though. Or maybe they are …”
She blushed. Haruka looked like she was about to say something, but Michiru elbowed her.
“I hope they’ll be happy,” said Chibiusa.
“Me too,” said Hotaru. “I hope I haven’t done something bad. Kuryakin-sensei talks a great deal about unintended consequences. But how can this be bad?”
“Everything will be fine,” said Usagi, reassuringly.
“And when they get there,” Hotaru said, “I think of how pretty she’ll look in that tropical sun, walking on the beaches in the morning like Eve when the world was new, swimming in those blue waters with her hair spread out around her like a lily pad, and her face, turned up to the sun, like the flower in the center … and in the tropical evening, (said in English) she’ll walk in beauty like the night of cloudless climes and starry skies, and all that’s best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes … she will glow, and everyone around her will see how special and wonderful she is … By the Queen's permission, she has passed from our hands, into the hands of another, for we could give her purpose and meaning, but we could not give her wholeness. Now she will find her life in the eyes of the one who can adore her all his days, and he shall find in her his heart’s only desire.”
“Hmmm, Hotaru-chan, you should write songs,” said Rei, as the Inner Senshi were caught up in the Littlest Soldier’s reverie.
“It is wonderful, Hotaru-chan,” said Usagi. “Whatever happens, … well, the world, and the future, will just have to adjust.”
“I suppose,” Luna had started to say when …
The front door opened loudly, and a voice said, “Usagi? I’m home,” as her brother, Shingo, came bounding through it.
“Wow, you guys should see that awesome car out … oh, uh, hi … everyone,” he said, sheepishly. He figured Usagi’s friends would still be here, but he was surprised to see the house this full of people. They all waved or otherwise acknowledged him. He knew them, except for one girl. A look of surprise spread over his face. He didn’t know her name, but they had met once before.
“You …” he was barely able to get out. Chibiusa introduced him to Hotaru, and Shingo Tsukino found himself staring goofily into the violet eyes of the girl who had healed his broken collarbone at the hospital.
Haruka whispered to Michiru, “The future might have to put in some overtime adjusting.”