The wind made it impossible to be heard, or even to speak. It robbed them of breath, their words were lost to the rush of air. Random locks of hair whipped their faces, stinging them as if it were a penance to be served in a multitude of microscopic torments. Their eyes watered, which was just fine, as it served to hide the tears.
The drive was interminable, but not long enough. They had nothing to say, and their hearts broke not saying it.
It was the morning after the Messiah had saved the world.
When the sun set, Haruka kept driving, her hands so tightly fixed on the wheel she wasn’t sure she would be able to remove them. She and Michiru hadn’t spoken all day – what was there to say?
Sailor Moon and Sailor Saturn had, despite all odds, beyond all understanding, destroyed the evil of the invaders from Tau Ceti. The baby, Hotaru, had been returned to her father. They had challenged Sailor Moon and been defeated, acknowledged her as their Princess and the Messiah and now they were free. What was there to say?
“Haruka.” Michiru’s voice was rough, as if with great grief. Haruka turned slowly to face her, not blinking, not willing to acknowledge the hot tears she would not shed.
Michiru pointed to a lighted sign, one that proclaimed bed and color TV for a price. Haruka nodded and let the car drift off the road into a parking lot unevenly graveled. They could see the hotel was run-down, grim and careworn, on this lonely road. It would suit them well.
The room was surprisingly pleasant. Haruka looked at the large, soft bed with distaste. Where were the nails, the tortured screams of rusty springs that might sate her need for misery? She turned to tell Michiru that she couldn’t stay there, but stopped as she saw Michiru’s face. They were both exhausted. They might as well sleep.
Sleep. They had just challenged the Messiah, the sweet, courageous girl that had sacrificed herself, that no one else would suffer…their Princess, that clumsy crybaby…
Haruka dropped onto the bed, her face buried in her hands, sobbing with no more care for what she looked like than Usagi herself. Michiru sat next to her, holding her, and they cried together for what seemed like hours.
Haruka cried for her youth, driven on by forces from the Past, a sense of destiny that goaded her to run away from life. She cried for an innocence she had never really had and for the innocence of a beautiful blond girl, whose spirit would never be crushed. And she cried for Michiru, always the stronger of the two of them, who had to be firm when she could not be, strong when she had been unsure of their purpose. And she cried for the world, which had been so close to the Silence and never known it. Next to her, Michiru cried for the same reasons, and for a tall, strong woman, who never realized just how much she was needed.
When their sobs died down, the tears flowed still. Looking around the room, Haruka wiped the salt away with an impatient gesture.
“Michiru?” her voice cracked and she tried again. “Did we do the right thing?”
Michiru looked up at her, then out the window towards the glowing hotel sign and the road beyond. She took an uneven breath, then sighed. “I don’t know.” Her voice quavered, she drew in another unsteady breath. “We did what we thought was right. That was the best we could do.”
Haruka didn’t answer. She stood and walked to the window, watching the infrequent play of passing headlights. “I can’t help wondering, though. Was our role fated? Did we have any choice at all? Did we make *any* difference at all?” Her voice grew angry. “Or did we serve to hurt the one person, who might have…who saved us?”
Michiru closed her eyes. “We should have believed in her, Haruka.”
Haruka spun around, an angry retort dying on her lips as she regarded Michiru’s wounded face. She slumped. “Yes.” Taking off her coat, she wrapped it around Michiru and put her arms around the slim girl.
Michiru laid her head on Haruka’s shoulder. “I’m tired.”
Haruka nodded. “Me too.”
They sat like that, time passing unnoticed, until sheer exhaustion forced them to lay down, holding each other as a defense against the anguish they felt. Eventually, they slept.
They awoke before the dawn and checked out while the air was still crisp. The grey sky was now flecked with an ironic orange as they walked to their car.
The road was empty, the air stung their faces. It was another day, they were not dead, the world still turned. Haruka felt something within her stir, something she had long thought extinct.
“Look!” Michiru pointed and Haruka turned to follow her pointing finger. She quickly pulled the car over, and the two women stepped out onto the road’s verge. They stood looking out over a valley as the sun rose from behind a hill, and spreading its light, slowly colored the valley rose, then dark green, then a bright, lively green. The radiance from the sun lit their faces and they smiled.
They watched until the sun was over the hills, flooding the land with warmth. Haruka put her arm around Michiru and they simply stood, allowing the source of all life to fill them with the one thing they had missed for so long.
“She’s always with us, isn’t she?” Michiru asked quietly.
“Yes.” Haruka agreed. “And while she is with us, we always have hope.”
The two women separated, and still smiling, they got into the car and drove off into the sunrise.