Setsuna felt Margarite leave the bed, but she did not open her eyes. There were to be no good-byes this time, as there were none the last. They each knew what they had to do, there was nothing left to discuss.
She lay in the growing silence, feeling the bed cool, trying to remember how she lived without him in her life. She refused to shed tears for him, or herself. None of this was even happening, she knew, it was all a paradox. Tsukino Usagi would be born, and would defeat Beryl, Nemesis, Neherenia, Galaxia and yes, even Opal. A beautiful new world would be created, and all she had to do was to return to that world and live the life she had chosen.
Setsuna sighed and pushed the covers back. Her body felt light, translucent, as it had after her rebirth when Galaxia had taken her star seed. When this was all over, with the reformation of Margarite, she could have a life she had never before allowed herself to contemplate. Family, friends and a lover. A normal life, she admitted, reluctant to even think the words, lest she jinx herself. She glanced at herself in the mirror and blushed. Her normally impeccable hair was a mess, her skin flushed and her crimson eyes sparkled. There was no mistaking that look – and that thought heightened the blush in her cheeks.
Turning away from the mirror, she considered the plans she and Margarite had formed to draw out Opal’s lieutenants. If he was to escape Opal’s influence, his watchers would have to be destroyed. Margarite would attack the Tsukino household, and she would defend it, forcing him back. Margarite would have to call on reinforcements. Together they would defeat these minions of the new Dark Kingdom then, released from immediate surveillance, they would make their escape together and return to the 30th century, where they could join the other Senshi and defeat Opal.
It sounded so simple. And if anyone knows that life is not simple, it would have to be me. She did not smile, not now. She showered, and dressed, knowing that it would not matter what she wore. Nothing except her strength mattered now. If she could not defeat these new, stronger enemies, she would never see any of her family again. Nor would she redeem Margarite. Life without Margarite, now that she had once again felt his touch, heard his voice…. she shivered although the apartment was warm.
She ate breakfast, not tasting the food, and straightened the apartment. It wouldn’t do to leave a mess. She arranged the tastelessly decorated coverlet, smoothing it and at that, smiled. Whatever came this day, she would not miss this decade. The thought made her laugh, and laughing, she transformed one last time into Sailor Pluto.
On the roof of the building overlooking the Tsukino house, unseen by any watchers, Sailor Pluto took up her position. She could keep watch from here, and join the fight when it became necessary.
The afternoon was passing quickly, it would soon be evening, time for an aspiring journalist to return home to his wife. If Margarite would attack, it would have to be soon. Sailor Pluto watched the passage of cars, trucks and pedestrians with the look of one who had seen them all pass this way before, and would again.
A small inconsistency was all it took to gain her attention, just one thing out of the ordinary. She watched the yard around the house, but could not see what had caught her eye. She scanned the streets around it and suddenly saw what she had instinctively known to be there. A field of energy, visible only at an oblique angle, had been drawn around the Tsukino house. Was it to keep something in, or out?
Sailor Pluto left her position, and floated above the field, feeling it stress and heat the air around it. She tested the field with the Rod, but it resisted both slow and fast motion attacks, and no energy could penetrate it. It was meant to keep her out, then. She surveyed it, looking for flaws, or any sign of weakness, but found none. If Margarite had put the barrier up, he had done it too well.
She floated towards the ground, not wanting to commit to any course of action, but she knew that confrontation was inevitable. Her boot touched the ground almost gingerly. Nothing happened and she lowered her second foot, until she stood before the Tsukino residence, tense and alert.
A second passed, and another one, the air was heavy with anticipation – even the birdsong was quieted. Sailor Pluto, her Staff held tightly, moved forward, one step, then two. Her foot lifted for the third step, when suddenly the ground beneath her erupted and two hands tore free their earthly moorings and grabbed at her. Sailor Pluto tried to pull away, but the hands clung to her, followed by another and another, which rent her fuku and tried to pry the Staff from her hand. Stabbing downward, Sailor Pluto forced her way free and loosened the Rod to strike. Her monotone “Dead Scream” was followed by the piercing screams of the hands’ owners, as they burned away into mist.
Behind her, Sailor Pluto heard a rumbling noise, as the ground shrieked with pain and ripped open. She whirled in time to behold one large, clawed hand appear, followed by another. They sunk into the ground and flexed, pulling up a not quite human body. The monster’s eyes were not visible, nor were ears, but the gaping maw spoke eloquently. Fangs glittered, but its voice was smooth and cultured.
“I have been promised a fine meal, Sailor Pluto.” The creature spoke directly to her, its muscles rippling unnaturally. “Would you prefer to be the appetizer, or the main course?”
Sailor Pluto did not respond. She wished Sailor Mercury stood beside her, with her computer, to let her know where the creature’s weak point was. Or her beloved friends, Sailors Uranus and Neptune, with their strong attacks and stronger faith. Her jaw clenched as she thought of them.
“This is for you, all of you,” she whispered and closed her eyes for a brief second. When they opened her face was calm, almost peaceful.
“Dead Scream.” her voice echoed in the small yard. She released the Staff, it spun into attack position, the violet light forming at its end. After a minute pause she whirled and launched her deadly sphere. It hit the monster, which fell back gasping and croaking almost comically before it collapsed where it stood.
“It seems that my pet is fighting above his station.” Sailor Pluto spun around at the words. Margarite stood a small distance behind her, floating slightly in the air. His arms were crossed and his cape swum gracefully around him, every inch a General of the Dark Kingdom. She found her eyes smarting at the sight of him, her body aching for his touch. But there was a charade to be played out….
“You’ll have to do better than that, Margarite.” She pointed the Garnet Rod at him and he pointed his hand at her. She managed to get an attack off just before he did, and his body wavered where it stood, then flew backwards, landing hard on the ground. He got up shakily, hands clenched.
“Damn you, Pluto.” Margarite’s voice was tight. “Chikaro! Ueru! Come to me!”
The monstrous form, that had until now, lain still, stirred, lifting itself to its legs. It shuffled forward, and was joined by another figure, pliant, hard to see, that made a clanking, jangling sound. It was like a living chain, slinking along the ground, its arms lengthening, surrounding her, and cutting off movement. This was what had attacked her at first. Now the same creature, or another like it, slithered closer, trying to cut off her retreat.
For Pluto, this was the crucial moment. She could not fail to destroy these creatures, for her own sake and for his. Her movements took on a dream-like quality. She breathed deeply and, drawing on the calm only experience and time gives a soldier, she attacked. The chain creature sought to inhibit her movement, while the ungainly mouth simply thought to crush or bite her. She launched attack after attack at them, beating them back, denying them the delight of her capture and defeat.
At last she saw an opening and launched the strongest possible attack at Chikaro, cutting its very links at several places. As the creature tried to reconnect itself, she threw the pieces at the embodied mouth. Automatically, it began to devour the object in its maw. As the chain reconnected, it began to squeeze and bind Ueru, who destroyed it with his sharp teeth. In morbid fascination, Sailor Pluto watched as they turned on each other, each destroying one another, until all that was left was the ruined carcasses of two wretched entities, that shriveled up, and disappeared on the breeze.
Pluto leaned heavily on her Staff, catching her breath. She whirled around looking for Margarite, her eyes a bit wild, her face full of concern that he might have been wounded. Anxiety that she had hurt him in her attack was plainly visible on her usually placid countenance.
She found him leaning against a tree, arms still crossed, that sad look once again on his face. He stood upright and brought his hands to his side. She looked at him and it was equally apparent that she now comprehended what his true plan had been. Understanding of his second betrayal was legible in her tensed mouth, her narrowed eyes.
Unshed tears stung her eyes, but she did not acknowledge them. Sailor Pluto stood, torn fuku skirt moving gently in the breeze, her hair stirred by the same force. She stood erect and strong. Her Staff came once again to her hand and she faced Margarite, ready for whatever treachery he would bring to her this day.
“I’m sorry, Pluto. I really am. But I needed to rid myself of those two and this was the only way to do it.”
Sailor Pluto did not answer, but simply stood balanced lightly on both feet, ready for what he would throw at her.
“Please don’t resist me. You don’t have the strength for it. Your Dead Scream can’t hurt me now.” He stepped forward, one hand open, palm facing up, the offer unspoken. She did not even look at his hand, but stared, hard and cold as stone, at the man she had once, no, twice, loved.
“I want to remember you, Pluto, the way I left you this morning.” She felt her color rise in her face, betraying her thoughts to him. His voice was soft and cruel now, the more so as he was being entirely sincere. “If you join me, we need never be parted again.”
Sailor Pluto continued to watch him, her body betraying her with every breath she took, desire for him in very heartbeat. She longed to go to him, but stayed firm.
Margarite faced his palms towards her, still hesitating, still offering. She did not move.
Margarite closed his eyes and nodded. A beam of odious dark green light shot out from his hands towards Pluto, who simply stood and let it hit her. For a moment she stood firm, then the beam lifted her off her feet. She fell heavily, her body slamming into the ground with a loud thud. Margarite let the beam decrease, then die off.
Slowly, Sailor Pluto stood, Staff still in hand.
“Please, Setsuna. Don’t make me do this.” Margarite said, walking towards her.
Still she said nothing, but the Rod began to move, it floated in a curved trajectory, then settled into her hands comfortably. Power began to build within it. A violet sphere, bright and piercing, appeared at its end.
Margarite held both hands forward towards Sailor Pluto, dark energy building in his palms.
Sailor Pluto spun around and her voice, cold and deadly came
Margarite slapped his hands together, his voice victorious, cried
Green energy hurled itself at the ringed sphere. For a moment they crackled together, each holding fast, then suddenly the violet light gave way and exploded, allowing the green energy to penetrate. Sailor Pluto was immediately lifted off of her feet and thrown across the yard, where she lay motionless, her body lying draped across gnarled roots that had broken through the soft turf.
The sizzling energy dissipated and Margarite gazed at his lover with a calm countenance.
“I really am sorry Pluto.” He walked towards the motionless body, crossing over the broken Garnet Rod, kicking the pieces away with his booted feet. Sailor Pluto, her fuku torn, her body battered, and at least one leg broken, lay there breathing shallowly. Her eyes rolled towards the shards of her Staff. Margarite followed her gaze. “I know you have no other attack, Pluto. If you join me now, I can convince Opal to let you live. Please, Pluto, it would be so easy to let you live…”
Whether to gloat, or to apologize, Margarite himself did not know, but he moved closer to Sailor Pluto, touching her gently on the face. “I tried to warn you, you know. I told you I was a coward and a traitor. And I told you, Opal is much smarter than Beryl. She gives her generals far more power than Beryl ever did. More even than the Senshi.”
“I can’t let you kill Sailor Mo….” Sailor Pluto’s voice was faint, and Margarite cut her off with a short, barking laugh.
“After all this, still thinking of your Queen? Don’t you understand? This was never about Sailor Moon. I was sent here to kill *you.*” His voice was colder than space. She closed her eyes, her face tight with hopelessness. Twice betrayed by the same man, she had lost. There was only one thing left to do.
Sailor Pluto’s eyes opened, fluttered, then fixed on his. He leaned in towards her as her mouth moved, sound forcing its way past cracked lips. She gripped his collar in one hand and pulled him close. Looking into his face Sailor Pluto gathered what energy she could and rasped, “I could let you live too, but it’s easier just to kill you.” Her free hand forced its way upward, directly into Margarite’s solar plexus, releasing a direct beam of energy into his body as she cried out “Stygian Tide!”
With a look of shock and confusion, Margarite released his grip on her. His cry was swallowed by the sound of his destruction. The force lifted him off the ground into the air and then, as if he had been sucked into space, he seemed to implode with a final gasp.
Sailor Pluto fell back against the tree, then slipped downwards, onto the ground and into unconsciousness.
Setsuna opened her eyes and tentatively moved her limbs. Legs, feet, arms, hands, all seemed to be working properly. She looked around her room. Crisp white sheets draped her body and were pulled tightly into the bed. The light in the room was artificial, clinical and thoroughly life draining. She glanced at the arm in front of her and made a face at the greenish cast it presented to her vision. Charon’s been changing the defaults again, she thought with a grimace.
She sat up and swung her legs off the bed, calling out as she did so. “Charon! Where are you, you lazy good-for-nothing program!” Setsuna called her henshin wand to her and transformed as she left the room behind her.
“Yes Setsuna-sama?” The voice came, as she had expected, from immediately behind her, slightly too close for comfort. She smiled and kept walking. He was getting predictable.
“Did you get him?”
“It would be more correct to say that Queen Serenity has got him. I simply facilitated his transmission.”
“Is he here?” Sailor Pluto’s voice was harsher than she had meant it to be. “I mean,” she softened her tone, “did he get through to this time safely?”
“It appears so. But please, Setsuna-sama, before you go rushing off, please let me examine you. Your wounds were very severe. You shouldn’t even be up yet.”
“I’m fine Charon – you just want to play dirty old man.”
The computer program said nothing, but his silence was disapproving. Sailor Pluto laughed and entered the control room.
She stood in front of the communications board and established a link with the Palace at Crystal Tokyo. The face that greeted hers was Ami’s, she noted, with a distinct feeling of relief. The Senshi of Mercury was often to be found in the Palace’s Communications Center when she was not on active duty.
“Pluto!” Ami said, noting the Senshi was in uniform. “We hadn’t heard that you had regained consciousness. Are you well?”
Sailor Pluto nodded. “I’m fine, thank you, Ami. I’ve just gotten up.”
Ami frowned. “Then you shouldn’t be up and about. Why don’t I come over and examine you?”
Pluto waved her concern away. “I’m fine, Ami. I need to speak to Serenity, is she around?”
“She’s with our guest right now. Pluto…Setsuna…” Ami hesitated. Sailor Pluto waited while the younger Senshi gathered her thoughts, “she hasn’t told us much of what went on. Who is he? And why did you want him brought directly to the Palace?” Her voice dropped, “And is he really a Dark Kingdom general?”
There was a silence, then Sailor Pluto spoke, a bit hesitantly. “He *was* a general of the Dark Kingdom, yes. And before that, he was one of Endymion’s advisors. And my lover.” She could hear Ami’s intake of breath. “I killed him in Beryl’s attack at the end of the Silver Millenium. But now, apparently, there is an heir to Beryl’s throne and a much stronger opponent than Beryl ever was. She sent him to kill me.”
“But, then, why…?” Ami’s eyes were clouded with concern for her friend and her face paler than usual.
“Because he did not want to do it. We worked out a plan, one so full of betrayals and backstabbing that the twisted mind of the new queen would never suspect it for a fraud.” Sailor Pluto felt herself tiring rapidly. She needed to stay on her feet. Her Staff appeared in her hand to support her. She didn’t wonder at the new Talisman. As long as there existed a Sailor Pluto, there existed a Garnet Rod.
Ami’s voice was full of reproach now. “You shouldn’t have done this alone, Setsuna. You could have been killed.”
“I wasn’t alone. I knew that Charon was receiving my transmissions and forwarding them to the Queen,” she ignored the look on Ami’s face and continued, “And I knew that whatever we did, it had to look as real as possible, or Opal would never be fooled.”
“Really,” Ami said with some peevishness, “that has got to be the stupidest idea I have heard in years. After all this time…” Ami cut off her lecture abruptly, turning to her right. She looked back at the screen quickly. “Serenity’s here.”
In a moment Pluto found herself facing their Queen, Her hair, now white, glowed with an incandescent light, but she was otherwise unchanged from the young woman Setsuna had met so long ago. A mischievous light still lit her face and her smile was still radiant enough to set a room aglow.
Sailor Pluto made a slight curtsey, which was waved off by the Queen with a laugh. Her face grew serious almost immediately.
“How are you, Setsuna? Charon told us that you had several broken bones and some minor internal damage….” There was no need to state that everyone in the capital had been worried, her eyes spoke so eloquently.
“I am recovering, Serenity-sama.” She knew the reaction that name would get and was not disappointed. The Queen made a face at her, sticking out her tongue briefly. Pluto could just make out Ami’s giggle in the background.
Sailor Pluto got down to business. “Where you able to find Opal’s headquarters?”
“Yes. Would you believe, she used the same entry point as Beryl did? So much for creativity. She wasn’t terribly strong yet, though, and Uranus and Neptune made short work of her so-called generals.”
Sailor Pluto smiled at the vision of Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune cutting down the pompous generals of the self-proclaimed New Dark Kingdom.
Serenity continued, “It would have been a good idea, too. Taking us out one at a time. Starting with the Senshi most likely to predict an attack…Setsuna…?” Serenity’s voice was a little teasing. “Why didn’t you know this was coming?”
Sailor Pluto looked away from the screen for a moment. When she looked back, her face was filled with grudging admiration. “That was the genius of Opal’s plan. While I guard the Doors of Time, my own personal timeline lies forever forwards, just as your does. I would never think to look into my past for my death. And neither would you.”
Serenity sighed heavily. “I still am not clear on temporal physics, I’ll admit, but I think I understand.”
A silence fell.
“Aren’t you going to ask about him?” Serenity inquired gently.
Sailor Pluto said nothing.
“He asked about you, you know.”
“Is he…” Sailor Pluto hesitated. “Is he alright?”
Serenity smiled beatifically. “He is. And as far as we can tell, untainted by any kind of Dark Energy. Endymion is thrilled to have one of his generals back. And he gave me a message for you.”
“Which is?” Sailor Pluto felt relief wash over her. Margarite would be fine.
“He requests the first dance at the party.”
Sailor Pluto threw her head back and laughed giddily. “Tell him I’ll try not to be too late.”
Serenity laughed with her. “Go get some sleep – we’ll see you later. Hotaru says “Hi,” by the way.” She turned her head and called over her shoulder, “Ami, can you turn this thing off? I never can figure out which button it is….” her voice trailed away as the transmission cut out.
Feeling light in body and spirit, Sailor Pluto returned to her room, recalibrated the defaults in her lighting and detransformed. She fell heavily on the bed and was asleep before she even covered herself with a blanket.
Setsuna awoke when the tone announcing “morning” on Pluto chimed. She yawned and stretched, grimacing as her muscles complained of their recent abuse. She arose, and slipping into a black yukata, stepped over to the screen that acted as a window in her bedroom. She sat before the screen, staring out into the eternal night, finding the Moon’s location unerringly, although it was an invisible pinpoint of light, lost among the infinite pinpoints of space.
“Would you like some tea, Setsuna-sama?” It was more of a statement than a question, and Setsuna gave no more than a nod in answer. Charon brought her a tray, a fresh pot of tea and two cups, along with a pleasant arrangement of flowers.
Setsuna smiled at this simple touch. “You know me well, old friend.”
Charon’s smile would have caused a stranger to cringe and worry for his own welfare. “I know some things that will please you. Flowers always please you.”
She nodded and poured tea into both cups.
Charon sat and took one cup between his hands. He would not drink, of course, but Setsuna preferred to include him in her daily rituals. This was one of them.
“Are you sure you are well enough to leave again, Setsuna-sama?” Charon was solicitous and she was touched.
“I’m really fine, Charon, thank you. And thank you for acting so promptly on my messages. It must have been frustrating, knowing your messages were not getting through.”
Charon nodded. “If you had not set up that flower code years ago, this might have turned out quite differently. But then, you always seem to have a contingency plan.”
Setsuna smiled as she sipped her tea. “One of the advantages of having lived for such a long time. Actually,” she giggled at some memory, “I can’t claim the idea as my own. The concept of a flower code is almost as old as I am. Someone in Tokugawa Ieyasu’s court used it, I know.” She paused. “Oh, wait, that was me.”
Charon smiled at his creator’s humor, but in all honesty, thought her a bit childish. “Thankfully, palms are simple enough to find at that time of year. I was more concerned that the florist would not be able to deliver it promptly.”
“Yes, I noticed your response was “victory.” And I thought it appropriate.” She paused, then grinned. “It was a lovely arrangement, as well.” They sat in silence as Setsuna finished her tea and stared out into, very literally, space. She sighed. “What a blessing it was that Opal did not jam all communications to 20th century, just those to the Garnet Rod. Margarite was wrong. Opal is, was, no stronger or smarter than any of our other enemies. And for that, I am eternally grateful.”
Charon rose and began to clear the teacups. As he lifted the tray, he paused, a creepy, uncomfortable smile crossing his face.
“Before I forget, Setsuna-sama, I wanted to remind you that I did get the black dress out for you.”
Setsuna looked up sharply at Charon. “If it makes you feel better, I won’t be staying long this time in the capital.”
“I think,” Charon spoke slowly as he headed towards the door, “That you should plan on staying a while. You need to recover and for that, you need your family.”
The door slid open and he took one step then stopped. “Maybe, if it would not be too inconvenient for them, they can return here with you and stay for a while.”
Setsuna looked at the old man, considering his words. “Charon, if I haven’t yet told you this, you are a good friend to me. Thank you.”
His voice sounded complacent and happy, as the door began to shut, “You have told me.” The door slid shut with a click.
Setsuna was, in fact, late to the party. After Charon had left her, she had intended to bathe, dress and travel once again to the capital. When an hour had passed without her summons, Charon had investigated, only to find Setsuna asleep in the bathtub. He had put her back to bed without waking her and had not allowed anything to disturb her, even though she later scolded him. He replied that she had needed the sleep more and stood firm. Setsuna gave way grudgingly and thanked him for his concern. She was now grossly late, however.
Her entrance was, therefore, less subtle and more widely noted than she would have liked. The rumor of her coming spread out before her like a wave, and there were few in the hall who did not await her, when her name was finally announced. To her chagrin, her name was met with applause, and all eyes turned as she entered. She squared her shoulders and stepped forward briskly, knowing that she would not be embarrassed, whatever passed this evening, with her appearance. The dress she wore was her own design, a relic of the days when she pretended to have a career as a normal woman of Earth. It was long and sleek, black and sleeveless, with delicate chains serving as sleeves, belt and ornament. The chains gathered at her neck and abdomen in two ornate brooches, each set with stones that complemented her eyes.
Setsuna could hear the whisper follow her into the ballroom and through it. She smiled internally, but did no more than acknowledge greetings given her by the many denizens of Crystal Tokyo.
Setsuna made her way across the room to a small knot of brightly dressed figures. They turned and greeted her with a variety of hails and salutations, but none more welcome than two slightly smaller figures who attached themselves to her with near violence. She smiled down into the faces of the Princess Small Lady and Hotaru, her beloved daughter and fellow Senshi. Setsuna returned their embraces with enthusiasm. She was then subjected to the pleasant task of greeting the other Senshi and receiving hugs from many of them. All were decked out in their finest clothing, and they had, in all her years of knowing them, never looked better.
Finally she was freed to greet her Queen and she did so formally, making a deep curtsey. She pretended not to see the smirks on the faces of the other Senshi as Queen Serenity acknowledged her gesture with a formal nod. The Queen of the Crystal Millenium might have formal duties, but to the members of this group, she would always be Usagi, their friend.
Serenity spoke quickly and softly, for Setsuna’s ears only. “He is in my office. Shall I have him brought to you or…?” She left the possibilities open.
Setsuna flushed. “If it isn’t a problem, I’d like to go to him.” Setsuna heard Haruka snort with suppressed laughter. She shot her friend a look and smiled ruefully at Michiru, who was giggling.
“Oh just go to him, already!” Haruka shot back at her.
“Really, Setsuna,” Michiru said, “don’t delay. I think Minako is already trying to figure out a way to sneak in there.”
Setsuna laughed at this and she turned away from the room, hearing behind her Minako’s voice, raised slightly, “Hey – I heard that, Michiru!”
Setsuna’s footsteps echoed loudly in the empty corridor as she approached the Queen’s office. The elegantly carved doors stood closed, a final barrier between herself and him.
Pausing, Setsuna faced them and wondered what futures her choices now might bring…she could turn away, return to her old life and continue as she had been, or she could open this door and,both figuratively and literally, step boldly into a new life.
There really was no question, she thought.
Setsuna put her hands to the door, only to find it jerked away from her in one hurried motion. Hands reached out for her, pulling her into a warm, solid embrace. She felt herself lifted off her feet, spun and placed firmly once again upon the floor. Lips, full and inviting, touched her own and she melted into Margarite’s embrace.
When they parted, Setsuna stood back to admire Margarite, now dressed in a uniform of black, with dark green trim. His uniform perfectly complemented her dress and, she noted with some pleasure, her Senshi fuku. He smiled at her as she sized him up and returned her gaze levelly.
“Am I fit for duty?” he asked with a grin.
“You’ll do,” she replied and placed her hand in his.
Without another spoken word, they walked back into the main hall, just in time for a waltz. They took their places on the dance floor where they remained for some time, uninterrupted by talk of war, politics, or anything but what the next dance might bring them.
The first intermission brought them once again to the attention of the other Senshi. Haruka and Michiru were just leaving the dance floor as well, and the four found themselves in a lively conversation about Opal’s forces and defeat thereof.
Haruka, dressed smartly in a black tuxedo, looked over at Margarite and her eyes narrowed. “What do you think about the concentration of Dark Energy at….” Her mouth was muffled by Michiru’s gloved hand.
The aqua-haired Senshi gave a slight laugh and apologized to Margarite. “We don’t let her out often enough, I’m afraid.” Margarite and Setsuna laughed at the look on Haruka’s face, and the tall Senshi smiled ruefully, apologizing for her lack of tact.
The rest of the evening was uneventful, save for a lively row between two minor dignitaries. Setsuna found herself wandering in the gardens with Margarite, ending up on a stone bench in one of the private gardens in the Palace.
Fatigue set in and Setsuna slumped against an unresisting Margarite. He held her to him with one arm, the other holding her hand for comfort. The sat like that, lost in each other’s presence, for hours.
Finally, Setsuna roused herself and looked at Margarite. His hair flamed golden in the torchlight, as he turned to regard her with dancing eyes.
“There’s so much we should talk about,” he began, but she put a finger to his lips, punctuating her action with a kiss. Slow and lingering, the kiss became more passionate, until the two would have missed a war beginning immediately behind them.
When they parted, she put her head on his shoulder and sighed. “We have all the time in the world to talk. Tonight, I just want to sit here with you and watch the sun rise.”
And so they sat, as they had done so long ago, and watched the sun rise over the new Millenium.
Author’s Notes: I want to thank Adam Jones and Matt Burns and all the folks at the Fanfic Revolution for their help, advice and spellchecking. This story is dedicated, once again, to Elena, because she wanted me to write a Sailor Pluto story. I hope you’re happy with it, amica mia, because it nearly wore me out!
The flower code mentioned in the final chapter is not my creation, although it might be Pluto’s, you never can tell. There are several excellent websites on the “language of flowers”, feel free to search and learn.