Death Reborn

This is my fourth Sailor Moon story, and is another part of the Crystal Kingdom Archives. It helps if you've read Demon Hunter's Journal first, but (hopefully) it's not necessary. This story takes place after Dear Ami, and is integral with A Sword For The Heart.

Hotaru gazed raptly at Fluorite, wondering how a man could be so beautiful. With his sandy blond hair and dreamy blue eyes, he was almost as beautiful as Chibi-Usa. She couldn't believe that until just a few weeks earlier, he'd been Queen Beryl's Demonologist.

"...and when you...Hotaru, are you listening to me?" Fluorite waved a hand in front of her face, jolting her back to the business at hand. He sighed and shook his head, looking at her with such a look of disappointment she wanted to cry.

"I'm sorry, Sensei. I...," she looked down and blushed. How could she explain what she'd been imagining? How could she explain that she'd been fantasizing about learning that he was really a woman beneath his robes.

"I think we should try again tomorrow, don't you?" he said gently. "I see someone very important waiting for you, and I think that you need a chance to...ease your distraction."

"Hai, Sensei," Hotaru murmured softly, biting her lip. She had to learn better control, or she'd always be a danger to her friends. But how could she learn if she couldn't even control herself enough to pay attention? She felt a pair of arms slip around her from behind, and leaned back into Chibi-Usa's arms with a soft sob. She had to do better, so that Chibi-Usa never had to be afraid of her.

"What's wrong, Cupcake?" Usagi asked. All the others still called her Chibi-Usa, as if they couldn't see that she had grown up to be as beautiful as her mother. Hotaru thought of them as Serenity and Usagi, and loved her pink bunny with all her heart.

"I keep disappointing Fluorite," Hotaru whimpered, turning to burrow into Usagi's embrace. "Today...I was imagining what it would be like if he were really a woman, instead of a man."

"Tcha..." Usagi shook her head and teased gently, "What's wrong, 'ru-chan? Aren't I woman enough for you?"

"Oh, Usako," Hotaru threw her arms around her sweetheart, "you're the only woman for me. I just...can't stop myself from imagining." She hung her head and whispered softly, "I'm sorry."

"Mmm...maybe I should make you show me how sorry you are," Usagi teased, then tugged her to her feet and kissed her before she could get out the apology that was on her lips. "Silly! There's nothing wrong with imagining stuff, as long as you don't let it get in the way of important things." She giggled and blushed, almost as pink as her hair. "I'll bet you haven't imagined anything worse than what I've imagined."

Hotaru eeked and jumped as the sensation of teeth gently biting into her left nipple brought her back to the present. Usagi grinned up at her and tugged just a little before letting go.

"What'cha thinking, Sugarplum?"

Hotaru had to giggle at the endearment. Usagi had always insisted on teasing her with comparisons to candies, puddings, and other sweet treats.

"Right now? Or before?" Hotaru asked innocently. No sense in giving in to her bunny without making her work for it....

"Grrr...," Usagi growled and pounced, grabbing Hotaru's wrists and pushing them into the bed as she straddled her and looked down with her most overdone expression of meanness - so overdone that Hotaru broke into laughter at the sight. "Hey! I'm trying to be cruel to you here! How can I do that if you're going to laugh?"

"You...couldn' droid!" Hotaru got out between peals of laughter. The very idea of Usagi being cruel - to anything - was just so funny, she couldn't help herself.

"Well...I don't know about that...," Usagi put on her most thoughtful expression, as if she were actually considering the possibility.

Hotaru took advantage of the opportunity to arch herself up against her lover, throwing her off balance just enough to allow her to reverse their positions.

"Ha! Now I've got you, Princess!" Hotaru crowed in triumph before lowering herself to claim her victory kiss. Usagi's whole-hearted response cleared away the last of her worries, and they soon lost themselves in re-pledging their love to each other.

"So...what were you thinking of, Cupcake?" Usagi asked softly, leaving goosebumps as she idly drew her fingers over Hotaru's skin.

Hotaru blushed and buried her face in Usagi's hair. Usagi drew her close and held her as she inhaled her lover's scent, wondering why she was so embarrassed to admit what she'd been thinking of.

"I was...remembering," she murmured, snuggling closer and sighing contentedly.

"Remembering what?" Usagi urged, using her fingernails to send shivers along Hotaru's spine. So many things they'd discovered many things she wanted to rediscover....

"Lots of things," Hotaru whispered, nuzzling her love and trying to decide what she was brave enough to tell first. "How you...cured me...of my crush on Fluorite. What you did...when I got frustrated with you calling me Cupcake. The showed me...the things you'd been imagining." She buried her face in Usagi's hair, feeling her whole body blush with the admissions.

"Mmm...does my Cupcake need eating again? Hmmm?" Usagi teased, gently pushing Hotaru back so she could look into her eyes. "Oh, sweetheart, those are all happy memories for me! I'm so glad you remembered them after all this time. Do you remember some of our other happy times?"

"It's been so long!" Hotaru sobbed, hugging Usagi as tight as she could. "For the first time ever, I wished they would put me to sleep...but Serenity wouldn't do it! She said I had to live through the whole 900 years, so that I could store up all that love for you for when you got back. But I've missed you so much! Please don't ever go away from me again!"

"Shh...," Usagi murmured gently, holding Hotaru close and stroking her soothingly. It had only been a few minutes from the time she'd left her sweetheart in Tokyo to the time she'd returned to her in her mother's Palace, but that had been over 900 years for Hotaru. All she could do was love her and let her cry herself out.

Eventually, Hotaru's sobs faded into hiccups, then soft and steady breathing as she fell into an exhausted sleep. Usagi kissed her gently and slipped out of Hotaru's bed. Wandering around her lover's bedchamber, she smiled softly at the profusion of lamps, from nightlights to Tiffany lamps. Hotaru hadn't been nearly as afraid of the dark when they were together. Her smiled turned sad at the thought that she might have regained that fear while she was gone.

It had been so hard to leave her; only the thought that she'd find her again as soon as she got home had given her the strength to go. But to be apart for so many years...she wasn't sure she'd have had the strength Hotaru did. Then she saw the shrine against one wall and fell to her knees, sobbing, as the depths of Hotaru's love and pain were made obvious.

Hotaru's arms snaked around her from behind, and Usagi turned to draw her down into a desperate embrace.

"Shh...I'm here, Usako," Hotaru whispered softly when Usagi's lips finally left hers. "I love you. I love you. I love you." She repeated her promise until Usagi's sobs faded and she could look into her eyes and see love, rather than pain, behind the pink.

"I'm so sorry, Hotaru," Usagi whispered. "I shouldn't have left you. I never realized how much you would hurt." She glanced toward the shrine and bit her lip as her gaze traveled over the pictures of the two of them together, all the little gifts she'd given Hotaru in the past, and the piles and piles of stuffed bunnies that littered the floor all around.

Hotaru, seeing Usagi's gaze, reached out and grabbed one of the stuffies off the floor. With a playful giggle, she pushed it into Usagi's face and rubbed until she heard her sweetheart sneeze.

"Gotcha!" she laughed. "But you're gonna have to tell Frank to make us a big room to store all the other bunnies."

"All the other bunnies?" Usagi asked, when she had caught her breath.

"Uh-huh. There's a bunny for every day you were gone. I cleared them out of here once a year and put them all into storage, so there'd be room for new ones."

"Three hundred thousand..." Usagi swallowed and looked down at the stuffed bunny, then at Hotaru, and wailed happily as she crushed her sweetheart in her arms.

Hotaru giggled as Usagi reached over and stuck a glob of whipped cream to the end of her nose, then licked it off. Usagi had been good all through dinner, but now that dessert had arrived, she was back to her old self. As nice as it was, it was hard to really enter into the fun with Serenity and Endymion right there at the table with them.

"Mmm...were we ever that young?" Serenity asked wistfully, leaning against her husband with a contented sigh as she watched her daughter indulge herself.

"I'm not sure," Endymion replied, with a wink in Chibi-Usa's direction. She grinned playfully and crept silently around the table while he kept her mother distracted.

"Ack!!" Serenity shrieked when she felt the spoonful of whipped cream Chibi-Usa dropped on her face. The Queen of Crystal Tokyo leapt to her feet and chased her happily shrieking daughter around the dining room, finally cornering her and upending the entire bowl of whipped cream on her head. The two of them collapsed in each other's arms, laughing maniacally.

"Your Majesty?" Hotaru asked softly. She swallowed and tried to feel brave when he looked at her with the same gentle affection he showed all of them. "Please, your Majesty..." She took a deep breath. "MayIhaveyourpermissiontomarryUsagi?"

Endymion stroked his chin as he tried to look thoughtful while restraining his happiness. His wife and daughter, on the other hand, didn't bother to restrain themselves: they leapt from their corner and gathered Hotaru into their arms, deafening her with their happy wails.

"On two conditions," he said, trying to look severe - and suspecting he was failing miserably at it. "First, she must want it as much as you do." Pretending to not notice the look on Chibi-Usa's face, he pressed on. "Second, if she says yes, you must allow us to prepare the wedding for you."

Hotaru swallowed and blushed deeply as she remembered the wedding they'd put together for Ami. If that was what he was thinking of, she'd just die of embarrassment! All she wanted was a little wedding, with her, Usagi, their families...

"Daddy, you're so mean!" Chibi-Usa shrieked, laughing. "Look at poor Cupcake! She looks like she's afraid you're gonna do her up like you and Mom did Ami and Bill!"

"," Endymion admitted, his cheeks twitching as he restrained his smile. "In that wedding, there was only one princess getting married. In this one, there will be two princesses. It seems to me, that calls for a much more impressive ceremony."

Hotaru squeaked and buried her face in Usagi's breast, while Serenity grinned at her husband over the heads of their daughter and her beloved. They'd hoped this would happen when Chibi-Usa returned, but had expected it would be their daughter doing the asking, not the other way around.

The King and Queen decided this would be a good time to withdraw and leave the younger couple their privacy. As they closed the door behind them, Serenity called softly to David, the Palace computer.

"David, don't let anyone bother them until they're ready to face the world, for anything less than an invading army."

"Sure thing, Usagi. You gonna tell Hotaru's parents?"

"No, I think that's something they should do themselves." Serenity sighed sadly. "Maybe learning that her daughter will be marrying will bring Haruka back to us sooner."

"I don't know, boss. She's doing a better job of beating herself up than Dad ever did. And you know what he was like before you and Ami fixed him."

"Damn. I wish I could do something to help her."

"Maybe I can help, Dumpling." Endymion murmured gently. She's definitely upset. I haven't heard her use strong language in a long time.

"No...she loves you as her King, but she's never been quite sure what to make of you otherwise. I just wish I knew what to do."

"You could try what Dad's doing," David suggested.

"What's he doing?" Serenity asked hopefully. If anyone had a chance of getting through to Haruka, it was her big brother.

"Well, you remember that motorcycle mech he'd been trying to get functional before he got killed? He finally got it working, and he's taking it to Haruka's castle."

"Finally? He spent over three years working on that thing."

"Yup. Finally. It took him all of ten minutes."

"Wait a minute...he's taking it to Haruka's castle? How? Why?"

"Let's see...I'm not sure I understand how. I'm still not as good as Edgar is with hyperspatial physics, but I can tell he used the same kind of teleportation you Senshi use. As for why...we figured out that you didn't bar her from having guests - just from returning to Earth. Knowing Haruka and her talent for heaping guilt on herself, Titania thinks that if she's left alone out there, she'll just beat herself right into the grave."

Serenity growled angrily and stalked down the hall toward her bedchamber.

"What does Titania think Haruka would do if she were to be required to do something while she's there...say, fulfill a promise she made a long time ago?" Endymion asked thoughtfully.

"You know Haruka. Her ability to beat herself up is exceeded only by her sense of responsibility. If you knew of a promise she hadn't fulfilled yet, and could demand that she fulfill it while she's there...."

"I think I do...." Endymion moved after his wife, calling out to her hopefully.

"I wish Papa were here," Hotaru sniffed into Michiru's shoulder, the empty space where Haruka belonged bringing the only shadow on her happiness as her Mama embraced her joyfully.

"I do too, sweetheart," Michiru murmured softly. "But she has to decide to come back herself, and you know how stubborn she can be."

"Everyone knows it was a mistake! Even Ami and Bill aren't mad at her! Why can't she see it?" Hotaru wailed, bringing Usagi to join Michiru in comforting her.

"You know your Papa, pumpkin. Have you ever known her to give herself a break?"

"No," Hotaru admitted sadly. "Why does she hate herself so much, Mama?"

"I wish I knew," Michiru murmured softly. "She's never been good at telling anyone - even me - what she feels, or why."

"Why did she think Bill was an imposter?" Usagi asked softly. "Why did she think she had to protect Ami and Mother from him?"

"Because she saw him die," Michiru murmured softly. "She blamed herself for that death, too - just like she blamed herself for his death the day we met him."

"But she couldn't have done anything to stop it!" Hotaru protested.

"You know that, and I know that, but she won't accept it," Michiru said sadly. "She still has nightmares about failing to stop it. She keeps thinking that if she'd just been two seconds faster, he would have lived."

"But we've all died one time or another. Why should this be any different?" Usagi asked, looking at Hotaru and Michiru with open confusion in her eyes.

"Because we couldn't bring him back," Hotaru whispered. "All I could do was heal his body. Serenity couldn't restore him, and Fluorite said his spirit was gone, beyond our reach."

"Then how is he here?"

"We don't know, but Ami and Setsuna both say it's him, and Serenity says her Crystal recognizes him. And all the MacManuses say it's him, too."

**It's Dad. Count on it.**

The women looked at each other as they all heard that assurance from David.

"So Haruka blames herself for killing Ami, and for not recognizing Bill, and what else?" Usagi frowned as she thought. "Is there any way we can convince her that none of us hate her, or even blame her?"

"That would just make it worse," Hotaru cried, clinging to her Mama and her love. "If we don't hate her...that just means she has to hate herself more to make up for it."

"She's right," Michiru murmured softly, "Haruka can be so frustrating that way."

"That's STUPID!" Usagi burst out angrily. "Where does she get off thinking that she knows better than we do what we should feel for her? Where does she get the right to punish herself because we love her? Does she really think that destroying herself will make anything right? I ought to go out there and give her a piece of my mind!"

"Don't do that," David commented in an innocent tone. "You need both pieces for yourself."

"ARG! COMPUTERS!" Usagi yelled, as Hotaru giggled at David's teasing. She'd had 900 years to get to know him - Usagi only had her memories of his original placement in Ami and Bill's house.

"I think you're right," Michiru murmured, kissing Usagi's forehead and hugging Hotaru as she stood. "Someone needs to give her a piece of their mind, and I'm the best one to do it." She took a deep breath and murmured, almost to herself, "I hope I can get through to her."

"Papa? What did you do?" Hotaru felt as if she couldn't breathe, looking at Haruka's injuries. Both of her hands were battered beyond recognition, as if they'd been crushed under a falling building. Blood splattered her from head to foot, and her eyes were open and unfocussed, as if she weren't entirely there.

Haruka's eyes slowly focussed on her, and Hotaru whimpered softly at the pain and loss she saw in them. She couldn't heal her Papa's heart, but she could heal her body.

As Haruka whimpered into Michiru's breast, the same way she remembered hearing Ami whimpering when she thought nobody was around, Hotaru gently took her Papa's hands and poured her energy into them, molding them back into their proper shape as they regenerated.

Serenity touched her shoulder when the healing was done and looked into her eyes.

**I need to talk with your Papa now, Hotaru. Someone is very worried about how this is affecting you. Do you think you can reassure her?**

**Hai, Serenity. Please, can you heal her spirit? I don't know how.**

**I hope so. I truly hope so.**

Hotaru hugged Serenity and went to her Usagi's arms. As they watched from a distance, Serenity sat with Haruka, talking quietly with her. Haruka tried to argue with her at first, but as the hours went by, her objections became weaker and more infrequent, until she was finally sobbing in Serenity's arms.

**She'll be ok now, Hotaru.**

**Are you sure, Rhea?**

**As sure as I can ever be when dealing with organic minds.**

**Thank you.**

**Thank Serenity. She's the one who worked the miracle.**

Hotaru sobbed happily and embraced Usagi, searching for her lips with her own as she felt her body demanding reassurance that she was loved and needed. Usagi surrendered to her kisses with a happy squeak, and swiftly scooped her up to carry her to her chambers, sending up a silent prayer of thanks that Hotaru was still so small.

Hotaru sighed happily and leaned against Usagi, who snaked an arm around her and drew her closer as their friends looked on. The wedding hadn't been nearly as embarrassing as she'd been afraid of, and the reception was just plain fun. Luna, Artemis, and Diana had presented them with an enormous ball of yarn. Luna had stagewhispered that they could use it to tie up a certain white tomcat when he got difficult, whereupon Artemis had huffed that anyone who spent any time around a certain black cat would need to be tied up to keep from strangling her, and Diana had changed to her human form and dropped the ball on both their heads. Minako had pierced their ears with her attempts to sing (which succeeded as well as her attempts to be a nurse, her attempts to use electronics, her attempts to clean house..., and Hotaru was certain she'd fractured her singing deliberately, just to make everyone laugh), bringing a rain of muffins down on her. Makoto had made one of her unbelievably delicious cakes, and everyone had stuffed themselves until they could barely move. Now everyone was bringing up the gifts they'd either found or made, and it was nice to be able to just relax with her beloved and enjoy the love they were all offering.

David began playing an old song, so old that Hotaru didn't recognize it at all. Usagi, Serenity, and Michiru drew their respective partners to their feet and glided to the center of the ballroom floor as Bill began singing. Other couples quickly joined them: Fluorite and Rusty, Setsuna and Sarah, Rei and Yuuichiro....

Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars.
In other words, hold my hand.
In other words, darling, kiss me.

Fill my heart with song, and let me sing forever more.
You are all I long for, all I worship and adore.
In other words, please be true.
In other words, I love you.

Disclaimer: Sailor Moon, Sailor Senshi, and all terms, names, etc. associated with the series are copyrighted by Naoko Takeuchi and Kodansha. I make no claim to them and this work of fanfiction should not be seen as making a claim.

"Fly Me To The Moon" is copyrighted by Bart Howard, and I don't claim any rights to it, either. Well, except the right to think it's a beautiful song.

Those characters that are original, the Crystal Kingdom Archives, and the story "Death Reborn", are copyrighted 2000 by Bill Hartwell.

Rated: PG-13

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