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Third First Breaths

By TEitPP

Drama / Humor

Saturn

Hotaru Tomoe wakes up on the floor of a nursery, back hunched up against a crib that fit her just fine a year ago. It doesn't look familiar here. Is Pluto dead? Is Uranus? Neptune? Where is Chibiusa? She stumbles to her feet in the dark room. They're all alive, she tries to convince herself. She can feel it. She struggles though to believe without proof.

As her mind wakes up she draws up an idea of where she is. None of the baby clothes in the dresser fit her so she grabs a sheet from the crib to wrap up in. It barely brushes her knees. She shivers. It feels like winter. But she and Setsuna had left only at the end of summer?

Hotaru pads down an unfamiliar hallway to a room where the door's ajar. There's her father. She sighs relieved. Whatever magic Moon cast on the Cauldron has returned her home. She walks up to him, unsure if she should wake him. Her heart jumps when see notices the empty glass and the pill bottle knocked over on the floor. But when she picks it up it's mostly full. Sleeping pills.

She still watches Souichi Tomoe sleep for long minutes before finally trying to wake him. "Daddy?" she pushes on his shoulder, but he barely stirs. He's knocked out cold. She sets the pill bottle right on the bedside table and catches sight of the time on the clock. 3:17. Slowly, she walks out into the hall, searching until she finds the kitchen and the phone on the wall. With a shaky hand she lifts it to her year and dials one of two numbers she's learned by heart. She waits, hoping against hope as it rings once, twice,

"Hello." The raspy voice on the other end makes her heart soar.

"Mama Suna!" she cries, relieved.

"Hotaru!" Mama Suna gasps. She sounds upset. "Oh goodness. You're all right. We're all right. I can't believe…"

"I woke up at Dad's," Hotaru says. "Mama could you maybe…bring some of my clothes over."

Setsuna laughs, but it sounds watery. Hotaru frowns. "Of course Little One."

She jumps when, before she's even said goodbye, a door shimmers into existence by her kitchen sink and Sailor Pluto steps out with her Garnet Rod and her backpack.

"You're here!" Hotaru cheers as she shoves the phone back onto the wall and launches herself at Pluto. She notices the door and her Mama's uniform fade away as she sinks to her knees, leaving her hugging Hotaru in a pair of lavender pyjamas. The Garnet Rod and backpack are discarded on the floor as Setsuna crushes Hotaru close.

"Little One," Mama Setsuna chokes out. Hotaru feels hot tears drip into her hair. She hugs Mama Suna a little tighter. "We're all right." She gasps.

"It's okay, Mama." Hotaru reassures her. She worries about what could be troubling Mama Suna, but holds her as her tears slow and continues too (well after her knees begin to ache on the kitchen tiles) until the first hints of dawn creep in through the window. Perhaps Mama Suna has been afraid too

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