Chapter 1: A Soldier's Sacrifice
It had been two weeks since Kiyoko had told Seiya that she was pregnant. As she sat alone in the temple she thought back to that night…..
After the incident with Seiya, Kiyoko had let Haruka lead her back to the chambers she shared with Michiru. When they entered Michiru's face went stark white and she took Kiyoko by hand, sitting her in a nearby chair. She exchanged a look with Haruka and then spoke tentatively, "Kiyo-chan, what happened? What's wrong?"
Kiyoko looked at Haruka and whispered, "You remember…. Do you remember the morning you saw Seiya leaving my hotel?"
Haruka concentrated and replied, "Yes, I remember…." Her voice trailed off and her eyes widened, "Oh."
Michiru had obviously also connected the dots when she asked, "Are you pregnant Kiyoko?" She still held her hand.
Nodding, Kiyoko explained what happened, feeling that warmth in her heart again. Only now she knew it was her unborn child. When she got to the part about the spell she cast with Setsuna it seemed as if understanding clicked for both of them. She started to whisper, "She thinks…"
Cutting into what Kiyoko couldn't say, Michiru spoke, "Seiya thinks the baby belongs to Haruka somehow. Of course she'd make that assumption." She shook her head.
Tears in her eyes, Kiyoko snapped, "She doesn't know any better!" And then she lowered her voice, continuing, "But I can't tell her the truth. She'll feel betrayed no matter what…. And Setsuna was very clear." Kiyoko looked down at her stomach, folding her hands over it gently.
Haruka and Michiru exchanged a look, a look that spoke a thousand words in a split second. They knew what they would do, what had to be done. They'd been soldiers, partners for eternity. All of the sacrifices they'd made in the past spoke to their commitment to the princesses that they served, the princesses that they'd come to regard as so much more over the years. With a nod from Michiru, Haruka bent down on one knee in front of Kiyoko and took her hand from Michiru's, "Don't worry Kiyoko. We'll do whatever it takes." In that moment it was decided and Haruka leaned in to kiss Kiyoko's hand.
Since then there'd been much upheaval all over the Crystal Palace. No one except Haruka, Michiru, and Setsuna knew the truth. Seiya had begun staying the suite that Endo and Ruka were still sharing. Haruka had been staying with Kiyoko in her chambers, spending several nights just comforting her as she cried herself to sleep. Michiru had requested being put on constant planetary patrols. Everyone made the assumption that Michiru and Haruka had split up and so Michiru stayed away to help solidify that as well as the assumption that Seiya had made. They felt it was better this way. As a result, Kiyoko had spent even more time in the temple. Haruka always waited outside the door, respecting how difficult this was. Fortunately, regardless of her feelings Serenity had relieved Haruka of all of her other duties to stay by Kiyoko's side. The only one who dared to enter was Setsuna. Mostly she did the same thing she'd done before, simply being there with her.
However, the time to return to Estara had come. They'd be traveling by ship because of the baby. Seiya and Ruka were going back, but Endo requested to stay on Earth. He wanted to spend time with Usa-chan, working on their magic together. Kiyoko also suspected he was torn by the emotional conflict and seeking refuge. She couldn't blame him for that. Haruka would also being going back, continuing to look after Kiyoko. It made Kiyoko feel terrible on so many levels. She felt wrong taking her from Michiru. No matter how it looked to everyone else, Kiyoko knew that she was separating two soulmates. In addition, she knew how much pain it would cause Seiya to be trapped on that ship with her and Haruka for two days. Though she'd already declared that she'd be piloting the entire trip. Kiyoko knew it was only to keep herself distracted. In trying to grant Seiya some kindness in all of this pain, Kiyoko was blocking as much of their bond as she could.
Disturbing the stream of thoughts in Kiyoko's mind, she heard a commotion outside the temple doors. Letting her senses spread out Kiyoko realized that Rei was trying to enter the temple and Haruka was standing in her way. Kiyoko sent a message to Haruka telepathically to let Rei pass. She wasn't certain of her intentions, but she didn't want to hide from Rei. Kiyoko may not be able to be honest with Rei, however something inside of her knew she didn't want to hide from her either. She stood as she heard Rei's footsteps get closer and then stop. Kiyoko didn't turn, addressing Rei, "What can I do for you Sailor Mars?"
"You've been hiding in here for three weeks and now you're leaving," Rei spoke firmly, "What you can do for me your highness is tell me the truth."
"What are you talking about Rei," Kyoko asked, already exhausted, even though it was only midday. They were set to leave at sunset.
Rei crossed her arms, "I remember seeing you… back then…. You were not in pain over Haruka."
Well, Kiyoko hadn't known Rei remembered. It wasn't surprising though. She spun the web she had no choice in, "You're right, I wasn't. But loneliness can be as much a monster as jealousy."
"So you expect me to believe that both you and Haruka are throwing away your soulmates over one night of loneliness? I don't buy it," She spoke harshly and shook her head.
Of course Kiyoko knew that Rei was right. If it were so simple they'd both be fighting for the one they loved. But her words at Kiyoko's heart and so she yelled in response, "This is none of your concern Sailor Mars! Get out!"
Within seconds Haruka was there, standing beside Kiyoko. Her voice nearly a growl when she spoke, "You heard her Mars." Turning her head, Haruka saw how exhausted Kiyoko was, actually on the verge of collapse. Scooping her up into her arms, "You need to rest Kiyoko." With that she carried Kiyoko right past Rei and out of the temple, ignoring the stares of castle staff as she carried the pregnant queen back to the chambers she now shared with Kiyoko.
When they reached their destination, Setsuna was waiting. Haruka looked down at Kiyoko, already sleeping. She whispered, "This child takes so much from her."
"I know," Setsuna replied and open the doors, walking with Haruka as she laid her down on the bed gently. Looking at Kiyoko, Setsuna spoke quietly, "I'll stay with her. Go and do what you need to do before your departure.
Haruka was surprised, knowing what Setsuna was referring to. She nodded and whispered, "Thank you." Then Haruka left, closing the door behind her. Setsuna pulled a chair up next to the sleeping beauty.
It was dark in the temple, but that was always true. The temple of Taimu had no real windows, only the looking glass mirrors. Hestia stood in front of one of them, her fiery red hair falling down her back. It was a stark contrast to the white dress she wore. Hestia had been watching this same mirror for some time now. Watching, deciding what to do. It was a difficult thing. Her sister and fellow keeper of the temple came to stand behind Hestia. As she spoke her voice echoed through the temple, "Hestia… You stare and stare, despite knowing what has to be done. We have no choice here. The danger is clear and we must snuff it out."
Nodding, with her lips pursed, Hestia replied, "Yes, Nyx, I know. But snuffing out life is never an easy thing. Besides, we need to wait. It has too much protection now." Hestia's voice was melancholy as she spoke, her heart always heavy with the prospect of taking a life… even one this dangerous.
"You're right Hestia. We will wait until the queen goes home. That is when we will complete our task. We will eliminate the threat as is our duty," Nyx, a pale beauty with white hair in almost a pixie cut, put her head on her sister's shoulder, watching the mirror that showed the sleeping queen…. And her, the most beloved child of Chronos. Seeing Pluto there only solidified Nyx's resolve. Oh how her heart overflowed with hatred for Pluto….