Summary: Two days after the battle with Galaxia, the Senshi organize a long overdue sleepover. Insomnia follows, and Rei discovers Usagi has been more than a little traumatized after having to, once again, endure the deaths of those closest to her.
No Light Promise
Rei jerked awake, forcing her startled breaths into quiet submission as the pounding of her heart slowly dulled. The priestess gingerly pulled her body up out of the tangle her sleeping bag had become, waiting for her eyes to adjust. After the panting and disorientation subsided, Rei took stock of her bedroom's occupants, all currently dozing in various positions on the floor. There was drooling Minako, limbs helter-skelter and body barely under her covers. Makoto, on Rei's left, looked peaceful but equally as uncomfortable- her pillow had become dislodged and was now uselessly tucked against the wall a few feet away. Rei grimaced, knowing who was going to have one massive headache tomorrow morning! The raven head next gazed to her right, where serene Ami slumbered in mercifully one piece. Then, beyond the pedantic and almost smack dab under the bed Rei had decided to forgo, was-
Where *was* Usagi!?
The heart palpitations Rei had stilled earlier now thrummed painfully against her ribcage. Fear flooded her system at the sight of the empty sleeping bag, rumpled yet looking strangely unused. Like a practiced warrior, Rei silently dismembered herself and jumped up for a better view.
It was certain:
Usagi was not here.
Practically gasping for oxygen, the sixteen year old tried to reassure herself that the scatter-brained Odango was only outside getting air. Yes, that was it. No doubt needing to walk off a nightmare; after all, the Fire Senshi herself had been jarred conscious for a similar reason. As it was, she still couldn't shake the visions of a blinding yellow light; of an agony, so consuming, filling her chest... Eternal Sailor Moon's face above hers, stricken with tears, as she pleaded with Rei to not die; not break their promise...
Rei shivered, suddenly filled with an overwhelming, unexplainable desire to find Usagi. To make sure she's safe... alive...
Tiptoeing around her comrades, the raven head slunk over to the sliding panel which led out onto the porch. She cautiously eased it open, satisfied that the noise emitted was barely audible. Immediately, a relieved sigh escaped Rei:
Framed under cascading moonlight, Usagi sat staring up at the stars, back to the Shinto priestess. Rei quickly stifled an unbidden smile at the vision of the Moon Princess soaking up her deity. Leaving the panel cracked, she approached the meditative blonde and took perch beside her. Usagi started, but didn't say anything. Instead, it was Rei who chose to break the quiescence.
"Can't sleep?" she asked, glancing sidelong at Usagi's shrouded features. Usagi nibbled her lip and stared down into her lap, fingers fiddling.
"Not for almost an hour."
"Is Minako-chan snoring too loud again?" Rei chuckled in query, inwardly unnerved. Tsukino Usagi the Insomniac? Good Lord, the world must be coming to an end... Rei playfully nudged Usagi's shoulder with her own, but the other girl refused to even crack a grin. "...Usagi?" Rei crinkled a brow at the strange response.
The younger teen inhaled shakily, reaching up to toy with a spun-gold odango. "I'm sorry, Rei-chan, I'm sorry- I can't... I mean I'm not... myself right now, I guess."
Rei frowned, bending forward slightly to catch glimpse of Usagi's shadowy countenance, feeling nonplussed and poleaxed. What she saw both surprised and discomfited her. "Usagi, are you crying!? What's wrong?"
Usagi finally did meet Rei's obsidian eyes, sniffling. Rei watched as uncontrollable tears leaked from the normally bright cerulean, struck by the lack of immature wailing. This was not a bout of crybaby woe; no, Usagi's constricted face screamed of real sorrow; real pain. A pain that instantly targeted Rei's defenses and somehow penetrated her skin, flooding the miko's very veins... mind...
She'd become well-acquainted with that agony only two days previous.
"You are no different than dust before me!"
"... I can't just sit and watch!"
"Everything you've done is meaningless... You'll die here begrudging your own destiny!"
"Fighter, Healer, Maker!"
"This is terrible..."
"We won't thank you for this!"
"There's nothing that I can't do when I please! I was thinking of having fun by hurting you... but you'll regret that you talked to me that way!"
Galaxia, don't! Sailor Moon... Star Lights...
Golden beams, intent on striking out the Star Seed of our Princess-
I must. save. her. Usagi is our only hope... she must live... The world- *I*- cannot exist without her Light!
Emptiness. But I must hang on to that thread of life... not yet, not yet! She needs me!
Sailor Moon, yelling, crying- "Rei-chan! Everyone! ... Wait! Don't leave me! Don't leave me alone!"
A hand of comfort on silken odango, and with concentrated effort, opening eyes... Her face, that beautiful face, one last time.
Don't cry, Usagi...
"You are... too sweet... Be... strong."
I can't stand hurting you...
"Rei-chan! Don't... We promised to be together until the end. Please don't leave me alone!"
I'm so sorry...
"Idiot, don't... forget... you have... Mamoru-san... Sorry... I can't... protect you..."
I love you, Princess...
But the darkness has taken over. She's gone. And so am I.
"Remembering hurts," Usagi's voice uttered morosely. Rei resurfaced from the flashbacks with a tiny gasp. She stared with new vigor at Usagi, who still sported silent tears but now followed the erratic flight of a firefly somewhere over the miko's shoulder. It suddenly dawned on the raven head what Usagi meant, and she sympathized; concurred.
Rei swallowed loudly, an unspoken grief to her posture as she grasped Usagi's hand desperately. "I never broke it, you know..."
"What?" Usagi, clearly confused, replied. Blue met violet as Usagi's eyes flickered to latch onto her friend's in query.
"Our promise. When I- when I-" Rei struggled to say 'died', but the effort was such that she decided to forgo the awful term altogether- "When Galaxia took my Star Seed, and you said... you said not to break our promise... I didn't."
Rei pressed a finger to Usagi's lips. "I didn't, and you know why? You're my best friend; my Princess. I was bound to you in life and I'll be bound to you in death. Nothing can ever separate us. We'll always be together, Usagi."
A volley of fresh tears escaped down the blonde's face, and her lower lip trembled dangerously. "I wish I could've saved you; saved everyone... I wish I had the power to erase the past."
"You have the power to shape the future," Rei told the girl simply. "And we won, Usagi. You won. We're all still here, alive, because of you. But if it comes down to it, I will still protect you and I will still die a hundred times over just to ensure your existence. The world needs your light."
"My light is weak without the love of my friends," Usagi countered miserably. She started when Rei threw her arms around the odangoed teen, squeezing her dejected Princess close.
"But Usagi... even if we all perished, isn't love forever? We'd all still live on, in here," Rei explained, touching her palm to Usagi's heart. "If the time comes when all seems dark, you just have to remember the cherished moments such as these. There you'll find the light you seek."
We'll always be together...