There was something quaint about bars at midday. Nightlife had always been more Mina’s speed, but the way the late morning sun hit her beer and made it look like gold glittering piss felt right. Life was a tall glass of piss, no matter how the sun shone or the birds chirped. No matter what you did.
The bartender handed her another drink as she drained hers down to the foam. They had an understanding, now. He didn’t ask questions, she tipped well and caused no trouble, he’d call her a cab at 4:30. Simple. Routine. She could live the whole rest of her life this way, aside from eventually running out of money.
The bell over the door rang. Minako added an additional caveat of finding a new bar.
Michiru had her purse in the crook of her elbow, hands gloved, long black coat belted like she’d just come from a 50’s film rendition of a funeral. She played the part of the widow well. Her low heels made small, elegant taps against the sticky wood floor.
“Did you have me followed?”
“Oh please.” She wiped a barstool with a handkerchief before sitting down. “You are not at your stealthiest right now.”
“Can’t imagine why.”
The bartender approached, and Michiru slid over a handful of large bills. “A water, please, and some privacy.”
He took the money and stuck to his policy of asking no questions.
“You don’t need to be here,” Minako said. “I’m not even getting drunk.”
“I just want to be away from all of it. You of all people, I’d think, would understand.”
“I have had my losses, yes, but I cannot pretend they are the same as yours.”
Minako snorted. “Yeah, guess you never really loved her, huh?”
Their eyes met. Minako hoped for a slap, or maybe for Michiru to pull a knife on her, anything. All these years later, she understood all the fights Haruka had picked.
But Michiru merely adjusted her purse strap. “I’ll assume you mean our princess. That much is true.”
“Maybe if you had–”
“I might have died too? You’re not that lucky.”
“Lucky is the last word I’d use.” Minako took a long drink. “I thought you’d fall apart. I really thought you’d, I don’t know, run away to Europe and get so wine-drunk you forget she’s gone.”
“And I thought you’d bury it all under party drugs and fruity drinks.”
“I do seem the type.” She rotated her glass between her hands. “That’s the kicker, though, isn’t it? I can’t do that. As long as there’s a Serenity, the thing inside me won’t let me. And it’s not even Venus. It’s whatever anchor was sown into her soul, and neither of us can unchain ourselves from it.”
“I do not often think of my lot in life as a blessing,” Michiru said. “But I will take every misfortune over the loyalty clause of the inner guard.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Minako leaned back, hooking her foot under the bar top to keep from tipping. “I loved her for more than that, you know.”
“The crystal should have brought her back. It should have brought them all back.”
“The crystal has never been kind. That, I’ll give credit, all came from Usagi.”
“And look where it got her!” Mina let herself fall, let her shoulder hit the floor hard and her hair mix in with the stickiness and peanut shells. “All the talk of loving us, and she let Haruka and Rei and Ami die for nothing because she thought she could just talk it out. And now she’d dead, and the crystal pulled this bullshit.”
For awhile, it had seemed like their choices and triumphs and failures would matter. Their future could dissolve in an instant. Chibiusa had faded out of reality once. But when it came down to it, the crystal had picked a shortcut to its heir. It cared only that it had a Serenity, not which one. Mina pounded her fist on the floor. “Nothing means anything.”
“Perhaps you are suited for Small Lady’s guard, acting so much like a child.”
“Perhaps you’re suited for a life of loneliness, cold as you are.”
“Perhaps I am.” She rose. “I merely came to deliver a letter. I will leave it here.”
She stepped on Mina’s hair as she exited. Mina could not tell if it was on purpose. The bell over the door jingled again. Mina sat up, wincing at how her clothes clung to the floor. It had felt so good to let go, though. She wanted to let go so badly.
She eyed the envelope on the table. Michiru had left it facedown, but Minako knew who it came from based on the tape over the seal.
She turned it over. For Mina, if Michiru lives, but Rei and Usagi don’t
“Oh, buddy.” Tears stung her eyes as she began to read.
You always say I should think things through more, so I tried really hard, I hope you’re proud of me. I wanted to prepare for the possible outcomes, and you’ll probably find things I didn’t think of–
“None of us would ever think of this.”
–but hopefully I do alright. And don’t go looking through the rest of the letters! Not right away, at least. I put that in Michiru’s letter, too, so make sure she doesn’t. I know you don’t like each other, but that’s why I have to write. I want you two to try for each other. I don’t want to think too highly of myself, but I think I mean a lot to both of you–
“You mean the world, Haruka.”
So if I’m gone, you both might hurt. And I know you’re not gonna take loss well, as a soldier or a friend.
“And I’m sure you’d take it great.”
But whatever happened, it wasn’t your fault. You know I’m a dumbass, I probably broke your plan and charged in.
And if I know Rei, she tried to hard to save Usagi, and Usagi couldn’t be saved. We’re all predictable, I think, besides you. I never made a letter for if you didn’t make it. You’re too smart. If you went, I think the world would end.
But it hasn’t and you haven’t, so I’m passing a mission on to you. You gotta try, for Michiru. I love you both more than anything, and you’ve lost a lot. I wish more than anything I could always be there for you, but well. Like I said. Predictable. I don’t have Michiru’s visions, but I see how likely it is you’ll have to get one of these letters one day. So I’m asking you and Michiru to be there, in my place. You don’t have to be friends, really. Just annoy each other into keeping going.
You’re about to say, ‘Imagine if I asked that of you and Rei?’
Mina smiled through tears. She had been.
I have, and I think a few houses would get burnt down, but we’d find a way for you. So you’ll find a way for me. And for Rei, and for Usagi. We love you. I love you. You’ve done a lot for me, you’ve always known when I needed a kick in the ass, or a good brownie, and I want to return the favor. You’re too good to let this destroy you.
“You’re the one who’s too good, buddy.”
Also, a selfish request— sometime, not too soon, but sometime, wingman for Michiru, so she finds someone new. But make sure it’s not Seiya. Anyone else is okay.
I love you, and I’m sorry I didn’t listen to whatever order you gave. I’ll always be your dumb best friend.
“You’re such an asshole. You no I can’t say no if you pull this shit.” She carefully folded the letter and held it against her chest. She kept it there all the long walk to the house Haruka and Michiru had shared.
Michiru looked suspicious, but not surprised, when she answered the door.
“Haruka’s letter said you had to give me a thousand bucks.”
“Is that so?” Michiru crossed her arms. “My letter said ten thousand.”
Their eyes met again, wet and raw. Michiru stepped aside and gestured for Minako to come in. It didn’t change anything, except for all the ways it did.