To say Usagi is nervous when she finds out she is pregnant for the first time is probably an understatement. Sure, she’s been expecting this, timing everything just right. It helps to be married to a doctor, she supposes, when Mamoru brings home prenatal vitamins and she makes a calendar to track her cycle so everything is exactly right.
Is she perhaps overcompensating for her parental anxieties? Probably. But at least she can admit it.
Mamoru comes home one evening to find Usagi wearing a smirk and not much else. “Guess who’s ovulating?” she says, realizing in the back of her mind that they really have been together too long when attempting to get pregnant is the most exciting thing in their sex life recently.
He just laughs and kisses her, and afterwards she lies back with her legs in the air, a pillow under her hips, waiting to feel something to know it’s happened, it’s really happened.
“How long do I have to lie like this?” she asks Mamoru while he brushes his teeth.
His head appears in the doorway of their bathroom. “I’m not a fertility specialist, Usako. I don’t know.”
Usagi huffs and adjusts her hips to make the position more comfortable. “So you don’t even know if this will work.”
He comes back to the bed and lies down beside her, kissing her forehead. “It’s just supposed to help a little,” he says. “I think.”
“You don’t know,” she says, a whine edging into her voice.
“It’ll be fine, Usako.” She drops her legs (they were starting to cramp anyway) and snuggles up beside him.
It’s a few weeks later that she takes the test, sitting on the closed lid of the toilet, shaking while she waits for the timer to go off. When it reads positive, she cries, in relief or fear, she isn’t sure anymore, but she picks herself up and gets on with her day.
Mamoru is late that night and Usagi waits, tapping her foot and chewing her nails. When he finally comes through the door, she presents him with a large stuffed rabbit, a bow around its neck.
“What’s this for?” he asks, amused. He takes the toy, holding it warily.
“Read the card.”
He finally notices the card attached, reading aloud, “Hello, my name is Chibi-Usa...and you’re going to be a papa.”
Usagi’s beaming. “For real this time,” she adds. “Not like a surrogate father to...well, your own future child.” She hears Mamoru sniff. “Are you crying?”
“I’m just really happy,” he says, smiling even as tears run down his face. “Really, really happy.”
She throws her arms around him and laughs because yes, she is terrified of the life growing inside her, but she’s excited too, and as long as he is with her, what could go wrong?
As the months move along, Usagi tries to reconcile the child she’s carrying with the little girl she met years ago, the brat who annoyed her and slept in her bed and tried her hardest to come between her and Mamoru because she was lonely and scared and didn’t know better. The little girl she came to care about more than she ever thought she could. That Chibi-Usa was raised by her and Mamoru, yes, but a different version of them. She spends more time than she probably should wondering if their Chibi-Usa will be different or the same. How different could she be?
And she worries about being a mother. For real. Chibi-Usa never thought of her truly as her mother, just as a sometimes annoying big sister, but there were times when Usagi felt the need to mother her, to care for her because her own mother was so far away. Usagi knows she’s more mature than she was then, but is she mature enough to parent? She voices these fears to her girls, to Mamoru, and they all assure her that she’s ready.
She doesn’t think she’ll ever be.
The nurse places the squealing, pink bundle in her arms and Usagi feels all her fears dissolve away, replaced with the overwhelming love she feels for this tiny human she created. Mamoru’s warm at her side, cooing over their baby, their Chibi-Usa, screeching and waving her tiny fists.
She grows so fast, first a wiggly little thing, clothed in pink (Minako went a little overboard), rolling around on the soft blankets Usagi uses as her playmats, then crawling everywhere. Soon, she’s toddling around, holding herself up by her tiny little hands, so much stronger than she looks. Her hair grows and Usagi styles it in the cute rabbit ear odango shapes. Chibi-Usa squeals and claps her hands, expressing her delight in unintelligible baby talk and snuggles.
She’s curious and surprisingly smart. Usagi and Mamoru have a friendly competition to see which parent’s name she would say first. Usagi uses her extra time spent to repeat, “Mama” at her to see if Chibi-Usa will mimic her the way she tries to mimic everything else Usagi does. But Mamoru retaliates by using Chibi-Usa’s favorite snacks to get her to say, “Papa” instead. Never one to be outdone by her parents, Chibi-Usa proudly points one afternoon at Luna and says, “Cat!” Usagi laughs so hard, tears spring to her eyes and Mamoru just sighs.
Mamoru plays airplane with her, zooming around the room, and then sits her on his lap while he reads to her. He wishes he could spend more time with her, the long hours at the hospital draining him more and more. Chibi-Usa loves her Papa-time though and as she gets older, she learns the routine of when he’ll be home and waits near the door.
Usagi relishes the normalcy of their lives where the most stressful thing that happens is making sure Chibi-Usa gets to daycare on time. She waits for the other shoe to drop, for the disaster that will sweep the globe and leave her a queen, but it never comes. She starts to wonder, rocking Chibi-Usa to sleep, if it ever will.
Five years pass. Five years which seems like both an unreasonably short time and yet a lifetime. Chibi-Usa is an intelligent, precocious child, so much like her mother and father in the best (and sometimes worse) ways.
Five years, and that’s when Usagi finds out that she is pregnant. Again.
Mamoru is late as usual and Usagi finds herself chewing her nails again while she waits for him. She tries to hide her stress from Chibi-Usa, but the girl is too smart for her own good. She tugs on Usagi’s pigtails and asks, sincere concern in her voice, “Mama, are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Usagi replies, perhaps a little too quickly. “Go put your pajamas on and get ready for bed. By then hopefully Papa will be home and he can tuck you in.”
Chibi-Usa nods and runs off to her room. Usagi paces in the kitchen, trying to still her shaking hands. Just when she thinks she’s going to go crazy, Mamoru unlocks the door, shrugging off his coat with a sigh.
“I’m sorry I’m so late,” he says, kissing her cheek. It doesn’t take long before he notices her demeanor is off. “What’s wrong?”
“We’ll talk about it later,” Usagi says. “Chibi-Usa wants you to tuck her in.”
Mamoru disappears down the hall and Usagi hears Chibi-Usa’s delighted squeals. Great, now he has to wind her back down and get her to sleep.
Usagi’s brushing her hair when Mamoru finally makes it to their bedroom, Chibi-Usa finally asleep. “This has to stop,” he mumbles, dropping a kiss on her shoulder as he crosses the room to change for bed. “These hours are killing me.”
“I know, honey.” Usagi knows she sounds distracted and she waits for Mamoru to pick up on it from her tone. She remembers how oblivious he used to be, still learning her quirks and mannerisms. After so many years together, they are so attuned to each other that they can have conversations with just a look.
“Tell me what’s going on,” he says. “You were trembling earlier.”
Usagi sets her brush down, takes a deep breath, and turns around. “I’m pregnant, Mamoru.”
Mamoru pauses, his tie halfway over his head. “You’re...pregnant? Are you sure?”
Usagi nods. “I took the test this morning after you left. I’m sure.” She can’t explain it in a way that Mamoru will understand, but it feels the same as it did before. She knows.
“Well, that’s wonderful.” Mamoru grins. “It’s great, Usako. Why are you upset?”
“I’m not supposed to have another child!” she hisses. “Neo-Queen Serenity only had Chibi-Usa unless Setsuna just never mentioned another child in all the years that we’ve known her. What are we going to do?”
“Usagi, calm down.” Mamoru crosses the room, placing his hands on her shoulders, rubbing his thumbs up and down in a soothing motion. “It’s going to be fine. Look at Chibi-Usa. She’s fine. She’s happy and healthy. We’ve--you’ve--done great with her.”
“But we knew her before,” Usagi explains. “We had time with her before she was really ours, like a cheat sheet.” She groans, rubbing her eyes in frustration. “We don’t have that with this one. The kid’s a wild card.”
Mamoru laughs. “That’s how most kids are, honey.” When Usagi doesn’t relax, he pulls her into his arms, resting his chin on the top of her head. “It’s going to be okay.”
“I don’t want to screw this up,” she mumbles into his chest. She doesn’t explain that this doesn’t necessarily refer to their second child, but to everything their future entails--becoming king and queen, saving the world...again. And what if having another child throws that whole future into turmoil? What if she’s made a mistake and ruined everything?
“You could always talk to Setsuna about it,” Mamoru says. “She’s back in town for a little while. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.”
Usagi nods. Even if Setsuna confirms that yes, everything is ruined now, or no, it’s going to be fine, at least Usagi will know for sure.
She lets Mamoru hold her tight, focusing on his calm breathing to finally lull herself into an exhausted sleep.
Setsuna and Hotaru still live in the same mansion at the edge of the city. Haruka and Michiru live there too, when they aren’t traveling the world because of Haruka’s racing or Michiru’s music. They all stay in touch, of course, but with everyone’s busy schedules, it’s difficult to meet up.
So when Usagi phones Setsuna the next morning, the older woman is delighted to have Usagi, and Chibi-Usa of course, over for tea. Usagi almost doesn’t want to bring her daughter with her, but she doesn’t want to deprive Hotaru of her favorite playmate.
The two arrive at the house only a few minutes late. Setsuna ushers them, thanking Usagi for calling and how wonderful it is to see her and Chibi-Usa. Hotaru comes bounding down the hallway and Chibi-Usa squeals with delight, nearly knocking her friend over with a fierce hug.
With the girls playing in the other room and tea served on a ornate silver tray, Usagi finds herself suddenly nervous to be alone with Setsuna. The woman she has come to know is so different and yet the same as the fearsome Sailor Soldier who guarded the Door of Time. Mostly, Usagi thinks, she is nervous that Setsuna will say exactly what she’s feared, that she has disrupted the proper progression of events.
“I have a feeling this isn’t just a social visit,” Setsuna says, pouring the tea into Usagi’s cup.
Usagi opens her mouth to protest, but decides to go ahead before she loses her nerve. “I needed to ask you about something,” she says, fingering the fabric of her skirt nervously. “About the future….”
Setsuna’s gaze, if possible, grows sharper at her words. “The future?”
Usagi takes a deep breath and just blurts out, “I’m pregnant.” She adds, unnecessarily, “Again.”
A look of understanding comes over Setsuna’s features and she smiles gently. “And you’re worried because the Neo-Queen Serenity that you know of does not have a second child.”
Usagi just nods, tears pricking at the corners of her eyes in spite of herself.
“Oh Usagi,” Setsuna says, reaching across the patio table to pat the younger woman’s hand. “It is true that the moon matriarchy usually only has one girl, a princess who will then have a princess of her, and so on.” Usagi wonders how this is supposed to make her feel better. Does this mean she’s messed up somehow? Because she can have another child?
Setsuna continues, “But you and Neo-Queen Serenity are different. Your choices, your path, are different from hers. Even though you are the same person, genetically speaking, you have overcome different obstacles and hardships.” Setsuna squeezes Usagi’s hand. “You can’t strive to make the timelines match up, Usagi. That isn’t how time works.”
“But what if Crystal Tokyo doesn’t happen because of...this?” Usagi gestures to her lower stomach.
“Then it doesn’t happen,” Setsuna says simply. “What will happen will happen and will not will not. That’s all the advice I can really give you.”
Usagi bites her lip. Perhaps Setsuna is right. She can’t control the future. She can only affect her current conditions.
“Also, congratulations,” Setsuna adds with a warm smile. “I’m sure Chibi-Usa will be delighted to have a sister.”
Usagi laughs, the tears falling down her cheeks in relief. She does want this second child, she realizes now that the fear of ruining her future has passed. She already loves her even if she’s only a bundle of cells growing rapidly in her womb.
“Thank you, Setsuna,” Usagi says, leaping out of her chair to throw her arms around the older woman. “Thank you so much.”
Setsuna is startled by the sudden enthusiasm, but she returns the hug nonetheless.
“Well, it’s official,” Usagi says to the girls the next afternoon. Chibi-Usa is wedged between her mother and Auntie Minako in their usual booth at Fruits Parlor Crown, coloring a picture of Artemis. Minako laughs when Chibi-Usa decides that Artemis’s fur should be blue instead of white.
“What’s official?” Ami asks.
“Mama’s gonna have another baby!” Chibi-Usa exclaims. “I’m gonna have a baby sister.”
The girls all look at Usagi with confusion, but also delight. “That’s great, Usagi,” Makoto says, beaming.
“Congrats,” Rei adds, bumping her shoulder into Usagi’s own.
“But I didn’t think you were supposed to have another child?” Ami says in a low voice, leaning over so Chibi-Usa can’t hear.
“I talked to Setsuna,” Usagi explains. “She said not to worry about it.” Among other things, but that was the basic gist of their conversation.
“Can I plan your baby shower again?” Minako asks, pleading with big blue eyes.
“The last one was a disaster!” Rei points out sharply. “I’ll plan this one.”
“No way! I want to,” Mako snaps. “I already know which cake I’m going to bring.”
“You can still bring cake and let me plan the shower!”
“Not a chance, Rei.”
Usagi sighs at her friends’ bickering, turning her attention to Chibi-Usa’s drawing. She supposes she should get used to it though. She can’t imagine her daughters are going to get along all the time. She ruffles Chibi-Usa’s hair and smiles.
“Chibi-Usa, wait for meeee!” The girl with twin pairs of pink odangos struggles to keep up with her taller older sister.
“Not my fault you’re so slow, squirt,” Chibi-Usa yells over her shoulder, sticking her tongue out for full effect.
“Mama,” Kousagi wails. “Make her stop!”
Usagi sighs, rubbing her temples. Next to her, Mamoru is barely hiding his laughter. Jerk. “Chibi-Usa, slow down and wait for your sister,” Usagi calls.
“She’s got to catch me!” Chibi-Usa breaks into a full run, laughing the whole way. Kousagi renews her efforts, but her legs just aren’t as long as her sister’s and so Chibi-Usa easily loses her.
Perhaps one day, Usagi thinks hopefully, we can take a walk as a family without it turning into a competition. Mamoru’s hand is warm in hers and she suddenly laughs out loud at the ridiculousness of her darling daughters.
“Bet you both can’t catch me!” Usagi takes off running, passing her eldest with surprising ease. Chibi-Usa makes a noise of protest and follows, reaching her arms out to grab her mother’s trailing pigtails.
“Papa, help me! Together we can beat them!” she hears Kousagi say behind her and then her squealing laughter indicating that Mamoru has sweeped her up onto his shoulders and is about to dust all of them, damn his height.
“Not fair,” Chibi-Usa shrieks. “That’s cheating!”
Now it’s Kousagi’s turn to stick her tongue at her sister, safe atop her father’s shoulders. Mamoru chuckles even when Chibi-Usa latches onto his waist, trying to stop him from walking. He stumbles, at least until Usagi scoops Chibi-Usa up into her arms, laughing as the girl flails about trying to get free.
Kousagi giggles from her perch and soon Chibi-Usa’s laughter joins her in a delightful chorus that Usagi wishes she could keep on a loop forever. I don’t know why I worried, she thinks as she sets Chibi-Usa back down, kissing the top of her head. Chibi-Usa slides her hand into her mother’s, still laughing.
We’ll be okay. Mamoru takes her hand on the other side and they continue down the path together. We’ll all be okay. Someday, the world will may be in turmoil and she will become queen. But she’ll enjoy this, the normalcy of her family, her life, until then.