The light breeze played with her bangs, and Serena frowned at it

This takes place within the "Tuxedo Melvin" episode, about a half-hour after the confrontation with Zoicite in the amusement park. I kind of mix the English names with the Japanese names, but it has no real effect on the story.

Written in one long long long long all-nighter on 12/19/00

Anger Makes For Better Things

By Rashaka

The light breeze played with her bangs, and Usagi frowned at it. She stormed up to the water's edge, and looked at it, expecting some kind of reaction. Nothing. Of course it was stupid—why would a lake possibly do anything strange just cause she was mad? But she wanted something from somewhere. Something to focus her anger on, something to identify with. Normally this park was good for thinking, but it seemed this was not destined to be a normal day. The lake water was perfectly still, like glass. She could see the late afternoon clouds reflected in it. Her frown deepened. He was such a jerk. Why did he want the crystal anyway? What could he possibly use it for? Was he some kind of rogue agent, from a force other than humanity and the Negaverse? That was a horrible thought. Dear god though—what if it was true? Would they have to fight two groups for the Silver Crystal? Just how many people with magical powers were out there?

Usagi leaned over and picked up a good-sized rock by her feet. Holding it in her hand, she gritted her teeth. She was so damn tired. Tired of fighting, tired of barely winning by the skin of her teeth, tired of being teased, and most of all tired of not knowing. Not knowing what he really wanted from them. She hated not knowing.

"He was supposed to protect me!" she shrieked, and threw the rock far out into the lake. It hit the surface with a loud, reverberating splash, marring its perfect horizon.

Usagi stared at it, startled for a moment. She was not normally prone to violence, even simple outbursts. She looked down at her hand, a little shocked. Was she changing? Was it getting easier to be angry? Maybe. Usagi turned her hand over, examining it like a curious child might examine a new plaything.

Whimsically she flexed her fingers, pulling her hand into a fist, then releasing it again. It as still a girl's hand. Pink nail polish— now chipped— covered soft skin and light, delicate fingers. Maybe not after all. Her hand would never be a fighter's hand, no matter how much she worried at it. Being caught up in the fighting wasn't something that would happen to her. Usagi just couldn't bring herself to like it that much.

She scowled again, and the thought brought forth memories of that battle. What he'd said. And I will get them. The Silver Empyrium Crystal *will* be mine. He was challenging them. Challenging her. He was saying his place in the scheme of things: I want the crystal and I'll get it even if I had to go through you. How very noble of him, she thought. I guess chivalry and alliances only go for as long as they're useful. But surely, Sailor Moon... you understand; if it's not expedient to be your savior anymore, I can't be expected to stay now can I?

She kicked at the dirt with her foot. There were no more rocks around to throw, and Usagi didn't think it would do anything beneficial for her mood at the moment anyway. So this was what she was good for now, a worrywart who could do nothing, only throw temper tantrums because she worried that she might not be winning. Rei would be so proud.

"Bastard," she whispered fiercely, quietly. "Why won't you just choose and make it easier on all of us." She tugged on one of her long flaxen ponytails. "At least then I might be able to get a decent night's sleep."

The sound of footsteps on gravel caught her attention and she spun, tense.

"Well, a little jumpy today, ne?" Mamoru said with eyebrows raised.

Usagi glared at him listlessly. "What do you want now?" she said.

Mamoru cocked his head to one side, like a bird. Usagi always thought he looked like a crow when he did that. One big, mean raven whose curiosity would end up hurting somebody. Of course, it was an attractive movement too—one that showed off his perfect jaw line and his smooth neck. She huffed irritably. He probably knew it too. No way someone like him could go through his whole life without figuring out that people found him attractive. There was no such thing as a pretty boy who didn't know exactly how pretty he was by age twelve.

"I heard someone shouting something, and I thought I'd play investigator. See if I could do my good deed for today."

Usagi didn't rise to the bait. "Since you're suddenly into doing good deeds, do the world another one and leave me alone." Mamoru frowned for a moment, and it messed up his perfect visage. Oh, pity. Maybe he'd get the point and scram.

"Actually, I think I'll stay, Meatball Head. I'm curious to know just what it is that makes you so charming today." His voice had an odd edge to it, and Usagi looked back at him, just noticing it now.

He's mad, she thought. He' mad at something. And he had hoped to take it out on me. Well, fat chance of that. I'm mad too, and you couldn't have picked a worse afternoon, o enemy mine.

Usagi turned from him and walked over to a bench. She sat down brusquely and crossed one knee over the other. As soon as she touched the wood all her pent-up energy and leftover adrenaline drained out of her. Not an hour ago she'd been fighting for her life, and Naru's. "Do whatever you want," she muttered. "It won't make you any less a creep."

"Fine," Mamoru said equally curt, and sat down beside her.

They both looked out at the lake.

Mamoru fidgeted beside her, like a firecracker. Usagi tolerated it for almost a minute, then turned angrily and snapped, "Okay, Jerk-face. Out with it."

Mamoru glared back at her. "Out with what, meatball brains?"

"You're fidgeting. You're angry about something. You can't sit on the same bench with me if you're going to do that. So get it out of your system now and let me stew in peace."

His blue eyes blazed. "I can sit here as long as I damn well please."

"Fine," Usagi replied, and looked forcibly at the lake in front of them.

A few minutes passed.

"Alright," a frustrated voice said from her side. "Since you're volunteering so enthusiastically to be my crying shoulder, I'll tell you."

Usagi leaned back and prepared to listen, annoyed at having to give up her sulking time for someone else's problems, but resigned to fate.

"I have someone who I've been...in partnership with," Mamoru said, standing and pacing in front of the bench.

Usagi raised an eyebrow. She was too tired to do anything else. "Partnership; oh, that's a nice way of putting it. What, she got tired of making out with Mr. Tall, Dark, and Blue-eyed?"

Mamoru turned back to her, his face livid. Usagi blinked when she realized that maybe she hadn't said the right thing. He really *is* upset, she thought.

"Do you want to hear this or not, meatball head?"

Usagi shrugged dispassionately. "Sure. Why not. You were saying about a partnership."

Mamoru eyeballed her a moment longer, as if to make sure she was really going to listen, then began pacing again. "Right, partnership. I don't mean that we're a couple, but we're sort of working together. Actually, calling it work would be a stretch in the nice direction, but that's not important. What we're doing involves us depending on one another somewhat, or risk losing a lot."

Usagi nodded, finding herself mildly interested despite her resolute vows to not involve her self in Mamoru's life any more than absolutely necessary as Andrew's friend, and despite the fact that she was still mad at him. She never could resist a melodrama. If she's been in a better mood and not so fed up with life in general, especially her side-life, she'd have been on him like a wolfhound, looking for gossip and potential blackmail.

"Anyway, I did—and said— something today that I shouldn't have. What's worse, I think it might be unfixable. She won't trust me now, and that's going to put a damper in both our plans."

Usagi was giving him a strange look. This sure was the oddest sob story she'd ever heard, and she's heard plenty. The whole thing sounded more like a business transaction than a personal problem. Then again, he was awfully upset if it was just something detached like a professional issue.

Still, she'd volunteered, so she might as well do her part. Therapists of the world unite. "Okay," Usagi said, looking up at him and giving it a shot. "Is her trust going to be misplaced? If what you didn't mean to say was true, is she truly better believing in you?"

Mamoru glared at her. "That's not an issue here."

Usagi looked offended. Personally, she thought it was very much an issue. Maybe this person was right in not trusting him after all.

"So you're mad at yourself for letting your mouth run ahead of that miniature, rather annoyingly rude brain of yours."

Mamoru looked at her incredulously. "Even when you're giving advice you make sure to point out all my flaws in the process. I think I liked the wailing meatball head better."

Usagi shrugged and looked at the lake again. "I'm too tired to wail today. I'm too tired to do a lot of things lately. What do you want to hear from me?"

Mamoru sat back down on the bench, letting out a breath. "I guess I want someone— you to tell me what to do."

Usagi fought very, *very* hard not to make a sarcastic comment right then. This is important to him, she repeated to herself several times. Don't be cruel just for the sake of gloating. Even though he really, *really* deserves it.

She brought one of her long blond chunks of hair over her shoulder and began weaving her fingers through it. She was quite proud of herself for not giving into her nastier side with her response: "I can't tell you what to do."

"Won't."

"Can't. As your temporary crying-shoulder it's my duty to tell you that it's your choice and no one else can make it for you."

"Gee, that's awfully helpful of you," Mamoru said, leaning forward to rest his chin in his hand as he gazed at the lake. The sky around them was beginning to darken to early dusk.

Usagi looked over at him, and for a moment she felt sorry for her archenemy. Sitting there, staring out at the water, he looked young. He really looked almost as young as herself, and just as tired. Great, she thought. Now I get to feel sorry for two people. I hate having a sympathetic heart.

"I've got to get home soon," she commented.

"Need a ride?" he said absentmindedly, still looking at the water.

"Nah. I'll walk. It's not dark yet, and I have to pick up my brother on the way."

Mamoru brushed a lock of thick black hair back from his eyes. "He's the sandy-haired kid of about eleven, right? I saw you bring him to the arcade once or twice."

"Yeah, that's him," she replied, standing up. "The twerp makes about as bad of a first impression as you do. Second and third impression too."

"I think I like him already," Mamoru said sardonically. "Next time I see him I'll make sure to call you Meatball Head just so he'll hear. Wouldn't want a good name like that to go to waste."

Usagi glared at him. "I take it all back. You're not human after all."

Mamoru raised his eyebrows and watched her stomp down the path. A laugh began to rise up in him, and soon he was holding his sides trying to keep his mirth from knocking him over. He laughed and laughed until tears began to well up in his eyes. He brushed those away, smiling. He looked after Usagi at the path the girl had taken out of the park. Shaking his head in wonderment, he turned in the other direction and began the long trek back to his apartment.