The Prospect of Sleep By Lady Cleo Lady_cleo2001@hotmail.com All Disclaimers apply.

Sleep... was that so much to ask for... couldn't she get just a little. She wasn't asking for much. Maybe just an hour or two? Luna curled slowly into her side, blissfully unaware of Usagi's turmoil. God, she was so tired of fighting the world, tired of trying to keep up with impossible standards that the teenage girl didn't even want to have to deal with.

She wanted to dream. In her dreams she never had to deal with the outside world. She was comfortable, surrounded by warmth, in the arms of love itself, entwined by a protection that no evil could ever break. But with the screaming alarms came the harsh rays of reality, cracking over a cold dawn.

Since the creation of Sailor Moon the world had suddenly become a very cold place. It was harder and harder to find the cheerful little things in life pleasant. She couldn't squeal like she used to, couldn't quite put that same bounce in her step. And no one had really noticed the change. Who would've guessed that the ditzy blond could act so well?

She prided herself on the way she had handled the transaction. Always hiding the Usagi that wanted to just curl up in ball and die. She let the world think that everything was dandy in her world. Luna, sweet Luna seemed to be the only one that cared, though she hid the worry well.

Usagi held back a giggle, her mind wandering over the cat's frustration and attempts to constantly guide her pupil's befuddled path. But Luna couldn't really notice the difference, she'd only known Usagi for a few hours before changing the small girls world. She didn't see the transformation of carefree child to super hero

Up until that day Usagi's shoulders had been unburdened by the world's weight, never again would she feel that freedom. A path had been laid before her, a path she had no choice in. Her chest tightened, teeth digging painfully into her lower lips, the bitter taste of iron filled her mouth as she struggled to hold back the tears that slid slowly down her face.

The weight of sailor moon was crushing the girl, wiping away every last ounce of the carefree child. Soon Usagi Tuskino would only be a memory to Sailor Moon, nothing but a disguise for her daytime battles.

Usagi silently pondered the facts placed before her. Did any of the other scouts fill the same way, as through there true identities were being forgotten as their nighttime escapades consumed all living thoughts, all daytime endeavourers? What would happen to the former shells, the memories of the lighthearted girls that now avenged the world?

Pushing back the blankets Usagi slowly crawled to the end of the bed, gazing out her small window towards the dark sky. No Moon tonight, the thought almost filled her with a glorified sense of right. No moon meant Sailor Moon could sleep tonight, right?

Wrong.

The only thing the dark sky portrayed to the frightened little girl was that there was probably some creature out wandering the street, waiting for a chance to strike. Usagi turned her head away from the window to gaze at the brooch that sat helplessly on the dresser. Its glittered perfection lied to the girl, trying to portray itself as a mere trinket, in no way special, in no way important to love and justice. But she could see the deception, how its weight was crushing the girl, slowly sucking the life out of the small little moon bunny.

Usagi stumbled out of bed, thanking her lucky stars... no not her lucky stars, stars made her think of the Moon, thereby bring thoughts of Sailor Moon. No, for once in her life Usagi thanked herself for her own tact and grace in avoiding the waking of a snoozing cat.

Walking quietly over to the closet Usagi grabbed her shoes and the nearest assembled outfit, in this case a black skirt and white t-shirt. She managed to tiptoe down the stairs and there hurriedly dressed, leaving the long tendrils of blond hair free from their usually confined odangos. She wanted nothing to do with Sailor Moon tonight. It was just Usagi slipping out of the house, not a super hero out to free the world from tyranny, but a teenage girl trying to escape her alter ego.

There was only one place for this struggling child to go, only one place for her to find the solitude that she currently sought, the park. A place where no one could tell her that Sailor Moon was needed. Where no one would order the desertion of the child she was, forcing her to become the quiet visage of a supremely powerful entity. She didn't want them to tell her that she shouldn't care for herself, and that she must save the world, save everybody else but the drowning Usagi. Well she didn't want that, in fact, to damn with Sailor Moon. From now on she would be selfish and care only about eating ice cream, playing arcade games, swooning over Motoki. She wanted her only worries to be fighting with Mamoru over test grades and the failed logic of Odango Atama as a nickname.

Usagi continued to wander the neighborhood streets, walking silently along the roads, listening to the click of her flat heels on the concrete. Trying to find a beat to her step. But the beat had been forgotten so long ago, the happy tune that used to vibrate with every step that she took was gone. Her brow furrowed, eyes glaring down at the tall stalks of legs.

"The quiet rustling of the leaves, echoing on a plain of green. Sweet, soft flower petals, that dip and swoon in yellows. A giant old oak tree, that shifts with every breeze. A forgotten chestnut lark, that sings a sweeping melody. A laughing brook, crisp and cold, wrapped around the prairie trees." Usagi smiled her voice dying away as she recalled the ancient ode. She pulled to a stumbling halt, giggling over her own memories of the five year old that used to quote said ode every four sentences for a whole week.

The girl smiled at the twinkling stars, forgetting for a second why they constantly winked down, forgetting that she was anybody other the Usagi. The young woman trailed her hands through the lengths of hair. The wind swept up around her playing with the strands of blond, spreading the waves out into thousands of strands that tickled her jaw as it fought to caress her face. The sweeping leaves caught a newspaper carrying its torn headline, Sailor Moon.

Usagi grimaced; even the wind was turning against the child. Thrusting her nose into the air and tossing the streaming hair over the shoulder, Usagi turned away from the paper, and listened to its departure. The sound of the paper scrapping against the cement comforted the broken child. She continued along the path, heading quietly towards the sounds of cooing trees that whispered among each other, their branches reaching towards her in a merry dance, welcoming the child they had once know so well.

Usagi slipped among the park walkways. She called to all her old haunts, back before an allowance bought the privileges of sundaes and comic books, or thousands of tries at some old deserted video game. Usagi felt the laughter boil up her throat, tickling the inside of her mouth as she tumbled to the ground, rolling playfully with the sweet blades of grass that grabbed and teased her body, cushioning her weight as she gently rolled down the aged hill. She stopped at its foot, wiping the free leaves from her blouse only to toss them playful in the air, the green leaves flirting so deliciously with her minds eye, clearing away the thoughts of tomorrow with a tumble and a grasp of carefree life.

A black night cloud broke out against the sky, its bunny form eagerly hoping away from its settled place. The stars twinkled down at Usagi.... A frown marred the perfect features of the child. The winking no longer a sly indication of some giddy secret, but the harsh biting facts of the truth! Somewhere in the sky a moon hid, perhaps behind a cloud of charging horses or a scattering of ice cream cones.

Usagi violently shook her head, the waves of blond dancing across her face. Not tonight. Standing Usagi charged deeper into the woods, singing of princes and princess, of knights that did not appear only when damsels were distressed, but stayed for a betrothal, a marriage, three children and a perfect life spent with two dogs and a cat.

Usagi beamed as she skidded to a rough halt beside a small puddle, gazing down into the contents in search for life or perhaps something stronger then life.

Sailor Moon grinned back at the girl child then winked and assumed her usual tired stance, her lips syncing the words that Usagi dreaded to hear.

The flat heeled foot impacted with Sailor Moon's face, sending thousands of color full Sailor Moons into the air. "NO!" Usagi screeched stomping off towards the puddle free paths. Turning back she glared at the shattered puddle, sticking her tongue out before charging away.

Her brute force slammed into the familiar chest, sending the child to the ground in shock.

"Odango Atama?"

Giggles tickled their way up from Usagi's stomach of butterflies, she gazed into the shocked eyes of Mamoru as she slowly pulled the mass of un- composed bones to an awkward standing. "Great to see you too Mamoru... guess what?" Her eyes lit up, the star lights twinkle echoing in the dark planes.

Mamoru didn't know how to take seeing the young woman standing before him, so bright and cheerful that she seemed about ready to burst open. The languid pools continued to stare enchantingly up at him, seducing him with the way the twinkled, laughing with secrets, promising a thousand different things that would astound the mind.

Usagi gently motioned for him to lean closer, the star struck boy complied, eyes widening with the promise of something to come. "I failed a test!" She squealed happily, knocking Mamoru from the heavenly euphoria with a hard mental thump on the head. He blinked trying to understand what had just happened. When she had gone from a glorious siren tempting him with her all might to a giggling, squealing essence of youthful joy?

Usagi paused in her rambunctious twirls of delight and frowned, biting her lower lip for a second when she realized that her tormentor was not playing his part tonight. "Well aren't you going to tease me?" She inquired, her voice barely hovering above a whisper, desperation pleading through the quiet tone.

"Are you sick?" He inquired simply, eyebrow quirking as he thoroughly examined her face for the signs of a fever. His palm unconsciously reached out gently feeling her forehead.

Usagi yelped, backing away, his palm having spread a warmth across her forehead, comforting, yet a frightening new experience. Mamoru had never touched her before, and no person could set her skin so ablaze with warmth.

Perhaps she had a fever, yes, that was reason enough for the illogical thoughts that slipped around her mind. Since Mamoru would not play the game Usagi would have to find a different distraction. Turning away from the dazed and confused man she began to merrily hum away her favorite tune, weaving among the older trees.

She continued on her way, ignorant to the following man, his face distressed with worry lines. Reaching the center of the park she once again found a puddle before her. No Sailor Moon dared wander this one, not after the last shattering. Starring down Usagi combed once again through the free flowing mane, laughed as its reflection danced over the water. A glimpse of white light caught her eyes, its reflection marred by the rippling waves of blond. Turning the inquisitive child gazed into its source. The moon peeked out from its hiding place, gazing down at the baffled child, laughing at the star's secret. It leaned down from the clouds, breaking away, whispering in her ear. Filling her with the knowledge, she could not escape. Tears cracked the sparkling eyes, a strangling cry erupting from her throat as she dropped to her knees, trying to hide from the moon's whispers, and the constant calls for its champion to cast aside the child Usagi, to let her drown among the forgotten stars.

A warm arm slipped around the small shoulders, another sweeping under her knees. Usagi felt the secure arms of Mamoru lift her beyond the cold ground. Cradling the weak form to his chest. Mamoru started towards his apartment, looking down as the girl buried her face against the white material of his shirt, blocking the moon from her vision.

The apartment was cold and dark, neither welcoming to him nor familiar to her. The boy set the girl gently on the couch, walking over to draw the curtain closed, blocking the bright orb from her sight.

"It doesn't help!" The whimper that followed nearly split his heart. "I know it's still out there waiting to recall its champion!"

He turned slowly towards her, amazed at the change. The air around her seemed ethereal, as through she'd been picked up by the moon and kicked to the sky. There she'd been cradled lovingly by the stars which gently rocked her back down to earth, all the while whispering in her ear of a secret they would keep just for her, hiding the truth that wallowed in her fear.

He crossed the living room, his boots padding against the floor, he stood over the whimpering child, watching as her dark form huddled against the couch. His fingers arched out as he sat beside the figure, fingertips barely touching the silken strands of blond. "You don't help, you remind me of her...."

Mamoru flinched, his hand quickly retreating. "Maybe I can..."

The words had barely parted from his lips when she silenced them with her hands pressed against his lips. "You like me as Usagi? Don't you? You wouldn't want me to die, you wouldn't want Usagi to be swept away by the currents of the Moon? I'm sure you're strong enough to handle whatever's thrown at you, but I'm not." She turned from him, and his heart cracked for the girl, he wanted to hold her and reassure her with every fiber of his being. Reaching out again Mamoru gently grabbed her waist, fingers clutching at the soft black material of her skirt he pulled her gently to his chest, arms slipping around her waist, settling on her small stomach.

"Let me help." His breath tickled her ear, his warm arms secure around her form. Usagi relaxed against his chest, letting the warmth overwhelm her senses. In his embrace the Moon and its champion were finally forgotten.

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