AN: Wow, I actually did it. I first watched this show when I was in, like, fifth grade, and I finally write a fic about it. Yes, ladies and genterbeans, I have written a Sailor Moon fic!!! Whee!!

This came about when my friends and I were watching season two—the Black Lady deal—in all its uncut, subtitled goodness (bask in the glow of my nerd-dom!), and there's a scene where Naru talks to Usagi just before they enter the Dark Crystal. And we got to talking about it, and here's the result.

Has this been done before? Heck, yeah! Am I doing it anyway? But of course! I like to do my own take on things, see if I can do something different with it. Will I succeed? shrug That remains to be seen. You'll have to tell me. I don't own Sailor Moon.

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Friendship

A thick, cottony blanket of clouds drifted lazily across the black-blue sky, propelled by a gentle night breeze. It wasn't much, but it was enough to push the clouds in front of the half-moon and all the accompanying stars, effectively blocking all naturaly light that might have drifted down from the heavens. The only glow lighting Naru's way were the circles of light cast on the street from the streetlamps that lined the vacant road.

Naru didn't make a habit of being out this late at night in the dark, but something had pulled her outside, drawing her away from the safe comfort of her own home onto the streets and into the relative darkness. She wasn't afraid, though; she felt totally safe. She wasn't even directing her feet; they seemed to know exactly where they wanted to go, and so she followed.

She turned a few corners, simply letting instinct tell her where to go. And finally, she stopped and stared. A lone figure stood just ahead, shadow-encased by the night. But it didn't matter; she would have recognized that silhouette anywhere. And she called out, "Usagi!"

Blonde pigtails swung around, drifting a little on the night breeze, and blue eyes lit up in delight at her arrival. "Naru-chan!" Tsukino Usagi, ever cheerful, waving.

It was infectious, and Naru found herself smiling and waving back with equal enthusiasm. "How did I know you'd be out here?"

Usagi shrugged. "Maybe it's that 'best friend-psychic connection' I've heard so many wonderful things about," she laughed as she took a seat on a large gray stone, located conveniently right behind her. Only the glow cast from a nearby streetlight allowed the color to be visible, as the darkness was compounded by the fact that they were standing beneath a large tree in full bloom. Leaves blotted out what little light the heavens offered.

Naru inched closer, stepping into that circle of deeper darkness, closer to her longtime best friend. It had been quite some time since they'd had a real heart to heart, and she wasn't about to let the opportunity slip away. "So what're you doing out here?"

"I like to sit out here sometimes," Usagi twirled one pigtail absently around her finger. "It's peaceful here at night. I can just think…or talk with a friend." A pause. "I haven't seen Umino-kun in a while, either. How's he doing?

A slight blush touched Naru's cheeks at the mention of her longtime boyfriend. "He's fine. He hasn't changed a bit—still the quote-unquote 'nerd.' It's kind of endearing, actually."

That earned a laugh, and a comfortable silence lapsed for a moment.

Naru shifted her weight from one foot to the other. There was something she had desperately wanted to talk to her friend about, but had never had the courage or the opportunity. And here it was—the perfect timing, handed to her on a silver platter.

She looked at Usagi. The blonde was sitting comfortably on that stone, one leg crossed primly over the other, blue eyes cast skywards—though it wasn't completely obvious as to what exactly she was looking at, considering that the tree's branches, coupled with the clouds, blocked the moon and most of the stars. But Tsukino Usagi was a law unto herself.

"Usagi…" she began carefully, hoping she wouldn't chicken out. She had to get it off her chest.

"Nani?" Usagi's eyes dropped to look inquisitively at her stammering friend.

"I knew all along," Naru said slowly.

"Knew what?" the blonde's eyebrows knit together in confusion.

Naru's eyes averted, dropping slowly. "Sailor Moon."

Silence fell then. The conversation was cut, like an axe cuts through a tree.

Finally, it was Usagi who spoke. "How long have you known?"

A shake of the head. "I'm not sure. At some point, I…I just knew."

The Dark Crystal loomed in the distance, surrounded by skyscrapers that were nowhere near as large, like a mountain amidst foothills. Two girls on a sidewalk.

"You know what that thing is, don't you?"

"Why would I know something like that?"

"I just didn't want to say anything," Naru sighed. "I guess I figured if you didn't tell me, you probably had a reason, and if I said something it would be really weird."

Usagi's smile was calm. "I can't believe it. We were always so careful…" She laughed slightly. "I guess you can't really hide things from your close friends, can you?"

"I know you better than that," Naru was inordinately relieved that her friend wasn't making trouble over what she had thought would be an issue, possibly an argument.

"We couldn't tell," Usagi barrelled on, in her typical style. "I mean, there were a few people who knew, but not because we came right out and told them. Sometimes they managed to spot us whil we were transforming—that's usually what happened, anyway—and a few people found out through…other means." At that point, she was remembering Urawa Ryo, who had known through a psychic premonition that the object of his affections, Mizuno Ami, was the Sailor senshi of Mercury. "But generally speaking, we just kept it under wraps to keep everybody safe. Otherwise, you could've been a target."

"Like when Nephrite thought I knew who you were?" Naru asked. It no longer bothered her to speak of her first real love; there would always be that dull ache when she thought of him, but time had done a lot to heal the wound.

A nod. "Exactly." A pause. "You got into trouble because of me so many times, you know that? The enemy would be after me or one of the girls, and you or Umino or someone we knew would get caught up in the mess."

"Yeah, I know," Naru actually giggled at the memories.

"Were you ever scared?" Usagi asked softly.

Naru's red curls bounced as she shook her head. "A little sometimes, but most of the time, I really wasn't. I knew Sailor Moon and the senshi would come through for us. When I did get scared, though…it was usually more for you guys." She looked Usagi straight in the eye. "You're my best friend, and I can't count how many times you could've been killed." To her chagrin, tears actually welled in her eyes at that moment. "…and I couldn't have handled that."

"Naru-chan…"

A pause, while Naru seemed to try and pulled herself together. When she spoke next, it was far more controlled. "It's kind of unfair, though. You've never let us down before. You've saved the world, and no one even knows your name."

"It'll stay that was for a long time," the blonde explained. "I've seen the future, Naru-chan. And things are going to be very, very different. The world will change. And then…"

Silence.

"And then what?" Naru pressed.

"Iie. You'll know then." Blue eyes drifted skyward. "But I'd better get going." Her gaze dropped back to her longtime best friend. "I'm really glad I got to talk to you. We never talk anymore. Not so long until next time, okay?"

Naru nodded. "It's a promise."

Usagi beamed, rose from her perch on the stone she had claimed as a seat…and faded away. Vanished completely from sight, leaving Naru all alone.

But strangely enough, the redhead didn't flinch. She didn't even blink. Instead, she simply buried her hands deeper in the rough-lined pockets of her coat and sighed. A tiny smile tugged at the corners of her mouth, contorting her face into a strange parody of something similar to sadness.

"I'm glad we had this talk, Usagi," Naru said softly. Her mission apparently accomplished, she brushed her auburn hair away from her face with one hand before returning the hand to her pocket, and turned away from the stone Usagi had been sitting on.

Without looking back, she walked away, leaving her best friend's grave behind, all alone in the shadow of the mighty tree.