by Kihin Ranno
Revised as of 2/23/11
It was over.
That was what Sailor Moon kept telling herself over and over again. The war with Ail and Ann had been brought to a peaceful finish. She'd ended the Makaiju's suffering. The Tsukikage no Knight was no more, and he was now one with Mamoru.
Mamoru, who she loved with all her body and soul. Mamoru, who had been the one saving her after all. Mamoru, who still looked like he was going to die.
"He looks bad," she murmured, pushing his bangs away from his forehead. It felt cold. She resisted the urge to brush her lips against his clammy skin only by reminding herself that this was not a fairy tale; a kiss would not wake him up. "Shouldn't…? The Tsukikage no Knight said reuniting his spirit with Mamoru would heal him, but he doesn't look any better."
Behind her, the four soldiers exchanged wary glances and silently debated how to proceed. She did not see, but sensed their hesitation and knew that they would be cautious in how they answered her. This only served to compound her fear.
Finally, Mars nodded and stepped forward. "He went through a lot. We all did."
"But… but he should be better. Why isn't he?" Sailor Moon insisted, her voice breaking. She didn't want to cry; she'd done enough of in her bedroom with only Luna to bear witness. Doing it here, in front of everyone, would have made her feel weak. Still, she couldn't help being afraid of Mamoru's grey skin, his shallow breathing.
Luna padded next to her. She would have gathered the cat in her arms had it not been for Mamoru. "He's going to be all right, Sailor Moon."
"I don't think Tsukikage no Knight meant he would fix everything," Jupiter added. "He couldn't be that powerful." She glanced at Venus and Artemis while she thought Sailor Moon couldn't see, and mouthed, 'Could he?'
They shrugged at Jupiter but chorused, "Jupiter's right."
Sailor Moon's hands began to shake. This was too much. It was supposed to be better now; he was supposed to be better. Why wouldn't he wake up?
"We ought to get him to a hospital," Mercury murmured. "In fact, I think we all need medical attention. Jupiter's having trouble breathing." She flushed immediately after saying it, as if she hadn't meant to do so.
For the first time, Sailor Moon tore her eyes away from Mamoru's prone body. Her eyes widened, and she now doubted that she would emerge from this without crying. "You can't breathe! Why didn't you say something?"
"No!" Jupiter insisted, holding herself gingerly. "It's not that bad. I'm fine. Really."
"No, she isn't," Luna snapped. "I'd guess her ribs are at least bruised, and she's attempting to be stoic. Poorly."
"Luna, really, it's okay."
"It most certainly is not okay! And Mars, don't think I haven't noticed you favoring your left leg."
Mercury ignored the back-and-forth and crouched down beside Mamoru with what Sailor Moon realized was obvious difficulty. Of course the other girls were hurt. They'd been tossed around just as much as she had been. She wanted to apologize to them for having such tunnel vision, ignoring their pain and her own in favor of Mamoru.
She wanted to, but she knew they wouldn't have accepted. So she just watched as Mercury held Mamoru's wrist in her hand. She swallowed and said, "I couldn't find a pulse… but I've never been good at that sort of thing."
Mercury smiled gently. "Well, I am, and I can tell you that his pulse is strong. I'd say Tsukikage no Knight helped more than we can see just now."
Sailor Moon sagged back against Mars's legs, her bones practically liquidating in relief. "Thank God."
"But he still needs to see a doctor," Artemis pressed. "You too, Usagi. Can you even stand?"
Sailor Moon stared at him as though he spoke a foreign language. Though she hadn't had that long to imagine how the aftermath of this battle would play out, she'd always envisioned Mamoru and her rising together. Having to do it on her own seemed almost unfathomable. "I… I think so."
"Let me help you up," Mars said, offering a hand. Mars's uncharacteristic softness was not lost on Sailor Moon. She didn't know whether to be grateful or disturbed by it.
Sailor Moon slowly stumbled to her feet, shaking from head to foot. Now that she was moving, she felt acutely aware of what her body had gone through. She and Mamoru had taken the worst of the attacks. She didn't think she had any specific injuries, but she felt so weak that keeping her knees straight took an effort.
Mercury nodded approvingly at this progress and then rose beside Sailor Moon. "Just take deep breaths, Sailor Moon. We'll get everyone help, including Mamoru." She began to absently massage her wrist; Sailor Moon wondered if it was sprained. "I think the next order of business is alerting the proper authorities. I can use the computer to—"
"Too late, Mercury," Venus called out suddenly. Sailor Moon whirled too quickly and knocked against Mars to keep her balance. While the others had hovered around Mamoru, Venus had eventually moved to the edge of the roof. Sailor Moon was amazed she'd gotten so far and hoped that meant Venus wasn't that badly hurt. "I've got two ambulances, a fire truck, and more police that I can count. Unless I'm seeing double," she joked.
"I'm guessing the press isn't far behind," Artemis continued.
Venus sighed woefully. "And my hair such a mess. I'm in no shape for the paparazzi."
"What would they want with you?" Artemis muttered, obviously needling her. "It's not like you're famous or anything."
The conversation was about to devolve into an argument, and Mars was not about to have that. "Get away from the edge so they don't see you."
Venus stuck her tongue out, but complied.
"What do we do?" Jupiter asked, her speech noticeably slow. "Stay here?"
"Not transformed," Venus advised, shedding her flippancy as easily as she changed clothes. "Unless you're in the mood to be interviewed about what you do in the off-hours."
"Sounds like a dream come true for you," Artemis teased.
Venus scowled. "You're lucky I'm too sore to torture you, fuzz butt."
"Would you two shut up for a second?" Mars growled. "We should go."
"No!" Sailor Moon cried, making everyone jump. She regretted shouting and pulled herself together before continuing. "I'm not leaving Mamoru. Don't try to tell me he'll be fine; I don't care. I don't want to leave him."
The four Senshi and two cats exchanged a hesitant glance. Obviously, they didn't want to stick around, transformed or no. Sailor Moon knew Mars would argue to leave more strenuously than the others, but as it turned out, Mercury didn't give her the chance. "All right. We'll split the difference." She closed her eyes, allowing her transformation to slip off her in a rush of cool moisture, leaving Ami Mizuno where Sailor Mercury had once stood.
"What are you doing?" Jupiter asked.
Ami ignored her for the moment, staring at Venus. "Did they see you?"
The blonde shook her head. "Doubtful. They were in a rush to get to the door. We've probably got a little time before they get up here, but not much. With the Makaiju's roots cleared away, they'll be able to pick through the debris a lot easier than we were able to do."
Ami nodded briskly and addressed them as a group. "People definitely saw Usagi and Mamoru come in here. We'll say we knew Usagi was coming here, and that she was supposed to meet us later. When she didn't show up, we got worried and came by. It's no secret Seijuurou liked Usagi and that Natsumi didn't get along with her, so we thought they might have gotten into a fight. We saw weird flashes and ran inside. We got tossed around trying to help Usagi and Mamoru. Then the Senshi showed up, and we blacked out. Got it?"
Jupiter stared at Ami in open admiration. "No one can ever accuse you of being a bad liar."
"Not when it counts," Ami said, her eyes twinkling. "Now go pretend to be unconscious."
She and Venus gave twin salutes. They smiled Sailor Moon's way before turning and arranging themselves among the rubble. Luna trotted after Venus and Artemis, probably planning on hiding beneath some larger pieces of the wreckage. Mars rolled her eyes and then drifted away, but Sailor Moon noticed she didn't go very far. It was then that Usagi decided that it was silly to be frightened by Rei's tenderness, or anyone else's. She hoped she'd remember to thank them all when this was over.
Ami was about to find her own spot, but Sailor Moon reached out to stop her, stopping short of grabbing the girl's injured hand.
"Yes?" Ami asked, raising her eyebrows in expectation.
Sailor Moon licked her lips, uncertain with how to proceed. She felt selfish even thinking about this right then, but she couldn't wait to ask Ami later. She had to know something now, so she could allow herself to hope.
"Do you think…" she began softly, "Do you think he'll remember now?"
The question obviously took Ami aback, and Sailor Moon almost regretted asking. She wouldn't have if she wasn't so desperate to know. She knew Ami more than anyone else would be honest with her, would rather give her the right answer than the one she wanted to hear.
"I don't know," Ami admitted, looking sorry. "But if Tsukikage no Knight represented Mamoru's memories, and if he is one with Mamoru now… I think that means he'll remember."
Sailor Moon's heart felt lighter. She looked back towards where Mamoru lay, feeling comforted for the first time that day. "That's what I thought too, but… I just needed someone else to say it."
Ami obviously wanted to say something more, but she suppressed the impulse for some reason. Maybe she was worried the paramedics would arrive soon. In the end, she told Usagi to stay cheerful and squeezed her hand before drawing away.
Sailor Moon knew time was of the essence, but she couldn't help but take her time looking at Mamoru. It might be awhile before she saw him again, if he needed medical attention as much as Ami seemed to think he did. Would he remember who Sailor Moon really was? Would he remember the feelings he had once had for her? Would she finally get that first kiss she'd denied herself during the final battle with Metallia?
"Please be all right, Mamoru," Usagi murmured. "Please remember me."
She allowed her transformation to fade in a sparkling cascade of pink ribbon and feathers. She laid down just a few feet away from Mamoru, daring even to reach out and grasp his fingers with her own.
She closed her eyes just before the doors to the roof burst wide open.
"Do you think he'll want to see me right away?" Usagi asked several hours later, her head pooled in Rei's lap.
Rei shrugged, absently combing her fingers through one of Usagi's pigtails. "I don't know. He might need some time to collect himself, you know."
Makoto hovered behind the couch they had taken over, absently petting Luna with the hand that wasn't clutching her ribcage. "Rei's right. It'll be a big deal, remembering all of that. He might need a few days to wrap his head around it."
Usagi's heart lurched at the thought. Would she really have to wait that long to see him again? It had been all she could do to allow them to be separated at the hospital.
Rei noticed her obvious distress and pinched her forearm lightly, avoiding any bruises. "Stupid Usagi. A few days won't matter as long as he remembers, right?"
"And as long as he's healthy," Luna added quietly, a little perturbed, though this was mostly because Makoto had stopped scratching.
The brunette dutifully went back to work, and Luna's remonstrations were replaced by loud purring. "We already know he doesn't need surgery like they thought he would." She paused thoughtfully. "Come to think of it, he probably did until Tsukikage no Knight helped him."
Rei cleared her throat loudly, glaring.
Makoto backtracked in a hurry. "Ah, I mean—I'm sure it was never that serious!"
Usagi smiled. "It's okay, you guys. I feel better now that Dr. Mizuno told us he'll be all right." By a stroke of luck, they had been taken to the hospital where Ami's mother worked. As soon as an orderly had recognized Dr. Mizuno's only daughter, she had been notified. The doctor had examined everyone personally, with the exception of Mamoru, whose injuries were more severe. However, at Ami's behest, she had consulted with the attending doctor and discovered that Mamoru was not as bad off as they'd originally thought. The staff seemed baffled by his condition, but Dr. Mizuno hadn't concerned herself with it, no doubt too busy worrying about her own daughter.
As for the other girls' families, Usagi's parents had been at one of Shingo's away baseball games, and it would be a few hours before they arrived. Rei hadn't been able to reach either her grandfather or her father, though the latter was no surprise. Makoto of course had no parents to call. Her only family was in Germany and could be of no help in this situation. And Minako had refused to give any contact information for her family no matter how much the nurses on call pestered her.
Usagi glanced over to where Minako stood apart from their group, Artemis dutifully at her side. She'd been quiet ever since they reached the hospital, spending time alone, which Usagi felt was out of character. "Do you think Minako's okay?"
Rei shrugged, but Usagi didn't miss the quick frown she sent Minako's way. "I know she doesn't get along with her mother; that's why she didn't want her parents called. That hardly explains her brooding though."
"Maybe she just has a headache and needs some quiet," Makoto offered, obviously uncomfortable discussing Minako's relationship with her parents. Usagi knew how much it must hurt to see Minako refuse help when Makoto had no one to reach out to.
"Maybe," Usagi murmured quietly. "I'll check on her in a few minutes though."
Makoto snorted. "If you can get up."
"If I can get up."
Rei sighed petulantly. "Minako's just fine. She's probably just dreaming about some cute doctor she saw. What I want to know is what's taking Ami so long."
"Dr. Mizuno was pretty upset to see Ami hurt," Luna reminded Rei sensibly, risking being overheard in favor of being the voice of reason. "She hid it well, but you can hardly blame her for wanting to be alone with Ami for a while."
"No," Rei agreed. "But once Ami's finished with her mother, she's supposed to check on Mamoru. It's been over an hour!"
"Patience is a virtue," Makoto teased.
Rei scoffed. "A useless virtue."
Usagi laughed along with her friends, but the truth was, she was just as impatient as Rei. She didn't want to talk about it for fear of jinxing it or annoying the others, but she was anxious to know how he was. And more importantly, what he remembered.
She knew Makoto was probably right; he would need some time. But Usagi could hardly wait for the day, the hour, the minute when he would be ready to see her. She didn't know where it would be; he might still in the hospital, or it could be at the arcade, or even on some random street corner. But she knew that he'd smile at her, the kind smile he so rarely displayed for her or anyone else. His eyes would recognize her not just as an annoying fourteen-year-old kid, but as his past lover and the girl heroine he had saved countless times over. Usagi knew that she'd throw her arms around his neck, probably crying, but the best part would be that he would embrace her in turn. It would no longer be a one-sided romance. It would be real and whole, and everything would be all right again.
And in the meantime, there was nothing she could do but wait.
"All right, Minako," Artemis hissed, his eyes darting about to make sure that no one overheard a cat talking. "Something's eating you, and it's making my ears twitch."
Minako smiled ruefully. She placed a hand on the window, watching another ambulance pull in. "Explain to me what one thing has to do with the other?"
Artemis muttered darkly under his breath. A passing doctor paused, obviously confused as to what, if anything, he'd heard. Minako covered the cat's mouth and flashed a dazzling smile the doctor's way. He subsequently forgot about the incident, smiled back, and went about his business.
Minako snorted and turned back to her street vigil. "Too easy."
She heard shouting and turned back to look out the window. She stared at EMT's and triage nurses running around the ambulance, shouting back and forth at one another. One man climbed on top of the gurney and began performing CPR on the patient. His hands were covered in blood.
"Do you think that's because of us?" she asked softly, shuddering.
"No," Artemis said without hesitation. "Even if it has anything to do with the Makaiju, it has nothing to do with you."
"I guess not," Minako admitted reluctantly. "Still doesn't feel great, though."
"It wouldn't," Artemis counseled. "And you haven't distracted me by the way. I still want to know what's up with you."
Minako frowned, finally tearing her eyes away from the bloody scene in front of her. "Are you expecting me to be cheerful after that?"
"No," Artemis answered. "But I'd expect you to be cheering someone else up." He glanced meaningfully towards Usagi. "Don't you want to be with them?"
Minako laughed dryly. "I can't have a minute to myself every once in a while?"
"You don't like being by yourself, and besides, that's not my point," Artemis chastised. "You're avoiding Usagi."
"I am not—"
"Minako, please," Artemis intoned drily. "Don't lie to me. Just tell me what's going on."
She flinched. "You're too perceptive for a cat."
"So you've said."
Minako could have kept deflecting and avoiding for hours, but frankly, she was too tired. She didn't have any specific injuries like the other girls, but the nurses hadn't even bothered to count how many bruises and lacerations she had. She was exhausted beyond the telling of it, and she didn't have the energy to play these games with Artemis. So in the end, she just told him the truth.
"I'm worried about Usagi and Mamoru."
"And we're not?" Artemis asked, bordering on defensive.
Minako swatted at him, taking care not to actually hit him. "Keep your voice down. And I know everyone's worried, but… not in the same way I am. I know they'll be fine physically, but I…." She drifted off, not wanting to say it out loud. She was terrified of jinxing it, but she didn't know how to keep this to herself.
Artemis rubbed against her legs, comforting her more than he knew. "Minako. Tell me."
Minako caught her bottom lip in her teeth and steadied herself. Even though Usagi was out of earshot, she made sure the girl wasn't listening. She had no idea how Usagi would react if she heard.
"Could he really still love her after all this time?" Minako inquired softly. "I mean... He's died. He's been brainwashed. He's lost his memory.
"And what if he doesn't remember? What if he does, but he doesn't want anything to do with her? I just… I know she's anxious for this to turn out like the fairy tale she never got. I know she's paralyzed because he wasn't immediately okay like she thought he'd be. I'm scared of what will happen if it doesn't turn out like we hope. Like she hopes."
Artemis stared at her in disbelief. Minako couldn't be sure what he was thinking, but she could guess. She knew he would not expect this from her. She was usually more of a romantic idealist; this bordered on cynical, which was something she was not.
"It has to," Artemis finally insisted. She wondered if it sounded hollow to him.
"Because you say so?"
"Because it makes sense," Artemis pressed. "Tsukikage no Knight remembered Usagi, Sailor Moon, Beryl… all of it. He's with Mamoru now. Why wouldn't he remember?"
Minako shook her head. "Why didn't Tsukikage no Knight heal him completely like Usagi thought he would?"
"There are a hundred explanations for that," Artemis countered tartly. "Mamoru would have had a much worse reaction to the beating because he wasn't transformed like you."
Minako sighed. "You didn't seem so sure of that before."
"I've had time to think. And now I'm sure that when he does wake up, he'll be in pain, but he'll remember.
Minako jerked, desperately wanting to stamp her foot. "You don't know that!"
"Listen to me, Aino Minako," Artemis hissed. "He is going to remember her and the Dark Kingdom and maybe even a little bit of the Silver Millennium. He is going to remember that he loved her once, and he's going to love her all over again. And then… I don't know, they'll kiss passionately, ride off into the sunset on his motorcycle, and live happily ever after. And if you say one more word about this, I will cough up so many fur balls on your clothes that you'll have to go through the rest of your life in a potato sack. Understood?"
Minako just stared at him for a minute. She couldn't remember him ever being angry with her before. She'd confided in him hoping he'd calmly talk her down from the cliff, but instead he'd snapped. That could mean only one thing.
He was worried too. The difference was that he didn't dare to say it out loud.
And maybe he was right about that. What good did it do to worry? Either he'd remember or he wouldn't. No matter what, it would be something all of them would have to deal with together. It would be better to prepare herself for that.
So she forced herself to smile down at him. "Ride off into the sunset on a motorbike, huh?" she asked, winking lasciviously. "Is that what you'd do with Luna if you were people?"
Artemis turned pink beneath his fur. "Shut up."
"It totally is. Artemis, the bad boy. Err, cat." She chuckled quietly. "I'm on your side, you know."
"I do," Artemis sighed. Then he glanced over at Usagi. "So. It's out of your system. You should go take care of her."
Minako hung back for a few more seconds. She breathed deeply, preparing. Acting was all about the process and the work that went into the performance beforehand. She couldn't let anyone know what she was really thinking. Luckily, she'd had a lot of practice.
She wiped her palms on her skirt, took a deep breath and stepped forward. She crouched down in front of Usagi and tried to think of herself like a light bulb turning on and lighting up a room. "Sorry, there was a really cute male nurse having a cigarette outside. He was so cool! I think he had a tattoo."
Rei scoffed, scowling. "How can you think of boys at a time like this?"
"Hey, he was really cute!" Minako maintained. Then she looked down at Usagi and said, "Seriously, he might have gotten you to think about somebody other than Mamoru."
Usagi gasped, affronted. "Nothing could keep me from thinking about—" She ground to a halt, overhearing her friends giggling at her. She pouted. "You're teasing me."
"Always," Minako assured her, patting the top of her hair. "Now then. Let's discuss pet names for your boy toy. I personally think Snuggle Honey is quite fitting."
Usagi laughed loudly, belatedly covering her mouth. "Mamoru would hate that!"
"Well, it's not about what he likes, is it?" Minako asked with a wink. "What do you think, Rei? Surely you have something you call Yuuichirou, right?"
Minako watched Rei turn a spectacular shade of purple while Usagi and Makoto giggled. And Minako kept the laughs coming. She reminded herself of a ballerina in a music box, dancing as long as the mechanism was wound. She'd twirl and twirl, dazzling them all for as long as she could. Because no matter how she tried to convince herself otherwise, Minako could not shake the feeling that soon, they wouldn't have much to smile about.
Ami looked over at the myriad of machines and monitors that Mamoru was hooked up to. To her dismay and relief, nothing had changed. His blood pressure was lower than normal, but not quite low enough to cause concern. His pulse remained surprisingly strong, though not quite that of a man in full health. It was as if his heart was in denial about what his body had been through. She then checked the few bandages she could see, pulling at them to see if they were too tight, too loose, or dirtied. Everything seemed in order. There was nothing for her to fix.
Of course, it wouldn't have been proper for Ami to do anything of the sort, no matter whose daughter she was. She probably would have called a nurse in. Then she would have two distractions from her circular thoughts.
Ami sat back down, staring at Mamoru's pale face. His color might have been better than the last time she'd examined it, but it was hard to tell. The blue and purple bruises stood out against his flesh like spilled ink on paper.
She sighed, worrying at her bandaged wrist. She was driving herself crazy. She wasn't an impatient person, and that was why she had elected to stay with Mamoru once her mother had returned to her usual duties. Perhaps she should have let the other girls know, but she didn't. Four girls talking into their watches might have looked strange to observers.
Though if she were perfectly honest with herself, that wasn't the real reason she had stayed behind. Usagi had asked her if she thought Mamoru would remember. It left Ami feeling as though she was personally responsible for the information. She wanted to be the one to convey the answer as Usagi's oldest friend among the Sailor Senshi.
And she wanted to do it alone. She didn't want Rei hovering in agitation, nor Makoto attempting to be helpful, and especially not Minako trying to cheerfully distract her. Most of all, she didn't want to see Usagi sitting at his bedside, holding his mangled hand in her own, willing him to wake up and remember.
Ami knew one or all of them would have barged into his room, hospital policy or no. She needed to be alone. She needed to focus. Mamoru was more than just a person to her; he was a puzzle she was determined to solve.
Her mind was an untamable beast. If the merging of Tsukikage no Knight and Mamoru had been a logic puzzle, she would have expected the answer to be simple. Once the physical manifestation of his memories returned to him, Mamoru would remember. It should also mean that his physical strength and conditioning from his time as Tuxedo Kamen would return.
But based on his wrecked body, that hadn't happened. Perhaps that had been too great of a mental leap to make, but what did that mean when it came to his memories? Would they be there, hidden beneath several layers of consciousness? Would he be overwhelmed by them? Would his mind protect him from the trauma by erasing them all over again?
She could come up with a hundred possible scenarios for what would become of Mamoru. But there was one thing not even her mind could predict.
What would Usagi do?
Suddenly, Mamoru groaned.
Ami jumped, gasping. A moment later, she chastised herself. This is what she had been waiting for; there was no reason to be frightened by it.
Then again, there was all the reason in the world.
Mamoru struggled to open his eyes. One was blackened and nearly swollen shut, but after considerable effort, his vision seemed to clear. He looked up at Ami and inhaled sharply, genuinely shocked to see her. "Mizuno...?"
Ami's ignored her stomach flip-flopping. What he called her meant nothing. She wasn't transformed, so there was no reason to call her Mercury, and he had no reason to be informal with her either. They had never been good friends.
"How are you feeling, Mamoru?" Ami asked.
Mamoru pondered that for a moment, obviously trying to come up with something clever to say. He quickly abandoned the impulse. "Like shit."
Ami felt her cheeks turn red. She wondered if he would have thought to apologize based on whether he remembered or not. She cleared her throat and said, "I'll get the nurse in a moment. They have you on a morphine drip, but they might need to increase the dosage."
"Thanks," Mamoru croaked. Then his eyes drifted to her bandaged hand. He took a moment to absorb this and the other bruises that littered her body. "You're hurt."
"No, I'm fine," Ami insisted, hiding her arm self-consciously. "Mamoru, do you remember what happened?" she asked, subtly imbuing the sentence with import. She needed him to know that she meant more than the one battle, but she couldn't risk being explicit with him on the off-chance….
Mamoru looked confused. "Yes, I… there was… Natsumi and Seijuurou. They were… aliens." He chuckled, coughing. "Only in Tokyo, huh?"
"Apparently," Ami agreed, smiling softly. She opened her mouth to speak again, to press him on whether or not he remembered, when the coughing became more severe. She needed to get the nurse. He was clearly in agony, but she didn't want the painkillers to cloud his mind before she could the answers she needed. She'd hate herself for this later, but she had to know. "Mamoru, tell me what else you remember."
His coughing subsided. He closed his eyes and swallowed; it took considerable effort. "Usagi."
For a moment, Ami's heart stopped. "Yes?"
"Is she all right?" The monitors beeped at her, signaling that his heart rate was increasing. It was a physical reaction to the panic he felt that Usagi might be hurt. A good sign or a natural reaction?
Ami nodded. "Yes, yes, she's fine. You… you protected her until the Sailor Senshi arrived." She left it at that, hoping the ambiguous statement might be enough for him to connect the dots. Ami had not been there, but Sailor Mercury had been. Ami was hurt.
Mamoru's jaw tightened, his fists clenching. "They were… hurting her."
"Yes," Ami whispered, her voice breaking a little. "Yes, they were."
"But the Senshi… they saved us?"
Ami's heart sank. He didn't even remember the Sailor Senshi showing up? That wasn't good, but it could have been temporary. She would have to push harder than she wanted to.
"Do you remember what Usagi did?" Ami hissed desperately. "What do you remember about Usagi?"
His heart rate rose again. In fact, it seemed to be speeding up rapidly, enough so that Ami was beginning to be concerned. The nurses would be monitoring this from their desk, but perhaps Ami should hit the call button now.
Then all of a sudden, it leveled out again. Ami stared, first at the monitor and then at Mamoru.
He seemed genuinely perplexed. "I reached out for her… and then I woke up, and… yes, the Senshi were there. Sailor Moon, she…."
Ami had never felt so compelled to shake another human being in her life. "What? What about Sailor Moon?"
Mamoru's eyes narrowed. Ami realized he was keeping something from her, perhaps what Sailor Moon had said to him before Ail and Ann's attacks began in earnest. He wouldn't want her to know that; she knew he was private. Still, she made a note of it.
"Did she and the other Senshi get Usagi out?" he asked, wheezing. "I don't remember seeing her… after Sailor Moon arrived."
Ami's heart wrenched. But she forced herself to say, "No… No, that was us. Me, Makoto, Minako, and Rei. We knew Usagi was at the apartment, and when we saw what was happening… We got there just before the Senshi did. We kept her hidden. That's why I'm hurt." She turned away sharply, her eyes beginning to burn. "I'll get the nurse."
As it turned out, there was no need. The nurses and doctors bumped into her on her way out. No doubt they would ask him some of the same questions and perhaps wonder why his heart rate had been so inconsistent. They might yell at her for agitating the patient. For once, Ami didn't care.
She shut the door behind them. Then she sank onto a bench outside the room, brought her knees up to her chest, and hugged her legs.
Mamoru didn't remember. And she was the one who had to tell.
Time passed slowly for the next hour or so. Minako kept a steady string of conversation going. Rei played the indignant victim at all the right places, while Makoto continued to be the adept partner-in-crime. Luna and Artemis curled up together on the couch. And Usagi kept her head pillowed in Rei's lap, smiling and hopeful. Assured that all of her dreams were about to come true.
Then Ami rounded the corner.
"Ami," Usagi asked, sitting up slowly. "Where have you been? Is your mother upset?"
Ami didn't answer for a minute, as if she'd forgotten how to speak. Then she cleared her throat. "No, no… Mama had to go back to work, so I… I decided to wait with Mamoru."
Now Usagi was up and off the couch in the blink of an eye, ignoring the loud protests of Rei and Makoto. Now that her back was to them, she couldn't see the sudden hard line of Minako's mouth or the way both cats arched their backs.
"Did you see him? Did you talk to him? Is he really all right? Ami, what did he say?"
Instinctively, Makoto reached out to Minako and Rei. Minako grabbed her hand, but Rei was too engrossed with watching Usagi to notice. Makoto grasped her shoulder instead, needing the contact.
"I saw him," Ami answered slowly, opting to take one question at a time. "He… He was in a lot of pain, but I'm sure they've given him more medication by now. He'll sleep for a long time, and he should be better when he wakes up."
"Great!" Usagi said, her posture slack with relief. "And did he say anything? About me? Does… does he want to see me?"
Everyone noticed how she pointedly did not ask if he remembered.
Ami tried to speak. Her mouth opened and closed, starting sentences she could not manage to voice. She started stuttering and tears sprang to her eyes. Anyone else would have guessed this was not the first time.
But Usagi couldn't fathom failure. "Ami? Ami, what's wrong?"
Ami covered her mouth and turned away.
"Ami?" Usagi asked again.
Makoto pulled away from Rei and Minako with some reluctance and went to Ami. She wound her arms around the smaller girl, physically shielding her from Usagi's questions. Meanwhile, Minako and Rei exchanged long, saddened looks. They all knew now what had happened.
Minako jerked her head towards Usagi, indicating that Rei step in. At first, Rei clearly resisted, but then nodded solemnly, slowly rising to her feet. She limped over to Usagi while Minako sat beside the cats, gathering them into her arms. They both mewled sadly as she nuzzled their faces with her cheek.
"Ami, please," Usagi whispered, worried and hurt. "What—"
"Usagi," Rei murmured, resting a hand on Usagi's shoulder. "Don't."
But she still didn't seem to understand. "Rei… why won't anyone say what's going on?"
Rei physically braced herself for the emotional onslaught she knew would come. She knew it would hurt enough to bruise, so she did it quickly, hoping to lessen the damage. "He doesn't remember, Usagi. It didn't work."
"I'm so sorry," Ami said over Makoto's shushing noises.
For a moment, Usagi still wouldn't comprehend what she'd been told. Her expression didn't change, the expectant smile frozen on her face. She glanced down at Rei's hand on her shoulder, the uncharacteristically sympathetic look on her face. She watched Minako set Luna on the floor so the cat could run to her. Makoto kept holding Ami. Ami wouldn't look at her.
Finally, it registered, as if from far away. He doesn't remember.
Her scream echoed over the wail of the sirens.
AUTHOR'S NOTES – 02/23/2011
Yes, I realize that I said I wouldn't revise again. But hey, at least I'm not deleting it all and starting from scratch! I just was reading through this again the other day. I found some typos, and decided I didn't like how everyone was behaving. It seemed just a little off. So I tweaked it a little – a lot actually, and now I'm much happier.
Anyway, this in addition to the plot hole I discovered has inspired me to go through all the other chapters and fix some things. Don't worry; nothing major will change. After the first few chapters, the revisions will be more cosmetic and therefore go faster. Once they're all done, I hope to announce it with a brand new chapter! Keep your fingers crossed!
Thanks to Syrinx for the original beta, and the Yumeko for editing the revision.
Please read and review!
Next – Part Two: Still