A Second Chance

By Ryu Niiyama

Chapter 12

AN: OK so I transmuted a rubber boot rather than gold… still working on this money angle. Until then Naoko Takeuchi-sama and her legion of lawyers and corporate partners own Sailor Moon.

Sorry had to cut this chapter in half… apparently my muse is inspired right now. Also this chapter is unbeta-ed as I am having some computer issues. Also language gets a little strong. Also this chapter is a little busy... lots of scene changes. I chalk that up in part to my inspiration but also because I need things to happen in order...mostly.

Pluto is a planet damnit!

"This one's on me…" a male voice gruffly intoned as he slid a steaming hot bowl of soki soba in front of the bowed raven head. Bleary violet eyes peered back blankly from behind wire frames and the man struggled to keep his face nonchalant. "If you don't mind me saying, and I don't care if you do but you look like shit magic girl." No sooner had the words left his mouth a large hand cuffed him in the back of the head. "OW dad what was that for!?" Kyusuke rubbed at the back of his head and glared at his father balefully. Mr. Sarashina rolled his eyes at his son's indignation. "You don't speak to a lady like that boy! It's good to see you Tomoe-kun." The soba maker winked at Hotaru, causing her to giggle, before moving to the kitchen. Kyusuke waited until his father was out of sight before he stuck his tongue out in the older man's general direction. "Crotchety old man…"

"I heard that Boy!"

Kyusuke winced at his father's roar. 'Funny, he can't hear when mom is yelling for him…' The dark haired boy sucked his teeth in annoyance. "Damn…" Hotaru giggled again at the Sarashina men's antics. Kyusuke looked over at the sound and smirked. "Well at least I got you to smile. So you wanna tell Uncle Kyusuke all about it?" Hotaru arched an eyebrow and reached for the chopstick container. "Hmm. I think I'm just a little lonely Kyusuke-kun." Kyusuke pursed his lips as he watched the dark haired woman began to eat. Suddenly he clapped his hands together loudly, almost causing Hotaru to choke on her soba. "I've got your answer! Well, your social is coming up right? Well Juban's is the next evening! We can go to both, maybe even grab Momoko and make an event of it! And then hit up the late night game centers and bowling afterwards!" Hotaru froze in thought for a moment, she had originally intended to go alone, but Kyusuke was right. It would be more fun with the three of them going and plus Chibi-Usa and Diana would likely be going to the Juban social together. This way she could support them properly; as a friend would.

With a brilliant smile that made Kyusuke blush slightly, Hotaru nodded her affirmation. "You've got a deal!" Kyusuke struck a victory pose and winked in an attempt to mimic his hero Sailor Venus, causing Hotaru to giggle at his antics.

"Great! That will be 2000 yen."

Hotaru sputtered, dropping her chopsticks into the bowl with a large clatter. "What?! You said the soba was on you!" Kyusuke grimaced at the look on the dark haired teenager's face as he spread his hands in defense of his words. "The soba is on me! My advice isn't free though…" Even though it hurt, Kyusuke would say it was worth it when Hotaru stood up and punched him in the arm.

Momoko watched her guest with a serene, amused smile. In thanks for Diana's aid and as an apology for literally staring at her in the middle of the street, Momoko had invited the gray haired woman to her restaurant for dinner. The restaurant was currently closed as they prepared for the dinner rush so aside from her parents in the kitchen Momoko and Diana had the place to themselves. "So are you sure Chibi-Usa's kitten isn't your reincarnated form?" Diana struggled to maintain her composure as the divine meal she had been tucking into became tasteless at the innocent question. Swallowing carefully, the Mau turned her confused amber gaze upon Momoko her mind turning the question over so much she was sure that the human woman could see steam coming out of her ears. Smirking a snarky grin Momoko gestured towards Diana's plate. Teriyaki salmon with steamed vegetables and shrimp fried rice. Her drink was ice cold milk spiced with vanilla and cinnamon. "You are eating many of the things I used to feed Diana… well kitty Diana when I used to kitten sit." Diana blushed to the roots of her hair. It was true, she always adored spending time with Momoko and she loved the other girl's cooking. To make it even better Momoko didn't feed her tuna, which happened to be her most hated fish.

"Well…I… um would let kitty Diana eat my leftovers sometimes so she must have gotten in the habit." The response sounded asinine to Diana's own ears but she prayed that Momoko would accept it. Momoko's smile was indulgent, but Diana was certain that the violet haired woman thought she was insane. "Well, it is good to know that you both have such good taste." The human woman reached out and grasped one of Diana's hands and the Mau had to strangle the purr that threatened to rumble from her chest. Diana inhaled slowly and she felt her pulse quicken as she caught Momoko's scent. She smelled of the spices she cooked with and lavender. The Mau gazed shyly into the human woman's eyes; such kind, gentle eyes. Eyes that drew one in and … Diana blinked at the direction of her thoughts.

This would not do.

Carefully she eased her hand from Momoko's grasp and she rose from her seat smoothly. The human woman startled slightly at the motion and she held up her hands in an attempt to placate Diana, not wanting her to dart off again. "Please, wait. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. I just…the way you make me feel…I…" Momoko sighed unable to finish her thoughts. Diana squeezed her eyes shut against the words and Momoko slumped in her seat despondently. "I'm sorry, what I just said was very… strange wasn't it? Please I…just really like spending time with you Diana-san. You've been so kind to me." Both the kitten and the guardian within Diana struggled not to comfort the human woman. Her sadness pricked at the Mau's heart like a dagger. Yet she could hear the voice of reason of duty drowning out her desires.

Her mother had always warned of duty and of diligence. The heart could cloud judgment, could make her advice unsound. Unsound advice could cost Small Lady and the royal assembly their lives. Was love truly worth being less than the best; was it worth not being able to aid the royal assembly to the fullest of her potential?

Even still, she longed for warm, gentle hands that scratched behind her ears and stroked her fur. Of kind, twinkling eyes that assisted her when she was too small to leap on the counter. Now she longed to go to her as a woman, to enfold her in her arms and rain kisses upon her cherished form. She wanted to feel Momoko tremble at the sound of her purr; the human knowing with certainty that she possessed a mate that would love her fiercely and without end. Yet she knew these thoughts were an anathema; Momoko would live out her human life, she would find a mate and marry and perhaps have children. And she would die…likely long before Diana would be born. While Diana would be left alone with the longings of her heart and her regret, while watching over Momoko's descendants. That would be enough. It had to be enough.

Diana smiled with something like ennui upon her face, reaching out again to grasp Momoko's hand. "It is nothing that you've said Momoko-san; I must apologize I just have something that I must do and it slipped my mind until now." Momoko sighed as she found herself alone in her restaurant once again.

Zoisite leapt back as the swift slash narrowly missed his stomach, his sword ready to parry another strike. Jadeite, like all the Shitenno had been trained to wield the sword, but Jadeite's true weapon was the dagger. The young man was swift and agile enough to quickly eat up distance between him and his opponent so that he could strike decisively. Zoisite knew he was a better fighter than the Fire lord but his fighting style relied upon deception and counter attacking. With Jadeite so enraged it was hard to counter the man's movements without opening himself up for a retaliating strike.

A flurry of sakura petals were shot into Jadeite's face but the fire lord merely burned them away as he rushed towards his tormenter. "You TRAITOR! You had something to do with this didn't you!?" Zoisite refused to answer with words, instead he threw shards of ice at the youngest Shitenno. Zoisite threw forth a sloppy thrust with is sword, and watched in satisfaction as Jadeite rushed in to attack him. Normally, Zoisite would toy with his opponent but he knew if any of the Jinja patrons saw him his ruse would be up. With a roar the long haired blonde snapped out a kick to the side of Jadite's knee causing him to crumble. Quickly he brought the pommel of his sword to the back of the young Shitenno's head, subduing him. Zoisite hefted the fallen Shitenno over his shoulder in a fireman carry. Jadeite had always been rash and easy to manipulate. The verdant eyed lord smirked at the thought. The True Master would be pleased.

"Master, are you alright?" Kunzite attempted to move towards the dark haired man, but he found his movement arrested by Nephrite's grip on his shoulder. Confused the ashen haired man turned to his companion in askance, only to yelp in shock as Nephrite roughly pulled him back. "Nephrite what in the name of…!" Kunzite's tirade ended as honed senses picked up a disturbance and he called forth a magenta energy sickle to parry an attack. In horror Kunzite turned towards his master; Endymion looked amused and not the least bit repentant as he lowered his still smoking hand.

"Good. This should be fun." Before either Shitenno could process the Emperor's words, Endymion surged forward, a doru and spatha appearing in his hands. Kunzite and Nephrite only had enough time to split apart before the dark haired warrior reached them, a look of unbridled joy warping his features. In an instant their power leapt upon them and their blades appeared in hand. Nephrite staggered backwards, barely bringing up his blade in time as the sharp spear head of the doru surged forward. Quickly, with deadly precision the spear dropped down heavily upon Nephrite's sword before jabbing through his broken guard to pierce his shoulder. With the other hand, Endymion's blade met Kunzite's in circular parries and attacks to keep the ashen lord from gaining an advantage.

Kunzite grimaced in pain as he was forced to keep a closer range than he was accustomed to. Endymion's sword was about half a foot shorter than his own blade, and it made the leader of the Shitenno's strikes somewhat awkward. To make matters worse, this was not a fighting method he had ever seen Endymion use; though he seemed to be more that proficient with handling both blade and spear. Nephrite fell to the ground clutching the shoulder of his sword arm and Endymion cut a clearing arc with the doru, forcing Kunzite into long range distance. "Master! Why are you doing this?! What madness has come upon you?!" Kunzite hoped he could reach the boy that had now somehow outpaced him in martial prowess before he and Nephrite were overcome.

Endymion gave no answer, save for a morbidly gleeful grin before thrusting his spear rapidly forcing Kunzite to either dodge or parry. The ashen haired lord grit his teeth and attempted to enter on one of Endymion's lunges, only to realize that the younger man expected that and Endymion answered with a slash of the spatha's short blade. Leaping back, Kunzite tried not to focus on the pain that was now blossoming from his chest as warm blood congealed his tunic to his torso. Nephrite attempted to strike from behind only to feel the butt of the doru thrust into his solar plexus. Quickly tucking the doru to his side, Endymion performed a butterfly kick, slamming a foot into Nephrite's head and tossing him to the ground. The doru's spear tip cut a dangerous swath, making it impossible for Kunzite to approach until Nephrite crashed to the earth cloaked snow and Endymion was once again in a fighting stance.

Kunzite focused his power and fired a ball of energy at his master. With a chuckle, Endymion rolled to the side only to realize that he had not been the intended target. The ashen haired lord met his master's eyes calmly as he and Nephrite vanished in a flash of light. "NOOOOO! You coward! FACE ME!" Endymion roared to the heavens, his voice howling in a disjointed cacophony.

"Shh." Kunzite kept a hand over Nephrite's mouth as he held the wounded Shitenno. Closing his eyes, Kunzite forced his power to mute and mask their location. He remained as such until he could no longer hear Endymion's enraged cries.

Endymion sat on his throne, his taloned hands held in a steeple as he stared into the past. He remembered a time when he did not wear this loathsome mask, he remembered a time when the woman he loved did not war with herself when he touched her. He mulled over memories that were shrouded by Time's embrace and he remembered her smiling face. A smile that she only wore for him; a smile that he would give anything to see again. He hated that she feared him, and more than that he hated that he had to wear this form to go to her. A new era… and still their love must be shrouded in shadow. The thought shattered his focus and he let out a scream that reverberated with more voices than his own.

A Cleansing must take place!

She must be freed from her cage!

Life remade in MY image!

The dark Emperor let out a low moan as he felt his mind splintering. So many thoughts, so many desires. He was drowning in emotion; things that were so foreign to him were now a source of endless fascination and confusion. Loyalty, Love, Desire, Honor, Passion, Fear, RAGE, HATRED, MALICE, LUST. Hands speared through his short hair and he snarled as his form began to shift and shimmer, to melt and distort. He staggered towards the Core attempting to find an anchor for his mind. The world he wished to save, he wanted nothing more than to destroy. The woman he loved more than life, he would destroy her, he would claim her he would … he would…

"Protect…her…" The words were a sluggish snarl, but they gave him the conviction to keep moving.

He reached the Core and he stared at the silver blue gaze frozen inside. With a tortured wail he slammed his fists against the Core. The Core refused to yield to his assault but his flesh sundered against its rigid strength. The agony in his soul drowned out the pain in his hands and he ignored the dark earthy liquid that seeped from his wounds. He was running out of time. His plan would unravel not because he was thwarted by his enemies, but because he was losing the battle against himself. He snarled as his mind began to knit itself back together. He had come too far to fail; he had lost too much to abandon his path now. He was so lost in thought that he almost didn't notice the shift in power as someone entered the Hallowed Chamber.

"Master. I have brought you something that shall aid you."

The dark Emperor turned at the silken voice of Zoicite and his eyes widened in surprised pleasure as he saw what the verdant eyed deva carried in his arms. Unconscious and battered, Jadeite lay tucked in Zoicite's arms like a precious treasure. The dark one stood and strode towards his servant a smile of pure joy and malice. "You have done well little one. Very well indeed." The kinzuishou flared in front of the dark one and in a flash of golden light Jadeite vanished from Zoisite's arms to his place at the South, his power infusing the Core. Emperor Endymion breathed deeply as he felt the power of another Balancer bolster his strength. He moved towards Zoisite and placed his hands upon the blonde's cheek and stroked it with the fondness of a mother for her child. 'This one understands… this one has suffered as we have suffered…' Endymion smiled at his servant and held up his other hand so that it was eye level. "You have brought me a boon little one, so I shall reward you in return." A rose, dark as a moonless night floated above his palm, pulsing with power. Zoicite reached out hesitantly and grasped the rose, and as its power washed over him he knew the flower's purpose. "Thank you my Master!" With a quick bow Zoicite vanished in a flurry of sakura petals.

The Emperor cast one last glance at the trapped Jadeite before he too vanished from the Chamber.

He frowned when he saw her; as usual she was at her perch upon the balcony looking up at Earth. She often came out here when she was hurting or when she wished to be alone. He felt she had been out here far too often as of late. He hated to see her this way, her heart lacerated and her soul aching. He wanted to help her, but she would refuse him he knew… yet that didn't mean he wouldn't try. She had likely already noticed that he was standing there nonetheless he cleared his throat just in case as he stepped forward.

"So it is done then…Serenity you don't have to do this." Endymion intoned as he put a gloved hand on the Lunar princess' shoulder. Serenity did not turn at his touch though she did place a hand over his. Endymion frowned at the sardonic chuckle that issued from her form as she still gazed upon his homeworld. "We are bound anyway. This only makes it more… permanent."

Serenity's word's sparked the Earth prince's ire and he tugged at her shoulder, forcing her to face him. "That is not how we are bound! We are soulmates, yes but we are mated as kinsmen! My sword to your aid and yours to mine!" Endymion shouted in anguish as he moved to grip Serenity's biceps and he shook her slightly, hoping to make her see reason. Yet a part of him was surprised that she was allowing him to accost her in such a fashion. Not even six months ago such action would have resulted in black eye or broken limb. Still he was willing to risk such retaliation if it meant he could steer her away from the path she had chosen. "I have no hold over your love. You are asking me to break your heart!" Endymion searched her eyes, hoping that she understood what she was risking. The once vibrant azure orbs were dead; Serenity was committed to her course of action.

Serenity reached up and tangled her fingers in Endymion's dark hair; the motion both seductive and dismaying. "Are you saying you won't be gentle with me Endy?" Endymion flinched at the saccharine mockery of seduction that issued from his best friend's lips and he staggered back breaking his hold on her. Serenity smiled a smile devoid of affection at his reaction and she turned her back to him once more. Enraged at the dismissal, the prince of Earth began to pace with jerky, agitated steps. "That isn't funny! I know you Serenity. This will KILL you. You love deeply; you promised yourself to her and only her. That you would belong to her mind, body and soul. Do you think that you can endure breaking that vow? Do you think that your heart will let you? Do you think that you can endure watching her love another?" Endymion ranted, his crimson and onyx cape swirling about his form with every frustrated gesture of his hands. Serenity gripped the balustrade with such strength that Endymion feared her power would cause it to split in two. He knew better than anyone how gentle the Lunar princess' heart was. Yet he also knew the fierceness of her passion, of her possessiveness. She was sentencing herself to death and he knew it.

"What would you have me do Endy. She doesn't …she doesn't WANT me." The words were said in a strained whisper but Endymion could hear the keening wail of her soul and he felt his heart breaking for her. The Earth prince paused in his pacing at the broken declaration and he moved towards Serenity once more. Before he could reach out to her Serenity faced him once again, the look in her eyes freezing him where he stood. "Also there are your own feelings to consider." Endymion stiffened with a pained gasp as he felt her gaze rake over him with such intensity that he felt he might burst into flames. "Did you think I didn't notice?" The prince of Earth momentarily cursed Serenity's warrior upbringing; her empathy along with her observant nature making him utterly transparent to her. The prince's mouth opened briefly, yet in the end he looked away, ashamed that he could not contradict her accusation. Serenity smiled at the brother of her heart sadly. With a sigh she took pity upon the earth prince.

"What's done is done. There will be war if we don't marry now Endy. You know that. Your father has been eying a way onto the Silver Throne for years." Rather than soothe Endymion, Serenity's words merely sparked his rage anew. "Damn what my father wants! I can say it was a mistake… or a Lunarian custom that didn't mean marriage as we understand it… let me help you! Don't throw your heart away for this!" Serenity's features grew impassive and cold as she shut her heart to Endymion's pleas. "This conversation is over … husband." Endymion never thought that the world husband could flay him where he stood. With a snarl the Earth prince turned and left the chamber… hoping he could find another that would see reason.

"What in Hades do you think you are doing!" Fighter paused in her sword drills as Endymion's bellows reached her ears. Of all the beings of creation she did not want to face him. He who stole away the one whom Fighter cherished above all else; the one she would sacrifice everything to bear witness to her happiness. "The others may tolerate your arrogance Endymion, yet I have no use for it. What do you want?" The annoyance that laced the raven haired woman's tone burned Endymion alive. What reason did she have to sound so put upon? When it was her actions that brought him here in the first place? It was only the knowledge of her power that kept the earth prince from striking Fighter for her presumptuous words.

"What do I want?! I want… I demand answers!"

Fighter bristled at the Earth prince's words. Her mind flashed upon the moment she discovered Serenity in his embrace, their betrayal lacerating her soul. She had given place to Endymion, even though she knew that Serenity would have stayed with her out of loyalty alone. Endymion had the love that she so desired. She owed him nothing. "I have none to give you human. Now if you don't mind I was in the middle of training, I trust you can see yourself out?" Fighter's words sparked a righteous anger so great that it caused the dark haired prince to throw caution to the winds. With a roar Endymion's broadsword was in his hand and he hurtled toward the one that had ruined everything, and had given him a bride that did not love him.

Shiva of Fighter felt a surge of adrenaline seize her as her rival rushed forward with the intent to kill. She would let Serenity keep the one that soothed her heart but it didn't mean that she would not answer the arrogant man's challenge. Plunging one blade into the Lunar soil, Shiva matched Endymion eagerly. He was a fool to challenge her; all Fightans were given a practice blade as their first toy. They trained in sword drills and forms as games when they were children. The only thing the outpaced the fierceness with which a Fightan would battle was the passion with which she would love. Endymion had taken that love from her, and though she could not kill him for it, she would teach him the depths of her loss through the sting of her blade.

The dark haired princess ducked Endymion's swing, absently noting the strengths and weaknesses of his form, before entering into his lunge and smashing the pommel of her sword against his nose, breaking it easily. Blood spurting from his wound, Endymion refused to real backwards and he brought his fist in an arc towards Fighter's head hoping to force her back or to strike her. Fighter shifted down and leapt back, rotating her wrist so that her blade cut a swath against Endymion's chest in her retreat. Endymion winced at the pain and clutched his abdomen as he struggled to come up with a countermeasure to Fighter's skill. The woman was close to him in height, but she was agile and fast and every movement, even if it were defensive featured an offensive measure. To make matters worse Fighter was strong; her alien physiology making her his equal if not his slight better in power. He could not assail her body, but perhaps the battle could be taken to her heart.

"Damnit! Once the announcement is made she won't even be able to acknowledge you! And you won't be able to challenge it without risking war! Is that what you want?! For it to be nothing more than a dalliance? A dirty little secret that must never be spoken of?! You can end this Shiva…take her back and she will…" Endymion stumbled backwards as Fighter slammed her blade against his own, locking the hilts long enough for her to deliver a devastating kick to his solar plexus. Not allowing him time to recover, Fighter executed a round house to his temple driving him to the ground entirely. Coughing and spitting blood that had soaked his lips from his broken nose, Endymion struggled against oblivion and used his blade to leverage himself back to his feet.

Shiva knew only her rage, her pain now. How dare he suggest such a thing; did he intend her to become Serenity's concubine why he had the lunar princess at his leisure? Did he think he could visit his sick attentions upon them both? Did he assume that Fighter was so desperate for Serenity's attention that she would do anything for a meager morsel of affection? Shiva no longer cared if this was the one that Serenity chose… she would kill him for his insolence. Endymion tried to parry her rapid strikes but she left him no room to maneuver. Each block earned him a new wound as Shiva lashed at him while retreating. With a snarl the princess of Fighter cut her sword down in a wide arc, the flat of the blade connecting with Endymion's and driving his sword towards the ground and leaving him extended. Fighter grabbed the prince of earth by his exposed throat and tossed him backwards, his wounded form impacting the ground and skidding past Fighter's other blade. Shiva rushed forward retrieving her blade and she moved to bring it down upon the dark haired man's wounded form.

Shiva gasped as her blade encountered another with a sickening clang, and she staggered back as a feather wafted into her field of vision. Shiva was blind to only her pain and she surged forward again intent upon striking Endymion down. Her blades were met time and time again, no matter the strategy or the form used. "You would kill me to get to him?!" The pained question broke through the haze that consumed the Fightian heir and she stumbled back as her blades were pushed against harshly, forcing her to distance herself.

Sapphire blue eyes squinted in confusion as they alighted upon Serenity in her ascended form. The Lunar heir's wings were spread as if to shield Endymion from view and her eyes, normally as blue as a clear sky, glowed white with her anger. Like Shiva, Serenity was wielding dual blades and for the first time in her life, the dark haired princess found their deadly edges angled towards her with the intent to cause harm. Breathing harshly, Shiva's gaze snapped to the broken form on the ground below, Endymion's breath labored and pained. Serenity's eyes calmed to normal and she turned and moved towards Endyminon, one blade ever trained upon Shiva. It was that action that broke the fighting spirit within Shiva. Fightans believed in the truth, the certainty that only a blade could express and Serenity's stated "touch him and your life is forfeit" without compromise.

Serenity had to hold back tears, the feeling of wrongness that drove her to find her Kinsman did not prepare her to see her beloved attempting and almost succeeding in murdering her closest friend. Endymion had been cut to ribbons, if she did not get him to a healer soon he would surely die. Sheathing her blades, now that she sensed no danger from Fighter, Serenity lifted Endymion in to her arms. Keeping her back turned to Fighter, the Lunar heir flared her wings and beat them once, their muscular grace lifting her into the air. Shiva watched as the princess of the moon flew off towards the palace healer. Shiva closed her eyes in pain; it was a great insult to be ignored in battle by one's opponent. With that one action Serenity had shown Fighter how far she'd fallen in the lunar heir's eyes and that such a thing would not be forgiven or forgotten.

Shiva drove her swords into the ground and she let out a wounded howl of pure loss.

Days later Serenity found herself within the chambers of Vishnu of Healer, the silver haired princess frowning as she stared at the blonde heir to the moon. "Vishnu… I must speak with her. She has been locked inside of her chamber for days." Vishnu looked away from the earnest look upon Serenity's face and she struggled to fight against the wave of emotion that poured from the blonde. Vishnu like all the other princesses of the Silver Millennium served as an ambassador of her people on Lunn. However, unlike the Sol princesses whom were sworn to Serenity's service directly, Healer, Maker, Fighter and Kinmoku were not of this stellar system and thus not intrinsically loyal to Serenity alone. Vishnu had built a friendship that was much like sisterhood with the others of her system. She had been there when Shiva had lamented her loss of Serenity's love to Endymion. Vishnu felt it only right to defend her sister whom Serenity had not even the decency to truly cast aside; had Shiva not seen Serenity and Endymion's embrace in the gardens then she would have remained the Lunar heir's plaything even now. Vishnu would not stand for that.

"I cannot help you. Lady Serenity…moreover I will not help you. You've hurt her enough." Vishnu buckled slightly under the force of the blazing indignant rage that flared from Serenity at her words, and she quirked an eyebrow in slight respect as she watched the blonde visibly tame her anger to her namesake. "I don't know what you are referring to Lady Vishnu. I will not speak of this as it is not your business…whatever discord you refer to is between Shiva and I. All I want from you is your assistance in getting her to open the door." Serenity spoke calmly though she felt anything but calm. She was angry and she was confused. Shiva, beloved beautiful Shiva had abandoned her. Worse still Shiva had nearly killed Endymion, whose only crime was caring enough to see the two stubborn women mend their rift. The Earth prince would live though it would be some time yet before he was released from the infirmary. In his rare lucid moment, Endymion absolved Shiva of wrong doing even though it was within his right to charge her for her actions. Yet Serenity did not know why any of this had happened at all; Vishnu's cryptic words were accusing but Serenity had given Shiva nothing but her love and unyielding devotion.


Serenity closed her eyes against the word. That was where she had failed; she had allowed Shiva to push her away and in light of being unable to reach her she'd asked for a betrothal of duty. She'd failed Shiva. Whatever it was that terrified Shiva so; Serenity should not have allowed it to come between them. Shiva was her most precious one and she should have let no one, not even Shiva herself, deny her that love. There would be hell to pay, but Serenity would be denied no longer. Resolute in her decision, the Lunar heir turned and strode from the room without even a glance toward the Healerite princess. Vishnu attempted to call the Lunn princess back; disturbed by the intensity of the emotion that wafted from Serenity unchecked. Urgently, Vishnu turned and ran towards the communicator within her chambers.

"Keres, I must speak with you. It's urgent." Healer spoke as soon as the visage of the princess of Mars appeared. True to her contrary nature, Keres looked ready to argue, but Vishnu forestalled her tirade with an upheld hand. "It's about Princess Serenity…"

Serenity stormed the halls leading to Shiva's room and she paused as she found herself before the great oak doors that barred her from her beloved. "Shiva! You will open these doors… I will not leave until we have spoken!" Silence greeted the Silver heir and she pressed her hands against the ornate wood. "Please…" Serenity's gentle entreaty faded as her power, unchecked in her turmoil could not find Shiva's starseed. Confused, Serenity flared out her power like a net yet she was still unable to find Shiva's unique energy. Concerned and afraid, Serenity focused her power into the hands against the door and pushed shattering the lock and opening the door as if it had not been barred.

The blonde rushed into the chambers but she could find no trace of Fighter's heir. Moreover, her possessions were gone and judging by the stale energy of the room, they and their owner had been gone for days. Shiva had left, and had used the ruse of isolating herself in her chambers to cover her flight. Serenity reeled backwards, shock and confusion nearly shutting down her system before her eyes alighted upon a letter on the nearby desk.


By now you would have discovered that I have left Lunn. I have returned home to renew my training. I have failed both as a warrior and as a diplomat for Figther to have lost my control so easily. I pray that your intended survives, and if he demands retribution that my life is his to take. I only ask that my world be absolved of any wrongdoing, it was my weakness and my failure. I have been blinded to the things that are most important to me and in doing so I've placed Fighter's standing within the Silver Millennium in danger. When I return, if you so allow it I will be resolute in my duty both to Fighter and to Fighter's obligations. I wish you and Endymion well.

Fautari Shiva, Daughter of Fighter's Blade.

Serenity swayed, not noticing the warm arms that embraced her and deftly plucked the letter from her slack fingers. Drowning in grief, the lunar heir turned and met the sad tanzanite gaze of the First Huntress of Mars, Keres. Keres said nothing, merely she pulled Serenity close and tangled her fingers in the blonde's hair as shuddering sobs began to rack her frame. "She is gone Keres….Shiva…Shiva!" Keres' heart broke at the anguished sobs of the woman she'd sworn her life to. She made a vow in her heart, that she would always be the blade that defends Serenity's gentle heart. And she swore that she would never forgive the woman that had thrown that gentle heart aside.

With no classes for the day and no true leads on the new enemy, Usagi found herself drawn back to the hospital room of Seiya Kou. The starlight's pain broke her heart, and while Usagi had no idea why Seiya and his siblings had returned to Earth, she felt responsible somehow. Apparently Yaten had been kind enough to request that the nurses not restrict her access and for that Usagi was quite grateful. With a heavy heart, Usagi walked into the sterile room where only the steady beeps of the medical equipment dared to shatter the silence. Seiya looked so small, his powerful personality muted in the confines of the hospital room. Carefully, Usagi reached out a hand and brushed it over Seiya's brow. The lunar heir's head tilted in consternation as something seemed off about the sleeping light. Seiya's eyebrows were slightly thinner, and once somewhat thin lips were now full and lush. Seiya's angular chin had softened slightly and it appeared that the dusky eyelashes had grown slightly longer.

The young woman was so lost in thought she barely noticed the hand that gently grasped hers, removing it from its perch upon Seiya's brow. Usagi bit back a gasp of shock as she looked down into twinkling sapphire eyes, and the melodious yet sleep and injury roughened tones of Seiya's female voice rang out. "Well aren't you a sight for pained eyes…" Usagi was startled to realize that the shade of Seiya's eyes had grown richer in hue as well. So deep and so bewitching were the sapphire orbs that Usagi found herself unable to speak for a moment.

Usagi's features softened as she gazed upon the injured woman. "I think it's a sight for sore eyes, Seiya-san." The blonde's correction was gentle and good natured, yet it was a stark reminder that the woman before her was not Japanese…was not even human. For a moment Usagi wondered at the strength of conviction of the Starlights; they must have felt so alone, in a strange land desperate to find their princess with no one to aid or understand them. Seiya had the grace to blush at the correction and she smiled a crooked smile at the woman her heart yearned for. "I'll keep that in mind next time. But the sentiment still stands, it is really good to see you Odango."

Usagi blushed to the roots of her hair, yet she returned a smile that was just as genuine. "You too Seiya-san, but I wish that it wasn't like this." Seiya was silent for a few moments as she digested the blonde woman's words. She exhaled slowly before responding. "Fate's what you make it Odango." Usagi's brow's furrowed at the wistfulness of the startlight's voice for one second her mind flashed upon a maiden that looked much like woman before her.

"We shape our own fate Serenity…together…"

Seiya's eyes widened as Usagi reached out and stroked her cheek tenderly, yet somewhat distractedly. It was as if she was touching Seiya but seeing someone else. 'Likely her Mamo-chan…I should stop this…' Seiya grasped her hand and moved away as best she could within the confines of the hospital bed. For a moment Usagi frowned as if displeased with the distance being placed between them, before her face cleared and she looked normal. Seiya cleared her throat, using the moment to scramble for a way to break the charged atmosphere.

"So, you wanna help me make a run for it?" Seiya waggled her eyebrows towards Usagi as she struggled to sit up while attempting to appear nonchalant in her movements. She must have failed however, because Usagi rushed forward and placed a gentle hand on her left shoulder and coaxed her back down. "You've been severely injured Seiya-san." Seiya's face scrunched up into a playful frown, though she tried desperately to keep true her emotions from reaching her face. She felt starved and weary; she had longed for this woman for years and her senses couldn't take in enough of Usagi. Yet the weight of their respective fates hung oppressively over the young starlight making her feel battered. Usagi watched the starlight carefully, noting the slight slip in the raven haired woman's mask and she just barely held back the gasp at what she saw. This was the face of a woman that had no one to turn to, yet shouldered the weight of the world, even as her soul splintered and cracked under the weight. In many ways it was like looking into a mirror. Finally aching, open sapphire eyes met gentle cerulean and a broken whisper issued from Seiya's full lips.

"Please Usagi… I can't stay here…"

Usagi felt uncomfortable looking at Seiya like this. Gone were the cocky smirk and the mildly over confident bearing. Replaced by a gentle vulnerability and a noble strength that made Usagi both want to protect her and be protected by her the blonde for the first since they'd met felt overwhelmed by Seiya. She wanted to refuse the starlight, Seiya had been horribly injured and yet looking at her like this she felt that she could deny her nothing. "But Seiya-san… your wounds… you could be hurt worse." The starlight smiled softly, touched by Usagi's concern and she felt her heart treble in her breast. "I heal fast Usagi. I want to be away from this place for a while." Proving her point Seiya sat up fluidly, and although her body screamed shrilly at the attempted bravado, the starlight succeeded in keeping it from her face. Usagi still looked skeptical but when Seiya hopped from the hospital bed with what appeared like practiced ease the blonde relented and backed away to give the starlight space to move. Seiya moved to the nearby cabinet and was grateful to see a fresh change of clothes as well as her phone and star yell. '''Thank you Yaten and Taiki…''' The starlight whispered in Kinmokuian. Reaching for the phone, Seiya keyed in a few commands before placing it onto the bed. With a flash of light a replicant of a sleeping Seiya appeared upon the bed and the machines that were hooked to Seiya began to read that she was still in a coma.

With a smile, Seiya removed all of the electrodes and the IV and repositioned them onto her doppleganger. Behind her Usagi blinked in awe but she also struggled to tame a blush. With a strangled squeak the blonde turned around and stared at the door as if she'd decided to be a lookout while Seiya set up her ruse. Rather, her actions were to wrangle the surge of emotions that threatened to sweep her away. 'Apparently Seiya-san didn't notice that her gown was backless.' Even with the bandages across her torso Seiya's form had been easily defined in the flimsy gown. 'I knew one had to have a body to pull off their fuku but… my god… how can she be so… so perfect?' Usagi was embarrassed for her friend and perhaps a little jealous, but a woman's pride was not enough to explain while she felt like she'd fly out of her skin. Usagi didn't know if she wanted to run out of the room screaming or if she wanted to… Usagi struggled with the thought; she wasn't sure what she wanted but images of skin and warmth, Fighter wanton and yearning assaulted her mind with a familiarity that she should not possess.

Absolutely oblivious to Usagi's turmoil behind her, Seiya began to reach for her clothes. She looked around and noted that her room had a small ensuite and with complete nonchalance the dark haired woman ripped off the hospital gown and marched into the shower stall. Usagi's brain caught fire at that point as her mind supplied her with an explicit image of Fighter nude, underneath not the waters of a shower but instead underneath a summer rainfall, joyful passion lightening her gaze. With a whimper Usagi stepped into the hall, attempting to clear herself of such impure thoughts about her friend.

Usagi jumped and sagged against the hand that instantly covered her mouth in shock as Seiya attempted to quiet her. "Sorry!" Seiya whispered as she grasped Usagi's hand and tugged her down the hallway. Usagi noted absently that the hand that grasped her own had been in a cast before Seiya had woken up. Obviously she no longer required it as she couldn't see it outlined under her sleeve. Seiya remained female and her hair was unbound, which lent enough anonymity that no one stopped them as they left Tokyo General.

As they walked down the street Seiya turned to Usagi in concern. "Are you ok that I look like this? I don't want there to be... I'm not a threat to you Usagi-san." The blonde was touched by Fighter's thoughtfulness though she hated that her friend seemed so ill at ease with her. "Kami above I never thought I'd say it but you can keep calling me Odango if you want." Usagi tried not to be unnerved by the somewhat shy smile that graced Seiya's face at her words. Still Seiya wouldn't drop the matter. "But it bothers you doesn't it? Because your ….Mamoru calls you something similar?" Usagi let out a sigh and stared into the sky briefly. "Actually I'll let you in on a little secret. I hate that nick name. Mamo-chan...Mamoru and I didn't start on the best of terms and he called me that to pick on my hair style. Rei-chan uses it too when the mood strikes her. I've given up on trying to get them to stop...so I suppose it is a term of endearment now." Seiya frowned at that realizing the role she had played in heaping on that unwanted nickname. "Usagi, no matter one's intent, to call someone something that is at its root degrading will never be fully a term of endearment. Because the original insult remains. I call you Odango because it amused me to see you annoyed by my demeanor. But I have no desire to honestly insult you. So let's stick with Usagi for now shall we?" With that Seiya moved forward breaking their grasp and Usagi stared at the Starlight's retreating back, once again thrown off kilter by the raven haired woman's personality.

"Oh stars that was good…" Seiya let out a satisfied purr as she pushed away her empty plate. Usagi grinned, pleased to finally have a meal companion that knew the virtues of plentiful, delicious sustenance. "Well, you certainly look better Seiya-san." Seiya flashed a charming smile and winked playfully at the blonde woman across from her. "Super-humanoid metabolism does a body good." Which was true; now that she had something for her body to metabolize her body sent out less of a klaxon of pain and more of a small hum. Usagi giggled in agreement as Seiya's face abruptly sobered. "And you Odan… Usagi-san, you are eating properly right?" Usagi's eyebrows quirked a little and a blush slid slowly up her neck as she stared into the starlight's serious eyes. "Yeah…you know you're the first person to ask if I've had enough rather than scolding me for eating too much." Usagi's smile slid into a frown as she noticed the mildly startled look on Seiya's face.

"You're kidding right? I mean why would someone scold you on something so vital?"

Usagi mentally stumbled for a response, trying to determine if the raven haired woman was serious or not. She licked her lips, preparing to offer a dismissal about the societal standards of human women when Seiya's next words halted her voice. "It is quite obvious that you need the fuel to survive Usagi-san. Why would your retainers joke about something that could kill you?" Usagi flinched wondering if the starlight was referring to what she thought she was or if this was some odd form of Kinmokuian humor. "Anyone can see the symbiosis of your…ginzuishou am I correct?" The blonde let out a gasp even as she wondered how the hell Seiya knew something about her that even Luna didn't. The blonde looked away unable to bear the shocked outrage in Seiya's quiet voice.

Most people, the senshi included, didn't understand the nature of Usagi's powers. Usagi suspected even Pluto didn't understand the relationship between the ginzuishou and its bearers. While Usagi was genetically a human, her soul still maintained all of the energy from her previous incarnation. Luna and the others thought that merely meant that Usagi retained the memories of Serenity somewhere but in fact that was the least bequeathed of her inheritance from the princess of the moon. While the ginzuishou's power was nearly limitless, its power source was not. The sacred artifact fed from the energy of it bearer which in turn ratcheted up their metabolism far beyond the limits of a normal senshi. That was why its usage resulted in death unless Usagi was bolstered by the powers of others. Even in the years the ginzuishou lay dormant within her it still demanded incredible amounts of energy. Of course now, Usagi was nearly ravenous most of the time. She tried her best to hide the sheer intensity of her hunger from the other senshi but it was not always easy, and she had a feeling that Ami suspected something. Usagi had often wondered if that were the true reason Neo Queen Serenity fell into a coma during the assault of the black moon. If she had asked too much of the ginzuishou… at least more than her body could bear. "How….how did you…?" Seiya tilted her head to the side, causing her longer bangs to slide into her eyes and set a charmingly adorable cast to her face.

"Your aura…which is quite beautiful by the way." Seiya colored faintly as if that was not exactly what she'd wanted to say. Clearing her throat and ducking her head, the raven haired woman continued on, "Your natural aura is almost a cherry blossom pink, but it is edged with silver. If you look closer you can see the colors intertwine about each other. For it to pull at your soul like that… you bear a great burden Usagi." Seiya's eyes had become solemn and she reached out and covered one of Usagi's hands with her own. The starlight stared at Usagi for a few moments before breaking her gaze and looking towards Tokyo Tower in the distance. "I have to Seiya-san. So no one else has to."

"I just want to be normal Seiya-san. I want that more than anything. Did you know my brother proposed to his girlfriend last week? Do you know how I found out? My mother mentioned it in passing and she had assumed that he had already told me. Shingo and I fight, but he's never refused to come to me, to talk to me. The more I try to hold onto the things I love they just slip right through my fingers. So I don't try anymore." The raven haired senshi felt tears prick her eyes as she realized what Usagi wasn't saying. She reached out and grasped the blond woman's hand gently. "Usagi…" Usagi gave a bitter smile in response to the gentle entreaty. "Sometimes I wonder who that is. Sometimes I wonder if anyone cares if she lives or dies." The statement aged Usagi in an instant. Gone was the cheerful clumsy girl and instead a woman that had her simple adolescence ripped from her and had to bear the expectations of the past and the future alone took her place.

Seiya stared sadly, not at the beauty of Tokyo Tower but at this gentle, quietly determined woman that seemed to have everything, but was in fact the most burdened of them all.

"Why is it whenever we have a meeting with that guy that I feel like I need to take an acid bath afterwards?" Taiki chuckled softly at his brother's words as he opened the door to their condo and began removing his shoes. Yaten was less precise than his taller sibling and he kicked his shoes off haphazardly. Oddly enough they still landed in place. "Well Sugimiya-san is … ambitious but his methods do work. It took more than our music and looks to make Three Lights so popular the first time around." Yaten crinkled his nose in disgust. "The man is a scumbag. He's just so… so human." Taiki closed the door and moved towards his brother, his aristocratic features pulled into a frown. "Yaten." The silver haired Light threw up his hands in frustration. "I'm sorry it's just I don't understand these people! They're so … so.."

Taiki held up a hand to forestall the less than flattering description that he know Yaten was going to issue. "If I recall correctly you don't dislike all humans quite so intensely." Emerald eyes narrowed. "Taiki, don't go there." A small smile tugged at the tallest starlight's lips. "I was referring to Dayspring-san… Anyway, since the medical staff wishes to keep Seiya under observation for another day I suggest we retrieve him in the morning." Yaten's nod of agreement was curtailed as he noticed Taiki reaching for his shoes again. "So where are you going?" The brunette finished putting on his shoes before he attempted to answer. "Out. I want to check if Ami knows anything about this attack."

Yaten scoffed at his sibling's words. "Oh so what happened to Mizuno-kun? Huh? She can't be that good between the sheets…." Taiki stiffened and turned at Yaten's snarled words. The taller man stalked towards his sibling and drew himself to his full height as he glared at the silver haired light. Yaten refused to be cowed however, and he glared right back. "Yaten. Whatever your issue is…get over it right now." Taiki's words seemed to incense Yaten beyond all reason. "My issue? My issue is that you get laid and now all of a sudden you of all people are having problems using that oversized brain of yours! My issue is you've forgotten about our mission!"

Taiki clenched his fists as Yaten began to pace in agitation. "Mission? Our current mission is to aid Seiya and—"

"And we've done a really great fucking job of that now haven't we?! Our leader is in the hospital! And you want to know why? It's because she didn't have backup. Because we were looking for you! Now if you're trying to tell me that woman is more important than Seiya… more important than our family!" Yaten whirled to face his brother, his eyes emerald fire. Taiki's eyes narrowed and he grew so angry that lost control over his form and shifted back to a woman.

"Don't you dare! My family means everything to me. Everything! However, my family is not just my sisters and my princess. My family is also comprised of my friends… and yes, the woman I love as well! You're right; I let my emotions get the better of me and because of that I wasn't there for Seiya when I was needed. But this isn't about Seiya, this is about Aino-san. Don't blame me for the fact that you were unable to tell her how you feel!" Taiki roared before she turned and stormed out of the condo slamming the door behind her.

Yaten stared at the door for a moment and he felt the weight of her situation crushing him. The hopelessness of the situation drove him to his knees in agony. They were in over their heads and to make matter's worse, Taiki was correct. Minako…earnest, loyal, beautiful Minako. She would never be his, and the thought of her loving someone else lacerated his soul. With a wounded howl Yaten pounded his fists against the expensive carpet beneath him, wishing for the strength to undo destiny.

"You never were good at sports." Seiya elbowed Usagi slightly to lighten the statement into the jest it was meant to be. Usagi grinned not taking offense to the jibe as she remembered the last time Seiya tried to share her love of sports with her. The two of them had decided to walk through the park after their impromptu meal. Seiya's comment had been in reference to a couple that they saw at a batting cage nearby. The girl in the couple was desperately trying to get her boyfriend to actually hit the ball rather than air. "Well you never picked a sport I liked Seiya-san." Seiya turned to look at the blonde to gauge her meaning when she noticed Usagi pointing straight ahead. Sapphire eyes widened as she watched another couple playing Frisbee nearby. "You throw discs? This I gotta see!"

Minutes later Seiya found himself wondering if it was such a good idea to have goaded Usagi on as she watched her deftly maneuver the disc about her hands seeming unconsciously. Abruptly the blonde woman readied herself in a throwing stance. "Alright Seiya-san here goes!" The idol singer's eyes widened at the amount of power that Usagi put behind her throw. With a yelp the former American Football player sprinted with everything she had and leapt into the air just barely catching the disc before crashing to the ground. "Seiya-san!" Usagi ran towards her friend and in her haste tripped over a rock right before she reached her. In a split second she went from trying to assist the fallen Light to landing on top of her in a tangle of limbs.

"Oh by all the gods, Seiya-san I'm sooo sorry!" Beneath Usagi, the leader of the starlights attempted to affect a rakish grin as she stared up at the lady of her heart. "Now Usagi, I've fantasized about this numerous times but I really need you to get off me… I think I'm bleeding again." Usagi's eyes widened as she took in the pale pallor of her skin and the pain that clouded the sapphire of her eyes to a dull, murky navy. Quickly but still careful not to hurt her further, Usagi moved from atop the starlight and offered her hand to pull her up. Seiya didn't expect the amount of strength of her pull and she surged upward, almost colliding with her again. They both reached out to steady each other and found themselves in a faux embrace. Seiya blushed and cleared her throat before stepping away. Usagi looked away briefly, attempting to slow her hammering heartbeat. When she turned back to the raven haired light she smiled gently at her. "Come on Seiya-san let's get you back…"

"Wait please, can we just go somewhere to sit? I just want to look at my wounds. If it's serious I'll go back… I promise." Seiya questioned, hating the pleading tone her voice had taken unbidden. Usagi met her eyes and for a moment Seiya felt like the blonde could see her very soul. The lunar heir blinked and the moment was gone; Usagi's unyielding gaze replaced with her normal concerned but somewhat quizzical visage.


"Wow this place is huge!"

Chibiusa stood back watching the joy and the vitality upon Hotaru's face as she spun around, taking in the apartment's décor. Her heart warmed as she saw all traces of sadness disappear from the dark haired senshi's form. She grit her teeth against the desire to embrace Hotaru; to hold her close and never let go. She promised herself that she would accept whatever Hotaru chose and she would honor that vow.

"Well we wanted a place that we could have a meeting if needed."

Hotaru smiled and bounded towards Chibiusa and grasped her hands. "Well it looks like you succeeded on that point. Speaking of which, Chibi-chan I need to speak with you for a bit." Pink eyebrows rose into her hairline briefly but the Crystal heir nodded and led her friend to the living room where they could sit. Chibiusa tried not to blush as Hotaru linked their fingers. "Chibi-chan, I know that the disruption in the future is what brought you back to the past. I want you to know that I am really glad that you are here, and that I will help you and Diana-chan in any way that I can." Chibi-Usa felt her heart melt at the endearingly vulnerable declaration, and she found herself smiling softly.

"Thank you Hotaru-chan. You don't know how much that means to me."

Hotaru blushed and looked down at their clasped hands. "Hotaru-chan?" The dark haired senshi jerked as if she'd been startled by Chibi-Usa's soft question. "Er..I well… So the social for my school is coming up pretty soon. Juuban's is also around the corner. I wanted to invite you…" Chibi-Usa looked at Hotaru's softly bowed head and their clasped hands and she felt her heart rate treble. "Hotaru-chan?!" The strangled whisper seemed to be all that she could utter as her mind attempted to process Hotaru's words before it decided to just shut down completely. Hotaru looked up a Chibi-Usa's startled squeak and in her haste to steady her friend, she reached out and cupped Chibi-Usa's cheek. "Chibi-chan what's wrong?" Chibi-Usa shook her head, a watery smile lighting her countenance before she grabbed Hotaru in a hug.

"Nothing. Everything is wonderful…"

Setsuna often walked to clear her thoughts, the weight of the future and her role in guiding the senshi towards Crystal Tokyo sometimes crushed her. Being out in this city that she protected revived her wounded soul. Humanity was flawed but it was inherently good, and worth protecting. "No please… leave us alone!" Not all of its members deserved that protection when they thought it was right to prey upon the weak. Crimson eyes narrowed as she saw two women being accosted by a group of biker thugs. The verdant haired woman dashed forward but before she could brandish her henshin pen one of the victims… a young woman glanced in her direction. She couldn't transform now but she could still fight on her own. "Hey! Leave them alone you miscreants!"

"Well well. Lookie here. You want to play too don'tcha sweetheart?" Setsuna held her hands up before her as the thug advanced upon her. The thug grinned, his long blond dyed hair matted and greasy. Behind him another three members of the same gang each brandished a weapon of some sort. Setsuna was grateful that they weren't carrying guns; super heroine or not, she wasn't bulletproof. Rushing forward, Setsuna swept the blonde thug before he could say anymore and she ducked the chain that his friend lashed at her in retaliation. The chain barer recovered quickly and struck again, only to have Setsuna thrust sharply up on his elbow during his downstroke snapping the joint. The thug shrieked in pain as his buddies rushed in to help him.

"You want them so much sweetheart? Take'em!" A large man wielding a machete snagged one of the victims that tried to escape and tossed her towards the senshi of Time. Setsuna caught the woman but that left them both vulnerable as the man brought down his machete. Setsuna closed her eyes and waited for the pain to come. She flinched when she heard the biker howl in agony. When she opened her eyes she saw a large woman with the thug's hand in a vice like grip as she twisted it painfully. "What kind of cowards attack innocent people? Do you idiots hold your heads high under the gaze of the sun?" The woman punctuated her question with a vicious jerk as she snapped the thug's wrist and then tossed him into the nearest wall.

"Oh you wanna play super hero little girl?" One of the thugs sneered as he lunged at the woman. Quickly the woman spun and snagged his outstretched arm before tossing him into one of his buddies. "Get them out of here!" the woman roared at Setsuna as she dodged another attack before punching one of her attackers in the face. Setsuna gathered the frightened women and ushered them away from the scene of the attack and where she could fine a safe place to henshin unseen. Kaori laughed as she booted one thug into the stomach and then performed a butterfly kick to knock him away and dodge another ruffian she heard behind her.

"You bitch!"

Kaori turned as soon as she felt the tug on the guitar bag strapped to her back. To her horror the strap gave way. The item's importance must have shown in her face because time slowed to a crawl as she watched as the thug slammed the guitar onto the ground, the instrument breaking with a strangled twang. "NOOOOOOOO!" the roar that issued from the raven haired woman was inhuman and she surged forward, no longer trying to disable but instead trying to kill, trying to hurt.

"…Dead Scream…"

A very low powered version of Super Sailor Pluto's attack knocked the thugs into a heap. "Hmm… the police can take it from here. Dayspring-san I…stop!" Super Sailor Pluto help up her time key staff belatedly as Kaori charged her. The verdant haired senshi grunted as she realized that Kaori was a formidable match even against her senshi form. Not wanting to injure the human woman who seemed to have lost all sense of reason Super Sailor Pluto sharply turned, flinging Kaori into a nearby vending machine. Rushing forward before Kaori could recover, Super Sailor Pluto jammed her staff under the raging woman's chin and pined her.

"Kaori! Stop this madness! Pull yourself together!"

…"I know you are proud of your warrior heritage but you can't rush into battle. You don't have to prove yourself to anyone." Crimson eyes twinkled the woman leveraged her staff at her attacker's throat. "It's not about that." Gauntlet clad hands wedged between the time key staff at her throat, and with a grunt she pushed forward. She didn't have her weapons but that didn't mean that she couldn't fight still. With a roar she surged forward and tackled the green haired woman to the ground. "My father will pass his judgement soon. If I pass, if I am strong enough then he will allow me to marry. On my terms. To you. For that I will do anything."

A gloved hand reached out and cupped a bronzed cheek. "Do not lose yourself in this my love. We will find a way…"

Kaori jerked within Super Sailor Pluto's grip before her eyes rolled back and she slumped against the vending machine at her back. "Eh? Kaori… Dayspring-san?!" The crimson eyed woman dispersed her staff and she lifted now inert woman into her arms. Carefully she walked over to the rubbish that caused Kaori's decent into madness.

"Hmm. It would seem that I owe you, Dayspring-san. Let's see if I can repay the debt."

School is about to start up for me but I've made some good progress on the next chapter... I'll do what I can as soon as possible. Please read and review.

R. Niiyama