Disclaimer: I don't own Sailor Moon.

Author's Note: Not much to say, something short and sweet. Proving I am capable of shortness, it's more I choose not to. Also, the R dub is the only form of anime R I have access to, so patience with transcriptions. Normally I would be using the English/Dub translation for Saffiru and Demando, because it's easier phonetically to me but given the dedicated one's preferences, I'll back off here. Another thing for Dic, at least they had the better dialogue forms.

Dedication: to my muse, my inspiration, and a damn good friend and sister, desolatorpixie. I met her a year ago today and through her, I saw banter, bemusement, insanity, concern, and the final part, love as she dug under my skin. My life is all the richer for it.

Timeline: Three days after the events of the dub episode, Birth of Wicked Lady.

Forgive my betas as they have real life to deal with.

Ready Go!

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The Black Crystal fluctuated in outbursts of power, the fragile device ready to explode with the slightest spike. Saffiru couldn't blame the infernal device; he felt the same way as he watched from the platform. All the suppression of his feelings towards the Wiseman, afraid of his brother's reaction, all ready to detonate and leave the fallout in his wake. The younger brother of the Black Moon royalty stared at the Black Crystal's mutating colors; he didn't have many tasks beyond surveillance while his brother, Prince Demando, was off to Tokyo of the past.

It was just another night back in Crystal Tokyo. The only company at the time was him and occasionally Wiseman as he sashayed to and fro from his various hiding place throughout. He mused about making some Droids to pass the time and for company but the company would be the equivalent of a parrot to the young alchemist.

'Almost wished this would explode already, getting weary of being on pins and needles with this thing all the time.'

The crystal changed all sorts of colors; a forest viridian was first, with tinge of onyx. The color reminded Saffiru of the colors of Petz, the eldest of the Ayakashi sisters, surging with power and a disposition to match.

'An echo from the past. Wonder how she is faring on Earth?'

Petz and her sisters found redemption with Sailor Moon and rejected the family, the others were outraged, Saffiru was strangely calm about the affair. He realized that once the Black Moon conquered the Earth, it wouldn't matter if the renegades were captured or not. The young soldiers would be replaced as the Black Crystal would permeate the populace's minds and hearts and usher in a new golden age for humanity.

'It doesn't matter. That thought or her welfare is blown to the wind as I see the Black Crystal's trademark instability getting more and more out of control. I doubt what we do will make any difference anymore.' He felt small shockwaves as the crystal tried to stabilize. 'The crystal is getting much more volatile. How ironic that I think of Petz because of this wretched thing. Volatile when it came to us is an understatement.'

Petz was too domineering with her demands to be pampered and later, power hungry for the conquest of the Earth. She wasn't in it like himself and his brother for righteous indignation, just because apparently.

'No doubt influence from Rubeus. He always was too big for his britches. And she became more explosive the more she was challenged, a by product for her power. The others weren't as unbearable but…bad enough. Wonder if freedom from us has changed her in any way. Perhaps a Droid to spy on her…hmm, another question for another time, I have larger matters to attend to, like Wiseman's scheme to get back into the past once again. It didn't work with Rubeus and the Crystal Points, so why attempt it again? What is he up to?

'I wish I could give Demando some proof or at least conjure some kind of probability scenario as a modicum of evidence. Like…' The crystal changed to a bright emerald color.

'The color of Esmeraude. How apropos. She might have been a loud pain in the posterior, inferior soldier but an attractive woman in her tight dress. Why do I have this penchant with women in tight dresses and short skirts? Must be a character flaw, or sexual frustration?'

He suppressed his erection. 'Yes, must be sexual frustration.'

He suddenly felt pangs of guilt as he should have followed Esmeraude while she conducted her plan to attack the Crystal Palace, while experimenting to see if Wiseman could assist. The result seemed to have her metamorphosed into an emerald dragon, which Sailor Moon and her Senshi dispatched without too much trouble. And Esmeraude went the way of flesh like Rubeus and the Droids.

'I should have done more. I should have said more for that matter.' He remembered how he lightly admitted his feelings for her on the night the Sailor Senshi entered his time and Sailor Moon herself escaped from their Black Crystal monument.

'Perhaps I should have been more…forceful with my feelings; she seems to take to force. Like my brother and his…aggressiveness. Maybe then she wouldn't have dismissed me so easily. One difference between her and Petz, Petz was more…approachable, with the right enticement. I don't know what made Esmeraude warm for my brother.'

He sighed heavily. 'Not like I can ask her now.' He felt the shockwaves get a little stronger.

'I wonder if she finally found her dream with Demando and ruling together in the afterlife. That would be amusing, heaven and hell issues aside.' He felt a slight tremor on the platform.

'At the rate this rock is going, I may join her yet.' He murmured in a contemplative tone.

'Knowing my luck, she'd dump me anyway.' He chuckled darkly. 'My fantasies never were the best. Perhaps it's just as well things didn't work, the hormones are one of the main reasons why we haven't achieved our objectives. I was busy with Petz, the sisters had a thing for Rubeus, except for Beruche, but then she always did have a good head on her shoulders. Then Esmeraude with her…borderline obsession with Demaudo and then his outright obsession with Neo Queen Serenity and around and around we go.' He sighed heavily again and shook his head.

'With this kind of displaced melodrama, no wonder we didn't get anything done. At least I could compartmentize myself with Esmeraude. Although I have to admit…she didn't make suppression that hard. If she didn't burn for my brother so, I'd call her the equivalent of a cold fish.

'But she was a lot of things, it seemed. If only I acted differently maybe…no, focus. Stop the old man first. Make sure it wasn't in vain. Prioritize.' The crystal flashed brightly again, to a bright white. He softened himself at the color change.

'So bright. I swear this thing is psychic. Oh,Demando. What have you done? Who else has to die before you can finally see? Me? Hardly anyone around left. And right now, I'm the only one left that cares.' The alchemist felt an undercurrent of frustration within him. He burned a hole, as he stared at the Black Crystal, the source of most of their recent problems.

'And this damn crystal, I'm surprised we're not all dead yet but it's coming, I know it is. It would be so easy to detonate it or for safety's sake, deactivate it, and let the chips fall where they may and start over. Without the Wiseman or his gifts. But can I and should I do it?' He began to notice the deathly silence.

'Well…no one is around but…all the same, I know Wiseman skulks around from time to time, I best make certain he's not around when I do it. Wish I knew where he was. Or where he could be. No matter, he knows there is no love lost between us and if my brother gives me hell, so be it anymore, I'm...I'm… so tired of this. I'm tired of rolling my eyes at his lovesick ass routine, I'm tired of failure, and I'm tired of hanging on to the fear that I might lose anyone else. Like…' He noticed the Black Crystal changing colors as it surged in power alongside his rising rage. The brightness intensified to that of the sun.

'It's worth losing one of our own if it means getting revenge on the people of the Earth.' Demando's indignation to Esmeraude's death echoed in the alchemist.

'Esmeraude. I wonder how you would feel if you could see your prince now. I knew the mission was being undermined and thus met failure but…I never seen him this engaged and…borderline fanatical. And now with him shutting me out, he'll get more reckless and endanger everything we've so hard for.' He stared at this one panel on the floor.

'The energy control chip. That would off put the energy flow. That could do it. But…back to my original problem, can I and should I? Will I lose him if I do this?'

'I'm counting on you.' Demando's last words to Saffiru right before the prince's departure to the past.

'But then if I do act, I may lose him anyway. The old cliché: damned if I do, and damned if I don't. Can I afford cutting out the one person who means…everything to me? As embarrassed as I am to be so maudlin over him but as he indulges with his swooning of Serenity, I suppose it fitting that I do it as well. I…I…stop stalling, deal with the feelings. I…want him to succeed, I want him to achieve what he's always wanted…for us. I want him happy, even if that means with an enemy but I want him…to be my brother again. I want, I'd like…to go back to the old times, when we were children, before Wiseman took him away for his lessons. Days, weeks on end I hardly saw him. I want him back to when he wanted to return to Earth so desperately so our lives wouldn't be in prologue anymore. I want that back. I want his…passion back to where it belongs.

'Butit's not about our indignation anymore is there? It's about my brother's obsessions with a woman who can't even give him the time of day and the Wiseman.' The crystal changed to a carnation color. The color of the reformatted Small Lady, now called Black Lady.

'And his new…recruit, the Black Lady. What of her? How did Wiseman convert her like that? How could he accelerate her growth like that? Is that his power or from the Black Crystal?' The hue from the crystal was almost hypnotic.

'I wish I saw more of her to make more of an assessment. Although…I have to confess, as an adult she is quite…attractive. A unique anti Sailor Moon, wonder if that would amuse my brother's predilections. It will at least amuse my own.

'I wonder…how much of a lady is she? And with such acceleration, would she still be a child? Thus…the legal issues, although…Neo King Endymion and Neo Queen Serenity married when she was 16 or so. But mentally and…technically physically Black Lady would be…9? I think I best stop this line of thought. Great, although I wonder if I can get in some extra stabs for filling my mind with the most…disturbing and even more disturbing titillating ideas.'

Saffiru shook his head and walked to the plate that housed the control chip, the plate rose up and he hesitated.

'If I leave this alone, he may end up like Esmeraude. And if I do it, he may loathe me and think I betrayed him forever. Damned if I do, damned if I don't.' He reminisced back to when they were children in the grass, admiring the flowers. 'But…I'd rather have him alive and hating me than the alternative. I'm doing it.'

He was about to have the plate separate when he heard footsteps in the background, he lowered the plate back to the platform.

'Can't be Wiseman, he floats. And my brother usually teleports, so who is it?' Saffiru charged himself, he didn't have offensive capabilities like the others but he wasn't without certain defenses. "Who's there?"

The shadowed figure appeared and he saw the visage of the mysterious Black Lady.

"Black Lady is it? What are you doing here?"

"I came to observe the Black Crystal in action, to see if everything was running alright."

The Black Crystal seemed to calm down slightly in front of the reformatted woman's presence as she walked closer to it. He noted the tranquil effect she had on the crystal.

'How is that possible? Is she an amplifier or a buffer?'

"Your Black Crystal is certainly a marvel of power and ingenuity." She purred.

"It gets the job done." He said defensively, arms folded.

"So I see. I was imbued with the power of the Black Crystal after all; I am impressed with the strength it radiates."

"Really now? You're infused with the crystal's power? Interesting." 'And frightening.'

"As you say, 'it gets the job done.' " She mimicked his tone.

'Should I tip my hand? Seems formidable plus if I enrage her, might set off a chain reaction. Both the crystal and my brother.' "I'm sure you'll do it quite well."

"Why thank you, anything for the great cause, yes?" She nearly blushed; she never had a compliment before.

"Indeed. So why are you here? Why check the crystal?"

"The Wiseman ordered me to go back in time and be intimate with the Black Crystal while the Senshi are regrouping, to acquaint myself with it as I'll be tapping into its power quite soon." She gave him a sideways glance.

'What is she up to?' "Best be careful, the crystal is notorious for its instability."

"Oh, I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid of anything." She said with an air of defiance.

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why aren't you afraid of anything?"

"The answer is as plain as the crescent on your forehead. Because I have nothing left to lose, silly." She giggled.

Saffiru felt uncomfortable by that. 'Would that make her be…suicidal? What did he do to her?' "Why do you feel like you have nothing left to lose?"

"What are you? My doctor?"

"No, just someone who is…concerned for you." 'I hope this works. She seems very open. But then I shouldn't be surprised why. Mind of a child.' He leered at her curves and figures. 'Yet…body of a woman.'

"Why would you be concerned for me?" Black Lady was confused. No one went out of their way to be concerned for her before; at least that's what the Wiseman whispered in her mind.

"Because…" 'Come on, Saffiru, think of a good one.' "Because I don't like seeing anyone throwing their life away. For any reason." 'Close enough to truth.' He drew several feet closer to her.

Black Lady's confusion amplified. She wished the Wiseman was here. Yes, the Wiseman would tell her how to act with this. "It's not throwing it away if it's for a good cause."

"Which is what?"

"I…well, revenge against Sailor Moon and all she cares about. That's all I need." She said with an air of confidence.

"And then? What happens after that?"

The Black Lady froze in her tracks. "Well…I…I…." She scrambled to think of a possible answer.

"You don't know, do you?" The alchemist's expression warmed.

"I—I know I'll get revenge and then I'll do whatever the Wiseman tells me to do."

'His personal puppet, wonderful.' "Don't you want more in life than that?"

"I'm not thinking about life. I'm thinking about Sailor Moon and her Senshi and their deaths. To make them pay for neglecting me!" Her fury rose as then the energy output of the crystal.

"I'm not going to dispute that but after you kill them, you're going to want something more out of life eventually. It's natural. It's…a sign of growing up." The irony was not on Saffiru. He hoped that she would restrain herself enough not to vaporize Crystal Tokyo and nearly everything else in range but he would be ready to teleport in a heartbeat.

"I don't need to grow up! I'm perfectly fine as I am." She harrumphed.

"Just hear me out, you don't have to listen. Everyone needs to grow up sometime. It's how we grow up that makes them us, and wanting other things in life as a part of it. It's how we keep going as it were, just as…your fixation on Sailor Moon keeps you going." 'I hope she buys that.'

The crystal entered a wax and wane with its energy flow. "So what keeps you going?"

'Can't say the truth. Something of a simulacrum.' "To see how it all ends. To see if I'll be remembered for what I've done in my life. To make a difference. Whether or not I succeed is another story."

She scanned him and nearly burned a hole in him and his eyes. "So to be remembered and make a difference is all you need to keep on …going?"

"Partly, mostly, I want to see how it ends. The end of the journey is the best part. Because you look back on what you saw in the middle and beginning and wonder how it got you there in the first place."

"I don't think…I can do that….beyond hating the Senshi for their neglect." Her rage was muted as she was ruminating.

"And for that…they deserve to die but don't make it your life's work. Give yourself something else as a reason for getting up in the morning."

"Like what?"

Saffiru was getting bemused. 'At least she's not asking me why every five seconds.' "I don't know, a new romantic interest, global domination considering you're in that life now, macramé."

"Interesting ideas. You say romantic interest first as a reason. Why did you say that first?" She eyed him; he looked quite attractive, like her former father but more noticeable features, like his reflective eyes, his lightly tossed sapphire hair and a unique disposition to match.

"Because it popped in my head first?"

"Maybe, but your eyes have been wondering on me, careful they don't fall out." She said in a muted burst of giggling.

"My eyes weren't wondering." He returned, defensive.

"They were so."

"No, they weren't."

"Yes, yes."

"No, no."

"Liar." She couldn't stop enjoying herself and the alchemist soon joined her.

"Alright, alright, maybe I…have. Conceivably."

"Do you find me pretty?"

"Uh…" He about blushed.

"Do you find me pretty?" She batted her eyes.

"Well…I'd be not much of a gentleman if I said you weren't 'pretty' as you put it, no."

She perked up. "So you think I'm pretty?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Uh, wish I could plead the fifth but that law doesn't exist anymore, so I suppose I have no choice but to tell the truth."

"That's right. So why?" She gave him a lop-sided grin.

"Because of your…grace, highlighted by your eyes, your hair and all that fully accentuates that perfect face of yours. Forgive the possible rhyming scheme."

She descended into giggles again. "That's fine, I don't mind."

"Anything else on this?"

"Nothing, except I think you're a very handsome man." She walked closer to him.

"R—Really?"

"Yes, your eyes, and your hair, it's quite handsome. Your hair is your best feature. I'd like to touch it if you don't mind."

'That's a strange request.' "Touch it?" 'What can I say?' "As long as you don't kill me or stab me in the back, fine."

"I would never do a dishonest thing like that. I'd be far more obvious." She unleashed a killer smirk.

"Oddly enough, I believe that. Go ahead." He bowed against her. She cupped his chin, stared into his cerulean eyes, and waved a hand into his hair, moving and caressing about her fingers like mercury.

"It feels so soft and lovely and…" She was inching closer to him.

"I could say the same for your hand…" He remained planted to the floor.

"How about I touch something that would return the feeling?" She leaned and pulled him into a slow kiss, Saffiru was speechless.

"I—I…" He stuttered after they separated.

"Now you're the one who can't talk."

"You've given me quite the reason not to."

"Indeed." She parroted his tone.

"I'll spare my feelings at the minute and ask a simple question. Why?"

"Because you're really handsome, and you seem to actually…care about what happens to me. Why shouldn't I show my feelings?"

"That may be but…we hide feelings from potential mates so we don't show weakness, for they can use that to exploit." Saffiru kept thinking of Esmeraude as he explained.

"You sound like you've done this before." She put her hands on his and squeezed. "Maybe to see what happens, I need to be more like you. To see how you keep on going."

"I—I don't know. I think you may not like what you find."

"Let me be the judge of that. Give me a reason to get up in the morning." She leaned over and began to kiss him when the Wiseman's image began to materialize. They quickly pulled away.

"Black Lady! If you've finished become acquainted with the Black Crystal, I need to recall you. Our Black Crystal in the past needs a recharge."

The two stared at each other. "Yes, I'd say I'm acquainted with the crystal, thanks to Saffiru."

"Really? Good work, Saffiru." The old man commended.

Saffiru said nothing and the Black Lady walked to the translucent image.

"Wiseman, I think I may need another chance to become more familiar with the Black Crystal to make sure I will not fail you. I only had a taste today." The Black Lady about plead.

"Fair enough, and I'm sure Saffiru will be here to teach you."

"Yes, you know me, I'm quite the instructor."

"Good. Come Black Lady, we have much to do."

"You're the Wiseman." The duo dissipated into nothing and Saffiru swore he saw a wink from the woman before she dematerialized.

He just lingered at the spot where they both vanished. 'Well, this makes the cheese a little more binding. So…stay or go?' He glanced at the Black Crystal, which became muted.

'She did dull down the power of the crystal. Perhaps if I can pull at her heartstrings, she can deactivate it completely. But just in case that fails, I have a backup plan with the control chip.' He finally rubbed his lips from the kiss.

'At least she'll make for a good distraction in the meantime. I'll need it with the rather obvious issues looming over me.'

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The Black Crystal in Tokyo in the past was crystallizing, getting immense in its size along with its strength. The Wiseman and Black Lady teleported above the monument, the Black Lady began to charge her hands and powered the crystal with her onyx lightning bolts.

"Did you learn something from your time with the original Black Crystal?" Wiseman broke the silence.

"Far more than I thought I did." She sneered.

"Excellent, was Saffiru a decent teacher?"

"To say decent wouldn't do him justice. He was a good teacher and I can't wait to see what he teaches next." She pushed herself to exert more energy, for the sooner she could finish, the sooner she could return and teach the young alchemist a few lessons of her own.

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Happy Anniversary, dear.

Leave a review on your way out and see you in the funny papers.