"An Unrequited Love"
A Sailor Moon Fanfic
By Bill K.

e-mail billk57@earthlink.net

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Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2001 by Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha
and Toei Animation, and are used without permission, but with respect. Story is
(c) 2001 by Bill Kropfhauser

As always, for those only familiar with the English dub:
Usagi=Serena
Ami=Amy
Rei=Raye
Makoto=Lyta
Minako=Mina
Haruka=Amara
Michiru=Michelle
Setsuna=Trista
Mamoru=Darien
Shingo=Sammy
Urawa=Greg
Ikuko=Usagi's mother

For anyone who hasn't seen Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, Taiki was a member of the
boy band "The Three Star Lights" and secretly Sailor Star Maker.

Finally, Haruka and Michiru are NOT cousins.
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This story takes place a few weeks after events in Sailor Moon Sailor Stars.
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The house was closed up. It was a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Yet,
in the last five years the house had seen six families move in and quickly move
out. Finally, after no one would stay there and it stood vacant for three years,
the owner gave up and sold the property. The house would be razed and a new
home would be built to replace it.

That was the plan. But as the crane neared the building to level it, a
shrill whine began to rise up around the area. It caught the attention of the
demolition crew and the police working traffic control around it. Soon it
caught the attention of the neighbors and the hushed gossip began again.

It was a mournful sound, a wail like a soul in torment. It could be heard
over the roar of the crane as its treads chewed up the green front lawn, so much
so that the operator brought the heavy machine to a halt.

"Why are you stopping?" demanded the foreman as he ran up to the halted
crane.

"Didn't you hear that?" asked the operator warily.

"It's the wind whistling through those old roof timbers!"

"But there's no wind."

"I GOT PEOPLE WAITING!" bellowed the foreman. "KNOCK THE SON OF A BITCH
DOWN!"

The operator exhaled a sigh of frustration, then shifted gears on the
crane. He eased it forward a few inches, then looked up.

The entire crew heard his scream.

"Ahhh!" Rei grimaced. She grabbed her forehead, trying to quell the
stabbing pain in her head. Her friends, gathered with her at their favorite
after-school hangout, turned to her.

"Rei-chan!" gasped Usagi with genuine concern. The mechanical pencil she
had been trying to balance on her upper lip clattered to the table. "What's
wrong?"

"I just got the Godzilla of all headaches," Rei grunted out through
clenched teeth.

"Where exactly does it hurt?" asked Ami, breaking out of the silent funk
she'd been in since they'd all gathered.

"Right temple," Rei said. "There isn't an arrow sticking out of my skull,
is there?"

"What do you think it is?" Makoto asked Ami.

"Headaches are a symptom of many different conditions," Ami replied
curtly. "And I don't know all of them. You all seem to forget I'm not a doctor
yet."

"Hey, sorry."

"No," Ami said, cheeks flushing. "I shouldn't have snapped like that."
She fished two ice cubes out of her fruit drink, wrapped them in a paper napkin
and handed it to Rei. "Press this to your right temple and lay your head back.
It should help some." Rei complied.

"Is there anything I can do for you, Rei-chan?" Usagi asked, oppressively
hovering over the girl as she lay back.

"Just don't kiss me, huh," Rei joked.

"Ulp - - Um - - Uh - - AS IF!" sputtered Usagi. Minako and Makoto tried
to muffle their giggles with their hands. Even Rei smiled weakly.

"Boy, this is a fun group today," Minako remarked. "Ami's been moping
around most of the afternoon and now Rei's sick."

"Ami?" Usagi inquired. Ami shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

"It's nothing," she replied. "Someone at school with nothing better to do
played a prank on me."

"What'd they do?" Usagi asked.

"And who was it?" added Makoto. "I'll rip them a new one."

"Quietly, please?" Rei begged.

Ami passed a note along. The other three girls eagerly read it.

"Well, what's it say?" groaned Rei.

"'The songs of the birds cannot compete; The smell of the flowers are not
as sweet; The beauty of the sunset cannot compare; With the radiant loveliness
of Ami fair'," read Makoto.

"That's," whispered Minako in shock, "beautiful."

"Who is he?" prodded Usagi.

"It's not signed," Makoto replied. "Ami, you think this is a prank?"

"It has to be," Ami said, her eyes focused on her folded hands. "Who
would seriously write that about me?"

"Lots of guys!" gasped Usagi.

"Yes, Usagi, I'm sure."

"Ami," Minako said, staring at her impatiently, "do you know how many guys
come up to me and want me to introduce them to YOU because I'M your friend? And
it's so disgusting because some of those guys are hot enough that I want to date
them!"

Ami's cheeks flushed again.

"Ami, there are a lot of guys who like modest, intelligent, demure girls,"
Makoto told her. "They're afraid of me, but you're their dream girl."

"But," Ami squeaked, "Taiki didn't seem impressed."

"Well Taiki was a self-centered jerk," Rei moaned beneath her compress.
"A totally gorgeous self-centered jerk, but a jerk just the same."

"Ami, there's someone out there who would like nothing better than to
spend the rest of his life loving you," Usagi said. "Maybe several someones.
You have definite boy-appeal. You just have to believe it."

Ami considered this for a few moments. She pulled the note back to her.

"Now I wonder who wrote this," she mused.

"Uhhhhh," groaned Rei.

"Isn't the compress helping?" Makoto asked.

"Not enough. If it's all right with you guys, I'm going to head on home."

"I'll walk you," volunteered Usagi.

"How about we all walk you?" Makoto offered. "I should probably get back,
too. The earlier I can get to this homework, the earlier I can be free to sit
at home and remember I don't have a date."

"You sound as pathetic as me," smirked Minako.

"Man, I didn't think it sounded that bad!" Makoto said. Minako responded
by sticking out her tongue and pulling down her eyelid.

"I bet your secret admirer is Hidemi," Usagi whispered as the group headed
for the door.

"No way!" gasped Minako desperately. "I want him! Hey, what if it's
Seiji?"

"With the thick glasses and no body?" gaped Makoto.

"EEEEEEEYYYYYYYYUUUUUUUUUU!" the girls cried in unison, except for Ami.
As usual, she merely shook her head in embarrassment.

By the time the group made it back to Hikawa Shrine, the pain in Rei's
head had subsided to a dull throb. She waved good-bye to her friends and
ascended the steps to the temple. At the top of the steps, her grandfather was
waiting for her. Rei saw he seemed concerned, but at that moment all she wanted
to do was lie down.

"Do you feel anything?" he asked.

"Yes," Rei answered. "I feel like someone's driven a metal spike through
my skull."

At that moment, Rei noticed birds cawing. She looked up to the roof of
the temple. Deimos and Phobos were perched on the roof, chattering incessantly.

"They've been like that for the past hour," her grandfather told her. "I
don't understand them, but they seem upset. I feel something on the wind, Rei,
but I don't have enough sight to know what it is."

Rei sighed in frustration. "Maybe that's what's giving me this headache.
I'll . . . try to do a fire reading later, OK? But could I just lay down and
rest for a little while first?"

The features on Grandpa's pumpkin face softened. "Of course, Rei. It was
thoughtless of me not to recognize how ill you are. You lay down and I'll get
you some broth."

Rei trudged over to Grandpa, kissed him on top of his head, then sought
out her futon. It was so welcome a feeling to lay down that she didn't even
take off her school uniform.

Deimos and Phobos continued to caw.

"I know," she murmured, on the verge of sleep. "After I rest."
* * * *
Ami walked absently into the courtyard of her apartment building. She
tried to think about Rei the entire walk home. The girl's headache could be
just due to the stress of the day or to atmospheric changes, but it could also
be the first symptom of something worse. And there was also Rei's psychic
nature to take into account.

But, to her surprise and annoyance, her attention kept drifting back to
the note in her pocket. Who could have sent it? Why didn't he sign it? Was he
shy? Ami thought shyness in a man was an adorable trait - - up to a point.
Then it became annoying.

Perhaps he had some physical deformity that he felt she would shy away
from. Amy liked to think she was above that sort of thing. If a woman cared
for a man and he was a good and kind man, what he looked like shouldn't matter.
However, if he was shallow or unkind, looks couldn't compensate for long.

Taiki proved that.

As much as anything, the note gnawed at her voluminous curiosity. Who
wrote it? What was he like?

Was he a he? Ami halted in her tracks. She swallowed anxiously. What if
another girl had written it? What would she do then?

So consumed was she by that thought, Ami almost ran right into someone
standing by the door to the apartment building. She stumbled back a few steps,
bowed penitently, then looked up, perplexed and embarrassed.

"Shingo!" she gasped. "I'm sorry. I didn't see you."

The boy just smiled at her, seemingly grateful she spoke to him at all.

"If you're looking for Usagi, she went home."

"Good," he sighed in relief. "She's the last person I'd want around here
right now." Shingo shifted uncomfortably, then took out a small box wrapped in
gold foil. "This is for you," he said, his eyes hopeful saucers.

"Why thank you, Shingo," Ami said, surprised. She opened the box and
found a silver chain with a silver dove pendant inside. "It's lovely, Shingo.
But I don't understand. What's the occasion?"

"No occasion," Shingo replied, so pleased he could burst. "Did you like
my note?"

Ami felt her stomach fall through the sidewalk.
* * * *
"I love you, Mamo-chan," Usagi cooed into the phone for the fourth time.
Luna lay on the foot of Usagi's futon and rolled her eyes in disgust. It was
bad enough Usagi was neglecting her schoolwork, but to have to listen to this
sickeningly sweet drivel was just too much. "I miss you. I know I saw you just
this morning. But - - I came so close to losing you."

Usagi listened to Mamoru talk. Luna was grateful for the silence.

"Sunday? I'd love it!" Usagi cried. "I love going to the amusement park!
I love going anywhere as long as it's with you. Oh, now don't be embarrassed!
I'd go anywhere in the universe with you."

"Could you start now?" muttered Luna.

"LUNA!" snapped Usagi. "Oh, Luna's just being Luna. She probably drove
Artemis away and now she doesn't want anyone else to have any fun."

"Oh!" Luna huffed indignantly. "Keep that up and you're going to find a
dead mouse in your bed."

Just then Luna noticed Shingo ascending the stairs. At once the cat did a
double take. Shingo had the same vacant, dreamy expression that Usagi so often
had when she was thinking about Mamoru. She hadn't thought Shingo of all people
capable of such things, but then puberty had come and gone.

"Gracious, the entire house must be affected," Luna murmured. "It's a
good thing Chibi-Usa's back in Crystal Tokyo."

"Hey, Windbag!" Shingo growled, thrusting his head through the doorway of
Usagi's room. "Get off the phone! Other people want to use it!"

"Bite me, Brat!" snapped Usagi, then continued her conversation with
Mamoru. Luna sighed with relief. At least some things were still consistent in
the household.

Noticing Usagi was now off the phone, Luna leaped over to her desk and sat
down facing the girl. "Did you happen to notice the look on Shingo's face just
now?"

"Shingo who?" whispered Usagi as she stared dreamily into her framed
portrait of Mamoru.

"And Artemis wonders why I have gray fur," Luna muttered.
* * * *
Rei's eye snapped open. She felt momentarily disoriented. Rolling over,
she saw she was laying on her futon. Then she noticed it was dark.

"How long did I sleep?" she mumbled. The girl brushed her long black hair
out of her face and strained her head toward the clock radio on her night stand.
"4:18? Great. That means I have to do my homework before breakfast."

Unsure whether to get up or try to go back to sleep, Rei sat up in bed.
Her mouth was dry. Moving to get up, she noticed a shape through the frosted
panels of the door. Curious, Rei walked to the door on unsteady feet and slid
it open.

Phobos stood on the railing outside her bedroom door leading to the
garden. The crow perked up when he spotted Rei, extended his great black wings
and flew to her without Rei first extending her arm. The young priestess barely
got her arm up for Phobos to perch on. Deimos instantly claimed the spot on the
railing Phobos had relinquished.

"Boy, you two are really spooked about something," Rei said. Phobos
cocked his head at her. "What do you sense?" The bird began clicking his bill
at her, Rei listening intently. Deimos began bobbing his head up and down.

Suddenly Phobos shoved away from Rei and landed warily on the railing.
Sensing a presence behind her, Rei turned and found her grandfather.

"Are you feeling better?" he asked.

"Well, the headache's gone," she said. "But I feel so wrung out."

"You were tossing and turning for several hours. What did you dream?"

Rei searched her memory.

"I don't remember," she gasped. This was unprecedented. Since the
blossoming of her second sight, her memory had recorded every dream clearly and
in detail.

"Perhaps it was something too painful to remember," Grandpa suggested.
"And you were ill . . ."

Purposefully Rei stalked back into the room and closed the door. She
steamed passed Grandpa, headed for the interior of the temple, still in her
slept-in school uniform.

"Rei, perhaps you should wait until you're stronger."

"No way. Something's out there, and if it's playing around with my mind,
I want to know about it."

The door slid open to an inner room. The room was vacant, save for a box
of tinder and a blackened metal fire pit in the center of the room.
* * * *
"Ami! Wait up!" Usagi called. She broke out into a run trying to catch
her friend.

Something was wrong. Ami had avoided her at lunch and wouldn't look at
her during any of the classes they shared. Now she was trying to sneak out the
back way to avoid Usagi again.

For a moment it looked like Ami would bolt and run. However, the girl
held her ground and let Usagi catch up, though it was obvious that she didn't
relish the impending conversation. It got Usagi to wondering what she'd done to
insult her friend.

"Ami?" puffed Usagi. "Did I - - did I do something wrong?"

Ami dropped her gaze and smiled. "Of course you'd think that. You
haven't done anything wrong."

"Then what is it? You've been avoiding me all day."

"I'm," Ami began, then stopped. "I don't know how to explain it. I'm
just - - very preoccupied about something. And it's very upsetting."

"Is it your mom? Is she sick?"

"No."

"Your dad?"

"No one is sick."

"You're not - - pregnant, are you?"

"USAGI!"

"Well give me some help here, Ami!"

"I," Ami began again, then skidded to a halt just as quickly. She let out
a condemned sigh. "I suppose you'll find out sooner or later. It's - - just so
embarrassing."

"What is it? Did somebody do something to you?"

Ami shook her head.

"Well what is it? You can tell me, Ami. I won't look down on you! We're
friends! We're always going to be friends, no matter what!"

"I know who wrote the note."

"You do! Who?"

Ami exhaled again. She couldn't look at her friend.

"It was Shingo."

"SHINGO?!"

"He told me last night."

"My brother Shingo?"

"Yes."

"Shingo the brat?"

"He's growing up, Usagi."

"Maybe physically."

"He was definitely the last person I expected it to be. And Shingo's a
nice person . . ."

"You don't live with him."

"Usagi! I've been thinking about this all day and . . . and I don't feel
anything for him! He's a very nice person, but . . ."

"So what did he say when you told him to buzz off?"

Ami's brow furrowed. She still avoided Usagi's gaze.

"I didn't," Ami began. "I didn't have the courage to tell him."

"What? You're going to go out with him?"

"No! Well, unless there's no way out of it."

"Ami!"

"I don't want to hurt him like that, Usagi. I know what it's like."

"So you're going to get into a relationship with someone you're not
interested in because you don't want to hurt him? And it's not even a guy, it's
Shingo!" Usagi could see Ami's lip quivering and her eyes watering. "Ami, what
about your feelings? What about what you want? Look at you! You're turning
yourself into a wreck over this and you haven't even gone out with him yet!"

"I don't know," Ami whimpered. "I wish I could just disappear!"

"Ami," Usagi said, firmly grasping her friend's shoulders. "You can't go
on like this! Answer me yes or no: are you interested in dating Shingo?"

"No," Ami sighed.

"Then this thing ends right now." Usagi turned on her heel and marched
off with as much determination as she'd ever demonstrated.

"Usagi?" Ami called after her. "What are you going to do?"

"Handle it!" she yelled over her shoulder.

"Oh dear," Ami squeaked.

"Hey, Ames," Makoto said, gently putting her hand on Ami's shoulder.
"Haven't seen much of you today. Hey, is something wrong?"

"And what's with Usagi?" asked Minako. "They having a two for one sale at
the ice cream store?"

"SHINGO!!!" Usagi bellowed the moment she hit the door to her house.

"Usagi!" Ikuko hissed, popping her head out of the kitchen. "What are you
carrying on about!"

"WHERE IS THAT LITTLE MICROBE!?"

"Now what did your brother do?" Ikuko sighed. But Usagi ignored her mom
and bolted upstairs. "Oh, why couldn't I have had children and not two demons
from Hell?"

Usagi gained the top of the stairs, barreled past a startled Luna and
shoved open the door to Shingo's room. Shingo was at his desk, doing math
problems, and turned with a start.

"Hey, what are you doing busting into my room like this?" growled Shingo.

"Where do you get off?" snarled Usagi, eyes blazing. Just then, Usagi's
sailor senshi communicator went off.

"Go answer your pager, airhead," snapped Shingo. "In YOUR room."

Usagi ripped off the communicator and flung it out into the hall.

"Did you think it'd be a big funny joke?" Usagi shouted. "Or did you talk
yourself into thinking she was actually interested in children, because I don't
know which is more pathetic!"

"What are you talking about?"

"That note of yours!"

"How do you know about that?" gasped Shingo.

"Leave her alone, Shingo! She's not interested in a child like you! And
if I find out you did do this as a prank, I will make your life a living hell!"

"I'm not a child! And how about you let her decide, Odango-brains!"

"She has! She's just too nice of a person to say anything!"

"What?"

"Yes, Ami is currently worrying herself sick rather than hurt your
feelings! That is unacceptable! Now I'm TELLING you to stay away from her!"

"You don't tell me what to do!"

"Don't try me, Shingo," warned Usagi menacingly. "I'm still bigger than
you and I can do things to you that you haven't even dreamed of!"

The words were no sooner out of her mouth than Usagi regretted them.
Shingo glared at her, angry and confused and just a little hurt. It pained her
that her brother was capable of causing such distress for her friend, and it
occurred to her now that it might not have been intentional. But the battle
lines had been drawn and to back down now risked Ami's peace of mind.

The two siblings glared for a few more seconds. When it became apparent
that neither wished to prolong the battle, Usagi stalked off. Luna met her out
in the hall.

"What in heaven's name was that about?" Luna whispered.

"Drop it Luna," Usagi replied curtly.

"Very well," the cat said stiffly. "The sailor senshi communicator is
still paging. You might wish to answer it."

Usagi picked up the communicator and pressed the receive button. Minako's
face appeared.

"Where have you been?" Minako asked.

"Something came up at home," Usagi said thinly. "What's wrong?"

"Trouble. Rei needs us at this address - - now."

"I'm on my way." Usagi flew down the steps, thinking of a cover story for
leaving as she went. "Mom!" she called out. "I'm going out! Ami needs me!"

"What happened?" Ikuko called as Usagi opened the door.

"Ask your son!"
* * * *
By the time she reached the mysterious empty house, much of her anger had
spent itself and feelings of guilt were beginning to creep in. Shingo was a
brat, but she'd rarely known him to be intentionally vicious to anyone - - other
than her. Maybe he actually did have genuine feelings for Ami. If so, that was
going to make a complicated matter that much more complicated.

Night had fallen. The other senshi were waiting for her. Mercury seemed
to be trying to suppress her conflicted feelings beneath rational detachment.
Usagi transformed into Eternal Sailor Moon, though her thoughts were clouded
with worry for Ami.

Then she got a look at the house.

"The trouble's in - - there?!" squealed Sailor Moon, staring at the
ominous structure.

"Yes," Sailor Mars replied and Sailor Moon noticed that she seemed even
worse for wear than Mercury. "The house is possessed by a spirit . . ."

"WE'VE GOT TO FIGHT A G-GHOST!!" gasped Sailor Moon.

"Easy, 'Braveheart'," Jupiter snickered, patting Sailor Moon on the
shoulder. "We'll be right behind you."

"As I was saying," Mars continued, annoyed. "This spirit attacked a crane
operator yesterday - - scared him into a coma. It was right about the time I
got my headache."

"This thing's vicious?" whimpered Sailor Moon.

"It was probably defending the house. But it clearly doesn't have any
hesitance about hurting people it sees as enemies, and when it gets really
upset, it throws off psychic vibrations strong enough for me to pick up a mile
away."

"I can't get any abnormal readings coming from the house," Mercury
reported, clicking her visor off.

"Well, maybe it's gone now?" Sailor Moon offered weakly.

"Sorry, I can still sense it. Even when it's not threatened, those
vibrations feel like a toothache and the closer I get to the house, the stronger
it gets."

The four senshi took two steps toward the house. A low wail began to rise
up from the grounds, surrounding them. Then they heard a shrill whimper from
behind them. Looking behind them, they saw Sailor Moon, rooted to the spot.
Her eyes were saucers and her teeth were biting into her lower lip.

"Now, Usagi!" Mars growled.

"But . . ."

"Usagi, I endured one of the worse nights of my life because of that
spirit, plus missed a day of school doing fire readings to track it down! Right
now I feel like I want to throw up! Now we are going to go in there and deal
with that spirit, because I DO NOT intend to go through another night of that!
Now MARCH!"

"ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT!" bellowed Sailor Moon. She headed for the house,
flanked by Venus and Jupiter, trembling noticeably. "I hate being Sailor Moon,
I hate being Sailor Moon, I hate being Sailor Moon!!!"

Mars was in the lead when the group reached the front door. Signaling
them to stop, the priestess pulled out one of her wards and held it up. The
moaning grew louder and the wind whistled around them. Her voice a whisper
beneath the tempest, Mars recited the sacred chant.

"Let's go," Mars said.

She touched the doorknob, then grabbed her head and staggered back. With
great difficulty, Mars kept her feet.

"Rei-chan!" Sailor Moon cried. She moved to her friend.

"Get out!" Mars hissed, her face twisted in malevolent indignation.

"Rei-chan?" Sailor Moon gasped, pulling back in shock.

"Get out! Go!" Mars growled. "Leave, or I will destroy you!"

"She's possessed!" Venus gasped.

"Possessed?" Jupiter goggled. "Just how strong is this thing?"

"It's true," Mercury said, her visor on again. "I'm getting two
brain-wave patterns!"

"No!" wailed Sailor Moon. "Please, let her go!"

"Get out!" snapped Mars. "You will not destroy my house! He is coming!
I must be here when he returns!"

"Who?" Jupiter demanded. "Who are you waiting for?"

But Mars clenched her fists together in front of her, the index fingers
steepled.

"Fire . . ." she bellowed, glaring straight at Sailor Moon.

"VENUS LOVE-ME CHAIN!" cried Venus.

The chain sprang out from Venus and whipped around Mars. Her arms were
pulled to her sides even as the air crackled in front of her. Venus jerked hard
and pulled Mars off her feet as the word "Soul" sprang from her mouth. A
fireball exploded into the air far above Sailor Moon.

"Kill you!" roared Mars as she writhed on the ground, snared in the
Love-Me Chain. "You won't take our house! I'll kill you all first!"

"Sailor Moon," prodded Venus as she held the chain taut. "You think you
can pull that ghost out of her?"

Sailor Moon nodded. Concentrating, she summoned the Moon Tier. Extending
it toward Mars with a regal bearing, Sailor Moon's eyes gently closed.

"Silver Moon Crystal Power Kiss," she whispered.

"No!" wailed Mars. "I must stay! I must be here to welcome my beloved
back! He comes! He comes!"

Then Mars stiffened as the silver energy engulfed her body. A shrill cry
escaped her mouth. Sailor Moon nearly faltered upon hearing it, until she
realized the cry was following a faint black mist rising up into the air from
Mars' nose and mouth.

". . . and stay out!" bellowed Mars angrily. She pulled into a fetal
position, shivering.

"Rei-chan, are you all right?" cried Sailor Moon, skidding to her knees
next to Mars and hugging the girl.

"If I wasn't so tired and wrung out, she never would have gotten in,"
muttered Mars. As if for the first time, she noticed Sailor Moon's arms around
her neck. She patted her friend on the back. "Yeah, I'm all right. Thanks."

The howling was back. This time it had an angrier tone to it. The senshi
all looked around warily.

"What's the story on this ghost, I wonder?" Jupiter asked.

"It's the spirit of a dead woman," Mars replied, rubbing her head. "Her
name's Mariko. She died five years ago, in this house. When she possessed me,
I could sense the whole story in her memory."

"What did she die of?" Mercury asked.

"She starved to death." The others gasped. "She was in love with this
guy. He left town and she literally stopped eating or caring for herself
because she was pining away for him. And now she refuses to go to her rest,
choosing to remain here waiting for him to return."

"Wow," Jupiter said. "Kind of romantic, in a way."

"A stupid way," sneered Venus.

"You don't know the half of it," Mars continued. "When she first
confessed her love to this guy, he told her he wasn't interested." Mercury and
Sailor Moon exchanged guilty glances. "She chased after him until he finally
moved out of Tokyo just to get away from her. He wasn't coming back."

The howl grew even more shrill, raising the hackles on the senshi.

"She must be pretty stubborn," Venus commented.

"She'd have to be to resist Rei's ward," Sailor Moon added.

"Well, I'm not exactly in peak shape, either. And the thought of losing
this house has her pretty stirred up."

"Can I help?" asked Sailor Moon. "I mean, I'm always drawing strength
from you guys. Maybe you could take some from me for a change."

Mars smiled. "What do you mean 'for a change'?" A wide grin grew on
Sailor Moon's face. "Sure. Let's try it."

Sailor Moon lined herself up behind Mars. The Moon Tier began to glow.
Mercury reached out and grasped hold of Sailor Moon's left wrist. They
exchanged glances and smiled. Venus closed her hand around Sailor Moon's right
wrist. Jupiter's hands rested on Sailor Moon's shoulders from behind. The Tier
glowed brighter.

Mars produced another ward. She pressed it to her forehead. The howling
grew in intensity until it seemed like a tornado swirling around them, but Mars
was not afraid. She opened her mind and felt the power of Eternal Sailor Moon
and the senshi fill her body. The sensation was indescribable. She'd never
known such vitality and power in all of her days.

"How does she do it?" Mars thought. "How does Usagi wield this much power
and stay so humble?"

The strident supernatural whine brought Mars back to her task. She
recited the sacred chant, then casually flung the ward forward. It whipped
through the swirling air currents with a life of its own, then attached itself
to the front door. The air shrieked in pain and frustration.

"Go, spirit!" Mars yelled, bowing slightly. Her forearms were horizontal
before her, the open right hand covering the closed fist of her left. "Nothing
more remains for you here! Go to your rest and bear us no more ill will!"

"Noooooo!" the wind howled back. "He will cooooooommmmeeee! I must wait
for hiiiiimmmmm!"

"He is not coming! Please go to your rest in peace!"

"Liaarrrrrr! He will commmmeeeeee!"

"GO!"

The air surrounding them seemed to rush from Mars and slam against the
house, then exploded outward. Slowly the swirling winds died away. Slowly the
howl quieted to nothingness. The five senshi stood there, waiting.

"Mars?" asked Venus.

"She's gone," Mars confirmed quietly. Then she turned to Sailor Moon and
grinned. "And I've never felt better! We ought to bottle you!" Sailor Moon
smiled sheepishly.

"Man, all of that over a guy," Jupiter marveled. "Can you imagine it?"

"Well," Mercury replied softly, "rejection can be devastating to some
people. There are some who just can't handle the pain."

"Hey, remember who you're talking to?" Jupiter grinned. "I'm the queen of
the broken hearts. I know it hurts. But you hurt a while, then you move on.
There's always a new guy around the next corner, and he may be the one."

Sailor Moon nodded, deep in thought. She began to wander off, morphing
back to Usagi as she walked.

"Phew!" Minako sighed. "That was some fight. Who's up for throwing back
a few sodas?"

"Can't," Rei said, heading off. "Temple chores."

"Homework," Makoto said, leaving too.

"I have some things I have to think about," Ami said, begging off.

"Man, you guys are no fun anymore!" scowled Minako.
* * * *
Usagi searched the house for Shingo, without success. With a frustrated
puff of breath that scattered the heart-shaped curl on her forehead, the girl
leaned against the doorway to her room.

"Where could he be?" she wondered aloud.

"Are you looking for Shingo?" Luna asked quietly.

"Yes. Have you seen him?"

"You're not going to berate him again, are you?" the cat quizzed her.

"No! I," and Usagi stopped, searching for a face-saving response. She
finally quit in futility. "Well, don't get all smug, but I wanted to, well,
apologize to him."

Luna smiled gently. "He's out in the garden. He's quite the troubled
young man, too."

Usagi nodded, worried. Downstairs, she slid the door to the garden open
and ventured out. Shingo was sitting on the step, his head propped up in his
hands, staring out at the garden without seeing it. Usagi sat down quietly next
to him.

"Shingo," she said softly. "Well, sorry for jumping you earlier. Ami's
my friend, you know, and I kind of get protective of her. And I sometimes
forget that you have feelings, too - - just like you sometimes forget I do."

"Yeah," Shingo whispered hoarsely.

"I'm sorry things between you and Ami didn't work out, either. She's just
as broken up about this as you are. She never wanted to hurt you."

"Then why did she? I mean, what's wrong with me? Is it our ages? Is she
in love with someone else? Am I ugly?"

"Shingo," Usagi said, her eyes burning from welling tears. "It isn't that.
She likes you. She just doesn't love you. If you don't feel it, you can't
fake it. You only end up hurting people worse if you do."

"I could make her love me," Shingo replied. Usagi put a hand on his arm.

"No, Shingo, you can't. I know." Shingo glared at her. "Believe me, I
do know a few things. You can't force someone to love you."

She could see he didn't want to believe her.

"Remember about two years ago, when Mamo-chan and I were having problems?"

"Vaguely."

"Well, we broke up, temporarily, over a misunderstanding. He didn't want
anything to do with me, but I wouldn't let it go. I kept pestering him and
begging and pleading with him, trying to get him to love me again, or at least
explain why he didn't love me anymore."

"Well, you two got back together, so it must have worked."

"No! We got back together in spite of that! By not respecting his wishes,
all I was doing was driving him further away from me. I ended up humiliating
him and myself and for nothing. We only got back together again when an - -
older man who was familiar with our problem got us together and explained the
misunderstanding."

"Was it Dad?"

"No," Usagi smiled, rolling her eyes. "Daddy probably would have tried to
strangle Mamo-chan. It was - - someone who knew Mamo-chan very well. The point
is I almost drove him away because I didn't respect his wishes and his
feelings."

"Really?" Shingo asked doubtfully.

"And you have to respect Ami's wishes, too. Right now, she's willing to
be your friend. If you try to force her to love you, you won't even have that."

Shingo stared at his shoes. Then his fists balled up so tightly that
Usagi feared they would break.

"But what about me?!" he cried in anguish. "Usagi, she's all I can think
about! I hurt every time I'm not around her! I go out of my way just to be
able to look at her! I see things in the stores and wonder if she'd like them!
Life seems so empty and pointless without her! If she's out of reach," and he
bruskly wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, "then what's left for me?
What do I do?"

Then Usagi did something she never in all her short life imagined she'd
ever do: she put her arms around Shingo and hugged him. Even more miraculously,
Shingo didn't flinch away.

"You move on, little brother," she said softly, holding him tight. "It's
the only thing you can do."

"Move on to what?" he whimpered.

"Someone else."

"There is no one else."

"I know it seems like that now. But you never know what the future will
bring. You might meet someone you like better than Ami. People do it all the
time."

Shingo looked at her doubtfully.

"Let's take Ami, for example. Two years ago she was so stuck on Urawa I
thought she was going to print wedding announcements. But they drifted apart.
Then last year she was hot for another guy for a while. She wouldn't tell me
who, but I think he was an older guy. I guess she finally realized she couldn't
have him, so she moved on. And a few months ago she was practically drooling
over Taiki of the Three Star Lights."

"Is there a point to this?" Shingo asked jealously.

"Of course there is, brat!" snapped Usagi. "The point is, a year from now
you may meet some girl who's really cute who doesn't mind that you're a loud,
obnoxious brat, and then you'll say 'Ami who'. But if you sit here in the
garden wasting your life wanting something you can never have, you're never
going to meet her. And life's too much fun for that." Usagi looked hopefully
at her younger brother. "OK?"

"It just seems so hard, you know?"

"Yeah. But you can do it."

"Uh huh." Shingo kept his gaze leveled at his shoes.

Usagi sat and looked at Shingo. They were both silent for the longest
time and the girl wondered what was going through her little brother's mind.

"If you tell anybody about this, I'll deny it," he said finally, "but
. . . well, thanks."

"Don't worry," Usagi grinned. "I've got a reputation to maintain, too."

She rubbed Shingo's arm, then wandered back up to her room. Flopping down
on the bed, Usagi stared up at the ceiling, hoping that Shingo would be able to
get over his deep hurt, for his own sake as much as for Ami's.

Then she looked down and noticed Luna. The cat was sitting on the bed
next to Usagi's hip. She was just sitting there, staring at Usagi and smiling.

"What?" asked Usagi.

"Oh, don't mind me," Luna replied admiringly. "I was just sitting here
wondering precisely when it was my little Usagi got to be so wise."

"Luna, do you have a fever?" The cat's grin grew wider.

"That was a very nice thing you did for your brother," Luna told her.
"And some very sound advice." Luna shifted on the mattress. "Usagi, I'll
admit, when we first met I had my doubts about you, both as a princess and as a
person; but no longer. Crystal Tokyo is going to be in very good hands."

A smile sprouted on Usagi's lips. She reached over and scratched Luna
behind her ear.
* * * *
Taking the steps three at a time, Usagi descended the stairs and ran to
the front door upon hearing the bell. It was Sunday and she had been waiting
for Mamoru for an hour.

"I'LL GET IT!" she bellowed. "Oh, I hope it's Mamo-chan!" Opening the
door, Usagi found a surprise. "Ami?"

"Hello, Usagi," Ami said shyly. "I'd like to speak to Shingo - - if he's
willing to see me."

"Sure. HEY, BRAT!" Ami's cheeks flushed. "Somebody at the door for
you!"

The girls heard Shingo shuffle down the stairs. He looked glum until he
spotted Ami at the door.

"Ami?" he said, surprised and unsure whether he should approach.

"Hello, Shingo," Ami said timidly. "If it's all right with you, could we
talk? Please?"

Shingo glanced warily at Usagi. His sister nodded ever so slightly.

"Be good," Usagi warned softly as she walked past him back upstairs. He
shot her an acid glare, then joined Ami outside on the front step. Neither one
would look at the other.

"I'm sorry if I hurt you, Shingo," Ami began. "I just couldn't find any
other way around it. That's why I didn't say anything that evening at my
building. I should have been honest with you up front."

"Guess I caught you a little off guard," Shingo mumbled. "I thought you
knew I liked you for a while now."

"I guess I just couldn't believe someone could actually be interested in
me. I wish I could return your feelings, but I can't. You want me to be honest
about that, don't you?"

"Well," Shingo replied hesitantly, "I honestly wouldn't mind if you'd
faked it for a couple of months." Ami's lips curled into a smile. Then she
grew serious again.

"I'm giving your pendant back," Ami said, handing him the box. "Please
give it to a girl who deserves it."

"You deserve it, Ami."

"No. Only a girl who loves you deserves it."

Shingo stared at the box.

"You keep it, Ami," he said. "I bought it with you in mind. It wouldn't
look right on anybody else. Please? That way, at least I can think you were my
girl for a few minutes anyway."

Ami felt tears welling.

"All right," she smiled. "I hope we can still be friends."

"Give me a little while, but - - yeah."

"Thank you. I hope when you do find the girl who was meant for you, she
realizes how lucky she'll be."

"It's not too late," Shingo offered. "The position's open if you want to
change your mind."

"Good-bye, Shingo," smirked Ami. "Good luck to you."

Shingo watched Ami walk off down the street and out of his life - - though
technically she'd never been 'in his life', that fact was lost on him at the
moment. Slowly the misery he felt on the inside manifested itself on his young
face. He let out a long, tortured sigh.

"Man, love sucks," he whispered.

THE END