Sailor Moon-Violence and Corruption
Chapter 12-"Loose Ends"

"Thank you for helping me," Usagi smiled as she clasped Petz'
hands in her own. Karaberas, Beruche and Cooan stood a few steps
behind her, while the inner and outer senshi flanked Usagi. "You
don't know how much this meant to me."

"We know how much it meant to us," Petz replied. "And please,
Usagi, call on us again if you ever need us. This was just the first
installment on a debt that can never be paid in full."

Usagi looked up at her with those wide, vivacious blue eyes.
"Petz," she playfully admonished, "friends don't owe debts to
friends."

Petz looked down and smiled, gently chastened. "Very well.
Then in the future, should you ever need us, call and we will
come - - because that's what friends do for friends." Usagi's smile
widened until it threatened to burst her face.

"Yes, Usagi, and we'll see to it that she keeps her word,"
added Karaberas playfully.

"And we'll beat her up if she doesn't," Cooan tacked on.
Beruche just closed her eyes and looked mortified.

"Please don't do that on my account," giggled Usagi.

"Don't be nervous about it," Cooan replied. "Actually it'd be
kind of fun," and she winked at Usagi.

As the Black Moon sisters walked away, Usagi turned to the
outer senshi, now back in their civilian guises.

"Thank you all," Usagi smiled. "I couldn't have done it
without you."

"As if we could do anything else but help you, my Princess,"
Setsuna replied graciously.

"Are you going to call me that for the rest of my life?" whined
Usagi.

"No, my Princess," and Usagi sighed in relief. "For one day
you will be Queen." Usagi groaned.

"Don't let her get to you, Usagi," smiled Michiru. "She's like
that around us, too." Hotaru giggled in the background. "We may not
always agree, Usagi, but our goals are the same."

"I couldn't ask for more," Usagi replied.

"Nice going, Dumpling," Haruka said, patting her on the
shoulder. "I knew you had it in you."

"I'm glad one of us did," Usagi grinned uneasily.

"I'll be there whenever you need me, Usagi-chan," smiled
Hotaru.

"And whenever you need me, Hotaru-chan," Usagi replied.

Finally her closest friends gathered around her.

"You look like a candidate for a nice long shopping trip,"
Minako told her.

"I'd love to!" Usagi gasped. "But I've got to stay home. My
family and Luna will be getting out of the hospital soon, I imagine,
and I have to take care of them."

"Need some help?" Makoto offered. "I'm kind of handy in the
kitchen."

"I know a thing or two about medicine," said Ami.

"I could bring Artemis so Luna has some company," added Minako.

"And I can offer prayers," Rei said impishly, "just in case you
make their injuries worse."

Usagi responded with a resounding raspberry. They all
dissolved into laughter and walked off arm in arm.
* * * *
Usagi ushered her family back into their home. Luna was
cradled in her arms and Kenji insisted on supporting Ikuko, even
though he still had a bad shoulder and her legs worked perfectly.
Entering the front hall, the three recent patients looked around.
What they found was shocking.

"I don't understand," Kenji whispered. "This place was
wrecked." There was no trace of there having ever been trouble in
the room. Everything was good as new and precisely where it
belonged. "I didn't imagine it, did I?"

"If you did, I did too," Shingo said, equally stunned.

"Maybe the real senshi came back and fixed everything," Ikuko
suggested.

"Yeah!" Shingo gasped in excitement. "I bet Sailor Moon did
it! Man, she's the best!"

"She certainly is," Ikuko smiled and shot Usagi a proud glance.
Usagi lowered her gaze to hide her own smile.

"I'm going to take Luna out into the garden," Usagi announced.
"And then I'M COOKING! I don't want any of you lifting a finger."

"You're cooking?" moaned Shingo. "Are you trying to put us
back in the hospital?"

"Shut up, Brat, or I'll put a whole canister of salt in yours!"

"It could only help," Shingo muttered.

Out in the garden, Usagi set Luna down gingerly. The cat
walked around in the grass.

"Are you feeling better?" Luna asked. "You nearly fainted
after you did the living room."

"Yeah, I'm all right," Usagi said. "I just kind of got
light-headed for a little bit. The crystal takes a lot out of me
when I try certain things. The more important question is how are
you?"

"Well, I won't be doing much prowling for the next few weeks,
but I'm getting there." Luna cautiously took in a deep breath of the
garden air. "Oh, but it's just so grand to be out of that bloody
hospital. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you when you needed me,
Usagi."

"I managed," Usagi grinned.

"Indeed you did, and against a fearsome foe I'm told. I'm very
proud of you, and just a little amazed - - although given everything
you've handled over the years, I suppose I shouldn't be. You're
reaching the point where you may not need me at all."

"That'll never happen," Usagi grinned. "You're staying right
by my side, even if I have to start messing up on purpose."

"Let's not do anything drastic," Luna said, returning the grin.
"I'll stay voluntarily. I don't want you sliding back into bad
habits." Luna padded through the cool grass some more. "Usagi - -
that look your mother gave you. Does she know about your other
identity?"

"I didn't tell her," Usagi said, looking very pleased with
herself.
* * * *
Dressed in a vibrant red blouse with short puffed sleeves and a
plunging neckline and tight black jeans that showed off her pride in
her hips and legs, but were still modest, Rei Hino walked down the
street. It was late afternoon, approaching evening, and the café and
nightclub district was gearing up for another night. Her black hair
flowing elegantly behind her back, Rei searched the clubs and dives
until she found the one she was looking for.

Pushing gently through the door, the girl surveyed the room.
There was a bar and about a dozen tables arranged around a stage.
Since it was early, only two other people occupied the place beyond
the bartender, a bored waitress in a skimpy costume patterned after
something out of Playboy and the entertainer on stage. The
entertainer was singing, if it could truthfully be called that.
Focusing on the singer, sitting on a stool before a microphone as he
played his guitar, Rei grew a wry smile and walked down to the front
of the stage. Just like she had figured. She sat at the front table
to the right, waved off the waitress and waited for Yuuichiro to
finish his set. When he did and climbed down from the stage, she
rose to meet him.

"Rei!" he gasped, startled. Instantly Yuuichiro sank to the
floor and bowed. "I'm sorry for what happened!"

"Yuuichiro," Rei said, smiling.

"Please forgive me! I don't know what possessed me to do what
I did!"

"Yuuichiro," Rei repeated, the smile dimming.

"It must have been a demon that . . ."

"Would you stand up!" fumed Rei. Her fingers locked into
Yuuichiro's bushy brown hair and she dragged him to his feet.

"Please don't kill me," whimpered Yuuichiro.

"Yuuichiro! Shut - - up!" Rei growled. She took a moment to
compose herself. "You WERE possessed by a demon. It used you to get
to me. There's nothing to forgive."

"Really?"

"Really." Rei looked down at her hands uncomfortably. "So, if
you want to come home, feel free."

"I can?"

"Yes," she said, then looked up at him with the vulnerability
of a newborn fawn. "You see, um - - well, Grandpa - - misses you."

Yuuichiro grinned tenderly. "Well the last thing in the world
I want to do is disappoint - - 'him'. I really admire 'him' and I
like 'him' a lot." Rei's mouth curled into a tentative smile.
* * * *
Artemis lay on a pillow that sat by the window on the desk in
Minako's room. The sun shone through the window and Artemis was
soaking up the warming rays. He was so content that he barely
noticed the splint on his foreleg.

"I'm going up to my room to take care of Artemis!" he heard
Minako bellowing just outside the door. "Why don't you put one of
those electronic collars around my neck! That way you can track my
every move!"

"So much for that nap," mumbled Artemis.

"Honestly, she's never cared before! Disappear for a few days
and she turns into a clinging vine! It's so phony." Minako stopped
grumbling when she entered the room and adopted a happy face. "Here
you are!" Minako sang out. She wore an ear to ear grin and carried a
tray into the room. Artemis sighed. "I brought you a little treat!"

"Minako," Artemis groaned.

"I got some milk and a little tuna, some star candies and some
blades of grass . . ."

"Minako, I just ate a half hour ago."

"Oh. Oh, yeah. OK, do you want another pillow?"

"No."

"Fluff this one?"

"No."

"Soft music?"

"You don't own any soft music."

"I can get some."

"No."

"A little catnip?"

"Umm . . .maybe later."

"Sunglasses?"

"Get real."

"A female cat?"

"Minako!" Artemis yelled. "I just want to rest. Let me soak
up some sun for a few hours."

"OK," Minako said glumly. "I know!" She began stroking
Artemis's back. The cat, wary at first, began to get into it. He
lay back down, closed his eyes and began purring as she stroked his
fur.

"YEOW!" Artemis gasped when Minako's hand veered off course.
"Don't touch the flank!"

"I'm sorry!" Minako gasped. "Do you want me to put more
medicine on it?"

"NO! Minako, just LEAVE - ME - ALONE!"

"All right," Minako whispered. She turned her back to him,
making Artemis feel like a heel. Then he heard her sniffling.

"Minako . . ." he sighed.

"I'm sorry," she whimpered. "I'm just trying to make up for
what I did to you."

"You don't have to," her guardian replied. "I know you weren't
responsible. You don't have to nurse me. I appreciate it, but it's
not necessary."

"No!" Minako declared, jumping to her feet. "It's my duty and
obligation as your friend to do all I can to help you regain your
health! I, Minako Aino, hereby vow not to rest until you've regained
- - Artemis, where are you going?"

"Back to the vet hospital," the cat replied, limping out the
door, "where it's safe!"

"I'll come with you!"
* * * *
Walking to school was, for once, an exciting prospect. Usagi
still hated learning with a passion, and she hated leaving her family
alone (and she was no doubt facing big trouble for missing all the
time she missed), but it would give her a chance to be with Ami,
Makoto and Minako again. She knew she could endure anything to do
that. In fact, she knew from experience. She bounced along the
street, oblivious to everyone around her.

"Hey, Odango Atama," said a familiar voice behind her. "What's
your hurry? Late for school again?"

"MAMO-CHAN!" she squealed upon turning and seeing her fiancee
leaning up against the arcade, peering over his sunglasses. She ran
up to him, leaped into his arms and smothered him with kisses. "What
are you doing here?"

"Moving back," he smiled, supporting her with his arms as she
hung from his neck.

"But what about school?"

"They have schools here."

"But I thought you wanted to study at Harvard?"

He dropped her lightly to the sidewalk. "I wasn't doing any
good there. I couldn't seem to concentrate. I wasn't learning
anything." He paused and smiled. "Well, I did learn one thing. I
learned I need to be near you. That time and distance only makes me
yearn for you more, not less."

"That's so sweet," sighed Usagi.

"So I'll miss ANOTHER semester and pick up my studies here."
He grasped Usagi's hand as they walked. "And at least now when I
sense Sailor Moon is in trouble, I can do something instead of sit
half a world away and suffer and worry."

Usagi sighed with contentment as they walked hand in hand to
her school.

"Take me out tonight?" she asked.

"Sorry. Between the two moves and saving for tuition, I'm out
of cash at the moment."

"I hear the bench by the lake in the park is still free," Usagi
offered, glancing timidly up at him from beneath hooded eyes.

"Oh?"

"I also hear it's very romantic."

"On one condition," Mamoru said. "We go only AFTER you finish
your homework."

Usagi stuck out her lower lip.

"OK," she mumbled. "At least I've got extra incentive to
finish now."
* * * *
The next day after school, sitting in the park on the very same
bench she and Mamoru had cuddled on the night before, with her spiral
notebook - - the one she was supposed to use to take notes for her
history class - - Usagi sat with pencil in hand, sketching cute
caricatures of the various animals. So far she had a bird, a
squirrel and even a rabbit that had wandered out of concealment a
little earlier in the day than usual. So absorbed was she in her
drawing, Usagi didn't notice her friends approach until they were
almost upon her. She quickly slammed the notebook shut.

"Whatcha doing there, Usagi?" asked Makoto.

"Um, nothing!" she replied too quickly.

"She's probably decorating her history notebook with a bunch of
love letters to Mamoru," needled Rei.

"I am not!" responded Usagi, punctuating her statement with an
extended tongue.

"Haven't you outgrown that yet?" grumbled Rei. Then she
returned fire with her own tongue.

"You seemed to be very absorbed in it," Ami observed. "We're
just curious about it. Unless it's none of our business."

"Well," Usagi hesitated. "I'm just practicing my drawing.
Luna thinks that since I like drawing so much, I should go to art
school after graduation and try to become a professional artist."

"I think that's a wonderful idea!" gasped Ami.

"I didn't know you liked to draw," Makoto grinned. "Can we
see?"

"Oh, I don't know," hesitated Usagi. "They're not very good.
I wouldn't want you to laugh."

"Usagi-chan!" Minako said in a tone that commanded respect.
"The first thing an artist has to learn is how to take criticism.
Hand it over."

With an expression that was more akin to facing a firing squad,
Usagi handed the notebook over to Minako. She and Makoto eagerly
opened it and leafed through until they found the page with the
drawings.

"Oh, these are cute!" squealed Minako.

"You think so?" gaped Usagi happily.

"These are absolutely darling!" gushed Makoto. "You're really
good!"

"You're not just saying that?" Usagi questioned as Ami reached
for the notebook.

"No, if I were trying to spare your feelings, I'd say they were
'nice'," Minako answered.

"OK," Usagi smiled, then frowned. "Hey, you say my singing's
nice!"

"They're a little rough, but you show definite talent," Ami
smiled. "Of course, you've got room to improve, you know. But if
you work hard in art school, I think you can be very good."

"Just because your dad's an artist doesn't make you an expert,"
grumbled Minako, pulling her eyelid down at Ami.

"Well Luna said that if you like doing something, it's not
really work," grinned Usagi. "And if I've got to get a job, I'd
rather have one that isn't work."

"Aren't you going to let me see them?" Rei asked quietly.

Usagi hesitated, swallowed, and then steeled herself. She took
the notebook and passed it to Rei. Rei took it with a neutral
expression, but Usagi girded herself for a cutting review. Instead,
as Rei examined the drawings, a contented smile seemed to grow wider
on her lips. Her eyes began to glow with warmth.

"These are adorable, Usagi," grinned Rei.

"Really?" Usagi asked doubtfully.

"Congratulations. You've managed to capture a little piece of
your soul on paper."

Usagi stared, her grin so wide that her front teeth were
pressing into her lower lip. Then she emitted a sound that seemed a
mix of a giggle and a sob and flung her arms around Rei, hugging her
tight.

"Thank you, Rei-chan!" she squealed.

"Are you going to be a manga artist?"

"Maybe," Usagi shrugged.

"Promise me a copy?"

"How about a trade?" offered Usagi. "A copy of my first manga
for a copy of your first album?"

Rei chuckled happily. "Deal!"

"Yeah, and you can all eat at my restaurant for free on
opening night," grinned Makoto.

"And I promise you all tickets to my first appearance on
television," Minako added. Then she glanced mischievously at Ami.
"And Ami promises to deliver everybody's first baby for free."

"MINAKO!" gasped the others, all except Ami. Ami was too busy
blushing furiously.

END