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(review replies; b e n e a t h s n o w . l i v e j o u r n a l . c o m / 6 9 5 3 . h t m l)


Usagi collapsed onto her bed with a sigh, curling up with the fluffy pillows as she allowed her tense muscles to relax into the soft bedding. The so called 'meeting' with Heero's friends wasn't exactly what she had expected... granted, she knew it wasn't going to be a tea and crumpets sort of meeting, and she should have known that prejudices would exist between their two species...

She snorted. Baka Usagi. Quatre was a gentleman in his quiet cautiousness, Trowa merely accepting although wary. Wufei... Ah, Wufei-san. Funnily enough, he was probably the one she liked the most. He openly admitted his prejudices. Usagi knew where she stood with Wufei; there would be no false fronts between them. Wufei could carry on hating her in his fashion (for whatever reason, but for the moment that wasn't important), and Usagi would accept that.

Heero was a mystery. Although, so far, he had only attempted to help her, he was a complete blank. Even when she had tried to reach out to him slightly with her heart, he remained blank. Maybe I should try to get Mako-chan to use her empathy... she's much better at it then I am. Between the careful stances of Trowa, Quatre, and Heero, Usagi had needed to get out of that house.

And then when they had started treating her like a child - talking about her as if she wasn't in the room with them - she left. She managed to say goodbye and refuse their 'protection' before she exited the house, however.

Granted, Heero soon followed her, to take her home (a fact she was grudgingly grateful for, as she doubted any of them would take it well that she was Sailor Moon, and could very well get home on her own thankyouverymuch) but one of them she could take. Her heart ached around them, for reasons unknown to her. Like it had ached when Mamoru was lost to the clutches of the Dark Kingdom, and she had learned that she was Princess Serenity.

Usagi frowned into a pillow, clutching the closest stuffed animal.

What was Heero's reason for helping her? Was it merely to repay a debt? He had clearly stated tonight that he wasn't all that appreciative of her help, laying part of the blame on her shoulders as he stated that he would have managed to get away had she not been around; another target for Kyra.

Did Heero know she was the moon princess? She doubted it. Heero would have come out and asked...right? There were no more enemies from the Dark Kingdom that were after them; he couldn't be getting something out of helping her, except her gratitude.

So why...?

Usagi groaned and burrowed further underneath the blankets. No more thinking. I want to sleep.


"How... strange." Quatre was currently crouched over the small flecks of ash that had previously been Kyra.

"What is it?" Trowa asked quietly, leaning against the brick wall and keeping watch for uninvited guests.

"Tsukino-san's energy... it's like nothing I've ever sensed before. It's white. Pure. I can't compare it to anything we've ever run across."

Trowa arched an eyebrow, taking a step closer to Quatre so that he could check the ashes himself. "So what does that tell us?"

"Either Tsukino-san is the most pure human we've ever run across, or..." Quatre frowned, tapping his lip in his frustration.

"Or what?" Trowa asked, when it appeared he wasn't going to continue his statement.

"I don't know. I suppose, hypothetically speaking, we could assume that there are individuals out there that are the complete opposite of us, light instead of dark, but if that were true, then why haven't we run into them before?" Quatre's frown deepened as he continued voicing his thoughts aloud. "Tsukino-san also had the habits of a human, she didn't give away anything in her stance that she wasn't one, anyways. But I find it hard to believe that she is completely pure."

"Do you suppose she could be unaware that she belongs to a different species?"

"I suppose it could be possible... we would need to check the energies of her parents and siblings to help prove that hypothesis though."

Trowa 'hm'ed thoughtfully. "Anything else?"

"Her aura is very hard to track," Quatre admitted sheepishly, "Even for me. I can feel a hint of her, somewhere in the Engetsu area, but it's very weak. If any of you had the same weak aura I would assume that you're about to be ashed. However, that assumption would be false in her case; she was in fine form when she met us."

"You would think that someone that pure would be a beacon for the darkness though," Trowa mused.

"It would certainly make more sense if it was like that..." Quatre's expression neutralized, leaving only the slightest hint of discomfort lingering in his eyes. "I believe that Tsukino-san will be an interesting girl to look after. Despite her desire to be left to her own devices, I think that it would be better if we did keep an eye on her."

Trowa allowed a slight smile to curve his lips, "I don't think that Heero would stop looking after her, even if she ordered him to. He is not one to let a human have some sort of hold over him, even if it was unintentional."

Quatre looked up at the moon, his face contemplative, "Yes. Although he would like to place the blame firmly on Tsukino-san's shoulders, the truth of the matter is that he is in her debt."

Quatre brushed off imaginary dirt from his black slacks, "I think I will pay a visit to Tsukino-san tomorrow. Heero mentioned that she hangs around the Crown Arcade, right?"

"Aa."


"Oi-oi-oi!" Minako exclaimed brightly, "What's with you Usagi-chan?"

Usagi blinked and took in her surroundings, noting that she was sitting outside with the rest of the inners around their favorite tree.

"What do you mean, Mina-chan?"

Makoto giggled slightly, "Usagi-chan, you just refused to have some cookies."

"WHAT?!" Usagi exclaimed, "I take it back! Cookies-cookies-cookies-"

Makoto tossed over a small bag of cookies, landing in Usagi's outstretched hands.

"But really, Usa-chan, you sure you're okay?" Minako asked, slight apprehension laced with her forced cheerfulness.

Usagi stopped in her inhalation of the cookies, slowing to a more sedate pace. "I'm okay, Minako-chan. Just slightly tired."

"I doubt that 'tired' would be the right word," Ami interjected neatly, picking at her rice with chopsticks. "You've been out of it for the past two days. Usagi-chan, you do realize that you haven't been sleeping in class, right? You've just been staring off into space."

Usagi flushed slightly, nope, I definitely wasn't aware of that– "I'm fine, Ami-chan. Just... I don't know, worried? Aside from the straggler youma, don't things seem too quiet?"

Makoto hummed her agreement, swallowing the food in her mouth. "I actually have to agree with you there. Maybe when we go over to Hikawa Jinja we should ask Rei-chan to do a fire reading?"

Usagi swallowed hard, "Uh, guys, I don't think I'll be able to go to the shrine today..."

Minako tilted her head to the side, "Why?" Makoto and Ami looked interested in the answer as well.

"I met someone yesterday - Maxwell Duo. He's new in town, and asked if I would show him around..."

"Usagi!" Minako squealed. "Was this the guy you were thinking about yesterday?"

"No!" Usagi blurted, then quickly corrected her hasty outburst, "I met him after school, Minako-chan. But I had to go home, so I couldn't show him around then. He asked if I would meet him at the arcade today and show him around."

"Must be a cutie," Minako declared proudly, flashing a victory sign, "Otherwise Usagi-chan wouldn't dare leave us to the tender mercies of Rei-chan."

Usagi laughed weakly, "Maxwell-san is cute," she admitted, "but I promised I would meet him before I even thought about it– I just wanted to go home."

"Nah, it's alright Usagi-chan," Makoto tapped her chopsticks on her chin. "We'll cover for ya. Just stop by the shrine sometime later today, so Rei-chan doesn't go completely nuts."

"Of course!"


"Usagi-chan!"

Usagi turned on her heel and smiled brightly. "Motoki-kun! How are you?"

"I'm doing fine, Usagi-chan. How're you?"

Usagi slipped onto one of the barstools, pulling her feet up to rest on the frame. "I'm doing alright. Life's been pretty quiet as of late."

Motoki smiled knowingly, "Don't I know it. I haven't seen Sailor Moon for a while now."

"The senshi have been rounding up a few random youma, but other than that... it's been pretty quiet. Nothing that the news would bother publishing."

"Mmn," Motoki nodded. "I guess I should thank them for not blowing another hole in the top of the arcade, eh?"

Usagi flushed slightly, "Eh– so! Motoki-kun, are you getting any new games soon?"

Motoki chuckled, "Aa. There's a new Sailor Moon game that we're picking up sometime later this week. It has all of the senshi in it."

"What?! Since when?" Usagi leaned forward on the countertop, her eyes shining.

"Since someone sent me a flyer." He pushed a piece of paper towards her. "Take a look while I go see if that young man needs anything."

"Mmn, sure Motoki-kun," Usagi waved him on absently, already reading the flyer. It was pretty flash bang, bright colors exploding over the page and descriptions within fun pictures. So far it seemed pretty accurate, properly naming the senshi with the right colors and basic elements.

"Um, Tsukino-san?"

"What is it Motoki-kun?" Usagi asked distractedly, reading off a profile of Sailor Mars.

"Ah, Tsukino-san, I'm not... Motoki-kun."

"Huh?" Usagi turned around and nearly fell off her chair. "Winner-san!"

Quatre gave a small smile. "Tsukino-san," he nodded.

"Ah, er, excuse me, Winner-san, but what are you doing here?"

"To talk to you, of course."

"Me?" Usagi blurted.

"I have a few questions, if you're not busy?"

"Ah, no, not busy," Usagi pushed the paper away, folding her hands on her lap.

"I would like to apologize for yesterday, Tsukino-san. I realize now that we must have seemed rather callous to your cause. You have to realize that that we rarely have visitors, and it is easy to forget manners when they are so rarely used."

Usagi blinked slowly before smiling a little, "Thank you, Winner-san, but I would still prefer to take care of my own problems myself."

"While I can respect that, I don't think that you understand just what you're getting into by having staked Kyra–"

"You had questions, Winner-san?" Usagi cut him off, quickly growing annoyed with the lecturing tone.

"Uh, yes. Please excuse me for being so forward, but–"

Usagi saw a long brown braid out of the corner of her eye and jumped off the bar stool. Dipping a short bow she quickly spoke, "Sorry, Winner-san, but I have an appointment to keep. My date's over there, and I'd rather not be late. If you come back tomorrow I'll talk to you then." She then sped away after the figure, thankful for the interruption.

Quatre blinked at the dust she left behind, before giving a wry smile. Heero's going to have his hands full.


"Maxwell-san?"

Duo turned around at the soft voice, smiling as he caught sight of the girl he'd gotten to go out to lunch with him yesterday. Funny, I never did catch her name...

"Here, babe," he winked cheekily, stepping from the shadows.

The blonde gave a small, tentative smile. "So, lunch?"

"Sure thing. Oh, and don't call me 'Maxwell-san', babe, Duo's just fine."

"Duo-kun," she repeated, as if to remind herself. "Ah, I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Tsukino Usagi." She smiled brightly. "Usagi-chan's fine."

"Gotcha, Usagi-chan," he graced her with a brilliant smile, causing her to blush. "Shall we go?"

"Mmn," she nodded, reaching out to take his hand. "Let's go somewhere else though, okay?"

She led him out of the Crown arcade and down the street a bit, chattering quietly about the American styled café she was taking him to. Duo couldn't rightly say he was paying that much attention. After all, this was the first human he had actually talked to in... God, how long had it been? Since, what, two centuries ago?

"Duo-kun, are you alright?"

"Just thinking," Duo responded absently. "As I said, it's been a long time since a human hasn't tried to kill me on principle. I don't think it's sunk in quite yet..."

Usagi giggled slightly, her apprehensions of being with him quickly fading away. She stopped suddenly, looking slightly abashed. "Sorry. It's not really something to be laughing about..."

"Nah, it's okay," Duo waved her off as they slid into one of the more secluded booths of the café. "Instead of apologies, why don't you tell me why you aren't out to kill me?"

Usagi blinked, "Should I be? I mean, you haven't tried to hurt me or anything..."

Duo laughed loudly, having to stuff his hand into his mouth to quiet his chuckles. It took him a minute before he could speak coherently, and during this time Usagi had rattled off an order to the waitress. "No, but most people kill first and ask questions later."

"What a stupid way to live," Usagi grumbled, folding her arms over her chest and leaning forward on the table.

"Ah, but we're the big bad vampires after your blood, Usagi-chan. You should be afraid of us."

Usagi snorted. "From what I've picked up, akuji are a heck of a lot different than vampires, Duo-kun."

Duo cocked his head to the side, "Oh? And you believe that akuji are different than vampires?"

"Mmn," Usagi mumbled into her folded arms. "You don't feel evil. You're sad, but definitely not evil. All the stories say vampires are evil."

Duo froze, his eyes wide. "Usagi-chan?"

"Ah, sorry," she yawned and snuggled her head into her arms, "I'm actually really tired, Duo-kun. Was up late last night. Tell me when the food gets here."

"Sure thing, Usagi-chan." While his words seemed casual and nonchalant, Duo's mind was racing. I don't feel evil? Does this mean she's some kind of empath like Q? Shitshitshitshit– This could be a big problem–

"Ah, sir? Your order–" the waitress was looking a little lost as seeing Usagi sleeping quietly on the table.

Duo smiled for her, "Thank you, just put it down." He reached over the table to shake Usagi's shoulder, "Usagi-chan, food's here."

Usagi jolted up from her light slumber, reaching for the closest plate, which was a pile of fries. She stretched slightly, arching her back in her seat, before yawning widely and blinking a few times, focusing her attention back on her company.

"Sorry about falling asleep like that, Duo-kun. I've been a bit stressed recently, and it's been keeping me awake at night."

"Not a problem," Duo soothed, realizing that what Usagi had said aloud about his not 'feeling' evil wasn't something she had meant to share. "I've got a question I'm dying to ask though, how did you stake that akuji with a toothpick anyways?"

Usagi chewed the fries in her mouth quickly, swallowing before speaking, "I'm not exactly sure, to be honest. It was kind of an accident... They were just normal toothpicks as far as I know."

Duo hummed thoughtfully. "Say, how'd you get involved with akuji anyways?"

Usagi blushed sheepishly, "I accidentally mistook an akuji for a little boy, and he was being chased by another akuji and I... grabbedthestakeoutofhishandandandkilledhimwithit."

"Whoa, whoa, slow down there!" Duo cautioned, but a hint of a smile remained on his face. "Tell me again?"

"It looked like a boy was being hurt by an older man," Usagi said softly, "And I took the stake he was holding and slammed it into his back... At which point he dissolved into a pile of ash. That's pretty much it."

"Really? Who was this akuji you staked then?" Duo wondered aloud.

"Ah, his name was... Kyra," Usagi offered slowly, not sure if Duo was a part of the late Kyra's faction.

Duo's eyes widened. "You're kidding."

"Erm, no–"

"Thank you, Usagi-chan," he offered sincerely.

"Duo-kun?"

"Kyra has been hunting m– me for a long time, Usagi-chan, it's somewhat of a relief to know that he's been staked."

Usagi laughed wryly, "Except now everyone seems to be after that."

Duo looked vaguely sympathetic, "Oh, yeah. Forgot about that part. So that's why you were being chased by that other akuji yesterday?"

Usagi nodded, another handful of fries in her mouth.

"So, how've you been holding up?"

"Eh, okay, I guess. It's a little annoying..." Usagi trailed off as she realized that it really was only vaguely annoying. After everything that had been thrown at her as Sailor Moon, fighting akuji was actually rather simple, even if she stayed in her human form.

"Sounds like you're in pretty fit shape then," Duo commented.

The café exploded into sound, a large figure crashing through the glass. Usagi jumped to her feet, much to Duo's surprise, and headed towards the prone figure even as the remaining customers and staff fled through the entrance. As Duo reached Usagi he immediately recognized her checking the human's pulse and breathing rate, which was actually fairly good for having been thrown through a window.

Looking out of the broken glass Duo caught a glimpse of a rather unsightly pink... thing, that was growling and had another human in it's grasp.

"Looks like we have company," he observed.


馬鹿 - baka - fool/idiot

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