On a sunny December day, Usagi sat curled up in her closet, wishing that she was invisible. A kind woman's voice called out, "Usa-chan, it is obaasan. Please come out."
Usagi opened her eyes and crawled to look through a crack in the closet door. On her bed sat her grandmother. Slowly and quietly, Usagi snuck out through a hidden vent and came back into the room through the window. Her grandmother looked shocked; it had been months since her last visit and she was scared at the sight of her grand-daughter. "Usa-chan, what happened?"
Usagi looked at the ground and repeated the script that she was told to say anytime someone asked her, "I am fine. I am just very klutzy and sometimes I fall and hurt myself."
Her grandmother shook her head knowing that it was a lie. She smiled at the small eight-year-old and asked, "Shall we go shopping? It is almost Christmas and we need to get some gifts." Usagi nodded happily and took the elderly lady's hand.
Once they were out of the house and in the car on the way to the mall, Selene tried to get her grand-daughter to tell her the truth. Although she had gone to the cops several times about the bruises, cuts and scrapes that she had found on the child, the authorities kept telling her that there was nothing they could do without proof or the child's confession. So sadly, again and again Selene found Usagi hiding and hurt.
The two quietly made their way through the mall, picking out this and that, having an overall good time until… Usagi saw something, ripped her hand away and bolted down the hallway.
Elsewhere in the mall, a young man with black hair and cobalt eyes stood waiting for his adopted family. Having turned ten this year he was allowed to do his own shopping as long as he met up with them at the Santa exhibit by a certain time. Glad to get away from his siblings for a while, Mamoru had done his shopping quickly and now stood in view of Santa. He hadn't been there long when he heard a young girl cry out, "No, I didn't do anything wrong! I am sorry! Don't hurt me!"
Quickly looking around, Mamoru spotted a girl no older than his little sister being picked up by her collar and slapped across the face by a man, most likely her father. Mamoru couldn't contain his anger; no one had the right to do that. He charged the man and kicked him in the shin, causing him to drop the child. Mamoru, who was remarkably quick on his feet, grabbed the girl wedding-style as she fell and ran toward the families in line for Santa pictures.
As politely as possible, Mamoru talked himself and his "friend" to near the front of the line. A woman who had seen what happened shoved them in front of her and placed a hat on Usagi's head and a jacket around Mamoru. "Don't say anything," she whispered.
Usagi's dad was already furious with that damned woman for coming and taking his daughter out of the house without permission, and now some brat had come and kicked him in the shin. Both of them where going to get it when he found them!
By the time he started checking the line of children, Mamoru and Usagi were on Santa's knee and Mamoru was explaining what had just happened. Quickly Santa motioned for an elf to call security and then placed his hat on the young girl to hide her from a man who appeared to be looking for someone in the line of children.
Selene had been frantic when Usagi ran from her and began searching immediately. All she was able to find was a cursing Toshio who was nursing a bruised shin. "Usagi must have gotten away then. Serenity protect your princess." Selene thought, watching from the second floor as Usagi and a boy got onto Santa's knee.
Within minutes the police were there along with Mamoru's family and Selene. Selene held Usagi tightly as Toshio was finally handcuffed for child abuse. Although he tried to claim innocence there were enough witnesses to claim otherwise.
"My name is Mamoru, are you alright?" Mamoru questioned. Usagi nodded from Selene's arms, "I am Usagi, Otou-sama can be scary."
The adults looked at her seriously, then Mamoru's mom spoke up, "I am sorry—it seems as though these two have been introduced but we haven't. I am Terra and this is my husband Rio and our two children, Rei and Kenji."
"Oh, gomen. I am Selene Tsukino, Usagi's grandmother on her mother's side. The man they just took away is Toshio Mariko, my poor excuse for a son-in-law."
"If you don't mind my asking, Selene, where is her mother?"
Selene looked sadly at Rio, "My daughter, Serenity, died mysteriously four years ago. Ever since then I have been trying to get Usagi away from Toshio and to her aunt and uncle in Tokyo. They have a child of their own now, but my son loved his sister too much to abandon her only child."
The couple shook their heads, "She is barely out of diapers and has been through so much."
Usagi's head shot up at this comment, "I am almost nine. I haven't been in diapers for seven years." She announced proudly.
"Even when my daughter was alive Toshio was a poor father. He insisted that she use the toilet before she was three. She did it and everyone was so proud … except for him, of course."
"Excuse us, but we have a few questions for the children." The adults nodded knowingly at the officers cut in and Selene put Usagi on the bench next to Mamoru who protectively put an arm around her. "Young lady, how long has he been hurting you?"
Mamoru felt Usagi stiffen and shudder, "It is ok I won't let anything happen to you. I promise." He reassured her.
Usagi looked up at him with surprised and smiled, "Thank you." She turned to the cop who had so bluntly asked the question. "As long as I can remember but it got worse when okaasan left me."
Selene stepped up at this point to clarify, "Her mother passed on four years ago."
The police officer nodded, "Why was it never reported?"
"It was reported was more times than I can count, but I was always turned away. I was told that proof was needed or that the child needed to confess." Selene shot back. The crowd looked shocked; an eight year old child had been abused for more than four years because there was no proof!!
Mamoru was finally released to his parents about two hours later and dragged away from Usagi, since Rei was only seven and it was almost six. "I will always protect you. Somehow I will find you again." He reassured Usagi once more.
Not even a week later, Usagi was placed in the care of her Uncle Kenji and Aunt Ikuko. Usagi didn't remember much about her mother other than that she had never hurt her and she didn't really know how good parents treat children, so she stayed close to Ikuko, who was as close to a mother as she has ever known at her young age. For his part, Kenji became overprotective of his niece/surrogate daughter.
As the years went by, Usagi began to heal and even partially forgot the painful childhood she had been forced to undergo. By age ten, she was calling Kenji and Ikuko 'okaasan' and 'otousan'. By age twelve, she was beginning to gain confidence in herself and develop independence, almost but not quite forgetting the young man that had given her the best Christmas present of all--family and freedom.